This is a tough POST to write for I will criticize a newspaper I have read every day for at least 30 years. (In fact, I still have it delivered on my doorstep and read most of it online in the evening before the hard copy arrives.) The London Financial Times had a front page story, “Troubled Italian Banks Face Fresh Risk of Failing If Renzi Loses Vote.” This is a deplorable headline for it harkens back to the days of the mainstream media warning of dire consequences if Brexit passed and the Trump was elected president. THIS IS SCARE MONGERING. It raises the question: When will the Davos crowd EVER LEARN?
Posts Tagged ‘Japan’
The Wizard of Oz provides so many appropriate metaphors for dealing with global central bank policy. The failure of the wisdom of those who meet behind the “curtain” enthrall the members of the elite media who genuflect on the altar of access. Provide the necessary backdrop of equations and the media believes everything. It reinforces the sentiment of the Greenspan era: “If you think you understood what I said, I must have misspoken.” The idea of an “all-knowing Fed” is beginning to lose its luster as markets begin to understand that FED policy is not rocket science. There is no predictable outcome for the global experiment of negative interest rates or zero interest rates. Even the growth of supersized central bank sheets is causing doubts among the blind followers of free money forever.
As we bid farewell to the dog days of summer, here are some issues that will set the agenda for the month ahead:
1. Friday’s employment data made the picture murkier for the FOMC meeting later this month. The nonfarm payrolls were on the weak side, and, as Art Cashin correctly pointed out on CNBC, the bigger issue was a drop in the hours of the work week, which when measured in terms of jobs gained/loss resulted in a loss of 300,000 jobs. The FED jaw flappers keep orally pushing for a rate hike on September 21 but this jobs report clouds the issue.
The talking heads report ad nauseam that several Fed members believe a rate hike possible but as I wrote last week, if the fed funds rate is not raised the critical component of the FOMC release will be the outcome of the vote. If Stanley Fischer doesn’t vote for a RATE HIKE then HE SHOULD RESIGN FROM THE FOMC. It is that simple for if Chair Yellen prevails in achieving another 9-1 vote then it is without question Yellen’s FOMC and all other ivory tower mouthpieces should remain silent. The Federal Reserve Board is under mounting criticism due the inconsistency of its members’ public pronouncements. The FED‘s credibility is being called into question, a potentially disastrous situation in a FIAT CURRENCY SYSTEM.
2. The G-20 meeting presented great selfies and photo-ops but little else. THIS MEETING REFLECTED THE STRAINS IN THE GLOBAL ORDER WHICH HAVE BEEN “PAPERED OVER” BY THE CENTRAL BANKS. Japan set the tone of the meeting by releasing a paper to the G-20 warning the world and especially Europe about the negative fallout from an acrimonious end to the BREXIT negotiations. Japanese corporations have massive investments in British capital projects and if British exports are to be penalized then Japan threatened to remove production and jobs from the U.K. and other European centers. I THINK THE JAPANESE WANTED TO SEND A MESSAGE TO ALL THE PARTIES IN THE BREXIT DISCUSSION, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, THIS WAS JAPANESE OFFICIALS RETALIATING FOR BEING SINGLED OUT AS A CURRENCY MANIPULATOR AT THE PREVIOUS G-20 MEETING. Japan prevented the Chinese from making them the focal point … yet again.
Before the release of the G-20 Communique, the U.S. and China held a bi-lateral meeting and one of the main issues discussed between Presidents Obama and XI was foreign currency movements. A fact sheet released after the meeting said, “China and U.S. Agree to Refrain From Competitive Currency Devaluations.” It may be a major political victory for the Chinese if the U.S. Treasury was deemed to be a serial currency manipulator in a similar vein of the PBOC. And this would be a serious blow to U.S. prestige. The actual language of the final communique was generic and sanitized: “We affirm our previous exchange rate commitments, including that we will refrain from competitive devaluations and we will not target our exchange rates for competitive purposes.” This is nonsense of the first order for as many critics of the Fed and ECB have argued over the previous six years: QE POLICY is a domestic monetary program with a weakened currency as a desired outcome. The G-20 reference is mere political posturing for the domestic constituency.
3. The Reserve Bank of Australia and the ECB have scheduled meetings this week. Tonight at 11:30 CDT the RBA will announce its interest rate intentions. The consensus is for no change from its current 1.5% overnight cash rate. The Aussie dollar is very weak against the Kiwi dollar, its main trading partner, so I’m in agreement with consensus. The important point is that it’s Governor Stevens’s last meeting and what he says about the Chinese economy should be of interest. THURSDAY will be an important day as Mario Draghi will hold a press conference following the ECB’s meeting. President Draghi has been very quiet of late and has allowed his underlings to speak about policy. Draghi didn’t even attend the Jackson Hole Conference. The European economy is sputtering. Italy is facing a November referendum. And, more importantly, German Chancellor Merkel’s CDU party suffered a miserable election result on Sunday with the anti-Euro AfD party garnering the largest increase in support.
