The hyper-correlation of Japanese stocks (Bass - The people that buying Japanese stocks, are picking up a dime in front of a bulldozer) and the JPY have led many to believe that Abe's miracle promise will be just the ticket to bring the nation's two-decade slump to an end - a 2% inflation target is all you need. However, in a brief CNBC interview, Kyle Bass explains that not only are 99.9% of people wrong about the crisis (explaining the critical aspect of the abrupt turn of twenty years of the 'procylicality of thought' - that deflation is the norm), but Abe's actions have actually brought forward the date of the "detonation of Japan's Debt Time Bomb. Bass goes on to discuss the US Housing stabilization, European stress, and China's economic opacity (and tensions with Japan), but leaves us with the clear and present danger in Japan that the clock has started on the qualitative shift in participants' minds that the situation is untenable (signs are already among the elite with recent JPY-extricating M&A deals) and "All of the components for this [bomb] to go off 'all of a sudden' are in place." Must watch.
The Fiscal Cliff theater was great 'off Broadway' drama, but the real show for traders took center stage Sunday December 16th in Japan. The curtain went up for the newly elected Prime Minister of Japan as the star actor in the unfolding global fiat currency drama. In the last 90 days the US, EU and now Japan have announced "unlimited", "Uncapped" monetary policy with UK's soon to be bank of England Governor, Carney indicating he wants inflation & growth targeting also when he assumes the reins. The goal has been to get interest REAL interest rates as low as possible, and the expected duration to be as long as possible. Market have reacted to this strategic and obvious debasement by stampeding, relentlessly into the Bond Market and creating a disturbing potentially destabilizing bond bubble. However, remember, Financial Repression is at work here and US Bond Yields and Interest Rates must be further reduced. We presently expect the 10 Year US Treasury Bill to eventually break below 1% and Equities will fall on the re-pricing of credit and risk, earnings revenue and margin issues and slowing real global growth.
It is no secret to anyone that as we said some 3 years ago, the world is now engaged in all out currency warfare whose sole goal is destroying one's own currency faster and more brutally than "the other guy" can. Because while devaluing one's currency is imperative in order to return to a viable debt load, about $40 trillion less than where it is now (as per BCG) by pushing monetary inflation upon one's people and inflating said debt away, just as important is to stimulate one's economy and exports which, all else equal, can only be done by making them cheaper to one's trading partners. It is, after all, a zero sum world. This is precisely the tug of war that the developed world is caught in currently, where every attempt is made to talk down one's currency, and when that fails, to dilute it by printing more of it (the Fed), to backstop it with collateral of every lower quality (the ECB, although in Europe's case it is more of an involuntary phenomenon), or just to talk, and talk, ant talk (Japan). Yet while every country with a self-respecting central bank (i.e., currency printer) hopes that they will be the ultimate winner of the currency debasement export race, what has become obvious over the past 30 years, is that when it comes to specializing in exports, there is just one true winner: a winner which is self-evident from the chart below.
It seems that when it comes to looking at fundamentals, chartists such as DeMark and the other bottom-calling knife-catching 'value-players' who claim to have read the Apple tea-leaves are good at looking at, well, charts, and rather horrible at divining the underlying cash flow supporting a stock. Or lack thereof as is rapidly becoming the case of Apple. As Reuters notes, it appears Sharp (the manufacturer of iPad screens) has nearly halted production of the 9.7-inch screens - as demand shifts to the iPad mini. This semi-confirmation of Citi's supply chain checks from last month suggests that concerns over growth in iPad may well have been justified and the expectedly lower margin iPad mini will benefit - as Macquarie Research has estimated that iPad shipments will tumble nearly 40 percent in the current quarter to about 8 million from about 13 million in the fourth quarter, although Apple's total tablet shipments will show a much smaller decrease due to strong iPad mini sales. It is quite apparent, as the WSJ notes, that the shift in the coolness factor has taken place as Samsung's new smartphone is gathering more 'hype' as iPhone is now "the underdog" in innovation.
