While the news flow is dominated by Cyprus, it will be important to not lose sight of the developments in Italy, where we will watch the steps taken towards forming a government. The key release this week is likely to be US consumer confidence. Keep a watchful eye on the health of the consumer in the US after the tax rises in January. So far, household optimism and demand has held up better than expected. The IP data from Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Thailand, Japan will provide a useful gauge on activity in the region and what it reflects about global activity, however Chinese New Year effects will need to be accounted for in the process.
All eyes should remain focused on Cyprus today, especially since there is no data being reported elsewhere. Financial markets closed Friday on a positive note, as an agreement on Cyprus appeared to be taking shape and a minor relief rally across most asset classes overnight vindicated hopes of a positive outcome as details of the detail were announced overnight. More clarity is still required on some aspects of the agreement (deposit and bondholders) but the fact that the national parliament does not need to vote again should stop the deal from unravelling as it did last week. Whether this is enough to restore confidence and prevent a possible cautionary deposit flight from Cyprus remains to be seen.
Forget Cyprus. A much bigger story in the coming weeks and months will be in Japan, where one of the greatest economic experiments in the modern era is about to begin.
For those still with capital in the paper markets, Peak Prosperity's Chris Martenson believes there are dangerous risks re-building. In particular, he sees an unacceptably high and growing risk of a cascading series of corrections in the bond markets (corporate and sovereign), which would have a much greater impact on destroying wealth worldwide than any stock market crash could. The return of reckless practices like CDOs and overuse of derivatives indicates that we are far along the timeline in repeating a 2008-like contraction -- but worse. Despite today's heady elevated prices, it's time to get to the sidelines, and use your paper - while it still has the purchasing power it does - to park your wealth in hard assets.
And how pessimistic he has become not only about Europe but China.
Rather than sitting nervously and passively and awaiting the coming financial dislocations and expropriations, investors and savers need to be prepared for the uncertain financial scenarios that seem increasingly likely.
Hoping for the best, but preparing for less benign scenarios remains prudent.
- Cyprus targets big depositors in bank plan (FT)
- Merkel Vents Anger at Cyprus Over Bailout Plan as Deadline Looms (BBG)
- Russia rebuffs Cyprus, EU awaits bailout "Plan B" (Reuters)
- Russia Rejects Cyprus Bid for Financial Rescue as Deadline Looms (BBG)
- Cyprus unveils shake-up as the clock ticks (FT)
- Remember Italy? Italy’s stalemate unnerves investors (FT)
- Credit Suisse CEO pay jump to fuel banker bonus debate (Reuters)
- Kuroda Rebuts Reflation Naysayers as BOJ Action Looms (BBG)
- Fund Manager Says 'Whale' Trade Was a Bet (WSJ)
- House averts government shutdown, backs Ryan budget (Reuters)
- Hong Kong Homes Face 20% Price Drop as Banks Raise Rates (BBG)
There are two articles of faith in the central-bank religion: 1) We can keep interest rates near-zero for as long as we deem necessary, and 2) We can suppress inflation at will, too. The question is: can they do both at the same time for as long as they wish? If either interest rates or inflation (and they are correlated) start rising, the central banks' claims of control evaporate. There is an interesting paradox at work here: Since there is an unlimited buyer for low-yield bonds (the central banks), there is no market pressure for higher rates. Why raise yields when you can sell trillions of dollars of low-yield bonds to the Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan, etc.? By buying the new debt with newly created money, the central banks have marginalized the market's ability to transparently price risk and credit: the bond market has in effect been captured by the central banks, who can counter any reduction in demand with newly created money. But the central banks don't control where all this newly issued money goes. If it goes into the real economy, it triggers inflation; if it goes into assets, it inflates asset bubbles. Inflation and bubbles have consequences.
