As we have been reporting (and forecasting for the past several years), the Eurasian anti-US Dollar axis is rapidly taking shape, with recent events catalyzed and certainly accelerated by US foreign policy in Ukraine, which has merely succeeded in pushing Russia that much closer, and faster, to China. The latest proof of this came overnight when the FT reported that Russian companies are preparing to switch contracts to renminbi and other Asian currencies amid fears that western sanctions may freeze them out of the US dollar market, according to two top bankers. Andrei Kostin, chief executive of state bank VTB, said that expanding the use of non-dollar currencies was one of the bank’s “main tasks”. “Given the extent of our bilateral trade with China, developing the use of settlements in roubles and yuan [renminbi] is a priority on the agenda, and so we are working on it now," ... "It looks like this is not just a blip, this is a trend,” said Mr Teplukhin of Deutsche Bank.
- Attorneys Known for Large Civil Settlements Line Up to Sue GM Over Company's Handling of Defective Ignition Switches (WSJ)
- Pakistani Taliban attack airport in Karachi, 27 dead (Reuters)
- U.S. Official: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Has Declined to Speak to His Family (WSJ)
- Ukraine Gas Talks Resume in Brussels to Avoid Cut-off This Week (BBG)
- China's Central Bank Flexes Muscle (WSJ)
- China says Vietnam, Philippines' mingling on disputed isle a 'farce' (Reuters)
- World Needs Record Saudi Oil Supply as OPEC Convenes (BBG)
- Kraft Raises Prices on Maxwell House, Yuban U.S. Coffee Products (BBG)
- United Continental: One Sick Bird (WSJ)
With the VIX smashing last week to levels not seen since early 2007, the S&P rising to all time highs, and European core and peripheral bond yield this morning touching historic lows, it would appear that the "market" has priced in every possible negative outcome. Which, as Goldman showed over the weekend is clearly not the case at least as investors are concerned who continued to sell stocks across the board in May even as the market broke out to record levels making many wonder who is buying stocks (for more read here)? Expect more of the same, and with some luck we will get a single digit VIX in the coming days as newsflow slows down following payrolls week and ahead of the world cup start in Brazil.
While we have warned about the problem with near-infinitely rehypothecated physical/funding commodities/metals, be they gold or copper, many times in the past, and most recently here, it was only this week that China finally admitted it has a major problem involving not just the commodities participating in funding deals - in this case copper and aluminum - but specifically their infinite rehypothecation, which usually results in the actual underlying metal mysteriously "disappearing", as in it never was there to begin with. It would appear our fears of global contagion (through various transmission channels) are now coming true as WSJ reports that as many as a half-dozen banks are trying to determine whether the collateral for loans they made to commodities traders was used fraudulently by a third party to obtain other loans. As we detailed previously, it appears the day when the Commodity Funding Deals finally end is fast approaching... and as we note below, why that will certainly be a watershed event.
If predicting yesterday's EURUSD (and market) reaction to the ECB announcement was easy enough, today's reaction to the latest "most important ever" nonfarm payrolls number (because remember: with the Fed getting out of market manipulation, if only for now, it is imperative that the economy show it can self-sustain growth on its own even without $85 billion in flow per month, which is why just like the ISM data earlier this week, the degree of "seasonal adjustments" are about to blow everyone away) should be just as obvious: since both bad news and good news remain "risk-on catalysts", and since courtesy of Draghi's latest green light to abuse any and every carry trade all risk assets will the bought the second there is a dip, the "BTFATH mentality" will be alive in well. It certainly was overnight, when the S&P500 rose to new all time highs despite another 0.5% drop in the Shcomp (now barely holding on above 2000), and a slight decline in the Nikkei (holding on just over 15,000).
"Banks are worried about their exposure," warns one warehousing source, "there is a scramble for people to head down there at the minute and make sure that their metal that they think is covered by a warehouse receipt actually exists." The rehypothecated catastrophe that we discussed in great detail here (copper financing), here (all commodities), and here (global contagion) appears to be gathering speed as the China's northeastern port of Qingdao has halted shipments of aluminum and copper due to an investigation by authorities after they found "there is a discrepancy in metal that should be there and metal that is actually there."
God only knows how many billions of yuan’s worth of loans and financial instruments were using this imaginary stuff as collateral, but then again, God only knows a lot of things about China’s economic “miracle.
