China

China
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"It's A Man-Made Tragedy; And The Men Who Made It Won't Fix It"





"It's a man-made tragedy, and the men who made it won’t fix it." So it turns out Lenin wasn’t just right that the best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency. It’s also the best way, as Venezuela can tell you, to destroy the socialist one.

 
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Goldman Releases Top Trade Recommendation #9: Long USDZAR And USDKRW (Again)





It took less than 2 months for Goldman's Top Trade Recommendation #6: i.e., going short the CHFSEK, to implode in truly spectacular fashion, in the process bankrupting any number of levered FX investors, who suffered an unlevered loss of 16.5% (add leverage, annualize, and you end up with the worst trade "Top" reco perhaps in history). Less than three weeks later, Goldman feels the urge to take the flow on the other side of its clients' trades, and sure enough, here is Goldman's brand spanking new Top Trade, this time #9, one which recommends going long the USD against an "equally weighted basket of ZAR and KRW for a target of 110."

 
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Frontrunning: February 3





  • RBA cuts interest rates to record low of 2.25% (SMH)
  • RBI keeps rates on hold (Reuters), India allows banks flexibility on big projects to reboot growth (Reuters)
  • BP slashes capital spending by 20% (FT)
  • Greek Retreat on Writedown May Move Fight to Spending (BBG)
  • Rosneft accounting move helps BP beat profit forecast (Reuters)
  • Amazon in Talks to Buy Some of RadioShack's Stores (BBG)
  • Behind Obama's budget proposals, a gloomy view of the future (Reuters)
  • How the Justice Department, S&P Came to Terms (WSJ)
  • Staples, Office Depot in Advanced Talks to Merge (WSJ)
 
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Guest Post: That Feeling That Something Dramatic Is About To Happen





There is intense debate going on in the worlds of economics, politics, and finance as to whether we will, in 2015, experience the mother of all stock market crashes or whether, instead, we will float along ever higher on the happy cloud that has been making at least some people rich over the last few years (or whether, for a third possibility, we will just muddle along somewhere in the middle). Beyond the diatribes from the punditocracy, there is a mood – maybe it is idiosyncratic – but there’s the feeling that something dramatic is about to happen. I mean, a snowstorm hits and the local supermarket runs out of bread?! Are we all rehearsing for something here?

 
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US Manufacturing "Remains In Low Gear" - Hovers Near One-Year Lows





Having fallen 4 months in a row in December to its lowest since last January, one could have been forgiuven for expecting the ubiquitous hope-driven bounce we so often see in soft-survey-based data and sure enough, Markit's US Manufacturing PMI eked out a very small (53.9 vs 53.7 previous) rise in January - hovering at practically one-year lows. On the heels of China's disappointment, it appears the cleanest dirty short of America is not decoupling too much (if at all). This is not the "crisis has passed", "economy is strong" narrative-confirming data that Obama and The Fed would have everyone believe and as markit notes, “Manufacturing remains in a lower gear compared to that seen last summer... adding to the suspicion that the pace of economic expansion in the first quarter could even fall below the 2.6% rate seen in the final quarter of last year."

 
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Frontrunning: February 2





  • Germany Sees No Need to Scrap Troika in Overseeing Greek Turnaround (WSJ)
  • European markets subdued as Chinese data weighs (Reuters)
  • U.S. Oil Workers Strike Enters Second Day as Crude Prices Slide (BBG)
  • Oil prices rally above $55 as investors pile in (Reuters)
  • Obama Wants a New Tax on U.S. Companies' Overseas Profits (BBG)
  • If Trading Bonds Is Hard, Think About Pain When Rates Rise (BBG)
  • Julius Baer Braces for Swiss Franc Impact (WSJ)
  • Coke, Budweiser win as Super Bowl ad battle gets serious (Reuters)
 
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Market Wrap: Futures Attempt Bounce On Sudden Rebound In Crude





The overnight session had been mostly quiet until minutes ago, when unexpectedly WTI, which had traded down as low as the mid $46 range following the weakest Chinese manufacturing data in two years, saw another bout of algo-driven buying momentum which pushed it sharply, if briefly, above $50, and was last trading about 2.6% higher on the day. In today's highly correlated market, this was likely catalyzed by a brief period of dollar weakness as well as the jump of EURCHF above 1.05, within the rumored corridor implemented by the Swiss National Bank, which apparently has not learned its lesson and is a glutton for a second punishment, after its hard Swissy cap was so dramatically breached, it hopes to repeat the experience with a softer one around 1.05. Expect to see even more FX brokers blowing up once the EURCHF 1.05 floor fails to hold next.

 
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The Euro Tragedy & Its Consequences For Gold





Until now, central banks have restricted monetary policy to domestic economic management; this is now evolving into the more dangerous stage of internationalisation through competitive devaluations. The gold price is an early warning of future monetary and currency troubles, and it is now becoming apparent how they may transpire. The ECB move to give easy money to profligate Eurozone politicians is likely to have important ramifications well beyond Europe, and together with parallel actions by the Bank of Japan, can now be expected to increase demand for physical gold in the advanced economies once more.

