Over the weekend, the entertaining @HistoryInPix twitter account posted this distrubing photo of the cemetery where all the radioactive vehicles that were used in the Chernobyl cleanup went to die. One can't help but wonder: where is the comparable "cemetery" for the Fukushima disaster cleanup, and does the above photo have anything to do with the recently passed secrecy bill that was "designed by Kafka and inspired by Hitler"...
After last week's economic fireworks, this one will be far more quiet with earnings dominating investors' attention: US financials reporting this week include JPM and Wells Fargo tomorrow, BofA on Wednesday, GS and Citi on Thursday, BoNY and MS on Friday. Industrial bellwethers Intel (Thurs) and General Electric (Fri) are also on this week’s earnings docket. On the macro front, this coming week we have two MPC meetings - both in LatAm. For Brazil consensus expects a 25bps hike in the policy rate. For Chile consensus forecasts monetary policy to remain on hold. Among the data releases, one should point out inflation numbers from the US (CPI and PPI), Eurozone, the UK and India. We also have three important US producer and consumer surveys - Empire Manufacturing, Philadelphia Fed (consensus +8.5), and U. of Michigan (consensus 83.5). Among external trade and capital flow stats, we would emphasize US TIC data, as well as current account balances from Japan and Turkey. Finally, the accumulation of FX reserves in China is interesting to track as it provides an indication of CNY appreciation pressure.
With no major macro news on today's docket, it is a day of continuing reflection of Friday's abysmal jobs report, which for now has hammered the USDJPY carry first and foremost, a pair which is now down 170 pips from the 105 level seen on Friday, which in turn is putting pressure on global equities. As DB summarizes, everyone "knows" that Friday's US December employment report had a sizeable weather impact but no-one can quite grasp how much or why it didn't show up in other reports. Given that parts of the US were colder than Mars last week one would have to think a few people might have struggled to get to work this month too. So we could be in for another difficult to decipher report at the start of February. Will the Fed look through the distortions? It’s fair to say that equities just about saw the report as good news (S&P 500 +0.23%) probably due to it increasing the possibility in a pause in tapering at the end of the month. However if the equity market was content the bond market was ecstatic with 10 year USTs rallying 11bps. The price action suggests the market was looking for a pretty strong print.
Following Japan's proclamations that it will take over another 280 'disputed ownership' islands, it appears the increasingly dis-approved of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's path of militarism and provocation is working. As China Daily Mail reports, citing experts, China intends to take back Zhongye Island - 'illegally' occupied by the Philippines, according to the Chinese. The Chinese navy has drawn a detailed combat plan to seize the island and the battle will be restricted within the South China Sea. Philippines military is building up on the island and the Chinese see as 'intolerable' the "arrogance" relying on US support. It seems the Obama administration may have to 'not take sides' in another fight soon.
Rising U.S. inflation expectations ... suggesting inflation is around the corner. But we're not buying it just yet.
Overnight China reported disappointing export data, missing expectations of +5%. The gvoernment explained this on the basis that they were losing their competitive edge since the Yuan has strengthened to 20 year highs but perhaps most telling is that fact that, as the FT reports, China became the world's biggest trader in goods for the first time last year - overtaking the US for all of 2013. We suspect the powers that be are starting to get nervous as this comes soon after China's surge to become the world's largest oil importer marking a notable shift in the world's most powerful nations - as trade with the rest of Asia and increasing flows with the Middle East represent a shift in power away from the US.
