Last week we wrote an article that to many was anathema: namely an explanation why everyone is deluding themselves in their expectation that the PBOC would ease, soft, hard, or just right landing notwithstanding. The reason? The threat that food inflation is about to read its ugly head which is "Why The Fate Of The Global Equity Rally May Rest In The Hands Of Soybeans." This was merely a continuation of our observations from a month ago that as a result of the Black Swan being "deep fried" in 2012, that the threat of food inflation will keep key BRIC central banks in check for a long time. As of today the threat has become fact, because as China Daily reports "China will release corn and rice from state reserves to help tame inflation and reduce imports as the worst US drought in half a century pushes corn prices to global records, creating fears of a world food crisis...The release may prompt Chinese importers to cancel shipments in the near term and take some pressure off international corn prices, which set a new all-time high on Friday as the US government slashed its estimate of the size of the crop in the world's top grain exporter." Sure, as every other short-termist measure the world over, it may help with prices in the short-term, but will merely expose China, and thus everyone, to the threat of a much greater price spike in the future. Because just as the strategic petroleum reserve release did nothing to help gas prices, nor the short selling ban in the US and Europe did anything to help the underlying broken financial system, so this will merely force the local population to scramble and ration whatever food they can get asap, now that the government has admitted there is, indeed, a food inflationary problem.
Bottom line - rationing is in full force, and given the continually declining state of the US corn crop, more will be needed," said Christopher Narayanan, head of agricultural commodities research at Societe Generale.
China's State Administration of Grain did not specify the volume of corn or rice to be released from reserves. The Grain Reserves Corp will be responsible for selling the crops, but no details were given on the timing.
Some traders estimated the government might sell around 2 million tons to help stabilize prices ahead of the harvest, when supply is usually tight.
Beijing will probably need to replenish reserves towards the end of the year, and therefore the release will have only a limited impact on prices.
"It can help stabilize the market somewhat, but the volume is too small compared with the 10 million to 15 million tons of monthly consumption nationwide," said Xu Wenjie, an analyst with Zheshang Futures Co.
"With USDA raising its Chinese corn production estimate ... it certainly makes sense to release some corn from reserves," Narayanan said, noting that the USDA also cut its estimate of Chinese corn imports by 3 million tons to 2 million.
One thing is now certain: with China openly admitting it is scared about the impact of food price inflation, one can forget not only PBOC cutting rates but engaging in far less effective RRR cuts. In fact reverse repos will be the only form of easing for a long time.
Which brings us to our conclusion from last week:
Barring some last minute miracle, with Soy prices set to surge on a Y/Y basis, and drag Chinese food inflation with them, will the PBOC ease, and add to incremental food demand, just as supply considerations are about to send Chinese food inflation soaring?
Of course not (naturally, this assumes the wheels of the global economy do not come completely unglued, in which case all bets are off).
So there you have it: a PBOC whose hands are tied, an ECB whose hands are tied, and a Fed whose hands are also tied (there is of course the BOJ but nobody cares about the BOJ any more).
And still the market keeps hoping and praying that despite, or maybe due to, collapsing corporate revenues, and lower corporate earnings guidance, that central banks will come in and save the day.
Alas, by now it is more than clear that any discount capacity the market may have once had, is now as gone as trading volume, the VIX, and bank trading profits.