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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…

US Braces For Chinese Retaliation: Scrambles To Find Alternative Rare-Earth Suppliers

US Braces For Chinese Retaliation: Scrambles To Find Alternative Rare-Earth Suppliers

With Beijing making louder noise by the day about using rare earth metals as a “nuclear” retaliation option in trade war with the US, Washington is not sitting on its thumbs waiting for the day China pulls the plug, and as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said today, the U.S. will take steps to ensure it doesn’t get cut off from the supply of rare earths.

As reported previously both in the Chinese and US press, Beijing has prepared a plan to restrict exports of rare earths to the U.S. if the trade war between the two nations deepens, and on Tuesday the Commerce Department released a report requested by President Donald Trump in December 2017, when he asked officials to look into U.S. access to so-called rare earths, a group of 17 elements including lanthanum and terbium, which are used in everything from the production of computer screens to missile systems and mobile phones.

“These critical minerals are often overlooked but modern life without them would be impossible,” Ross said in a statement. “Through the recommendations detailed in this report, the federal government will take unprecedented action to ensure that the United States will not be cut off from these vital materials.”

While some have minimized the consequences of a potential rare earth boycott of the US by China, the report acknowledged the potential danger to the U.S. of being shut out of foreign supplies of rare earths.

“The United States is heavily dependent on critical mineral imports,” according to the report. “If China or Russia were to stop exports to the United States and its allies for a prolonged period — similar to China’s rare earths embargo in 2010 — an extended supply disruption could cause significant shocks throughout U.S. and foreign critical mineral supply chains.”

China accounts for more than 70% of global output of rare earths. Ironically, the U.S. was the leading global producer of rare earths from the 1960s to the 80s, when production began shifting off shore.

The Zeitgeist Knows

The Zeitgeist Knows


Who said the global economy was a permanent installation in the human condition? The head cheerleader was The New York Times’s Tom Friedman, with his 1999 book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, the trumpet blast for the new order of things. Since then, we partied like it was 1999, with a few grand mal seizures of the banking system along the way, some experiments in creating failed states abroad, and the descent of America’s middle-class into a Disney version of Hieronymus Bosch’s Last Judgment — which is kind of what you see on the streets of Los Angeles these days.

Guess what: the global economy is winding down, and pretty rapidly. Trade wars are the most obvious symptom. The tensions underlying that spring from human population overshoot with its punishing externalities, resource depletion, and the perversities of money in accelerated motion, generating friction and heat. They also come from the fact that techno-industrialism was a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end — and we’re closer to the end than we are to the middle. There will be no going back to the prior party, whatever way we pretend to negotiate our way around or through these quandaries.

The USA-China romance was bound to end in divorce, which Mr. Trump is surreptitiously suing for now under the guise of a negotiated trade rebalancing. The US has got a chronic financial disease known as Triffin’s Dilemma, a set of disorders endemic to any world reserve currency. The disease initially expressed itself in President Nixon’s ditching the US dollar’s gold backing in 1971. By then, the world had noticed the dollar’s declining value trend-line, and threatened to drain Fort Knox to counter the effects of holding those dollars. Since then, all world currencies have been based on nothing but the idea that national economies would forever and always pump out more wealth.

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

Not Winning: Collapse in Global Trade Escalates, Imports -2.7%, Exports -4.0%

Not Winning: Collapse in Global Trade Escalates, Imports -2.7%, Exports -4.0%

Those who claim that Trump has already won or is sure to win the trade war need to ponder actual trade results.

Exports rose 1.0% in March with imports up a reported 0.9%. That progress was taken away and then some in April.

The Census Bureau Advance Trade report shows the balance of trade widened by 0.3%. The details, as noted by Econoday are downright ugly.

Sharp declines in exports are unwelcome headlines in April’s advance data on goods trade. The monthly deficit remains very deep, at $72.1 billion with exports falling 4.2 percent year-on-year and with imports also down, 2.7 percent lower. The deficit compares unfavorably with a $71.3 billion monthly average in the first quarter that marks a weak opening for net exports in the second quarter.

Capital goods are the US’s largest exports and these fell 6.5 percent in the month to $44.3 billion. Compared with April last year, capital goods exports are down 3.7 percent. Auto exports are also down, 7.2 percent lower to $12.9 billion and 6.7 percent below last year. The only export component showing a gain is food & feeds which rose 0.5 percent to $11.2 billion but which is nevertheless 6.2 percent below April last year.

The decline on the import side is also led by a 3.5 percent decline for capital goods ($55.4 billion) but also includes 3.1 percent and 2.3 percent monthly declines in autos ($30.9 billion) and consumer goods ($54.2 billion) as well as a 1.1 percent drop in foods ($12.8 billion).

Global trade figures have been contracting and the latest US numbers are part of that picture. Today’s report gets second-quarter GDP, already held down by contractions for April retail sales and industrial production, off to a slow start.

Note that country balances aren’t posted with the advance report but will follow with the subsequent international trade report that will also include data on services.

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

Beijing “Seriously Considering” Rare-Earth Export Ban

Beijing “Seriously Considering” Rare-Earth Export Ban

Following what was a mostly quiet holiday weekend for trade-war-related rhetoric (other than a dollop of trade-deal optimism offer by President Trump, little was said by either side), Beijing has started the holiday-shortened week by reiterating threats to embrace what we have described as a ‘nuclear’ option: restricting exports of rare earth metals to the US.

Global Times editor Hu Xijin, who has emerged as one of the most influential Communist Party mouthpieces since President Trump increased tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, tweeted that China is “seriously considering restricting rare earths exports to the US.”

