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.
Archive for the ‘Currency’ Category
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.
There was a Reuters story yesterday by William Schomberg, “G7 Finance Chiefs to Discuss Bank Reform Push.” Very few people picked up on this but it seems strange that all the sudden a meeting is called to discuss what elements of bank reform. Are they going to try to persuade Germany to get behind the EU push for a banking union and if so why the hurry before the September German elections? The idea of a banking union with resolution authority is sure to be a lightening rod for all the German angst about the bailouts of the peripheral nations. The Reuters piece notes that some G-7 officials are upset that the U.K. called the meeting so soon after the recent IMF talks in Washington. One official said, “I am really annoyed I’ve got to give up my weekend for this.”
First, the RBA finally cut the lending rate by 25 basis points to 2.75%. By the close of the market, the Aussie dollar remained weak as some were surprised by the move. As I promised my readers of NOTES it is the 2/10 yield curve where the indicator of further currency and bank action will be found. The 2/10 steepened a slight three points, but the action ahead will be the key. Failure to take out recent steepener highs will be an indicator that the RBA has more work to do if it wishes to give a boost to the Australian economy.
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.
Last night’s BLOG attempted to make sense out of all the chatter around the gold action of the last few days, and, more importantly, during the last several months. The points I tried to make were:
- A reiteration of a theme I have stated over and over again, that the GOLD MARKET WAS/IS A TIRED BULL and that investors were leaving the moorings of great store of value or haven. The GOLD has been the repository of investor and traders confidence in a very unstable, insecure investment climate. The GOLD has risen for 11 straight years and as any market can correct as the financial landscape changes. As investors have gained comfort that the world central banks have for the moment been successful in generating some economic growth, money has left the precious metals in search of more risk-oriented assets with a yield attached. It is no mistake that it is the large-cap, strong dividend stocks that have led the way. A failure to understand that and react accordingly is just a case of myopia;
- I, IN NO WAY INTENDED TO INFER THAT I HAD INTERVIEWED JIM SINCLAIR AND THAT HE PROVIDED ME WITH A PRICE TARGET FOR THE CHINESE. HE DID NOT AND I CERTAINLY DID NOT INTERVIEW HIM. THE ONLY POINT I WAS TRYING TO MAKE WAS THAT I AGREED WITH JIM’S RECENT COMMENTS ABOUT THE NEED FOR CHINESE AND RUSSIAN GOLD PURCHASES TO PROVIDE THE NEEDED BUYING TO STEM THE AVALANCHE OF SELLING FROM FUTURES, OPTIONS and ETFS. When markets correct, be that housing or stocks, it is THEN YOU LEARN THE PAIN OF LEVERAGE. Gold has been a very popular, profitable investment, which means that in today’s world of financial engineering leverage is involved. I wholeheartedly agree with Jim’s analysis that the massive selling can only be absorbed by a massive buyer, be it a desirous procurer or somebody with a massive short wishing to cover.
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.