When Reuters reported earlier today that Anil Prasad, the global head of foreign exchange at Citigroup, the world's second largest currency trader, is leaving the bank, our ears perked up. The reason is the news overnight that according to the British financial watchdog, Martin Wheatley, the allegations for FX manipulation, "are every bit as bad as they have been with Libor" which supposedly means they are taking them seriously. Could this departure have anything to do with a probe that has already snared head FX trades at JPM, Deutsche and countless other banks? Well, Reuters promptly clarified that Prasad's departure is not related to the global investigation into allegations of currency market manipulation, a source familiar with the matter said. "Anil's decision is his own and entirely unrelated to the on-going FX investigations," the source said. So we had little reason to believe that Prasad's departure is tied to the probe... Until we read this: GOLDMAN SACHS HEAD OF FX TRADING STEVEN CHO TO LEAVE, DJ SAYS
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- Turnabout on Global Outlook Darkens Investor Mood (Hilsenrath)
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In this part, we look at the question: Is gold a currency? Professor Tom Fischer answers, “Yes, gold is a currency with the symbol XAU”.
Alarms are going off in assorted plunge protecting offices, now that the USDJPY has breached the 102.000 "fundamental" support level, below which the Yen can comfortably soar to sub 100.000 in perfectly even 100 pip increments. The first trading day of February has brought another weaker session across Asia though some equity indices such as the KOSPI (-1.1%) are in catch-up mode given they were shut towards the back-end of last week. Over the weekend, the Chinese government published its latest official manufacturing PMI which showed a 0.5pt drop to 50.5, a six-month low, and consistent with consensus estimates. DB’s Jun Ma believes there was some element of seasonality affecting this month’s result including the fact that Chinese New Year started at the end of January (vs February last year), anti-pollution measures in the lead up to CNY and efforts to control government consumption around the holiday period. The official service PMI was released overnight (53.4) which printed at the lowest level since at least 2011. The uninspiring Chinese data has not helped market sentiment this morning, with the Nikkei plunging -2% and ASX200 once again under pressure. S&P500 futures have fluctuated around the unchanged line this morning although if support below the USDJPY fail solidly, then watch out below. Markets in Mainland China and Hong Kong remain closed for Lunar New Year.
In a week that has been marked by astonishing mainstream media headlines, BFI Capital’s CEO Frank Suess happened to give an outstanding interview about the outlook for global currencies, gold and manipulation in the markets. These developments are significant and could mark a tipping point. Up until now, the currency and precious metals manipulation has been a topic associated with conspiracy theorists in the corners of the blogosphere. The interesting fact is that this news breaks out exactly at the time when most people are being trapped into the “economic recovery” news. With the markets hanging at the lips of the central bankers, it is fair to say that “the central banks are the markets.” Frank Suess points out that, for several decades now, central banks around the world, with the US Federal Reserve in the lead, haven’t allowed business and credit cycles to happen anymore. In fact, they have been fighting consistently every sign of recession with more money, resulting in a race to the bottom of world currencies. The effect of this on world currencies is that they are shuffling each other down in a see-saw pattern...
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- Arctic Air Blankets Northern U.S. as Texas to Get Snow (BBG)
- Lenovo buys IBM's server business in China's biggest IT acquisition (Reuters)
- SEC judge bars "Big Four" China units for six months over audits (Reuters)
- U.S. Accuses Security Background Check Firm of Fraud (WSJ)
- RIP BOE forward guidance: Bank of England rate rise is 'still some way off' - Fisher (Reuters)
2013 was an absolutely seismic year for gold, but, as Grant Williams details in his latest letter, the way in which the tectonic plates shifted has yet to be fully understood. Simply put, the gold in every central bank's possession around the world is the property of the citizens of that country - not of the incumbent politicians or central bankers. Consequently, if the people want it audited, there shouldn't be any reason to say no ... unless... Williams firmly believes that in the years to come, when we look back at the great game being played in gold, we will pinpoint January 16, 2013, as the day when it all began to unravel - the day the Bundesbank blinked and demanded its gold...
