“Humanitarian” War Contradicts 200 Years of Liberal Thought
- Bundesbank Maintains Opposition to ECB Bond Buying (WSJ)
- Greek Budget Talks Stumble as EU Urges Samaras to Deliver (Bloomberg)
- Fortified by euro, Finns take bailouts on the chin (Reuters)
- China Job Market for Graduates Shows Stress on Slowdown (Bloomberg)
- China Exports Fade as Inflation Eludes Targets: Cutting Research (Bloomberg)
- Japan Falters as Ito Calls for Euro Buys to Rein in Yen: Economy (Bloomberg)
- Government weighs social insurance reforms (China Daily)
- Colombia’s Split Central Bank to Weigh First Rate Cut Since 2010 (Bloomberg)
Every day we are told how this recovery is the slowest since WWII and that nothing is working. Well, we think we can trump that for dysphoria. Not only is this the slowest recovery since WWII, it is even slower than the average 'stagnation'. Based on Goldman's analysis of 93 stagnations the US GDP per capita is growing even more stagnantly than ever (and dramatically worse than during Japan's 'lost decade').
With the heat-wave in Southern Europe, the missing Monsoon, and the earth-cracking drought in the US, it is no surprise that corn, wheat, and soymeal prices are soaring as crop yields plunge. The level of inventories were already low going in and as Bloomberg notes, consumers around the world will feel the effect of higher food prices as the worst drought in 50 years impact the world's largest exporter of corn and wheat (and 3rd largest of soymeal). Within Asia, Korea and Malaysia will be most adversely affected, considering direct effects referenced in per capita and GDP terms. Indonesia and Japan are Asia’s largest importers of wheat, both importing roughly 5.7 million metric tons on average. China is by a wide margin the region’s largest importer of soy, with average imports of 49.9 million in the last five years. The impact on headline inflation in Asia will be stronger for the economies with lower per capita incomes — Vietnam, India, the Philippines and Indonesia — where food and food products account for a larger share of the typical consumption basket. Even in places where incomes are high, such as Singapore, food accounts for 22 percent of the consumer price index.
While some have talked of the 'credit-easing' possibility a la Bank of England (which Goldman notes is unlikely due to low costs of funding for banks already, significant current backing for mortgage lending, and bank aversion to holding hands with the government again), there remains a plethora of options available for the Fed. From ZIRP extensions, lower IOER, direct monetization of fiscal policy needs, all the way to explicit USD devaluation (relative to Gold); BofAML lays out the choices, impacts, and probabilities in this handy pocket-size cheat-sheet that every FOMC member will be carrying with them next week.
Sayonara internal funding. In what we suspect will become a major issue (and warned in April of last year), Bloomberg reports that Japan’s public pension fund, the world’s largest, said it has been selling domestic government bonds as the number of people eligible for retirement payments increases. "Payouts are getting bigger than insurance revenue, so we need to sell Japanese government bonds to raise cash." It would appear the Ponzi has reached it's Tipping Point. Japan’s population is aging, and baby boomers born in the wake of World War II are beginning to reach 65 and eligible for pensions. That’s putting GPIF under pressure to sell JGBs so it can cover the increase in payouts. The fund needs to raise about 8.87 trillion yen this fiscal year. GPIF is historically one of the biggest buyers of Japanese debt and held 71.9 trillion yen, or 63 percent of its assets, in domestic bonds as of March.
- ECB's Nowotny - ESM banking license could be advantageous (Reuters) - just keep regurgitating headlines until they generate a short squeeze
- IMF Says China Downside Risks Significant as Growth Slows (Bloomberg)
- Moody's cuts outlook on EU stability facility to negative (Reuters)
- Rome places spending controls on Sicily (FT)
- Big banks' glory days feared to be gone for good (Reuters)
- China's CNOOC scoped Nexen, partnered, then pounced (Reuters)
- Germany backs Spanish austerity plans (FT)
- Are 2012 Games one too many for London? (Reuters)
- Euro Crisis Spreading East Damps Growth, Development Bank Says (Bloomberg)
- Japan Flags Yen-Sales Impact as BOJ Eyes More Easing (Bloomberg)
The major European bourses are down as US participants come to their desks, volumes still thin but higher than yesterday’s, and underperformance once again observed in the peripheries, with the IBEX down 2.5% and the FTSE MIB down 1.2%. Last night’s outlook changes on German sovereign debt caused a sell-off in the bund futures, with the effect being compounded as Germany comes to market with a 30-year offering tomorrow. The rating agency moves, as well as softer Euro-zone PMIs and reports that Spain is considering requesting a full international bailout have weighed on the riskier asset classes, taking EUR/USD back below the 1.2100 level. Furthermore, with Greece and a potential Greek exit now back in the news, investor caution is rife as the Troika begin their Greek report of the troubled country today.
