- Botulism toxin? There's an apology for that - Fonterra CEO apologizes, sees China dairy curbs lifted within days (Reuters)
- Patent troll-In-Chief strikes again: Veto of Apple Ruling Likely to Upend Big Patent Battles (WSJ)
- Because scapegoating means justice FTW - SEC Gets ‘Shot in the Arm’ With Victory in Tourre Case (BBG)
- Insider-Trading Probe Caught in a Washington Knot (WSJ)
- Miners return to hedging as gold (FT)
- Toyota’s $37 Billion Cash Pile Means Turning Point for Abenomics (BBG)
- Inside the battle at Germany's Siemens (Reuters)
- ‘One million’ UK workers on zero hours contracts (FT)
- Wag the dog, part 1984: Iran Seen Trying New Path to a Bomb (WSJ)
- Tokyo Cheap to Hong Kong Luring Asian Bargain Hunters (BBG)
Compared to last week's macro-event juggernaut, this week will be an absolute bore, although with a bevy of Fed speakers on deck - both good and bad cops - there will be more than enough catalysts to preserve the "upward channel" scramble in the S&P and the zero volume levitation to new all time daily highs despite the lack of daily bad news. Speaking of Fed speakers, we have Fisher today, Evans’ tomorrow followed by both Plosser and Pianalto on Wednesday. The key overnight data point was the continuation of July PMIs out of Europe, this time focusing on the service industry. As Goldman summarizes, the Final Euro area Composite PMI for July came in at 50.5, marginally above the Flash reading and consensus expectations (50.4). Relative to the June final reading, this was a sold 1.8pt increase, and building on consecutive increases in the past three months, the July Euro area PMI stands 4.0pts above the March print. Solid increases were observed across all of the EMU4 in July, most notably Italy. The July reading is the highest Euro area PMI level observed since July 2011.
Those long the Kiwi (NZDUSD) woke up to an unpleasant shock this morning when the pair opened nearly 100 pips lower following news that China and Russia, and likely other countries soon, have halted imports of New Zealand milk powders after Fonterra announced that three batches of whey protein "may have been" contaminated with botulism-causing bacteria: a situation that is a tad more problematic than the diplomatic haggling over genetically modified crops. Since milk powders accounted for a whopping 15% of total New Zealand exports in 2012, it becomes obvious that unless Fonterra, and the NZ government, engage in some prompt damage control, the Kiwi may have much more room to drop as the country's 2013 GDP forecast may be the next thing to go toxic.
With earnings season in full swing as some 20% of the S&P is expected to report, the quieter macro picture moves to the backburner especially with the Fed now silent for a long time. Looking at key central banks events, at the Turkey central bank meeting this week, Goldman expects that the bank is more likely to deliver a moderately hawkish “surprise” and hike the lending rate by 100bp to 7.5% (7.0% for primary dealers), and leave the key policy (1-week repo) and the borrowing rates unchanged at 4.5% and 3.5%, respectively. Among the other central bank meetings this week, benchmark rates are expected to remain unchanged in New Zealand, Philippines and Colombia, in line with consensus, while a 25bp cut is expected to be announced at the Hungary MPC meeting.
UPDATE: At least 22 killed, 300 injured in the Chabu quake; Nikkei 225 -400 from intraday highs.
It seems Asia-Pac is a hot-bed of activity this evening as both markets and mainland are being buffeted. Despite the 'positive' news of Abe's victory, JPY is strengthening (back below 100) and the Nikkei has given up all its post-Japan-close gains from Friday (down 340 from the US-day-session-close). But more importantly, New Zealand (Wellington) and China (Chabu) have suffered significant earthquakes this evening. There are reports of some damage to buildings and infrastructure in New Zealand after the 6.5 quake (and >4.5 aftershocks). Local news in China claims that a village has been leveled by a strong, shallow 6.6 quake but China Daily notes details remain unclear. We worry that just as in late 2010 (culminating in Japan in March 2011), the tectonic plate movement in Asia-Pac is starting to pick up.
Overview of the investment climate.
