Category Archive: 5) Global Macro

Emerging Markets: Preview of the Week Ahead

EM FX ended last week on a firm note despite the strong US jobs data, with the dollar succumbing to some “buy the rumor, sell the fact” price action.  We think the dollar should recover as the week begins, as it seems risky to be short/underweight dollars going into the FOMC meeting.  With the Fed poised to hike 3 or perhaps 4 times this year, we don't think EM FX can continue to rally the way it has so far this year.

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The Next Domino to Fall: Commercial Real Estate

Just as generals prepare to fight the last war, central banks prepare to battle the last financial crisis--which in the present context means a big-bank liquidity meltdown like the one that nearly toppled thr global financial system in 2008-09.

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Do Record Debt And Loan Balances Matter? Not Even Slightly

We live in a non-linear world that is almost always described in linear terms. Though Einstein supposedly said compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe, it rarely is appreciated for what the statement really means. And so the idea of record highs or even just positive numbers have been equated with positive outcomes, even though record highs and positive growth rates can be at times still associated with some of the worst. It...

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Payrolls Still Slowing Into A Third Year

Today’s bland payroll report did little to suggest much of anything. All the various details were left pretty much where they were last month, and all the prior trends still standing. The headline Establishment Survey figure of 235k managed to bring the 6-month average up to 194k, almost exactly where it was in December but quite a bit less than November. In other words, despite what is mainly written as continued “strength” is still pointing down...

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Time, The Biggest Risk

If there is still no current or present indication of rising economic fortunes, and there isn’t, then the “reflation” idea turns instead to what might be different this time as compared to the others. In 2013 and 2014, it was QE3 and particularly the intended effects (open ended and faster paced, a bigger commitment by the Fed to purportedly do whatever it took) upon expectations that supposedly set it apart from the failures of QE’s 1 and 2. This...

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Are Central Banks Losing Control?

If you want a central banker to choke on his croissant, read him this quote from socio-historian Immanuel Wallerstein: "Countries (have lost the ability) to control what happens to them in the ongoing life of the modern world-system."

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No Paradox, Economy to Debt to Assets

It is surely one of the primary reasons why many if not most people have so much trouble accepting the trouble the economy is in. With record high stock prices leading to record levels of household net worth, it seems utterly inconsistent to claim those facts against a US economic depression.

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Emerging Markets: What has Changed

North Korean banks subject to international sanctions have been banned from using Swift. Korea’s Constitutional Court upheld Parliament’s motion to impeach President Park. Singapore eased some property market curbs after a three-year decline in home prices. Egypt partially reversed a cut in bread subsidies. Nigeria’s President Buhari returned to the nation after spending nearly two months in the UK. Moody’s moved its outlook on Argentina’s B3...

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Same Country, Different Worlds

To my mind, “reflation” has always proceeded under false pretenses. This goes for more than just the latest version, as we witnessed the same incongruity in each of the prior three. The trend is grounded in mere hope more than rational analysis, largely because I think human nature demands it. We are conditioned to believe especially in the 21st century that the worst kinds of things are either unrealistic or apply to some far off location nowhere...

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US Trade Skews

US trade statistics dramatically improved in January 2017, though questions remain as to interpreting by how much. On the export side, US exports of goods rose 8.7% year-over-year (NSA). While that was the highest growth rate since 2012, there is part symmetry to account for some of it.

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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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Economic Dissonance, Too

Germany is notoriously fickle when it comes to money, speaking as much of discipline in economy or industry as central banking. If ever there is disagreement about monetary arrangements, surely the Germans are behind it. Since ECB policy only ever attains the one direction, so-called accommodation, there never seems to be harmony.

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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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