- Greece now in "Great Depression", PM says (Reuters)
- Geithner "Washington must act to avoid damaging economy" (Reuters)
- Moody’s warns eurozone core (FT)
- Germany Pushes Back After Moody’s Lowers Rating Outlook (Bloomberg)
- Austria's Fekter says Greek euro exit not discussed (Reuters)
- In Greek crisis, lessons in a shrimp farm's travails (Reuters)
- Fed's Raskin: No government backstop for banks that do prop trading (Reuters)
- Campbell Chases Millennials With Lentils Madras Curry (Bloomberg)
California, which imports over 25% of its electricity from out of state, is in no position to lose half (!) of its entire nuclear power capacity. But that’s exactly what happened earlier this year, when the San Onofre plant in north San Diego County unexpectedly went offline. The loss only worsens the broad energy deficit that has made California the most dependent state in the country on expensive, out-of-state power. Its two nuclear plants -- San Onofre in the south and Diablo Canyon on the central coast -- together have provided more than 15% of the electricity supply that California generates for itself, before imports. But now there is the prospect that San Onofre will never reopen. Will California now find that it must import as much as 30% of its power? The problem of California’s energy dependency has been decades in the making. And it’s not just its electrical power balance that presents an ongoing challenge. California’s oil production peaked in 1985. And despite ongoing gains in energy efficiency via admirably wise regulation, the state’s population and aggregate energy consumption has completely overrun supply. Essentially, California, like the rest of the country, has built a very expensive system of transport, which is now aging along with its powergrid.
Who will produce all the energy that California will need to buy in the future?
We’ve recently published a report showing investors how to prepare for this. It’s called How to Play the Collapse of the European Banking System and it explains exactly how the coming Crisis will unfold as well as which investment (both direct and backdoor) you can make to profit from it.
The conventional view looks at the domestic credit bubble, the trillions in derivatives and the phantom assets propping the whole mess up and concludes that the only way out is to print the U.S. dollar into oblivion, i.e. create enough dollars that the debts can be paid but in doing so, depreciate the dollar's purchasing power to near-zero. This process of extravagant creation of paper money is also called hyper-inflation. While it is compelling to see hyper-inflation as the only way out in terms of the domestic credit/leverage bubble, the dollar has an entirely different dynamic if we look at foreign exchange (FX) and foreign trade. Many analysts fixate on monetary policy as if it and the relationship of gold to the dollar are the foundation of our problems. These analysts often pinpoint the 1971 decision by President Nixon to abandon the gold standard as the start of our troubles. That decision certainly had a number of consequences, but 80% the dollar's loss of purchasing power occurred before the abandonment of dollar convertibility to gold.
- Greece should pay wages in drachmas - German MP (Reuters)
- Greece Seeks More Cuts as Deadlines Loom (WSJ)
- Greece Back at Center of Euro Crisis as Exit Talk Resurfaces (Bloomberg)
- Berlusconi seeks return to liberal roots (FT)
- For brokers like Peregrine, from bad times to worse (Reuters)
- Japan Sees More ‘Widespread’ Global Slowdown With China Cooling (Bloomberg)
- China Central Bank Adviser Forecasts Growth Slowdown to 7.4% (Bloomberg)
- London Out to Prove It's Still in the Game (WSJ)
- Stockton Reveals Bondholder Offers From Mediation (Bloomberg)
- US lawmakers propose greater SEC powers (FT)
Russia and the southeast Asian countries are analogs for Greece, Spain, and Cyprus, with no particular association between their references within the timeline. The timeline runs through the Russian pain; things begin to turn around after the timeline ends. This is meant to serve as a reference point: In retrospect it was clear throughout the late-90s that Russia would default on its debt and spark financial pandemonium, yet there were cheers at many of the fake-out "solution" pivot points. The Russian issues were structural and therefore immune to halfhearted solutions--the Euro Crisis is no different. This timeline analog serves as a guide to illustrate to what extent world leaders can delay the inevitable and just how significant "black swan event" probabilities are in times of structural crisis. It seems that the next step in the unfolding Euro Crisis is for sovereigns to begin to default on their loan payments. To that effect, Greece must pay its next round of bond redemptions on August 20, and over the weekend the IMF stated that they are suspending Greece's future aid tranches due to lack of reform. August 20 might be the most important day of the entire summer and very well could turn into the credit event that breaks the camel's back.
The week ahead brings a batch of Q2 GDP prints, which will provide guidance on the strength of activity in that quarter, as well as a bunch of business survey data which will offer insights into the strength of momentum at the start of Q3. Starting with the GDP data, the main attraction is likely to be the print from the US. Goldman expects a below trend print of 1.1%qoq, vs the consensus at 1.5%qoq. The Q2 print from the UK is expected to be negative. While only a few Q2 prints have been published so far, only China has recorded a recovery on Q1. The consensus expects soft prints for the business surveys out this week. The Euroland flash PMIs are expected to be unchanged, leaving them at levels consistent with a continued contraction in activity. The German IFO is expected to fall slightly, as is the Swiss KoF. There are no consensus expectations for the China flash PMI, however if it does not pick up from current levels around 48, questions over the extent/effectiveness of stimulus in China will remain.