When Hyman Minsky Runs For The Hills: Japan Central Bank To “Own” 100% Of GDP In 5 Years

Over two years ago, in “Japan’s WTF Chart” we showed where Japan lies on the sovereign debt-to-tax revenue continuum. The “where”, with a WTF-inducing 1900% sovereign debt/revenue, was essentially off the chart as it was nearly 5 times greater than the first runner up: Greece, with 400%. Naturally, that ratio is absolutely unsustainable and the second rates begin creeping higher, all bets are off, however the day of reckoning could be delayed if as we said two years before Japan’s insane QE was unveiled, the BOJ enter “hyprintspeed” and started monetizing debt at a pace that would make Hyman Minsky break out in a lunatic cackle.

One look at the chart below, which shows JPM’s estimate for various central bank holdings as a percent of host nation GDP, is enough to explain why that distant giggling is Hyman Minsky warming up… and he is running for the hills.

The reason: while as a result of its recent decision to double its monetary base in (every) two years Japan’s central bank now holds about 40% of local GDP on its books, it has precommited to seeing this percentage hit 60% over the next two years. But that’s jst the beginning.

As JPM’s Mike Cembalest points out, the “contingent” line is where the BOJ’s asset holdings as a % of GDP will rise to should Japan’s 2% inflation goal prove elusive. Did we say “contingent” – we meant definite. And as the line shows, the Bank of Japan will, for the first time in history, “own” all of Japan’s GDP on its balance sheet some time in 2018 when its “assets” as a percentage of GDP surpass 100%, and then proceed in linear fashion to add about 10% of GDP to its balance sheet with every passing year until everything inevitably comes crashing down.

What is most ironic here is that we still assorted carnival barkers and trolling nobel prize winning op-ed writers working for cash burning media outlets, bitching and moaning about the 90% “unsustainable threshold” level of sovereign debt to GDP. Um, standalone sovereign debt in a world with central banks means nothing.

A far more important question is what happens in a world in which the first official sovereign LBO by a central bank of a sovereign nation  (remember those fringe bloggers who said in 2009 the
Fed will keep failing up in its central-planning attempts to “fix” the
economy, and whose ridiculed opinions are now mainstream views?… We
do) is not just a mere conspiracy theory but just the lastest conspiracy fact.

So just what do Reinhort and Rogoff, or anyone else for that matter with 2 functioning neurons to rub together, think about a world in which a nation’s central bank owns more assets, and has thus created more cash and reserves, than all the good and services for its host nation, which it has then effectively LBOed… with debt created out of thin air and collateralized by what can only be defined as funny money.

We can’t wait to find out, and neither can the aforementioned Mr. Minsky, who if not running for the hills, is certainly spinning in his grave.

* * *

Some more thoughts on that absolute, circus-like clusterfuck with zero regard for the future that is happening in a very irradiated Japan, which at this point knows quite well it’s game over.

I saw the chart above on Japan’s balance sheet compared to the Fed and ECB in a research report from J.P. Morgan Securities last week (their October 11th Global Data Watch). One segment of the line on the chart shows what Japan has already committed to, and another segment showing where its balance sheet might go (“contingent”) if inflation expectations do not rise to the government’s 2% target in time. Japan’s planned massive increase in Central Bank holdings of government bonds looked huge and almost unnatural, like a picture I saw this week of a giant 20-foot oarfish discovered off Catalina Island. But this is exactly what Japan plans to do: liquefy the Japanese economy to the point where inflation expectations rise, and where owners of Japanese government bonds decide that real yields are so low that they either (a) buy riskier domestic assets, or (b) any foreign asset, which would weaken the Yen and presumably contribute to an export-led recovery. To propel more of (a), Japan is considering the creation of new investment accounts which allow citizens to contribute money whose subsequent gains are untaxed, but only if they are invested in equities (not bonds, cash or gold). Amazing.

Yup: the proverbial Bernanke chopper warming up now, somewhere in Tokyo.

Such a strategy is not riskless, of course. One I can think of: if the Yen collapses and oil/natural gas prices remain high, Japanese energy import costs may become intolerably high and threaten any recovery. All the more reason that Japan is going to be under increasing pressure to re-commission nuclear power, even as the situation in Fukushima deteriorates further. For a couple of decades, being underweight Japanese equities was a very reliable thing to do. For now, owning a normal allocation seems like the best course of action, as long as the Yen exposure can be hedged. Another rise in Japanese equities is going to be easier to engineer than a durable, consistent increase in Japanese growth and inflation; these are two very different things.