- Euro zone call notes reveal extent of alarm over Cyprus (Reuters)
- Stagnant Japan Rolls Dice on New Era of Easy Money (WSJ)
- Cyprus, European data batters shares and euro (Reuters)
- UK cuts taxes to revive stagnant economy (FT)
- "Quality Control" Rat Body Linked to Blackout at Fukushima (NYT)
- North Korea issues fresh threat to U.S., South probes hacking (Reuters)
- South Korea Says Chinese Code Used in Computer Attack (BBG)
- Osborne paves way for Carney to retool Bank of England (Reuters)
- Carney Gets ‘Escape Velocity’ Mandate With Limiter (BBG)
- Osborne Pledges Five More Years of U.K. Austerity (BBG)
- Bernanke Saying He’s Dispensable Suggests Tenure Ending (BBG)
- Senate Passes Bill to Fund Operations (WSJ)
Those wondering why the overnight ramp has not yet materialized despite promises from BOJ's new governor Kuroda to openly-endedly monetize Fukushima radiation if necessary in order to reflate the economy, will have to look at Europe where a raft of horrifying PMIs confirms what most have known: the relapse into a multi-dip European recession is progressing nicely, and the hoped for rebound in the core economies of France and Germany is once again on track to not happen, but at least there will be Cyprus to blame it all on this time. The specific reason this time was French and German Flash Manufacturing and Services PMI for March, all of which came far below expectations: German Mfg PMIs printed at a contracting 48.9 vs Exp. 50.5 (back from 50.3), while Services came at 51.6, down from 54.6 on expectations of a rise to 55.0, while French Mfg PMI stayed stubbornly flat at 43.9, despite hopes of a "bounce" to 44.3, even as the Service number ticked even lower from 43.7 to 41.9, below expectations of 44.3 and the lowest since February 2009. End result: Eurozone March Services PMI down from 47.9 to 46.5, vs Exp. of 48.2, while Manufacturing slid from 47.9 to 46.6 on hopes and prayers of a bounce to 48.2. Which then takes us back to Cyprus, where things are not fixed yet, where the parliament is not expected to vote for a revised Bailout proposal yet, and where we got a cornucopia of brilliant one liners, such as these from the new Eurogroup head, who is filling in the shoes of his predecessor Juncker in style, and proving quite well that "things are serious."
A dispassionate review of yesterday's developments and today's.
It appears Abe and his henchmen had better stop doing things and say something as the huge devaluation of the JPY so far is NOT having the effect he had hoped for. Exports dropped 2.9% - more than expected - and while imports rose less than expected, the currency drop still meant an 11.9% surge in imports. All this means is that on a seasonally-adjusted basis, the Japanese Trade Balance just hit a new all-time record low (negative). USDJPY is strengthening on the news... it seems that well-placed non-news headline at 2am Japan time is well worth it now to cover this debacle... We assume the lesson is - just wait, "if we devalue, they will come."
But wait - some regurgitated news from Japan of 'moar easing' and EURJPY ramps to pull S&P futures up to pre-Cyprus levels...
*BANK OF JAPAN GOV TO CALL FOR 'BOLD EASING,' NIKKEI SAYS
You have to wonder when no-news from the BoJ trumps no-news from the Fed in stirring S&P to move (but success as the S&P maaged to finally close the Cyprus gap)... We can't help but wonder who decided that at 2:05am Japan time this non-news algo-pumping headline should be released?
Blackrocks's Larry Fink "doesn't really care" about Cyprus, "it's really not something of concern," he tells Bloomberg TV. While gesturing that he can't really discuss specifics as Blackrock is an adviser to Cyprus, he then goes to explain how European and US markets have it all wrong and that "It has some symbolism impact on Europe, but it’s not a really major economic issue." This dip is "just clients taking some chips off the table and reaping some gains from the huge rally," he goes on, dismissing the interviewer's question as nonsense, "this is temporary," and adding that he "is hyperbullish on the US economy," and that "global markets will be up 20% this year." However, what is most fun to watch is his arrogant dismissal of the interviewers question over US depositor fears, there are two reasons that is foolish, he notes "a) we have insurance, so that will not happen; [ZH: umm, so did Cyprus]; and b) we have always prioritized the liabilities [ZH: umm, except for GM]." So all good then, storm in a teacup. Carry On - though he has some stern words for the French and for the Russians.
- Cyprus works on Plan B to stave off bankruptcy (AP)
- Cyprus seeks Russian bailout aid, EU threatens cutoff (Reuters)
- Freddie Mac Sues Multiple Banks Over Libor Manipulation (BBG)
- Bernanke Seen Keeping Up Pace of QE Until Fourth Quarter (Bloomberg)
- Italian president seeks way out of political stalemate (Reuters)
- Chinese factories struggle to keep staff (FT)
- South Korean banks, media report network crash (CBC)
- BlackBerry Inventor Starts Fund to Make Star Trek Device Reality (Bloomberg)
- Osborne Should Be Fired, Voters Say in Pre-Budget Poll (Bloomberg)
- Obama Begins First Visit to Israel as President (WSJ)
- Anadarko finds ‘potentially giant’ oilfield (FT)
- Britain's Osborne boxed in by austerity on budget day (Reuters)
- MF Global reaches agreement with JPMorgan (FT)