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.
Posts Tagged ‘ethanol’
Notes From Underground: Mario Draghi Reveals He’s A Fleetwood Mac Fan; Says GOLD IS A “Mystery to Me”November 8, 2012
As today was central bank day in Europe, both the ECB and the BOE had rate decision meetings and left their current policies in place. The BOE did announce that it was “halting” the expansion of the QE program at 375 billion pounds as it deems the recent increases in its bond buying program to be less effective. Recently, BOE Deputy Governors Paul Tucker and Charles Bean have stated that “asset purchases may no longer have the same impact on the economy as when first introduced.” (Bloomberg) The market had different interpretations as to the reason that why the BOE was curtailing the QE bond purchases. 1. The recent rise in inflation was causing the halt; or 2. the lessened impact of recent QE was going to mean that the bank was going to increase the funding for lending scheme in which the BOE provides incentives for commercial banks to lend more money to small and medium businesses. This is of interest for FED watchers because BOE Governor Mervyn King has been a trail blazer for creative central bank actions and the FOMC may mimic some of the BOE actions to get a boost to a low velocity of money situation.
The ECB will be visiting Spain but it will not be heading to the beaches. The EUROPEAN DEBT markets were a problem today and not because of the SPANISH 10-YEAR. Today it was the SPANISH TWO-YEAR NOTE that bore the brunt of investor angst. The short-duration paper was 88 BASIS POINTS higher as the 2/10 curve collapsed 55 basis points: FRANKFURT WE HAVE A PROBLEM. President Draghi, as an ex-GOLDMAN banker you well understand that when the markets sense weakness an attack on the soft spot is imminent. The action in the SPANISH DEBT markets is the first warning sign.
Friday’s weaker than expected JOBS REPORT caused AGITA in the BOND and EQUITY MARKETS. Early in the week, the markets had punished the BONDS and EQUITIES as the FOMC MINUTES caused the purveyors of QE3 as a SURE THING to stop, look and listen. The sounds that they had listened to were from the previous speech by Chairman Bernanke as he voiced his deep concerns about the persistent drag of unemployment on GDP. The rush of FED governors and District presidents to any microphone to undermine the chairman’s views caused the market to pause and reconsider its stance on possible FED normalizing rates quicker than the “extended period” language presumed. Stocks were under pressure and U.S. Treasuries were offered as hints of FED buying grabbed traders attention.
The unemployment report on Friday was much weaker than expected as zero net jobs were created. More disheartening was that average hourly earnings produced a negative number, which failed to confirm and support the earlier released personal consumption data. The equity markets went into risk-off mode as the economy went into the Labor Day weekend in a very fragile state.
In Monday’s Financial Times there is a column by Lawrence Summers, the GODFATHER of U.S. economic policy. Mr. Summers offers the Europeans a great deal of advice on “HOW TO SAVE THE EUROZONE IN THE COMING CRITICAL WEEKS.” The article is actually a good policy prospective if there was not the issue of politics that play a large and important role in the EU‘s inability to resolve its fiscal difficulties. Summers wants to believe that the EUROCRATS have the political mandate to negotiate Brussel’s desire for a peaceful, state-supported EDEN of entitlements.
Today’s economic data continued the recent pattern of tepid activity. The EMPIRE MANUFACTURING INDEX was very soft but the analysts believe that the Japanese earthquake played havoc with global supply chains and thus impeded some manufacturing sectors. The CPI number was right on target and thus had no impact. The CAPACITY UTILIZATION and INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION were on the soft side, which added more concern to the fragility of the U.S. economy. Markets are left with moderate growth while being plagued with the continual problems of the PIIGS.
Chinese and U.S. officials have been meeting in Washington for the past two days under the aegis of the annual forum of Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED). All the news releases from these meetings sound so hopeful about increased cooperation between the world powers. The Chinese feed the U.S. policy makers with words of promise about the SINO economy becoming more market-oriented and the American delegation tells the Chinese that they will be fiscally responsible and do all they gain to maintain the value of U.S. paper assets that fill the vaults in Beijing. An hour after the Chinese head home, the financial media will no doubt be hungry for some more morsels of hope. So it goes and it will continue: Both sides pledging fidelity the vibrancy of the global economic order.
Thursday brings the Department of Agriculture report on the prospective plantings for the new crop year and the quarterly grain storage report. In today’s WSJ, there was a piece titled, “U.S. Ethanol Industry May Pare Fuel-Blending Credit.” The readers of NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND know that the ETHANOL SUBSIDIES AND TARIFFS have been a major point of contention for me as I believe that the ethanol price supports have driven global grain prices higher and made a mockery of U.S. trade policy. The article said, “U.S. farmers are poised to increase plantings to take advantage of corn prices.” This is what I have been arguing: The higher corn prices go, the more land farmers take from growing other grains, thus driving beans and wheat and others higher as well. The ETHANOL LOBBY has argued that corn for ethanol is a benign effect … WRONG.