Since we’ve said all of this before, and frankly are tired of repeating ourselves, the only thing that needs clarification is what a 20-foot oarfish looks like. Here is the answer.


    



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Guest Post: The JPMorgan Problem Writ Large

Authored by Howard Davies, originally posted at Project Syndicate,

JPMorgan Chase has had a bad year. Not only has the bank just reported its first quarterly loss in more than a decade; it has also agreed to a tentative deal to pay $4 billion to settle claims that it misled the government-sponsored mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac about the quality of billions of dollars of low-grade mortgages that it sold to them. Other big legal and regulatory costs loom. JPMorgan will bounce back, of course, but its travails have reopened the debate about what to do with banks that are “too big to fail.”

In the United States, policymakers chose to include the Volcker rule (named after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker) in the Dodd-Frank Act, thereby restricting proprietary trading by commercial banks rather than reviving some form of the Glass-Steagall Act’s division of investment and retail banks. But Senators Elizabeth Warren and John McCain, a powerful duo, have returned to the fight. They argue that recent events have shown that JPMorgan is too big to be managed well, even by CEO Jamie Dimon, whose fiercest critics do not accuse him of incompetence.

Nonetheless, the Warren-McCain bill is unlikely to be enacted soon, if only because President Barack Obama’s administration is preoccupied with keeping the government open and paying its bills, while bipartisan agreement on what day of the week it is, let alone on further financial reform, cannot be guaranteed. But the question of what to do about huge, complex, and seemingly hard-to-control universal banks that benefit from implicit state support remains unresolved.

The “school solution,” agreed at the Financial Stability Board in Basel, is that global regulators should clearly identify systemically significant banks and impose tougher regulations on them, with more intensive supervision and higher capital ratios. That has been done.

Initially, 29 such banks were designated, together with a few insurers – none of which like the company that they are obliged to keep! There is a procedure for promotion and relegation, like in national football leagues, so the number fluctuates periodically. Banks on the list must keep higher reserves, and maintain more liquidity, reflecting their status as systemically important institutions. They must also prepare what are colloquially known as “living wills,” which explain how they would be wound down in a crisis – ideally without taxpayer support.

But, while all major countries are signed up to this approach, many of them think that more is needed. The US now has its Volcker rule (though disputes between banks and regulators about just how to define it continue). Elsewhere, more intrusive rules are being implemented, or are under consideration.

In the United Kingdom, the government created the Vickers Commission to recommend a solution. Its members proposed that universal banks be obliged to set up ring-fenced retail-banking subsidiaries with a much higher share of equity capital. Only the retail subsidiaries would be permitted to rely on the central bank for lender-of-last-resort support.

A version of the Vickers Commission’s recommendations, which is somewhat more flexible than its members proposed, is in a banking bill currently before Parliament. A number of MPs want to impose tighter restrictions, and it is difficult to find anyone who will speak up for the banks, so some form of the bill is likely to pass, and big British banks will have to divide their operations and their capital.

The UK has decided to take action before any Europe-wide solution is agreed. We British are still members of the European Union (at least for the time being), but sometimes our politicians forget that. Sometimes they simply lose patience with the difficulty of agreeing on changes in negotiations that involve 28 countries, which seems especially true of financial reform, given that many of these countries are not home to systemically important banks and probably never will be.

But EU institutions have not been entirely inactive. The European Commission asked an eminent-persons group, chaired by Erkki Liikanen, the head of the Finnish central bank, to examine this issue on a European scale.

The group’s report, published in October 2012, came to a similar conclusion as the Vickers Commission concerning the danger of brigading retail and investment banking activities in the same legal entity, and recommended separating the two. The proposal mirrors the UK plan – the investment-banking and trading arms, not the retail side, would be ring-fenced – but the end point would be quite similar.

But the European Banking Federation has dug in its heels, describing the recommendations as “completely unnecessary.” The European Commission asked for comments, and its formal position is that it is considering them along with the reports.

That consideration may take some time; indeed, it may never end. Germany’s government seems to have little appetite for breaking up Deutsche Bank, and the French have taken a leaf from the British book and implemented their own reform. The French plan looks more like a Gallic version of the Volcker rule than Vickers “à la française.” It is far less rigorous than the banks feared, given President François Hollande’s fiery rhetoric in his electoral campaign last year, in which he anathematized the financial sector as the true “enemy.”

