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The Ugly Truth About The Trade War

The Ugly Truth About The Trade War

This past week was an interesting exercise in false expectations and assumptions. Once again, trade war theatrics were used to stall a stock market plunge as insinuations of a possible “deal” were made by Donald Trump, followed by China’s claim that maybe, just maybe, they would not immediately issue a new round of tariffs right now, but possibly tomorrow, or in a month…

Then, all hell broke loose again when only a few days later both sides jumped into a new round of tariffs leaving markets confused and algo trading computers bewildered, so much so that sometimes they even buy on bad news thinking it’s good news. This is the problem with the Pavlovian response mechanism – You train a dog to salivate at the sound of a bell because he thinks he’s going to get a treat, but then what if you change the bell, or the treat, or the entire dynamic of the process? The dog’s whole world is turned upside down and he curls up in a ball in the corner of the room to make the mental anguish stop.

This is exactly the kind of reaction the globalists are looking for, hence the stop/start insanity of trade discussions, not to mention the dove/hawk behavior of the Federal Reserve. Everything people once thought predictable is being deliberately discombobulated.

Ultimately the circus and the confusion are only products of peoples biases. They want to believe they will get a treat if they act a certain way when certain indicators signal. They want to believe the trade war can be won, or at least that Trump is trying to win. They want to believe that the Fed will save them with a surge of QE.

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

US Slaps New Tariffs On China; One Minute Later China Retaliates

US Slaps New Tariffs On China; One Minute Later China Retaliates

The biggest reason for last week’s torrid stock market rally was rekindled “optimism” that the escalating trade war between the US and China may be on the verge of another ceasefire following phone conversations, fake as they may have been, between the US and Chinese side. This translated into speculation that a new round of tariffs increases slated for this weekend may not take place or be delayed.

However, that did not happen, and with no trade deal in sight, at 12:00am on Sunday, the Trump administration slapped tariffs on $112 billion in Chinese imports, the latest escalation in a trade war that’s ground the global economy to a halt, sent Germany into a recession, and given the market an alibi to keep rising because, wait for it, “a trade deal is imminent.”

Only, it isn’t, and 1 minute later, at 12:01am EDT, China retaliated with higher tariffs being rolled out in stages on a total of about $75 billion of U.S. goods. The target list strikes at the heart of Trump’s political support – factories and farms across the Midwest and South at a time when the U.S. economy is showing signs of slowing down.

The 15% U.S. duty hit consumer goods ranging from footwear and apparel to home textiles and certain technology products like the Apple Watch. A separate batch of about $160 billion in Chinese goods – including laptops and cellphones – will be hit with 15% tariffs on Dec. 15.  China, meanwhile, began applying tariffs of 5 to 10% on U.S. goods ranging from frozen sweet corn and pork liver to bicycle tires on Sunday.

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

Tumbling Yuan Sends Ripples Through Petrochemical Market

Tumbling Yuan Sends Ripples Through Petrochemical Market

Petrochemical industry

The trade war between China and the United States has triggered a global economic slowdown thanks to far-reaching tensions between the world’s two biggest economies. Last Friday China lobbed their most recent retaliation back at the United States by announcing tariffs on an additional $75 billion worth of goods. This is just the most recent counterattack in a now yearlong tit-for-tat spat that has seen both countries confront each other again and again with hard-hitting tariffs (you can see a detailed timeline here) and even culminated in Beijing allowing the Yuan reach its lowest value in years, making Chinese goods cheaper to export and, conversely, making U.S. goods more expensive and therefore less desirable in Chinese markets. 

Because of the far-reaching economic implications of the trade dispute, United States president Donald Trump has been put under a great deal of pressure from global leaders to de-escalate tensions with China. In response, Trump has announced that he will soon begin trade talks with Beijing in order to reach an accord and end the trade war, but the reality is not so simple, especially as the U.S. president seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth. In a report titled “Trump sends mixed signals on China trade war as pressure mounts to de-escalate” the UK’s Independent points out that, “on Sunday, [President Trump] seemed to express regret over escalating the trade dispute, but the White House later said his only regret was that he didn’t impose even higher tariffs on China.”

Even if Trump does follow through on his public promises to make peace with China, in many sectors of the economy the damage is already done. One of the most recent casualties of the trade war is the Asian petrochemical market, which just hit its lowest profit margin in months.

