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Has China Finally Lifted its Thumb off of Gold?

Has China Finally Lifted its Thumb off of Gold?

There’s a lot of talk about the Yuan price of gold falling out of a price suppression channel.  Both Zerohedge and Nomura have weighed in on this.

The Yuan price of gold surged overnight to above CNY 8500 per ounce which is a major breakdown  But it’s also indicative of something that has long been suspected during this gold bear market.

China doesn’t want the price of gold to rise.  Those accumulating gold — China and Russia — have zero incentive to accumulate at higher prices.   And the gold chart of the last three years bears out that they have had to come in at higher prices on pullbacks because market bottoms keep coming in higher and higher.

The 2015 low was around $1050.  2016 at $1146.  2017 the low after a pullback in July couldn’t breach $1208 during a strong post-U.S. election rally.  This year the price was briefly pushed below $1200 in the longest downtrend of the seven year bear market but has since popped back over $1230 with its sights now set on  $1250.

China may have no choice here but to let the price of gold rise.  Because conditions in other markets are changing rapidly.  So, ultimately, what China wants really may not matter anymore.

Remember, the eurodollar markets broke in late May this year as Jeffrey Snider at Alhambra Partners reminds us daily.

The PBoC cut the reserve ratio again recently to free up liquidity in Chinese banks but it doesn’t seem to have stemmed the tide.  And that’s why it has continually loosened the Yuan fix rate, now approaching 7 vs. the U.S. dollar.

Offshore dollar markets are the pool of real savings in the global economy and it determines where we are headed.  And the offshore dollar hoarders are pulling out of China… and Europe… and Japan…. and South America.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Spanish Yields Blow Out Amid Italy Contagion As Italian Banks Scramble For Dollar Funding

Contagion from the recent surge in Italian yields has spread, and is hitting Spanish 10Y yields which over the past 3 days have blown out from 1.65% to as high as 1.82% this morning, before paring some of the move, printing at 1.77% last which is still the highest level since October 2017.

There are also Spain-specific news that have pushed yields wider, to wit yesterday’s ruling by the nation’s Supreme Court they must pay a one-time tax of about 1% on mortgage loans that traditionally was passed to their clients. The report sent Spanish banks tumbling as much as 6.3% at Banco de Sabadell while banking giant BBVA dropped 1.8%, thanks to its larger international business that cushions the impact of the ruling.

The Supreme Court revised an earlier ruling, deciding now that the levy on documenting mortgage loans must be paid by the lenders, and since mortgages are one of the biggest businesses for domestic banks, analysts have been grappling with how big the hit to income would be. As Bloomberg notes, the sentence is one of a string from Spanish and European Union courts in recent years in favor of home buyers and at the expense of banks.

“The decision implies a severe setback for the Spanish financial system and joy for every mortgage-payer, who might get back a significant amount” of money, said Fernando Encinar, head of research at property website Idealista. In the short term, banks will likely raise their mortgage arrangement fees to compensate for their new cost, he said.

The levy is applied to the mortgage guarantee – the loan amount plus possible foreclosure costs – and could be roughly 1,500 euros ($1,728) on a 180,000-euro loan in Madrid, according to Angel Mejias, an attorney at M de Santiago Abogados in the capital.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Dow Has Fallen Nearly 1,500 Points From The Peak Of The Market, And Many Believe This “October Panic” Is Just Beginning…

The Dow Has Fallen Nearly 1,500 Points From The Peak Of The Market, And Many Believe This “October Panic” Is Just Beginning…

We haven’t had an October like this in a very long time.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down another 327 points on Thursday, and overall the Dow is now down close to 1,500 points from the peak of the market.  Unlike much of the rest of the world, it is still too early to say that the U.S. is facing a new “financial crisis”, but if stocks continue to plunge like this one won’t be too far away.  And as you will see below, many believe that what we have seen so far is just the start of a huge wave of selling.  Of course it would be extremely convenient for Democrats if stocks did crash, because it would give them a much better chance of doing well in the midterm elections.  This is the most heated midterm election season that I can ever remember, and what U.S. voters choose to do at the polls in November is going to have very serious implications for the immediate future of our country.

