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:
Archive for the ‘Central Banks’ Category
The initial check with no move on interest rates was offered by the Reserve Bank of Australia as it held its overnight lending rate steady at Tuesday’s meeting. The Aussie 2/10 curve flattened a bit after the meeting and the Aussie two-year note continues to trade at a lower interest rate than the official overnight rate of 3%, yielding just 2.88%. Many readers have asked about the impact of yield curves on equity prices and I will deal with this on an ongoing basis. For an immediate example, if the Aussie curve continues to stay flat I will venture to say that over the course of the year the Australian stock market will underperform. That doesn’t mean that it won’t have synchronized rallies with other developed markets, just by year’s end it will underperform other equity markets. If the RBA acts to cut rates and reset the curve on a more positive slope, the outcome, of course, should be of a better equity performance. To paraphrase Max Planck: Good trading and analysis advances one funeral at a time.
I make a distinct reference to the CASH HIGH S&Ps versus the S&P FUTURES has made an all-time high. According to the CQG charts, the all-time high in the S&P futures front month is 1586.75 and the high daily close is 1576.25. The CASH high is 1576.09 and the previous high CASH daily close was 1565.15, which was surpassed on Friday’s close. Here is a significant chart that shows the important difference between Friday’s close and the last record high close of October 9, 2007.
Notes From Underground: #Irony … Carmen Reinhart Says “Do Not Take Size As An Indicator of Importance”; Harry Rheems DiesMarch 21, 2013
Okay, you must have some fun amongst the idiocy of the Eurocrats. It seems that the best intentions of last Friday night’s decision to sacrifice the pawns in the game have done exactly what I thought the ill-conceived plans would accomplish. For 10 billion euros of bailout capital the fallout has been large drops in equity values. The capital losses are small compared to embarrassment facing the European policy makers. In a Bloomberg article by James Neuger, “Europe Plays I-Didn’t-Do-It Blame Game on Cypriot Deposit Levy,” it seems that German FM Schaeuble, France’s FM Moscovici, Spain’s FM Guidnos and even Finland’s FM Urpilainen all claim that they were opposed to taxing the guaranteed deposits of under a 100,000 euros. They all seem to point to the ECB and IMF as wanting the “bail-in.” This is a classic example of what my friend Andy Schreiber used to say: “Success Has Many Fathers, Failure Is But An Orphan.” The Cypriot situation is a situation that punches way above its weight. Carmen Reinhart, an economist I cite regularly on financial repression, silenced the talking heads on CNBC when she claimed that, “Do not take size as an indicator of importance.”
Yes, another day and the markets had to try to understand the significance of Cyprus. The newswires were filled with analysts claiming this was a “tempest in a teapot” and that the doomsayers were blowing the Cypriot problem into a pseudo crisis. Again, a world that is highly leveraged is subject to a “single spark starting a prairie fire” and the fear of contagion and an electronic bank run are very real if the major policy makers don’t invoke the trust of the electorate and investors. The perceived actions by IMF Director Lagarde (the joker) and the liquidationist mentality being thrust from Berlin and Chancellor Merkel (the thief) have created a situation where European bank depositors are nervous, especially so in the peripheral banks. THE MAIN COMPONENT OF THIS UNCERTAINTY WAS THE MOVE IN THE FRONT MONTH EURIBOR CONTRACTS,AS THE JUNE 2013 FELL 10 TICKS ON A DAY WHEN OTHER INTEREST RATES WERE LOWER. NOTHING SAYS BANK FEARS THEN A COUNTER MOVE IN THE EURIBOR AND LIBOR MARKETS. An increase in bank yields with equity markets falling is a sign about the fear in the bank deposits market. It seems that the policy makers that are leading the previously “revered” TROIKA (IMF,European Commission and ECB) have initiated fear for a mere pittance.