Germany's blowback against gold manipulation is accelerating. Following yesterday's report that Bafin took a hard line against precious metals manipulation, after its president Eike Koenig said possible manipulation of precious metals "is worse than the Libor-rigging scandal", today the response has trickled down to Germany and Europe's largest bank, Deutsche Bank, which announced that it would withdraw from the appropriately named gold and silver price "fixing", as European regulators investigate suspected manipulation of precious metals prices by banks. As a reminder, Deutsche is one of five banks involved in the twice-daily gold fix for global price setting and said it was quitting the process after withdrawing from the bulk of its commodities business. The scramble away from gold fixing was certainly assisted by the recent first (of many) manipulation expose in the legacy media, when Bloomberg revealed "How Gold Price Is Manipulated During The "London Fix." And sure enough, with Germany already very sensitive to the topic of its gold repatriation, and specifically why it is taking so long, it was only a matter of time before any German involvement in gold manipulation escalated to the very top.
Often “a picture paints a thousand words” and the seven key gold charts below should make gold bears nervous. As the charts show, such sentiment, price action and oversold conditions tend to coincide with major lows in gold and silver prices and multi month price gains.
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- Hollande’s Tryst and the End of Marriage (BBG)
- Iran has $100 billion abroad, can draw $4.2 billion (Reuters)
- Target Hackers Wrote Partly in Russian, Displayed High Skill, Report Finds (WSJ)
- Nintendo Sees Loss on Dismal Wii U Sales (WSJ)
- Goldman's low-cost Utah bet buoys its bottom-line (Reuters)
- Royal Dutch Shell Issues Profit Warnin: Oil Major Hit by Higher Exploration Costs and Lower Oil and Gas Volumes (WSJ)
- EU Weighs Ban on Proprietary Trading at Some Banks From 2018 (BBG) - so no holding of breaths?
- Sacramento Kings to Accept Bitcoin (WSJ)
Remember when banks were exposed manipulating virtually everything except precious metals, because obviously nobody ever manipulates the price of gold and silver? After all, the biggest "conspiracy theory" of all is that crazy gold bugs blame every move against them on some vile manipulator. It may be time to shift yet another conspiracy "theory" into the "fact" bin, thanks to Elke Koenig, the president of Germany's top financial regulator, Bafin, which apparently is not as corrupt, complicit and clueless as its US equivalent, and who said that in addition to currency rates, manipulation of precious metals "is worse than the Libor-rigging scandal." Hear that Bart Chilton and friends from the CFTC?
The Libor manipulation scandal has, as WSJ reports, ensnared at least 17 financial institutions and 22 individuals in a wide-ranging investigation spanning 11 countries and four continents. So far, it has netted at least $5 billion in penalties, with more on the way. The Wall Street Journal has taken the most complete list of allegedly involved parties and mapped an extensive web of 298 reported connections that reveals the depth of the alleged conspiracy from the 'alleged' ringleader Tom Hayes and involving practically ever major bank in the world.
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- Spot the odd word out: ECB Sees Bad-Debt Rules as Threat to Credible Bank Review (BBG)
- Insert laugh track here: Spain GDP grows at fastest pace in almost six years (FT)
- Scandinavian Debt Crisis Waiting to Happen Puzzles Krugman (BBG)
- Fed Said to Release Plan to Limit Banks’ Commodities Activities (BBG)
- Thai Protesters Extend Blockade After Rejecting Poll Talks (BBG)
- China provinces set lower growth goals for 2014 (BBG)
Following yesterday's major market drubbing, in which the sliding market was propped up by the skin of Nomura's (and BOJ, and Fed's) teeth at 103.00 on the USDJPY, it was inevitable that with Japan returning from holiday there would be a dead cat bounce in the Yen carry pair, and sure enough there was, as the USDJPY rose all the way back up to 103.70, and nearly closed the Friday gap, before starting to let off some air. However, now that US traders are coming back online, Japan's attempts to keep markets in the green may falter, especially since it only has a couple of ES ticks to show for its efforts, as for the Nikkei which dropped 3% overnight, it has now lost all US "Taper" gains.