What is it with this perennial fear the chief money printers have of falling prices? Not that we are likely to see it happen, but if it does, what of it? The problem is of course that when prices decline, the 'wrong' sectors of society actually benefit, while those whose bread is buttered by the inflation tax would no longer benefit at the expense of everybody else. But they never say that, do they? Has any central banker ever explained why he believes deflation to be a danger? No, we are just supposed to know/accept that it is. As Austrian economists have long explained, it is simply untrue that prices must rise for the economy to grow.
Big Bubble Brutally Bursts ... Bringing Bankruptcies, Bond Busts
The biggest Asia-Pacific defense story this week is China’s decision to increase its defense budget by 12.2 percent to about $132 billion for the next fiscal year. Notice that the figure is noticeably uncorrelated with China’s 7.7 percent actual growth rate (with a 7.5 percent target rate). The numbers are expected, of course, and send a clear signal across the region that China is taking its investments in military hardware seriously. Contrast the Chinese trend with the United States’ belt-tightening on defense spending. The United States and China are, of course, nowhere near to a convergence in defense spending.
Newsweek claims to have identified the mysterious creator of Bitcoin. Satoshi Nakamoto - long believed to be a pseudonym - was hunted down through searches, conversations, and national archives: "It was only while scouring a database that contained the registration cards of naturalized U.S. citizens that a Satoshi Nakamoto turned up whose profile and background offered a potential match. But it was not until after ordering his records from the National Archives and conducting many more interviews that a cohesive picture began to take shape."
Some remain skeptical that Newsweek have found him but making such a bold claim is aggressive and comments from Bitcoin lead developer Gavin Anderson suggest this is the real Satoshi.
Following yesterday's abysmal employment and service data which led to an unchanged close it quite clear that the market has returned to a mode where it ignores all newsflow - at least the bad, which is due to the weather, the good news is due to the recovery - and instead is simply driven by such "fundamental drivers" as the momentum and position of the Yen carry trade. And overnight the USDJPY positively exploded following news that the Japan advisory committee has decided the nation's pension fund, the GPIF, does' t need a domestic bond focus. Implicitly this means that the GPIF will soon be able to purchase stocks like Facebook and Tesla, which is a guaranteed way of generated short-term gains and longer-term total losses for the Japanese pensioners. Of course, when the latter happens, nobody will have been able to foresee it and some scapegoat somewhere will be summarily fired. As for what this means for futures, the drift higher has made SPOOs rise once more and at last check was just below if not at new all time highs on an ongoing barrage of increasingly negative macro news.
"The market is an artificial fabrication," Universa's Mark Spitznagel warns in this brief but revealing interview, adding that "to think this can persist is simply naive." Talking to Maria B on FOX, Spitznagel thinks the market could be cut in half if the Fed stepped away now and points out the fallacy of a belief in any persistent tapering as the Fed will step right back if the market goes down. The gap between the market's "alternate reality" and actual reality is something that simply cannot persist and explains now is the time to be out, to prepare for when the market reprices (as opposed to suggesting people short the market) which is exactly what traders are not doing - as it would be irrational to think longer-term, "if they don't make their next week, month, quarter; they won't be around." "The reason for this is the Fed - the modern day Victor Frankenstein - who have created this thing that otherwise wouldn't live"
When Canadian authorities scrapped their 'investor visa' scheme a month ago, we warned that the nation was removing a critical pillar of support for its real-estate bubble market. However, with an estimated 45,000 Chinese millionaires still in the queue, the wealthy hoping to get their cash out of China are not happy. As The South China Morning Post reports, a group of wealthy mainlanders has criticized the Canadian government for scrapping its investor visa scheme and are threatening legal action if the decision is not overturned - arguing "we had set aside a lot of money to meet the investment requirements and over the years passed up on many opportunities... A refund of our application fees will not make up for all the preparation put in."
