Gold Nears $1,700/oz After Bernanke QE Hints, OECD $1.3 Trillion Eurozone ‘Firewall’ And Despite Indian Gold StrikeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/27/2012 06:43 -0500
Gold is targeting $1,700/oz after yesterday’s Bernanke QE hints and today’s urging by the OECD to boost the Eurozone ‘firewall’ by another $1.3 trillion. Gold is consolidating on yesterday’s gains today above the 200 day moving average (simple) at $1,687/oz after yesterday’s biggest daily gain since January. The gains came after Ben Bernanke warned of the risks to the fragile US economic recovery and signalled the Fed would keep interest rates low and further debase the dollar – boosting gold’s inflation hedging appeal. Gold is also likely being supported by the OECD’s warning that the debt crisis is far from over. The OECD said today that the euro zone's public debt crisis is not over despite calmer financial markets this year and warned that Europe's banks remain weak, fiscal targets are far from assured and debt levels are still rising. The OECD said that the eurozone needs to boost crisis ‘firewalls’ to at least $1.3 trillion. Gold likes the ‘trillion’ word and talk of ‘trillions’ and will be supported by the risk of the creation of trillions of more euros, pounds and dollars in the coming months. Indian jewellers are on strike to protest against a government levy on gold and the strike is entering its 11th day in most parts of India. It has brought gold imports to a near standstill from the world's biggest buyer of bullion in the peak wedding season. The Indian government for the second time in 2012 doubled the import tax on gold coins and bars to 4% along with an excise duty of 0.3 percent on unbranded jewellery.
- 6.0+ Magnitude quake strikes near Tokyo (USGS)
- Ireland Faces Legal Challenge on Bank Bailout (Reuters)
- Bernanke says U.S. needs faster growth (Reuters)
- Spain Promises Austere Budget Despite Poll Blow (Reuters)
- Orban Punished by Investors as Hungary Retreats From IMF Talks (Bloomberg)
- Obama vows to pursue further nuclear cuts with Russia (Reuters)
- Japan's Azumi Wants Tax Issue Decided Tuesday (WSJ)
- Australia Losing Competitive Edge, Says Dow Chemicals CEO (Australian)
- OECD Urges ‘Ambitious’ Eurozone Reform (FT)
- Yields Less Than Italy’s Signal Indonesia Exiting Junk (Bloomberg)
Any and all negative overnight news are now completely ignored as the scramble for risk hits the usual fever pitch following Bernanke's latest attempt to transfer cash from safe point A to ponzi point B, aka stocks. First, China's industrial firms suffered a rare annual drop in profits in the first two months of 2012 mainly in petrochemicals, metals and auto firms, the latest signs of weakness in the world's No. 2 economy and reinforcing the case for policy easing, according to Reuters. This was the first Jan-Feb profits downturn since Jan-Aug 2009. Profits fell 5.2 percent so far in 2012, according to the industrial profitability indicator, published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) every month. The last period that China reported nationwide industrial profit fall was in the first eight months of 2009. Then there was the German GfK Consumer Confidence which unlike yesterday's IFO, missed: nobody cares. Also on the negative side was an earlier auction of Spanish Bills which sold EUR 2.58 billion, just barely off the low end of a target issuance of EUR 2.5-3 billion. As noted however, neither this, nor the series of US disappointments which looks set to end March with 15 of 17 estimate misses is relevant. To wit: French consumer confidence soared to 87 on expectations of 82, as the easiest and lowest common denominator to boost risk assets is now abused everywhere, by UMich, by Germany and now by France. And why would people not be confident - stocks everywhere are higher despite fundamentals. After all if something fails, there is a central planner to fix it. Never forget - the taxpayer credit card has no limits. Net result - green across the board.
The Fed is clearly worried about the economy. Ben Bernanke's latest speeches aren't exactly inspiring. It is as if he thinks the rosy(ier) numbers are some prank being played upon him by the gods; that soon this will all be taken away. He is right. He admits he doesn't understand why the economy is the way it is. Reality doesn't fit his theory. ("It's supposed to work, dammit!") So, what do you do when you are the head of the world's biggest printing press, and don't know what else to do? Why QE3 of course.
Big picture: the markets are being held together via a very tenuous balancing act on the part of EU leaders and the world Central Banks. The short-term bias will be bullish due to the factors listed above. But big trouble is lurking just beneath the surface. And should anything upset the current balance being maintained, we could see some real fireworks in the markets in short order.
While it appears to us that Bernanke's message was loud and clear, there are those who need validation and peer-confirmation. Such as that from the firm whose alumni run the Fed, namely Goldman Sachs. Below is Jan Hatzius' take on the "surprising" Chairman speech which essentially said QE can and will come at any time there is a downtick in the market, masked by the unemployment rate rising to its fair value, as estimated by Gallup, somewhere around 9%.
