The bailing out of the much-watched 'Credit equals Gold #1' wealth management product and safe liquidity-strewn (CNY375 billion from the PBOC) survival of the lunar new year liquidity crunch has many believing the worst is over. Though we discussed this fallacy in great depth here, the following chart of the total collapse in the largest Chinese coal producers says this is far from over. Trading at or below book values, investors are clearly signaling concerns about the quality of assets summed up perfectly by one local analyst - China's coal industry (whose loans back a massive amount of the wealth management products) is "dead."
As China Orders Its Smaller Banks To Load Up On Cash, Is The Biggest Ever "Unlimited QE" About To Be Unleashed?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/10/2014 12:46 -0400
The Chinese new year may be over which following a last minute bailout of its insolvent Credit Equals Gold Trust product was largely uneventful, but already concerns about domestic liquidity are once again rising to the surface following reports that China’s banking regulator ordered some of the nation’s smaller lenders to set aside more funds to avoid a cash shortfall, which as Bloomberg notes signal rising concern that defaults may climb. Which brings us to the question du jour: is the PBOC is laying the groundwork for what developed markets would call an open-ended liquidity injection which can be use to bail out one and all banks on an a la carte basis. Or, in the parlance of our times, the biggest QE bazooka of all because with total banking assets of nearly $25 trillion, said bazooka better be ready to fire at a moment's notice?
Gloomy commentary on the world's ageing population appears overdone. We look at key silver linings and the significant investment opportunities ahead.
No-one knows for sure how big a problem China's economy will eventually face due to the massive credit and money supply growth that has occurred in recent years and no-one know when exactly it will happen either. There have been many dire predictions over the years, but so far none have come true. And yet, it is clear that there is a looming problem of considerable magnitude that won't simply go away painlessly. The greatest credit excesses have been built up after 2008, which suggests that there can be no comfort in the knowledge that 'nothing has happened yet'. Given China's importance to the global economy, it seems impossible for this not to have grave consequences for the rest of the world, in spite of China's peculiar attributes in terms of government control over the economy and the closed capital account.
Today, the pundits are a-buzz making sense of the latest jobs report. But most of us care more about the state of one particular job: our own. How relevant is this latest bit of data to that? Not very. So, to better understand the trends in the work environment most likely impact our own paychecks, it will help to look at another bellwether similar to our fuzzy groundhog friend: AOL. AOL, a once-important pioneer in the transition to the 'digital economy', is once again showing us where the future of work is headed. Unfortunately, like the health of AOL's business over the past decade, it's not a pretty picture. As we've transitioned to an economy in which corporate profitability -- and thereby, stock prices -- is THE metric for success, the employer-employee relationship has become much more superficial than in past generations; and the encroachment of automation remove income options for those temporarily out of work, but it's increasingly limiting the options for the large pool of unskilled labor with few other alternatives
Plain vanilla bank runs are as old as fractional reserve banking itself, and usually happen just before or during an economic and financial collapse, when all trust (i.e. credit) in counterparties disappears and it is every man, woman and child, and what meager savings they may have, for themselves. However, when it comes to shadow bank runs, which take place when institutions are so mismatched in interest, credit and/or maturity exposure that something just snaps as it did in the hours after the Lehman collapse, that due to the sheer size of their funding exposure that they promptly grind the system to a halt even before conventional banks can open their doors to the general public, the conventional wisdom is that this is a novel development (and one which is largely misunderstood). It isn't.
It would seem, in the case of momo-chasing levered fast-money flows, that Propertius was correct - "fickleness has always befriended the beautiful..." and Japanese stocks are no longer the once beautiful trend that Abe had promised them to be. A tapering of the US flow; a ripple across the bow of emerging markets; and suddenly Kyle Bass' sarcastically-named "macro tourists" are running for exits as Shakespeare himself once wrote, "was ever feather so lightly blown to and fro as this multitude." Historical quotations aside, the last time flow swung so violently negative, the Nikkei ended up losing 55% in the next 18 months. We love the smell of nay-sayers in the morning...