- From the guy who said the market is not overvalued: Q&A with Fed’s Williams on Upbeat 2014 Outlook and What Keeps Him up at Night (Hilsenrath)
- Obama Readies Revamp of NSA (WSJ)
- Indian envoy leaves U.S. in deal to calm diplomatic row (Reuters)
- China overtakes US as largest goods trader (FT)
- Wall Street Predicts $50 Billion Bill to Settle U.S. Mortgage Suits (NYT)
- Low-End Retailers Had a Rough Holiday: Family Dollar, Sears Struggle as Lower-Income Customers Remain Under Pressure (WSJ)
- ECB charts familiar course as Japan, US and UK begin to diverge (FT)
- Housing experts warn of hiccups as new U.S. mortgage rules go live (Reuters)
- It's a HFT eat HFT world: Infinium ex-employees sue over $4.1m loss (FT)
- Slowing China crude imports to challenge exporters (FT)
- Carney Guidance Threshold Strained as BOE Holds Policy (BBG)
- Does one laugh or cry: China Tells Banks to Improve Disclosures in Shadow-Lending Fight (BBG)
- Big Business Doubles Down on GOP Civil War With Tea Party (BBG)
- CIA sued for records on possible role in Nelson Mandela arrest (RT)
- Bridge Scandal Destroys Christie's 'Nice Jerk' Image (BBG)
- Borrowers Hit Social-Media Hurdles (WSJ)
- U.S. Leverage in Iraq Tested As Fears of Civil War Mount (WSJ)
- Austerity drive cuts into Chinese inflation (FT)
- Dish Pulling Its Bid for LightSquared (WSJ)
- BlackRock agrees to end analyst surveys (Reuters)
- Germany defends economic policies after US criticism (FT)
- Bank of Korea Holds Rate Even as Yen Clouds Export Outlook (BBG)
The overnight session began on a dour mood, with both the Shanghai Composite and Nikkei sliding (the former once again just barely above 2,000, latter once again dropping below 16,000), even though Chinese CPI came below expectations suggesting the PBOC has some more room to ease and not rush into liquidity extraction (which just happens to blow out repo rates like clockwork), while in Japan BOJ board member Shirai implied the Japanese QE can be extended and expanded as needed. Europe had a weak start although shortly after 3 am Eastern staged a dramatic turnaround supported by a bounce in the EUR (and ES driving EURJPY) leading to broadly higher stocks, supported by solid demand for Portuguese 5y bond syndication, as well as oversubscribed debt auctions by the Spanish Treasury which sold above the targeted amount and consequently saw SP/GE 10y spread fall to its tightest level since April 2011. At the same time, having been propped up by touted redemption flows ahead of Spanish and French bond auctions, absorption of supply shortly after 1000GMT resulted in an immediate selling pressure on Bunds. Helping lift spirits was a rumored $1 billion trade order in September S&P futures, as well as chatter by the Greek PM that the country was like Portugal and Ireland, prepared to get back into the bond markets.
15 months after acquiring three disputed islands in the Senkakus, and amid growing tensions with the Chinese following tit-for-tat air-defense zones, Abe's visit to the war-shrine, and public-opinion battles; Japan may have just cranked the rhetoric dial to 11. As Japan Times reports, the Japanese government will nationalize about 280 islands whose ownership is unknown out of the about 400 remote islands that serve as markers for determining Japan’s territorial waters.
If one listens to Goldman's chief economist Jan Hatzius these days, it is all roses for the global economy in 2014... much like it was for Goldman at the end of 2010, a case of optimism which went stupendously wrong. Goldman's Dominic Wilson admits as much in a brand new note in which he says, "Our economic and market views for 2014 are quite upbeat." However, unlike the blind faith Goldman had in a recovery that was promptly dashed, this time it is hedging, and as a result has just released the following not titled "Where we worry: Risks to our outlook", where Wilson notes: "After significant equity gains in 2013 and with more of a consensus that US growth will improve, it is important to think about the risks to that view. There are two main ways in which our market outlook could be wrong. The first is that our economic forecasts could be wrong. The second is that our economic forecasts could be right but our view of the market implications of those forecasts could be wrong. We highlight five key risks on each front here." In short: these are the ten things that keep Goldman up at night: the following five economic risks, and five market view risks.
The “Ig Nobel Prize” is parody of the Noble Prize that is awarded every year for the most trivial scientific achievement. For example, the 2007 recipient for the ‘Ig Nobel Peace Prize’ went to the United States Air Force Wright Lab in Ohio, for proposing the development of a ‘gay bomb’ that could be dropped in hostile territory and make enemy troops sexually attracted to each other. Make love, not war? So when we opened my email yesterday and saw the subject line: “Central Bank Governor of the Year”, we immediately presumed it was a similar satire. It wasn’t...
Much like the rest of peripheral Europe, Greek stocks have been on a rampage in the first few days of the year. Whether this is a global rotation into the junkiest of the junk - betting on the inevitable rescue and intervention to keep everyone safe, or merely front-running an ECB QE effort as inflation tumbles - is unclear but it is worth noting that this is the best start to a year for Greek stocks since 1994!! Remember Greece is not Japan (or Venezuela).
The war of words (and deeds) is once again escalating between China and Japan. As we detailed last night, this has been a long time coming and as Reuters reports today took a further turn for the worse. In an op-ed in Britain's Daily Telegraph, the Chinese ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, wrote last week: "If militarism is like the haunting Voldemort of Japan, the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo is a kind of horcrux, representing the darkest parts of that nation's soul." Liu's commentary was followed by another published on Sunday by his Japanese counterpart, Keiichi Hayashi, in the same newspaper, headlined: "China risks becoming Asia's Voldemort". As was noted, "Five thousand years of traditional virtues have been turned into this?"
While Abe begs (and cajoles) business leaders to raise wages (whether it makes economic sense or not), his plunging approval rating could have something to do with the ongoing squeeze the average gadget-freak Joe-san consumer is experiencing. Bloomberg reports, for the first time in 21 years, mobile phone prices are rising. The typical deflationary path of technological improvement is being overwhelmed by JPY weakness. "Inflation is spilling across a range of products," warns a Dai-Ichi economist, adding that the weakening yen is driving up prices as "Japan is importing more final goods as production shifts overseas."