- U.S. sets new import duties on Chinese solar products (Reuters)
- U.S.-China Solar-Products Dispute Heats Up (WSJ)
- China Mulls Offshore Yuan Gold Trade in Free Trade Zone (BBG)
- Insider-Trading Probe Could Snarl a Deal for Icahn (WSJ)
- KCG Holdings Suspects Its Trading Code Was Stolen (WSJ)
- ‘Period. Full Stop’ Is the New ‘At the End of the Day’ (BBG)
- Draghi not so goof for bonds: Investors Flag Risk of ECB Disappointing After Europe Bond Rally (BBG)
- But great for stocks: Equity Traders See Draghi Turning Throttle Up on Rally (BBG)
- At least 74 dead in crashes similar to those GM linked to faulty switches (Reuters)
- Obama Calls for $1 Billion Europe Security Fund; Will Increase U.S. Military Presence in Eastern Europe (WSJ)
- Euro Inflation Slowing More Than Forecast Pressures ECB (BBG)
- China accelerates as euro zone stumbles (Reuters)
- Russia says Ukraine situation worsening, submits U.N. resolution (Reuters)
- Secondary Sales Squeeze Investors (WSJ)
- Barclays Said to Start Cutting Jobs in Investment Banking Unit (Bloomberg)
- Backlash Grows on Release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Taliban Prisoner Swap (WSJ)
- For fallen soldiers' families, Bergdahl release stirs resentment (Reuters)
- PIMCO's Gross stares at record outflow (Reuters)
When it comes to ridiculous, bizarre, and even "insane" contraptions, projects and ideas, China is indeed second to none. Which is why it was only a matter of time before China's engineers came up with unprecedented "solutions" to what has rapidly become perhaps the biggest problem for people living in China: air quality, in a broad sense, and specifically: unprecedented smog covering all the major metropolises on a daily basis. But fear not: China is on top of it. Declaring war on air pollution, the PRC is prepared to pump 1.7 trillion yuan ($277 billion) into coming up with solutions to curb the fuzzy sludge that opaques most of their country’s cities. This has led to the creation of several new and innovative, interesting — even ridiculous — pollution fighting methods. So here, courtesy of VJ, are the 13 most head-scratching proposals intended to do just that: fix China's smog.
Will volatility become a policy tool? The PBOC decided that enough was enough with the ever-strengthening Yuan and are trying to gently break the back of the world's largest carry trade by increasing uncertainty about the currency. As Citi's Stephen Englander notes, this somewhat odd dilemma (of increasing uncertainty to maintain stability) is exactly what the rest of the world's planners need to do - Central banks will need more FX and asset market volatility in order to provide low rates for an extended period... here's why.
Dispassionae look at the several events in the week ahead.
- Snowden: 'no relationship' with Russian government (Reuters)
- Bond Surge Worldwide Drives Index Yield to One-Year Low (BBG)
- Shares flirt with record highs on ECB easing bets (Reuters)
- Goldman Shuns Bonds Pimco’s Gross Favors in ‘New Neutral’ (BBG)
- Porn may be messing with your head (Reuters)
- Dish to Become Largest Company to Accept Bitcoin (AP)
- To Make a Killing on Wall Street, Start Meditating (BBG)
- Apple to get Beats, music mogul Iovine for $3 billion (Reuters)
- Fink Says Leveraged ETFs May ‘Blow Up’ Industry (BBG)
Western strategists and talking heads, we are sure, will know better and continue to pitch China as the renewed engine of growth in the world and that everything will be fine... but when the country's largest property developer says, the "golden era" for China’s property market has passed, adding that "The period in which everybody makes money out of property is gone," perhaps it is time to listen? Of course, we are sure there will be an orderly exit (just as there was in CNY last night which crumbled to 19-month lows) but as China Vanke Co's Yu Liang warns, "the phase where 'whoever buys makes money' is gone." Property sepculators are frustrated that the government won't bail them out "are they tryng to kill us?" as one analyst notes "this downturn is more serious than 2008."
Anyone who buys their own groceries (as opposed to having a full-time cook handle such mundane chores) knows that the cost of basic foods keeps rising, despite the official claims that inflation is essentially near-zero. Common-sense causes include severe weather and droughts than reduce crop yields, rising demand from the increasingly wealthy global middle class and money printing, which devalues the purchasing power of income. While these factors undoubtedly influence the cost of food, it turns out that food moves in virtual lockstep with the one master commodity in an industrialized global economy: oil.