The "XXXXX is not YYYYY" jokes aside, Europe's union of nations is beginning to separate increasingly between the haves and the have-nots. The sad truth, as Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes, is that recession/depression has pushed Spanish and Italian GDP-per-capita below the EU average in purchasing power terms - just like Cyprus, Slovenia, and Greece. Irish GDP per capita was 29% above the average, while Greek and Portuguese per capita output were 25% below. Output per head for the EU ranged between 47% (Bulgaria) and 271% (Luxembourg) of the average. With today's news that retroactive ESM recaps are unlikely, the banking-sovereign symbiosis of Spain and Italy will increasingly come under pressure and with productivity so dismal, there is little hope for now.
We are astounded with the number of people saying that the Fed didn't say anything new. These people must be living in Borneo and far out into the jungle. The Fed came out and said as clearly as any Fed has ever said; "We are going to unwind the trade." Yes, sure, there was the usual huff and puff about a change in market conditions could change our viewpoint but that is not relevant. What was relevant is that the Fed stated and quite clearly that, "The party is over." Because we live in a global economy we will now also get impacted by China and Europe. The flow of money had protected our shores but now we will be exposed and the recession in Europe and the growth rate in China, probably around a real 3.5%-4.0%, is going to come bouncing into America. Liquidity has been the one and only god and the Fed has now told you that this god is going to close up shop.
As reported yesterday, Greece has stormed right back to the top of the crisis charts, not only due to the previously reported news that the IMF may be withholding further payments until Greece finally gets its house in order (three years later one can forget this will happen), but because as a result of the fallout surrounding the national broadcaster ERT, the coalition government is now in tatters. Moments ago any hopes that some political stability may be preserved were crushed following news that the Democratic Left official Vassilis Economou, who spoke libe on Greek Skai TV which is still in operation, said the party decided to withdraw its ministers from the coalition govt of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. And there goes the fake sense of calm that has permeated the south of Europe ever since last summer's nail-biting Greek elections, which concluded in the best possible way for Germany. This time around, however, the last thing Merkel needs two months ahead of her reelection is a resurgence in the peripheral crisis, timed perfectly to coincide with the end of the carry trade, which will mean only the ECB is left to pick up the pieces.
- Turmoil Exposes Global Risks (WSJ)
- China Money Rates Retreat After PBOC Said to Inject Cash (BBG)
- Fed Seen by Economists Trimming QE in September, 2014 End (BBG)
- Booz Allen, the World's Most Profitable Spy Organization (BBG)
- Abe’s Arrows of Growth Dulled by Japan’s Three Principles (BBG)
- China steps back from severe cash crunch (FT)
- Smog at Hazardous as Singapore, Jakarta Spar Over Fires (BBG)
- U.S. Weighs Doubling Leverage Standard for Biggest Banks (BBG)
After Thursday night's global liquidation fireworks, the overnight trading session was positively tame by comparison. After opening lower, the Nikkei ended up 1.7% driven by a modest jump in the USDJPY. China too noted a drop in its ultra-short term repo and SHIBOR rate, however not due to a broad liquidity injection but because as we reported previously the PBOC did a targeted bail out of one or more banks with a CNY 50 billion injection. Overnight, the PBOC added some more color telling banks to not expect the liquidity will always be plentiful as the well-known transition to a slower growth frame continues. The PBOC also reaffirmed that monetary policy will remain prudential, ordered commercial banks to enhance liquidity management, told big banks that they should play a role in keeping markets stable, and most importantly that banks can't rely on an expansionary policy to solve economic problems. Had the Fed uttered the last statement, the ES would be halted limit down right about now. For now, however, communist China continues to act as the most capitalist country, even if it means the Shanghai Composite is now down 11% for the month of June.
And so the wealth effect shifts into reverse. Fewer people can afford mortgages, so home prices stop rising, making homeowners feel less rich. Stock prices stop rising (or, like today, start going down) and the record number of people who have been buying on margin see their exciting gains melt away. They feel both less rich and suddenly very stupid. Most of them will spend less, and the recovery will stop in its tracks. Which means it’s time to think about the next big announcement...
