- George Soros: 'What Japan is doing is actually quite dangerous because" (BBG)
- North Korea lacks means for nuclear strike on U.S., experts say (Reuters)
- Yellen latest to hint about slowing of QE3 (FT)
- Hollande approval rating hits new low (FT)
- Hollande Dismisses Reshuffle as Crisis Hits Popularity (BBG)
- Japan Upper house approves full 5 year term for BOJ gov. Kuroda (BBG)
- US: Plan to Cap Tax Breaks Is Gaining Steam (WSJ)
- BOE Says Investors May Be Taking ‘Too Rosy’ a View of Stress (BBG)
- Kiwis Say ‘Ni Hao’ as China Ties Trump Australia Sales (BBG)
- Obama Avoids Trading Threats With North Korea’s Kim (BBG)
Today saw a massive short covering trade occur in the US Treasury market. Is this a trade to fade??
With all three major non-Fed central banks on the tape today, all economic data will be merely "noise" as the market digests what the central-planners' intentions are. The BOJ came and went, and following its substantial balance sheet expansion announcement, which many called "shocking and awing" the USDJPY has pushed higher by 2.5 big figures, although not reaching the 96 levels seen prior to Kuroda's actual announcement. In fact, from this point on there is likely downside as Japan's biggest export competitor, South Korea, has no choice but to join the race to debase which in turn will be JPY-positive. The Bank of England is next, which as expected did nothing moments ago, and will keep doing nothing until Carney joins officially this summer. In some 45 minutes, the ECB headlines will hit the tape where Draghi may bur more likely may not lower deposit rates, and instead will focus on recent deterioration in the economy. None of this will be surprising, and the EUR continues to trade sufficiently weak in line with sub-200DMA levels seen in the past few weeks. What we look forward to the most will be Draghi once again discussing the legal term-sheet details of the ECB's OMT program. His answer will be amusing as there still is no answer, and the OMT is for all intents and purposes the biggest straw man ever conceived by a central bank.
Whenever discussion over North Korea arises in Western circles, it always seems to be accompanied by a strange mixture of sensationalism and indifference. The mainstream media consistently presents the communist nation as an immediate threat to U.S. national security, conjuring an endless number of hypothetical scenarios as to how they could join forces with Al-Qaeda and attack with a terroristic strategy. In the midst of the latest tensions with the North Koreans, I have found that most people are barely tracking developments and that, when confronted by the idea of war, they shrug it off as if it is a laughable concept. “Surely” they claim, “The North is just posturing as they always have," creating a social and political atmosphere surrounding our relations with the Asian nation that places both sides of the Pacific in great danger. The skeptics argue that we will never get to this point, though, because North Korea has brandished and blustered many times before, all resulting in nothing. We see recent events being far different and more urgent than in the past. All that is needed to instigate an event on the Korean Peninsula are tightened sanctions.
#BREAKING: N. Korea army says it has final approval for nuclear attack on US
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) April 3, 2013
It appears the Korean 'rhetoric' is being taken a little more seriously than the (always knows best) market - as we noted here with the last inter-Korea cooperation breaking down. Chuck Hagel just announced that the US will be moving missile defense batteries to US bases in Guam (an American territory southeast of Korea). Bloomberg adds:
- *HAGEL SAYS WORKING WITH CHINA TO DEFUSE N.KOREA SITUATION
- *HAGEL SAYS CHINA SEEKS TO AVOID A NORTH KOREA 'WAR SITUATION'
The market dipped on the news of the mobilization and Hagel's comments that North Korea "poses a 'real, clear danger' to US Allies."
Physical gold and silver demand remains robust in many markets internationally. Demand from the Middle East remains robust as seen in the near record imports of gold and silver into Turkey. Turkey’s gold imports climbed to an eight-month high in March as prices averaged the lowest since May, according to the Istanbul Gold Exchange. Silver imports rose 31% from a month earlier according to Bloomberg. Gold imports increased to 18.26 metric tons, the most since July. That’s up from 17.34 tons in February and compared with 2.91 tons a year earlier, data on the exchange’s website show. The country shipped in 120.8 tons last year. Turkey was the fourth-biggest gold consumer in 2012, according to the London-based World Gold Council. Bullion averaged $1,593.62 an ounce last month and is trading about 17% below the record nominal high of $1,921.15 set in September 2011.
