With the Fed tapering and both China “I don't think the markets are discounting what’s really happening in China,” and Japan’s currencies likely to weaken, the net impact on the U.S. will be deflationary, Kyle Bass warned in a recent presentation. That trend will be accelerated by the improvement in the balance of trade for the U.S., which had its current account deficit shrink due to increased hydrocarbon production. Bass warns, the crucial moment will come when the U.S. reports a sub-6% unemployment rate, meeting the target it has set for normalizing its monetary policy by ending QE and raising rates. He predicted that will come in July. That will be the Fed’s “worst nightmare,” he said. Raising rates would stifle growth and recreate unemployment problems, which would be disastrous politically, according to Bass.
As if global investors needed another excuse to buy stocks, China has escalated geopolitical tensions to 11 on the Spinal Tap amplifier of seriousness. With over 70 vessels in and around the Paracel Islands - where China has provocatively placed an oil rig in disputed Vietnamese territorial waters - it was only a matter of time before the blue touch paper was lit. As Yahoo Japan reports, a Vietnamese fishing vessel has sunk after being rammed by a Chinese vessel and the 10 fishermen have been rescued. While Vietnam has not responded yet, the Coast Guard warned "the situation at the site it very tense."
And War is a racket...
China and Russia signed an historic agreement in Shanghai this week - the ramifications of which have yet to be appreciated ... Reserve currency status does not last forever. Empires rise and fall. The world is constantly changing and evolving. Nothing lasts forever …
When does the market break? When will the Narrative of Central Bank Omnipotence fail? Implicit (and sometimes explicit) in these questions is the belief that this – whatever this is – simply can’t go on much longer, that there is some natural law being violated in today’s markets that in the not-so-distant future will visit some terrible retribution on those who continue to flout it. There has never been a more unloved bull market or a more mistrusted stock market high. Public markets today are essentially hollow, as what passes for volume and liquidity is primarily machines talking to other machines for portfolio “positioning” or ephemeral arbitrage rather than the human expression of a desire to own a fractional ownership share of a real-world company. We believe that today’s public market price levels primarily reflect the greatest monetary policy accommodation in human history rather than the real-world prospects of real-world companies. We believe that the political risks to both capital market structure and international trade (which are the twin engines of global growth, period, end of story) have not been this great since the 1930’s. Simply put, we believe we are being played like fiddles.
Yesterday we showed how Russia and China hold "massive" naval drills in the northern part of the East China Sea (close enough to Japan for us to footnote "ahem Japan and Taiwan"), which in addition to a clear signal to the US (on part of Russia), was sending just as clear a message to Japan (on the part of China). Sure enough, overnight Japan was not too happy with this massive show of force by the two biggest and closest foes near its disputed territory. As a result it dispatched an OP-3C surveillance plane and a YS-11EB electronic intelligence aircraft. China promptly retaliated and as Reuters reports, it scrambled a Su-27, fully-armed with missiles, which came as close as 50 meters of the Japanese fighters - the closest Chinese warplanes had come to aircraft of Japan's Self-Defense Force according to Japan - in what can only be described as "please take the first punch."
A dispassionate look at the week ahead.
A month ago, when the fate of the historic (and now concluded) gas deal between Russia and China was still unknown we wrote that "Isolated Russia Makes Friends: To Hold Military Drill With China", a drill titled "Maritime Cooperation-2014", and which, coincidentally, is taking place in the northern part (ahem Japan and Taiwan) of the East China Sea, just as Russia is conducting another massive airforce drill along its border with Ukraine on the weekend of Ukraine's presidential election. Here are some snapshots of what has taken place so far.
The Fed claims inflation is too low. But in the US, inflation has become a political problem.
How do you get rid of hundreds of tons of highly radioactive water? You dump it into the Pacific Ocean of course! In Japan, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. has made the “painful decision” to begin purposely dumping massive amounts of radioactive water currently being stored at the destroyed Fukushima nuclear facility directly into the Pacific. This is being done even though water radiation levels near Fukushima spiked to a brand new all-time record high just a few days ago.
Monetary central planning at the zero bound embodies a destructive internal contradiction. It inherently generates rampant speculation in real estate and financial assets because ZIRP massively subsidizes the cost of carry. At the same time, its practitioners are institutionally disposed to bubble denial because they falsely believe that their policies are what is keeping the real economy advancing - even if currently it is at a sub-normal pace by historical standards. Without fail, therefore, monetary central planners keep their feet on the accelerator to the very end, boasting that the “in-coming data” shows the macro-economy approaching the nirvana of full-employment. What they are actually doing, however, is driving the financial system to unsustainable extremes of valuation and speculation - and eventually to a crash landing. We have had two of these processions of the lemmings - that is, Fed driven cycles of bubble inflation and bust - already in this century. Now we are at the asymptote of the third.
"Words speak louder than actions until words stop working then we promise some actions... or more talk about actions." That appears to be the communication method-of-choice for the world's central bankers and The Bank Of Japan's Kuroda stepped into the breach today with his own demands. As Citi's Steven Englander translates, Kuroda is telling investors not to buy JPY just because the BoJ is being very reticent on policy ease (do as we say, not as we do). However, there is an important second message which is intended to be delivered to the Japanese bureaucracy - "Mr. Kuroda also acknowledged limits to what the BOJ can do to generate long-term growth."
Just like stocks go up on Tuesdays in the US (and Wednesdays in Japan).. and volatility always falls... so shortly after 8am ET this morning 'someone' decided it was the optimal time to unleash $450 million notional of gold futures. Just as we saw earlier in the week, this sizable dump only achieved a $5 depreciation in price as it seems the inexorable efforts of status quo stabilizers to ensure the only real indicator of empire collapse is not flashing red remain in full effect. Given that Barclays is now out ofthe business of rigging gold prices, the question remains: who is?
Using espionage for gain in negotiations is an age-old tactic; but are the norms of 'appropriate' espionage changing?