So we now have a global plan, of sorts, supplemented by various home-grown solutions in the US, the UK, and France, with the possibility of a European plan that would also differ from the others. In testimony to the UK Parliament, Volcker gently observed that “Internationalizing some of the basic regulations [would make] a level playing field. It is obviously not ideal that the US has the Volcker rule and [the UK has] Vickers…”

He was surely right, but “too big to fail” is another area in which the initial post-crisis enthusiasm for global solutions has failed. The unfortunate result is an uneven playing field, with incentives for banks to relocate operations, whether geographically or in terms of legal entities. That is not the outcome that the G-20 – or anyone else – sought back in 2009.

 



    



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Unlike America, China Is Embracing Bold Reform

The contrast of the past week has been telling. In the U.S., you’ve had the yawn-fest otherwise known as the debt ceiling debate. All too predictably, the Republicans caved because their politicians will be up for re-election soon enough whereas Obama won’t be (he can only serve two terms). It wasn’t hard to work out the endgame in advance, despite all the hoopla, and the markets nailed it from day one.

What’s received far less attention is the rise of the Chinese yuan to a 20-year high versus the U.S. dollar. That’s big news, comparable to the U.S. debt ceiling resolution. And it may have a hugely beneficial impact not only on China, but the rest of the world.

The reason for this is that significant yuan undervaluation was one of the key drivers behind the 2008 financial crisis. It allowed China to become an exporting powerhouse. For that to happen though, China needed willing consumers for its exported goods and it found them in developed markets, particularly the U.S. Given stagnant real incomes, American consumers were only too happy to rack up debts to pay for these goods. And those debts eventually brought the U.S., and the world, unstuck.

Now China is actively pursuing a strong yuan policy. The reason that it’s doing this is because the country’s exporters are strong enough to withstand a higher yuan. And more importantly, China knows that it needs to re-balance its economy, which has been over-reliant on exports at the expense of consumption. A stronger currency promotes consumption as it allows the Chinese to import cheaper foreign goods and enjoy less expensive overseas holidays.

A rising yuan is not only good for China though. It also goes a long way to removing a central problem in global trade: that of a significant trade imbalance between China and America.

Today I’m going to further explore why a rising yuan is such a big deal. But also why it isn’t a cure-all for China’s problems, or the world’s for that matter. The development should be welcomed though as genuinely good news in an otherwise downbeat global economic environment.

Economic fault lines

At the outset, I must confess something: I’ve developed a bit of a man-crush. It’s embarrassing because I’m not naturally inclined to put people up on a pedestal. But India’s new central bank chief Raghuram Rajan deserves many of the accolades which he’s already received.

Rajan is relevant to the discussion because of his book, Fault Lines, published in 2011. Reading through the book this week, it does a great job of outlining the underlying issues which caused the financial crisis and remain threats to the world economy today.

For those that don’t know, Rajan is famous for warning of impending economic problems at the glamorous (at least by economist standards) Jackson Hole conference in 2005. His speech went down like a lead balloon then as Alan Greenspan was still at the height of his powers and the world could seemingly do no wrong. Or at least that’s what everyone thought, bar Rajan.

Rajan

Anyhow, the book details a number of the key threads from the 2005 speech. It suggests that there were four primary causes for the 2008 crisis:

  • Rising inequality and the push for housing credit in the U.S.
  • Export-led growth and dependency of several countries including China, Japan and Germany.
  • A clash of cultures between developed and developing countries.
  • U.S central bank policy pandering to political considerations by focusing on jobs and inflation at any cost.

The first cause is fascinating as it’s one that few people have focused on. Rajan suggests that rising income inequality in America created the political pressure to push easy credit conditions. Everyone knows of the increasing inequality in the U.S. but Rajan has a unique take on it, placing the blame on a poor education system and inadequate social safety nets.

Technological progress has meant that the labor force requires ever-greater skills which the U.S. education system has been unable to provide. That’s resulted in stagnant paychecks for the middle class and growing job insecurity. Politicians have felt the pain of their constituents but fixing the education system is a long-term solution which they’ve been unwilling to promote. Instead, they’ve opted for short-term fixes. Namely, they created the conditions for easier credit so their constituents could afford things via debt which they couldn’t afford via their own incomes. That ultimately contributed to the subprime and housing crisis.