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

Possible Currency War Would Be A Disaster For Oil

Possible Currency War Would Be A Disaster For Oil

Yuan

Oil prices plunged on Friday after the U.S. and China both announced tariff hikes in tit-for-tat fashion. At the same time, markets opened on a positive note early Monday after President Trump struck a more conciliatory tone. But the respite could be brief.

Global financial markets are completely at the mercy of Trump’s twitter account these days. On Friday, stocks and commodities fell sharply after China announced an increase in tariffs on U.S. goods. In response, Trump announced yet another 5 percent increase in the suite of tariffs on Chinese goods, although, notably, he waited until after financial markets had closed for the week.

Over the weekend at the G-7 Conference in France, Trump sent mixed messages on the trade war, suggesting he had “second thoughts,” with his team subsequently clarifying that his second thoughts regarded his regret he hadn’t hiked tariffs by an even greater amount. Nevertheless, traders took comfort in his comments about wanting to make a deal with China, in addition to his assertion that China had called him up asking for a return to negotiations.

Stocks opened up on a positive note on that news. However, it should be noted that Chinese officials said that they were “not aware of” the phone call that Trump alluded to. When pressed by reporters about the nature of the phone call, Trump said: “I don’t want to talk about calls. We’ve had calls. We’ve had calls at the highest levels.”

If we’ve learned anything over the past few months, it is that these events turn on a dime. The incoherent strategy from the White House, and the complete lack of an official policymaking process, makes it impossible to predict how events will unfold. It is odd then that financial markets were so sanguine at the start of the week.

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

Rabobank: “The US Will Simply Not Allow A New Reserve Currency Without A Fight”

Rabobank: “The US Will Simply Not Allow A New Reserve Currency Without A Fight”

“Peace for our time”

Despite the fact that the German IFO survey was ‘I-ful’, with the official word being that the outlook is “increasingly dire”, and that US core durable goods were -0.4% vs. flat expected, both of which confirm that the real economy is perhaps in real trouble, markets seemed to sigh with relief yesterday. The reason? We have the promise of “peace for our time”. After all, according to the press, US President Trump held out an olive branch to China on trade; and to Iran; and was there perhaps the suggestion of another brunch being offered from Boris Johnson to the EU?

Let’s focus on the US issue first. Nothing we saw or heard yesterday–nothing at all–changes any of the dynamic that we have seen for a long time now. Trump praised Chairman Xi to the skies, and repeated that China wants to make a deal very badly, so much so that they had already called to kick-start talks. Meanwhile, China stated it knew nothing about any such call, and the editor of the Global Times tweeted “Based on what I know, Chinese and US top negotiators didn’t hold phone talks in recent days. The two sides have been keeping contact at technical level, it doesn’t have significance that President Trump suggested. China didn’t change its position. China won’t cave to US pressure.” So very little chance of trade peace for our time. Nonetheless, as usual, the equity market fell for this while the smarter bond market largely didn’t – and neither did CNH.

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

A Perfect Storm Is Brewing For US LNG

A Perfect Storm Is Brewing For US LNG

LNG tanker

That the U.S. energy industry would be among those hardest hit by a full-blown trade war between Washington and Beijing was a no-brainer. Yet the extent of the fallout as the war continues is only becoming evident now, as some companies find it hard to secure the funding for their ambitious LNG projects.

According to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, a number of companies may delay their final investment decisions on new LNG capacity to next year because of U.S.-Chinese trade tensions. Bloomberg reports these include Tellurian and NextDecade, as well as other companies focused exclusively on LNG.

“We see delays as likely given current pricing headwinds, no resolution yet on the U.S.-China trade war, and minimal contract announcements in recent months,” BofA analysts wrote in a recent note to clients, referring to Tellurian’s US$28-billion Driftwood LNG project in Louisiana.

While the companies themselves are not too talkative when it comes to possible obstacles to the so-called second wave of LNG projects in the U.S., the facts are not encouraging: China has imported no U.S. LNG since March, according to data from ClipperData. Bloomberg data is even gloomier: it suggests no U.S. LNG has made its way into China since February. No wonder, since Beijing first imposed a 10-percent tariff on the commodity and then upped this to 25 percent in retaliation for U.S. tariffs. 

