But this time, the decision by European Commission was greeted with an outburst of loathing and mockery.
It looks like the International Monetary Fund has been jinxed. It’s fated. It’s doomed! The next managing director should start wearing garlic around their neck already or at least burn sage in their office to ward off evil spirits.
While many would argue that youth unemployment (the real scariest chart here), in fact we suspect it is the following two charts that are really keeping Mario Draghi up at night. The lip service paid by the French and the Germans to growth strategies and youth unemployment pale in relation to the desperation of the European collateralizer-of-last-resort to de-fragment his transmission channels and unleash his own QE to the starving banking systems of Spain and Italy. As BNP notes, recent data on Italian and Spanish banks’ bad and non-performing loans (NPLs) have reignited the debate on the health of the banking sector in the eurozone’s peripheral economies and its implications for the bloc’s credit supply and, ultimately, economic growth. But what is worse is that interest rates on new loans for a company in Italy or Spain are almost double those in Germany and France. It is against this backdrop that Draghi expressed plans to revive the ABS market - but implementation will prove significantly more challenging than market hopers believe (as is clear in credit markets) and direct purchases will probably face vetoes by a number of influential members of the board. To add further salt to these fresh wounds, the FT reports that Spanish banks will need to set aside more than EUR10 billion more reserves to cover the rolling over of EUR 200 billion of 'extend-and-pretend' loans.
Everyone has heard of Marie-Antoinette screaming from her balcony at the Palace of Versailles in the early hours of the French Revolution: “if there’s no bread, then let them eat cake!”. Right!
One can read "The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama" to get a true sense of Obama's "the best defense is a relentless drone everyone offense, ignore collateral damage and take out a few Americans in the process" policy. Or one can stare at rising stawks and enjoy their Obamaphones. Obe can't have both.
We totally get why many are excited by the recent cyclical improvement in the Japanese economy. However, just because industrial production is turning up on the back of exports and 1Q GDP grew more than expected doesn’t mean Abeconomics is working. Most of the improvement in Japan is probably best described as a standard cyclical improvement in the aftermath of very depressed growth that was also heavily influenced by last year’s downturn in global trade. There are definitely signs that Japan’s economy are improving cyclically. However, as UBS notes, structurally, demographics remain a major headwind to raising aggregate demand. We feel many investors have not yet considered what slower growth for Asia will mean for Japan in the medium term. This will make it more difficult to raise aggregate demand above supply since capacity is sticky and Japan already has excess capacity. So for Abe-believers there will be fuel to support their optimism. However, once you move beyond that and think about what comes afterwards things look more challenging.
Yesterday afternoon, following the rout in the US stock market, we made a spurious preview of the true main event: "So selloff in JGBs tonight?" We had no idea how right we would be because the second Japan opened, its bond futures market was halted on a circuit breaker as the 10 Year bond plunged to their lowest level since early 2012, hitting 1% and leading to massive Mark to Market losses for Japanese banks, as we also warned would happen. That was just the beginning, and suddenly the realization crept in that the plunging yen at this point is not only negative for banks, but for the entire stock market, leading to what until that point was a solid up session for the Nikkei to the first rumblings of a ris-off. Shortly thereafter we got the distraction of the Chinese Mfg PMI which dropped into contraction territory for the first time since late 2012, and which set the mood decidedly risk-offish, although the real catalyst may have been a report on copper from Goldman's Roger Yan (which we will cover in depth shortly) and whose implications may be stunning and devastating and may have just popped the Chinese credit bubble (oh, btw, short copper). And then all hell broke loose, with the Nikkei first rising solidly and then something snapping loud and clear, and sending the index crashing a massive 1,143 an intraday swing of 9% high to low, leading to an over 200 pips move lower in the USDJPY, and leading to a global risk off across the world.
Inflation is hot property today, hyperinflation is even hotter! We think we are modern, contemporary, smart and ready to deal with anything. We’ve got that seen-it-all-before, been-there-done-it attitude. But, we are not a patch on what some countries have been through in the worst cases of hyperinflation in history.
