The two month wait is over and the most overtelegraphed central bank news since November 2012 finally hit the tape when the BOJ announced last night what everyone knew, namely that it would proceed with open-(y)ended asset purchases and a variety of economic targets, key of which was 2% inflation. However, the response so far has been one of certainly selling the pent up news, especially since as was further detailed, the BOJ will do virtually nothing for 12 months, except to increase the size of its existing QE (is the current episode QE 10 or 11?) by another €10 trillion for the Bills component. The USDJPY dropped as much as 170 pips lower than its overnight kneejerk highs hit just after the news.
In the most anticipated (and likely most strawman/leaked) policy actions, the BoJ and the Japanese government (still independent entities theoretically) have unveiled the new monetary policy to complement the $116bn fiscal stimulus plan to boost growth:
- *BOJ TO ADOPT 2% INFLATION TARGET
- *BOJ WILL INTRODUCE OPEN-ENDED PURCHASING FROM JAN 2014
- *BOJ TO BUY 2T YEN OF JGBS MONTHLY FROM JAN 2014
- *BOJ TO BUY ABOUT 10T YEN OF T-BILLS MONTHLY FROM JAN 2014
With epic amounts of JPY shorts and NKY longs, JPY was notably bid versus the USD (from Friday's close) going in, 30Y JGBs bid relative to 10s, and the NKY and TOPIX were leaking lower. Now is the time to see just how effective this efficient market is at pricing in the stabilization-to-retaliation phase of the current actions. Though of course, there is no intent to cough-'weaken'-cough the JPY:
- *AMARI TO SAY AT DAVOS NO POLITICAL INTENTION TO MANIPULATE YEN
So, as expected, the BoJ joins the Fed and ECB on the unlimited "open-yended"(TM) printfest bandwagon. So far JPY is not totally impressed.
Everyone knows that Japan, whose population is now at the oldest average age it has ever been in its history, sold more adult than baby diapers for the first time in 2012, and is "older" than any nation in the world, has a "demographic problem." What few may know, however, is that it also has a secret plan to fix said "demographic problem" - a solution that would make Hitler, Goebbels and Stalin proud. Earlier today, Taro Aso, 72 years young, and the deputy PM of the man set to unleash Abenomics on Japan (for the second time, only this time it will be different), suggested that the elderly in Japan should just "hurry up and die" because "You cannot sleep well when you think it's all paid by the government."
If governments or central banks really can create wealth simply by creating money, why does poverty exist anywhere on earth? Why haven’t successive rounds of quantitative easing by the US Fed solved our economic recession? And if Fed money creation really works, and doesn’t create inflation, why haven’t Americans gotten richer as the money supply has grown? The truth is obvious to everyone. Fiat currency is not wealth, and the creation of more fiat dollars does not mean that more rice, steel, soybeans, Ipads, or Honda Accords suddenly come into existence. The creation of new fiat currency simply strengthens a fantasy balance sheet, either by adding to cash reserves or servicing debt. But this balance sheet wealth is an illusion, just as the notion we can continue to raise the debt limit and borrow money forever is an illusion.
Now obviously, anyone with any common sense would react to this story with immediate shock and disbelief. The 5 year old child merely discussed "shooting bubbles" with a bubble gun she didn't even have with her, and she is immediately suspended? How does this compute? Have school districts gone completely insane? Actually, I believe they are quite aware and cognizant of what they are doing... This is not just a "zero tolerance policy" on the part of school officials. This is a concerted and directed effort to frighten children away from the whole of American gun culture using negative reinforcement. Like Pavlov's Dog, which was taught to salivate at the sound of a bell, America's youngest generation is being taught to cringe at the mention of firearms.
As Japan and China increase naval and air activity around the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, the United States is steadily increasing its active involvement to reassure Tokyo and send a warning to Beijing. But Beijing may seek an opportunity to challenge U.S. primacy in what China considers its territorial waters. In this succinst summary, Stratfor analyzes the current state of affairs, the potential for escalation, and how the US' presence in the Pacific will play tactically and strategically into the evolving crisis over the Islands.
The economy cannot recover without a complete cleansing of the excesses that have built up over the last half century plus. It is not a unique idea. It is a foundational belief of Austrian economics and an integral part of Austrian Business Cycle theory. Ludwig von Mises provided this fundamental observation: "Credit expansion can bring about a temporary boom. But such a fictitious prosperity must end in a general depression of trade, a slump." There has likely never been a boom so great (and so fictitious) as the one that this country experienced for the last several decades. Its origins began with the hubris of government economists in the decade of the 1960s who believed that the economy could be managed like a piece of machinery. This incorrect belief is still fundamental to Keynesian economists, despite the impressive string of failures it has produced. Markets are now trying to right these wrongs. Government is desperately trying to prevent the curative process.
As we have been warning for over half a year, and as conventional wisdom has finally caught on, the economy most impacted in Europe by the recent surge in the EUR exchange rate (not because of an improvement in the economy but due to wholesale engineering of asset prices by central banks) is the one that has so far been able to keep it all together - Germany, the same country where Angela Merkel last night suffered an embarrassing last minute loss which may be a harbinger of things to come should Germany slide deeper into recession. This, as also noted repeatedly before, is part of the grand paradox in Europe: unlike every other central bank in the world, the ECB's interventions achieve only one thing: to push the EUR higher, in the process stabilizing secondary market indicators (bond prices, the DAX, swap spreads) but destabilizing EUR-denominated exports. And while the adverse impact on core exporting countries from ECB intervention is by know understood by everyone (and this is ignoring the impact of potential inflation as a result of fund flows to the few safe regions in Europe), few appreciate just how big the EUR impact on the periphery is as well. The chart below from the Spanish economy ministry showing the recent stunning divergence of Spanish exports, should explain why a low EUR is good for not only Germany, but certainly the PIIGS, in this case Spain. And vice versa.
