Given the relatively calm market reaction to yesterday's vote by the Cyprus Parliament, the UK budget and the US FOMC meeting will be vying for attention today. Got Milk? Milk prices have soared again in New Zealand to distribute the drought induced scarcity. Whole powder milk prices jumped 21% in the latest fortnightly auction, while volumes fell 28%.
A weekly overview of the technical condition of a number of currencies against the US dollar. It is meant to compliment and supplement fundamental analysis. We retain a mostly favorable outlook for the US dollar, though skeptical of the scope for additional significant gains against the Japanese yen.
Here is a quick overview of what is going on. Besides reviewing the key developments, we explain why the EU Summit, which is not attracting much attention, is in fact important.
A 2-minute read on developments in the global capital markets. Equity markets are heavy, bonds little changed as is the dollar. Sterling is the big winner on short covering and bottom picking.
In the upcoming week the key focus on the data side will be the US February retail sales figures on Wednesday, which should provide clearer evidence on how the tax increases that took place on January 1 have affected the consumer. In Europe, industrial production and inflation data will be the releases to watch. On the policy side, the focus will be on the BoJ appointments in an otherwise relatively quiet week for G7 central banks. Italy’s newly elected lawmakers convene for the first time on Friday 15 March and the expectation remains that President Napolitano will formally invite Mr Bersani to try and form a new government. He may also opt for a technocrat government. Although clearly preferred by markets, winning political backing may prove challenging.
A few observations about growth and policy backdrop that is shaping the investment climate. It is a large overview that may be helpful to start the week.
First it was a sudden bout of tightening following a series of record liquidity withdrawing repos, then it was two disappointing PMIs, then it was a warning that China's property market is (as usual) overheating and major curbs were being implemented, then it was China's "state of the union" address in which the country trimmed substantially its outlook for the remainder of the year, predicting well below trendline economic growth, inflation and credit expansion, then we got an absolute collapse in Chinese imports indicating the domestic economy had gone into a state of if not shock then outright stasis, and finally overnight we got an update on China's retail sales and industrial output which both had their weakest combined start to a year since the global recession in 2009, leading Bloomberg to title its summary article, "China’s Economic Data Show Weakest Start Since 2009", and further adding that the data is now "adding to signs of a moderating rebound in the world’s second-biggest economy." Luckily, in the new batshit normal, who needs the fastest growing marginal economy: the weight of the growing world can obviously be dumped on the shoulders of the savings-less, part-time working US consumer, accountable for 70% of US GDP, and thus about 20% of the global economy. What can possibly go wrong?
- Kuroda to Hit ‘Wall of Reality’ at BOJ, Ex-Board Member Says (BBG)
- Venezuelans mourn Chavez as focus turns to election (Reuters)
- South Korea says to strike back at North if attacked (Reuters)
- Milk Powder Surges Most in 2 1/2 Years on New Zealand Drought (BBG)
- As Confetti Settles, Strategists Wonder: Will Dow's Rally Last? (WSJ)
- Pollution, Risk Are Downside of China's 'Blind Expansion' (BBG)
- Obama Calls Republicans in Latest Round of Spending Talks (BBG)
- Ryan Budget Plan Draws GOP Flak (WSJ)
- Samsung buys stake in Apple-supplier Sharp (FT)
- China Joining U.S. Shale Renaissance With $40 Billion (BBG)
- Say Goodbye to the 4% Rule (WSJ)
- Traders Flee Asia Hedge Funds as Job Haven Turns Dead End (BBG)
- Power rustlers turn the screw in Bulgaria, EU's poorest country (Reuters)
Recent news about Federal plans to "help" manage private retirement accounts renewed our interest in the topic of capital controls. One example of capital control is to limit the amount of money that can be transferred out of the country; another is limiting the amount of cash that can be withdrawn from accounts; a third is the government mandates private capital must be invested in government bonds. Though presented as "helping" households, the real purpose of the power grab would be to enable the Federal government to borrow the nation's retirement accounts at near-zero rates of return. As things fall apart, Central States pursue all sorts of politically expedient measures to protect the State's power and the wealth of the political and financial Elites. Precedent won't matter; survival of the State and its Elites will trump every other consideration. All this raises an interesting question: what would America look like at $5000 an ounce gold?
Sterling is has eclipsed the yen as the main focus in the foreign exchange market. The surprising news that has kicked it to fresh multi-month low was that the BOE is closer to easing policy than has been suspected. While it was a unanimous decision to leave rates on hold as expected, it was a tighter 6-3 vote on new asset purchases.
The market had expected a 8-1 vote. Of particular interest, it is the fourth time Governor King has been outvoted.
2012 Q4 GDP has been weak in G3 and indeed Europe more broadly, (however it has generally surprised to the upside in Asia), consequently, the momentum of business sentiment will be key to watch. The Euro area flash PMI, German Ifo and the Philadelphia Fed survey are released this week (the China flash PMI will be released on Feb 25). The consensus expects a further small rise in the Euro area services and manufacturing readings. The week also brings a batch of central bank commentary, where the focus will be on references to currency strength; these include the RBA minutes followed by testimony, a speech by RBNZ governor Wheeler, Bank of Thailand policy decision and Bank of England minutes. The Federal Reserve will release the minutes from the last meeting and they may contain important clues on the bias of the Committee with respect to how long it expects the current QE program to last. Additionally, the Committee may have discussed the potential merits of outcome-based guidance for balance sheet policy, which may be reflected in the minutes.
Here is a review of the technical condition of the major currencies. In my professional experience, I know few purist fundamental traders in the foreign exchange market. Even for those, like myself, who study the macro economic and political fundamentals, technical analysis allows us to quantify the risk. Those who make money in the markets, do not do so because they are right more often, but rather they are disciplined risk managers. Technical analysis provides a way to manage the risk by helping to identify where we are wrong. It is offered here not as a substitute for fundamental analysis, but as a complement.
Our credit-based financial markets and the economy it supports are levered, fragile and increasingly entropic – it is running out of energy and time. When does money run out of time? The countdown begins when investable assets pose too much risk for too little return; when lenders desert credit markets for other alternatives such as cash or real assets.
There has been a tightening of European financial conditions. Two more pieces of evidence were reported today. This issue may very well overshadow other issues at Draghi's press conference next week. German 2-year rates are moving above the US-- a 30 bp swing since early Dec. Meanwhile, US rates are rising relative to Japan. The dollar-bloc (and sterling) continue to under-perform. We also look at the US economic calendar for the day that features the ADP employment estimate, the first look at Q4 GDP and the conclusion of the FOMC meeting.
It's going to be a week of being bombarded with data and earnings from all angles. This week will see the first reading of US Q4 GDP as well as the first FOMC statement, Payrolls and ISM print of the year. In Europe we will get a handful of confidence indicators in the earlier part of the week but the main highlight will be the Spanish and Italian manufacturing PMIs on Friday. The coming week could see further sizeable moves in FX, mainly because investors – and policymakers – have become a lot more focused on currency markets. Finally, a few potentially interesting policy speeches are scheduled in the upcoming week. In Japan, Prime Minister Abe will likely talk in parliament about his economic policy, which could contain more comments on the BoJ and the Yen. In Germany, Buba President Weidmann will talk at the car manufacturers association and the recent sharp move in EUR/JPY may well be a subject given the competition between German and Japanese brands. Interestingly, Mr. Weidmann already mentioned the BoJ in a recent speech about global pressures on central bank independence.