Archive for the ‘Currency’ Category

Notes From Underground: Beware the ECB’s New Weapons

September 24, 2019

As promised, here is the clip of me and Rick Santelli talking about myriad issues in the market, from the state of U.S. dollar funding to Europe’s issues.

This is a highly relevant discussion about the tasks confronting incoming ECB President Christine Lagarde. On Tuesday, Project Syndicate published a piece by Yanis  Varoufakis titled, “New Weapons for the ECB,” offering a plan that will result in  ECB CONVERSION BONDS. It is a surprisingly TAME essay as the firebrand of the EU is offering resolution to the problem that President Lagarde has been delegated to attempt to resolve. Varoufakis is resigned to the idea that there will no coordinated “sensible fiscal policy.”

The failure of politics necessitates the need for a EUROBOND is paramount to prevent the peripheral nations from embarking on deflationary policies in an effort to avoid insolvency. Varoufakis saw Greece subjected to the terror of INTERNAL DEVALUATION as wages dropped dramatically in an effort to make the country competitive with its fellow EU nations. Primary budget surpluses for a nation struggling to create an environment for GDP growth is a recipe for political instability. A eurobond/conversion ECB bond from its existing asset pool would eliminate the fear of insolvency and allow for a more coordinated fiscal response to an EU recession.

While Varoufakis is too complimentary of Mario Draghi, his piece lays out what it is that President Lagarde must overcome to be deemed a success in her new job. It seems that “agent provocateur is bidding for a position in the Lagarde regime. The coming Lagarde program will result in increased volatility in the EURO ZONE debt markets as politics takes on the opponents from Europe’s heartland who have been financially repressed by negative interest rates. He said, “Technically speaking, ECB conversion bonds are the obvious replacement for the failing quantitative easing program. Only the misplaced fear of debt mutualization stands in their way.”

***Tuesday evening at 9 p.m. CDT, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) announces its newest interest rate decision. On August 7, we at NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND anticipated the 50 basis CUT because of the strength of the KIWI versus the Aussie dollar. The low made that night on the cross was 1.0361. Now, the cross is at 1.0752 after touching 1.0835 last week. The recent KIWI weakness OUGHT to keep the RBNZ‘s overnight cash rate on HOLD at 1%.

If the RBNZ were to actually cut rates citing global concerns it would involve an outright battle with the Aussies. They would be fighting a currency skirmish, which would force the AUSSIES to lower their rates at the next meeting — and likely generate some response from President Trump. Let’s hope the RBNZ is content with the recent weakness in the KIWI. Keep an eye on the 200-week moving average of 1.0708, which is a critical support level.

***In my analysis of the Middle East, I advise paying attention to the role of Vladimir Putin. His stature is enhanced every day as the tensions build throughout the region. It is Russia that has become the critical variable to any lessening of tensions. It is time to negotiate the SANCTIONS away for the loss of Crimea will remain an issue for the Europeans to resolve, as well as an overall lessening of violence in the Ukraine.

The sanctions have been an irritant to the Russians as Germany and others still rely on Russian energy imports. And the issue of Saudi Arabia continues to  be a “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” leaving me to wonder what all the actors have as their self-interest. Watch all things Russian for a clue.

Notes From Underground: “Where Did I Find This Guy Jerome?”

September 8, 2019

Of all the U.S. president’s tweets (and believe he has a lot), Friday’s tweet about Federal Reserve Chairman was one of the best. Unfortunately, there probably should’ve been a comma between “guy” and “Jerome” since one could ask the question about any member of Trump’s economic team. President Trump could be asking the Fed chairman about Secretary Steven Mnuchin, or Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and certainly of Larry Kudlow or Peter Navarro. NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND has been asking that for many months. In my opinion, the only Trump pick that inspires confidence is Robert Lighthizer.

