Maybe the real reason that the Treasury offered China direct access (thus cutting out the middleman and offering China cheaper access than ever) was precisely because China was selling, and because the Treasury was concerned about the effect on rates, and wanted to give China some incentive to keep buying. As Jon Huntsman noted in a 2010 cable leaked by Wikileaks, the PBOC has felt pressured to keep buying, and as various PBOC officials have hinted in recent months, China is actively seeking to convert out of treasuries and into gold. And that makes sense — treasuries are yielding ever deeper negative real rates. People holding treasuries are losing their purchasing power. No wonder the treasury is willing to cut Wall Street out of the deal. And it isn’t like the Treasury would have taken this move lightly — cutting Wall Street out of the equation is a slap in the face to Wall Street
Here's My Argument for Fighting the Good Fight Even Against Seemingly Overwhelming Odds ... The Counter-Argument Is that We Should Unplug from the Martrix, and that Will Suck Away Its Power. What Do You Think, Savvy Reader?
Following the morning in Europe, a generally risk-off tone is observed, with stock futures sitting just above session lows and the German Schatz auction resulting in record low yields. Some of the risk-averse moves were noted following unconfirmed market talk that a troubled Dutch housing association may be pressed towards bankruptcy, however this seems to be linked towards an article concerning the Dutch central bank probing into the sale of derivatives to the housing group Vestia. Nonetheless, the long end of the Dutch curve remains well-bid and European 10-yr government bond yield spreads are seen generally wider across the board. Releases from the UK have come under particular focus; the BoE minutes showed an alongside-expectations vote of 8-1 to keep QE on hold. With some analysts estimating more of a lean towards further asset purchases, the initial reaction was strength in the GBP currency, but countering this effect was the parallel release of UK retail sales, with the monthly reading showing the sharpest decline since January 2010. Additionally, it was noted that several members of the board saw further QE as a finely balanced decision, placing GBP/USD back on a downward trajectory and briefly below 1.5700. Elsewhere in foreign exchange, current sentiment is reflected in EUR/USD, printing multi-month lows earlier in the session of 1.2615, with the USD index at 20-month highs which in turn has weighed on commodities.
With only new home sales (which we actually report as opposed to NAR goalseeked marketing materials) to hit the docket in the US, the only newsflow that matters again will be that coming out of Europe, which is holding an informal summit. As BofA reminds us, the summit was originally set up to discuss growth. Now, it is there for Grexit damage control. Today's discussions will focus on the use of existing tools for supporting short-term growth. Spain and Greece are likely to be on the agenda as well. On Greece, although discussions should focus on the pros and cons of a Greek exit, we believe there will be no communiqué other than to mention that Greece should stay in the euro area and implement the programme. On Spain, discussions will likely focus on the banking sector. The discussion will likely be around using the EFSF (or its successor ESM) directly to fund the banking sector, a step Germany opposed in the past. Overall, we do not expect many decisions from the summit. Rather, we expect a communiqué about what was officially discussed, and a date for a later rendezvous. In other words, "investors are likely to be let down by today's summit" (that was BofA's assessment). Also let down, were markets in the overnight session when the BOJ, contrary to some expectations, left its QE program unchanged. As usual keep an eye on headlines: record EUR interest means violent short covering squeezes if the algos sense a hint of optimism in any red flashing text (if only briefly, as the long-term outlook for the situation is quite hopeless).
Even if everyone wanted it.
Just when one thought it was safe to come out of hiding from under the school desk after the latest nuclear bomb drill (because Europe once again plans on recycling the Euro bond gambit - just like it did in 2011 - so all shall be well), here comes David Rosenberg carrying the launch codes, and setting off the mushroom cloud.
UK CPI this morning came in weaker than expected at 3.0% Y/Y in April, weighed by a fall in air fares, alcohol, clothes and sea transport, according to the ONS. The release saw aggressive selling of GBP in the currency market and has underpinned the rise in gilt futures. Alongside the 26th month low in UK CPI the IMF also issued their latest assessment on the UK economy and said further policy easing is required and that the Bank could cut its interest rate from the current 0.5% level. In other market moving news a Greek government source said that Greek banks are to receive a EUR 18bln recapitalisation down payment this Friday which initially saw the EUR and stock futures rally, however, the move was short lived as it became clear that the payment is scheduled as part of the bailout programme for Greece. Elsewhere, Fitch made a surprise announcement and downgraded the Japanese sovereign rating by two notches to A+, outlook negative. The move means Fitch has the lowest rating for Japan of the three main rating agencies so we remain vigilant for any comments from S&P and Moody’s today.
