China’s credit growth has been outstripping economic growth for five quarters with the corporate debt bubble looking increasingly precarious (as we explained here and here). This raises one key question: where has the money gone? As SocGen notes, although such divergence is not unprecedented, it potentially suggests a trend that gives greater cause for concern – China is approaching a Minsky moment. At the micro level, SocGen points out that a non-negligible share of the corporate sector and local government financial vehicles are struggling to cover their financial expense. At the macro level, they estimate that China’s debt servicing costs have significantly exceeded underlying economic growth. As a result, the debt snowball is getting bigger and bigger, without contributing to real activity (see CCFDs for a very big example). This is probably where most of China’s missing money went.
The head of the U.S. Cyber Command said that the U.S. military is unprepared for cyber attacks, specifically singling out China.
"What we're seeing in cyber is going to continue and it's going to grow and it's going to get worse,"
First a big caveat: the following comes from CNN, the world's farce leader, so take it with a quarry of salt. That said, CNN's household access is pervasive and when it comes to setting the social mood based on a news report, be it completely fabricated or not, the news organization is second to none. Which may be precisely why it is CNN that is reporting that in Syria - a place just itching for the proverbial match to be struck on a mountain of geopolitical gunpowder involving all the key actors: from the US, to Russia, Europe, China, and of course Israel, said match may have just been lit. To wit: "Syrian state-run television reported Thursday that forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad killed three Westerners, including an American woman and a British national, who they claim were fighting with the rebels and were found with weapons and maps of government military facilities."
A cruel twist for an already threatened industry.
The US currency is shrinking as a percentage of world currency today according to the International Monetary Fund. It’s still in pole position for the moment, but business transactions are showing that companies around the world are today ready and willing to make the move to do business in other currencies.
- Japan’s Stocks Correction Raises Stakes for Abe’s Growth Plan (BBG)
- China Failure to Grow With $1 Trillion Is Warning to Li (BBG)
- Blankfein Leads Bank CEO Pay With $26 Million Deemed Overpaid (BBG)
- IMF says ‘no evidence yet’ of Abenomics hurting other economies (FT)
- Europe Seeks CFTC Delay in Imposing Swaps Rules on Banks (BBG)
- Fed's Rosengren: 'Modest' QE3 cut may make sense in a few months (Reuters)
- Who’s who of Obama lobbyists pushes Keystone pipeline (FT)
- China to Study Joining U.S.-Led Trade Accord After Japan Added (BBG)
One look at the 5%+ plunge in the Nikkei overnight and one would be allowed to wonder if this was it for Abenomics: with a 15% drop from recent highs, and the TOPIX Real Estate index down by more than 20%+ since mid-April, entering a bear market, what's worse is that even the "wealth effect" Mrs Watanabe fanatics would be excused from having much hope going forward. The problem, however, is that in a world in which only the USDJPY matters as a risk signal, and only the stock market remains as a last bastion of "hope", the overnight weakness pushing the dollar yen to just 50 pips above 100 threatened to crush the manipulated rally and force everyone to doubt the sustainability of central planning. So, sure enough, literally seconds we got the much needed stick save without which everything could have come tumbling down, namely based on an unsourced article out of Reuters that Japan's Public Pension Fund is considering a change to its portfolio strategy that could allow domestic equity share of investments to rise in rallying market. The immediate result was an instantaneous surge in the USDJPY which in turn dragged global risk higher across the board, simply due to what algos deemed as yet another procyclical last minute rescue. More importantly this was nothing but a squeeze catalyst coming at just the right time before market open to prevent a rout in global equities. Ironically, that we are back to the Reuters "sticksave" unsourced article, indicates just how weak the reality behind the scenes must be.
Abenomics is riddled with inconsistencies. He wants the world's biggest bond market to sit still while he tells them they are going to lose money year-after-year (if his inflation goals are met). He wants to spark a renaissance by lowering the JPY and creating inflation but he doesn't want real wages to drop. Of course, the CNBC anchor's ironic perspective that the 80% domestic bond holdings of JGBs will 'patriotically sit back and take the loss' is in jest but it suggests something has to give in the nation so troubled. In fact, as Diapason's Sean Corrigan notes, that is not what has been happening, "every time the BoJ is in, the institutional investors are very happy to dump their holdings to them." On the bright side, another CNBC apparatchik offers, this institutional selling will lead to buying other more productive assets to which Corrigan slams "great, so we have yet another mispriced set of capital in the world, that'll help won't it!" The discussion, summarized perfectly in this brief clip, extends from the rate rise implications on bank capital to the effect on the deficit, and from the circular failure of the competitive devaluation argument.
While some (such as Bloomberg) see the unprecedented rise in orders to withdraw copper supplies from inventory at the LME as an indication of "improving demand," we suspect the huge demand bias from Asia (read China) suggests more is at play here than 'hope' in economic surprises. While the reasons are still unclear, the timing of this spike in demand is very close to our recently discussed concerns over the collapse in the Chinese Copper Financing Deal (CFFD) rehypothecation-based funding system. The unlimited "collateral" capacity of the previously described funding chains means that there may simply not be enough copper in bonded warehouses to meet the Letter of Credit needs once the copper warrants start being demanded upon LC termination. So, perhaps, the surge in LME delivery requests reflects a desperate demand for physical copper to meet these unwinding funding deals' needs. Either way, just as we saw gold vaults promptly emptied post the mid-April precious metals crash (especially that of JPMorgan), this sudden surge in physical demand bears very close watching.
To an extent that reveals a thorough misunderstanding of the market forces, the financial media has failed to consider the different motivations and beliefs that drive the different types of investors who are active in the gold market. By treating the gold market as if it were comprised of just one type of investor, analysts have drawn false conclusions about the recent volatility.
One of the problems with QE is that the Fed is forcing people to buy riskier investments than they otherwise would have. The immorality of their actions aside, they create a significant psychological mismatch between assets and their holders. Stocks are in weak hands, insuring one great stampede for the chairs when the music stops.
While China's economy is sputtering and its stock market is lagging the exuberance of the rest of the world's largest centrally-planned economies, it seems life is good for the richest of the rich. In Macau, "the VIP market is gaining momentum," with the industry’s April revenue the second-highest in history. About two-thirds of Macau’s casino revenue comes from high rollers who gamble on credit due to restrictions on taking cash out of China but as Bloomberg reports, last year, the big bettors pulled back across the industry amid speculation that China’s new government might restrict junkets and curb cash flowing from the mainland into Macau. With the political transition completed, the VIP business is back to normalcy - as evidenced by Sky 32, an elite oasis of luxury on the 32nd floor of the Galaxy Macau casino, offers commanding views, a waterfall, a bar with vintage single malt whiskeys - and six sumptuous rooms where players must commit to betting at least 10 million yuan ($1.6 million).
Gold edged higher today supported by strong physical demand internationally and especially in Asia.
Demand in the physical market continued to hold prices near $1,400/oz as the recent drops in the spot market encourage buyers internationally to accumulate bullion.
These are not easy times for the global bond market. We’re looking at US Treasuries market (more below), and reckon this morning’s 10-yr spike to 2.23 is only the start. We could see more aggressive price declines as the curve steepens further. It’s only partly based on the better economic outlook and fears of the QE Taper. Japan banks will be among the biggest sellers due to the volatility and “death by carry”. Forget the stories Japan banks were buyers at the wides.. that’s wishful thinking from Treasury holders long and wrong on the US bond market. Unfortunately, each passing day sees the BoJ's credibility chipped away.