 
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Chinese Corruption Probe Pivots To Bankers As Manufacturing Contracts At Fastest Pace Since August 2012





With all eyes on China as the great Eastern hope for putting a floor under crude oil prices, last night's dismally disappointing Manufacturing PMI print looks set to remove that last pillar of 'demand' - artificial or not. Having fallen 6 months in a row and printing 49.8, missing expectations of 50.2 (3rd of last 4 months) and down from the prior 50.1, this is the first official contractionary signal for Chinese manufacturing since September 2012. With Industrial Enterprises in China seeing profits collapse at 8% YoY along with the slowest GDP growth (7.3% of magic unicorns and credit expansion) since Q1 2009, the PMI components' broad-based weakness show significant signs of a cyclical slowdown. What is perhaps most worrisome though is that with cries for more RRR cuts or government-sponsored largesse, the banking system has, it appears, become the new focus of the nation's corruption probes as the President of China Minsheng Bank was taken away by the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

 
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How Ukraine Can Save China From Its Existential Threat (Spoiler Alert: Girls)





In China last year, just over 115 boys were born for every 100 girls, and since sonogram technology was introduced to China in the 1980s - allowing families to determine a baby’s gender during the first few months of pregnancy - the gender imbalance in the world's largest economy has grown colossal. However, as Beijing News recently explained, there may be a solution for China's 34 million woman shortfall... Ukrainian women, as "their economy is depressed but beautiful women are running rampant." While Foreign Policy notes that the best destinations for Chinese men to find spouses are Japan and South Korea, there appears to be plenty of fish in the sea, at least outside China. Oh the wonders of Ricardian comparative advantage - Ukraine needs an export business (and produces - from what we have heard - attractive women) and China needs to import 'women' (to fill its massive shortfall). Global economic growth problems, solved...

 
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As China's Offshore Yuan Crashes To A 2 Year Low, Beijing Warns Its Citizens: "Don't Buy Dollars"





We won't go into the specific details of China's burst housing bubble, the shady underworld of its pyramid scheme wealth-management products, the fact that any hard asset in China is rehypothecated literally a countless number of times, the nuances of its deflating shadow banking system, or even the complexities of its alleged capital controls (alleged, because as a reminder, they only exist for the common folks - the really wealthy Chinese are naturally exempt from any capital flow constraints). We will point out something even more disturbing. The Offshore Yuan just hit a two-year low, reaching a level not seen since September 2012.

 
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60% Of Retail Sales Growth In Hong Kong Was Due To The iPhone 6





The sales of iPhone, which are captured in other consumer durable sales, grew on average 60%y/y since September, propelled predominately by the launch of new product. Excluding iPhones, retail sales value would have contracted almost 1%y/y in October, at the peak of the 'Occupy' movement, and expanded a more subdued 1.3%y/y during Sep-Nov 14 (see figure 1). In other words, over 60% of retail sales growth was attributable to iPhone in late 2014.

 
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Frontrunning: January 30





  • Falling Prices Spread Pain Far Across The Oil Patch (WSJ)
  • ISIS Group Claims Responsibility for Attacks That Killed 27 in Egypt (NBC)
  • Russia Unexpectedly Cuts Key Rate as Economy Eclipses Ruble (BBG)
  • Greece’s Feisty Finance Minister Tries a More Moderate Message (NYT)
  • U.S. homeownership hits 20-year low, but new households growing (Reuters)
  • Indian Banks’ Shares Plunge as Bad-Loan Provisions Surge (BBG)
  • Underground Terror Network Said to Benefit Would-Be Jihadists in Europe (WSJ)
  • Russia warns West support for Kiev could lead to 'catastrophe' (Reuters)
 
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The Next War In The Middle East Has Begun And Israel Vows "To Act Powerfully On All Fronts"





Israel and Hezbollah are at war.  On top of everything else that is going on in the world, now we have a new war in the Middle East, and nobody is quite certain what is going to happen next.  Israel has been preparing for this moment for more than 8 years.  So has Hezbollah...

 
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Frontrunning: January 29





  • Who Doubts Yellen's Policies? Summers for One (BBG)
  • Samsung, Apple Back in Dead Heat for Global Smartphone Dominance (WSJ)
  • Islamic State purportedly sets new deadline for hostage swap (Reuters)
  • Turkey's $7.9 Billion Mystery Money That's Simply Vanished (BBG)
  • How a Two-Tier Economy Is Reshaping the U.S. Marketplace (WSJ)
  • U.S. Prisons Grapple With Aging Population (WSJ)
  • Hasenstab Sees $3 Billion Vanish in Ukraine as One Big Bet Sours (BBG) - maybe he should BTFD, pardon, "invest" in Belarus next?
  • Belarus May Seek Debt Restructuring in 2015, President Says (BBG)
 
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