The biggest global “tail risk” is China’s deteriorating economy and an emerging market debt crisis, according to BofA Merrill Lynch’s monthly poll of fund managers. And 48% of them were expecting the Fed to raise rates, despite languid growth and low inflation expectations.
Hot money is already fleeing emerging markets. Higher rates in the US will drain more capital out of countries that need it the most. It will pressure emerging market currencies and further increase the likelihood of a debt crisis in countries whose governments, banks, and corporations borrow in a currency other than their own.
This scenario would be bad enough for the emerging economies. But now China has devalued the yuan to stimulate its exports and thus its economy at the expense of others. And one thing has become clear today: these struggling economies that compete with China are going to protect their exports against Chinese encroachment.
Hence a currency war.
It didn’t help that oil plunged nearly 5% to a new 6-year low, with WTI at $40.55 a barrel, after the EIA’s report of an “unexpected” crude oil inventory buildup in the US,now, during driving season when inventories are supposed to decline!
And copper dropped to $5,000 per ton for the first time since the Financial Crisis, down 20% so far this year. Copper is the ultimate industrial metal. China, which accounts for 45% of global copper consumption, is the bull’s eye of all the fretting about demand. 5,000 is the line in the sand. A big scary number. Other metals fared similarly.
Copper powerhouse Glencore, whose shares plunged nearly 10% today, blamed“aggressive and synchronized large-scale short selling” for the copper debacle, instead of fundamentals. But fundamentals have been whacking copper for years, and shorts have simply been joyriding the trend.
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