- Glass-Steagall Fans Plan New Assault If Volcker Rule Deemed Weak (BBG) ... "if"? The banks control the legislators and regulators...
- Cellphone data spying: It's not just the NSA (USA Today)
- Major tech companies push for limits on government surveillance (Reuters)
- Shanghai Warns Kids to Stay Indoors for Seventh Day on Smog (BBG)
- Protesters fell Lenin statue, tell Ukraine's president 'you're next' (Reuters)
- Everyone must be flying private these days: EADS to cut 5000-6000 jobs, close Paris HQ in restructuring (FT)
- Big Players Trade 'Upstairs' (WSJ)
- There’s no way to tell how many people who think they’ve signed up for health insurance through the U.S. exchange actually have (BBG)
- Slower China inflation reduces worries of tighter policy (Reuters)
Everywhere you look these days, central planning just can't stop reaping failure after failure. First it was Japan's Q3 GDP rising just 1.1%, well below the 1.9% in the previous quarter and the 1.6% expected, while the Japanese current account posted its first decline since of €128 billion (on expectations of a JPY149 billion increase) since January. What's worse, according to Asahi, Abe's approval rating tumbled to 46% in the current week, down from the low 60s as soon as early 2013, while a former BOJ member and current head of Japan rates and currency research, Tohru Sasaki, said that the high flying days of the USDJPY (and plunging of the JPY respectively) is over, and the USDJPY is likely to slide back to 100 because the BOJ would not be able to expand monetary easing by enough to repeat this year's "success." He definitely uses that last word rather loosely.
As fear and nationalism rise in Japan (and Abe's grip on the people founders amid falling approval ratings and underperforming economic indicators such as GDP tonight), so another party has joined the debacle in the East China Sea. As NHK World reports, South Korea has officially announced that it will expand its air defense identification zone, making it partially overlap those of Japan and China. The game of chicken over small islands (and submerged rocks!) in the middle of nowhere continues...
See why the Fed is unlikely to taper in December, but Q1 14 is much more likely. Read a preview of the highlights from the week ahead.
Following China's unveiling of its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, overlapping a large expanse of territory also claimed by Japan, the Japanese media has, as The Japan Times reports, had a dramatically visceral reaction on the various scenarios of a shooting war. From Sunday Mainichi's "Sino-Japanese war to break out in January," to Flash's "Simulated breakout of war over the Senkakus," the nationalism (that Kyle Bass so notably commented on) is rising. Which side, wonders Shukan Gendai ominously, will respond to a provocation by pulling the trigger? The game of chicken between two great superpowers is about to begin has begun.
According to Hong Kong customs data, in the month of October (with the usual one month delay), China imported 148 total tons of gold in a month in which the price of gold, once again plunged. Curiously, unlike momentum chasers of paper ETF promises to get gold delivery, China continues to BTFD in gold, and the 148 tons of import in the past month was the second highest monthly import ever through Hong Kong, second only to the 224 tons imported in March of 2013. Compared to a year ago, when the price of gold was over 30% higher, China has imported over 200% more than the 48 tons it bought through Hong Kong a year ago. At least someone is grateful for plunging gold prices.
With all the excitement about Japan's soaring stock market (if plunging wages), crashing non-digital currency (leading to soaring energy prices), recent passage of an arbitrary secrecy bill ("Designed by Kafka & Inspired By Hitler"), and ongoing territorial spat with China, it is almost as if the Abe administration is desperately doing everything in its power, including some of the most ridiculous decisions taken by a government in recent history, to hide some key development behind the scenes. Such as this one perhaps: NHK reported today that TEPCO said radiation levels are extremely high in an area near a ventilation pipe at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. TEPCO found radiation of 25 sieverts an hour on a duct, which connects reactor buildings and the 120-meter-tall ventilation pipe. Putting this number in context the estimated radiation level is the highest ever detected outside reactor buildings. People exposed to this level of radiation would die within 20 minutes.
Japan is likely to launch even more QE in early 2014 and a much lower yen may result. That'll have dramatic consequences, perhaps greater than US tapering.
