Despite all the reform policy imperatives to constrict credit and normalize and liberalize policy and rates, the PBOC just provided the largest liquidity injection to its banking system in a year - 255bn CNY. While this is not entirely unusual for a year-end, when Chinese banks have to confess their illiquidity sins and cover mismatches (and are always helped by the PBOC); this year, short-term money-market rates are triple that of last year and there is a very real chance of a very real default within the shadow banking system. Of course, the sell-side are desperately writing cover that this is all priced in and even if the PBOC "lets some Trusts go" then they will come to the rescue and any crisis will be "contained." However, no one knows who will be saved and therein lies the safety-first rub - now where have we heard "contained" before?
While manufacturing and services PMIs disappointed, the big problem in big China remains that of an out-of-control credit creation process that is blowing up. As we previously noted, instead of crushing credit creation, the PBOC's liquidity rationing has forced distressed companies into high-interest-cost products in the shadow-banking world. Investors on the other side of "troubled shadow banking products" had assumed that 'someone' would bail them out but this evening Reuters reports that ICBC has confirmed that it will not rescue holders of the "Credit Equals Gold #1 Collective Trust Product", due to mature Jan 31st with $492 million outstanding. The anxiety from contagion concerns of the first shadow-banking default has pushed the Shanghai Composite back near 2,000 for the first time since July - and to its narrowest spread to the S&P 500 in almost 8 years.
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China Broad Credit Grows By Record RMB17.3 Trillion In 2013; FX Reserves Increase By Record $508 BillionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/15/2014 13:12 -0400
So much for China's mission to gradually deleverage in 2013. Despite two near-taper episodes, one in June and one in December, which send short-term lending rates soaring, the PBOC party line has been that the Chinese banking system is slowly but surely issuing less debt as it already has an epic debt overhang, much of which is turning sour at an accelerated pace. One needs to look nowhere else than the country's declining GDP to visualize the declining marginal utility of every dollar in newly credit loans. And yet following last night's release of Chinese lending data we found that in 2013, the broadest measure of Chinese credit issuance, the so-called aggregated financing, just hit a record high of 17.3 trillion, a 9% increase from the prior year if still slower than the 23% increase in 2012. So much for the deleveraging myth.
Day two of the bounce from the biggest market drop in months is here, driven once again by weak carry currencies, with the USDJPY creeping up as high as 104.50 overnight before retracing some of the gains, and of course, the virtually non-existant volume. Whatever the reason don't look now but market all time highs are just around the corner, and the Nasdaq is back to 14 year highs. Stocks traded higher since the get-go in Europe, with financials leading the move higher following reports that European banks will not be required in upcoming stress tests to adjust their sovereign debt holdings to maturity to reflect current values. As a result, peripheral bond yield spreads tightened, also benefiting from good demand for 5y EFSF syndication, where price guidance tightened to MS+7bps from initial MS+9bps. Also of note, Burberry shares in London gained over 6% and advanced to its highest level since July, after the company posted better than expected sales data. Nevertheless, the FTSE-100 index underperformed its peers, with several large cap stocks trading ex-dividend today. Going forward, market participants will get to digest the release of the latest Empire Manufacturing report, PPI and DoE data, as well as earnings by Bank of America.
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SHLD is making the cut for one of my top 3 picks of 2014.
When it comes to the topic of China's epic credit bubble, we have beaten that particular dead horse again and again and again and, most notably, again. However, since in China the concept of independent bank is non-existent, and as all major financial institutions are implicitly government backed, by the time the "big" bubble bursts, it will be time to hunker down in bunkers and pray (why? Because while the Fed creates $1 trillion in reserves each year, and dropping post taper, China is responsible for $3.6 trillion in loan creation annually - yank that and it's game over for a world in which "growth" is not more than debt creation). But just because the big banks can continue to ignore reality with the backing of the fastest marginally growing economy in the world (inasmuch as building empty cities can be considered growth), the same luxury is not afforded to China's smaller lender, such as its peer-to-peer industry. That particular bubble seems to have just popped: "The main reasons are the intense competition in the P2P industry, the liquidity squeeze at the end of the year and a loss of faith by investors," said Xu Hongwei, chief executive of Online Lending House. He estimated that 80 or 90 per cent of the country’s P2P companies might go bust. Oops.
Overnight China reported disappointing export data, missing expectations of +5%. The gvoernment explained this on the basis that they were losing their competitive edge since the Yuan has strengthened to 20 year highs but perhaps most telling is that fact that, as the FT reports, China became the world's biggest trader in goods for the first time last year - overtaking the US for all of 2013. We suspect the powers that be are starting to get nervous as this comes soon after China's surge to become the world's largest oil importer marking a notable shift in the world's most powerful nations - as trade with the rest of Asia and increasing flows with the Middle East represent a shift in power away from the US.
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Bai Zhongren, the president of state-run China Railway Group - the state-owned engineering giant behind many of the country's largest railway projects - committed suicide over the weekend. As SCMP reports, Bai is among several senior railway officials and executives who have committed suicide since corruption scandals implicating the senior railway officials began to come to light three years ago. However, there have been no direct links between China Railway Group and the corruption cases (yet) but Chinese courts are about to hand down verdicts on several very senior executives.
A look at the technical condition of the fx market, interest rate differentials, central bank developments and the data due out in the week ahead.
All signs point to serious trouble for the Chinese economy. The best ways to play a China downturn: short-selling Australian banks, China property and the yuan.
The Future of Money: The Dumb Dollar vs Smart, Programmable Currencies!
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