The boy who cried wolf is now openly screaming "global thermonuclear war." No, really. AFP reports that North Korea said Tuesday the Korean peninsula was headed for "thermo-nuclear" war and advised foreigners to consider leaving South Korea, as the UN chief warned of a potentially "uncontrollable" situation. "Tuesday's advisory -- greeted largely with indifference -- followed a similar one last week to foreign embassies in Pyongyang, to consider evacuating by April 10 on the grounds war may break out. "The situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to a thermo-nuclear war," the Asia-Pacific Peace Committee said in a statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency." The result - a big yawn, which sadly for Kim Junior is the worst reaction. After all what is a dictator with an inferiority complex and a laughable military to do to get some respect around here and score some "nuisance value" cash from the superpowers (which has been his entire plan all along).
Despite the mainstream analysts' calls for a "great rotation" by investors from bonds to stocks - the reality has been quite the opposite. While the 10-year treasury rate rose from the recessionary lows signaling some economic recovery in 2009; the decline in rates coincided with the evident peak in economic growth for the current cycle that begin in earnest in 2012 - "With rates plunging in recent weeks the indictment from the bond market concurs with the longer term data that the economy remains at risk." Despite the calls for the end of the "bond bubble" the current decline in interest rates are suggesting that the real risk is to the economy. The aggressive monetary intervention programs by the Federal Reserve, along with the ECB and BOJ, continue to support the financial markets but are gaining little traction within the real economy. Of course, this is likely why the current quantitative easing program is "open-ended" because the Fed has finally realized that there is no escape. The next economic crisis is coming - the only questions are "when" and "what causes it?" The problem is that next time - monetary policy might not save investors.
A few hours ago, a major 6.1 magnitude quake struck in Iran once again, some 100 km away from Bushehr - location of Iran's only nuclear power plant. According to subsequent reports, at least 30 people have been killed and nearly 600 injured, although at least for now the official version is that the power plan was undamaged. From Al Jazeera: "Fereydoon Hasanvand, governor of Bushehr, said the nuclear plant was undamaged by Tuesday's earthquake. "No damage at all has been caused" to the plant, he told state television. The Russian company that built the nuclear-power station, 18km south of Bushehr, said the quake had been felt there but that operations at the plant were not affected. "The earthquake in no way affected the normal situation at the reactor." Of course, as TEPCO and Japan so vividly and glowingly in the dark demonstrated, when it comes to nuclear power plants, the last thing to be released, long after the alpha, beta and gamma rays, is the truth. We doubt this time would be any different.
Former U.S. Nuclear Chief: American Nuclear Plants Should Be Phased Out — “Can’t Guarantee Against Accident Causing WidespreadSubmitted by George Washington on 04/09/2013 11:36 -0400
Nuclear Regulators Just “Rolling the Dice”
I see Japan as a global aggressor, the country doesn't give a damn about where the chips fall outside of its borders.
The circus continues. For this evening's entertainment, the country's Deputy PM Taro Aso explains the "excessive JPY gain has been corrected," upon which USDJPY instantly strengthens 40 pips reversing all the post-US0-close JPY weakness. Of course, the market reaction was evidently enough for him to swallow his words and 'retract' his comments mere moments later. At the same time, the BOJ declares:
*BOJ MEMBERS AGREED JAPAN'S ECONOMY STOPPED WEAKENING
While their optimism is welcome, facts (as they often do) stand tall in the face of their rhetoric as Japan's Macro index and manufacturing new orders (to name just two recent data points) do not even show second-derivative green shoots. And for the third and final act of this evening's early debacle, 30Y JGB yields have slammed 9bps higher (as JGB Futures prices look set for another halt).
The odds of winning were slim and none. Avoiding embarrassment was the real objective, but then something happened. Momentum changed and the rag-tag bunch of American college hockey players shocked not only the Soviets and their 1980 Big Red Machine, but the entire sports World. When seemingly faced with the impossible, America always perseveres and finds a way to win. After winning the global economic game for the better part of 100 years, America is once again on the ropes and no one is giving her any hopes at winning, or even surviving for that matter. America’s debt levels are disastrous. It has no money to pay future pensions and healthcare. Economic growth is anemic. Meanwhile, more Americans than at any other time in history reply upon food stamps. And to make matters even more dire, it is only the decision to print trillions of new dollar bills that is holding everything together. Just as America’s rock is about to hit its American bottom, you must ask “Do you believe in miracles”? And, the short answer is – yes.
