Category Archive: Global Macro

China And Reserves, A Straightforward Process Unnecessarily Made Into A Riddle

The fact that China reported a small increase in official “reserves” for February 2017 is one of the least surprising results in all of finance. The gamma of those reserves is as predictable as the ticking clock of CNY, in no small part because what is behind the changes in those balances are the gears that lie behind face of the forex timepiece.

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Do Record Eurodollar Balances Matter? Not Even Slightly

The BIS in its quarterly review published yesterday included a reference to the eurodollar market (thanks to M. Daya for pointing it out). The central bank to central banks, as the outfit is often called, is one of the few official institutions that have taken a more objective position with regard to the global money system. Of the very few who can identify eurodollars, or have even heard of them, the BIS while not fully on board is at least open...

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Manufacturing Back To 2014

The ISM Manufacturing PMI registered 57.7 in February 2017, the highest value since August 2014 (revised). It was just slightly less than that peak in the 2014 “reflation” cycle. Given these comparisons, economic narratives have been spun further than even the past few years where “strong” was anything but.

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Emerging Market Preview for the Week Ahead

EM FX was mostly softer last week, though it ended the week firmer, buoyed by outsized MXN gains Friday. The Fed is sending very strong signals for a March hike, which should keep EM FX on its back foot. However, with the March 15 FOMC embargo coming into effect, there will be no Fed speakers after Kashkari on Monday. Jobs data on Friday will be the highlight, but given the Fed’s signals, we do not think a soft report will derail a hike next...

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review

Economic Reports Scorecard. The economic data released since my last update has been fairly positive but future growth and inflation expectations, as measured by our market indicators, have waned considerably. There is now a distinct divergence between the current data, stocks and bonds. Bond yields, both real and nominal, have fallen recently even as stocks continue their relentless march higher.

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Emerging Markets: What has Changed?

A Korean special prosecutor indicted Samsung chief Jay Y. Lee on bribery charges. Korean press is reporting that China has told its travel agents to halt sales of holiday packages to South Korea. Bulgaria’s interim government said it may apply to join the eurozone within a month. South Africa’s main labor union Cosatu accepted a government-proposed minimum wage.

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True Cognitive Dissonance

There is gold in Asia, at least gold of the intellectual variety for anyone who wishes to see it. The Chinese offer us perhaps the purest view of monetary conditions globally, where RMB money markets are by design tied directly to “dollar” behavior. It is, in my view, enormously helpful to obsess over China’s monetary system so as to be able to infer a great deal about the global monetary system deep down beyond the “event horizon.”

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Real Disposable Income: Headwinds of the Negative

The PCE Deflator for January 2017 rose just 1.89% year-over-year. It was the 57th consecutive month less than the 2% mandate (given by the Fed itself when in early 2012 it made the 2% target for this metric its official definition of price stability).

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Why Is the Cost of Living so Unaffordable?

Strip away the centralized power that protects and funds cartels, and prices would plummet. The mainstream narrative is "the problem is low wages." Actually, the problem is the soaring cost of living. If essentials such as healthcare, housing, higher education and government services were as cheap as they once were, a wage of $10 or $12 an hour would be more than enough to maintain a decent everyday life.

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Some Notes On GDP Past And Present

The second estimate for GDP was so similar to the first as to be in all likelihood statistically insignificant. The preliminary estimate for real GDP was given as $16,804.8 billion. The updated figure is now $16,804.1 billion. In nominal terms there was more variation, where the preliminary estimate of $18,860.8 billion is now replaced by one for $18,855.5 billion.

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Durable Goods Groundhog

If the economy is repeating the after-effects of the latest “dollar” events, and it does seem more and more to be that case, then analysis starts with identifying a range for where it might be in the repetition. New orders for durable goods (ex transportation) rose 4.3% year-over-year in January 2017 (NSA, only 2.4% SA), the highest growth rate since September 2014 (though not meaningfully faster than the 3.9% rate in November 2016).

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Virtue-Signaling the Decline of the Empire

Virtue-signaling doesn't signal virtue--it signals decline and collapse. There are many reasons why Imperial Rome declined, but two primary causes that get relatively little attention are moral decay and soaring wealth inequality. The two are of course intimately connected: once the morals of the ruling Elites degrade, the status quo seeks to mask its self-serving rot behind high-minded "virtue-signaling" appeals to past glories and cost-free...

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It Was ‘Dollars’ All Along

Ross Perot famously declared the “giant sucking sound” in the 1992 Presidential campaign. The debate over NAFTA did not end with George H. W. Bush’s defeat, as it simmered in one form or another for much of the 1990’s. Curiously, however, it seemed almost perfectly absent during the 2000’s, the very decade in which Perot’s prophecy came true. Americans didn’t notice because there was a bubble afoot.

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Emerging Markets: Preview of the Week Ahead

EM FX ended last week on a soft note despite lower US rates. The dollar regained some traction that it lost over the course of the week, when markets pushed out Fed tightening beyond March. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin also seemed to push out fiscal stimulus. There is a full slate of Fed speakers this week, and Wednesday sees the release of the Fed’s Beige book that was prepared for the March 15 FOMC meeting.

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Emerging Markets: What has Changed

PBOC tweaked its process for determining the yuan reference rate. Singapore is reportedly studying measures to boost revenue, including higher taxes. Moody’s upgraded the outlook on Russia’s Ba1 rating from negative to stable. Nigerian President Buhari extended his stay abroad. Nigerian central bank tweaked its FX restrictions, but was aimed at retail demand. Brazil political risk is back on the table. Brazil’s central bank hinted at a faster pace...

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There’s a Difference: Fake News and Junk News

The mainstream media continues peddling its "fake news" narrative like a desperate pusher whose junkies are dying from his toxic dope. It's slowly dawning on the media-consuming public that the MSM is the primary purveyor of "fake news"-- self-referential narratives that support a blatantly slanted agenda with unsupported accusations and suitably anonymous sources.

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Not Recession, Systemic Rupture – Again

For the very few in the mainstream of economics who venture further back in history than October 1929, they typically still don’t go much last April 1925. And when they do, it is only to further bash the gold standard for its presumed role in creating the conditions for 1929. The Brits under guidance of Winston Churchill made a grave mistake, one from which gold advocates could never recover given what followed.

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The Market Is Not The Economy, But Earnings Are (Closer)

My colleague Joe Calhoun likes to remind me that markets and fundamentals only sound like they should be related, an observation that is a correct one on so many different levels. Stock prices, in general, and GDP growth may seem to warrant some kind of expected correlation, but it has proven quite tenuous at times especially in a 21st century sense.

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The Problem with Gold-Backed Currencies

Any currency is only truly "backed by gold" if it is convertible to gold. There is something intuitively appealing about the idea of a gold-backed currency --money backed by the tangible value of gold, i.e. "the gold standard." Instead of intrinsically worthless paper money (fiat currency), gold-backed money would have real, enduring value-it would be "hard currency", i.e. sound money, because it would be convertible to gold itself.

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The Criminalization of Financial Independence

Just as the "war on drugs" criminalized and destroyed large swaths of African-American and Latino communities, the "war on cash" will further criminalize the few remaining avenues to financial independence and freedom. The introduction of "entitlement" welfare in the 1960s generated a toxic dependency on the state that institutionalized worklessness, a one-two punch that undermined marriage and family in America's working class of all ethnicities.

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