Yet there is another aspect of the trade war that is more damaging to U.S. LNG producers. To secure funding for these projects that typically cost billions, U.S. companies need long-term commitments to convince banks the projects are viable. Chinese buyers were the natural choice for these long-term commitments but this is no longer the case as Chinese investors shun U.S. projects amid the war.

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

Lacalle: A Day Of Reckoning Looms For The Global Economy

Lacalle: A Day Of Reckoning Looms For The Global Economy

European and Asian economic data is deteriorating, says economist and author Daniel Lacalle.

“I’d call right now the day of reckoning,” Lacalle says, in this video excerpt of our soon-to-be released podcast In The Arena.

 “The entire message from mainstream consensus is ‘Yes there was a global slowdown,’ but using the trade war as an excuse.”

Lacalle argues that the global growth slowdown has absolutely nothing to do with the trade war and says the trend in economic data around the world suggests Wall Street estimates for global growth are still too high.

“We’re now in the reality check period,” Lacalle says.

“Now, the risk of recession is starting to build up.”

Globalization Just Peaked

Globalization Just Peaked

Joan Miro The farmer’s wife 1923

In Jackson Hole on Friday, Bank of England’s outgoing governor Mark Carney talked about a Synthetic Hegemonic Currency (SHC) that the world ‘must’ create, and I thought: that sounds as creepy as anything Halloween. Now, Carney is a central banker as well as a former Giant Squid partner, hence a certified cultist, but still.

He even mentioned Facebook’s Libra ‘currency’ as some sort of example for something that should replace the US dollar internationally. And that replacement is allegedly needed because countries are hoarding dollars. And/or “protecting themselves by racking up enormous piles of dollar-denominated debt.” Whichever comes first, I guess?!

I’ve read quite a few comments on Carney’s speech, but far as I’ve seen they all ignore one aspect of it: the current shape and form of globalization. See, Carney can see only one thing: more centralization, more things moving more in the same direction. Remember, he’s the man who with Michael Bloomberg in 2016 wrote “How To Make A Profit From Defeating Climate Change”. Aka things are worth doing only if they make you richer.

It’s a state of mind that works fine when you’re inside a system and an echo chamber, when you’re a central banker or a corporate banker. But there’s nothing that indicates it’s a useful state of mind when the system you’re serving must undergo change. What is as true when it comes to climate change as it is for changing the entire global economy. Carney’s got blinders on.

World Needs To End Risky Reliance On US Dollar: BoE’s Carney 

Carney [..] said the problems in the financial system were encouraging protectionist and populist policies. [..] Carney warned that very low equilibrium interest rates had in the past coincided with wars, financial crises and abrupt changes in the banking system.

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

Keep it Simple

Keep it Simple

Markets blow up on Friday on a series of tweets, markets jam higher on the pronouncement of dubious phone calls on Monday. The rapid back and forth has many heads spinning and makes for dramatic headlines as people are searching for explanations. To which I say: Keep it simple, especially in the age of the great confusion.

Background: In 2019 market gains have been driven by pure multiple expansion resting on 2 pillars of support in the face of deteriorating fundamentals: 1. Hope for rate cuts and Fed efficacy 2. Trade optimism. But in process little to no gains are notable since the January 2018 highs, in fact most indexes are down sizably since then.

And when markets are purely reliant on multiple expansion the risk for accidents increases when confidence gets shaken. Friday’s escalation on the trade war front again highlights this point.

And in context of global growth slowing an escalation in the trade war is akin to playing with fire as it risks being a trigger to nudge the world economy into a global recession. After all 9 economies are either in recession or on the verge of going into recession.

This morning I was speaking with Brian Sullivan and he asked me what matters most here, the China trade war, the Fed, or technicals. The short answer is they all matter as it is a battle for control, but how to delineate a complex interplay of conflicting forces into some clarity?

Let me give you my take on all 3 fronts. Before I do, for background here’s the clip from this morning:

China:

Occam’s Razor: The simplest explanation is often the best one and that’s really what’s happening on the China trade war front as far as I’m concerned.

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

Guess Who China Is Blaming For The Riots In Hong Kong?

Guess Who China Is Blaming For The Riots In Hong Kong?

