Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Dollar Hegemony and the Rise of China

Michael Hudson writes a letter. 

Dollar Hegemony and the Rise of China

Courtesy of Michael Hudson 

Hudson to Premier Wen Jaibao, March 15, 2010

Dear Premier Wen Jiabao,

I write this letter to counteract some of the solutions that Western politicians are recommending for China to cope with its buildup of excess foreign-exchange reserves. Raising the renminbi’s exchange rate against the dollar will not cure the China-US payments imbalance. The dollar glut will continue, and so will the currency fluctuation among the dollar, euro and sterling, leaving no stable store of value. The cause of this instability is that each of these three currency areas has grown top-heavy with by debts in excess of the ability to pay.

What then should China should it do with its buildup of excess reserves, if not recycle its inflows into their bonds? Four possibilities have been suggested: (1) to revalue the renminbi, (2) to flood China’s economy with credit (as Japan did after the Plaza Accord of 1985), (3) to buy foreign resources and assets, and (4) to use excess dollars to buy back foreign investments in China, given US reluctance to permit Chinese investment in America’s own most promising economic sectors.

I explain below why China’s best course is to avoid accumulating further foreign exchange reserves. The most workable solution is to use its official reserves to buy back US and other foreign investments in China’s financial system and other key sectors. This policy will seem more natural as a response to an escalation of US protectionist moves to block Chinese imports or block China’s sovereign wealth funds from buying key US assets.

China’s excess reserves will impose a foreign-exchange loss (as valued in renminbi)

Every nation needs foreign currency reserves to ward off currency raids, as the Asia Crisis showed in 1997. The usual kind of raid forces currencies down. Speculators see a central bank with large foreign currency holdings, and seek to empty them out by borrowing even larger sums, selling the target currency short to drive down its price. This is the tactic that George Soros pioneered against the British pound when he broke the Bank of England.

Malaysia’s counter-tactic was not to let speculators cover their bets by buying the target currency. Its Malaysia’s success in resisting that crisis showed that currency controls prevent speculators from “cashing out” on their exchange-rate bets, blocking their attempt to…
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The capital tsunami is a bigger threat than the nuclear option

The capital tsunami is a bigger threat than the nuclear option

Courtesy of Michael Pettis at China Financial Markets

Since this is another long posting, it might make sense to summarize briefly its two parts.  In the first part, expanding on an OpEd piece of mine published by the Wall Street Journal on Monday, I argue that China’s “nuclear option”, which has generated a great deal of nervousness among investors and policy-making circles in the US, is a myth, and what the US should be much more concerned about is its diametric opposite — a tsunami of capital flooding into the country.  I try to discuss the economic implications and perhaps the implications for asset prices.

In the second part of this posting I discuss the slowing of the Chinese economy within the context of what I believe to be its stop-go approach to economic policymaking.  The one-minute take: I think policymakers will soon be stomping again on the accelerator, although there seems to be a real debate going on about whether this would be the proper policy response.

———

An awful lot of investors and policymakers are frightened by the thought of China’s so-called nuclear option.  Beijing, according to this argument, can seriously disrupt the USG bond market by dumping Treasury bonds, and it may even do so, either in retaliation for US protectionist measures or in fear that US fiscal policies will undermine the value of their Treasury bond holdings.  Policymakers and investors, in this view, need to be very prepared for just such an eventuality

So worried have many been that last week SAFE even had to come out and calm people down.  According to an article in the Financial Times:

China has delivered a qualified vote of confidence in the dollar and US financial markets, ruling out the “nuclear option” of dumping its huge holdings of US government debt accumulated over the last decade.

But the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, which administers China’s $2450bn in reserves, the largest in the world, also called on Washington and other governments to pursue “responsible” economic policies. The statement on Wednesday, one of a series that Safe has issued in recent days in an apparent effort to address criticism about its lack of transparency, also played down the chances of China making major further investments in gold.