It is hard to make sense of the markets these days. For instance, gold showed no support while the geopolitical situation in Asia deteriorated, Japan embarked in the mother of all monetization programs, and a member nation of what is supposed to be a monetary union was imposed controls on the movement of capital. Or take the case of the Euro, which jumped from $1.2750 to $1.2950 on the day of one of the most confusing and embarrassing press conferences the president of its central bank ever gave. However, in a faraway land, where there is no shadow banking, leverage or even capital markets, economic fundamentals still hold, which can help us, inhabitants of the developed world, visualize a dynamics lost in the shelves of our collective memory. The land we are referring to is Argentina, but not Argentina of 2001. Today, we want to write about Argentina of 2013, and no, we will not discuss their legal battles with Mr. Singer.
Q. What is your view on gold?
Soros: That’s a complicated question. It has disappointed the public, because it is meant to be the ultimate safe haven. But when the euro was close to collapsing in the last year, actually gold went down, because if people needed to sell something, they could sell gold. Therefore they sold gold. So gold went down together with everything else. Gold was destroyed as a safe haven, proved to be unsafe. Because of the disappointment, most people are reducing their holdings of gold. But the central banks will continue to buy them, so I don’t expect gold to go down. If you have the prospect of a crisis, you will have occasional flurries or jumps. So gold is very volatile on a day-to-day basis, no trend on a longer-term basis.
We live in a world that is dislocated, on a different axis, where the economy is doing one thing and the markets are doing something else that is not connected. As political nonsense becomes the world's normal banter; the official language in the Press is little more than printed or spoken noise - all caused by the Fed's outpouring of money into the system. Rational reactions become irrational when confined to an irrational world. The world will return to its senses once again either driven by some "event" or by the Fed beginning some sort of withdrawal. In the meantime the markets are beginning to back-up some as moved by becoming accustomed to the continuing flood of money. It is rather like a fine Bordeaux. One meal, two meals, a week's worth of meals and the experience is marvelous but if you drink it every night for dinner the magic begins to dissipate. It is no longer special; it is something expected, it is just the normal fare.
The week ahead is light on major market moving data releases. From a policy perspective and in light of the recent moves in treasuries, FOMC minutes are likely to be followed by markets. Retail sales in the US are likely to print below consensus both on the headline and on the core metrics. That said, this needs to be seen against the backdrop of first quarter retail consumer spending data surprising to the upside. Producer prices are also likely to come in on the soft side of market expectations. Finally, do not expect large surprises from the U of Michigan consumer confidence.
- Finally the MSM catches up to reality: Workers Stuck in Disability Stunt Economic Recovery (WSJ)
- China opens Aussie dollar direct trading (FT)
- National Bank and Eurobank Fall as Merger Halted (BBG)
- Why Making Europe German Won’t Fix the Crisis - The Bulgarian case study (BBG)
- Nikkei hits new highs as yen slides (FT)
- Housing Prices Are on a Tear, Thanks to the Fed (WSJ)
- Why is Moody's exempt from justice, or the "Big Question in U.S. vs. S&P" (WSJ)
- Central banks move into riskier assets (FT)
- N. Korea May Conduct Joint Missile-Nuclear Tests, South Says (BBG)
- North Korea Pulls Workers From Factories It Runs With South (NYT)
- Illinois pension fix faces political, legal hurdles (Reuters)
- IPO Bankers Become Frogs in Hot Water Amid China Market Halt (BBG)
- Portugal Seeks New Cuts to Stay on Course (WSJ)
A big picture look at the drivers of the global capital markets.
Following Friday's epic collapse, snap-back, and circuit-breaker halt in JGB Futures, it appears that investors cannot get enough of Japanese bonds today. From the JPY144.02 close, JGB Futures traded up at the open, oscillated and then gapped higher (on heavy volume) to JPY145.25 before the TSE halted trading once again (on a volatility-based circuit-breaker limit) due to 'rapid price fluctuations. The quadrillion JPY cash JGB market appears very illiquid as we scan the benchmark issues with the 30Y yield higher by 4bps, the 20Y lower by 14bps, and the 10Y lower by 3bps as it appears the futures are the weapon of choice. Since the halt ended, JGB Futures have slipped back notably. It seems pretty evident when and where the BoJ monetization took place but desk chatter was that it was poorly run.
Confused by the day to day happenings in the land of the rising sun, and liquidity tsunami? Don't be, instead read the following series of papers by former SocGen strategist Dylan Grice who predicted everything that is currently happening nearly three years ago. The titles of the enclsed five pieces are self-explanatory especially in light of recent events: "A global fiasco is brewing in Japan", "More on Japan’s brewing fiasco, and some musings on recent pushback", "Fooled by anecdotes: Japan’s coming inflation, JGB toxicity and what to do", "Nikkei 63,000,000? A cheap way to buy Japanese inflation risk" and finally "Buy Japan, and prepare to buy with both hands." Oh, and spoiler alert, Grice doesn't see a Hollywood ending to what is about to happen in Japan.