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Japanese Bubble Bursting Playbook

JAPANESE BUBBLE BURSTING PLAYBOOK

Every now and then I stumble across a new source of information that I can’t wait to share with my readers. Today is one of those days. If you have even the tiniest shred of interest in commodities, then head over to the Goerhring & Rozencwajg website immediately. It’s just terrific stuff.

I must admit to being partial to their bullish commodity story, but in a recent RealVision TVinterview, Leigh Goehring solved a problem that I have wrestled with for some time.

What if China rolls over?

We all know the China bear story. For the past couple of years, famed China skeptics like Jim Chanos (FT Article – “China:market bulls beat the short sellers – for now”) and Kyle Bass (Reuters Article – “China credit bubble ‘metastasizing’”) have been warning about a China credit bubble implosion. Although I am hopeful that China will avoid the apocalyptic scenario they paint, there is a little part of me that worries when I am betting against Chanos.

Chanos might have lost the Tom Selleck mustache (and in the process, given away a fair amount of his hipster cred), but I hate being on the other side of his trade. I am pretty sure God has an account at Kynikos Accociates. They are simply that good.

So I have always struggled with being long commodities in the face of a potential China credit implosion. After all, China is the world’s largest importer and user of commodities, a slowdown would be catastrophic for commodities, right?

Not so fast. As Leigh Goehring so aptly notes, a great analogy for a potential China credit crisis would be the Japanese credit collapse of 1990.

There can be no denying that in the wake of the Japanese bubble bursting, their economy suffered a credit contraction that rivals the world’s greatest slowdowns. Given this horrible setback, it would be logical to conclude that Japan’s commodity usage suffered a similar contraction.

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

Kyle Bass Warns: Xi Has “Built The Chinese Economy On A Foundation Of Sand”

Kyle Bass Warns: Xi Has “Built The Chinese Economy On A Foundation Of Sand” 

Earlier this week, Chinese leader Xi Jinping became the third ruler in the communist country’s history to have his named enshrined in its constitution – and the first to receive this honor while still alive. But as China celebrates its most popular, and most powerful, leader since at least Deng Xiaoping, Kyle Bass, hedge fund manager and noted China bear, told Bloomberg the Communist Party will one day regret standing idly by as Xi consolidated his power.

“Today Xi is celebrated in media reports, but when future historians look back, he will be blamed for recklessly building the Chinese economy on a foundation of sand,” Bass, founder of Hayman Capital Management, said in an email Wednesday.

“Xi desperately seeks credibility, but true developed economies do not impose severe capital controls or move short-term rates hundreds of basis points overnight in attempts to manipulate their own currency.”

Xi, who launched the twice-a-decade National Party Congress last week with a three-hour speech where he laid out his vision for “communism with Chinese characteristics in a new era,” the philosophy that was enshrined in the country’s constitution by a unanimous vote. In a move that seemingly confirms suspicions that Xi plans to break with precedent and seek a third term after his second ends in 22, Xi appointed five new members to the Politburo,

China’s most powerful body, all of whom are too old to be viewed as credible heirs. Typically, Chinese leaders have pointed to a successor or possible successors by the time they begin their second term, ensuring that there’s a clear path of leadership transition.

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

Kyle Bass: “Today’s Market Resembles The 1987 Debacle On Steroids”

Kyle Bass: “Today’s Market Resembles The 1987 Debacle On Steroids”

The US stock market celebrated the 30th anniversary of Black Monday with the 2017 version of a rocky trading day: Stocks sold off early, with S&P 500 futures recording their steepest post-midnight drop of the year. But the dip was reflexively and aggressively bought, and stocks even poked back into the green seconds before the close as algos mistook a repetitive Politico headline about Jay Powell’s chances of becoming the next Fed chair for news – leaving us with yet another record close.

Of course, the historical juxtaposition of the 1987 crash with today’s unnaturally placid markets practically forced even the most bullish of traders to question how much longer the present market paradigm – where markets listlessly drift through a seemingly interminable series of record highs while trading volume and volatility remain suppressed – can possibly last.

With that question in mind, Real Vision released a video early today containing interviews with some of the biggest names in the hedge fund universe. Though the interview was shot a few weeks ago, remarks from Hayman Capital’s Kyle Bass resonated with market’s mood.

Bass discussed what he sees as the many short- and long-term risks to the US equity market, including the rise of algorithmic trading and passive investment, which have enabled investors to take risks without understanding what they’re doing, leaving the market vulnerable to an “air pocket.”

