In a surprising (if not quite shocking) move, late on Friday Canada blocked Petroliam Nasional Bhd.’s C$5.2 billion takeover of Progress Energy Resources Corp. saying the bid by the Malaysian state-owned company "wasn’t in Canada’s national interests." As BusinessWeek explains, "in what investors say is a test case for the $15.1 billion bid by CNOOC Ltd. of China for Calgary-based Nexen Inc., the Canadian government said it “was not satisfied that the proposed investment is likely to be of net benefit to Canada,” according to an Oct. 19 statement from Industry Minister Christian Paradis." While it is unclear precisely what would be of "net benefit to Canada" what is certain is that the Progress Energy move will crush investor spirits who in recent months have expected a flurry of foreign bids coming for local energy names, only to be left at the altar courtesy of government intervention. And while the outlook for foreign driven M&A in Canada has just been Ice-9'ed to a degree not seen since the BHP Billiton government-denied acquisition of Potash Corp (watch the arbs scurry out of Nexen at first trading opportunity), China is wasting no time, and is rapidly reorineting itself away from increasingly energy-protectionist governments and to "greenfield" national interest expansion opportunities. Such as Afghanistan. As Reuters reports, in a historic development, and in a key staking of regional energy claims, a Chinese oil firm, China National Petroleum Corp, has just started oil production in the country which still has thousands of US troops on the ground. Expect this issue also to suddenly be of paramount importance in next week's final presidential debate.
Today's just announced revenue and EPS misses from both megacaps McDonalds and GE (in addition to MSFT, GOOG, INTC, IBM and everyone else) merely adds to what has so far been an abysmal earnings season, and one which is set to continue for far more weakness into Q4 (why? Hint: China, and its unwillingness to ease, and thus provide the much needed demand oomph US corporates need). Yet, the pundits will claim, economic conditions in the US have improved. How does one reconcile this disconnect? Simple: as Bloomberg Brief shows in two simple charts, what we are undergoing is not the first, but second case of annual deja vu, as the economy supposedly picks up in Q3 and Q4, courtesy of the latest and greatest artificial sugar high from the Fed, only to slide promptly back into decline once the initial euphoria fizzles. However, this time there is a major difference: corporate Y/Y revenue (and in many cases EPS) comps have turned negative, which means that unlike before when corporations would be the silver lining in a dreary macro environment once the economic downward trend resumed, this time around there won't be a convenient Deus Ex to provide a last gasp reason to hold on to the myth that things are getting better. This, in turn means, that with "dividend" assets no longer attractive, the investing/trading crowd will rush into hard assets like crude (recall the $125/barrell Brent barrier for economic decline)... and gold. But that is a story for another day.
- Debt Fuels a Dividend Boom - Firms Collect Payouts, and Investors Get Yield; 'Reminiscent of the Bubble Era' (WSJ)
- Black Monday Echoes With Computers Failing to Restore Confidence (BBG)
- Poll: Obama Leads in Wisconsin, Iowa (WSJ)
- Gold Imports by India Seen Climbing First Time in Six Quarters (BBG)
- Europe pushes ahead towards ECB bank supervision (Reuters)
- ... And fails: Summit fails to agree timetable for aid to failing lenders (FT)
- Toyota Prius Dominates California as State’s No. 1 Model (BBG)
- Italy raises €18bn in huge bond sale (FT)
- Diplomacy inbox fills up as U.N. awaits U.S. presidential vote (Reuters)
- Goldman braced for more revelations (FT)
- China power brokers agree preferred leadership team (Reuters)
- EU, Japan Warn Against New US Swaps Rules (WSJ)
- Why VaR is the most meaningless contraption ever: Morgan Stanley shows the ‘flaky’ side of model (FT)
- Made in France Trumps Consumer Choice in Hollande Jobs Quest (BBG)
- North Korea threatens South over propaganda balloons (Reuters)
Think of a steady stream of rusty old ships headed for the scrap-yards of India. Each one means China gets stronger.
With less than 20 days to go to the election, the Presidential race has tightened following Romney's performances in the debates, as the Republican challenger has overtaken the president in the national averages for the first time this year (and RealClearPolitics has him with an edge in the electoral college also). But ever the fair-and-balance bank, Citi believes that Obama's advantages remain substantial, as an incumbent president in an improving economic environment. In this broad discussion, the Pandit-less bank addresses 'the data' driving their Obama call, what would have to happen for a Romney win, the Senate and House split, The Tea Party (and other unusual events), and the 'bungee jump'-causing headline risk of the pending Fiscal Cliff debate. Everything you need to know about the election-critical states, players, and events (and who would win in a fist-fight), but were afraid to ask Wolf Blitzer.