Investors in China have been running scared of a default on a high risk trust product; but, as Bloomberg's Tom Orlik notes, they should embrace it. The implicit guarantee that no investments will go sour is one of the key problems with China’s financial system as Orlik adds it encourages reckless lending often to borrowers whose only merit lies in backing from a deep-pocketed government. Crucially, as JPMorgan warns in a recent note, "avoiding defaults is not the right answer, as it will only delay or even amplify the problem in the future." A default that encourages lenders to price in risk would be a positive development and the CEG#1 was an ideal product to 'fail' with its 11% yield and clear idiosyncratic company problems. However, regulators won't have to wait long for a second chance as JPM warns "There will be a default in China’s shadow banking industry this year as economic growth momentum slows."
Backdrops conductive to crises can drag on for so long – sometimes seemingly forever - as if they’re moving in ultra-slow motion. Invariably, they lull most to sleep. Better yet, such environments even work to embolden the optimists. This is especially the case when policy measures are aggressively employed along the way, repeatedly holding the forces of crisis at bay. In the face of mounting risk, heightened risk-taking and leveraging often work only to exacerbate underlying fragilities. But eventually a critical juncture arrives where newfound momentum has things unwinding at a more frenetic pace. It is the nature of such things that most everyone gets caught totally unprepared. Now, Bubbles are faltering right and left - and fearful “money” is heading for the (closing?) exits. And, as the global pool of speculative finance reverses course, the scale of economic maladjustment and financial system impairment begins to come into clearer focus. It’s time for the marketplace to remove the beer goggles.
The US wants its dollar system to prevail for as long as possible. It therefore has every interest in preventing a ‘rush out of dollars into gold’. By selling (paper) gold, bankers have been trying in the last few decades to keep the price of gold under control. This war on gold has been going on for almost one hundred years, but it gained traction in the 1960's with the forming of the London Gold Pool. Just like the London Gold Pool failed in 1969, the current manipulation scheme of gold (and silver prices) cannot be maintained for much longer.
As we first reported one week ago, the first shadow default in Chinese history, the "Credit Equals Gold #1 Collective Trust Product" issued by China Credit Trust Co. Ltd. (CCT) due to mature Jan 31st with $492 million outstanding, appears ready to go down in the record books. In turn, virtually every sellside desk has issued notes and papers advising what this event would mean ("don't panic, here's a towel", and "all shall be well"), and is holding conference calls with clients to put their mind at ease in the increasingly likely scenario that there is indeed a historic "first" default for a country in which such events have previously been prohibited. So with under 10 days to go, for anyone who is still confused about the role of trusts in China's financial system, a default's significance, the underlying causes, the implications for the broad economy, and what the possible outcomes of the CCT product default are, here is Goldman's Q&A on a potential Chinese trust default.
S&P filed a declaration of McGraw yesterday in federal court in Santa Ana, California, as part of a request to force the U.S. to hand over potential evidence the company says will support its claim that the government filed a fraud lawsuit against it last year in retaliation for its downgrade of the U.S. debt two years earlier. In his court statement, McGraw said Geithner called him on Aug. 8, 2011, after S&P was the only credit ratings company to downgrade the U.S. debt. Geithner, McGraw said, told him that S&P would be held accountable for the downgrade. Government officials have said the downgrade was based on an error by S&P. “S&P’s conduct would be looked at very carefully,” Geithner told McGraw according to the filing. “Such behavior would not occur, he said, without a response from the government."
Frontier markets offer some of the best investment opportunities over the next decade. We like Vietnam which is recovering after a massive credit bust.
The markets seem to think we live in a largely riskless world. Are risk assets now riskless assets or are they risk assets disguised as riskless?
As the S&P 500 continues to make higher highs, Citi's FX Technicals group attempts to identify important levels to watch. As they have highlighted before, while they respect the price action and the fact that the markets are making higher highs, there is an underlying degree of skepticism surrounding the sustainability of this uptrend from a more medium term perspective. Important levels/targets on the S&P 500 converge between 1,806 and 1,833. A convincing rally through this range (weekly close above) may open the way for a test of the 1,990 area (coincidentally the Fed balance-sheet-implied levels for end-2014); however, at this stage they are watching closely over the coming weeks as we approach the New Year.