The Chinese stock market hit a four year high today at 3,020. This is up 53% since the middle of 2013 low and up 48% in the last six months. I guess this must mean the Chinese economy is operating on all cylinders. If you think so, you’d be wrong. As Anne Stevenson-Yang - who has lived there since 1985, told Barron's, the entire Chinese economic miracle is a fraud. The reforms are false. The leaders are corrupt and as evil as ever. The entire edifice is built upon a Himalayan mountain of bad debt. This lady is about as blunt as you can get about Chinese fraud, lies, mal-investment, and data manipulation.
Not long ago, we wrote Ten Reasons Why High Oil Prices are a Problem. If high oil prices can be a problem, how can low oil prices also be a problem? In particular, how can the steep drop in oil prices we have recently been experiencing also be a problem? In our view, a rapid drop in oil prices is likely a symptom that we are approaching a debt-related collapse. Underlying this debt-related collapse is the fact that we seem to be reaching the limits of a finite world. There is a growing mismatch between what workers in oil importing countries can afford, and the rising real costs of extraction, including associated governmental costs. This has been covered up to date by rising debt, but at some point, it will not be possible to keep increasing the debt sufficiently. At some point the debt situation will eventually reach a breaking point.
The actions of central bankers around the globe which have been driving stock prices higher are not a sign of control. They are signs of desperation. They are losing control. Their academic theories have failed. Their bosses insist they turn it up to eleven. Something is going to blow. You can feel it. John Hussman knows what will happen. Do you?
There are two words that should strike fear in the hearts of any rational-thinking citizen of the world - Paul Krugman. Wondering why? As Alhambra's Jeff Snider notes, we already know of at least one respect where Krugman (as a stand-in at least for the Keynesian perspective that is somehow still widely shared, especially in the orthodox economist class) has impacted 'stimulus' activity, Sweden. And now his appearance in Japan enabled what Japanese economists call a "historic meeting," as Bloomberg reports that Abe met with the Nobel-prize winner for 40 minutes who "helped the prime minister make up his mind," that delaying the fiscally-responsible tax-hikes was the right thing to do (and increasing QQE) or Japan "wouldn’t escape deflation." Mission Accomplished... and if it fails, moar will be needed and 'capitalism' will be blamed.
We have recently witnessed many 'firsts' such as one of the largest storms in the Pacific, the most severe acute health risk in modern times, and a global financial system on the brink of collapse.
It has been a while since the PBOC engaged in some "targeted" QE. So clearly following the biggest drop in the Shanghai Composite in 6 months after some abysmal Chinese economic and flow data in the past several days, it's time for some more. From Bloomberg:
- CHINA’S PBOC STARTS 500B YUAN SLF TODAY, SINA.COM SAYS
- PBOC PROVIDES 500B YUAN LIQUIDITY TO CHINA’S TOP 5 BANKS: SINA
- PBOC PROVIDES 100B YUAN TO EACH BANK TODAY, TOMORROW WITH DURATION OF 3 MONTHS: SINA
Just as expected, the Chinese "derivative" currency, the AUD, goes vertical on the news, and the S&P 500 goes vertical alongside:. As for those confused what the SLF is, here is a reminder, from our February coverage of this "stealth QE" instrument.
UPDATE: It appears the exodus is beginning - China FDI -14% YoY (vs +0.8% exp.)
As China's shift to a consumer economy progresses based on the urbanization of its agrarian 'poor' population, an odd thing is happening at the other end of the demographic wealth spectrum. As WSJ reports, nearly half of wealthy Chinese are planning to move to another country within the next five years, according to a new Barclays survey. The top reasons 47% of these individuals - with net worths over $1.5 billion - cite for fleeing China include educational and employment opportunities, economic security, and climate. Ironically, none mentioned 'running away from potential prosecution for graft'.