This is not going to end well.  As a result of our ongoing trade war, U.S. relations with China were already rapidly deteriorating, but now the chaos in Hong Kong threatens to completely wreck them.  Violence between political protesters and riot police is making headlines all over the globe, and as you will see below, the Chinese are squarely blaming the United States for what is happening.  On Tuesday, flights at Hong Kong International Airport were canceled for a second day in a row, and riot police stormed the airport in an attempt to evict the thousands of protesters that were occupying it.  This resulted in extremely violent clashes, and you can see raw video of one of these confrontations right here.  Needless to say, the Chinese government is extremely alarmed by these developments.  According to ABC News, one top official told the press that these protests in Hong Kong “have begun to show signs of terrorism”…

The clashes appeared to represent an escalation 10 weeks after the protest’s massive, peaceful beginnings in early June, when hundreds of thousands marched in the semi-autonomous city against a now-suspended extradition bill. A Chinese official said Tuesday that protesters “have begun to show signs of terrorism,” and China appeared to be weighing a crackdown on the democratic movement.

Bolstered by anger over the crackdown by Hong Kong police, the protests has grown more confrontational in recent weeks and reached new levels last Monday with a city-wide strike that disrupting traffic and hundreds of flights.

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

Powell Rate Cut Unleashes Volatility Tsunami

Powell Rate Cut Unleashes Volatility Tsunami

It wasn’t supposed to work this way.

In the rate cut playbook envisioned by Trump, Powell’s July 31st rate cut was supposed to send stocks higher while crushing the dollar. However, when the FOMC announce a “mid-cycle”, 25bps cut, the outcome was not only a surge in the dollar but also a surge in volatility not seen so far this year.

The sequence of events is familiar to all by now: at first, Powell’s rate cut spooked the market which had been expected either a 50bps cut, or an explicit promise of an easing cycle. It got neither, and neither did Trump, who the very next day realized that with the Fed now explicitly focusing on global uncertainties, read trade war, as a catalyst for future rate cuts as demonstrated by the following infamous chart

…. decided to escalate the trade war with China by announcing 10% tariffs on the remaining $300BN in Chinese imports, sending stocks and bond yields plunging, and the market pricing in as much as 100bps of more rate cuts in 12 months, forcing Powell to cut far more than just another 25bps or so as the Fed Chair suggested in the July FOMC meeting.

China immediately retaliated by devaluing the Yuan below 7.00 for the first time since 2008 and halting US ag imports, which in turn prompted the US Treasury to declare China a currency manipulator. Meanwhile, China’s yuan devaluation means the White House is set to unveil even higher tariffs, resulting in an even weaker yuan, and so on, in a toxic feedback loop that may soon escalate the trade and currency war into an all-out shooting war.

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

$1,400,000,000,000 Gone In Less Than A Week – Stock Market In Turmoil As The Trade War Dramatically Escalates

$1,400,000,000,000 Gone In Less Than A Week – Stock Market In Turmoil As The Trade War Dramatically Escalates

Our trade war with China has begun to spiral out of control, and as a result global financial markets have been thrown into a state of turmoil.  On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 767 points, and that represented the sixth-largest single day stock market decline in all of U.S. history.  To put that into perspective, the biggest single day decline during the financial crisis of 2008 was just 777 points.  So what we witnessed on Monday was definitely very serious.  And the Nasdaq just got absolutely monkey-hammered as well.  On a percentage basis, it was down even more than the Dow was, and it has now fallen for six days in a row.  We have not seen a losing streak that long for the Nasdaq since President Trump was elected, and some analysts are convinced that even more chaos is on the way.

Overall, 1.4 trillion dollars in stock market wealth has been completely wiped out in less than a week

It took just four brutal trading days for a $1.4 trillion wipeout in the S&P 500 stock value. From the Federal Reserve’s disappointing comments on the future of interest rates to President Donald Trump’s surprise tariffs to China’s weaponizing of the yuan, the record-long bull market took a big hit in a relatively short time.

European stocks have been getting clobbered as well.  In fact, they just experienced their largest two day decline in three years.

After Trump imposed another wave of tariffs on China at the end of last week, we knew that the Chinese would retaliate.  But we expected that the retaliation would be at least somewhat proportional.

Instead, they decided to bring down the hammer.