After a very brief rally earlier in the week, stocks have been getting hammered again.  The S&P 500 has now fallen for 9 out of the last 11 trading sessions, and homebuilder stocks have now fallen for 19 of the last 22 trading sessions.  It was a “sea of red” on Thursday, and some of the stocks that are widely considered to be “economic bellwethers” were among those that got hit the hardest

Several stocks seen as economic bellwethers fell sharply in the U.S., including United Rentals and Textron, which dropped at least 11 percent each. Snap-on and Caterpillar, meanwhile, fell 9.6 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Loonie Tumbles To 6-Week Lows After Inflation, Retail Sales Slump

The loonie has tumbled to six-week lows (above 1.31/USD) following dismal prints for retail sales and inflation this morning.

Against expectations of a 0.1% rise MoM, Canadian core retail sales slumped 0.4% MoM in August. This is the first drop in retail sales since 2017…

Worse still was consumer price inflation plunged in September, dropping 0.4% MoM, deflating for the second month in a row…

We suspect this is not helped by the collapse in Western Canada Select prices…

And the biggest reaction so far is in the Loonie…

But, on the bright side, weed is legal now, eh?!

Stock Market Crash of 1987

Stock Market Crash of 1987

The first contemporary global financial crisis unfolded on October 19, 1987, a day known as “Black Monday” when the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 22.6 percent.

American newspaper headlines describing the stock market plunge of October 19, 1987

Composite of newspaper headlines reporting the Stock Market Crash of 1987 (Associated Press)


Implosion of Stock Market Double-Bubble in China Hits New Lows, Authorities Busy Elsewhere Keeping China Miracle from Unraveling

Implosion of Stock Market Double-Bubble in China Hits New Lows, Authorities Busy Elsewhere Keeping China Miracle from Unraveling

Bigger issues than propping up the stock market beckon.

Today, the Shanghai Composite Index dropped another 2.9% to 2,486.42. In the bigger picture, that’s quite an accomplishment:

  • Lowest since November 27, 2014, nearly four years ago
  • Down 30% from its recent peak on January 24, 2018, (3,559.47)
  • Down 52% from its last bubble peak on June 12, 2015 (5,166)
  • Down 59% from its all-time bubble peak on October 16, 2007 (6,092)
  • And back where it had first been on December 27, 2006, nearly 12 years ago.

The chart of the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index (SSE) shows the 2015-bubble and its implosion, followed by a rise from the January-2016 low, which had been endlessly touted in the US as the next big buying opportunity to lure US investors into the China miracle. Investors who swallowed this hype got crushed again:

Over the longer view, the implosion is even more spectacular. Today’s close puts the SSE back where it had first been nearly 12 years ago, on December 27, 2007. This dynamic has created a double-bubble and a double-implosion, with every recovery rally in between getting finally wiped out. The index is now down 59% from its all-time high in October 2007, the super-hype era in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

It is not often that a stock market of one of the largest economies in the world is whipped into two frenetically majestic bubbles that implode back to levels first seen 12 years earlier – despite inflation in the currency in which these stocks are denominated.

During the 2015 implosion, there had been big efforts by Chinese authorities to prevent the market from collapsing further, ranging from arresting wrong-headed market participants to forcing large brokerages and funds to buy the shares.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Italy’s Debt Crisis Thickens

Italy’s Debt Crisis Thickens

But outside Italy, credit markets are sanguine, and no one says, “whatever it takes.”

Italy’s government bonds are sinking and their yields are spiking. There are plenty of reasons, including possible downgrades by Moody’s and/or Standard and Poor’s later this month. If it is a one-notch downgrade, Italy’s credit rating will be one notch above junk. If it is a two-notch down-grade, as some are fearing, Italy’s credit rating will be junk. That the Italian government remains stuck on its deficit-busting budget, which will almost certainly be rejected by the European Commission, is not helpful either. Today, the 10-year yield jumped nearly 20 basis points to 3.74%, the highest since February 2014. Note that the ECB’s policy rate is still negative -0.4%:

But the current crisis has shown little sign of infecting other large Euro Zone economies. Greek banks may be sinking in unison, their shares down well over 50% since August despite being given a clean bill of health just months earlier by the ECB, but Greece is no longer systemically important and its banks have been zombies for years.