These giants boast the world's largest economies and active militaries with their decisions influencing politics at a global level. Despite a massive trade agreement and many diplomatic meetings, the two nations struggle to maintain the semblance of a civil relationship. As pressure mounts from US leaders, China remains unfazed, coolly growing its military and economy. Master-of-Finance-Degrees provides the ultimate infographic of how these two titans of industry and power measure up when pitted head-to-head. Guess who wins?
The unending efforts of our glorious central-banking planners to raise asset prices and encourage 'animal spirits' through the trickle-down of unicorn-tears via the wealth effect have side-effects. Unintended consequences of 'leaking liquidity' finding its way into hard assets and 'things that have relatively limited supply' have stalled hopes of a stimulus in China (food inflation) and caused refis to mysteriously lag on misplaced future rate expectations in the US (ZIRP). The biggest 'problem' the central-bankers face, however, is energy prices. The liquidity surges directly impact the price of oil (which is already under pressure from the ever-igniting fears of Middle-East flare-ups). Critically, as Goldman notes, once the price of Brent crude reaches $125, global economic growth becomes challenged and ultimately makes QE self-defeating. This means Bernanke and his cohorts are threading an ever-narrowing needle as crude's price range remains high enough to motivate supply, but not so high as to undermine the global economic recovery - and with a tight physical market, any disruption or 'anomaly' will be hard to jawbone us back from (SPR rumors aside).
The world is running down a quite slippery slope in its attempt to avoid calamity. The political machines in Europe and the United States and to a real but lesser extent in China have passed the hat to their central banks because either they cannot or will not face up to the severity of their problems. This “faith based initiative” is misplaced, as liquidity and faith are driving the boat and derelict accounting is providing the fuel. The United States, having moved far past the “safety net” that has always been in place, are faced with a very real choice between Socialism and Capitalism. In Europe the problems are also of a fundamental nature as the definition of “More Europe” in Germany is decidedly different than the definition in Spain. But the fantastical belief that the Central Bank will wave it magic wand and make everything all good again is the stuff of Mommy kissing the boo-boo and everything will be just fine.
The World Gold Council issued a summary on gold’s price performance in various currencies during the third quarter. The report looks at influences that monetary policies and central bank actions have on gold. Gold’s 11.1% USD/oz return in 3Q was in response to central bank stimulus measures. Volatility decreased and generally correlated with other assets. Central banks announced a continuation of their unconventional monetary policy programmes in Q3 which mainly are used to lower borrowing costs and supporting financial markets.Financial assets have responded to central bank policy announcements, but gold's reaction has been the strongest. There is a consensus that these policies drive investment into gold purely due to inflation-risk impact. The World Gold Council believes that there are not one but four principal factors that provide further support to the investment case for gold: Inflation risk, Medium-term tail-risk from imbalances, Currency debasement and uncertainty, and Low real rates and emerging market real rate differentials.
- Germany will pay Greek aid (Spiegel)
- Spain Banks Face More Pain as Worst-Case Scenario Turns Real (Bloomberg)
- China’s Growth Continues to Slow (WSJ)
- Executives Lack Confidence in U.S. Competitiveness (WSJ)
- Poor Market Conditions will See 180 Solar Manufacturers Fail by 2015 (OilPrice)
- Wen upbeat on China’s economy (FT)
- Gold remains popular, despite the doubts of economists (Economist)
- Armstrong Stands to Lose $30 Million as Sponsors Flee (Bloomberg)
- IMF urges aid for Italy, Spain but Rome baulking (Reuters)
- EU Summit Highlights Financial Divide (WSJ)
- FOMC Straying on Price Target, Former Fed Officials Say (Bloomberg)
- Putin defiant over weapons sales (FT)
Today Europe awakes to yet another Eurozone summit, one at which such topics as Greece, Spain, the banking union project or a economic/budgetary union will have to gain further traction, if not resolution. In fact Greece could hardly wait and has already launched it latest 24 hour strike against austerity. The same Greece which demands a 2 year, €30 billion extension from Europe to comply with reform, a move which Europe has/has not agreed to as while the core have said yes to more time, all have refused to fund Greece with any more money. Alas the two are synonymous. As SocGen predicts unless there is some credible progress today, all the progress since the September ECB meeting, which has seen SPGB 10 Year yields decline from 690 bps to sub 550 bps, may simply drift away. And as everyone knows, there is never any progress at these meetings, except for lots of headlines, lots of promises (the Eurozone June summit's conclusions have yet to be implemented) and lots of bottom line profits by Belgian caterers. Elsewhere, Spain sold 3, 4 and 10 year bonds at declining yields on residual optimism from the pro forma bailed out country's paradoxical Investment Grade rating. In non-hopium based news, Spanish bad loans rose to a record 10.5% in August from 10.1% previously while the oldest bank in the world, Italy's Banka Monte dei Paschi was cut to junk status. All this is irrelevant though, as no negative news will ever matter again in a centrally-planned world. Finally the only real good news (at least until it is revised)came out of the UK, where retail sales posted a 0.4% increase on expectations of a 0.2% rise from -0.2%.