As the eurozone debt crisis has steadily widened the divide between Europe’s stronger northern economies and the weaker, more debt-laden economies in the south (with France a kind of no man’s land economy in between), one question is on everyone’s mind: Can Europe’s monetary union – indeed, the European Union itself – survive? Fiscal and financial measures aimed at strengthening eurozone governance have been inadequate to restore confidence in the euro. And Europe’s troubled economies have been slow to undertake structural reforms and by maintaining large trade surpluses, Germany is exporting unemployment and recession to its weaker neighbors. But how will Germany react when the north-south divide becomes large enough to threaten the euro’s survival? Two outcomes now seem possible. Europe’s north-south divide has become a time bomb lying at the foundations of the currency union.
It was inevitable that a few short days after Wall Street lovingly embraced Bitcoin as their own, with analysts from Bank of America, Citigroup and others, not to mention the peanut gallery vocally flipflopping on the currency after hating it at $200 only to love it at $1200 that Bitcoin... would promptly crash. And crash it did: overnight, following previously reported news that China's Baidu woild follow the PBOC in halting acceptance of Bitcoin payment, Bitcoin tumbled from a recent high of $1155 to an almost electronically destined "half-off" touching $576 hours ago, exactly 50% lower, on very heave volume, before a dead cat bounce levitated the currency back to the $800 range, where it may or may not stay much longer, especially if all those who jumped on the bandwagon at over $1000 on "get rich quick" hopes and dreams, only to see massive losses in their P&Ls. Which incidentally, like gold, is to be expected when one treats what is explicitly a currency, instead as an asset, with delusions of grandure that some greater fool will pay more for it tomorrow than it is worth today.
"Just be long. Pretty much anything. So here’s how I understand things now that I am no longer the last bear standing. You should buy equities if you believe many European banks and their sovereign paymasters are insolvent. You should buy shares if you put a higher probability than your peers on the odds of a European democracy rejecting the euro over the course of the next few years. You should be long risk assets if you believe China will have lowered its growth rate from 7% to nearer 5% over the course of the next two years. You should be long US equities if you are worried about the failure of Washington to address its fiscal deficits. And you should buy Japanese assets if you fear that Abenomics will fail to restore the fortunes of Japan (which it probably won’t). Hey this is easy… And then it crashed"
- Hugh Hendry
Western central banks have tried to shake off the constraints of gold for a long time, which have created enormous difficulties for them. They have generally succeeded in managing opinion in the developed nations but been demonstrably unsuccessful in the lesser-developed world, particularly in Asia. It is the growing wealth earned by these nations that has fuelled demand for gold since the late 1960s. There is precious little bullion left in the West today to supply rapidly increasing Asian demand, and it is important to understand how little there is and the dangers this poses for financial stability.
With the world almost in total agreement that rates can only go up, that the 30-year bull market in rates is over and a return to "normal" rates is timely, perhaps a glance at the following chart of 700 years of government bond yields will enlighten a little as to where the anomalies and what the "normal" is. All too often investors are caught up in their cognitive dissonance-driving recency bias when a bigger picture may just help those who always proclaim to invest for the long-term.
Along with the USD and JPY, Bitcoin is having a bad day. For the second time, following a 'touch' of the Gold, Bitcoin has fallen dramatically in the day after. Volume is also relatively heavy. It would seem that this drop in USD BTC has compressed the "arb" against China BTC to zero (from over $100 earlier in the week). USD BTC $940, China BTC 5771 (USD equiv. $946)
“It’s horrible out there,” notes one resident as an orange-level haze alert, the second highest, remained in effect broadly across China and, as Bloomberg reports, the heavy fog shrouding Shanghai caused widespread flight cancellations and sent the air quality index surging past 500 to the “beyond index” category. “The pollution is worse today and the fog is getting heavier,” another noted, and despite the WHO concerns that outdoor air pollution can cause lung cancer, he is "not prohibiting my kids from going outside because we have to learn to grow up in all kinds of environment. But they are definitely wearing face masks.” The government has ordered 30% of government-used vehicles off the road and industrial companies to reduce or halt production.