It’s good that SAFE is trying to soothe worried investors and policymakers, although, as I have pointed…
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Irony: Our Huge Military Is What Made Us an Empire… But Our Huge Military is What Is Bankrupting Us, Thus DESTROYING Our Status as an Empire

Irony: Our Huge Military Is What Made Us an Empire … But Our Huge Military is What Is Bankrupting Us, Thus DESTROYING Our Status as an Empire

Courtesy of Washington’s Blog

As I’ve previously pointed out, America’s military-industrial complex is ruining our economy.

And U.S. military and intelligence leaders say that the economic crisis is the biggest national security threat to the United States. See this, this and this.

As RT points out, it is ironic that America’s huge military spending is what made us an empire … but our huge military is what is bankrupting us … thus destroying our status as an empire:

No wonder people from opposite ends of the political spectrum like Barney Frank and Ron Paul are calling for a reduction in military spending.


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Social Unrest Spreads to Slovenia and Spain; Images Around the Globe; US Not Immune to Protests

Social Unrest Spreads to Slovenia and Spain; Images Around the Globe; US Not Immune to Protests

Courtesy of Mish 

The wave of social unrest is spreading. A new round of protests has hit Spain with a public sector strike set for June 8. In Slovenia, students are protesting new rules that limit their work hours and pay.

"Luka Gubo" an economist from Slovenia writes:

Hi Mish!

First I must say that I love your blog. Great job!

I just wanted you to know that Slovenian students are protesting too.

The main reason for organizing protests is changes in law regarding student jobs. Current tax law makes average workers uncompetitive because businesses pay about 15% income tax for students and more then 35% income tax for average worker (average net income is 930€).

Bear in mind that the average time for a student to complete his higher education here is 6 years and that more then 20% of "students" do not to school at all. Instead, they just enjoy student benefits like lower income taxes, food stamps, etc.

I think that everyone would agree a new law is needed in Slovenia. However, the new will limit the maximum hours worked by students to one third of full work time, and put a limit on maximum hourly wage at 8€ per hour.

That one *ing great free-market solution, wouldn’t you agree?

Here is the Slovenian parliament building after 2 hours:

The protests went smooth for a while, but it did not last long. You can find a series of 39 images at http://www.finance.si/galerije/2139/3/

Luka Gubo

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Greece, Spain hit by strikes over cuts

CNN Reports Greece, Spain hit by strikes over cuts

Public sector union ADEDY and private sector union GSEE called the strikes against the government’s austerity measures, in particular the pension reforms announced last week. The reforms include raising the retirement age, which varies in different professions.

It is the first major strike since May 5, when violent protests against the austerity measures resulted in the deaths of three people in the capital, Athens.

Spanish government workers were set to protest at 6 p.m. (noon ET) outside the Ministry of the Treasury in Madrid and outside the central government offices in their respective towns. Spanish government workers were set to protest at 6


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Americans Have Been Bailing Out Foreign Banks for Years … And We’re Getting Ready To Do It Again

Americans Have Been Bailing Out Foreign Banks for Years … And We’re Getting Ready To Do It Again

Courtesy of Washington’s Blog

As the Wall Street Journal points out, the Federal Reserve might open up its "swap lines" again to bail out the Europeans:

The Fed is considering whether to reopen a lending program put in place during the financial crisis in which it shipped dollars overseas through foreign central banks like the European Central Bank, Swiss National Bank and Bank of England. The central banks, in turn, lent the dollars out to banks in their home countries in need of dollar funding. It was aimed at preventing further financial contagion.

The Fed has felt that it is premature to reopen this program — which was shut down in February as the financial crisis appeared to wane — because it wasn’t clear that foreign banks were in need of dollar funds. Still, trading floors on Wall Street are abuzz with anticipation today that the Fed might use the program again as Europe’s problems take on a more global dimension.

***

The international lending lines are known among central bankers as swaps.

Fed officials believe the swap program was one of its most successful interventions aimed at stemming a global crisis, when many banks overseas became strained for dollar funding. In their normal course of business, they borrowed dollars in short-term lending markets and used those dollars to finance holdings of long-term U.S. dollar assets, like Treasury or mortgage bonds. When those markets dried up, the swap lines helped to prevent overseas bank funding crises in 2008.