The media paints the AfD success as a response to an anti-immigrant agenda. There may be an element of fact in that but the German middle class is raising its voice against the FINANCIAL REPRESSION foisted upon German savers as a product of ECB policies. If President Draghi is threatened by German domestic politics look for an increase in the ECB QE program to 90/100 billion euros a month from 80 billion in an effort to build the ECB balance sheet, weakening the euro and simultaneously pushing borrowing costs lower. Draghi is a man in a hurry as the political winds turn against the ECB. The problem for Draghi is that the massive QE programs promoted by Bernanke and the BOJ have failed to have the desired effects. Bloated balance sheets for the sake of bailing out debt-stressed nations provide political fodder for the anti-euro political tide rising across the EU. Mario Draghi has grabbed unlimited power for the ECB, BUT FOR HOW LONG? Yes, our work has just begun.
This week brings Prime Minister Abe’s fiscal plan, the Reserve Bank of Australia’s rate decision, the Bank of England’s monetary results and U.S. nonfarm payrolls on Friday. So let’s put some perspective to tonight’s main events. The RBA will announce its overnight interest rate and consensus is calling for a 25 basis point CUT to 1.5%. Analysts believe that the weakness in the natural resource sector is aiding the reduction in capital expenditure. Also, Aussie inflation is at the bottom of the RBA‘s target range, which provides rationale for the RBA. I am not so sure of a CUT for this is coming at the end of Governor Stevens’s term at the RBA. Dr. Phillip Lowe will take over September 16 so this is the penultimate meeting for Mr. Stevens.
On Wednesday, the FOMC left its interest rate policy in tact as it awaits more data before deciding to change interest rates. The FOMC statement wanted to reflect some underlying hawkishness but the market is reticent to accept the veracity of Fed releases. The DOLLAR initially rallied as the algo deemed the “hawkish” language a positive for the dollar and bearish for the precious metals but upon a very quick review the market reversed and now demands that the Fed reveal its Missouri lineage and “SHOW ME.” The yield curve gave the FED some credence by flattening in response to a change in some of the rhetoric, “near-term risks to the economic outlook have diminished.” This provides the FED the flexibility to respond to self-diagnosed headwinds in an effort to keep rates at present levels for as long as the DOVE can fly. The FED is pinned not by U.S. data but by the actions of the ECB and the BOJ.
Just some summary points as this year the summer doldrums will prove to be anything but:
Confusion rained/reigned today as all the main global equity markets rallied as if spooked by some possible sea-change in policy. While some analysts attributed the strong rally a low volume short covering rush to the exits, I BELIEVE IT IS THE RESPONSE TO THE LARRY SUMMERS’S PUSH FOR A MASSIVE GLOBAL BASED FISCAL STIMULUS PACKAGE. This has been Summers’s mantra for the past year and it is gaining a following in the inner sanctum of the global elite. There is no question that the DAVOS CROWD has been battered by the gaining strength of “fringe party” electors around the world. There is a need on the part of the self-selected elite to maintain their hold over government policy. A massive stimulus package spent on investment tax credits and massive infrastructure projects will provide the boost to maintaining positions of authority. Those who are concerned about budget deficits will be told that with interest rates at record lows it would be folly not to invest in our children’s futures.
In the past I have criticized the CNBC tagline, “Live From The Most Powerful City In the World, New York.” I find it arrogant and devoid of any perspective. What makes a city powerful? In some sense I suppose it’s the ability to make and shape events around the globe. Wall Street may be a powerful money center but so is London and from a political and monetary sense Beijing has catapulted itself a spot among the most influential. Friday morning I did an interview with Gordon Long of the Financial Repression Authority, a must visit site for its archive of discussions on global macro issues. We were discussing the role of China in affecting U.S. monetary policy. Gordon Long has discussed the idea of an agreement reached in February at the G-20 meeting in Shanghai about an ACCORD to keep the U.S. dollar stable to weak in an effort to prevent the Chinese from actively pursuing a weaker YUAN for when the DOLLAR RALLIES THE YUAN IS ALSO PUSHED HIGHER AGAINST A BASKET OF DEVELOPED MARKET CURRENCIES AND CERTAINLY AGAINST OTHER EMERGING MARKET FX.
The Japanese leave Washington with no support for alleviating one-sided currency moves. For China it is all about respect for growth, wherever it may be. The Chinese GDP was released on Thursday and it came out exactly as forecast at 6.7% (shocking, I know). There was virtually no criticism of the Chinese as the nations are watching closely while China commences its transition from an export-dominated economy to a more balanced growth model, where domestic consumption takes on increased importance. In contrast to the G-20 view on Japanese currency intervention, SNB President Thomas Jordan announced that the Swiss would increase its balance sheet through currency intervention “… to prevent an already ‘significantly overvalued’ franc from strengthening.”
(Larry Summers had to run to his medicine cabinet to take Prozac (not Diazepam as in the Rolling Stones song) after he read the G-20 communique. The finance ministers and central bank heads meeting in Shanghai failed to come to terms with any of the issues concerning the global economy. There was no PLAZA ACCORD and no deep discussions about the need for massive fiscal stimulus. The tone of the Communique was TEPID at best and views the present state of the global economy as slow but steady. There was certainly NO URGENCY about a rise in the prospects of a global recession. The finance ministers downplayed the recent volatility and slide in global equity markets, suggesting by those domiciled in ivory towers and model-based rat holes that the MARKETS ARE MISTAKEN AND THE MODELS ARE CORRECT. The arguments among the participants was such that there were some issues that seem in direct contradiction of any policy response.