Far more important are Germany, France and Spain — and their credit markets have resisted contagion. A good indicator of this is the spread between Spanish and Italian 10-year bonds, which climbed to 2.08 percentage points last week, its highest level since December 1997, before easing back to 1.88 percentage points this week.

Much to the dismay of Italy’s struggling banks, the Italian government has also unveiled plans to tighten tax rules on banks’ sales of bad loans in a bid to raise additional revenues. The proposed measures would further erode the banks’ already flimsy capital buffers and hurt their already scarce cash reserves. And ominous signs are piling up that a run on large bank deposits in Italy may have already begun.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Oil Markets Tremble As Chinese Stocks Crash

Oil Markets Tremble As Chinese Stocks Crash

China Yuan

China’s stock market fell sharply on Thursday, dragged down by a range of concerns that should offer a warning to the broader global economy.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell nearly 3 percent on Thursday, falling to its lowest point in nearly four years. The problems in China are dragging down markets across Asia, including in Japan and South Korea.

The Shanghai Composite is now down more than 25 percent since the start of the year, and is down more than 10 percent in the last three weeks alone. Viewed another way, the Chinese stock market has lost more than $3 trillion in the last six months.

(Click to enlarge)

Shanghai Composite Index, last 12 months

The troubling thing about the recent declines is that the factors driving the losses are multiple. The trade war with the United States, mountains of debt held by local governments within China, a broader slowdown in growth, a weakening yuan and high oil prices are all creating headwinds for the Chinese economy.

China’s central bank said that it still has plenty of tools that it could use defend against the trade war. Looser reserve requirements took effect a few days ago, a move the central bank made to inject money into the economy.

The IMF says that China’s GDP growth could slow from 6.6 percent this year to just 6.2 percent in 2019, although the risks are skewed to the downside because of the trade war. The Fund said that a worst-case scenario in which the U.S. slaps stiff tariffs on nearly all imports from China would shave off 1.6 percentage points from Chinese growth.

China won’t see any relief from the U.S. Federal Reserve. Minutes of the Fed’s last meeting in late September were released on Wednesday, and they reveal a determination on the part of the central bank to continue to tighten interest rates.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“One Size Fits Germany” Math Impossibility, Get Your Money Out of Italy Now!

Italy, on the Euro, has a currency that is 9% too high. Germany, on the Euro, has a currency that is 11% too low.

There was much discussion yesterday about the US Treasury report that determined China was not a currency manipulator.

However, there are six countries on the manipulation watch list: China, Japan, Korea, India, Germany, and Switzerland.

  • Japan, Germany, and Korea have met two of the three criteria in every Report since the April 2016 Report having material current account surpluses combined with significant bilateral trade surpluses with the United States.
  • Germany has the world’s largest current account surplus in nominal dollar terms, $329 billion over the four quarters through June 2018, which represented its highest nominal level on record. Germany also maintains a sizable bilateral goods trade surplus with the United States, at $67 billion over the four quarters through June 2018. There has been essentially no progress in reducing either the massive current account surplus or the large bilateral trade imbalance with the United States in recent years, in part because domestic demand in Germany has not been sufficiently strong to facilitate external rebalancing and because Germany’s low inflation rate has contributed to a weak real effective exchange rate.

Try Fixing This

  1. The Euro is 11% undervalued in Germany, the largest Eurozone economy.
  2. The Euro is 9% overvalued in Italy, the third largest Eurozone economy.

The normal way central banks make adjustments to fix over-valued or undervalued situation is through interest rate policy or direct currency intervention.

No matter which the ECB does, it will impact Italy and Germany in opposite directions.

Meanwhile, interest rates are on the verge of spiraling out of control in Italy.

Italy vs Germany 10-Year Bond Spread

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?

Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?

The China Collapse trope is rearing its ugly head again. This time round, the spin is on China’s local government or municipal debts.

The latest narrative goes like this : local governments in China are estimated to have hidden debts of 40 trillion Yuan (or $6 trillion). Those hidden or undisclosed debts, together with outstanding municipal bonds and the Central government debts, “could have reached an alarming level of 60%”. The 60% debt to GDP ratio is hardwired in the Maastricht Treaty with a view to instilling fiscal and financial disciplines among the 28 member states of the European Union or EU 28 for short. The S&P report describes China’s hidden municipal debts as “a debt iceberg with titanic credit risks”!

