You have to laugh really... We presume the rally in Japanese stocks and weakness in the JPY reflects an assumption that this dismal miss for both imports and exports - leaving Japan's adjusted trade deficit the worst in Bloomberg's 20 year history - means moar Abenomics. Of course, the headlines will be all about Abe's 'any minute now' comments or Kuroda's 'just one more quarter' hope (as he speaks later today) but the reality is that things are not getting better in the radioactive nation as this marks the 30th consecutive trade deficit... but, like Venezuela, when has that even been reason not to buy stocks... S&P futures are up 2.5 points (below Friday's highs still for now), gold has given back its earlier gains and is unchanged, and Treasury Futures are down a tick.
Dispassionate discussion of some of the vexing issues.
The Bank of Japan will, for the first time in history, "own" all of Japan's GDP on its balance sheet some time in 2018 when its "assets" as a percentage of GDP surpass 100%, and then proceed in linear fashion to add about 10% of GDP to its balance sheet with every passing year until everything inevitably comes crashing down.
The Chinese yuan has reached 20-year highs versus the U.S. dollar. It's a significant development with potentially huge ramifications for China and the world.
Overview of the price action in the fx market.
The Fed's capabilities to engineer changes in economic growth and inflation are asymmetric. It has been historically documented that central bank tools are well suited to fight excess demand and rampant inflation; the Fed showed great resolve in containing the fast price increases in the aftermath of World Wars I and II and the Korean War. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, rampant inflation was again brought under control by a determined and persistent Federal Reserve. However, when an economy is excessively over-indebted and disinflationary factors force central banks to cut overnight interest rates to as close to zero as possible, central bank policy is powerless to further move inflation or growth metrics. The periods between 1927 and 1939 in the U.S. (and elsewhere), and from 1989 to the present in Japan, are clear examples of the impotence of central bank policy actions during periods of over-indebtedness. Four considerations suggest the Fed will continue to be unsuccessful in engineering increasing growth and higher inflation with their continuation of the current program of Large Scale Asset Purchases (LSAP)...
The Fed has painted itself into an almighty corner with QE, and it looks as though we are finally getting to the point in the process where that fact begins to (a) occur to people and (b) matter. Bill Fleckenstein has often spoken about the Fed's reaching the point where it "loses control of the bond market", and it is quite possible that we are rapidly approaching that point (the signs have certainly been strong in Japan). We may be there already. But, as Grant Williams notes in his most recent note, we won't know until we can look in the rearview mirror; but the nonvirtuous circle the Fed has created is extremely clear...
In one sense, the past couple of weeks’ debt ceiling debate was just one more in a long line of annoying-but-otherwise-pointless pieces of bad political theater. But in another sense it was a turning point, one that may have put the democrats completely in charge. Once the civil war costs the republicans control of the House of Representatives (November 4, 2014), the democrats will be relieved of the need to fool the middle about their commitment to fiscal sanity. The incoming Clinton administration and its congressional majorities will ramp up domestic spending and finance it with higher taxes, more borrowing and way more money printing. Janet Yellen (the perfect Fed chair for this transition) will expand QE and make it permanent. The Fed’s balance sheet will grow in trillion-dollar chunks as it buys up all the bonds issued by the government and the mortgage packagers and pretty much anybody else with paper to sell. Could there be a better environment for gold?
But I never thought it wise to sell it, because for central banks this is a reserve of safety, it’s viewed by the country as such. In the case of non-dollar countries it gives you a value-protection against fluctuations against the dollar, so there are several reasons, risk diversification and so on.
People need to be aware that worsening the situation of one class of tax payers is never going to improve the situation of another. The particular wealth tax proposal mentioned by the IMF en passant is odious in the extreme, especially as the wealth to be taxed has already been taxed at what are historically stratospheric rates. It is noteworthy that the alternatives discussed by the IMF for heavily indebted states which are weighed down by the wasteful spending of yesterday appear to have been reduced to 'default' (either outright or via hyperinflation) or 'more confiscation'. How about rigorously cutting spending instead? Lastly, a popular as well as populist target of the self-appointed arbiters of 'fairness' are loopholes, but as we have previously discussed, they are to paraphrase Mises 'what allows capitalism to breathe'. Closing them will in the end only lead to higher costs for consumers, less innovation, lower growth and considerable damage to retirement savings.