And with  so many traders short vol, Bass said investors will know the correction has begun when a 4% or 5% drop in equities snowballs into a 10% to 15% decline at the drop of a hat.

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

Kyle Bass Sounds Off On “Worthless” Puerto Rican Debt, The Crypto “Gold Rush”, And Guns

Kyle Bass Sounds Off On “Worthless” Puerto Rican Debt, The Crypto “Gold Rush”, And Guns

With the dollar’s recent post-Fed bout of appreciation providing some much-needed relief for Haymarket Capital’s P&L, its founder Kyle Bass sat for an interview on Friday with Bloomberg’s Erik Schatzker. During the 20 minute discussion, Bass expounded on the importance of holding gold, his cautiously optimistic view on digital currencies, the misguided notion that holders of Puerto Rican debt will someday be made whole – oh, and Bass’s next big call: Long Greece – particularly the stocks and debt of Greek banks.

A few weeks ago, Bloomberg view published a Bass-penned editorial in which the hedge fund founder and CIO called on the IMF to stop bullying Greece –  publicizing the fact that he is now effectively long Greece. Greek government bonds have performed reasonably well so far this year: They’re up about 16%.

And if Bass is right, they could have another 20% to 30% over the next 18 months if the IMF abandons its insistence on austerity and acknowledges that debt relief will need to be part of the long-term alleviation of debt. Bass added that, in the near future, voters will elect a more business-friendly government that will help reestablish the country’s creditworthiness, much like the government of Mauricio Macri did for Argentina.

I think you also have an interesting political situation in Greece where I think there’s going to be a handoff from the current Syriza government to kind of a more slightly-center-right but very economically independent new leadership in the next, call it, 18 months.

And so, I think you asked why now? And I think you’re starting to see green shoots. You’re starting to see the banks do the right things finally in Greece and you are about to have new leadership.

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

Kyle Bass: China’s $40 Trillion Banking System Has “Largest Imbalances I’ve Ever Seen”

Kyle Bass: China’s $40 Trillion Banking System Has “Largest Imbalances I’ve Ever Seen”

Kyle Bass’s Hayman Capital has been having a rough year thanks to its widely publicized bet against China’s currency, which has more than reversed its 2016 decline – its largest annual drop since 1994 – as the People’s Bank of China has cracked down on potentially destabilizing capital outflows.

However, Bass – unlike a handful of other former China bears who’ve been forced to scale back, or even reverse, their positions – has said that he is standing by his belief that China’s corporate sector is massively overleveraged, and overdue for a collapse that could destabilize the global economy. Chinese banks, according to Bass, have more than $40 trillion in assets held against $2 trillion in equity.

The dollar’s bull run against the yuan last year helped spark capital outflows as wealthy Chinese worried about the depreciation of their currency. In response, the PBOC tightened restrictions on foreign-exchange transactions for individuals, local companies – quashing a roaring international M&A boom – and even foreign companies, which in some cases have struggled to pull their money out of the world’s second-largest economy.

“So what’s going on right now? Let’s get the elephant out of the room. Let’s talk about China.

Kyle Bass: OK, how much time do we have?

RP: As long as you need. Where are we? What the hell’s going on?

KB: We’re in the such late stages of a game that is the largest global imbalance I’ve ever seen in my life.When you look at on balance sheet and off balance sheets, you look at on balance sheet in the banks, you look in the shadow banks. The number of total credit in the system, China is right at $40 trillion. Think about the number I just said. $40 trillion. And that’s using an exchange rate of call it 6.7 to the dollar, right? So it’s grown 1,000% in a decade. And we’re on a $40 trillion credit system on $2 trillion of equity on maybe $1 trillion of liquid reserves.

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

Kyle Bass: “China’s Credit System Is Reaching A Boiling Point”

Kyle Bass: “China’s Credit System Is Reaching A Boiling Point”

Fresh on the heels of the biggest-ever two-week drop in onshore dollar-yuan, noted China bear Kyle Bass gave an interview where he addressed one of the most exasperating aspects of the short-selling business, and an issue that he is no doubt grappling with at this very moment: What to do when confidence in your investing thesis is undermined by uncooperative markets.

It’s been about three years since Bass first announced a massive bet against the Chinese yuan, a position that he has been forced to justify to his increasingly nervous investors, as the Chinese currency’s more than 6% surge since May – and its nearly 8% climb against the dollar so far this year – has more than reversed the currency’s largest one-year decline since 1994.