Now, let’s unpack the opinion in the S&P report.

Estimates of China’s hidden municipal debts range from 8.9 trillion Yuan by Bank for International Settlements and 19.1 trillion Yuan by IMF to 23.6 trillion Yuan by Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and 47 trillion Yuan by Tsinghua University Taxation and Finance Research Institute. There are 8 different estimates by 8 different institutions, with the median value of 30 trillion Yuan. S&P didn’t explain or justify its choice of 40 trillion Yuan, which is close to the top outlier of 47 trillion Yuan.

Based on the median value of 30 trillion Yuan in undisclosed municipal debts, the total Central government (13 trillion Yuan) and municipal debts (including the disclosed portion of 16 trillion Yuan) stood at 60 trillion Yuan (about $9 trillion) at end 2017. That works out to 73 % of China’s nominal GDP of 83 trillion Yuan ($12.4 trillion) in 2017.

The 60% debt to GDP prescription in Maastricht Treaty is more honored in the breach. The average debt to GDP ratio of EU 28 by end 2017 is 81.6%. Even the EU discipline master Germany’s 64% exceeds the 60% limit! The financial situation in a handful of EU states is precarious, even parlous. Their debt to GDP ratio is not just alarming, but downright frightening :

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Russia And China Prepare To Ditch Dollar In Bilateral Trade

In a time when many nations have gone public with their intention to ditch the dollar in part or in whole, in bilateral trade with non-US counterparts, either to prevent the US from having “veto power” of commerce courtesy of SWIFT or simply in response to Trump’s “America First” doctrine, attention has long focused on Russia and China – the two natural adversaries to the US – to see if and when they would accelerate plans for de-dollarization.

To be sure, the two nations wouldn’t be the first to reduce their reliance on the dollar, as we have discussed in recent months:

However, when it comes to symbolism and optics, no other pair of nations would have as much an impact in dumping the dollar as (quasi) superpowers China and Russia. Which is why we found it a material development when Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development said on Thursday that Moscow and Beijing are working on an inter-governmental agreement to expand the use of the ruble and yuan in mutual trade settlements.

“The document is currently being prepared, the process is not easy,” said Deputy Minister of Russia’s Economic Development Sergey Gorkov, as quoted by TASS. “Russia and China have had some experience of using national currencies in bilateral trade.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Leon Cooperman: “The Whole Structure Of The Market Is Broken”

In a wide-ranging interview on CNBC, Leon Cooperman, chairman and CEO of Omega Advisors, explained that he doe snot see the market as ‘cheap’ or ‘expensive’ currently but warns that traditional value-manager-driven strategies face difficulties because ” all these quantitative trading systems are destroying the structure of the market…particularly that group that buy strength and sells weakness.”

Cooperman goes on to reflect on last week’s mini-crash as being overdone, because “credit was relatively flat” but warns that “It’s crazy…selling begets selling because of these quantitative trading systems,” adding that he thinks “all this fixation and fear about interest rates is misplaced.”

However, he does warn that “the strongest economy in 50 years” could be a problem as “it forces the hand of The Fed.”

Full Transcript

Who knows. I mean basically I think that the whole structure of the market is broken. You know when I came into the let’s put it this way. Whatever success I’ve achieved I think I’ve achieved it because I’ve been very lucky. I have a common sense basically. And I have a strong work ethic. And this whole thing now with all these quantitative trading systems are destroying the structure of the marketyou know particularly that group that buy strength and sells weakness.

So, everyone I know that’s accumulated wealth, whether it’s Warren Buffett, Ken Langone, Mario Gabelli – all friends of mine – I think they made their fortunes that by buying weakness and selling strength. What’s happening now [with the algos] is they’re trend followers and they really are exaggerating the trends up and down. The condition is that normally call for a significant market decline are just simply not present.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Chinese Verbal Intervention In The Market Fails As Stock Rout Accelerates

This morning, when we reported that the latest flood of margin calls, resulting from $600 billion in shares pledged as collateral for loans and representing a whopping 11% of China’s market cap, sent the Shanghai Composite tumbling 3% to the lowest level since November 2014, we noted that local government efforts to shore up confidence in smaller companies had, quite obviously, failed to boost sentiment… or stem the selling.

So, as many expected, just before Beijing announced the latest batch of stagflationary economic data including retail sales, industrial production and fixed asset investment, of which the most important was Q3 GDP which printed at 6.5%, the lowest level since Q1 2009, and missing consensus expectations even as inflation has continued to creep higher…

… the central bank delivered another round of massive verbal intervention, telling investors stocks are undervalued, the economy is sound, the central bank will use prudent, neutral monetary policy and keep reasonable, stable liquidity. Additionally, according to a Q&A statement with Governor Yi Gang posted on the PBOC website:

  • the PBOC will use monetary policy tools including MLF lending to support banks’ credit expansion
  • the PBOC to push forward bond financing by private cos.
  • the PBOC says recent stock market turmoil was caused by investors’ sentiment
  • the PBOC is studying measures to ease cos.’s financing difficulties
  • the PBOC to push forward bond financing by non-state firms; calls for private equity funds to support cos. with financing difficulties

In other words, the central bank’s “got this.”

And just to make sure the “all clear” message is heard loud and clear, also this morning the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) encouraged various funds backed by local government to help ease pressure on listed companies from share-pledge risks…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dollar Libor Jumps To Fresh 10 Year High, Adding To Funding Headwinds

It may be the bete noir of the credit market, but despite the gradual phase out of the infamous manipulated benchmark, Libor remains the reference rate for trillions in floating rate debt instruments, and in a further indication that monetary conditions are tightening aggressively and that funding headwinds are rising, overnight 3M USD Libor rose by 1.94bps to 2.4690% – the biggest one day jump since the end of May – and the highest USD Libor level since 2008.

While some attribute the recent move higher in Libor to recent hawkish rhetoric from Powell, with the latest move following the Fed’s minutes, today’s move has also pushed the dollar FRA/OIS spread wider by 3bps to 33.5bp level, highest since July, a hint that a fresh dollar shortage may be in the offing.

As Bloomberg’s Sunil Keser notes, while compared to the Libor-OIS blowout observed in Q1, the recent move looks tame, it serves to underscore how sharp the dollar repatriation was in the first few months of 2018. Meanwhile, “the widening since mid-September is enough on its own to warrant flagging, given the outright level of the current Libor fixing.”

As to whether it can go further depends on where the Fed judges the neutral rate to be, and how far above it they are willing to go.

The creeping rise in the cost of debt for corporations and ordinary consumers, most broadly manifested by Libor, was recently flagged by Guggenheim as one of the key risks for the credit market, noting that for the broader leveraged credit market the cost of debt troughed at 5.3% in 2015 and was recently 5.6%, prompting a warning that “this trend is somewhat overlooked by investors who focus on narrowing spreads over Treasurys or LIbor, historically low portfolio yields and exception earnings growth.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Weighted Average Cost Of Capital

ittybiz.com

The Weighted Average Cost Of Capital

When it goes up, prices go down. It’s going up…

This is a revisitation of a report I wrote back in late 2016, predicting the imminent end of zero-bound interest rates and warning of the downward pressure that rising rates, mathematically, must place on today’s elevated asset prices.

Since the publication of that report, interest rates have indeed vaulted higher. Look at how the 3-month US Treasury yield has exploded since the start of 2017:

A Little Background

When I was fresh out of college in the mid-90s, I landed a job at Merrill Lynch. I was an “investment banking analyst”, which meant I had no life outside of the office and hardly ever slept. I pretty much spoke, thought, and dreamed in Excel during those years.

Much of my time there was spent building valuation models. These complicated spreadsheets were used to provide an air of quantitative validation to the answers the senior bankers otherwise pulled out of their derrieres to questions like: Is the market under- or over-valuing this company? Can we defend the acquisition price we’re recommending for this M&A deal? What should we price this IPO at?

Back then, Wall Street still (mostly) believed that fundamentals mattered. And one of the most widely-accepted methods for fundamentally valuing a company is the Discounted Cash Flow (or “DCF”) method. I built a *lot* of DCF models back in those days.

I promise not to get too wonky here, but in a nutshell, the DCF approach projects out the future cash flows a company is expected to generate given its growth prospects, profit margins, capital expenditures, etc. And because a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow, it discounts the further-out projected cash flows more than the nearer-in ones. Add everything up, and the total you get is your answer to what the fair market value of the company is.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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