A record-breaking surge in monthly credit creation and a trillion Yuan of QE-lite was enough to provide a glimmer of hope into the tumbling Chinese economy for one or maybe two months but with the real estate market continuing to free-fall, it should be no surprise that China's PMIs finally catch down to the erstwhile reality simmering under the surface in the ultimate centrally-planned economy. China's official government PMI dropped from 30-month highs, missed expectations and the early month flash print, to less exuberant 51.1 reading (with Steel industry new orders totally collapsing) with both medium- and small-companies printing contractionary sub-50 levels. Then (after Japan's PMI beat - of course it did as hard data crashes worst on record), HSBC China PMI also missed, printing a slightly expansionary 50.2 Showing, as BofA warns "the two PMIs both show that the current recovery is relatively weak and choppy..." and RBS adds "we expect the government to interpret such an outlook as challenging its growth target and to take more, and more significant, measures to support growth."
Just in case futures buying algos forgot what the regurgitated "catalyst" that activated the overnight ramp was, the ECB was kind enough to remind everyone that the main event over the past 12 hours was the Deutsche Bank leak that while the ECB will not announce outright QE any time soon, thus denying the rumor spread in the past weak by the likes of Citi and JPM, the formerly preannounced and thus already priced-in (by the EURUSD which was about to take out 1.40 a few months ago) ABS purchase program, or as DB called it "private QE" is about to be unleashed. The ECB confirmed this earlier this morning when it announced that it had appointed BlackRock, the world’s biggest money manager, to advise on developing a program to buy asset-backed securities. In other words, Europe's largest public-sector hedge fund has just hired the world's largest private-sector hedge fund to "fix things."
- The market in one sentence: Buying on Dips Pays Most in Five Years as Stocks Rebound (BBG)
- Europe subdued, Russia shares tumble on new sanctions (Reuters)
- Chinese Data Don’t Add Up (WSJ)
- Argentine Default Drama Nears Critical Stage (WSJ)
- Global Pressure Mounts on Israel to End Gaza Fighting (BBG)
- Ukraine troops advance as experts renew attempt to reach crash site (Reuters)
- Prospects Brighten for Republicans to Reclaim a Senate Majority (WSJ)
- Europe’s banking union faces legal challenge in Germany (FT)
- Investors Bet on China's Large Property Developers (WSJ)
- Hague court orders Russia to pay over $50 billion in Yukos case (Reuters)
One of the biggest mistakes that investors make is falling prey to cognitive biases that obfuscate rising investment risks. Here are 5 counter-points to the main memes in the market currently...
Those keeping track and hoping the second default would finally hit have to hold their breath again after yet another last minute bailout has now made a complete mockery of China's "deliberate" intentions to clear up the rot plaguing its bond market. As Reuters reports, Huatong avoided a "landmark bond default at the last minute on Wednesday, raising enough funds to pay off both principal and interest on a 400 million yuan ($64.51 million) bond." Who bailed it out? Why the same government which continues to say one thing and do something totally different.
"People who take short cuts, are political, prioritize themselves above others, take excessive risks for personal gain, don’t value capital, or are unethical are outright cancers. These types of people will not only flourish in the next crisis, but most probably they will cause it."
In Wenzhou - dubbed the capital of China's private businesses - nearly 90 per cent of loan guarantors have failed since the start of the credit crisis arising from the underground banking system, according to the media. As SCMP reports, although their services are critical for the economic system and the millions of small firms - that provide the majority of the mainland's jobs - hundreds of loan guarantee groups are creaking under the weight of bad loans and are simply unable to bear any more. "It could become the last straw that breaks the camel's back," exclaims the head of a local law firm, "without the privately owned small businesses, China's economy won't have a future." But PMIs are up so everything's fine?
Opinions about the U.S. economy boil down to two views: 1) the recovery is now self-sustaining, meaning that the Federal Reserve can taper and end its unprecedented interventions without hurting growth, or 2) the current uptick in auto sales, new jobs, housing sales, etc. is as good as it gets, and the weak recovery unravels from here. The reality is that nothing has been done to address the structural rot at the heart of the U.S. economy. You keep shoving in the same inputs, and you guarantee the same output: another crash of credit bubbles and all the malinvestments enabled by monetary heroin.