We live in a money paradigm. All things are delivered for money (trade). All goods are compared to money (prices). Then we live and die by our trade and the money-signals that prices give us. Stop trade, wobble the prices around, and we starve by millions. We also swim in a consumer paradigm. We work to get people halfway around the world buy our stuff so that we can buy stuff back from them. Why? If you want an apple, which is easier: to work, trade that work for money through the online banking system, have money load that apple on a tractor in New Zealand, ship it to a warehouse, a cargo ship, a truck, a store, your car, then your mouth? Or is it easier just to go in the back yard and pick one? Worried about prices? All those middle men must be paid, from New Zealand to New Hampshire. Which do you think is cheaper? Which do you think is more reliable? Which do you think tastes better?
With the Abenomics honeymoon over, and the market starts to turn against your extreme policies, you have to bring out the big guns. Girl bands, Teenagers in short skirts, Sumo champions, and now social media is the platform of choice for Shinzo Abe's latest propaganda-fest on how he is saving the world one printed Yen at a time. Unfortunately for him, of the 8,627 people that viewed his note on LinkedIn, a mere 66 gave it a thumbs up (how many ministers are there in his party?) and only 107 'liked' it on Facebook. It seems he is 'lucky' that there is no Dislike button...
Tryingto make sense of the price action in the foreign exchange market. The dollar was heavier than we anticipated and there is no compelling sign of a turnaround, but the key is the FOMC meeting.
In the brief but tempestuous fight between Abe and the "deflation monster", the latter is now victoriously romping through an irradiated Tokyo, if last night's epic (ongoing) collapse in the Nikkei is any indication: down 6.4%, crushing anyone who listened to Goldman's "buy Nikkei" recommendation which has now been stopped out at a major loss in three days, and now well in bear-market territory, it would appear that a neurotic Mrs. Watanabe is finally with done with daytrading the Pennikkeistock market, and demands Shirakawa's deflationary, triumphal return to finally clam the market. Only this time the Japan's selling tsunami is finally starting to spill, if not to the US just yet (it will) then certainly to Asia, where the Shanghai Composite which was down 2.7%, and is once again well down for the year, and virtually all other Asian stock markets. Except for Pakistan - the Karachi Stock Exchange is an island of stability in the Asian sea of red.
Here is my weekly outlook for the major foreign currencies. Yes they are not backed by silver or gold, it is still the largest of the major captial markets at an estimated turn-over of some $4 trillion a day. Yes, officials may try to guide the market directly and indirectly, but success is often elusive.
It’s always a bit amusing to meet an investor making money in the markets right now who actually thinks it’s because he’s smarter than everyone else. Everyone knows the Fed’s quantitative easing program calls for them to buy $85 billion worth of bonds and mortgage backed securities each and every month. And the connection to market performance is clear. But, as is clear with USDJPY, Nikkei, and European sovereigns, the end of this exuberance is beginning to happen. All of this indicates that the leveraged investing herd seems to be squaring positions, going to cash, and paying back some of the USD-denominated debt they’ve borrowed. So far it’s all been an orderly move lower. And herein lies the trouble. Few investors are spooked right now because there is so much calm in the markets. But that calm can quickly turn into anxiety, which can quicly turn into all-out panic. It’s taken years (since 2008) to print so much money. This means that a market panic will unwind years’ worth of liquidity in a matter of weeks. It’s a financial tsunami that no investor should underestimate.
House prices - with respect to both levels and changes - differ widely across OECD countries. As a simple measure of relative rich or cheapness, the OECD calculates if the price-to-rent ratio (a measure of the profitability of owning a house) and the price-to-income ratio (a measure of affordability) are above their long-term averages, house prices are said to be overvalued, and vice-versa. There are clearly some nations that are extremely over-valued and others that are cheap but as SocGen's Albert Edwards notes, it is the UK that stands out as authorities have gone out of their way to prop up house prices - still extremely over-valued (20-30%) - despite being at the epicenter of the global credit bust. Summing up the central bankers anthem, Edwards exclaims: "what makes me genuinely really angry is that burdening our children with more debt to buy ridiculously expensive houses is seen as a solution to the problem of excessively expensive housing." It's not different this time.