Paul Volcker Proposes A New Bretton Woods System To Prevent "Frequent, Destructive" Financial CrisesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/01/2014 19:32 -0400
We found it surprising that it was none other than Paul Volcker himself who, on May 21 at the annual meeting of the Bretton Woods Committee, said that "by now I think we can agree that the absence of an official, rules-based cooperatively managed, monetary system has not been a great success. In fact, international financial crises seem at least as frequent and more destructive in impeding economic stability and growth." We can, indeed, agree. However, we certainly disagree with Volcker's proposal for a solution to this far more brittle monetary system: a new Bretton Woods.
Dispassionae look at the several events in the week ahead.
Top Chinese General Accuses US And Japan Of "Provocative Actions"; Russia Wonders Why "US Has To Lead"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/01/2014 10:14 -0400
On Friday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said China has taken "destabilizing, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea" (which incidentally is not called the South American Sea). Hagel added that the U.S. will continue to raise cyber issues with China, and by raising he likely meant accusing PLA members of hacking, resulting in China dropping more US tech firms as critical suppliers.Following the Us Defense Secretary, it was the turn of Japan's PM, Abe who said Japan would give more support to southeast Asian nations that are facing Chinese pressure. He concluded that the U.S. takes no position on competing territorial claims, however the damage was already done: according the FT, a top Chinese general on Sunday accused the US and Japan of teaming up to stage “provocative actions” against China, as escalating maritime tensions spilled into an Asian regional defense forum.
Following Russia’s historic $400 billion natural gas supply deal with China last week, Japanese lawmakers are looking to revive efforts to tap into Russian natural gas supplies themselves.
Could the euro rally on a 10-15 bp cut in key rates? Technical indicators suggest this may be likely.
With tear-gas flying in the streets of Turkey, Ukraine's civil-war raging in the south and east, US drones based in Japan to oversee the South China Sea, and Europe's extremist parties gaining significant traction, today we get one more piece of considerably worrisome geopolitical news that global stock markets must ignore. The Sunday Times reports that Israel is to deploy three submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles in the Persian Gulf that are meant to act as a deterrent, gather intelligence and potentially to land Mossad agents. Iran is not happy, warning that "anyone who wishes to do an evil act in the Persian Gulf will receive a forceful response from us."
One of the most important, but difficult to measure, concepts in macroeconomics is the natural or equilibrium real interest rate. This is the rate of interest consistent with full employment and stable inflation. The last few weeks have seen bond yields tumble and a rising cacophony of market participants questioning both the Fed's central tendency of terminal or natural rates (around 4%) and the market's perception of how fast we get there. SF Fed Williams models see a 1.8% natural rate, BofA also believes it is between 1.5 and 2%; and now Citi admits, "fair value of long-term rates may be lower than we and other market participants judged them to be."
If clichés reflect overly common (if therefore unappreciated) wisdom, then we finally have a good explanation for why risk assets continue to rally. No, there are actually not “More buyers than sellers” – money flows are negative over the last month for both U.S. equity mutual funds and ETFs. And forget about investors “Downgrading on valuation” as stocks climb higher and higher; truth be told, that’s not even really a thing (unless you work on the sell side). Nope, this is a “Flight to quality”, “don’t fight the Fed”, “never short a dull market” environment with “easy comps” from a long rough winter. Want to call a top somewhere around here? Remember that “Markets discount events 6 months in the future.” A “Santa Claus rally” in June? That would fit the one cliché we know is actually the market’s True North: it will do exactly what hurts the most “Smart” investors. And that would be to rally further as the doomsayers double down and the timid cling to their bonds and cash.
Even soothsayers and Abenomics spin doctors expected a downdraft after Japan’s consumption tax was jacked up. But not this.
When the US economy underperforms expectations, the weather is blamed; and now, on the heels of Japan's pre-emptive blaming of weather for crushed consumer spending patterns; The FT proclaims that El Nino is responsible for the weakness in gold (as monsoon season will reduce physical demand from India)... welcome to mainstream media meteoronomics 101. What is odd about this reasoning is that we are actually more prone to a La Nina than an El Nino pattern this year based on the Southern Oscillator Index.
The Keynesians have failed. Japan has proved it. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world… and the markets catch on.
With leverage rapidly rising while credit spreads approach record lows, high-yield bond markets have long since lost any sense of sanity with regard to forward-discounting... but that hasn't stopped the world's biggest bond managers (and now Japan's pension fund GPIF because as they say "now they have a chance to chase higher returns without taking on much risk") from diving in while the water is warm. With the smell of risk essentially removed from any and every market, why not pile into the riskiest credits, gain some extra yield (for free) - what could go wrong?
It was interesting over the last couple of days to watch a series of both hosts and analysts scratching their heads and fumbling for answers over the recent decline in interest rates. After all, how could this be with inflation creeping up due to much stronger economic growth? More importantly, asset prices are clearly telling investors to get out of bonds as the "great rotation" is upon us as we launch into this new secular bull market, right? The recent decline in interest rates should really not be a surprise as there is little evidence that current rates of economic growth are set to increase markedly anytime soon. Consumers are still heavily levered, wage growth remains anemic, and business owners are still operating on an "as needed basis." This "economic reality" continues to constrain the ability of the economy to grow organically.
The complete implosion in volume and vol, not to mention bond yields continues, and appears to have spilled over into events newsflow where overnight virtually nothing happened, or at least such is the algos' complete disregard for any real time headlines that as bond yields dropped to fresh record lows in many countries and the US 10Y sliding to a 2.3% handle, confused US equity futures have recouped almost all their losses from yesterday despite a USDJPY carry trade which has once again dropped to the 101.5 level, and are set for new record highs. Perhaps they are just waiting for today's downward revision in Q1 GDP to a negative print before blasting off on their way to Jeremy Grantham's 2,200 bubble peak after which Bernanke's Frankenstein market will finally, mercifully die.
Given the pre-tax-hike surge, the oh-so-smart economists around the world were expecting some give-back from dragged-forward demand but the 13.7% MoM decline missed expectations by 2 percentage points. This was the largest MoM decline on record. Talking heads are already blaming the tax hike (but they knew all about it?) and year-over-year was just as dismal (and less immediately prone to events) as it fell by the most since the 2011 Tsunami. Bad news (the worst) is good news though right? Well no - USDJPY is down as is Nikkei as remember, Japanese inflation pressures are building and Kuroda has pushed off any actions from the BoJ for now.