- Foreign Hostages Die in Algeria’s Battle With Terrorists (Bloomberg)
- The latest bank to soon join the currency wars: McCafferty Says BOE Must Keep Open Mind on New Policy Tools (Bloomberg)
- US debt talks complicated by timing (FT)
- BOJ eyes open-ended asset buying, agrees new inflation goal (Reuters)
- AmEx Says U.S. Card Income Fell 42% as Loss Provisions Increased (BBG)
- Call to raise age for US’s Medicare (FT)
- Obama Promise to Raise Middle Class Living Already Seen in Peril (BBG)
- China Exits Slowdown as Quarterly Growth Tops Forecasts (BBG) - actually, as new Politburo says to make it appear that way
- Britain to drift out of European Union without reforms (Reuters)
- Republicans weigh interim debt-limit hike (FT)
- Abe's aide says Japan shouldn't fret if yen falls to 100 vs dlr (Reuters) ... and it was 90 just a few days ago
- PBOC May Seek More Liquidity Operations (Dow Jones)
China’s monthly data dump was the main macro update overnight, which however with ongoing mockery of the Chinese data "goalseeking" and distribution methodologies, most recently by the likes of Goldman, UBS and ANZ, had purely political window dressing purposes for the new Chinese politburo. Sure enough, that all the data came precisely Goldilocks +1 was enough to put a smile on everyone's face. To wit - Q4 GDP growth came in just higher than consensus (+7.9%yoy v +7.8%). On a full year basis the economy grew by 7.8%, also a tad above expectations. Then we got industrial production, also just higher than expected (+10.3% v +10.2%) and retail sales - just higher as well (+15.2% v +15.1%). Much more important than meaningless, jiggered numbers, was the announcement from the PBOC that in light of the entire world going "open-ended" on easing, China - which now can't afford to lower rates for fears of rampant inflation together with importing everyone else's hot money - announced it will start short-term liquidity operations as additional tool for controlling liquidity, engaging in a reverse repo on a daily basis, which will have a maturity of less than 7 days. This way the central bank will be able to reacted almost instantly to any inflationary spikes across the economy, as it too has no choice but to ease although not by the conventional inflation targeting methods now used by everyone else.
The newly elected Japanese Prime Minister, Shinz? Abe, has caused quite a stir. The leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, which scored a landslide victory in 2012’s election, he’s promised to restart the Japanese economy, whatever it takes. How will he do this? By “bold monetary policy”, what he means—and what he has said—is to end the independence of the Bank of Japan, and have the government dictate monetary policy directly. The perception is, the Bank of Japan will not only print yens and buy government bonds à la Quantitative Easing of old - it is also generally thought that Mr. Abe and the incoming Japanese government fully intend to target the yen against foreign currencies, like Switzerland has been doing with the euro. This perception is what has been driving the Nikkei 225 index higher, and driven the yen lower. But why was this decision triggered?
When one thinks of open-ended, "inflation targeting" one usually thinks of soaring markets, at least in nominal terms, exploding central bank balance sheet, and happy central planners. What one usually does not think of, is, well, inflation targeting. Because while the shadow banking financial system, perfectly devoid of deposits, has for now provided a sufficient buffer from trillions of reserve injections from spreading into the broader economy of the US and Europe, and has primarily impacted stock markets as unsterilized liquidity injections are used by banks to bid stocks, Japan has been far less lucky in this regard. As it turns out, the massive slide in the Japanese Yen in the past 2 months on nothing but ongoing promises of open-ended action, something Europe has perfected, and the US most recently enacted, may have already achieved its goal of pushing inflation. only not to the desired 2% level, but about 50% higher. Luckily, it is for such trivial things that nobody really every needs, such as fuel and consumer products - just ask the BLS.