This brings us to the second cause for the 2008 meltdown: the export-led growth of several countries including China. Normally, debt-fueled consumption in the likes of the U.S. would push up prices and inflation there. Then the central bank would have to raise rates to stem the consumption.

But what happened prior to 2008 was that increased U.S. household consumption was met by exporters from abroad. China, Japan and Germany needed other countries to consume their excess supply of goods and the U.S. came to the party. It was a win for the exporters and a win for the U.S. as it kept a lid on inflation. That is until high household indebtedness in the U.S. limited further demand growth and everything eventually unraveled.

Rajan describes the third cause of the crisis as a “clash of systems”. Here, he examines what pushed many developing countries towards export-oriented economic models. And he suggests the 1997 Asian crisis played a key role.

Prior to the this crisis, Asian countries weren’t net exporters. Yes, they produced exports sold overseas. But their strong growth entailed substantial investment in machin
ery and equipment, often imported from the likes of Germany. That meant they often ran trade deficits, having to partially fund their investments via borrowing from abroad.

The financing for the investment mainly came from the developed world. Given the lack of transparency in many Asian countries, these financiers were only willing to lend on a short-term basis. When trouble hit, that short-term financing evaporated. And the Asian crisis ensued.

Due to the crisis, Asian countries decided to cut back on debt-fueled investment. Instead, they focused on boosting exports by maintaining undervalued currencies. In other words, they went from being net importers to substantial net exporters, thereby creating the conditions for a global glut in goods.

Finally to the fourth cause of the 2008 downturn. Rajan says U.S. central bank policy poured fuel on the flames. The bank pandered to politicians wishes by keeping interest rates too low for too long. They did this to maintain high employment, one of the bank’s two central mandates. Note that keeping people in jobs was critical to assuage the masses given the stagnant incomes and inadequate social safety nets in the U.S. But low interest rates, ably aided by greedy financiers, helped create the credit bubble.

Rajan believes the four underlying causes for the 2008 crisis are still with us today and they need to be addressed if we’re to avoid further trouble.

Let’s now draw the discussion back to the significance of a rising yuan.

The impact on China

The undervaluation of the Chinese yuan didn’t only contribute to the global problems which precipitated 2008. It also created enormous issues within China itself, many of which are still with us.

I’ve argued previously that China’s 50% devaluation of the yuan in 1994 was a critical event in recent economic history. It was one of several devaluations and resulted in a significantly undervalued yuan. That undoubtedly aided in China becoming the world’s largest exporter. The country’s entry into the World Trade Organisation in 2001 also kicked things along.

But an undervalued yuan created a long list of problems for China, including:

  1. An over-reliance on investment and exports at the expense of consumption. An undervalued yuan meant more expensive imports and more expensive overseas holidays, among other things.
  2. Negative real interest rates. Keeping an undervalued currency via a peg to the dollar meant sterilising excess yuan creation and maintaining rates below the dollar interest rate in order to avoid huge losses on dollar reserves. That pushed people out of low-yield bank deposits into stocks and property, creating bubbles in these areas.
  3. A side effect from the policies was that state-owned banks tended to lend mainly to state-own businesses as they were deemed less risky. This starved the private sector of funds and ultimately made them less competitive. It also led to alternative financing, such as the recent phenomenon of “wealth management” products.

These issues haven’t disappeared. Far from it. But the underlying issue – an undervalued yuan – is being addressed.

Welcoming a rising yuan

The above provides some context to the yuan rising to 20-year highs versus the U.S. dollar over the past week. It represents a dramatic change in Chinese policy. The country’s leaders know that the export-led economic model which has powered China over the past two decades isn’t sustainable. A stronger yuan will help re-balance the economy, with consumption becoming a larger contributor to growth.

china-currency

Chinese leaders are also in the process of addressing other related issues. You should to see more on this at a key meeting of Communist Party leaders next month.

As I outlined in a previous post, likely reforms at this meeting include:

  1. The central government taking over key expenditure functions of local governments, including social security, compulsory education and parts of healthcare. The thinking is that there’s a substantial skew in revenue and expenditures of central and regional governments. Currently, local governments account for 52% of total fiscal revenue but 85% of expenditure. Spending at the local government level has spiked from 46% of total to the current 85%. That’s why these local governments have had to borrow money and why they’ve resorted to off-balance sheet vehicles.
  2. Local governments at the provincial level being allowed to issue bonds. And this financing will replace the problematic local government finance vehicle (LGFV).
  3. Financial liberalisation – interest rate liberalisation and RMB internationalisation.
  4. Hukou (resident-ship reform) being opened to small and medium-sized cities as well as a relaxation of the one-child policy.