As noted previously, in the latest FOMC decision the St. Louis Fed's James Bullard joined the ranks of the dissenters currently held only by Kansas Fed's George. Today he explains why: it appears that he had an issue with what most have already pointed out: the Fed's lowering of its economic forecasts, even as it represented a "tapering" of monetary injections. To wit: "The Committee was, through the Summary of Economic Projections process, marking down its assessment of both real GDP growth and inflation for 2013, and yet simultaneously announcing that less accommodative policy may be in store." In other words the debate can end: Bernanke did signal tapering.
What is wrong with men in America? Why isn't our country producing lots of strong, independent, hard working men of character like it once did? Well, many believe that it starts at a very young age. Society has told them that it is okay to be a "slacker". Today, far too many of our young men are far more interested in their various addictions (beer, drugs, sex, video games, gambling, etc.) than they are in starting a family. In America today, the percentage of men in prison is at an all-time high, the percentage of men with a job is near an all-time low and the percentage of children living without a father is at an all-time high. Do we have a crisis on our hands?
Yesterday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke likened monetary policy to landing a jet on an aircraft carrier which reminded ConvergEx's Nick Colas of a few choice 'Top Gun' quotes... "Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash" seems most appropriate. But Colas' review of a recent academic paper on the social dynamics of how long people applaud - and why they stop - is perhaps useful in comprehending the market's reaction. The funny thing about the work is that the distribution of ‘Clapping duration’ looks pretty much exactly like the P/E ratio of the U.S. equity market going back to the 1800s. Why do people start and stop their applause or buy into a stock market? It all happens "at the margin" in both cases, and just a few people putting their hands in their pockets is enough to get the rest to stop. In the end, this is a simple analysis, but one which speaks to capital markets as essentially large “Social networks”, and that is an intuitively appealing construct. Attention and engagement ebb and flow based on macro confidence, micro financial results, and other fundamental inputs. Valuation becomes an analysis of whether more or fewer investors will be clapping next month or next quarter. But one thing is for sure – you want to be among the first people to clap and quit when the noise is the loudest.
With China’s credit-to-GDP ratio over 200%, it appears, as Barclays notes, that the PBoC is acting in line with the government’s efforts to deleverage, rebalance and position the economy towards a path for sustainable growth. Though they expect that the PBoC is likely to stabilize the interbank market in the near term (perhaps by more of the same 'isolated' cash injections), short-term rates are likely to remain elevated, at least for a while, possibly leading to the failing of some smaller financial institutions. With the small- and medium-sized banks having grown considerably quicker than the larger banks, having been more aggressive on interbank business (i.e. alternative channels to get around lending constraints), the following banks are at most risk of major disturbance of the funding markets remain stressed leaving the potential for retail bank runs or greater fragmentation in the commercial bank market.
If the Brazilian government thought that caving yesterday to popular demands against a $0.10 bus and subway fare hike would be enough to placate the millions and see a peaceful dissolution to the protests that had gripped the country in the past two weeks, it found out in less than 24 hours that ceding to the angry mob only emboldens the public to demand more (and with a list a grievances including corruption, violence, police repression and failed politicians the list of demands is sure to escalate). Sure enough, the very next day, the public emerged with newfound energy and momentum, as 300,000 people took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro and hundreds of thousands more flooded other cities in the largest protests yet.
China has certainly been busy since it won observer status at the May Arctic Council summit in Kiruna, Sweden. China is clearly after more than simply investment and trade opportunities as it continues to display its obsession with securing energy and other supplies where the U.S. Navy cannot or will not go. Unfortunately for Moscow, not only China but also the other new Asian members will seek to maximize their influence in the Council for many of the same reasons. The Arctic may be Russia’s home, but it can no longer be its castle.
With both stocks and precious metals taking it on the chin in the last two days, we thought this visualization of real rolling returns of stocks and gold would be of interest...