Fed officials see the swaps as a low-risk program, because its counterparties in these loans are foreign central banks, and not private banks. At a crescendo in the crisis in December 2008, the Fed had shipped $583 billion overseas in the form of these swaps.

Federal ReserveAs the BBC’s Robert Peston writes:

There is talk of the ECB providing some kind of one year repo facility (where government bonds are swapped for 12-month loans) in collaboration with the US Federal Reserve.

See this for more information on swap lines.

Indeed, the Federal Reserve has been helping to bail out foreign central banks and private banks for years.

For example, $40 billion in bailout money given to AIG went to…
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Here Kitty-Kitty (CAT)

Here Kitty-Kitty (CAT)

Staring Cat

Courtesy of Karl Denninger at The Market Ticker 

You have to have a rather odd view of "improving" to deal with the report given here as "reflecting economic improvement":

Caterpillar Inc. reported a profit in the first quarter, citing improved economic conditions, particularly in emerging markets, as the heavy machinery maker also raised its forecast for the year.

Ok, so we should have seen a beat on both revenue and earnings, right?  Remember, the first quarter of 2009 was the depth of the recession – the bottom – if you believe the headlines.

So what did we get?

For the first quarter, Caterpillar reported a profit of $233 million, or 36 cents a share, compared with a prior-year loss of $112 million, or 19 cents. Excluding items such as tax charges related to new health-care legislation and prior-year restructuring impacts, per-share earnings rose to 50 cents from 39 cents.

That’s good!  A profit .vs. a loss; exactly what one would expect.  How were revenues? 

Revenue dropped 11% to $8.24 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had forecast earnings of 39 cents a share on $8.84 billion in revenue.

Uhhhhhhhh….. wait a second.

Economic recovery eh?

Machinery sales were down 1% from a year ago – but I thought a year ago was the depths of the recession and we have been recovering since?  So how do we get a negative year-over-year comparison?

Worse, in North America (that’s here!) machinery sales were down 15% with dealer inventories half of year ago levels.  That is, not only is heavy equipment not selling, dealers don’t think it will be in the near future either.  So how did we get big increases?  Asia, up 40%.  Yep, that matters, and it’s what drove the results.

Engine sales were even worse, off 28%, and even in Asia they were down, in that case 15%.

The street is cheering this report on the back of everyone and their brother pumping the company (most especially the fools on CNBS) but the facts are what they are.  With no revenue increases you can argue for improving profit due to firing huge numbers of people all you want, but the top-line, particularly in America, is horribly bad and does not point to any sort of turn-around in construction equipment sales of any sort, nor any improvement in over-the-road trucks and other engine markets (such as marine.)

Disclosure: No position 


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Why Economic Forecasts Often Fail

Why Economic Forecasts Often Fail 
Linear thinking often utterly misses the mark in financial forecasting.

Damien Hirst Unveils Major New Work

Courtesy of Elliott Wave International

Let’s begin with a paradox: The one constant in our society is dramatic change. This is the main reason why projecting present conditions into the future often fails.

"If someone had asked you in 1972 to project the future of China, would anyone have said, in a single generation, they will be more productive than the United States and be a highly capitalist country?

"Project the U.S. space program in 1969, in fact many people did — there are plenty of papers you can read from 1969 to 1970 saying, well, it’s obvious at this pace we’ll both have colonies on the Moon very soon and we’ll have men on Mars…

"One could just as well ask someone to project, say, the Roman stock market in 100 A.D. I doubt if you’d have found anyone who said, well, it’s essentially going to go to zero."

-- Robert Prechter at the London School of Economics, lecture "Toward a New Science of Social Prediction."

Examples of linear thinking may be well-known like the ones above, or they may happen in our individual spheres. Mom sees Johnny eating animal crackers Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The box is now empty. She buys more — but the box remains unopened for days. Johnny wants a break from animal crackers. It’s an elementary example, but a demonstration of linear thinking nonetheless.

The socially awkward classmate you knew in high school is now the boss of the former class president who was dubbed "most likely to succeed." Projections for both of their futures would have widely missed the mark.

SUVs are selling like snow cones on an August afternoon in Luckenbach, Texas… "let’s make more," says Detroit. "Dramatic change" takes over in the form of sky-high gas prices followed by a recession and a social distaste for excess — and SUV sales sink.

Point is: When it comes to your money, pay attention to the pitfalls of linear thinking.

The markets of today may not resemble the markets of tomorrow.

Keep in mind the concept of dramatic change. This cannot be over-emphasized and bears repeating: Major change is not an occasional occurrence throughout history; paradoxically, it’s the only constant.

Even with the benefit of reviewing the above examples, it can be difficult to imagine, ahead of time,…
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Battle in EU Erupts Between Germany and France Over the “Club Med” Nations and Germany’s Export Policy

Battle in EU Erupts Between Germany and France Over the "Club Med" Nations and Germany’s Export Policy

Courtesy of Mish 

Federation Of German Expellees Annual Reception

The Club Med nations (Spain, Greece, Portugal), are in a horrible economic bind. France, hoping to be a white knight, hopped into the fray. France is upset that Germany’s export policies will force deflation on the Club Med group. Germany essentially says tough luck.

With that backdrop please consider Angela Merkel defies IMF and France as anger rises over German export surplus.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defied France and the IMF, refusing to modify Germany’s strategy of export reliance or boost growth to help alleviate the deep crisis sweeping Southern Europe.

"Where we are strong, we will not give up our strengths just because our exports are perhaps preferred to those of other countries," she told the German Bundestag.

"The problem has to be solved from the Greek side, and everything has to be oriented in that direction rather than thinking of hasty help that does not achieve anything in the long run and merely weakens the euro even more," she said.

Instead she called for EU treaty changes so that serial violators of EMU rules could be expelled from the euro, and insisted Germany would stick to its own path of hairshirt austerity.

The tough words came as the IMF’s chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn said it was time for Berlin to rethink its single-minded pursuit of exports, warning that both Germany and China need to play their part in rebalancing the global system rather than relying on huge structural surpluses. "This must change. Internal demand must be strengthened with more consumption," he told the European Parliament.

French finance minister Christine Lagarde infuriated Berlin earlier this week by suggesting that Germany’s relentlesss wage squeeze was making it impossible for Club Med states to claw back lost competitiveness within monetary union, forcing them into a deflation policy that must ultimately rebound against everybody.

Charles Dumas from Lombard Street Research said the Club Med states and Ireland cannot deflate wages below German levels without causing havoc to their economies, so the EU policy creates a profound bias towards a deflationary slump for the whole system.

"The Germans are not very good at arithmetic. If they want to run surpluses near $200bn (£130bn), others must run deficits near $200bn. It is not appropriate that Germany’s


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“Take out the baseball bat on Paul Krugman”

"Take out the baseball bat on Paul Krugman"

Courtesy of Tim Iacono at The Mess That Greenspan Made

Economist Steven Roach of Morgan Stanley Asia has some not-so-kind words for economist Paul Krugman and his view that the Chinese currency should be allowed to strengthen considerably from its current level.

Says Roach: "America doesn’t have a China problem, it has a savings problem… We should take out the baseball bat on Paul Krugman. I mean I think that the advice is completely wrong …. We’re lashing out at China rather than tending to our own business".

According to this report, Krugman replied, "I’m a little surprised at Steve for saying that. What I said is actually based on pretty careful economic analysis. We have a world economy which is depressed by China artificially keeping its currency undervalued." 

*****

Support to Steve Roach via Zero Hedge:

Hey Paul, what about the fact that the world would have been below a "depression" state, had China not been the defibrilator that kept the heart of the catatonic global economy beating for the past two years. Is there a chapter in the "Pretty Careful Economic Analysis" textbook on selective fact cherry-picking? Right, we figured. In the meantime the NYT’s potential "paywall" content is rapidly amortizing to the point where people will soon have absolutely no desire to pay for the NYT’s "expert" paid-for opinions. Which means Goldman is about to put the NYT on the conviction buy list.


