There have been some important developments in the interest rate differentials that help explain recent price action in the foreign exchange market. It is not simply rhetoric weighing on the yen, for example. Japanese 2-10 year interest rates remain softer on the year and over the past three months, while monetary conditions have tightening in Europe and US 10-year yields are higher.
It's going to be a week of being bombarded with data and earnings from all angles. This week will see the first reading of US Q4 GDP as well as the first FOMC statement, Payrolls and ISM print of the year. In Europe we will get a handful of confidence indicators in the earlier part of the week but the main highlight will be the Spanish and Italian manufacturing PMIs on Friday. The coming week could see further sizeable moves in FX, mainly because investors – and policymakers – have become a lot more focused on currency markets. Finally, a few potentially interesting policy speeches are scheduled in the upcoming week. In Japan, Prime Minister Abe will likely talk in parliament about his economic policy, which could contain more comments on the BoJ and the Yen. In Germany, Buba President Weidmann will talk at the car manufacturers association and the recent sharp move in EUR/JPY may well be a subject given the competition between German and Japanese brands. Interestingly, Mr. Weidmann already mentioned the BoJ in a recent speech about global pressures on central bank independence.
- CAT beats ex-Chinese fraud: $1.91, Exp. $1.70; Warns 2013 could be a "tough year"; sees 2013 EPS in $7.00-$9.00 range, Exp. $8.54, sees Q1 sales well below Q1, 2012
- Yi Warns on Currency Wars as Yuan Close to ‘Equilibrium’ (BBG)
- Monte Paschi seeks new investor as scandal deepens (Reuters)
- Assault Weapons Ban Lacks Democratic Votes to Pass Senate (BBG)
- Toyota Again World's Largest Auto Maker (WSJ)
- Curious why all those Geneva Libor manipulators moved to Singapore? Bank probes find manipulation in Singapore's offshore FX market (Reuters)
- Japan eased safety standards ahead of Boeing 787 rollout (Reuters) - so like Fukushima?
- Goldman is about to be un charge: Osborne cools on changing inflation target (Telegraph)
- Abe Predicts Bump in Revenue as Japan Emerges From Recession (BBG) - actually, "hopes" is the correct verb here
- Toxic Smog in Beijing Fueling Auto Sales for GM, VW (BBG)
- Fed waits for job market to perk up (Reuters) ... any minute now that S&P to BLS trickle down will hit, promise
- BofA shifts derivatives to UK (FT)
An overview of the fundamental determinants of the foreign exchange market in the week ahead. I look beyond the official rhetoric at what is pushing the yen lower. I also discuss the tightening of European monetary condition. In addition, there is a brief discussion of the key US events this week: the FOMC, Q4 GDP estimate, and US jobs report.
As we recently noted, the US Macro picture is considerably less sanguine than every talking head would have you believe. Not only are earnings for Q4 coming in notably weak, but the top-down macro picture is its worst in almost five months - and turned negative this week. Of course, the fact that our 'market' is dislocated from any sense of reality will come as no surprise to anyone; but, the chart below provides some, perhaps useful, insight into how to trade this disconnect (and its inevitable convergence). To add a little more impetus to this decision, the past two weeks have seen the US macro picture drop at its fastest rate since June 2011 - right before the last debt-ceiling debate, which was followed by a quite notable decline in stocks.
The 2008 crash resulted from the bursting of the biggest bubble in financial history, a ‘credit super-cycle’ that spanned more than three decades. How did this happen? Some might draw comfort from the observation that bubbles are a long established aberration, arguing that the boom-and-bust cycle of recent years is nothing abnormal. Any such comfort would be misplaced, for two main reasons. First, the excesses of recent years have reached a scale which exceeds anything that has been experienced before. Second, and more disturbing still, the developments which led to the financial crisis of 2008 amounted to a process of sequential bubbles, a process in which the bursting of each bubble was followed by the immediate creation of another. Though the sequential nature of the pre-2008 process marks this as something that really is different, in order to put the 'credit cuper-cycle' in context, we must understand the vast folly of globalization, the undermining of official economic and fiscal data, and the fundamental misunderstanding of the dynamic which really drives the economy.
Here is a weekly over view of the currency market from a technical perspective. The divergence between the performance of the dollar against the euro-bloc, with the exception of sterling, and the other major currencies is noteworthy. In the analysis, I suggest a few opportnities for near-term contrarians. I fully appreciate that some readers eschew technical analysis and regulate it to the same space as numerology and witchcraft. Yet, even still, it is useful to recall Keynes' view that the markets are like a beauty contest and the trick is not to pick who one thinks is the most beautiful, but to pick who others will think most beautiful. Moreover, technicals allow one to quantify how much one is willing to lose in a way that fundamental macro-economic analysis doesn't. It is a tool then for risk management.
There has been an burst of exuberance as of late as the market, after four arduous years, got back to its pre-crisis levels. Much has been attributed to the recent burst of optimism in the financial markets from: better than expected earnings, stronger economic growth ahead, the end of the bond bubble is near, the long term outlook is getting better, valuations are cheap, and the great rotation is here - all of which have egregious holes. However, with the markets fully inflated, we have reached the point that where even a small exogenous shock will likely have an exaggerated effect on the markets. There are times that investors can safely "buy and hold" investments - this likely isn't one of them.
