Some reversals of financial trends prove so momentous they define the generation in which they occur. The stock market crash in 1929 kicked off the Great Depression, which ushered in the welfare and then the warfare state and redefined the relationship between government and citizens. Bonds and stocks began their bull market runs in the early 1980s. Now, those markets are fonts of optimism increasingly unhinged from reality. The US has come full circle. The New Deal and World War II marked a massive shift of resources and power to the federal government. Conversely, financial reversal will fuel a virulent backlash against the government and its central bank.
Following yesterday's dollar spike which, which topped the longest rally in the greenback in one month, the prevailing trade overnight has been more of the same, and in the last session of this holiday shortened week we have seen the USD rise for the fifth consecutive day on concerns the suddenly hawkish Fed (at least as long as the S&P is above 2000) may hike sooner than expected, which in turn has pressured WTI below $39 earlier in the session, and leading to weakness across virtually all global risk assets.
With the USD Index stretching to its longest winning streak of the year, jawboned by numerous Fed speakers explaining how April is 'live' (and everyone misunderstood the dovishness of Yellen), it appears that The PBOC wanted to send a message to The Fed - Raise rates and we will unleash turmoil on your 'wealth creation' plan. Large unexpected Yuan drops have rippled through markets in recent months spoiling the party for many and tonight, by devaluing the Yuan fix by the most since January 7th, China made it clear that it really does not want The Fed to hike rates and cause a liquidity suck-out again.
Following two days of rangebound moves, where Monday's modest market rebound was undone by the Tuesday just as modest decline (despite the early surge higher on the latest "bullish for stocks" European terrorism), overnight equity action continued to be more of the same, and as of this moment S&P 500 futures were unchanged, while European stocks were modestly higher. But while equities remain surprisingly uneventful despite loud warnings by both JPM and Goldman now that another bout of volatility and equity downside is coming, in FX there has been a substantial change, one which has seen the US dollar rise for a fourth day, the longest winning streak in a month, driven by the latest round of hawkish Fed jawboning courtesy of the Chicago Fed's Charlie Evens yesterday, which in turn has pushed down prices of oil, gold and copper.
Slapping fees on imports (which by the way is illegal in treaties such as the WTO) will not solve the larger problems of reduced employment, stagnant wages and rising income inequality. To make a dent in those issues, we'll need to tackle central bank and central-state policies that have pushed finance and speculative churn to supremacy over the productive economy.
In the wake of the August 11 "surprise" yuan devaluation, all anyone wanted to talk about was the rapidity with which China was liquidating its FX reserves. Before long, everyone realized that the headline number was a proxy for capital flight out of China. That made Beijing uncomfortable and so, the PBoC found more "creative" ways to intervene in FX markets. Now, the IMF wants clarity.
At the same time as the PBOC was cautioning about the dangers of excess debt (just as it injected a record amount of loans into the financial system), China's central bank warned about dangers from a stock market bubble, and perhaps just to assure the bubble gets even bigger, at the same time China eased on margin debt limits, in the process sending Chinese stocks soaring higher by 2.2%, and pushing the Shanghai Composite over 3000 for the first time in months as China now appears set to attempt another housing bubble "soft landing" while at the same time restarting its housing bubble.
(1) Incoming Jan-Feb data still choppy; (2) Our Synthetic Growth Index (SGI) likely down for Jan and Feb, after up Sep-Dec; (3) As China slows, no problem is too small for a new policy fix; (4) Housing: too many vacant units, in the wrong places, wrong size and wrong price.; (5) SOEs: excess capacity, old, inefficient in most key China industries. (6) Equities: recent rally welcome but markets still broken just when more equity financing is needed. (7) NPLs: from past bad decisions, rising sharply.
"Don't Take The Public For Fools!": China Hides Millions Of Layoffs, Jails Miners Protesting Unpaid WagesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/20/2016 10:14 -0400
What do you do when you need to lay off a few million people but you don't want to hurt your goalseeked unemployment rate? You tell miners to hand in their picks and you promptly give them mops and a 66% pay cut. If they protest, you throw them in jail. If they storm the castle, you start shooting.
As Bank of America's FX quant strategist writes, "ahead of the Fed, the USD was already trending lower against 8 out of 9 G10 currency pairs with GBP being the only exception. The surprisingly-dovish Fed has only further accelerated the decline in the US dollar. The decline started in late January and has occurred during the critical local New York trading hours. The US hours downtrend looks likely to continue in the near future."
In the same way that FDR had an existential political interest in generating inflation and preventing volatility in the US labor market, so does the US Executive branch today (regardless of what party holds the office) have an existential political interest in generating inflation and preventing volatility in the US capital markets. Transforming Wall Street into a political utility was an afterthought for FDR; today the relative importance of the labor markets and capital markets have completely switched positions. Today, the quote would be "markets are too important to be left to investors."
"The long-term outlook for Japan, and the yen, is deteriorating significantly. January’s shift to negative rates not only appears to be not helping, it seems to be spectacularly back-firing."
It may be option expiration day (always leading to abnormal market activity) but it remains all about the weak dollar, which after crashing in the two days after the Fed's surprisingly dovish statement has put both the ECB and the BOJ in the very awkward position that shortly after both banks have drastically eased, the Euro and the Yen are now trading stronger relative to the dollar versus prior. As DB puts it, "the US Dollar has tumbled in a fairly impressive fashion since the FOMC on Wednesday with the Dollar spot index now down the most over a two-day period since 2009" which naturally hurts those countries who have been rushing to debase their own currencies against the USD.
Had central bankers simply taken to heart that well known idiom that cautions "a stitch in time saves nine" early on, they would not now be so frantically stitching such a gaping gash in the world economy. One thing is for certain. All of this quantitative pleasing has done little to lift the spirits of the world’s worker bees.