To be sure, he’s still willing to explain how ballooning assets in shady Chinese wealth management products, which have swollen to more than $40 trillion in aggregate, are destined to collapse in a cascade of bad debt, taking the country’s banking system down in the process.

He discussed his views on China – while also answering a few questions about events in his life that helped shape his investing outlook during an interview on “Adventures in Finance.”

Something strange is going on in the financial system. And according to The Wall Street Journal, it’s causing some investors to move massive amounts of money out of the banking system.

After being asked about events in his life that inspired him, Bass shared a story about his upbringing in working class Texas, where he said he started working at the age of 13 and eventually paid his own way through school.

His family didn’t have money for little extras like eating out. This inspired Bass to be very diligent about saving.

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

Kyle Bass Warns Of “Tectonic Shift” In US-China Relationship

Kyle Bass Warns Of “Tectonic Shift” In US-China Relationship

Hayman Capital’s Kyle Bass ventured on to CNBC this morning to drop some painful truth bombs about Trump’s “drastically changed Chinese diplomacy” and China’s looming “come-uppance.”

Bass began by highlighting what he calls a “tectonic shift” in US-China relations in the last few days, pointing to two crucial events…

1. Things changed drastically when US launched unilateral sanctions on China over North Korea

“Xi is a control freak and he absolutely doesn’t appreciate the United States acting unilaterally”

2. Things escalated when Trump sold $1.4bn in weapons to Taiwan, angering Beijing more as Bass notes:

“Taiwan was the one area which Beijing has asked Trump to stay away from during his meeting at Mar-a-Lago.”

“Since the death of Otto Warmbier, any chance of meetings with North Korea are now off.. and our diplomatic relationship with China took a major step for the worse yesterday.

Bass notes that “China is trying to make marginal changes in its balance of trade with US – buying beef once again and importing a lot more crude oil from the US.”

But then Bass shifts to the potentially even more precarious situation under the hood of China’s economy. As Reuters reports, China’s leaders want the restructuring of their massive non-performing loans problem to address financial risks while avoiding big employee lay-offs, and have instigated ‘cure by committee’..

“The solution for zombie firms isn’t just bankruptcy,” a Shandong-based banking official told Reuters. “The impact of bankruptcy is just too big. Just think about the thousands of workers. Social stability is key.”

Stability is always uppermost in the minds of Chinese leaders, and even more so this year, ahead of the five-yearly party congress this autumn, when a new generation of senior leaders will be selected.

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

Chinese Take Over Canada’s Real Estate Market, Buy One-Third Of All Vancouver Homes Sold In 2015

Chinese Take Over Canada’s Real Estate Market, Buy One-Third Of All Vancouver Homes Sold In 2015

“Housing in Vancouver is insane — it was insane when I left and it’s more insane now.”

That’s from 33-year-old Kevin Oke, co-founder of LlamaZoo Interactive who left Vancouver for Victoria two years ago because he couldn’t afford to buy a home in his native city even while earning a generous salary as a lead designer at a video-game company whose clients included Atari and Ubisoft Entertainment SA.

Kevin isn’t the only one leaving. Vancouver added only 884 net new people age 18-24 last year according to Statistics Canada, and many observers worry the soaring cost of housing will eventually strip the city of its burgeoning tech economy.

(a representative listing from Point Grey)

We’ve spilled quite a bit of digital ink documenting the “three-alarm fire” (to quote Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter) that’s burning in British Columbia’s housing market. Here, for those who missed it, are some informative posts:

According to the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board, residential property sales in Greater Vancouver rose 31.7% in January, 46% above the 10-year sales average for the first month of the year and the second highest January ever. The benchmark price for a detached home in Vancouver: $1,293,700. The benchmark price for an apartment: $456,600. The latest data from the Canadian Real Estate Association shows the average price of a home in Canada rose an astonishing 16% Y/Y last month to more than $500,000. Underscoring the extent to which British Columbia and Ontario are driving the market, stripping out those two provinces pulls the national average down to under $300,000.

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

China Proposes Unprecedented Nationalization Of Insolvent Companies: Banks Will Equitize Non-Performing Loans

China Proposes Unprecedented Nationalization Of Insolvent Companies: Banks Will Equitize Non-Performing Loans

In what may be the biggest news of the day, and certainly with far greater implications than whatever Mario Draghi will announce in a few hours when we will again witness the ECB doing not “whatever it takes” but “whatever it can do”, moments ago Reuters reported that China is preparing for an unprecedented overhaul in how it treats it trillions in non-performing loans.

