This week has been loaded with FED OFFICIALS filling the airwaves with thoughts about ending QE or just tapering, with the markets left to discern how, when and how much. Today, the NY FED President presented a speech at the Japan Society in New York City, titled, “Lessons at the Zero Bound: The Japanese and U.S. Experience.” President Dudley compared and contrasted the mistakes made by the Japanese and U.S. monetary authorities and what they had been able to learn from each other. The speech was not critical about recent Japanese monetary moves, which infers that the FED is very comfortable with current BOJ policy. The NYFRB president does tell seem to support Chairman Bernanke in being a ’37er, meaning the FED cannot allow the mistakes made in 1937 by the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve Board to recur. This belief emphasizes that deflation is the most powerful variable that can disrupt the political economy.
Archive for the ‘BoJ’ Category
Notes From Underground: Everybody Is Talking At Me, Can’t Hear a Word They’re Saying (Only the Echoes of the Bonds)May 21, 2013
There were no real market-moving news stories this past week, but that didn’t stop the precious metals from coming under severe pressure on the Asian opening as prices in gold and, especially silver, fell prey to liquidation and downside stops were elected in a relatively illiquid market environment. The DOLLAR/YEN was also under initial pressure as Japanese Economics Minister Akira Amari was on the Sunday morning Japanese news show saying, “the correction of the strong yen is largely completed.” Mr. Amari was voicing concerns about further rapid yen depreciation could negatively impact Japanese consumers. The selloff in DOLLAR/YEN seems to be rather tepid based on the massive LONG DOLLAR/YEN POSITIONS, but this bares watching when Europe and the U.S. markets open. More importantly, the initial price action in the Nikkei equity market doesn’t seem to be very concerned about the comments of Mr. Amari.
Now that the FED has provided the U.S. and world financial system with a suit of liquidity, it is trying to figure out how to reduce the amount of material. The word “TAPER” is not my favorite for it fails to define what I believe is the goal of the FOMC. Who cares if the FED reduces it security purchases? That is not the problem. If the economy has any real traction the current balance sheet of more than $3 TRILLION should be quite sufficient to keep interest low. The dilemma is how to remove the LIQUIDITY without causing a collapse in Bernanke’s beloved PORTFOLIO BALANCE CHANNEL.
It appears that the world is awash with Schadenfreude as analysts and pundits are experiencing great satisfaction and joy in the misery of others. Today the European automakers released sales data for March and the numbers were much weaker than the markets had expected. Registrations fell 10 percent and German auto sales dropped 17 percent. It appears that European auto sales in the passenger market are expected to hit 1993 levels. Ford and Peugeot also saw double-digit falls in sales. The euro rally against the YEN is dramatically biting into German car sales and the proof is in the fact that Japanese auto production has increased, and Toyota, Honda and Nissan stock prices have performed very well during the last six months.
This is the question investors all over the world are asking after the massive selloff on Friday. I have argued that gold was a tired bull for the last six months and that global equities had replaced gold as investors’ and traders’ haven and store of value. Gold has done yeoman’s work as a store of value in the world of central bank hyperactivity resulting in negative real yields all over the globe. As gold prices have stagnated, investors have sought out other asset classes to supplant the need for increased risk and hopefully positive returns. Multinational corporations with high dividends have become the new store of value and the rush to unload traditional hard assets for productive real assets has gained traction. The Cypriot debacle scared global investors and sent them scurrying from bank deposits to corporate assets, with a higher yield via dividends and possible appreciation. (Especially if the assets are domiciled in a jurisdiction that has a court system that protects property rights.)
Over and over, financial news airwaves are filled with noise about since the Bank of Japan–under the supervision of Governor Kuroda–has embarked on a massive dose of Quantitative Easing, there has been no real outflow of YEN around the world. The only problem with this bloviating is that its devoid of fact. The BOJ’s action, or rather, call to action has led to a drop in European bond yields as well as a new pillar of support for U.S. Treasuries. Further proof is last night’s employment data from Australia, which was much weaker than expected (a 36,000 job loss and a 0.2% jump in the unemployment rate to 5.6%), but the AUSSIE DOLLAR rallied after an initial selloff as Japanese investors are seeking higher returns. A favorite place for higher yields for Japanese seekers has been Australia and New Zealand. Many financial institutions offer what are known as Urudashi and Samurai bonds. These are bonds issued in Japan in foreign currency of usually kiwi and Aussie. Those who say that the Japanese don’t invest afar and remain in Japan–what is called HOME BIAS–are badly misinformed.
Today we got follow-through in the global equity markets as the EUR/YEN cross rallied to three-year highs since the YEN was, again, the chief recipient of the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) enhanced efforts to bring forth inflation from a long time deflation-plagued economy. The Japanese investors were busy sending forth YEN in search of yield but also buying NIKKEI stocks in a return for domestic yield. A positive outcome from the sudden desire of Japanese investors into equities may mean an increase in corporate democracy as the demand for dividends is going to increase. The corporate culture in Japan has always been anti-shareholder as the predominant thought is that management owns corporations and the shareholders should be quiet and not make waves. The status quo has been challenged by some foreign activist investors and always rebuffed in a very anti-democratic show of defiance. As the desire for an income stream for investors, look for the ABE government to be supportive of increased democratization of corporate Japan. The flow of corporate money to investors would aid domestic demand, especially as bond returns go negative.
Click on image to watch CNBC’s Rick Santelli and Yra discuss the BOJ (and if you’d like Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” stuck in your head.
Yes, the U.S. and Canadian unemployment data were well below market expectations. Nonfarm payrolls in the U.S. were half of the consensus number and under the 110,000 NFP that we wanted to see so as to test the resolve of the recent equity market rally. Not only were the jobs created numbers weak–manufacturing actually lost jobs–but the important average hourly earnings were flat (0.2% increase expected) so there is no growth in consumer spending potential. As poor as the data release was, by day’s end the SPOO and DOW rallied well off the lows made early in the day. The impact from poor economic fundamentals was not strong enough to overcome the continued release of central bank liquidity into the global economy.
The central banks were in play today and while the Bank of England held to its present course, the Bank of Japan declared that they were now in full battle gear and announced a very aggressive monetary policy agenda. I was surprised by the tenacity of the announced program and certainly by its timing. The recent movements in the YEN, and,especially the EUR/YEN crossrate meant that the BOJ and the Japanese Finance Ministry had some breathing space to allow some of the ill effects of the Cypriot crisis to calm. No such by the BOJ as they “damned the torpedoes and announced full speed ahead.” If other central banks wish to muddle about that is their business but the Japanese are determined to end the deflation that has plagued their economy. The steps that the BOJ announced, which had the greatest impact on the YEN and the Nikkei were: