Japan Braces For A “Turbulent, Volatile” 10-Year Auction With First Ever Negative Yield On Deck

Two days after Japanese yields plummeted on January 29, when the BOJ unexpectedly stunned the world by announcing negative interest rates, the Japanese government sold 10 Year Bonds at what was then a near record low yield of 0.078% in an auction which carried a 0.3% coupon. Since then things have only gotten more… deflationary, and as can be seen on the chart below, as of this moment the 10Y JGB is yielding a record-0.055%


And since Japan is set to issue JPY2.4 trillion ($21 billion) in 10 year notes in a few hours, it means that for the first time ever, the Japanese government will be paid to actually “sell” 10Y paper – bonds which will have a negative yield at issue.

This won’t be the first time Japan has sold NIRP paper: as Bloomberg writes, over the past month Japanese government bonds of as long as five years in maturity sold at a negative yields, however tonight is only the first time when the entire curve through the 10 Year mark will be submerged below the X-axis.

However, where things may get tricky, is that as BBG adds demand at 10-year note auctions has declined this year as yields continued their slide, even with the central bank having the scope to buy every new bond issued as part of its stimulus program. In other words, bidders have no choice and if they want the “safety” of government backstopped collateral, they will have to pay Abe for the privilege of giving him their money for the next decade.

“There are concerns about who would actually buy 10-year bonds with negative yields,” said Shuichi Ohsaki, the chief Japan rates strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Even if you wanted to participate in the BOJ trade, you would have to hold onto the bond until it becomes eligible for the BOJ operation. And with the increase in volatility, it’s a tough one to trade.”

Where things get even more complicated is that in China the concept of a yield curve is practically non-existent: as the chart below shows, the JGB yield curve was the flattest on record at the end of last week, under pressure from the BOJ’s bond purchases, with the premium offered by 10-year securities over two-year notes narrowing to just 11.5 basis points.

That’s not all: if DB’s Makoto Yamashita is right, tonight’s auction may be quite “turbulent”:

“We expect the10y JGB auction on the 1st to be a new issue with a 0.1% coupon, but auction yields are likely to go into negative territory. We do not expect the bank sector to buy, and demand from dealers and foreign investors is unlikely to provide sufficient support. We expect the auction to be turbulent given investors are also unlikely to short futures and the possibility of a tail.

Then again, Japan hasn’t had a functioning, free or efficient bond market in a decades. This is the same market which none other than SocGen’s Albert Edwards recently fell in love with because Japan’s 10Y bond is the only asset class which, as we reported last week, has not had a losing year since 2007.

While Edwards was “all in” 10Y JGBs, we – and certainly Kyle Bass – are less euphoric. As we said:

Yes, Japanese bonds have generated positive returns for the past 9 years, but all it takes is just one moment of sheer central bank stupidity, or outright insanity, to destroy everything. The BOJ had just such a moment one month ago when it launched NIRP. What if the next moment is its last?

What is the next moment is in a few hours?

Who knows: perhaps the combination of a manipulated, rigged bond “market”, one which is entirely dominated by the BOJ, with an unprecedented event like the first ever negative yield on a 10Y JGB in history, is precisely the catalyst that will not only snap Japan’s unbroken treasury record, but finally end the farce that is Japan’s centrally-planned, well… everything, and result in the Bank of Japan finally losing control.

While we don’t think tonight’s auction will be the catalyst just yet, keep an eye on the auction results when the come in. Just in case.

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Workers At Tesla’s Gigafactory Stage Mass Walk Out Protesting Out Of State Workers

All is not well in the non-GAAP paradise known as Tesla’s Gigafactory, where labor tensions are suddenly running high.

According to Bloomberg, at least 100 workers at the construction site for Tesla’s massive (and taxpayer subsidized) battery factory near Reno, Nevada, walked off the job Monday to protest use of workers from other states, a union official said.

It used to be that workers were upset when foreigners were brought in; now it’s workers from out of state.

Local labor leaders are upset that Tesla contractor Brycon Corp. is bringing in workers from Arizona and New Mexico, said Todd Koch (no relation to the billionaire family by the same name) president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada.

The escalation in interstate labor tensions mirrors the fragmentation of Europe, where with an imminent collapse of the Schengen customs union, members of the neighboring EU countries will soon revolt when working side by side. Perhaps it only makes sense that with globalization now running in reverse, and with Europe falling apart at the seams, that the US will follow suit by defederalizing.

The local union’s the soundbites certainly indicate that “out-of-state workers are clearly not welcome.”

“It’s a slap in the face to Nevada workers to walk through the parking lot at the job site and see all these license plates from Arizona and New Mexico,” Koch said in an interview. Those who walked out were among the hundreds on the site, he said.

Construction work at the $5 billion, 10-million-square-foot factory has been proceeding ahead of schedule. Tesla said in an e-mailed statement that the nonunion contractor involved in the dispute Monday, which it didn’t identify by name, is using more than 50 percent Nevada workers and that more than 75 percent of the factory workforce is residents of that state. Tesla didn’t say how the walkout is affecting work at the site.

Of course, the only reason for that is because otherwise the generous subsidies provided to Elon Musk by Nevada taxpayers would be voided. As a reminder, in September 2014, Musk and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval announced a deal that included as much as $1.25 billion in tax breaks over 20 years and a requirement that half the so-called gigafactory’s expected 6,500 permanent positions go to Nevada residents.

It said nothing about where the other 3,250 should come from, although it appears that to local labor unions, anything short of 100% “local” is increasingly unacceptable. Furthermore, it is unclear just what sparked the workers’ anger if indeed at least 75% of the Gigafactory’s worker are local.

“Today’s activity stems from the local Carpenters Union protesting against one of the third-party construction contractors that Tesla is using,” the automaker said. “Their issue is not with how Tesla treats its workers.”

And Tesla will continue treating it workers well as long as it is ultimately taxpayers who foot their paycheck. Once that changes, pink slips will galore, for both in and out of state workers alike.

In the meantime, we can’t wait to see what happens if Uber’s Gigafactorians stage a Megastrike.

Finally, while we would like to take Musk at his word, one wonders what the real reason for this quasi-labor strike truly is and if next quarter Tesla, whose GAAP vs non-GAAP revenue and EPS looks something like this..

… won’t include a “strike-adjusted” non-cash flow metric to go with the rest of its income statement gibberish.

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Law Professor Slams Summers: “Cash Is The Currency Of Freedom”

By Glenn Harlan Reyonds, aka Instapundit, a University of Tennessee law professor, originally posted on USA Today

Cash Is The Currency Of Freedom

As Fed inflates away dollar’s value, government gains more control to manipulate taxpayers and savers

Former Treasury secretary Larry Summers wants to get rid of the $100 bill. But I think he has it exactly backward. I think we need to restore the $500 and $1000 bills. And the reason is that people like Larry Summers have done a horrible job.

Summers wrote recently in The Washington Post that the $100 bill needs to go. The reason, he says, is that it’s a favorite of criminals, along with the 500 euro note, which is likely to be discontinued. The New York Times editorialized in agreement, writing: “Getting rid of big bills will make it harder for criminals to do business and make it easier for law enforcement to detect illicit activity. … There is no need for large-denomination currency. Britain’s top bill is the 50-pound note ($72), which has been perfectly sufficient. The United States stopped distributing $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 bills in 1969. There are now so many ways to pay for things, and eliminating big bills should create few problems.”

Reading this got me to thinking: What is a $100 bill worth now, compared to 1969? According to the U.S. Inflation Calculator online, a $100 bill today has the equivalent purchasing power of $15.49 in 1969 dollars. Likewise, in 1969, a $100 bill had the equivalent purchasing power of $645.55 in today’s dollars.

So even if we brought back the discontinued $500 bill, it wouldn’t have the purchasing power today that a $100 bill had in 1969, when larger denominations were discontinued. And carrying around a $100 bill today is basically like carrying around a $20 in 1969.

And although inflation isn’t running very high at the moment, this trend will only continue. If the next few decades are like the last few, paper money in current denominations will become basically useless.

Of course, as CATO Institute analyst Daniel J. Mitchell writes, to our ruling class this isn’t a bug, but a feature. Governments want to get rid of cash for two reasons. First, it gives them more control over citizens: They justify it in the name of fighting terrorists and organized crime, but what they really care about is making sure that nobody escapes their scrutiny, for purposes of taxes, regulation and political finagling. Second, if you’re stuck putting your money in a bank, they can force you to spend it (and thus “stimulate” the economy) by subjecting you to negative interest rates, in which money that just sits in the bank shrinks away, providing an incentive to spend.

The Federal Reserve and various other financial regulatory bodies were sold politically in no small part as protections against inflation. But inflation has run rampant. According to the inflation calculator, today’s $100 bill is worth only as much as $4.18 in 1913, the year the Federal Reserve was established. When you realize that inflation helps debtors and that governments are the world’s biggest debtors, this makes a certain amount of sense — for them.

But at a time when, almost no matter where you look in the world, the parts of it controlled by the experts and technocrats (like Larry Summers) seem to be doing badly, it seems reasonable to ask: Why give them still more control over the economy? What reason is there to think that they’ll use that control fairly, or even competently? Their track record isn’t very impressive.

Cash has a lot of virtues. One of them is that it allows people to engage in voluntary transactions without the knowledge or permission of anyone else. Governments call this suspicious, but the rest of us call it something else: Freedom.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor, is the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself, and a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors.

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Exporting Death & Destruction

Nothing says Nobel Peace Prize like being the world's largest (by a long way) exporter of arms…

The US was by far the top arms exporter in 2011-15, with a 33 per cent share of the global market. Exports from the US have increased 27 per cent in the last five years.


As The Independent reports, the number of major weapons switching hands around the world was up 14 per cent in the last five years, compared to the five years before that.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an independent resource on global security, has released a study that shows that India is the world's largest importer of arms.


The chart above shows that Asia was the main importer of weapons in the last five years, as the region races to arm itself ahead of its regional rivals: China and Pakistan. The high levels of Indian imports are also the result of its small domestic arms industry, which means it has to buy weapons from overseas.


Russia is the biggest supplier of arms to India, ahead of the US. But US imports there are growing. They were 11 times higher in 2011-2015 than 2006-2010.

Leaving us with one big (quite scary) question – why is India suddenly preparing for war?

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Get Shorty? PBOC Strengthens Yuan, Erases All RRR-Cut Swing

For the first time in six days, PBOC decided to strengthen the Yuan fix (+0.1% to 6.5385). This sent offshore Yuan surging back to pre-RRR-Cut levels, ensuring that (for the very short-term) speculators don’t get any ideas about piling into a Yuan short (again). This action followed the suspension of China’s Open Market Operations (due to lack of interest from traders).

Following this morning’s surprise RRR Cut, The PBOC decides now is the time to strengthen Yuan…


Wiping out the Yuan swing from today…


Let’s see how long this holds.

PBOC’s Chen had some comments on the matter (just don’t tell the Japanese)


In other words – Don’t short it, or else!

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The Long History of Government Meddling In The American Marketplace

Submitted by Mike Holly via The Mises Institute,

Although the causes of economic crises recurring throughout US history and often spreading worldwide can’t be proven using empirical means, oppressive government regulations favoring special interests in relevant industries have preceded every crisis.

Typically, cronyism involves support of politicians in exchange for regulations denying others the freedom to compete with the moneyed interests (e.g., monopolies). Less competition leads to higher costs and lower quality. It reduces economic growth, jobs, wages, innovation, and productivity. Attempts to control economic growth through government spending and/or manipulating interest rates (e.g., stimulate growth with low rates) generally leads to more severe crises.

None of these things are recent phenomena, but can be found again and again throughout American history.


After the Revolutionary War, when the agrarian economy was beginning to industrialize, politicians pursued British-style mercantilism, including colonialism, against natives and regulations blocking competition in banking and manufacturing. Financial panics and depressions resulted under a national bank in 1792 and from 1819–21 and state-regulated banks from 1837–43 and 1857–59.

The Civil War was a dispute between Republicans representing manufacturers in the North that blocked free trade with import tariffs against Europe, and Democrats representing agricultural plantations in the South that refused to replace slavery with mechanization using the North’s high-cost goods.


The “Gilded Age of Capitalism” shifted the economy from agriculture to industry led by “robber barons” who lobbied mostly Republicans. The government helped create railroad monopolies with low-interest loans, land grants, and special frontier privileges. The railroads formed a conglomerate that monopolized much of the rest of the economy by favoring large over small customers (e.g., Rockefeller’s Standard Oil over farmers), large suppliers (e.g., Carnegie Steel), and big banks (e.g., J.P. Morgan).

Both railroads and banking (with both national and state banks) were implicated in the severe financial panics from 1873–78 and 1893–97, occurring during the Long Depression of 1873–96, and another panic in 1901. Banking regulation led to the panic in 1907.

During the Progressive Era, the US used regulation to form many of today’s monopolies. From 1906 to 1910, Republicans led efforts to create state-regulated electricity and natural gas utility monopolies, and the Seven Sisters oil and physician oligopolies. In 1913, Democrats sanctioned the telephone monopoly and founded the Federal Reserve banking monopoly (i.e., which regulates the banks). After World War I, the Fed raised interest rates which led to the depression of 1920–21, which bankrupted many companies and led to manufacturing oligopolies, including in the automotive industry.

Thanks to these new frontiers in a regulated economy, by the 1920s, only 200 corporations controlled over half of all US industry and the richest 1 percent of the population owned 40 percent of the nation's wealth. As in recent times, the Fed responded by providing easy credit at low interest rates, which led to increased consumer and business debt, uneconomic and risky investments, and inflated assets, including stock prices (further increasing wealth disparity). After the Fed tried to raise interest rates, the result was the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929.


During the 1930s, the crash led to the Great Depression, the worst financial crisis in US history, and then spread from the world’s largest economy globally, albeit with less severity abroad. Democrats, led by President Roosevelt (FDR) and supported by bankers, agriculture, oil, and labor, tried to redistribute wealth by limiting competition through government takeovers, including trucking, airline, and housing industries, and restricting the supply of food and oil. This led to continued global depression and World War II, which was financed with debt.

Finally, the post-war boom or “Golden Age of Capitalism” saw a dismantling of wartime regulations and growing opportunities especially in manufacturing (like China today). During global rebuilding, the US became the world’s economic leader with about 4 percent annual growth, even with increasing interest rates, decreasing debt, and high taxes. Although wealth disparity was historically low, Democrats increased regulation of necessities, leading to today’s high costs.

FDR had taken money from taxpayers to subsidize home loans at low interest rates including guarantees from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) since 1934, and securitization by the Fannie Mae secondary mortgage monopoly since 1938 (and Democrats added Freddie Mac to form a duopoly in 1970). After the war, the subsidies led to unsustainable demand for more expensive and larger homes, urban sprawl, and a shortage of affordable housing.

FDR had also taken money from taxpayers to subsidize favored farm crops, which discouraged alternative crops. After 1946, Democrats increased subsidies leading to inflated prices for farmland. Since 1973, the US has subsidized food overproduction leading to dumped exports that retard agricultural and economic development in the developing world and uneconomical bio-fuels protected by tariffs against Brazilian ethanol (until 2012). FDR had led support for the nationalization of oil industries (e.g., Mexico), and military spending to defend dictators in oil-rich countries (e.g., Saudi Arabia).

