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Hot Money

Hot Money

I watched the new documentary Hot Money by Susan Kucera tonight.

An intelligent world-wise father (General Wesley Clark) and his son discuss some of the problems we face with many smart participants. I don’t think they interviewed a single idiot, which was refreshing.

They know something is seriously wrong and make an honest attempt to connect the dots. They come tantalizingly close to a complete picture of reality, but miss the all important overshoot drivers of over population and declining returns from non-renewable energy.

Which of course means they understand everything, except what matters.

Nevertheless, Hot Money is excellent and worth watching because it has a lot of intelligent substance.

I also think it indicates a growing mainstream awareness of how close we are to collapsing, and I suspect herd awareness (coupled with denial of the real causes) may be the trigger.

Some of the important points made:

  • the financial system is a bomb waiting to explode, climate change may be the trigger
  • climate change is real and very serious
  • droughts, floods, and fires are a big problem now
  • it now takes more than 3 dollars of debt to create 1 dollar of growth, it used to take less than 1 dollar of debt to create 1 dollar of growth
  • farmers are struggling and failing due to climate change, debt, high input costs, and low crop prices
  • real incomes and living standards are falling despite lower taxes than the 50’s
  • some young couples are not having children because they see a terrible future
  • it was much easier to make a profit in the good old days, doubly so if you were early enough to steal land from the aboriginals
  • companies now invest more money in stock buy-backs than R&D
  • there is no such thing as trickle down economics

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

 

Weekly Commentary: “Hot Money” Watch

Weekly Commentary: “Hot Money” Watch

In the People’s Bank of China’s (PBOC) Monday daily currency value “fixing,” the yuan/renminbi was set 0.33% weaker (vs. dollar) at 6.9225. Market reaction was immediate and intense. The Chinese currency quickly traded to 7.03 and then ended Monday’s disorderly session at an 11-year low 7.0602 (largest daily decline since August ’15). While still within the PBOC’s 2% trading band, it was a 1.56% decline for the day (offshore renminbi down 1.73%). A weaker-than-expected fix coupled with the lack of PBOC intervention (as the renminbi blew through the key 7.0 level) rattled already skittish global markets.  

Safe haven assets were bought aggressively. Gold surged $23, or 1.6%, Monday to $1,441, the high going back to 2013 (trading to all-time highs in Indian rupees, British pounds, Australian dollars and Canadian dollar). The Swiss franc gained 0.9%, and the Japanese yen increased 0.6%. Treasury yields sank a notable 14 bps to 1.71%, the low going back to October 2016. Intraday Monday, 10-year yields traded as much as 32 bps below three-month T-bills, “the most extreme yield-curve inversion” since 2007 (from Bloomberg). German bund yields declined another two bps to a then record low negative 0.52% (ending the week at negative 0.58%). Swiss 10-year yields fell two bps to negative 0.88% (ending the week at negative 0.98%). Australian yields dropped below 1.0% for the first time.  

It’s worth noting the Japanese yen traded Monday at the strongest level versus the dollar since the January 3rd market dislocation (that set the stage for the Powell’s January 4th “U-turn). “Risk off” saw EM currencies under liquidation – with the more vulnerable under notable selling pressure. The Brazilian real dropped 2.2%, the Colombian peso 2.1%, the Argentine peso 1.8%, the Indian rupee 1.6% and the South Korean won 1.4%. Crude fell 1.7% in Monday trading. Hong Kong’s China Financials Index dropped 2.5%, with the index down 4.4% for the week to the lowest level since January. European bank stocks dropped 4.1%, trading to the low since July 2016.

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

Chasing Yield during ZIRP & NIRP Evidently Starved Human Brains of Oxygen. Now the Price Is Due

Chasing Yield during ZIRP & NIRP Evidently Starved Human Brains of Oxygen. Now the Price Is Due

See Argentina’s 100-year dollar-bond and emerging-market “turmoil” as the Hot Money flees.

Let’s be clear: It’s not just Argentina. But Argentina is the most elegant example. The exodus of the hot money from emerging markets where cheap dollar-debts were used to fund pet projects and jack up leverage is – once again – in full swing. Cheap dollar-debt in emerging markets is an old sin that, like all old sins, is repeated endlessly. The outcome is always trouble. But during the act, it sure is a lot of fun for everyone.

The exodus of the hot money is even gripping the non-basket-case emerging economies of Asia where it’s causing the worst indigestion since 2008. Bloomberg:

Overseas funds are pulling out of six major Asian emerging equity markets at a pace unseen since the global financial crisis of 2008 – withdrawing $19 billion from India, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand so far this year.

While emerging markets shone in the first quarter, suggesting resilience to Federal Reserve tightening, that image has shattered over the past two months. With American money market funds now offering yields around 2% – where 10-year Treasuries were just last September – and prospects for more Fed hikes, the bar for heading into riskier assets has been raised.

“It’s not a great set-up for emerging markets,” James Sullivan, head of Asia ex-Japan equities research at JPMorgan Chase, told Bloomberg. “We’ve still only priced in about two thirds of the US rate increases we expect to see over the next 12 months. So the Fed is continuing to get more hawkish, but the market still hasn’t caught up.”

