Frontrunning: April 19

  • Police Searching for 19-Year-Old Boston Bombing Suspect (BBG)
  • Mayhem Erupts in Boston After MIT Campus Officer Slain (BBG)
  • Elvis Impersonator Accused of Ricin Letters Sowing Fear (BBG)
  • Blackstone Pulls Out of Dell Bid on Rapidly Falling PC Sales (BBG)
  • Before Texas plant exploded: What did regulators know? (Reuters)
  • Aso Says Japan Policy Unopposed at G-20 Meeting as Yen Falls (BBG)
  • Bipartisan pair target $2.5tn US savings (FT)
  • Plan for new Cyprus vote casts uncertainty on bailout (Cyprus Mail)
  • Ireland picks through debtors’ lifestyles (FT)

BoJ Unveils 'Shock-And-Awe' Quantitative-Qualitative Easing

As Citi's Todd Elmer notes, today's BoJ outcome looks far closer to 'shock and awe' than disappointment. It appears the BoJ's actions may speak as loud as their words for now - JPY is weakening and the Nikkei is rallying after Kuroda's last shot at a first impression appeared to beat expectations (covering for disappointing macro data - despite six months of jawboning and a 20% devaluation). Expectations, though tough to extract given the range of possible actions, appeared centered on extending maturities of bond purchases, increasing the size (median expectations of around JPY5.2tn per month or 50% higher than in Q1), bringing forward the open-ended nature of the program, and increasing scope to foreign bonds and REITs. In his effort to do "whatever it takes", the BoJ is upping asset purchases, extending the maturity of purchases and merging its asset purchase program; increasing the size to JPY7tn and buy securities out to 40 years. Though no mention of foreign bond-buying was made, and increase in ETFs and REITs is included. They have given themselves a two-year window to achieve the 2% inflation goal - paging Kyle Bass - and ironically, as the news broke Tokyo was hit by a significant earthquake.

Bank Of Japan May Buy Derivatives Next

Because having legal authority to buy corporate bonds, ETFs and REITs, in addition to everything else the Fed now buys, is apparently not enough to crush, mangle and suicide its currency, the BOJ is now considering adding yet another "asset" to its cocktail of eligible securities for purchase: those which Buffett once declared weapons of mass financial destruction - derivatives.

Will Japan's "Attempted" Reflation Succeed And Will It Spill Over Into Full-Fledged Currency War?

Yesterday we presented a simplistic analysis of why for Japan "This Time Won't Be Different", a preliminary observation so far validated by the just announced Japanese December current account deficit which was not only nearly double the expected 144.2 billion yen, printing at some 264.1 billion yen, but was only the first back-to-back monthly current account deficit since 1985. But perhaps we are wrong and this time Abe will succeed where he, and so many others, have failed before. And, as is now widely understood, perhaps Japan will succeed in finally launching the necessary and sufficient currency war that would be part and parcel of Japans great reflation, as even various G-8 members have recently acknowledged. The question is will it, and when?  One attempt at an answer comes from the fine folks at Bienville Capital who have compiled the definitive pros and cons presentation on what Japan must do, and how it will play out, at least if all goes according to plan.

Guest Post: The Next Secular Bull Market Is Still A Few Years Away

There have been several articles as of late discussing that the next great secular bull market has arrived. However, the reality is that this cycle is currently unlike anything that we have potentially witnessed in the past.  With massive central bank interventions, artificially suppressed interest rates, sub-par economic growth, high unemployment and elevated stock market prices it is likely that the current secular bear market may be longer than the historical average. No matter how you slice the data - the simple fact is that we are still years away from the end of the current secular bear market. The mistake that analysts, economists and the media continue to make is that the current ebbs and flows of the economy are part of a natural, and organic, economic cycle. If this was the case then there would be no need for continued injections of liquidity into the system in an ongoing attempt to artificially suppress interest rates, boost housing or inflate asset markets. From market-to-GDP ratios, cyclical P/Es, misconstrued earnings yields, and the analogs to previous Fed-blow bubbles, we appear near levels more consistent with cyclical bull market peaks rather than where secular bear markets have ended.

A Hard Landing In China Part 2 - Rest Of The World Impact

Following on from our earlier discussion of how a Chinese hard landing would evolve, SocGen now examines how a Chinese hard landing would impact the global economy. They see the contagion in several ways: mechanically (since China is part of the global economy) and through trade, financial and market channels. Mechanically, a slump in Chinese GDP growth to just 3% would cut our global GDP growth forecast by 0.6pp. Add to that the channels of transmission to the global economy, and our expectation is that a Chinese hard landing would result in 1.5pp being slashed from global GDP growth in the first year.

Dear Steve Liesman: Here Is How The US Financial System Really Works

Earlier today, Bill Frezza of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and CNBC's Steve Liesman got into a heated exchange over a recent Frezza article, based on some of the key points we made in a prior post "A Record $2 Trillion In Deposits Over Loans - The Fed's Indirect Market Propping Pathway Exposed" in which, as the title implies, we showed how it was that the Fed was indirectly intervening in the stock market by way of banks using excess deposits to chase risky returns and generally push the market higher. We urge readers to spend the few minutes of this clip to familiarize themselves with Frezza's point which is essentially what Zero Hedge suggested, and Liesman's objection that "this is something the banks don't do and can't do." Liesman's naive  view, as is to be expected for anyone who does not understand money creation under a fractional reserve system, was simple: the Fed does not create reserves to boost bank profits, and thus shareholder returns, and certainly is not using the fungible cash, which at the end of the day is what reserves amount to once dispersed among the US banks, to gun risk assets higher.

Alas, Steve is very much wrong.

Comment Of The Day: On The Self-Destructiveness Of Fed Policy

What creates real efficiency and competition are not eras of wealth and largesse, but eras of scarcity and change.  A good analogy is that war creates better armies and better weapons, not prolonged periods of peace.   Bernanke of course has zero understanding of what happens to large companies when financial reality is made irrelevant, and capital is made plentiful.  (Growth and efficiency are by no means a logical result). This is what happens when academics who are deeply inexperienced in business run monetary policy designed to stimulate business.   The market is going to bend him over the table and humiliate him eventually.  And then all that capital that he injected into the market is going to evaporate, and a generation of Americans will be financially obliterated.