We delve into some of the possibilities that we think are at play here behind the scenes at the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury.
Following last week's lull in global macro, it’s a busy start to the week in which we get the latest deluge of global flash PMIs, while the US economic calendar is loaded with New Home Sales data, Trade Balance, Initial Claims, UMichigan sentiment and the revised US Q1 GDP print on Friday. But perhaps the most expected event will be Yellen's speech on Friday at Harvard's Radcliffe, where the Fed chairman is expected to reveal some more hints on the upcoming rate hike.
Abenomics was back in the spotlight tonight. Global trade with Japan has collapsed. Exports are down and imports are down even more. The result is an unexpected rise in Japan’s trade surplus, yet another failure of abenomics.
Government bonds rose and the yen strengthened as investors weighed the timing of the Federal Reserve’s next increase in interest rates and the outlook for inflation. Commodities slid, led by metals, while stocks in Europe declined. Treasury 30-year yields fell for a third day. The yen rose from near this month’s low. Futures on the S&P 500 also declined after initially jumping higher in thinly traded, illiquid tape.
Another week of volatility, but with no real resolution to the burning question of “where do we go next?”
The central bank already missed the “window of opportunity” for normalizing rates in a manner that doesn’t hamper the recovery. While the big news for the market was the release of the April 27th FOMC minutes which once again suggested the Federal Reserve may be on a path to hike rates sooner rather than later. The reality is simple, with the markets hovering on critical support, a Presidential election just around the corner and no real evidence of economic recovery, the likelihood of a rate hike in June is approaching zero.
"Put her on the end," appears to have been the meme for Yellen at this week's G-7 meeting in Japan, with - rather awkwardly - the Japanese taking center stage. The bipolar Mario Draghi, however, appears most at home with his tool in his hand 'hammering' the deflation monster...
While it most likely is just the usual Friday (past) midnight trial balloon by the Nikkei, a media outlet that has promptly become the BOJ's mouthpiece (recall a week ago the new owner of the FT reported that Abe would delay his 2017 sales tax increase, only to see the premier backpedal when the reaction in the USDJPY was not quite as desired), moments ago the Japanese publication reported that the Bank of Japan will "likely set aside funds for the first time to prepare for losses on its huge holdings of Japanese government bonds should the central bank end its monetary easing policy in the future."
Just days after a report that two Chinese J-11 fighter jets buzzed a US spy plane above the South China Sea, Beijing has officially escalated its displeasure at US surveillance up the chain of command and as Reuters reports, Beijing has demanded an end to all U.S. surveillance near China. "It must be pointed out that U.S. military planes frequently carry out reconnaissance in Chinese coastal waters, seriously endangering Chinese maritime security," China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei Hong told reporters, adding that "we demand that the United States immediately cease this type of close reconnaissance activity to avoid having this sort of incident happening again."
BofA summarizes the latest flow as a "reversal in Shanghai Accord flows" noting the "1st outflows from EM debt funds in 13 weeks; largest Japan inflows in 10 weeks; and 1st outflows from TIPS funds in 14 weeks; 1st" and adds that EPFR reports another week of risk-off flows: $5.8bn equity redemptions vs $2.8bn bond inflows & $1.8bn precious metals inflows (= largest in 11 weeks).
It will be fitting, not to mention symmetric, if stocks which yesterday closed at 7 weeks lows and red for the year, end the week the same way they started it: with a rally on no news, just more hopes that oil (which as recently as two years ago none other than Chair Yellen said said would be be "unambiguously good" if lower) will continue rising. While US markets ended yesterday's trading on a sour note, that weakness has failed to spread to the rest of the world, and global shares rebounded from a six-week low as crude and commodity prices recovered, while the yen weakened on reduced demand for haven assets.
China is livid: as a result of record Chinese steel dumping, the US unleashed what is nothing short of a nuclear bomb in its rapidly escalating trade war with China, by imposing duties of 522% on cold-rolled steel used in automobiles and other manufacturing. In doing so it has effectively rendered Chinese exports to the US unsustainable and will force even more excess Chinese production to remain landlocked within China's borders, making the domestic glut that much worse.
Xi not only is the Commander-in-Chief in the fight against corruption; he’s now Commander-in-Chief of China’s joint battle command center as well. Yet even this awesome concentration of power does not mean that Xi is an unassailable deity. On the key drama – the state of the economy – it has emerged that in a recent interview by the People’s Daily with an anonymous “authoritative person”, printed on the front page and exposing deep economic divergence among the CCP leadership, the “authoritative person” in question was none other than Xi. He had to take to the key media read by anyone who’s anyone in China to press his point on how to fix China’s debt-ridden economy; low growth is OK, and the new normal; as for blind credit expansion/monetary easing, that’s not OK. Xi, once again, is adamant; it’s now or never to start a painful restructuring of the Chinese system.