In a quiet corner of Davos this week, Davide Serra (hedge fund manager) and Nouriel Roubini (doom-monger) laid out to the great and good attending just exactly what their puppet central-banking transmission channels were doing to our world. As The Telegraph reports, "Money printing is theft from our children and may merely be storing up problems for an even bigger crisis." QE has led to gross mis-allocation of capital, the two gentlemen go on to note, adding that they comprehend the reasoning why Bernanke's Put has replaced Greenspan's but add that in doing this money-printing-by-another-name, they have "made it difficult for bond vigilantes to do their job - force fiscal reform." QE just buys time - but the time must be used wisely. Roubini warned that central bankers need to think about turning off the cheap money tap or risk creating another, possibly even worse, bubble.
Europe has now officially become the Schrodinger continent, demanding both sides of the economic coin so to speak, and is stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place (or "a cake and eating it"). On one hand it wants to telegraph its financial system is getting stronger, and doesn't need trillions in implicit and explicit ECB backstops, on the other it needs a liquidity buffer against an economy that, especially in the periphary, is rapidly deteriorating (Spanish bad debt just hit a new all time high while Italian bad loans rose by 16.7% in one year as more and more assets become impaired). On one hand it wants a strong currency to avoid any doubt that there is redenomination risk, on the other it desperately needs a weak currency to spur exports out of the Eurozone (as Spain showed when the EUR plunged in 2012, however that weak currency is now a distant memory and it is now seriously weighing on exports). On the one hand Europe wants to show its banks have solidarity with one another and will support each other, on the other those banks that are in a stronger position can't wait to shed the stigma of being associated with the weak banks (in this case by accepting LTRO bailouts).
The World Gold Council and leading academics and international think tanks believe that using a portion of a nation's gold reserves to back sovereign debt would lower sovereign debt yields and give some of the Eurozone's most distressed countries time to work on economic reform and recovery. According to research done by the World Gold Council using the European gold reserves as collateral for new sovereign debt issues would mean that without selling an ounce of gold, Eurozone countries could raise €413 billion. This is over 20% of Italy's and Portugal's two year borrowing requirements. The move to back sovereign bonds with gold would lower sovereign debt yields, without increasing inflation, which would help to calm markets. This should give European countries some vital breathing space to work on economic reform and recovery. Some citizens would be concerned that there may be a risk that the sovereign nations who pledge their gold as collateral could ultimately end up losing their gold reserves to the ECB, or whoever the collateral of the gold reserves are pledged to, in the event of a default. Unlike currency debasement and the printing and electronic creation of money to buy sovereign debt, under schemes such as Draghi's “outright monetary transactions” (OMT), the use of gold as collateral would not create fiscal transfers between Eurozone members, long term inflation or currency devaluation risk.
- Fed Pushes Into ‘Uncharted Territory’ With Record Assets (BBG)
- Next up in the currency wars: Korea - Samsung Drops on $2.8 Billion Won Profit-Cut Prediction (BBG)
- China Warns ‘Hot Money’ Inflows Possible on Easing From Abroad (Bloomberg)
- BOJ Shirakawa affirms easy policy pledge but warns of costs (Reuters)
- Merkel Takes a Swipe at Japan Over Yen (WSJ)
- Wages in way of Abe’s war on deflation (FT)
- Italian PM under fire over bank crisis (FT)
- Senior officials urge calm over islands dispute (China Daily)
- Spain tries to peel back business rules (FT)
- Rifts Over Cyprus Bailout Feed Broader Fears (WSJ)
- Soros Says the Euro Is Here to Stay as Currency War Looms (BBG)
At this point it has gotten painfully tedious, and the one phrase to describe trading is - Same Pattern Different Day. With equity futures closing decidedly weak on earnings reality after US market close, the slowly, steady overnight ramp seen every single day for the past month has returned as always, this time on yet another largely expected German confidence indicator beat (following the just as irrationally exuberant ZEW some time ago, and yesterday's far better than expected PMI), this time the IFO Business Climate, which printed at 104.2, on expectations of 103 and up from 102.4. This was driven by both the current assessment rising from 107.1 to 108 and the Expectations rising from 97.9 to 100.5. Naturally, all confidence indicators will be skewed in a way to prevent the market from doubting for a second that Germany may actually succumb to the same recession that has gripped all other European countries (which Germany is an inch away from after its negative Q4 GDP). In other words: there is hope. As for reality, UK Q4 GDP came in at -0.3% on expectations of a far lower drop to -0.1%, and down from the olympics-boosted 0.9% in Q3. The UK certainly can't wait for Mark Carney to come and show them how cable devaluation is really done, cause this time it will be different, if only it wasn't different for everyone else.
Three main forces are at work today: 1) The continued decline in the yen--driven by more evidence of deflation and more jawboning. 2) Poor UK data and weak underlying technicals extend sterling's losses. 3) Stronger German ZEW survey and the repayment fo 137.2 bln euros from 278 banks.
Reconciling Opposites ...