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

China Is Extremely Angry, And They Now Consider The United States To Be Enemy #1

China Is Extremely Angry, And They Now Consider The United States To Be Enemy #1

Have relations between the United States and China finally reached the point of no return?  At this moment, it would be difficult to overstate how angry the Chinese are with the United States.  Chinese officials are firmly blaming the United States for the enormous political protests that we have witnessed in Hong Kong in recent weeks, and on Thursday President Trump slapped another round of tariffs on Chinese imports.  Sadly, most Americans aren’t even paying much attention to these developments, but over in China everyone is talking about these things.  And of course the truth is that they aren’t just talking – the Chinese are absolutely seething with anger toward the U.S., and they aren’t afraid to express it.

Let me give you a perfect example of what I am talking about.  One of the most highly respected news anchors in China, Kang Hui, actually used an expletive when referring to the United States during a news broadcast earlier this week.  Normally I would never have such language in one of my articles, but this comment made headlines all over the globe, and I think that it is very important for all of us to understand what the Chinese are saying about us.  So since this is a news item of critical importance, I have decided not to censor this quote at all.  The following comes from the New York Times

“They stir up more troubles and crave the whole world to be in chaos, acting like a shit-stirring stick,” Mr. Kang said on the usually stolid 7 p.m. national news program on CCTV, China’s state broadcaster. The expletive quickly became one of the most-searched-for phrases on Chinese social media.

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

For Those Who Don’t Understand Inflation

FOR THOSE WHO DON’T UNDERSTAND INFLATION

This article is a wake-up call for those who do not understand the true purpose of monetary inflation, and do not realise they are the suckers being robbed by monetary policy. With the world facing a deepening recession, monetary inflation will accelerate again. It is time for everyone to recognise the consequences.

Introduction

All this year I have been warning in a series of Goldmoney Insight articles that the turn of the credit cycle and the rise of American protectionism was the same combination that led to the Wall Street crash in 1929-32 and the depression that both accompanied and followed it. Those who follow statistics are now seeing the depressing evidence that history is rhyming, though they have yet to connect the dots. Understandably, their own experience is more relevant to them than the empirical evidence in history books.

They would benefit hugely from a study of the destructive power of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act combining with the end of the 1920s credit expansion. The devastating synergy between the two is what crippled the American and global economy. And as we slide into a renewed economic torpor, contemporary experience tells us the Fed and all the other central banks will coordinate their efforts to restore economic growth, cutting interest rates while accelerating the expansion of money and credit. The current generation of investors argues that this policy has always worked in the past (at least in the past they have experienced) so the valuation-basis for financial assets and property should stabilise and improve.

This brief summary of current thinking in financial markets ignores the fact that a catastrophic tariff-cum-credit-cycle mixture is baking in the economic cake. Crashing government bond yields, reflecting a flight to relative safety, are only the start of it.

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

Weekly Commentary: Abject Monetary Disorder

Weekly Commentary: Abject Monetary Disorder

A market week that began with a U.S./China trade “truce” ended with much stronger-than-expected (224k) June non-farm payrolls data. There were new intraweek record highs in equities and no let up in the global yield collapse. Lacking was increased clarity as to prospects for trade negotiations, economic growth and central bank policy.

Almost a week after Presidents Trump and Xi agreed to restart trade negotiations, there are few details as to what was actually discussed and agreed upon. The ratcheting down of tensions was widely expected in the markets. As anticipated, President Trump chose not to impose additional tariffs on Chinese imports. The softening of sanctions (allowing purchases from U.S. suppliers) on Huawei was the major surprise, although even on this point there is murkiness. After push back from U.S. security “hawks,” the administration stated the Chinese tech powerhouse remained blacklisted and had not been granted “general immunity.” Little wonder there was no mention of the Huawei concession from Chinese state media, only warnings of the U.S. propensity for “flip-flops.”

Analysts have generally responded cautiously to the “truce” and to prospects for an imminent trade deal. Equities, in the throes of speculative impulses and record highs, celebrated the reduced odds of near-term negative trade surprises during at least a temporary cooling off a vitriol.  

Global bond markets, enjoying their own speculative melee and attendant unprecedented low yields, were fazed neither by either the “truce” nor surging risk markets. German 10-year bund yields were down eight bps at Thursday’s lows, to a record negative 0.41%. French yields were down 13 bps for the week at Thursday’s record low negative 0.14%, with Swiss yields down another 12 bps to Thursday’s record low negative 0.67%.

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

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