There is now rampant talk about a revived FED QE4 program, most powerfully talked about by Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio and Larry Summers (from the genetically powered economics family of Samuelson and Arrow). On December 24, Santelli and I considered the possibility of QE4 (see clip below). I posed this question to all investors: How would the equity markets react if the FED had to reignite its large asset purchases?
Last week New York Fed President Bill Dudley opined that the economy looks great but is less compelling in regards to raising interest rates, while the Fed’s Vice Chairman insisted that we only want to do things right. There were also other Fed Presidents offering their thoughts and the markets became more confused. Each FOMC member seems to analyze the data and come to a different conclusion about the timing of a move to raises interest rates. Minneapolis Fed President Kocherlakota went from being considered a hawk two years ago when he proposed an initial target of 6.5% unemployment. Now he has moved his target ever lower and would prefer to wait until the economy runs a “little hot.”
At 8:00 a.m. EST, CNBC‘s announcer says, “From The Most Powerful City In the World, This Is Squawk Box.” What bothers me is the squawking about your importance. What irritates me even more is that Beijing has been the most powerful city when it comes to moving markets. Every other idea spewed this week has been about the impact of the Chinese authorities and the policy impact from the Politburo that “destroyed” trillions of equity market value. It even appears that the Chinese are dominating the discussion in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where the Kansas City Fed is hosting their annual symposium. Even New York Fed President Bill Dudley, aka Less Compelling, cites the Chinese as the reason to be less compelled to raise rates at the September meeting.
Mao, Deng and Xi, oh my! It seems whenever China releases economic data, the U.S. markets and its developed market cousins either go into an orgasmic paroxysm or a spasm of pain. Readers of Notes know that I have criticized the Chinese economic releases as fiction and my rational was simple. If the Politburo would not allow GOOGLE to operate without restraint within China why should I trust any “official data.” Many times I have referred to GDP and PMI figures hitting the predicted market consensus as a greater feat of financial engineering than Jack Welch’s record of beating Wall Street’s forecast’s for GE earnings by a penny every quarter while Jack was CEO.
As Harry Nilsson sang in “Everybody ‘s Talkin'”: Everybody ‘s talking at me, I don’t hear a word they’re saying, only the echoes of my mind.” This is true of the words from St. Louis Fed President James Bullard as he had the audacity to opine in the middle of Friday’s S&P and equity rout that: 1. “The Fed doesn’t react directly to equity markets”; and 2. “More sanguine than market on global outlook, China.” (source: Bloomberg). This is the very same James Bullard who is credited with halting the significant break in the SPOOS on October 15 when he mentioned that “the Fed should be open to continue its QE on the back of low inflation expectations.”
The global markets were anxious by the action of the 200-day moving averages and their reference points to the global equity markets. As of writing, the DAX, SPOOS and CAC have joined the others that began the week below their 200-days. The NASDAQ 100 futures index is struggling to hold support on the vaunted moving average, currently at 4381.01 on the CQG daily continuation chart. While equity markets have swooned, gold and silver found buyers as investors have momentarily sought refuge from what has been the great haven of the last three years: Large cap, high dividend stocks combined with a growth piece have provided the consummate investment vehicle for investors leaving the REPRESSIVE returns from low-risk credit markets. While volume has been low in typical summer fashion, the breakdown in favored moving averages and strength indicators suggests there is definitely nervousness in global equity markets.
Some follow-through from yesterday: The DAX,Dow and Russell 2000 closed below their 200-day moving averages but it is early in the week so while a negative it is not definitive of any sustaining activity. Just another effort to be attentive to global developments. The Chinese markets were under assault last night, which led to a selloff in copper and silver prices although GOLD remained firm. Some analysts maintain that the selling in copper and silver was due to having meet margin calls with account collateral being liquidated. I have no argument with that analysis but if so silver should regain itself above 15.10 and GOLD should rise above its recent highs. If China’s recent market developments is the onset of global deflation the world’s central banks will be forced into renewed crisis mode and the precious metals will again be viewed as a “reliable haven.” Let the market be your guide for theory confirmation and have your technical levels ready especially for GOLD resistance.
One of my favorite songs by Simon and Garfunkel is “A Simple Desultory Philippic” in which the duo takes the time to mock and criticize the world of culture and politics that surround them. Desultory means lacking a style or plan, while Philippic connotes a word for a tirade or rant. Will my readers entertain my desire to craft my own simple desultory philippic?
Almost 18 months ago I wrote a blog in response to an Ambrose Evans-Pritchard piece in the London Telegraph. I think readers of NOTES will find it more than a passing interest. More importantly, Mr. Evans-Pritchard wrote a new piece in yesterday’s London Telegraph, “China Cannot Risk the Global Chaos of Currency Devaluation.” Evans-Pritchard stresses the deflationary shock from a significant Chinese yuan devaluation in response to the Chinese plague of overcapacity from an excess of capital investment for a Chinese effort to increase exports to ease the burden of excess production would weight heavily on an over indebted world struggling with falling prices.
This is the greatest fear for the world ‘s central bankers and why I always referred to Bernanke and Yellen as the ultimate 1937ers for Bernanke promised Milton Friedman that the FED would not repeat the errors of 1937 and allow deflation to become the major dynamic in the world economy and certainly not the U.S. Evans-Pritchard is hopeful that the recent weakness of the YUAN is not really a new policy:
“The slowdown in China is not yet serious enough to justify such a risk. True, the trade-weighted exchange rate has soared 22% since-mid-2012,the result of being strapped to a rocketing dollar at the wrong moment.The YUAN is up 60% against the Japanese Yen.”
Read the article and be aware that the Chinese are not targeting the dollar but are very concerned about the YUAN strength versus the rest of the world.
There is much to talk about after the Chinese sent a shot across the bow of the U.S.S. Financial Complacency. If we glance at the currency charts of various global currencies versus the Chinese YUAN it is easy to see what the authorities setting policy in Beijing are so very concerned about. The YUAN may be very stable against the U.S. dollar but in terms of Brazilian real, Turkish lira, Mexican peso, Aussie dollar, euro, British pound, Japanese yen and Korean won, the YUAN has undergone a MASSIVE appreciation during the last three years. While the Chinese were announcing their intentions to attempt a pivot to a more domestic-consumption economy, a strong YUAN favored a structural change of such magnitude.