Overnight risk continues to ignore all newsflow (today the economic reporting finally picks up with advance retail sales due at 8:30 am as expectations for a second modest decline in a row of -0.3%) and is focused entirely on what the consensus decides to make of the Hilsenrath piece, even as the difficulty level was raised a notch following another late Sunday Hilsenrath piece, which puts more variable into the "tapering" equation, and whose focus is whether Bernanke will be replaced by Janet Yellen, Geithner or Summers, or anyone. With all three classified as permadoves, one does scratch their head how the market can be confused: worst case Fed tapers by $10/20 billion per month, market tumbles, then Bernanke's replacement or Ben himself ploughs on even more aggressively with QE. QED.
Currency wars are so pre-"QE eternity." At least that is the opinion of Indian multi-billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, and owner of the world's biggest steelmaker, who urged Europe to embrace protectionism and erect trade barriers to "protect" its manufacturers (benefiting one ArcelorMittal among others), while at the same time bashing austerity, saying "the futures of EU manufacturing depended on politicians in Brussels helping industry face what he said was unfair competition from China." In other words, it's time for Europe to escalate into full blown trade warfare with China. It is unclear if Mr. Mittal had any thoughts on how China would, in turn, escalate to this progression in trade warfare: whether with tariffs, subsidies, or outright dumping. What does appear quite clear is that the owner of ArcelorMittal, who on Friday posted a net loss of $345 million (down from a $92 million profit a year earlier) on Q1 sales plunging by 13%, whose stock is just off its 52 week lows, and who said he may close plants in Eastern Europe if the "economy continues to slump", may have some ulterior motives in asking that Europe fight his war for him.
Manufacturing data in the last several months has suggested that economic growth around the world is slowing. However, China’s export growth surprised the market this week and unexpectedly accelerated in April, even as shipments to the U.S. and Europe fell. This has created a conundrum for analysts and market watchers. How can China be growing while the countries that purchase its exports are slowing? As we noted earlier, the numbers don’t add up. Many analysts have attributed China’s increasing imports as signs of a healthy manufacturing sector, or increasing investments in infrastructure and property. Our simple analysis shows that more than one third of the increase in imports is due to China’s increasing gold consumption. This new gold buying could have a significant impact on Chinese import statistics and force analysts to reconsider the strength of the Chinese domestic economy.
China's Data Manipulation In One Chart, And Why The Real Data Implies Weakest GDP Growth In Over 20 YearsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/12/2013 13:31 -0400
By definition, exports from country A have to equal imports from country B. Unless country A is China. Then, central planning magic happens, as can be seen in the chart below showing the misreporting of Chinese exports to HK compared to HK's reported imports from China, which is just the latest nail in the coffin of Chinese economic data "integrity."
While the H7N9 birdflu epidemic is still raging in China, with 4 news deaths bringing the total confirmed death toll to 31 (and who knows how many unconfirmed) on 129 infections leading to a mortality rate that is simply staggering, even if the mordibity rate is largely a function of Chinese data censorship, Europe and the middle east may be set for a viral breakout of their own. First is the case of Saudi Arabia where two more people have died from novel coronavirus, a new strain of the virus similar to the one that caused SARS, in an outbreak in al-Ahsa region of Saudi Arabia, the deputy health minister for public health said on Sunday. What is more troubling is that with the lack of accurate newsflow out of Saudi Arabia, come unforeseen consequences, such as the eventual spread of the virus from its localized region to a new area, such as Europe or in this case France, to start. Reuters report that a "second diagnosis of the new SARS-like coronavirus has been confirmed in France, the Health Ministry said on Sunday, in what appeared to be a case of human-to-human transmission. The new infection was found in a 50-year-old man who had shared a hospital room with France's only other known sufferer, the ministry said in a statement."
It was a decent run but all good things come to an end. We know China's growth is fading (even by their own official data) but below the surface data suggests things are a lot worse. Between this drop in growth and the rise in anti-corruption practices (that we discussed here) the imports of Swiss-made luxury watches has tubmled 24% in Q1 for the third quarter in a row of declines. "The corruption crackdown campaign is having a big effect on luxury watch sales, high-end watches are very common gifts and they are items that are quite conspicuous and associated as a sign of corruption." This follows the firing of Communist Party official Yang "Brother Watch" Dacai who posted images of himself wearing 11 luxury watches at different times. Two major luxury watch retailers are significantly underperforming while Swatch is improving as Hong Kong (the world's biggest importer of watches) slows dramatically. But have no fear, we are sure it will be a smooth transition.