In 1965, Democrats led nationalization of about half of health care purchasing through Medicare and Medicaid. These programs, and later Obamacare, subsidized increased demand while the supply of doctors and hospitals has been restricted. The resulting health care crisis led to skyrocketing costs nearly triple those of other developed countries.


The dreaded stagflation of the 1970s is considered tied for the second worst financial crisis in US history. The Fed responded to inflation by raising interest rates, leading to the Great Recession of the early 1980s, which led to the Savings and Loan Crisis, and spread as the Latin American Debt Crisis. Since then, the Fed has been lowering rates overall.

Meanwhile, politicians claimed to be trying to increase cost efficiency through privatization of public industries, and foster competition through partial deregulation of private industries. Worldwide, politicians allowed the monopolists to write the rules, including preferential bargain sales to cronies, which led to even nastier deregulated monopolies.

Deregulation was limited mainly to common carrier industries, including airlines in 1978, trucking in 1980, telecommunications in 1996, and electricity and natural gas utilities during the 1990s, and also banking in 1999. For example, states allowed utilities to design rigged trading schemes, gain preferential access to transport lines, and sell assets to affiliates for pennies on the dollar. Deregulation declined after manipulations led to the California Energy Crisis of 2000.


After the energy crises and bursting of the internet bubble in 2000, big business Republicans and big government Democrats practiced corporatism. The US House Budget Committee explains: “In too many areas of the economy — especially energy, housing, finance, and health care — free enterprise has given way to government control in partnership with a few large or politically well-connected companies.”

In 2003, regulations led to increased ethanol production from corn, but after that led to the 2007–08 Food Crisis, growth was stopped by mandates that the fuel be made from expensive-to-process cellulose.

Meanwhile, George W. Bush promoted home loans securitized through the Fannie and Freddie duopoly and the Fed’s big banks, while encouraging the Fed to lower interest rates, leading to a bubble in home ownership and prices. Soon after the Fed started raising rates, the bubble burst leading to the 2007–09 Subprime Mortgage Crisis, 2007–08 Financial Crisis (considered tied for the second worst financial crisis in US history), 2008–10 Automotive Crisis, and 2008–12 Global Recession.

In 2010, Dodd Frank gave politicians more oversight over the Fed’s big banks, increasing influence peddling, and risks of crises. The Fed has been loaning trillions of dollars at low interest rates to the big banks. Lower rates can encourage financial engineering, like mergers, which allow bankers and corporate executives to bleed profits from large corporations, who receive preferential tax treatment, especially abroad. Since 1998, the financial sector has spent over $6 billion lobbying Congress.

The Bank for International Settlements, or so-called “bank of central bankers,” warns another global debt crisis is coming, and the debt-trap is now even worse than before 2007. The US has led many nations to continue to lower interest rates and accumulating private and public debt. Now, a slowing economy could make the debt toxic and lead to a financial crisis that would be hastened as the Fed raises rates. The Bank warns: “It is unrealistic and dangerous to expect that monetary policy can cure all the global economy’s ills.”

Obamacare could allow bureaucracies to control patient treatments and prices, while lobbied by the industry. Since 1998, medical interests have spent over $6 billion lobbying Congress.

The Free Market Solution

Today, there is no party that favors true privatization or free markets. Republicans favor monopolization, while claiming support for free markets and blaming the Democrat’s high taxes and regulations for crises. Democrats favor nationalization, while blaming non-existent free markets for crises. Meanwhile, many Americans appear to be embracing the regulatory nationalism of crony capitalist Donald Trump or the democratic socialism of Bernie Sanders.

The solution, however, is simply to take as much power as possible out of the control of corruptible politicians and their special interest supporters.