- Cyprus leader invites family firm probe (FT)
- How the Fed fueled an explosion in subprime auto loans (Reuters)
- Wal-Mart Customers Complain Bare Shelves Are Widespread (BBG)
- JC Penney CEO gets no bonus, stock award after dismal year (Reuters)
- New Bird Flu Virus Kills 2 in China, Sparking WHO Probe (BBG)
- Algorithms Play Matchmaker to Fight 7.7% U.S. Unemployment (BBG)
- Fed hawk Lacker and dove Evans face off over inflation (Reuters)
- Infamous silver market "cornerer" WH Hunt Becomes Billionaire on Bakken Oil After Bankruptcy (BBG)
- Japan Auto Sales Fall on Subsidy End as Korea Extends Drop (BBG)
- Black Hawks Near North Korea Show Risk in U.S. Command Shift (BBG)
- SEC Embraces Social Media (WSJ)
- Tesla Touts ‘True Out of Pocket’ Financing for Model S (BBG)
- U.K. Banks Try to Dodge Bonus Caps by Defining Risk-Taker (BBG)
- The revolving door continues: Mary Schapiro joins Promontory Financial (WSJ)
- First Peek at Health-Law Cost (WSJ)
- Abe warns over Japan inflation target: warns 2% inflation target may not be reached within two years (FT)
- BoJ's Kuroda tested by divided board (Reuters)
- Nanjing poultry butcher fourth person infected with H7N9 bird flu (SCMP)
- What time do top CEOs wake up? (Guardian)
- Cyprus Seeks More Time to Meet Targets in Talks With Troika (BBG)
- Investors Ignore Negativity at Their Peril (WSJ)
- Apple bows to Chinese pressure (FT)
- One can only laugh: North Korea to restart nuclear reactor in weapons bid (Reuters)
- Visa Demand Jumps (WSJ)
- Bloomberg's refutation of Stockman: yes, yes but... look over there, stocks are up! (BBG)
The driver of today's episode of "make the futures levitate" is not so much a rise in the EURUSD as Europe reopens - a very unhappy Europe where Italy's Monte Paschi was already halted down once on news from this weekend it was the first peripheral bank to suffer a depositor "run" - but curiously the USDJPY which after tumbling to under 93 and pushing the Nikkei 225 down by another 1% to just over 12,000 has been ramping gradually all morning to end well above the start of Japanese trading and was back to 93.25 at last check. It certainly is not the European economic news which continue to be about depressionary and getting worse: fresh unemployment record at 12%, final manufacturing PMIs well into contraction and getting worse especially for the doomed PIIGS: Italian PMI dumping even more to 44.5 vs Flash 45.4 and down from 45.8 last, Spain PMI crashing to 44.2, vs flash 46.2 and 46.8 last, UK 48.3 vs Flash 48.7, Germany 49.0 vs Flash 48.9 down from 50.3; France 44.0 vs Flash 43.9 and so on, rumors that the Cypriot Finance Minister is about to be sacked, and most disturbingly, the Slovenia central bank vice-governor Fabijan said that "Slovenia must start credible measures to avoid aid." Where was the last place we heard this.... Oh, yes, Cyprus. The same Cyprus, which paradoxically, is presented by some as the reason for the overnight "rally", with pundits attributing the Troika's "easing" of MOU terms by pushing back the fiscal target from 2016 to 2017 as reported yesterday. How that is even remotely news is shocking since none of the actual austerity measures themselves have been eased. But any goal seeked narrative is fair in the central banks' intervention in the farce formerly known as the "market."
Ordinarily this would be Good Friday humor (unless we are very wrong, and it turns out to be Good Friday Global Thermonuclear War) because when one cries wolf a few too many times, this is what happens (from Yonhap):
"North Korea announced Saturday that it has entered a state of war against South Korea. In a special statement, the North said it will deal with every inter-Korean issue in a wartime manner."