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Notes From Underground: Dudley Do Right Gives the Markets Snidely Whiplash

August 29, 2019

Ok, I couldn’t resist the obvious joke. It seems that former New York Fed President Bill Dudley penned an op-ed for Bloomberg in which he elevated the Fed into an actor in the U.S. political process. The message that Dudley initially tried to convey is one that NOTES has actually expressed concerns: That President Trump has trapped Chair Powell by using TARIFFS as a mechanism to bludgeon the FOMC into lowering rates to counter any of the negative impact from trade frictions unleashed on the global economy. Dudley admonished Powell to play the role of Bartleby the Scrivner in Melville’s short story, that when it comes to cutting rates in response to financial implications of the China/U.S. trade war, simply say “I choose not to.”

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Notes From Underground: The August of Our Discontent

August 7, 2019

When August rolls in the markets thin as Europe heads to the beaches and New Yorkers head to the Hamptons before Labor Day. This means every tweet President Trump is amplified by the LACK of market liquidity. On Wednesday, the president was back in full confrontation with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell because three central banks CUT interest rates last night: India,Thailand, and, most importantly, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, which surprised most market analysts by cutting 50 basis points instead of 25.

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Notes From Underground: The BOJ Leading Off With the Fed On Deck

July 29, 2019

On Monday night, the Bank of japan announces its policy intentions and consensus is for no change. The ECB remained on hold with promises of more liquidity to come so it is doubtful that Governor Kuroda would do anything ahead of the FED.

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Notes From Underground: It’s a Drag For Draghi Getting Old

July 24, 2019

On Thursday morning we will hear from the ECB about its desires to raise inflation to its self-imposed 2% target. But on Wednesday we received more tepid economic data from the EU. Then couple that with the ascent of Boris Johnson to the position of British Prime Minister. The rise of Boris Johnson is a problem for Draghi as the possibility of a HARD BREXIT increases dramatically. The market and its DAVOS media sycophants have sold the narrative of a hard Brexit as being devastating for the U.K. economy, the British GILTS, the British pound and the Footsie 100. President Draghi has to be careful that a severe rally in the EUR/GBP cross doesn’t damage the European exporters, especially Germany, who runs a 50 billion-plus surplus with Britain.

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Notes From Underground: When a Slower Fool, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

June 30, 2019

First things first: There were no surprises out of the G-20, at least for those who read Notes From Underground and listened to the discussion that took place in the Whitewave Trading room. The most significant outcome was that President Trump held off from installing additional tariffs while President Xi confirmed that China would be buying more U.S. production, especially in the agricultural sector. In Thursday’s podcast with the Whitewave participants I advised that with the current weather problems in the U.S. heartland the Chinese would have to be vigilant about the cost of global grain prices rising as supply was hampered by poor planting conditions.

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Notes From Underground: Draghi and Trump Are Putting Powell In a Difficult Position

June 18, 2019

On Tuesday asset classes around the world got a sharp boost when ECB President Draghi delivered the ultimate dovish speech from the annual conclave in Sintra, Portugal. The ECB has set up this annual meeting in an effort to mirror the Kansas City Fed gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. What did Draghi discuss? The failure of Euorpean inflation to reach the self-imposed target of 2% set by the central bank.

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Notes From Underground: Trump Has Weaponized The Dollar. Do the Longs Know?

June 12, 2019

Some shots were fired last Friday, but it seems that the markets can only hear the siren song of White House tweets. There was an important story from Bloomberg reporter Saleha Mohsin titled, “Trump’s Currency War Plan Puts Treasury and Commerce at Odds.” The article noted that “a Commerce Department proposal to impose countervailing tariffs on countries that it determines have devalued their currencies has alarmed officials at the Treasury Department.”

It appears that President Trump has grown frustrated by Treasury’s failure to name any country as a “currency manipulator.” It has been Treasury’s bailiwick to monitor the foreign exchange interventions of countries who strive to artificially hold down the value of their currencies in an effort gain a competitive advantage versus any G20 country, especially the U.S. (from the Treasury Department perspective).

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Notes From Underground: Just When It Couldn’t Get More Volatile

June 5, 2019

The above reference is from the wonderful cult movie, Putney’s Swope. The CEO of a major advertising firm has a heart attack during a board meeting and the sycophants don’t realize it as they continue peppering him with questions. When he’s unable to respond they ask, “How Many Syllables, Mario?”

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