Notes From Underground: The Europeans and Cyprus … The Idea of 10 Billion Euros = Five Hundred Billion EurosMarch 17, 2013
The lunacy of the IMF and German government have pushed the limits of bank bailouts and proceeded to create a need for bank BAIL-INS. The IMF, with German prodding, desired the depositors in Cypriot banks to absorb some of the costs of the long-delayed bailout. It seems at this time that depositor with less than 100,000 Euros will be “taxed” at 6.75 percent while those with holdings MORE THAN 100,000 EUROS will be “taxed” at 9.9 percent. This is wealth confiscation in an effort to maintain the Cypriot financial system. DEPOSITORS WILL BE FORCED TO ABSORB LOSSES WHILE BONDHOLDERS WILL BE MADE WHOLE. There is no consistency in Europe: Greek depositors were left whole while sovereign bondholders were forced to take large haircuts. The efforts by the IMF and Germany and the ECB to sustain the Cypriot system, an amount of money equal to 10 BILLION EUROS is going to cost the global financial system possibly hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars. The immediate fallout from the weekend lunacy of the Eurocrats is causing large selloffs in global financial markets.
There is not much news that needed to be dissected so I think it is time for a quick look at yield curves. For simplicities sake I will keep the analysis to the generic 2/10 curves in the countries that have sophisticated capital markets. Why are the curves important? In looking back at the crisis that forced the ECB‘s Mario Draghi to announce “there will be no TABOOS and we will do whatever it takes” to sustain the euro currency and the entire European project. It was the 2/10 curves in Europe that were providing so much of the problem. The talking heads in the media continue to point to the 10-year debt instruments in Europe as being the most significant element. The Italian auction did this. The Spanish auction did that. I urge us to be more attentive to the shorter end of the curve and especially the two-year note.
Today was a very slow news day and thus little news to slow the steady rise of equities and the sell off in other asset classes. There was a story in the Financial Times about the Brazilian government cutting the tax on ethanol producers. The government is going to cut the tax on sugar-based ethanol producers by 80%–from 120 REALS per cubic meter to 25 REALS. It is an effort “… to support ethanol producers, many of whom are facing bankruptcy because of heavy debts and DIFFICULTIES COMPETING WITH SUBSIDISED PETROL PRICES IN BRAZIL.” There has been a global sugar surplus, which has kept pressure on sugar prices, but this move may help lift sugar prices and allow Brazilian growers to grab some of the agricultural profits that have supported the Brazilian economy. The U.S. economy is a corn-based ethanol producer and this has helped put upward pressure on global grain prices which has benefited Brazil’s farmers.
Notes From Underground: The Fed’s Zero Rate, Quantitative Easing Policies Are Stock Market FundamentalsMarch 10, 2013
The continued parade of stock market analysts who proclaim the equity market is rallying merely on Fed monetary policy instead of market fundamentals have spent far too much time doing case studies and not reading economic history. Interest rates as the variable signaling the cost of money are a very critical element and a key fundamental of the economy and especially the equity markets. U.S. multinational corporations are sitting on record piles of cash and also reporting strong profits. Much of the growth in profits can be attributed to two factors: Very low borrowing costs and continued pressure on wages. The FED has created the low interest rates and has hoped that the profitability resulting from low borrowing costs would bleed into higher wages and thus the need for increased hiring. The problem is many fold on the lack of success in aiding jobs creation. Globalization has kept pressure off wages and the deleveraging of the private balance sheets has meant that downward pressure remains on demand.
Notes From Underground: Friday Is the All-Important U.S. Employment Data, But Why Was European Employment Glossed Over?March 7, 2013
The February jobs data has been compiled and is now ready for public consumption. The consensus is for 165,000 (revised upward from 160,000) nonfarm payroll jobs being added and the rate to hold steady at 7.9%. This may be a difficult number to trade because the equity markets have already sloughed off so much negative news to keep the rally in tact–Italian elections, sequestration and economic malaise throughout Europe. The weekly jobless claims numbers have surprised on the downside during the last few weeks so a 200,000 NFP number would not be a surprise. It will be more important to watch average hourly earnings and the length of the work week–earnings are expected to be up by 0.2% per hour.