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IS CONGRESS ABOUT TO DERAIL THE ECONOMY?

Here’s an excellent discussion on the economy and China. We present many views here, and Pragcap’s are some of the most thoughtful and balanced. And if you haven’t yet, check out Op-Toon’s Review (fun images and satirical commentary). – Ilene 

IS CONGRESS ABOUT TO DERAIL THE ECONOMY?

Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 

Optoon's Review imageThe United States government has made a curious series of interventionist moves over the course of the last 18 months. Some have been beneficial, but not surprisingly, few of these policies are actually helping the economy recover from the Great Recession.

As I’ve previously mentioned, Keynesianism can work.  There is good government spending and bad government spending, despite the constant shrieking from Austrian economists with regards to all spending being bad. Giving money (on a silver platter) to banks who are not reserve constrained is exhibit A of bad spending. Spending money on a healthcare plan in the middle of a recession is a close runner-up. The banking bailouts not only set a terrible social precedent, but were also implemented with the belief that banks are reserve constrained – something that is entirely false.

The great recession was never a banking sector problem despite it being labeled as a “credit crisis”.  In reality, this was a consumer driven crisis.  The results prove this.  The banks have recovered, but lending hasn’t improved.  Why?  Because this is a consumer driven recession.   Banks aren’t reserve constrained.  Finding willing borrowers, on the other hand, is a whole other matter….

Optoon's Review on health care billThe healthcare debate is a bit more messy.  While the social aspects of healthcare spending are likely positive, you just have to wonder about the motives of the men pushing this plan when we are mired in the worst recession in 75 years.  Is healthcare really our top priority when unemployment remains near 10%?  More importantly, is this an efficient form of government spending when we could easily target job creation or other productive investments in the long-term growth of America (China’s high speed rail system comes to mind here).  Meanwhile, we have an antiquated infrastructure.  Where are the priorities?…
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Phil's Favorites

Chart o' the Day: Unemployment Plunges

 

Chart o’ the Day: Unemployment Plunges

Courtesy of 

The guys at Bespoke Investment Group ask the question “Is this as good as it gets?” regarding the unemployment rate in this past week’s November Non-Farm Payrolls. It’s the lowest level for the indicator in 9 years.

They note that what went on economically, immediately following that August 2007 print, was not especially fun.

One dimension worth considering is the fact that Labor Force Participation is still much lower than is typical at this stage in an expansion. Wage growth, while good, is...



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Zero Hedge

All Eyes On Monte Paschi, Whose Bailout Is Now In Doubt, And Italian Bank Sector Contagion

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

As we noted last night, when we previewed the virtually assured "No" vote, we said that "a strong “No” vote will cause Prime Minister Renzi to resign, leading to political instability in Italy. Furthermore, a "No" vote is expected to kill a long-running attempt to rescue Italy's third largest and oldest bank, Monte dei Paschi, which has been desperate for a private sector bailout ever since it failed this summer's ECB stress test to...



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ValueWalk

Myth 5.4: Negative Growth Rates Forever? Impossible!

By Aswath Damodaran. Originally published at ValueWalk.

As you peruse discounted cash flow valuations, it is striking how infrequently you see projections of negative growth into the future, even for companies where the trend lines in revenues and earnings have been anything but positive. Furthermore, you almost never see a terminal value calculation, where the analyst assumes a negative growth rate in perpetuity. In fact, when you bring up the possibility, the first reaction that you get is that it is impossible to estimate terminal value with a negative growth rate. In this post, I will present evidence that negative growth is neither uncommon nor unnatural and that the best course, from a value perspective, for some firms is to shrink rather than grow.

]]> Get The Timeless Reading eBook in PDF

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Market News

Breaking News And Best Of The Web

Courtesy of John Rubino.

