Hours after the IMF cut its global economic growth forecast yet again (which for the permabullish IMF is now a quarterly tradition as we will shortly show), now expecting 3.5% and 3.7% growth in 2015 and 2016, both 0.3% lower than the previous estimate (but... but... low oil is unambiguously good for the economy) and both of which will be revised lower in coming quarters, and hours after China announced that its entirely made up 2014 GDP number (which was available not 3 weeks after the end of the quarter and year) dropped below the mandatory target of 7.5% to the lowest in 24 years, it only makes sense that stock markets around the globe are solidly green if not on expectations of another year of slowing global economies, which stopped mattering some time in 2009, but on ever rising expectations that the ECB's QE will be the one that will save everyone. Well, maybe not everyone: really only the 1% which as we reported yesterday will soon own more wealth than everyone else combined and who are about to get even richer than to Draghi.
The rumors of Russia selling its gold reserves, it is now clear, were greatly exaggerated as not only did Putin not sell, Russian gold reserves rose by their largest amount in six months in December to just over $46 billion (near the highest since April 2013). There is another trend that also continues for the Russians - that of reducing their exposure to US Treasury debt.
Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory debate. Regardless of whether you argue for it, or against, there are times when suddenly the ramifications for plausible truth are realized that overshadow the conspiracy. This is where the plot of truth can get far more sinister than the imagined conspiracy ever could.
Since the European sovereign-debt crisis erupted in 2009, everyone has wondered what would happen if a country left the eurozone. The risks created by the SNB’s decision – as transmitted through the financial system – have a fat tail - and the consequences will not be limited to Switzerland. After years of wondering whether the exit of a small, fiscally weak country like Greece could undermine the euro, policymakers will have to deal with an even bigger shock stemming from the exit of a small, fiscally strong country that is not even a member of the European Union.
The ECB's 4 QE Scenarios, And Why CS Thinks Waking From The "QE Dream" May Be The Worst Possible OutcomeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/17/2015 14:30 -0500
Despite various media reports over the past 24 hours about risk-sharing and sovereign security exclusion (i.e., that of Greek Treasurys), as well as speculation that despite it being priced in more than 100%, the ECB may yet again delay the actual announcement especially with what watershed Greek elections following just days after the ECB announcement, the question remains just what format will European QE take. Here, courtesy of Credit Suisse - a bank which was pounded in the past 2 days following the record surge in the CHF - is a preview of the 4 most likely ECB scenarios, as well as a glimpse at what may be the worst possible outcome for Europe: QE itself!
First the good news... European Stocks (ex Greece and Switzerland) exploded higher this week with 'great' nations like Portugal (up over 7%) and Italy (up over 5.5%) and Germany's ADX over 10,000 to record highs. EU bond spreads compressed notably (Spain/Italy down 20bps or so on the week) and EURUSD crashed below 1.15... all on hopes that the SNB decision means Moar-Massive ECB QE comes next week (not priced in). But the bad news... Swiss stocks collapsed-er again today for the worst week since Lehman. Swiss bond yields are negative to 12 year maturity and EURCHF is back below par at 0.9820...
- Oil Drops Below $45; U.S. Stockpiles May Speed Collapse (BBG)
- Pound Drops as Traders Write Off Higher Rates on Inflation Slump (BBG)
- Oil prices down again as UAE defends holding production (Reuters)
- The Politics Behind the ECB's Threat to Cut Greece Funding (BBG)
- France dispatched thousands of police and military personnel to protect synagogues and Jewish schools, as the government warned of continued terror threats after three days of deadly violence (WSJ)
- Chinese Car Dealers Find Days of ‘Printing Money’ Ending (BBG)
- Gold Rises to Highest Since October as U.S. Rate Outlook Weighed (BBG)
- Divers retrieve crashed AirAsia jet's cockpit voice recorder (Reuters)
So far today has been a replica of yesterday, with the crude rout continuing and pushing WTI under $45, but largely ignored by the FX carry pairs, and thus equity futures, which have seen some positive momentum from overnight trade data out of China where exports jumped 9.7% beating the 6% expectation, while imports fell 2.4% compared to a projected 6.2% decline as the trade surplus narrowed from November’s record $54.4 billion. For the full year, however, Chinese trade grew at just 3.4%, missing the government’s target of 7.5% growth for the third year in a row as the government quick to blame the slowing global economy. In any event, the USDJPY is well off the overnight lows which means the EuroStoxx is up some 0.8% which, just like yesterday, the E-mini is up some 9 points and rising. It remains to be seen if, just like yesterday, US equities will crash at a precipitous pace after the open, once algos realize that nothing at all has changed.