Next week will be relatively light in economic reporting, and with no HFT exchange IPOs on deck, and the VVIX hardly large enough to warrant a TVIX type collapse, it may be downright boring. The one thing that will provide excitement is whether or not the US economic decline in March following modestly stronger than expected January and February courtesy of a record warm winter, will accelerate in order to set the stage for the April FOMC meeting in which Bill Gross, quite pregnant with a record amount of MBS, now believes the first QE hint will come. Naturally this can not happen unless the market drops first, but the market will only spike on every drop interpreting it for more QE hints, and so on in a senseless Catch 22 until the FRBNY is forced to crash the market with gusto to unleash the NEW qeasing (remember - the Fed is now officially losing the race to debase). For those looking for a more detailed preview of next week's events, Goldman provides a handy primer.
As we pointed out about a month ago, in "While You Were Sleeping, Central Banks Flooded The World In Liquidity" as the world was focused on headlines whether or not the Fed would step up as it always does when the market is sliding, and unleash the monetary floodgates, it was not Ben Bernanke, but eveyrone else that hit CTRL+P and took the place of the Fed, of note the primary central banking peers among the Final Four - the ECB, the BOE and the BOJ. And why not: after all the hope was that since electronic money is electronic money, and can be moved from point A to point B at the push of a button, it would be used primarily to reflate stocks around the world, but mostly where the path has least resistance - the US. What was not accounted for was that money would also be used to inflate commodities such as oil - a key factor when delaying further US-based easing in an election year. However, more than even record for this time of year gas prices, there was one even more important outcome from this chain of events. As the following chart from Willem Buiter shows, in its fake attempt to show monetary restraint, the Fed has gone straight into last place in the "race to debase." Needless to say, in a world with $25+trillion in "excess" debt (debt which would need to be eliminated simply to reduce global debt/GDP to a "sustainable" 180% per BCG), last is a very bad place to be...
The Fed's new price rule raises more questions than it answers. The real question is whether 'the rule' is a beard for the Fed's coming plan to ignore it and work on its unemployment 'mandate?' Can the expression of a rule, even one that is poorly articulated, cause expectations to cluster around it? And is that where the Fed is going...
All you need to read and some more.
- More HFT Posturing: SEC Probes Rapid Trading (WSJ)
- Fed’s Bullard Says Monetary Policy May Be at Turning Point (Bloomberg)
- Hilsenrath: Fed Hosts Global Gathering on Easy Money (WSJ)
- Dublin ‘hopeful’ ECB will approve bond deal (FT)
- EU Proposes a Beefed-Up Permanent Bailout Fund (WSJ)
- Portugal Town Halls Face Default Amid $12 Billion Debt (Bloomberg)
- Hidden Fund Fees Means U.K. Investors Pay Double US Rates (Bloomberg)
- Europe Weighs Trade Probes Amid Beijing Threats (WSJ)
- Bank of Japan Stimulus Row Fueled by Kono’s Nomination (Bloomberg)
Bernanke and Draghi in a snit? Fed and ECB at odds? US-German regulatory run-around? Has Draghi just enaged in an act of ill-advised hubris or does he have a secret plan to stimualte Europe?
Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is covered in a long profile by Roger Lowenstein in the Atlantic. The sympathetic account takes the reader blow-by-blow through the criticism that he has received from virtually all quarters during his tenure as Fed chair. What Lowenstein hones in on are the reviews and criticisms of Bernanke’s performance in “resurrecting the economy” — the interest rate policy, his interpretation of the dual mandate, quantitative easing, Operation Twist, etc. But for a piece that clocks in at 8,287 words, Lowenstein pays scant attention to the emergency actions taken to save the financial system itself.
The global economy remains on shaky ground. China’s manufacturing activity contracted for its 5th straight month, the US recovery is still very early to call, and the euro zone debt crisis may not be finished. Eurozone PMI data is due later today which will show how the economy is doing after Greece averted default earlier this month. Thomson Reuters GFMS have said that gold at $2,000/oz is possible - possibly in late 2012 or early 2013. Thomson Reuters GFMS Global Head of metals analytics, Philip Klapwijk, featured on Insider this morning and advised investors to "buy this gold dip”. Gold should be bought on this correction especially if we go lower still as we may need a shake-out of "less-committed investors." Klapwijk suggested that a brief dip below $1,600 is on the cards but the global macro environment still favours investment, notably zero-to-negative real interest rates and he would not rule out further easing by either the ECB or the Fed before year end.