A panel of the Swiss parliament is discussing the introduction of the parallel ‘Gold franc’ currency. Bloomberg has picked up on the news which was reported by Neue Luzerner Zeitung. The Swiss parliament panel will discuss a proposal aimed at introducing a new currency, or a so-called gold franc. Under the proposal, which will be debated in the lower house’s economic panel in Bern today, one coin in gold would be worth about 5 Swiss francs ($5.30), the Swiss newspaper reported. The Swiss franc would remain the official currency, the paper said. The proposal may lead to a wider debate about the Swiss franc and the role gold might again play to protect the Swiss franc from currency debasement. The initiative is part of the “Healthy Currency” campaign which is being promoted by the country’s biggest party – the conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP).
There was some hope that today's European summit would provide some more clarity for something else than just the local caterer's 2012 tax payment. It wont. Per Reuters: "Germany does not believe that jointly issued euro zone bonds offer a solution to the bloc's debt crisis and will not change its stance despite calls from France and other countries to consider such a step, a senior German official said on Tuesday. "That's a firm conviction which will not change in June," the official said at a German government briefing before an informal summit of EU leaders on Wednesday. A second summit will be held at the end of June. The official, requesting anonymity, also said he saw no need for leaders to discuss a loosening of deficit goals for struggling euro zone countries like Greece or Spain, nor to explore new ways for recapitalise vulnerable banks at Wednesday's meeting." In other words absolutely the same as in August 2011 when Europe came, saw, and did nothing. Yes, yes, deja vu. Bottom line: just as Citi predicted, until the bottom falls out of the market, nothing will change. They were right. As for the summit, just recycle the Einhorn chart from below. Elsewhere, the OECD slashed world growth forecasts and now officially sees Europe contracting, something everyone else has known for months. "In its twice-yearly economic outlook, the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development forecast that global growth would ease to 3.4 percent this year from 3.6 percent in 2011, before accelerating to 4.2 percent in 2013, in line with its last estimates from late November... The OECD forecast that the 17-member euro zone economy would shrink 0.1 percent this year before posting growth of 0.9 percent in 2013, though regional powerhouse Germany would chalk up growth of 1.2 percent in 2012 and 2.0 percent in 2013." Concluding the overnight news was a meaningless auction of €2.5 billion in 3 and 6 month bills (recall, Bill issuance in LTRO Europe is completely meaningless) in which borrowing rates rose, and a very meaningful downgrade of Japan to A+ from AA, outlook negative, by Fitch which lowered Japan's long-term foreign currency rating to A plus from AA, the local currency rating to A plus from AA minus, and to the country ceiling rating to AA+ from AAA. Yes, Kyle Bass is right. Just a matter of time. Just like with subprime.
No one likes paying taxes. You’d think.
The standard Keynesian narrative that "Households and countries are not spending because they can’t borrow the funds to do so, and the best way to revive growth, the argument goes, is to find ways to get the money flowing again." is not working. In fact, former IMF Director Raghuram Rajan points out, today’s economic troubles are not simply the result of inadequate demand but the result, equally, of a distorted supply side as technology and foreign competition means that "advanced economies were losing their ability to grow by making useful things." Detailing his view of the mistakes of the Keynesian dream, Rajan notes "The growth that these countries engineered, with its dependence on borrowing, proved unsustainable.", and critically his conclusion that the industrial countries have a choice. They can act as if all is well except that their consumers are in a funk and so what John Maynard Keynes called “animal spirits” must be revived through stimulus measures. Or they can treat the crisis as a wake-up call and move to fix all that has been papered over in the last few decades and thus put themselves in a better position to take advantage of coming opportunities.
Based on a swap-spread-based model, EURUSD should trade around 1.30, but based on GDP-weighted sovereign credit risk EURUSD should trade around 1.00; so who is right and what are the factors that supporting the Euro at higher levels than many would assume (given the rising probability of a Euro-zone #fail and the 0.82 lows from 2000). UBS addresses four key reasons for the apparent paradox based on the difference between ECB and Fed 'monetization', the EZ's balanced current account (independent of foreign capital flows), and the high-oil-price induced petro-dollar circulation diversifying into Euros (or out of USD). The final and most telling of factors though is bank deleveraging as European financial entities, who remain under pressure to shrink their balance sheets and re-build capital, have been selling foreign assets. They remain EUR dismalists with a year-end target of 1.15 but expect the slide to these levels to be cushioned (absent an imminent break-up) by banks' 'shrinkage'.
A three-pronged attack on reason. Obama's reelection is at stake....