As Americans mindlessly celebrate another Memorial Day with cookouts, beer and burgers, the U.S. war machine keeps churning. As we brutally enforce our will on foreign countries, we create more people that hate us. They don’t hate us for our freedom. They hate us because we have invaded and occupied their countries. They hate us because we kill innocent people with predator drones. They hate us for our hypocrisy regarding democracy and freedom. Just when we had the opportunity to make a sensible decision by leaving Iraq and exiting the Middle East quagmire, Obama made the abysmal choice to casually sacrifice more troops in the Afghan shithole. We have thrown over $1.3 trillion down Middle East rat holes over the last 11 years with no discernible benefit to the citizens of the United States. George Bush and Barack Obama did this to prove they were true statesmen. The Soviet Union killed over 1 million Afghans, while driving another 5 million out of the country and retreated as a bankrupted and defeated shell after ten years. Young Americans continue to die, for whom and for what? Our foreign policy during the last eleven years can be summed up in one military term, SNAFU – Situation Normal All Fucked Up. These endless foreign interventions under the guise of a War on Terror are a smoke screen for what is really going on in this country. When a government has unsolvable domestic problems, they try to distract the willfully ignorant masses by proactively creating foreign conflicts based upon false pretenses. General Douglas MacArthur understood this danger to our liberty.
“I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.”
In twenty or thrity years, I expect future monetary historians looking back on this period of history to frequently misquote Ernest Hemingway:
How did the dollar die? First it died slowly — then all at once.
The slow death began with the dollar’s birth as a global reserve currency. America was creditor and manufacturer to the world, and the capitalist superpower. People around the globe transacted overwhelmingly in dollars. Above all else, people needed dollars to conduct trade, and they were willing to pay richly for them, and for dollar-denominated debt
While various three letter economic schools of thought continue sprouting left and right, in an attempt to validate endless spending predicated on one simple thing: transitory reserve currency status, and we emphasize transitory, reality moves on, oblivious of what economic theoreticians believe it should be doing. As Yomiuri Shimbun reported last night, China and Japan are set to launch direct currency trading, bypassing the dollar, and the associated benefits and risks, entirely. "But how can that be?" dollar purists will scream. After all, when one bypasses the dollar, one commits blasphemy to a reserve currency. Somehow we think China gets that. From the AP: "Japan and China are expected to start direct trading of their currencies as early as June as part of efforts to boost bilateral trade and investment, according to reports. With the planned step, exchange rates between the yen and the yuan will be determined by their transactions, departing from the current "cross rate" system that involves the dollar in setting yen-yuan rates, Kyodo News said on Saturday."
Whether it was Captain America's roadshow or Uncle-Sam 'wanting' your help, the US always seemed to maintain some semblance of class when propagandizing its citizens into buying its government bonds. Whether for patriotic or xenophobic reasons, it appeared to work. Japan, though, with its increasingly desperate demographic situation, deficits, downgrades, and well, general malaise of Koo/Keynesian-stuffed economic stagnation has turned to the next best thing - the all-girl band AKB48. As The Telegraph notes today, the all-female pop group will headline a summer campaign for "reconstruction bonds" aimed at financing projects in regions hammered by last year's quake-tsunami disaster. The debt campaign will see AKB48 - comprising about 90 performers, ranging in age from early teens to mid-20s - joined by sumo wrestling's champion Hakuho and female football star Homare Sawa, Japan's Jiji press agency reported. The group's bubblegum pop and synchronized dancing has proved a huge hit with young girls. Perhaps more disturbingly (and why Japan chose them maybe?) - running the gamut from girl-next-door to sultry temptress, the band also has a substantial male following - many of whom are older - who support a vast merchandising industry. Japan has the industrialized world's worst public debt, amounting to more than twice its gross domestic product - topping hard-hit eurozone countries including Greece, which have drawn fire from foreign investors over their fiscal management. All of this makes us wonder - Forget AKB48, how long until AK47 in musical, or primarily otherwise, format is used to encourage lending to sovereigns all around the "developed" world?
With US markets already checked out ahead of the holiday day weekend, and Europe acting abnormally stupid (PIIGS bond spreads plunging, then soaring right back), there is little newsflow to report overnight, except for a key report that China loan growth is plunging in what is a major risk flag proudly ignored by all algos (but not the SHCOMP which dropped 0.7%). Futures have followed the now traditional inverse pattern of selling off early in the Asian session, then ramping following the European opening on nothing but vapors of hope. All that needs to happen today is a drop early in regular trading, following by a major squeeze on the third consecutive baseless rumor for the week to be complete, and for stocks to actually post an increase even as the EUR crashes and burns. Unless of course we get a rumor that Europe will be open on Monday even as the US is not there to bail out risk assets.
The Euro (and Yen) currencies are DESIGNED to be debased, as and when needed, to achieve synchronized diving with the pound and dollar.
Gold’s London AM fix this morning was USD 1,558.50, EUR 1,239.27, and GBP 993.62 per ounce. Yesterday's AM fix this morning was USD 1,555.00, EUR 1,229.44, and GBP 989.56 per ounce.
Gold fell $5.60 or 0.36% in New York yesterday and closed at $1,561.20/oz. Gold has been trading sideways in Asia and was slightly lower in Europe prior to buying which saw gold rise to about the close in New York yesterday.
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).