OPEC agrees to cut output. Oil jumps, stocks rise, gold falls. The political focus shifts to upcoming Italian, French and Austrian elections, all of which could go against the establishment. India’s war on cash may turn into war on gold. Political class still searching for an explanation (see “Best of the Web”). Trump’s cabinet takes shape, with mostly old and a few new faces.  

Best Of The Web

Trump, bonds, peripheries, China and Italy – Credit Bubble Bulletin

A new look – NYSE margin debt and the market – Financial ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Stock/Bond Ratio back at 2007 highs, different results this time?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Below looks at the S&P 500/Govt Bond (TLT) Ratio over the past 12-years

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

The S&P 500/TLT ratio is now back at 2007 levels. Double Top or Breakout Time.

Do find this interesting at this time, bullish sentiment on $TLT now stand around the 10% level, which happens to be the same level it was in mid 2007!

Different this time???  Always fun friends!!!

...

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Members' Corner

ItalExit? A Catch 22?

Courtesy of Nattering Naybob.

Over at Philstockworld... High Finance for Real People - Fun and Profits... 

Pharm - There is an Italian Referendum on staying in the EU in 2 weeks. Wonder how that will work out?

The referendum has nothing to do with leaving the EU, that's what the MSM wants everyone to think. The ubiquitous "they" are trying to confuse and scare the Italians with a line of BS.

StJL - Probably not well Pharm! Although the procedure to get out of Europe would be a lot more complicated for Italy because they are also using the Euro. At this point, probably nothing more than leverag...

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Chart School

Semiconductors Hit Hard

Courtesy of Declan.

Internet troubles have limited me tonight, but the one chart I want to show is the near 5% loss in the Semiconductor Index.  Having escaped relatively unscathed from recent day's selling it was a whirlwind of action for the index today.


This had obvious consequences on the Nasdaq. The Nasdaq did relatively well to suffer just over a 1% loss.  However, there were 'sell' triggers for On-Balance-Volume and Directional Index. There was also an acceleration in the relative underperformance of the index to the S&P. ...

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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of November 28th, 2016

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Digital Currencies

Largest US Bitcoin Exchange Is "Extremely Concerned" With IRS Crackdown Targeting Its Users

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Last Thursday we reported that in a startling development seeking to breach the privacy veil of users of America's largest bitcoin exchange, the IRS filed court papers seeking a judicial order to serve a so-called “John Doe” summons on the San Francisco-based Bitcoin platform Coinbase.

The government’s request is part of a bitcoin tax-evasion probe, and se...



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Mapping The Market

The Most Overlooked Trait of Investing Success

Via Jean-Luc

Good article on investing success:

The Most Overlooked Trait of Investing Success

By Morgan Housel

There is a reason no Berkshire Hathaway investor chides Buffett when the company has a bad quarter. It’s because Buffett has so thoroughly convinced his investors that it’s pointless to try to navigate around 90-day intervals. He’s done that by writing incredibly lucid letters to investors for the last 50 years, communicating in easy-to-understand language at annual meetings, and speaking on TV in ways that someone with no investing experience can grasp.

Yes, Buffett runs an amazing investment company. But he also runs an amazing investor company. One of the most underappreciated part of his s...



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Biotech

Epizyme - A Waiting Game

Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Epizyme was founded in 2007, and trying to create drugs to treat patient's cancer by focusing on genetically-linked differences between normal and cancer cells. Cancer areas of focus include leukemia, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and breast cancer.  One of the Epizme cofounders, H. Robert Horvitz, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2002 for "discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death."

Before discussing the drug targets of Epizyme, understanding epigenetics is crucial to comprehend the company's goals.  

Genetic components are the DNA sequences that are 'inherited.'  Some of these genes are stronger than others in their expression (e.g., eye color).  Yet, some genes turn on or off due to external factors (environmental), and it is und...



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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: Harlan is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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Promotions

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We know you love coming here for our Stocks & Options education, strategy and trade ideas, and for Phil's daily commentary which you can't live without, but there's more!

PhilStockWorld.com features the most important and most interesting news items from around the web, all day, every day!

News: If you missed it, you can probably find it in our Market News section. We sift through piles of news so you don't have to.   

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