One more treacherous rift across Europe.
Margaret Thatcher might have been the perfect housewife that got Britain off to a good start or at least that’s what she would have liked us all to have believed when she was in power. The prefect Grantham housewife, so simple: never spend more than you earn, the defender of good management of budgetary finances. But that was all part of the ruse, wasn’t it?
A reversal will come. The odds on this are 100%. You cannot have every asset class on the planet in a bubble forever. The world does not operate this way. The disconnect between economic fundamentals and the markets continues but the odds on it continuing forever is Zero. The creation of all of this money also has another effect. It causes stupidity. It is quite true that we do not know the "what and the when" of it but a prediction that lacks any "If" will prove to be true. There is no longer an "If." The disparity now is just too great. Play the game as long as you can. It has gone on to date right in line with the increase in the money and in the lies. Play the game. However if you are smart you will have an exit strategy and a defense lined up well in advance before the man with the scythe shows up and takes a swipe at you. We stand on a precipice. There is an avalanche of lies, distortions and currency that has been created and is tumbling all around us. It cannot be dodged forever.
The theory of Petrodollar Warfare can be attributed to US analyst and author William R Clarke, and his 2005 book of that title which interpreted the US-UK decision to invade Iraq in 2003. He called this an "oil currency war", but the concept of the petrodollar system and petrodollar recyling dates back to the eve of the first Oil Shock in 1973-1974. The role of the petrodollar system as a driving force of US foreign policy is explained by analysts and historians as basic to maintaining the dollar's status as the world's dominant reserve currency - and the currency in which oil is priced. Today however, with the major and massive changes of oil resource availability revealed by the shale energy revolution, rising global oil production capabilities, stagnating oil demand, and rising renewable energy supplies in all major developed countries, and the constantly declining role of oil in the economy, the Petrodollar System's days are surely numbered
It will come as no surprise to ZH readers that the topic of youth unemployment is critical in Europe but as Der Speigel reports, while the German government's efforts remain largely symbolic, Southern European leaders pander to older voters by defending the status quo and are failing in their fight against the potential for social unrest. One graduate noted, "None of my friends believes that we have a future or will be able to live a normal life," as a lost generation is taking shape in Europe. And European governments seem clueless; instead of launching effective education and training programs to prepare Southern European youth for a professional life after the crisis, the Continent's political elites preferred to wage old ideological battles. In this way, Europe wasted valuable time, at least until governments were shaken early this month by news of a very worrisome record: Unemployment among 15- to 24-year-olds has climbed above 60 percent in Greece. Suddenly Europe is scrambling to address the problem making it an 'obseesion'. There are strong words coming out of Europe's capitals today, but they have not been followed by any action to date.
The collective state of mind in the USA these days may be even more peculiar than what went on in Germany in the early 1930s, when the Nazis were freely elected to lead the country and reconstructed the battered national psyche into a superman cult that soon beat a path to mass death and ruin. America has its own way of going crazy. We don't goose-step to tragedy; we coalesce into an insane clown posse and stumble into it by pratfall -- juggaloes dancing backwards off the cliff edge. A subset of our master wish has been on vivid display in recent months, namely the idea that God has blessed the USA with a limitless supply of new oil that will allow us to keep driving to WalMart forever. Most of the current "endless oil" fantasy revolves around shale oil. Apart from the issue of sheer economic suffering and all the damage that will ensue from the realization of the falsehoods and propaganda, consider that it will be generations before anyone believes the "authorities" again.
"Preservation of Capital," has reached epic seriousness in a world with interest rates at unsustainable lows and underlying economic fundamentals that cannot support today's yields. The irrational game goes on based upon one thing and one thing only which is the creation of capital by all of the world's central banks. The money must go somewhere and so it does but the disconnect between the equity markets and bond yields from the real world is frightening. Nowhere on the planet is it scarier than in Europe.