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The Agriculture Space – The Meats (Video)

By EconMatters

We look at Live Cattle, Feeder Cattle, Lean Hogs, and Class III Milk Futures Markets in this video. We can learn the value of the technicals in analyzing these historically technically driven markets in this video. 


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Despite $1 Trillion In Liquidity, China Manufacturing & Services PMIs Plunge To Dec 2008 Lows

So, after $1 trillion in new credit, numerous RRR cuts, a devalued currency (great for exporters, right?), and the domestic exuberance of a housing bubble, China's economy (manufacturing and non-manufacturing) collapsed to cycle lows (weakest since Dec 08) in February. Of course, this plunge after January's bounce is all being blamed on the Lunar New Year… and in fact, according to The NBS, manufacturing confidence is increasing (seriously that's what they said!)


Does this look like "confidence" to you?


So to be clear – China Services PMI went from the highest since June 2014 to the lowest since Dec 2008 in one month.

It appears a trillion dollars doesn't go as far as it used to.

One can't help but wonder, following these comments from PBOC's Chen…


Whether this is some Fed-targeted dumping of bad data to allow turmoil and force The Fed to relent.

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Systemic “Fragility” Surges

With "significant" financial stress pervading the markets, it is hardly surprising that systemic risk concerns are rising rapidly. What we have been experiencing in markets this year, as BofA's FX team notes, is the impact of multiple shocks, at a time when central banks cannot come to the rescue, in a market that has been addicted to the central bank policy put. This leave cross-asset correlation soaring as shocks become larger leaving market fragility increasing.

With plenty of Tail risks lurking…

This year has been challenging for financial markets as potential tail risks seemingly rear their ugly heads every time there is any semblance of stability. We continue to expect that volatility could rise from any of the following events. Although these risks are not our base case, their possibilities must still be considered. Even if the probability of each of them materializing may be small, the probability that at least once of them materializes is higher.

1. China financial instability – the rapid debt growth over the past several years could destabilize the financial system if improperly managed.


2. Central bank policy exhaustion – the ineffectiveness of negative interest rate policy may be a sign that the market has become desensitized to monetary stimulus. Thus, central banks may become constrained in their ability to smooth volatility.


3. Credit cycle turning and US recession – deteriorating conditions in the credit market could create a credit crunch and lead to debt deflation. The Treasury curve may already be signaling a recession and the Fed could implement negative rates if the US economy weakens significantly. Furthermore, EPS growth is declining.


4. Brexit – an exit by the UK may have negative consequences for both confidence and growth throughout Europe.

"Significant Stress" has been reached…


And shocks are becoming larger and/or market fragility increasing…

The correlation of cross-asset volatility is increasing, suggesting instability in one market tends to bleed over to other markets.


This is concerning, as it implies that shocks are getting stronger and/or the global financial system is becoming more sensitive to them.

Indeed, rising correlations have coincided with every major crisis in the past two decades.

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Aussie Housing Bubble Bursts – Building Approvals Crash Most In 4 Years

Having admitted to entirely 'cooking the books' with its jobs data, it appears Australian authorities are going full kitchen-sink and 'allowing' all the dismally honest data out to the market (we assume in some desperate PR need to justify their next monetary policy experiment). Building Approvals fell 7.5% MoM in January, crashing 15.5% YoY (5 standard deviations below expectations)  – the biggest drop since April 2012 (and the 3rd month in a row of declines).

Sudden collapse…


This was below the lowest economist's estimate and was in fact a 5-sigma miss…


So why come clean now about the state of the housing bubble? As we noted when RBA admitted its fudged jobs data,

Simple: weakness in commodity prices "is far greater than people had been expecting,” Fraser said in earlier remarks to the panel. Australia is now "swimming against the tide" because of uncertainties in the global economy, he added.


Translation: "we need more easing, and to do that, the economy has to go from strong to crap."


And with the Australian economy suddenly desperate for lower rates from the RBA, one can ignore the propaganda lies, and focus once again on the far uglier truth.

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