Emerging markets have responded to this new environment and a newly hawkish Fed with all kinds of gyrations, including raising rates in order to prop up their currencies. For example, the central banks of Argentina and Turkey hiked key rates to 40% and 17.75% respectively.

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

Behind Vancouver’s Housing Bubble: How Canadian Casinos Are Use To Launder Millions In Chinese Drug Money

Behind Vancouver’s Housing Bubble: How Canadian Casinos Are Use To Launder Millions In Chinese Drug Money

Nearly two years after we first observed that Vancouver‘s soaring real estate market is nothing but a bubbling melange of criminal Chinese oligarch “hot money”, desperate to get parked offshore in any piece of real estate, but mostly in British Columbia regardless of price, a new multi-year investigation has uncovered extensive links – including money laundering and underground banking – between China’s criminal underworld and British Columbia drug and casino cash and VIPs, and their connections to China, Macau and the norotious triads.

Here is Postmedia’s real estate reporter Sam Cooper reporting on and explaining how British Columbia casinos are used to launder millions in drug cash.

* * *

On Oct. 15, 2015, a Mountie burst through the front door of an office in Richmond, carrying a battering ram and with a rifle slung on his back. The door swung shut behind him, locking him inside. He was in the lobby of Silver International Investment, a high-end money transfer business, surrounded by bulletproof glass. Behind a second glass door, a woman rushed to make a call while hiding several cellphones. Under her desk was a safe stuffed with bundles of cash. The Mountie, a large man, counted seconds anxiously, wondering if the woman would unlock the interior door.

It was one of 10 police raids in Richmond that day — part of a major investigation that has uncovered massive money laundering and underground banking networks with links to Mainland China, Macau and B.C. casinos, allege the RCMP’s federal organized crime unit and China’s national police service.

Postmedia has spent six months looking into the case, involving freedom of information requests for thousands of documents and dozens of interviews with government and law enforcement sources that were not authorized to be identified.

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

“Are We Prepared to Impose Temporary Debt Standstills?”

“Are We Prepared to Impose Temporary Debt Standstills?”

In a remarkable turnaround, foreign investors are estimated to have pumped over $35 billion into emerging market (EM) stocks and bonds in March, the highest monthly inflow in nearly two years, according to the Institute of International Finance. One of the biggest beneficiaries is Latin America, which for months had been shunned by investors. The region took in $13.4 billion, with equities in even crisis-hit Brazil receiving over $2 billion.

But is this the beginning of an enduring rally or is this “hot money,” which can change direction without notice, about to get cold feet again?

“Over the past 15 years there has been a very large increase in the presence of foreigners in domestic equity, bond and deposit markets of developing countries,” says Dr. Yilmaz Akyuz, the chief economist of the South Centre, an intergovernmental organization of developing and emerging economies representing 52 countries, including four of the BRICS nations (Russia excluded). Akyuz was speaking at a briefing of delegates at the UN’s Geneva headquarters.

This influx of foreign funds may seem like a blessing until the tide suddenly turns. Then it becomes a curse.

“Your reserves may be adequate to service your short-term debt but if there is a massive exit from domestic bond, equity, and deposit markets then your reserves will not be enough,” Akyuz warns. There’s a simple reason for this: a large chunk of emerging markets’ reserves is derived from the initial entry of hot money into their economy.

Last year, investors pulled $6 billion out of emerging market funds managed by Pimco, according to the New York Times. A debt fund run by MFS investment management in Boston lost $1.4 billion, and Trust Company of the West in Los Angeles suffered outflows of $1.8 billion from its $2.6 billion bond offering last year.

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

Do Any of the Current Rallies Pass “The Sniff Test”? No.

Do Any of the Current Rallies Pass “The Sniff Test”? No.

But you can’t tame the monster of speculative, legalized looting and financialization.

Everything from iron ore to copper to the Baltic Dry Index to stocks to bat guano is rallying. The problem is not a single rally passes “the sniff test:” is the rally the result of changing fundamentals, or is it merely short-covering and/or speculative hot money leaping from one rally to the next?

Every one of these rallies is bogus, a travesty of a mockery of a sham of price discovery, supposedly the core function of markets. What shift in fundamentals drove this rally? Higher profits? No, profits are declining, especially once the phony adjustments are stripped away. Is the global economy strengthening? Don’t make us laugh!

As Chris Martenson and many others have noted, “price discovery” is a joke now, as markets are either propped up by central bank “we got your back” guarantees or outright asset purchases, or driven up and down by speculative hot money flows.

Even the recent (and overdue) run-up in gold has a speculative-fever feel. Whatever the market, the game is the same: traders goose the markets higher with futures purchases, pile on with buying that attracts latecomers, who are then sold the rally at the top and left holding the bag when the rally inevitably deflates, once the speculative hot money exits.

This is not capitalism, or a functioning market: this is the end-game of legalized looting and financialization. What’s the value of real estate? If interest rates are pushed negative, then that gooses housing demand, as the cost of interest on a mortgage declines to near-zero in real terms.

What would the value be at 5% mortgage rates? What would the interest rate be in a truly private mortgage market, one that wasn’t dominated by government agencies and central banks? Nobody knows.

…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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