Based on what I know, China is seriously considering restricting rare earth exports to the US. . China may also take other countermeasures in the future.

There are signs that these warnings should be taken seriously: One week ago, President Xi and Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top trade negotiator, visited a rare earth metals mine in Jiangxi province. Rare earths, which are vital for the manufacture of everything from microchips to batteries, to LED displays to night-vision goggles, have been excluded from US tariffs.

Rare

Though other Chinese officials have denied that export curbs were being considered, Xi’s visit was widely viewed as a symbolic warning. Seven out of every 10 tons of rare earth metals mined last year were produced by Chinese mines. One analyst warned that Xi’s visit was intended to send “a strong message” to the US.

Beijing is limited in its ability to retaliate against Washington’s tariffs by the fact that there simply aren’t enough American-made goods flowing into the Chinese market. Because of these limits, it’s widely suspected that Beijing will find other ways to retaliate. Though they are more plentiful than precious metals like gold and platinum, rare earths can be expensive to refine and extract.

Four

The tension has sparked a 30% increase in ‘heavy rare earth’ metals.

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

China Enraged After US Sails Two Destroyers Through Taiwan Strait

China Enraged After US Sails Two Destroyers Through Taiwan Strait

Just in case the “world tech and trade war I” was not enough to send US-China relations back decades, on Wednesday the US military sent two Navy destroyers through the Taiwan Strait in its latest transit through the sensitive waterway, “angering China” at a time of tense relations between the world’s two biggest economies.

While trade war between the two superpowers is raging, so far at least there have been no shooting incidents, and yet the US seems eager to provide just the right “excuse” for a trade war to become a “kinetic” one, as Taiwan is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, where in addition to the increasingly bitter trade war, China’s increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea has prompted the United States to conducts frequent freedom-of-navigation patrols.

Meanwhile, the voyage will be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from the Trump administration amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing, which views the island as a breakaway province and has vowed it will never let it become fully independent.

The transit was carried out by the destroyer Preble and the Navy oil tanker Walter S. Diehl, a U.S. military spokesman told Reuters.

The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,”Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said in a statement.

And while Doss said all interactions were safe and professional, China was less enthusiastic, and its Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Beijing had lodged “stern representations” with the United States.

“The Taiwan issue is the most sensitive in China-U.S. relations,” he told a daily news briefing in Beijing. 

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

99 Lead Balloons… Are About To Come Crashing Down

99 Lead Balloons… Are About To Come Crashing Down

‘Lead balloon.’ That graphic description of public failure apparently dates from the US in 1924, and ironically was itself such a poorly-received idiom that it didn’t appear in the American press again until 1947. A few decades later, and the phrase was so well known that a derivative of it inspired one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Today, 99 lead balloons fill our sky.

To illustrate the point I don’t even have to look at headlines about the US-China trade war – though I could pick any number of them showing how serious this is getting, and how global the impact is likely to be. My favourite today contains a quote from a US semiconductor maker who states We’re too far into free trade that the world cannot have countries not trading.” Sorry mate, 1913 called and wants its ‘Great Illusion’ back; indeed, reports are that China’s surveillance camera-maker Hikvision is next in the US firing line. Standing with me not on the side of the (Norman) Angells is Eli Lake writing for Bloomberg, who argues The tech cold war has begun. To which I can only say: It’s about time. If this ban is just a bit of brinkmanship designed to pry a better trade deal out of Beijing, however, then it’s a blunder. The national security implications raised by Huawei’s technology transcend any trade dispute.” And while US tech is in the headlines, so is US farming, where federal subsidies are set to rise sharply to offset trade-war pain.

I could choose from a series of stories in Turkey, where the authorities are both trying to prop up the currency and cutting rates at the same time(?), as well as about to clash with the US and NATO allies again over their preferred choice of anti-aircraft defence system in a major way.

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

China’s Nuclear Option to Sell US Treasurys, Report 19 May

China’s Nuclear Option to Sell US Treasurys, Report 19 May

There is a drumbeat pounding on a monetary issue, which is now rising into a crescendo. The issue is: China might sell its holdings of Treasury bonds—well over $1 trillion—and crash the Treasury bond market. Since the interest rate is inverse to the bond price, a crash of the price would be a skyrocket of the rate. The US government would face spiraling costs of servicing its debt, and quickly collapse into bankruptcy. America could follow the path taken by Venezuela or Zimbabwe.

How serious is this threat?

The Independent Institute wrote (replete with a graphic purportedly showing a “nuclear bomb”) about it:

What would happen if the Chinese government were to weaponize its holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds by suddenly selling off all of them?
That’s an option that has been suggested by Hu Xijin, the editor of the government-controlled Global Times.
Dumping its U.S. national debt holdings is considered to be China’s “nuclear option” for retaliating against the U.S. government in the trade war…

The Financial Time headline says it all: “China dumps US Treasuries at fastest pace in two years”. The body of the article uses that word “weaponise” (British spelling).

Bloomberg warns that, “Trade Feud Has Treasury Investors Eyeing China’s Holdings at Fed”. At least their article does not reiterate “weaponized”.

CNBC adds a new element, that in killing America, China would be destroying itself too. The article uses the word “weapon”, as well as calling it the “nuclear option.”

Capital Outflows

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at the Telegraph is one of the few voices looking at the “accelerating pace of capital outflows from China”. He provides lots of good analysis that we would say is common sense, except it is presently uncommon (yes, yes, we know that common, here, refers to base logic not ubiquity).

 …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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