Recall that as we first wrote last summer, and as subsequently Kyle Bass made it the centerpiece of his “short Yuan” investment thesis, the “neutron bomb” in the heart of China’s impaired financial system is the trillions – officially at $614 billion but realistically anywhere between 8% and 20% of China’s total $35 trillion in bank assets – in non-performing loans. It is the unknown treatment of these NPLs that has been the greatest threat to China’s just as vast deposit base amounting to well over $20 trillion, which has been the fundamental catalyst behind China’s record capital flight as depositors have been eager to move their savings as far from China’s domestic banks as possible.

As a result, conventional thinking such as that proposed by Bass, Ray Dalio, KKR and many others, speculated that China will have to devalue its currency in order to inflate away what is fundamentally an excess debt problem as the alternative is unleashing a massive debt default tsunami and “admitting” to the world just how insolvent China’s state-owned banks truly are, not to mention leading to the layoffs of tens of millions of workers by these zombie companies.

However, China now appears to be taking a surprisingly different track, and according to a Reuters report China’s central bank is preparing regulations that would allow commercial banks to swap non-performing loans of companies for stakes in those firms. Reuters sources said the release of a new document explaining the regulatory change was imminent.

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

China: A 5-Year Plan And 50 Million Jobs Lost


Arnold Genthe San Francisco , Chinatown. The street of the gamblers at night 1900
China never had an actual economic model or growth model. It simply printed an obscene amount of money, especially after 2008, and used it to build factories, 30-story see-through apartment blocks and highways into nowhere cities, without giving much if any thought to where this would lead when their formerly rich western customers had less to spend on its ever increasing amount of ever more useless products, or when its workers would stop spending ever more on apartments as investments, or when no more roads and bridges were needed because nowhere was already in plain sight. Or all of the above. It was ‘to infinity and beyond’ from the start, but that’s a line from a kids’ fantasy story, not a 5-year plan or an economic model.

Going into its 10-day, 3,000 delegates National People’s Congress opening on Friday, China was facing -and very much still is- two major and interconnected problems. Both are problems that the country has never faced before -not a minor point to make. The first is a giant debt load, one that could easily be as high as $40 trillion, or 350% of GDP, once one includes the shadow banking system (watch the shadows!). The second is the Communist Party’s -economic- credibility.

The debt problem is impossible to solve without very far-reaching restructurings of both the debt itself and of the entire Chinese economy. There appears to be a problem within the problem, however: the Party neither looks prepared to truly tackle the debt nor does it seem to know how.

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

The IMF Just Confirmed The Nightmare Scenario For Central Banks Is Now In Play

The IMF Just Confirmed The Nightmare Scenario For Central Banks Is Now In Play

The most important piece of news announced today was also, as usually happens, the most underreported: it had nothing to do with US jobs, with the Fed’s hiking intentions, with China, or even the ongoing “1998-style” carnage in emerging markets. Instead, it was the admission by ECB governing council member Ewald Nowotny that what we said about the ECB hitting a supply brick wall, was right. Specifically, earlier today Bloomberg quoted the Austrian central banker that the ECB asset-backed securities purchasing program “hasn’t been as successful as we’d hoped.

Why? “It’s simply because they are running out. There are simply too few of these structured products out there.”

So six months later, the ECB begrudgingly admitted what we said in March 2015, in “A Complete Preview Of Q€ — And Why It Will Fail“, was correct. Namely this:

… the ECB is monetizing over half of gross issuance (and more than twice net issuance) and a cool 12% of eurozone GDP. The latter figure there could easily rise if GDP contracts and Q€ is expanded, a scenario which should certainly not be ruled out given Europe’s fragile economic situation and expectations for the ECB to remain accommodative for the foreseeable future. In fact, the market is already talking about the likelihood that the program will be expanded/extended.

… while we hate to beat a dead horse, the sheer lunacy of a bond buying program that is only constrained by the fact that there simply aren’t enough bonds to buy, cannot possibly be overstated.

Among the program’s many inherent absurdities are the glaring disparity between the size of the program and the amount of net euro fixed income issuance and the more nuanced fact that the effects of previous ECB easing efforts virtually ensure that Q€ cannot succeed.

(Actually, we said all of the above first all the way back in 2012, but that’s irrelevant.)

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

 

 

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