And... nothing. In fact, if the market was open the ES would likely ramp limit up on the non-news. By now the world is so numb to the constant provocations by North Korea's confused leader, who is desperate to be finally paid off as nuisance value by the Western powers, that the most he can extract from anyone is laughter when one wonders if the iMac sitting on the desk of glorious leader wasn't hacked by some brand new FBI-launched virus issuing world war 8-Ks and press releases (although with the Ethernet cable unplugged, "no risk" of that as Geithner would say).
Cyprus Contagion Spreads As European "Omnishambles" Return; Euro Under 1.28 For First Time Since NovemberSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/27/2013 06:59 -0400
While everyone likes to hate on Cyprus, it is Italy that is the focal point of today's European "omnishambles" that has seen the EURUSD tumble to a five month low as of this writing. First it was economic data that scared investors, with Industrial Sales and Orders tumbling far below expected, posting numbers of -1.3% and -1.4%, respectively, on expectations of an increase. Retail sales were just as ugly, declining by -0.5% in January, on expectations of an unchanged print, with the December 0.2% number revised also into negative territory. Then Bersani, who has been tasked to form a government until tomorrow, said that the possibility of a broad coalition government does not exist, adding that no lasting government is possible without him as a premier, and requesting that Grillo's Five Star party not block his path to government, for which we wish him the best of luck as moments later Five Star ruled out all external support for a broad government and would vote no confidence for Bersani. Then we got news that the Italian financial police has searched the Nomura in Milan in connection with the Monte Paschi case, which means even more skeletons in the closet are about to be uncovered. Finally, Italy just held a 3.5% 5 and 4.5% 10 year bond auction in which the country raised less than the maximum targeted €7 billion, and in which the Bid to Cover on the 5 Year dumping to the lowest since 2002, with bidding quite soft and the yield rising to 3.65% versus 3.59% previously. This has resulted in a blow out in Italian yields by 16 bps to 4.73% compared to 4.705% earlier. End result, as noted yesterday, has been an acceleration in the rush out of the EUR, with the EURUSD sliding to under 1.28 for the first time since November 21, a blow out in Greek bonds with yields pushing up 55 bps to 12.68% and a push for real safety (sorry, not the DJIA) in the form of German 2 Year bonds, which have dipped to -0.018%, the lowest since December, on rising fears that despite endless lies out of its bureaucrats, Europe may not be fixed after all.
- Berezovsky Died of Hanging Without Struggle, Police Say (BBG)
- BRICS Nations Plan New Bank to Bypass World Bank, IMF (BBG)
- China pledges more investments to Africa (FT)
- BOJ's Kuroda signals targeting longer-dated JGBs (Reuters)
- North Korea orders artillery to be combat ready, targeting U.S. bases (Reuters)
- Supreme Court to take up gay marriage for the first time (Reuters)
- U.S. Cracks Down on 'Forced' Insurance (WSJ)
- Japanese courts press Abe on electoral reform (FT)
- Vietnam accuses China of attack on fishermen in South China Sea (Reuters)
- Italy's High Court Overturns Knox Acquittal (WSJ)
- Facebook’s Zuckerberg Said to Explore Forming Political Group (BBG)
- 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)
Following Part 1's discussion of America's Dangerous Drift, and Part 2's succincy summation of why America needs a Grand Strategy, today's Part 3 concludes with a discussion of the 'choice' American leaders have: "A decline in America’s leadership role and the emergence of a highly unstable world is a serious possibility. In reality, decline is not a foregone conclusion but a deliberate political choice that builds from a failure to define what matters most to the nation." When we step back from the language and imperatives of grand strategy, the case for the United States to rethink its grand strategy is fundamentally simple. It is designed to meet serious threats while creating and taking advantage of strategic opportunities. To continue on the present course of "drifting" from crisis to crisis effectively invites powers to believe that America is in decline. Worse, Americans, too, might believe wrongly that the nation’s decline is inevitable. If we are to assure America’s future security and prosperity, we need a new national grand strategy that harnesses America’s spirit, sense of optimism, and perseverance to help the nation meet the challenges and grasp the opportunities of this era. When we think about the alternatives, the United States simply has no choice.