There is compelling evidence that 2015 will see a global slump in economic activity. This being the case, financial and systemic risks will increase as evidence of the slump accumulates. It can be expected to undermine global equities, property and finally bond markets, which are currently all priced for economic stability. Even though these markets are increasingly controlled by central bank intervention, it is dangerous to assume this will continue to be the case as financial and systemic risks accumulate. Precious metals are ultimately free from price management by the state. Furthermore, they are the only asset class notably under-priced today, given the enormous increase in the quantity of fiat money since the Lehman crisis. In short, 2015 is shaping up to be very bad for fiat currencies and very good for gold and silver.
Every couple of years the same identical European drill repeats itself: 1) Greece makes loud noises as it approaches an election, 2) Europe says it couldn't care what the outcome is and that Greece should stay in the Euro but if it exits it won't be a disaster, 3) the ECB reminds everyone of the lie that it is not preparing for Plan B (it is) despite holding on to over €100 billion in "credibility-crushing" Greek bonds, 4) panicking Greek banks say the deposit outflow situation is completely under control (adding that "The Bank of Greece along with the European Central Bank are monitoring closely the developments and intervene whenever this is necessary," which is code word for far more familiar, five-letter word), and meanwhile 5) all non-Greek banks quietly start preparing for the worst case scenario. So far this time around, we had everything but step "5". We do now.
People are becoming more critical of our current monetary system. In the past six years, central banks have promised us growth within six months’ time. They and the whole monetary and financial system have lost credibility. The banks’ profit to GDP is the highest in history in an economic environment where we have the highest amount of unemployment since WWII. There is something very wrong with the way the system works and this is all due to the overemphasis on trying to minimize the business cycle. The real conclusion of QE can only become visible if we experience the full business cycle. In Jakobsen's view, we have never been allowed to have a down cycle since 2008. But now, there is finally going to be a down cycle because central planners can’t print more money. As Jakobsen puts it: “Now is the time for the real economy to take over”.
- Global Debt Crisis II – Total Global Debt to GDP Ratio Over 300% - Risk of Bail-Ins in 2015 and Beyond - Currency and Gold Wars - $1 Quadrillion “Weapons of Mass Destruction” Derivatives - Cold War II and New World Order as China and Russia Flex Geopolitical Muscles - Enter The Dragon – Paradigm Shift of China Gold Demand - Forecast 2015: None. Forecast 2020: Gold $2,500/oz and Silver $150/oz
...over time, grand coalition governments may only serve to ossify the re-orientation of political allegiances along the mainstream vs. populist dimension. If economic malaise persists to the next election, support for populist parties is likely to build, as scepticism about the adjustments required to sustain Euro area membership rises. The Greek experience points in this direction. Were this experience to extend to larger and more systemically relevant countries (such as Italy or Germany), the implications for markets would be profound.
While the trading world, or at least the kneejerk reaction algos, is focused on today's US nonfarm payrolls due out in just 2 hours (consensus expects 240K, with unemployment declining from 5.8% to 5.7%) the key event overnight came out of China, (where inflation printed at just 1.5% while PPI has imploded from -1.8% in September to -2.2% in October to -2.7% in November to a whopping -3.3% in December because as per BofA "soft domestic demand over-capacity issue have kept inflation pressures low") and Europe, after a Bloomberg report that as recently as Wednesday, ECB staff "presented policy makers with models for buying as much as 500 billion euros ($591 billion) of investment-grade assets... options included buying only AAA-rated debt or bonds rated at least BBB-, the euro-area central bank official said. Governors took no decision on the design or implementation of any package after the presentation." In other words less than two weeks before the fateful ECB meeting and Mario Draghi not only still hasn't decided on which of three public QE version he will adopt, but the ECB has reverted back to a private QE plan. Not surprisingly the EURUSD jumped back over 1.18 on the news (and USDJPY and stock markets dropped) on the news that Europe still is completely unsure how to proceed with QE despite the endless jawboning.
Who owns Greece's public debt? That's the 322 billion-euro question, according to the Finance Ministry's figures from the third quarter of last year. Most of the debt has changed hands since a bailout in 2010, a second in 2012 and a restructuring involving private creditors that same year. Private owners now hold only 17 percent. The secondary market has become very thin — bear that in mind when looking at 10-year bond yields. A default would have to be absorbed instead by official creditors, holding the remaining 83 percent of outstanding loans and bonds. These include euro-area governments (62 percent), the International Monetary Fund (10 percent) through its participation in the two bailouts, and the European Central Bank (8 percent), which purchased bonds in 2010 through its Securities Market Program. The remaining 3 percent are repurchase agreements and assets held by the Central Bank of Greece. It is unclear where losses on that portion would fall.