Oil and other commodity prices have recently been dropping. Is this good news, or bad? Many people have the impression that falling oil prices mean that the cost of production is falling, and thus that the feared "peak oil" is far in the distance. This is not the correct interpretation, especially when many types of commodities are decreasing in price at the same time. We would argue that falling commodity prices are bad news. It likely means that the debt bubble which has been holding up the world economy for a very long time – since World War II, at least – is failing to expand sufficiently. If the debt bubble collapses, we will be in huge difficulty.
Behold Obama’s dream project – a global infrastructure fund. This idea was floated and endorsed at The G-20 in Cairns this weekend. “We have agreed to come away from government-financed growth measures to more private investment,” said Australia’s Finance Minister Joe Hockey. These are being called Public Private Partnerships (PPP), and will be extremely critical in the future for here lies the final destruction of the pension funds precisely as Japan bankrupted the Japanese Postal Saving Fund using that private money for political purposes to try to stimulate the economy, which failed. With PPP, public funds will be sold to the public as being a highly professional long-term investment that will further shrink economic growth and liquidity. They cannot possibly work.
So with regards to BABA’s $230 billion market cap at week’s end, you can say this: None dare call it price discovery! What it shows is that Wall Street is well and truly off it rocker. The Chinese swindlers behind BABA didn’t even have to tap their home market. These preposterously over-valued shares were sold overwhelmingly to Wall Street - to the gamblers, speculators and robo-traders that have occupied what was once a reasonably honest capital market. So why did Wall Street capitalize an opaque mass merchant operating in a precarious economy at 27X sales? The answer is that Wall Street is a momentum driven casino that is now over-valuing everything that moves and all that stands still. That’s the ultimate evil of monetary central planning. Having destroyed honest price discovery in the financial markets, the Fed now “accommodates” the speculators one meeting at a time - in deathly fear of a hissy fit.
Which incidentally has nothing to do with stocks or bonds, and everything to do with all-important FX. To wit: "If a clear break in the yen downwards against both the dollar and euro is occurring, not only will this spell trouble for the beleaguered Chinese economy and exacerbate deflation in the west, but it will also break the spell of German economic dominance"
With the snoozer of an FOMC meeting in the rearview mirror, as well as Scotland's predetermined independence referndum, last week's key events: the BABA IPO and the iPhone 6 release, are now history, which means the near-term catalysts are gone and the coming week will be far more relaxed, if hardly boring. Here is what to expect.
We, like Bloomberg's Richard Breslow, were bemused this weekend by the communiques from the wisest men in the room at the G-20 meeting. On one side of their mouths they warned of "excessive risk-taking," in markets noting that there were "mounting economic risks" also. On the other hand, stories continue to print of US equity strength implying optimism over global growth - despite the ongoing collapse in consensus GDP expectations. However, away from this hope and fear, it was the almost coordinated responses of the PBOC (Chinese Finmin Lou Jiwei signaling not to get carried away with stimulus expectations), ECB (Visco saying may not need additional QE step since EUR had dropped 'enough'), and finally the BOJ (Iwata saying Abenomics misunderstood, USDJPY 90-100 'fair); all dashing market expectations of a smooth hand over from a feckless Fed to a free-printing rest-of-the-world. Stocks (and carry) responded by selling off.
While some were wondering if last night's sudden, commodity-liquidation driven selloff would last, most were not, expecting that the perfectly predictable levitation in the USDJPY around a round "tractor beam" number would provide a floor under the market .Sure enough, starting around midnight eastern, the USDJPY BTFDers emerged, oblivious to comments from former BOJ deputy governor Iwata who late last night said the obvious, and what we have been saying since January 2013, namely that a weak yen puts Japan at recession risk, and that a USDJPY in the 90-100 range reflects Japan fundamentals. And, as expected, the 109 level is where the algos have hone in today as a strange FX attractor, which also means that ES has reverse sharper overnight losses and was down just 7 points at last check even as the poundage in the commodity sector continues over rising fears of a sharp Chinese slowdown driven by its imploding housing sector (most recently observed here) without an offsetting stimulus program, following several comments by high-ranked Chinese individuals who poured cold water on any hopes of an imminent Chinese mega-QE or even modest rate cut.
When the most persistent, most aggressive, and most sizeable actions of policymakers are those that discourage saving, promote debt-financed consumption, and encourage the diversion of scarce savings to yield-seeking financial speculation rather than productive investment, the backbone that supports a rising standard of living is broken.
While everyone debates if the Fed will, once again, be wrong in its forecasts about a rate hike cycle starting some time in mid-2015 (spoiler alert: it will be), we decided to take a look in the other direction.
USDJPY has been on a tear in recent weeks. Since China unleashed QE-lite, JPY and CNY have greatly diverged with USDJPY breaking above 109 and pushing six-year highs. This recent 'relative strength' is the most extreme overbought for the currency pair since early 2001 - which saw USDJPY plunge 30% in the following six months. The tick-for-tick rise in Japan's stock market also broke a 9-month almost-perfect analog with the last time the nation raised its consumption tax. Perhaps even more worrying in the world of FX trading, ECB Governing Council member Ignazio Visco told the G-20 that it may not need to add stimulus measures after steps in the past three months pushed down the euro.
As the marginal investing bot continues to invest his marginal leveraged dollar-on-the-sideline on an equity market that, as Janet Yellen has explained to the poor, will create a "wealth effect" to sustain everyone through rainy days and retirement, we thought some context worthwhile. On December 5th 1996, Alan Greenspan - upon the recognition that equity market capitalization has bubbled to over 100% of nominal GDP - opined that investors had succumbed to "irrational exuberance." Since then, that 'exuberance' has become increasingly rational as the Fed pulls all its monetary-base expanding, deficit-funding, asset-purchases to keep the American Dream alive for a select (and shrinking) few...
The world may be a big conspiracy and civilization as we know it may end soon, but if you care what the dollar may do next week, take a look at this post.
As I was shorting S&P Futures late Thursday night it once again hit home how close financial markets are to some major shocks all due to ridiculous amounts of liquidity by Central Banks all over the world.
Given the pre-vote polls and 300 years of historical resentment, many were somewhat surprised at the overwhelming "No" vote in last night's Scottish Independence referendum. While we now know that the vote broke very cleanly between old ("no") and young ("yes") Scots, the following clip suggests the possibility that more was afoot than that. As the commentator blasts, "Busted! Absolutely busted!" You decide... As Martin Armstrong rages, "Is anything real anymore?"
It has been quite an eventful week between Scotland's battle over independence, the Federal Reserve's FOMC announcement and the markets making new all time highs. The FOMC announcement was more comedy than anything else as the continued facade of the Fed's forecasting capabilities was revealed, it appears the biggest factor in the world of investing and for this weekend's list of "Things To Ponder" we have accumulated a few reads relating to the Fed.