- High Stakes Limit Bid to Cow Putin (WSJ)
- Russia says can't control Crimea troops ahead of U.S. talks (Reuters)
- Crimea Crisis Haunted by Ghosts of Bungled World War I Diplomacy (BBG)
- Putin’s Ukraine Gambit Hurts Economy as Allies Lose Billions (BBG)
- Germany Says It Provided Equipment and Training to Ukraine's Riot Police (WSJ)
- China signals focus on reforms and leaner, cleaner growth (Reuters)
- China Shares in Hong Kong Decline Amid Default Concern (BBG)
- Beijing Signals New Worry on Growth (WSJ)
Dispassionate analysis of Russia/Crimea and the threat of Russia dumping its dollar holdings. Much posturing. Many point to US bluster have tough time identifying Russia's bluster. Let me help.
What Hagel proposes is not cuts, but instead a shift in spending away from personnel and toward new high-tech weapons which are favored by and profitable to the military-industrial complex. Welfare spending is bankrupting the country. But military spending is also welfare: it is welfare for the well-connected military-industrial complex, which enriches itself manufacturing useless boondoggles like the F-35 fighter. A proper foreign policy would mean a strong national defense, but a huge reduction in interventions and commitments overseas. Why are we stirring up trouble in Ukraine? In Syria? In Africa? Why are we defending South Korea and Japan when they are wealthy enough to defend themselves? A proper sized foreign policy would defend the United States instead of provoking the rest of the world.
Goldman's February Final Global Leading Index places the global industrial cycle in the "Slowdown" phase, with positive but decreasing Momentum indicating a soft-patch in global growth. The infamous Swirlogram has now shifted to a more negative stance than a year ago as 8 of the 10 factors worsened in Feb. Goldman remains unapologetically optimistic that this is 'weather'-related but we do note that the weakness is global in nature. In the US, despite beats in 'select' data, the US macro surprise index has started the year with its biggest fall since 2008.
- No need to use military force in Ukraine for now: Putin (Reuters)
- Russia Orders Drill Troops Back to Bases (WSJ)
- Ukraine premier agrees to reforms for aid package (FT)
- Japan Base Wages Rise for First Time in Nearly Two Years (WSJ)
- Only the algos are trading: Citigroup Joins JPMorgan in Seeing Trading-Revenue Drop (BBG)
- Vietnam sends blogger to prison for critical posts (AP)
- At White House, Israel's Netanyahu pushes back against Obama diplomacy (Reuters)
- Obama to offer new tax breaks for workers in election year budget pitch (Reuters)
- China Banks Show Too-Connected-to-Fail Link to Shadow Loans (BBG)
- Ex-BOK Deputy Lee Named to Head South Korea Central Bank (BBG)
- No mortgage origination problem in the UK: Mortgage approvals climb to six year high (Telegraph)
Futures are soaring and are just shy of their record high first following news that the Russian military drill has ended, even if Russian troops stationed in the Crimea remain, but more importantly driven by a just completed press conference by Vladimir Putin in his residence outside of Moscow, in which the Russian leader appears to have softened his stance on Crimean aggression, saying he does not consider adding Crimea to its territory. What the market is focusing on is the repeat of Putin's stance that he will not be sending troops to the Crimea yet (even though they are there already), and that he suddenly appears concerned about the impact on markets and the fallout from sanctions.
Having ripped higher by over 200 points after the US close, Nikkei 225 futures have "glitched":
- *JPX SAYS NIKKEI 225 FUTURES STOPPED TRADING AFTER 11AM TOKYO
- *JAPAN EXCHANGE SAYS NIKKEI 225 FUTURES STOPPED ON SYSTEM ERROR
- *TRADING HALT MAY BE DUE TO SYSTEM PROBLEMS, TAKAHASHI SAYS
The ramp, which caught futures up to USDJPY happened as they recoupled... we will see which direction the post-break market wants to go...
Russia’s seizure of Crimea is the most naked example of peacetime aggression that Europe has witnessed since Nazi Germany invaded the Sudetenland in 1938. It may be fashionable to belittle the “lessons of Munich,” when Neville Chamberlain and Édouard Daladier appeased Hitler, deferring to his claims on Czechoslovakia. But if the West acquiesces to Crimea’s annexation – the second time Russian President Vladimir Putin has stolen territory from a sovereign state, following Russia’s seizure of Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions in 2008 – today’s democratic leaders will surely regret their inaction. When Chamberlain returned from Munich, Winston Churchill said, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.” Obama and other Western leaders face a similar choice. And if they choose dishonor, one can be certain that an undeterred Putin will eventually give them more war.