A few days ago, copper prices and the Chinese stock market were roiled by speculation that another - the second in a row - Chinese bond default may be imminent, in the shape of Baoding Tianwei Baobian Electric (TBE) a maker of electrical equipment and solar panels, whose bonds and stock were suspended from trading a week ago after reporting massive losses. A few days later, TBE "promised" not to default when its next interest payment is due in July (although how the insolvent company can see that far into the future is just a little confusing). And yet the market shrugged and contrary to its recent idiotic euphoria to surge on even the tiniest of non-horrible news, barely saw a rise. Today we may know the reason: overnight Bloomberg reports that second Chinese corporate bond default may be imminent after the collapse and arrest of the largest shareholder of closely held Chinese real estate developer Zhejiang Xingrun Real Estate Co, which just happens to be saddled with 3.5 billion yuan ($566.6 million) of debt.
Beijing leadership’s quandary is that the struggle to refashion the Chinese economy with further liberal economics comes up against the determined effort of the CCP to maintain its power monopoly
As we explained in great detail recently, the abundance of so-called cash-on-the-sidelines is a fallacy, but even more critically the we showed the belief that these 'IOUs of past economic activity' would immediately translate into efforts to deploy them into future economic activity is also entirely false. Simply put, there is no relationship between corporate cash and subsequent capital expenditure, nor is the level of capital expenditure even well-correlated with the level of real interest rates. At this point, as John Hussman explains, it should be clear that the mere existence of a mountain of IOUs related to past economic activity is not enough to provoke future economic activity. What matters instead is the same thing that always matters: Are the resources of the economy being directed toward productive uses that satisfy the needs of others?
Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliev has told RIANovosti that the region will abandon Ukraine's Hyrvnia:
*CRIMEA TO SWITCH TO RUSSIAN RUBLE APRIL 1: RIA NOVOSTI
This is not a total surprise as Reuters reported the Crimean Deputy PM stating "we are ready to introduce a ruble zone," a week ago.
While most understand that Ukraine owes Russia a few billion here or there for its energy bills that are past due, there is a more concerning issue. The Ukraine owes $3 billion to Russia in bonds that have been issued under UK law. One of the stipulations of the bonds is that if the Ukraine's debt-to-GDP ratio should exceed 60%, the bonds will become immediately callable. Once the Ukraine gets funding from the IMF, this is of course going to happen right away – its debt-to-GDP ratio will then most definitely exceed 60%, so the first $3 billion of any aid the Ukraine receives in the form of loans will right away flow into Russia's coffers. The American and European tax cows will no doubt be thrilled.
If we had to summarize China's upcoming credit cataclysm in one chart, it would be the following.
It has been a relatively quiet overnight session, aside from the already noted news surrounding China's halt on virtual credit card payments sending Chinese online commerce stocks sliding, where despite an ongoing decline in the USDJPY which has sent the Nikkei plunging by 3.3% (and which is starting to impact Abe whose approval rating dropped in March by a whopping 5.6 points to 48.1% according to a Jiji poll), US equity futures have managed to stay surprisingly strong following yesterday's market tumble. We can only assume this has to do with short covering of positions, because we fail to see how anyone can be so foolhardy to enter risk on ahead of a weekend where the worst case scenario can be an overture to World War III following a Crimean referendum which is assured to result in the formal annexation of the peninsula by Russia.
The "good" news this evening is that Baoding Tianwei Baobian Electric Co (TBE), the company which as recently as two days ago was rumored to be the second "imminent" Chinese corporate bond default which sent copper to multi year lows, has issued a statement that it will not default on its upcoming interest payment (due July 11th - so how the delisted company is convinced it will have enough cash four months from now is a mustery). The "bad" news is that markets don't care. There is a slight whiff of positivity in Copper futures but aside from that, weakness continues in China's corporate bond and stock market. Simply put, the market gets it - this is no longer about the next idiosyncratic bond (or trust) to default; this is about Xi's renewed confidence in efforts to 'clean up' the mounting local government and corporate debts and shrink the shadow-banking bubble. This is systemic, and the markets know it.