Politicians love good asset bubbles. Until they blow up. Which they always do.
There are signs that China's economy may have a short-term uptick but that shouldn't detract from what remains a poor long-term outlook.
China may or may not be building empty cities any more, but when it comes to the buildings it does, ahem, erect, it appears that the communist regime is either running out of ideas or is taking the symbolism of the skyscraper just a little too seriously. Behold the building that will house the new Beijing offices of the People's Daily, the official paper of the China Communist Party...
The anti-consumerism Degrowth movement is gaining visibility and adherents in Europe. Degrowth (French: décroissance, Spanish: decrecimiento, Italian: decrescita) recognizes that the mindless expansion of mindless consumption fueled by credit and financialization is qualitatively and quantitatively different from positive growth. In a very real way, Degrowth embraces the devolution of paid work and wealth that cannot be reversed. Growth and consumption based on financialization, expanding credit and phantom collateral is unsustainable and will devolve or implode. Rather than pine for what cannot be, it's far healthier to embrace using less of everything and increasing well-being by leveraging the web, the commons and what cannot be commoditized or financialized.
Credit Shock Dead Ahead: China Money Formation Soars To 2-Year High As Delinquent Loans Surge By 29%Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/10/2013 08:33 -0400
A month ago we pointed out that even as the Chinese credit bubble - at a record 240% of GDP on a consolidated basis - is now clearly out of control, the far more disturbing aspect of China's credit-fueled economy is the ever declining boost to economic growth as a result of every incremental dollar created. Indeed, as the economic response to "credit shock" becomes lower and lower, even as the inflationary impact lingers, the PBOC is caught between a stagnating rock and an inflationary hard place. Nonetheless, there are few options and with the shark-like need to continue growing, or at least moving, in order to prevent collapse, China did precisely what we expected it to do: boost credit growth even more despite the obvious tapering economic impact of such money creation. Sure enough, overnight China reported that its M2 growth accelerated in April from 15.7% in March, to 16.1% on a Y/Y basis: the fastest pace of credit creation in two years. Yes, the PBOC may not be creating money, but the Chinese pseudo-sovereign commercial banks, sure are, and at a pace that puts the rest of the world to shame.
While the extreme volatility associated with the 8amET hour in Gold and Silver trading is no surprise, the strength of the USD (helped by JPY weakness along with pretty much every other major) is slamming WTI crude, Gold, and Silver lower this morning. The Dollar Index move in the last two days is the largest in 16 months; Gold's 2-day drop is the biggest (ex-the crash) in 10 months. "If you consider what is happening in the currency markets and then factor in the demand for the physical delivery of gold there should be some additional note of caution in your evaluation of the markets. Smart money always moves first while dumb money lingers and is baited by those that take advantage of it. A sniff of Fear has returned to the marketplace and Greed may be in the process of giving way."
- PBOC Says China Shouldn’t Be ’Blindly Optimistic’ on Inflation (BBG)
- Foreigners Buying Half of London New Homes Prop Up Building (BBG) - first they come for the foreign deposits, then for the real assets...
- Investors Rediscovering Margin Debt (WSJ) - well, yes: it is at record highs
- China issues new rules targeting wealth management fund pools (RTRS)
- Navy $37 Billion Ships Seen Unsuitable Have 2-Year Window (BBG)
- New York may have to drop claims against BofA over Merrill (RTRS)
- FBI Rejects Boston Police Stance in Spat Over Terror Data (BBG)
- In eastern Syria oil smugglers benefit from chaos (RTRS)
The main story overnight is without doubt the dramatic plunge in the Yen, which following the breach and trigger of USDJPY 100 stops has been a straight diagonal line to the upper right (or lower for the Yen across all currency crosses) and at last check was approaching 101.50, in turn sending the USD higher in virtually all jurisdictions. However it is not so much the Yen weakness that was surprising - a nation hell bent on doubling its monetary base in two years will do that - but the accelerating response in neighboring countries all of which are seeing Japan as the biggest economic threat suddenly and all are scrambling to respond. Sure enough, midway through the evening session, Sri Lanka cut its reverse repo and repurchase rate to 9% and 7% respectively, promptly followed by Vietnam cutting its own refinancing rate from 8% to 7%, then moving to Thailand where the finance chief Kittiratt called for a rate cut exceeding 25 bps, and more jawboning from South Korea suggesting even more rate cuts from the export-driven country are set to come as it loses trade competitiveness to Japan. Asian financial crisis 2.0 any minute now?