Just as some do not believe in Santa, Christine Lagarde appeared to comment that she does not believe in currency wars (or competitive devaluation) this morning but sure enough, just a few hours later, Reuters rumors that the BoJ is about to join the Fed and ECB on the open-ended infinite print train. Sure enough, JPY is dumping (breaking recent highs on a stop-run), stocks are responding in their correlated carry way, and precious metals are surging (Silver +4.6% on the week) as fiat floods the world. It appears 2013 is the years of last last resort as the G-20 meme seems to be "if we can't reflate now, then it's all over." What is perhaps remarkable about the equity response is that everyone has known for two months that Japan plans on implementing a 2% inflation target. The only question has been "how" - and that it is only logical that the BOJ would use 'whatever means everyone else has used' - today merely confirmed this - knee-jerk algo response or sell-the-news?
In this piece, I re-examine what many economists call "financial repression" and I find it to be sorely lacking as a description of what is happening. I also look at a related concern about the loss of central bank independence. Color me skeptical.
- Obama's Gun Curbs Face a Slog in Congress (BBG)
- Euro Area Seen Stalling as Draghi’s Pessimism Shared (BBG)
- China Begins to Lose Edge as World's Factory Floor (WSJ)
- EU Car Sales Slump (WSJ)
- Fed Concerned About Overheated Markets Amid Record Bond-Buying (BBG)
- Australia Posts Worst Back-to-Back Job Growth Since ’97 (BBG)
- Abe Currency Policy Stokes Gaffe Risk as Amari Roils Yen (BBG)
- Japan Opposition Party Won’t Back BOJ Officials for Governor (BBG)
- Fed Reports Point to Subdued Economic Growth (WSJ)
- China Set to Exit Slowdown by Boosting Infrastructure (BBG)
- Greece not out of woods, must stick to reforms: finance minister (Reuters)
- Russian Rate Debate Flares Up as Cabinet Seeks Growth (BBG)
The pain for Boeing never stops. Just out from Reuters:
- U.S. FAA says requiring airlines to temporarily stop flying Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. #BREAKING
- FAA: Battery failures on Boeing 787s could damage critical systems and structures, spark fire, if not corrected
- FAA: Will work with Boeing, airlines to develop corrective action plan to resume 787 operations as "quickly and safely as possible"
- FAA: Decision to ground Boeing 787s prompted by second incident involving lithium ion battery failure
- FAA: Will also examine Boeing 787 batteries as part of comprehensive review announced last week
So, will Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (i.e., the US government) perhaps reassess his conclusion from last week that the Dreamliner is "safe" or perhaps this too is just more teething problems... Or merely an ultra aggressive case of industrial sabotage from EADS? In other news, perhaps it is time to find a more appropriate name of the Dreamliner?
Germany is now openly telling the Fed that it is done playing around. This will have severe consequences in the financial system.
It will not come as a surprise to anyone who has spent more than a few cursory minutes reading ZeroHedge over the past few years (initially here, and most recently here, and here) but the rolling 'beggar thy neighbor' currency strategies of world central banks are gathering pace. To wit, Bloomberg reports that energy-bound Russia's central bank chief appears to have broken ranks warning that "the world is on the brink of a fresh 'currency war'." With Japan openly (and actively) verbally intervening to depress the JPY and now Juncker's "dangerously high" comments on the EUR yesterday, it appears 2013 will be the year when the G-20 finance ministers (who agreed to 'refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies' in 2009) tear up their promises and get active. Rhetoric is on the rise with the Bank of Korea threatening "an active response", Russia now suggesting reciprocal devaluations will occur (and hurt the global economy) as RBA Governor noted that there is "a degree of disquiet in the global policy-making community." Critically BoE Governor Mervyn King has suggested what only conspiracists have offered before: "we'll see the growth of actively managed exchange rates," and sure enough where FX rates go so stocks will nominally follow (see JPY vs TOPIX and CHF vs SMI recently).
For those curious how it is that Goldman just reported a stunning beat across the board, here is a hint: the firm had flaming paperweight extraordinaire maker Boeing (a firm which has now had at least one component in 4 Dreamliners spontaneously combust, and has lead to the grounding of the entire ANA and JAL fleets) on its Conviction Buy list. At least until today, when the stock is indicated to open some 5% lower. Which means as of moments ago, Goldman is done selling BA stock to its clients. With conviction.