A stronger yuan and related reforms can help put China on a more sustainable economic path. But it can also assist the global economy. With China consuming more of its production, that may mean less goods being sent overseas. That could go some way to addressing the current oversupply in goods. In other words, it could remove a key impediment to a global economic recovery.

More work to be done

All of this isn’t to suggest that China is out of the woods . It isn’t. For instance, the GDP figures of the past week show that debt-funded investment remains the key driver to growth. That needs to change and further reform is required.

I’m not as optimist
ic as some commentators are that the transition to a new economic model will happen fast enough to prevent serious short-term pain for China. But I’m not as pessimistic as others who suggest China will go the way of Japan, which encountered similar issues as a dominant exporter in the 1980s but failed to re-balance its economy. It’s likely that China still has some time to avoid the fate of Japan.

And though a rising yuan reduces some of the global economic imbalances highlighted by Rajan, significant imbalances still remain. Japan is trying to export its way out of deflation by turning the yen into toilet paper. Germany is also committed to its export-oriented model. That means the global supply glut is unlikely to rapidly diminish, even if Chinese export growth slows from a higher yuan.

At the other end of the spectrum, reform in the U.S. is as elusive as ever. Central bankers there seem determined to reflate debt-driven consumerism. The politicians are happy to go along with this as it placates disgruntled voters, whose real wages haven’t risen over the past 20 years and worry about losing their jobs. The debt ceiling debate largely ignored these inconvenient truths.

In sum, the world’s economic problems remain acute but a stronger yuan is a welcome step forward.

This post was originally published at Asia Confidential:
http://asiaconf.com/2013/10/19/china-is-embracing-bold-reform/


    



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4 Things To Ponder This Weekend

Submitted by Lance Roberts of STA Wealth Management,

 


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/rQu3lfzDhrc/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Goldman: Entire S&P Move Higher Is Due To Multiple Expansion; Shiller P/E Says 30% Overvalued So… Buy

While it has been a stretch to call Bernanke’s post-2009 experiment in “wealth-effect” central planning (where in 2013 the Russell 2000 has outperformed the composite hedge fund by a factor of over 500%!) a “market”, here are some of the latest market thoughts by Goldman’s David Kostin.

US stocks surged to an all-time high of 1745 following the debt accord. The S&P 500 has returned 22% YTD driven almost entirely by P/E multiple expansion rather than higher earnings.

In other words, there has been zero actual bottom line improvement in 2013. Zilch. Nada. All this despite so many loud promises by every pundit in late 2012 that 2013 will be the year of the turn, just wait, you’ll see. It also means there has been zero “fundamental” component to the upside. All of it is multiple expansion. What’s another name for that? Why, “the Fed.”

Bearishly inclined investors will point to the cyclically-adjusted P/E ratio popularized by newly-crowned Nobel laureate Robert Shiller that suggests the S&P 500 is roughly 30% overvalued based on 10-year trailing average reported EPS.

“30% overvalued” by a person who just won the Nobel prize for saying the market is irrational and creates bubbles? You don’t say. Why is a perfect segue into the final Goldman notice:

We forecast the index will climb to 1750 by year-end 2013, a slim advance less than 1% above today’s level. Our year-end 2014 price target remains 1900 or 9% above the current level. S&P 500 trades at 2.6x price/book value. From a valuation perspective, the index level is consistent with the market’s current return on equity (ROE) of 15.5%, and in-line with the 35-year average P/B.

To summarize Goldman:

  • All upside is multiple expansion-driven, i.e. relentless Fed pumping of risks as the final bubble grows to unprecedented proportions,
  • A market which even tenured economists say is a disaster waiting to happen.
  • But hey, the music is still playing so everyone must dance all the way until Goldman’s 2100 target… in 2015.

All of this has come and gone before, but since this time will be different, one can just ignore the recurring past.

And, finally, some charts:


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/iGCUwpbBu0Y/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Goldman: Entire S&P Move Higher Is Due To Multiple Expansion; Shiller P/E Says 30% Overvalued So… Buy

While it has been a stretch to call Bernanke’s post-2009 experiment in “wealth-effect” central planning (where in 2013 the Russell 2000 has outperformed the composite hedge fund by a factor of over 500%!) a “market”, here are some of the latest market thoughts by Goldman’s David Kostin.

US stocks surged to an all-time high of 1745 following the debt accord. The S&P 500 has returned 22% YTD driven almost entirely by P/E multiple expansion rather than higher earnings.

In other words, there has been zero actual bottom line improvement in 2013. Zilch. Nada. All this despite so many loud promises by every pundit in late 2012 that 2013 will be the year of the turn, just wait, you’ll see. It also means there has been zero “fundamental” component to the upside. All of it is multiple expansion. What’s another name for that? Why, “the Fed.”

Bearishly inclined investors will point to the cyclically-adjusted P/E ratio popularized by newly-crowned Nobel laureate Robert Shiller that suggests the S&P 500 is roughly 30% overvalued based on 10-year trailing average reported EPS.

“30% overvalued” by a person who just won the Nobel prize for saying the market is irrational and creates bubbles? You don’t say. Why is a perfect segue into the final Goldman notice:

We forecast the index will climb to 1750 by year-end 2013, a slim advance less than 1% above today’s level. Our year-end 2014 price target remains 1900 or 9% above the current level. S&P 500 trades at 2.6x price/book value. From a valuation perspective, the index level is consistent with the market’s current return on equity (ROE) of 15.5%, and in-line with the 35-year average P/B.

To summarize Goldman:

  • All upside is multiple expansion-driven, i.e. relentless Fed pumping of risks as the final bubble grows to unprecedented proportions,
  • A market which even tenured economists say is a disaster waiting to happen.
  • But hey, the music is still playing so everyone must dance all the way until Goldman’s 2100 target… in 2015.

All of this has come and gone before, but since this time will be different, one can just ignore the recurring past.

And, finally, some charts:


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/iGCUwpbBu0Y/story01.htm Tyler Durden

The Poverty Of The American Political Theater Of The Absurd

Submited by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

The Poverty Of Our Political Theater Of The Absurd  

The public sphere has been effectively stripped of everything but corny, irritatingly hammy political theater.

All we have left in the U.S. is a deeply impoverishing Political Theater of the Absurd. Policy, theory and governance have all been reduced to competing stage performances in the Theater of the Absurd. The actors are transparently given to farcical overacting in exaggerated dramas drained of meaning; they proceed through the cliched motions as if the audience hadn’t seen the same charades overplayed dozens of times before.

“Government shutdown” and “debt ceiling” may have engaged audiences starved for entertainment in a bygone age, but now they exemplify a theater that is so impoverished it can only re-stage tired formulaic dramas with a savage appetite for incompetence and buffoonery.

The poverty of this substitution of theater for actual ideas is best displayed by ObamaCare. The entire complex edifice of ObamaCare is not an expression of policy–it is simply the perfection of state complicity with a private cartel that increases its share of the national income regardless of which set of bad actors are on stage.

As for the alternative “policy,” it is nothing but a reversion to the pre-ObamaCare cartel-state arrangement that artlessly combines gross injustice, insensitivity to cost and insane incentives for fraud, skimming, defensive medicine and the pursuit of national chronic ill health as the most profitable state of existence.

That these two variations on state-cartel predation pass for “policy” is a clear indication of the absolute impoverishment of American political/social/economic ideas. We are adrift in a political order that glorifies and rewards overacted farce and punishes policy grounded in actual ideas rather than the theatrical trends of the day.

The public sphere has been effectively stripped of everything but corny, irritatingly hammy political theater. The players, bereft of talent and inspiration, chosen for their blind obedience to those benefiting from the eradication of ideas and the replaying of tiresome charades, are blind to the poverty of their performance and political theatrics.

Will the audience ever tire of this cheesy Theater of the Absurd? It seems the appetite of the American public for this sort of play-acting entertainment is essentially bottomless. As a result, so too is our poverty.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/hWfziOUP5z4/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Dollar Breaks Down

The re-opening of the US government after a 16-day shutdown sparked a sell-off in the US dollar that has deteriorated the near-term technical outlook.  The combination of setting the stage for a repeat of the brinkmanship in early 2014 and the recognition that the Fed’s long-term asset purchases are unlikely to be slowed this year, provides the fundamental backdrop.  

 

The prospect of unabated asset purchases by the Federal Reserve favor risk assets.  It will likely reinforce the flow into Spanish and Italian assets, and European distressed asset more broadly, including Greek bonds and stocks.   The recovery in emerging markets can continue, even if more selectively.  Here, South Korea, Taiwan and India have stood out in recent weeks. 

 

Another key characteristic of the price action is the continued decline in implied volatility.  The 3-month implied euro volatility has fallen to new six-year lows even as the euro appeared to break out of its month long consolidation range.  Implied yen volatility has fallen below 10% for the first time since January.  It peaked near 16.4% in June.  

 

The implied volatility of the other major currencies is also trending lower.  The implied volatility of sterling is approaching 5-month lows it falls through 7%.   Near 8%, three-month implied Aussie volatility is at the lowest level since mid-May and the 5.5% implied volatility of the Canadian dollar has not been seen since mid-year.  To the extent that risk is defined as volatility, the lower implied currency volatility is conducive to greater risk taking and a reduced need (and cost) to hedge.    

 

The euro is approached the year’s high, set in early February near $1.3711, though stopped just shy of it.  Assuming this is breached next week, the next target is near $1.40.  The main caveat from our technical analysis is that the euro closed above the top of its Bollinger Band (two standard deviations above the 20-day moving average) two consecutive sessions at the end of last week.  

 

Even though the returns in the foreign exchange market are not normally distributed,  arguably undermining the value of such concepts as standard deviations in the first, it is still a rare occurrence. It did take place this year in June and September and although neither time marked a significant high, there was at least a cent pullback.  This would seem to argue against chasing the euro at the start of the week and look for a pullback into the $1.3590-$1.3615 area as a lower risk buying opportunity.  

 

Sterling does not appear as over-extended as the euro, but its gains do not appear to have been confirmed by the Relative Strength Index.  The high set at the start of the month near $1.6260 is the next immediate target, and over the slightly longer term, potential extends toward $1.6400.  We peg initial support near $1.6100 and $1.6060.  

 

The dollar is making a third lower high against the yen since peaking in late-May near JPY103.75.  The dollar briefly poked through JPY99.00 on October 17, then it reversed lower and closed below the previous day’s low.  Follow through selling was seen the next day and the greenback finished the week at six-day lows.  The market appears to be set to re-test the 200-day moving average that had been successfully tested on the October 7-9.  It is found near JPY97.15.  Below there, the JPY96.50-70 band is reasonable near-term objective.   Lending credence to this negative dollar-yen view, the US interest rate premium over Japan has slipped below 200 bp to its lowest level in nearly three weeks.  

 

The price action at the end of last week also negated the bottoming pattern that the dollar had appeared to be carving out.  The low for the year was set on October 3 near CHF0.8970 and although the dollar held just above there before the weekend, near-term potential extends toward CHF0.8880-CHF0.8930.  That said, the Swiss franc many under-perform in the period ahead as some will prefer it as the short-leg of carry positions, especially against the Australian and New Zealand dollars. 

 

The US dollar posted an outside up-day against the Canadian dollar on Tuesday, only to reverse lower Wednesday and experience follow through selling into the weekend.  Still, the Canadian dollar was the worst performing of the major currencies last week, gaining only 0.6% against the greenback.  A break of the CAD1.0270 area could signal a move toward CAD1.02.  

 

However, the Canadian dollar still looks poised to lag behind the other dollar-bloc currencies.   The other dollar-bloc currencies are in strong uptrends against the Canadian dollar and these moves still appear to have room to run.  The Australian dollar is testing the CAD0.9945 area and, a convincing break, could signal a move toward CAD1.0125.  For its part, the New Zealand dollar is set to test the year’s high near CAD0.8780, which is also an eight-year high.  A convincing break suggests technical potential toward CAD0.9000.  

 

The Australian dollar, like the euro, finished the last week with two consecutive closes above the top of the Bollinger band.    This has not taken place since April and marked an important high.  While this time is seems different, rather than chase the Aussie higher, look for momentum players to buy into a half to a full cent decline.  The next immediate objective is near $0.9715 area, which corresponds to a 50% retracement of the decline since the April high, and then $0.9800.     

 

The Mexican peso has appreciated by about 4.4% against the US dollar since October 3.  However, the inside trading day record on October 18 may suggest a near-term consolidation phase lies ahead.  With a base near MXN12.75, the dollar can rise toward MXN12.93 initially.  The MXN13.00 area may provide a stronger cap.  Expectations of building for a rate cut at the end of next week.  We note that the other two times that the central bank has cut interest rates this year, the peso has rallied in response.  

 

Due to the government shutdown, the Commitment of Traders report on positioning in CME currency futures is still unavailable. 


    



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