While the US economic data reporting machinery slowly starts churning again following the "reactivation" of government, last night it was China 's turn to report a slew of goalseeked economic items. Q3 GDP (+7.8% yoy), Industrial Production (+10.2% yoy), Fixed Asset Investments (+20.2% YTD yoy) and Retail sales (+13.3% yoy) for September all came in broadly in line with market consensus. The economy grew at a faster pace on a sequential basis with Q3 growth being 0.3ppts higher than Q2. Nonetheless, many observers forecast yoy Q4 GDP growth to decline due to the end of inventory restocking and the fade out of a major credit stimulus in the prior quarter, even as total Chinese debt continues to push ever higher into bubble territory.Speaking of China, however, it is worth noting that overnight the Chinese Yuan rose to the highest level against the dollar in 20 years. This happens as the USD tumbles to nearly a year low, which incidentally is the theme of the overnight session: the ongoing dollar poundage is reverberating across the globe, and the resulting unleashing of global funding carry trades looks set to take the S&P (and everything else) to fresh record highs on the back of even more generous Fed Kool Aid expectations.
It is only fitting that on the day the Stalingrad & Poorski 500 rises to a new record high, that that other centrally-planned catastrophe, the exploded Fukushima nuclear power plant, in the aftermath of Japan's Radioactivetyphoonado reports a completely different record: namely the level of beta radiation levels at Fukushima. Bloomberg notes that the nationalized utility Tepco, which has taken denial to a different superstring dimension altogether, has detected beta radiation levels of 400,000 becquerels per liter in a water sample taken yesterday from a monitoring well near storage tank area H4 at Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant. This was the highest reading on record. This number compares to Beta radiation levels of 61 Bq/L in the sample taken Oct. 16 and 90 Bq/L in the Oct. 15 sample.
A broad look at the political and economic consequences of the govt shutdown.
Some confidence tricks have characteristics that don’t quite fit the Fonz. Take the swindles known as Ponzi schemes. These are tricks that need an endless supply of participants to sustain confidence and stay alive. Once the participant pool depletes as it eventually must, the tricks are revealed as scams. Whereas Fonzies can persist indefinitely (at least in theory), Ponzis eventually collapse. Note that the U.S. has already passed its Ponzi point by Minsky’s definition. According to Minsky, borrowing qualifies as Ponzi finance whenever fresh issuance is needed to fund interest on existing debt. Based on the common assumption that the U.S. would miss its interest payments without regular increases in the statutory debt limit, this is indeed the case
Judging by the plunge in IBM stock after hours (accounting for a major portion of the Dow Jones Non-industrial Average Index), the CFO can't pay shareholders with hopium and rumors. The reason: while IBM beat EPS modestly with a very adjusted bottom line of $3.99, beating estimates of $3.96, driven mostly by this: "IBM’s tax rate was 16.0 percent, down 8.6 points year over year" (assuming a flat tax rate Y/Y, GAAP EPS would plunge from $3.68 to $3.30), it was revenues - that ongoing 2013 horror story for the "stawk" and economic "recovery" - that was the problem, because instead of printing at $24.74 billion where it was expected, sales missed by a whopping $1 billion, or $23.72 billion. Of note: while America revenues of $10.3 billion dropped just 1%, and Europe was actually up 1%, it was the all important China and Japan, i.e. Asia-Pacific, where revenues cratered by an unprecedented 15%! So much for both Abenomics and the Chinese "recovery." And what's worse, the Emerging Market callamity of Q3 finally took a big bite: "Revenues in the BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China — were down 15 percent." Time to push the global recovery myth to the 4th half of 2013 (the third half is where the government shutdown will be squeezed).