While much has been made of the seemingly paradoxical stability of railroad traffic as the broad economy stagnates (and turns down - as we discussed yesterday), it appears the little train that could for the last four years has finally decided it can't anymore. Of course, there is an obvious cyclicality to the pattern but still the unprecedented plunge in rail traffic this week must be somewhat concerning.
Japan's Chain Of Events: Stagnation -> Monetization -> Devaluation -> Stabilization -> Retaliation -> HyperinflationSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/21/2013 17:31 -0400
As the world's equity markets prepare to rally on the back of yet more central bank printing as Japan's Shinzo Abe takes the helm with a 2% inflation target and a central bank entirely in his pocket, The Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard suggests a rather concerning analog for the last time a Japanese prime-minister attempted to salvage his deflation/depression strewn nation. The 1930s 'brilliant rescue' by Korekiyo Takahashi, who removed Japan from the Gold Standard, ran huge 'Keynesian' budget deficits intentionally, and compelled the Bank of Japan to monetize his debt until the economy was back on its feet managed to devalue the JPY by 60% (40% on a trade-weighted basis). Initially this led to exports rising dramatically and brief optical stability, but the repercussion is the unintended consequence (retaliation) that the world missed then and is missing now. Though the economy appeared to stabilize, the responses of other major exporting nations, implicitly losing in the game of world trade, caused Japan's policies to backfire, slowed growth and left a nation needing to chase its currency still lower - eventually leading to hyperinflation in Japan (and Takahashi's assassination). With no Martians to export to, why should we expect any difference this time? and how much easier (and quicker) are trade flows altered in the current world?
With the BoJ and the Japanese government set to announce the now much-anticipated (and oft-repeated rumor) 2% inflation target in a joint (yet, rest reassured completely independent) statement, we have seen JPY swing from a 0.4% weakening to a 0.6% strengthening (sell the news?) and back to middle of the day's range by the time Europe closed. Cable (GBPUSD) has quite a day, dropping almost 100 pips top to bottom before bouncing back a little. This is 5 month lows for GBP as the triple-dip response of Mark Carney's new deal starts to get discounted. The USD ended practically unchanged despite all this as European sovereigns leaked wider, CHF strengthened modestly (2Y Swiss positive) and US equity futures did a small stop-run helped by the JPY crosses. It seems the zero-sum game in global FX competitive devaluation, as Steve Englander notes, has a long way to go, for if the UK and Japan, among others, are determined to crowd in growth by boosting exports, their currencies will have to fall a lot more than is now priced in.
We have long argued that when it comes to the deplorable and insolvent state of modern "developed" societies, the fault lies as much at the bottom, as at the top: the bottom, in this case, being the economic establishment in both academia and 'practice' that peddles a voodoo pseudoscience as a legitimate explanation for the unpredictable happenings in irrational world, meant to give people an illusory sense of control, and which works until it doesn't and fails spectacularly, at which point "the top", or the central banks conceived to smooth reality when it does not conform to economist models (and to facilitate wealth transfer from the poor to the rich of course), have to step in and fill gaping holes some $20+ trillion wide - see: 2008/2009 (all the while, the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy, by way of that invisible tax known as inflation continues). And while it has proven easy for the shamans of this voodoo class to fool the general population time and again (use big words, speak loudly and with confidence, mock any opposing voices as not having a Ph.D. or a Nobel prize in economics... "act as if") in their infallibility and superiority or that they have even the faintest clue what it is they are talking about, the reverse has also turned out to be true. And as the case of one Mr. Baptista da Silva from Portugal has shown, there is nothing easier than for an economist to con other economists. Or, rather, one fraud to con a whole lot of other frauds.
The recent landslide victory of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on a platform that promised positive change for the long-struggling Japanese economy has thrust a somewhat forgotten Japan back into the headlines. Indeed, as Goldman notes, asset markets have already responded aggressively to the prospective changes with Japanese equity markets climbing to multi-year highs and the Yen declining to multi-year lows against the US dollar and the EUR. But, as Kyle Bass has recently explained, very real questions remain about the ability of the LDP and new Prime Minister (PM) Shinzo Abe to deliver on promises and break the damaging cycle of low growth and deflation that has become well-entrenched in the Japanese economy over the last five-plus years. These doubts are reinforced by concerns about the health of the domestic banking sector and of Japan Inc. in general. "Abe-nomics 'appears' positive, but for how long?" Goldman asks and Hamada's recent concerns over 'going too far' are very real - though in general Goldman's positive 'take' is a useful counter-point to Bass' somewhat more realistic apocalyptic endgame thesis.
Focusing on econometric data to make sense of our economic ills blinds us to deeper dynamics, for example, the Grand Tradeoff of risk and financial security. If risk is avoided, suppressed and unrewarded, the economy will stagnate and the costs of the promised financial security will crush it. If you want a high-innovation, high-growth economy, you must reward risk and accept constant disorder and failure - the very antithesis of guaranteed financial security. The very promise of permanent security dooms the economy to stagnation as complicity, gaming the system, avoidance of risk and passivity are incentivized.