"The best way to define the mood in the market right now is panic," warns one commodity broker, adding that "everyone understands why we are going down, but nobody can tell where the bottom is." As the WSJ notes, the economic slowdown in China is hammering prices of some raw materials, driving down industrial commodities from copper to iron ore and coal - exacerbated by the vicious cycle of credit-collateral-contraction. So what is the cheapest way to play continued stress (with potentially limited downside)? The diversified natural resources company Glencore has a huge $55 billion of debt, is drastically sensitive to copper (and other commodity) prices, and its CDS remains just off record tights...
No one in Germany is allowed to get in the way of the sacrosanct exporters.
In retaliation, Russia could opt to only accept gold bullion for payment for their gas, oil and other commodity exports. This would likely lead to a sharp fall in the dollar and a surge in gold prices.
Currency wars could soon take the turn for the worst that many of us have warned of for some years.
While the sight of Russian flags, pro-Russian troops, and Russian navy ships in Crimea is now a day-to-day thing; this morning brings a new normal for the eastern Ukraine region - long lines at bank ATMs as the bank runs have begun. We noted last night the dreaded inversion of Ukraine's yield curve, the greater-than-50% yields on 3-month Ukraine government debt, and the pressures on local bank debt maturities as the ability to garner dollars cost-effectively was becoming a problem but on the heels of concerns by the head of the central bank that moving cash in Crimea was difficult, ATM withdrawal limits have been cut. People in long ATM lines are reported to be concerned because "banks are closing" but it is Deutsche Bank's comments this morning that raised many an eyebrow as they suggest that Ukraine's debt is pricing in a "burden-sharing" haircut for bondholders (which as we have seen in the past - in Cyprus - can quickly ripple up the capital structure and become a depositor haircut).
- China premier warns on economic slowdown as data fans stimulus talk (Reuters)
- Li says China defaults ‘unavoidable’ (FT)
- Russia Said to Ready for Iran-Style Sanctions in Worst Case (BBG)
- Rescue the tapes from the Bank of England’s dustbins (FT)
- Obama Warns Putin of Cost to Russia for Annexing Ukraine (BBG)
- The TVIX is back: Credit Suisse VIX Note That Ran Amok in 2012 Back on Top (BBG)
- U.S. Risks National Blackout From Small-Scale Attack (WSJ)
- U.S. Investigators Suspect Missing Airplane Flew On for Hours (WSJ)
- Malaysia says no evidence missing plane flew hours after losing contact (Reuters)
- Missed Alarms and 40 Million Stolen Credit Card Numbers: How Target Blew It (BBG)
- Death Toll in NYC Building Blast Rises to Six; Search Continues (BBG)
It was another day of ugly overnight macro data, all of it ouf of China, with industrial production (8.6%, Exp. 9.5%, Last 9.7%), retail sales (11.8%, Exp. 13.5%, Last 13.1%) and fixed asset investment (17.9% YTD vs 19.4% expected) all missing badly and confirming that in a world of deleveraging, the Chinese economy will continue to sputter. Which is precisely what the "bad news is good news" algos needs and why futures levitated overnight: only this time instead of latching on to the USDJPY correlation pair, it was the AUDJPY which surged after Australia - that Chinese economic derivative - posted its third best monthly full-time jobs surge in history! One can be certain that won't last. But for now it has served its purpose and futures are once again green. How much longer will the disconnect between deteriorating global macro conditions and rising global markets continue, nobody knows, but sooner rather than later the central planner punch bowl will be pulled and the moment of price discovery truth will come. It will be a doozy.
At the onset of the derivatives collapse in 2007/2008 it would have been easy to assume that most of America was receiving a valuable education in normalcy bias. As much as we are for people waking up to the nature of the crisis, there comes a point when those who are going to figure it out will figure it out, and the rest are essentially hopeless. The cultism surrounding the U.S. economy and the U.S. dollar is truly mind boggling, and by “cultism” we mean a blind faith in the fiat currency mechanism that goes beyond all logic, reason and evidence.