Whereas yesterday we learned that Chinese September electricity consumption had dropped to a multi-year low of 2.9% Y/Y (ignoring the Chinese New year data aberration of -7.5% from January which should be a blended reading with the February surge of +22.9%), down from 3.6% in August, and the lowest since August 2010, today in turn we find that the flip side to the this number, electricity production, was an even bleaker +1.5%, and the lowest in three months. And while it has been rumored that China has an incentive to manipulate the former down, this has been offset by manipulating the latter - output - up. Which is why whereas the consumption data implies a modestly weaker GDP, which declined and missed the official target (if ended precisely as the goalseek-o-tron expected), it is the electricity production data that is the outlier, and which indicates that in reality the GDP is now trendlining well below the official 7%.
Chinese economic data has in general been surprising to the downside in recent weeks - in opposition to the positive (seasonally adjusted awesomeness) of US data. However, for tonight's entertainment we have GDP at 7.4% YoY - perfectly in line with expectations (but the 7th consecutive quarter of slowing growth), Industrial Production beat modestly, Retail Sales beat handsomely (biggest beat in 18 months), and FAI beat...
- *CHINA 3Q GDP RISES 7.4% VS ECONOMISTS' EST. 7.4% :NBSZ CH
- *CHINA SEPT. INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT RISES 9.2% VS 9% ECONOMISTS' EST.
- *CHINA JAN.-SEPT. FIXED-ASSET INVESTMENT UP 20.5% VS EST. 20.2%
- *CHINA SEPT. RETAIL SALES RISE 14.2% FROM YEAR EARLIER
So, no new stimulus coming anytime soon - leaving Bernanke and Draghi all alone (and the latter is stuck waiting for Rajoy to say 'Si'). AUD lurched violently up and down; US equity futures are unmoved; and Treasury yields rose perhaps 1bps.
Xiao Gang, Chairman of the Bank of China, took on the issue of “shadow banking,” recently in an op-ed. Chinese finance is undergoing dramatic changes which are not yet widely understood. Historically (mainly before 2008), the vast majority of lending in China was done by the normal banking sector in the form of loans. The process was a cornerstone of the government’s control over the economy. The vast majority of banks in China are controlled by the government, so the “who and when” of lending was firmly in the hands of China’s leaders. But, the years 2008/9 will be remembered as watershed years for Chinese finance, as two trends appeared – an economy relying increasingly on debt creation for growth, and that debt creation becoming more and more complicated and obscure - making it is easy to see why so many officials and analysts are worried about the 'hazy and complicated area of finance' out of teh government's direct control.
This morning's New Home Starts and Building Permits was called by some 'The Most Bullish Development On The Entire Earth'. That is indeed a very bullish statement about a sector of the economy that is still running at very recessionary levels of activity. However, let's analyze the data beyond the headline to determine what is really occurring. Among the various 'surprises' are seasonal adjustments, as we saw with the retail sales, were exceptionally large in September; the underlying fundamentals, especially in the 25-35 cohorts, are simply not in place to create a sustainable upturn in housing; and the disconnect between the housing data and the real demand for construction workers. The current activity falls well within the bounds of normal volatility, and we will likely see revisions lower in the coming months ahead, as seasonal variations began to negatively impact the data towards year end. The important point, however, is that while the housing data on the surface is showing improvement the more important components to sustainability from employment to lending are not.