Financial Market Report for September 30, 2011
1) … Commodities and currencies fell strongly lower, taking world stocks lower, with the BRICS leading the way down.
Stocks falling strongly lower included, SOIL, TAN, PCSE, OIH, KOL, COPX, GEX, SEA, SLX, BJK, ITB, FAA, KRE, KCE, XME, ITB, IYT, MOO.
Reuters reports Worst Quarter For UK, German, French Stocks In 9 years European shares falling lower included VGK, EUFN, EWG, EWI, EWQ, EWO, EWN, EWD.
Emerging Markets and the BRICS fell strongly lower EEB, EEM, RSX, INDY, SCIN, EZA, CHIX, YAO, HAO,TAO. Australia, EWA, fell strongly lower.
World shares, ACWI, fell 3.5% and world small caps, VSS, fell 2.9% as Bloomberg reports Global Stock Markets Suffer Worst Quarter Since 2008
Gold, GLD, proved to be a safehaven investment, while other commodities plunged. DBC, JJC, JJA, DBB, CUT, GRU, SOYB, WEAT, and CORN, fell strongly lower as Bloomberg reports Corn Plunges To Three-Month Low on Signs of Slowing Demand; Soybeans Drop. Corn plunged, heading for a record monthly decline, after a government report showed larger U.S. inventories than forecast, signaling reduced demand for the grain used in animal feed and ethanol. Soybeans also declined. Consumption of corn in the U.S., the world’s largest grower and exporter, fell to 2.54 billion bushels in the three months ended Aug. 31 from 2.6 billion a year earlier, the Department of Agriculture said today in a report. Feed use dropped 7.9 percent to 456 million bushels. Prices are down 23 percent since the end of August, heading for the biggest monthly decline on record. “It’s a big negative surprise,” said Gregg Hunt, a market analyst and broker at Archer Financial Services Inc. in Chicago. “The drop in consumption implies that livestock feeders were using other feed sources, including ethanol by-products, and also says that last year’s crop was larger than the USDA estimated.”
Oil, USO, fell lower as Bloomberg reports Crude Oil Heads for Its Biggest Quarterly Decline in New York Since 2008. Oil fell, heading for its largest quarterly decline in New York since the 2008 financial crisis, as signs of slowing growth in China, the U.S. and Germany heightened concerns that fuel demand will suffer. West Texas Intermediate futures have fallen 15 percent this quarter, the biggest drop since the three months ended Dec. 31, 2008. Chinese manufacturing fell for a third month, according to data from HSBC Holdings Plc, while Germany’s Federal Statistics office said retail sales declined the most in more than four months in August. U.S. consumer spending slowed in August as incomes declined, the Commerce Department said today. WTI’s discount to Brent oil narrowed for a sixth day, the longest streak since March 2010. “There is a risk of slowdown in Chinese demand,” said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, who forecasts Brent prices at $100 in the next quarter. “The risks to the forecast in the fourth quarter and for 2012 as a whole are to the downside.”
China, CAF, CHIX, YAO, HAO, and TAO fell lower as Bloomberg reports China Stocks Sink to April 2009 Low as Quarterly Losses Mount on Slowdown. China’s stocks fell, sending the benchmark index to its lowest close since April 2009, on signs growth is slowing as the government maintains measures to curb inflation and overseas demand for exports falters.“Next quarter may see a lot of companies revising down their earnings forecasts amid the slowdown in the economy,” said Wu Kan, a fund manager at Dazhong Insurance Co., which oversees $285 million. “We are pretty cautious ahead of the week long holiday because the risk of Europe’s debt crisis is still there.” The Shanghai Composite sank 15 percent this quarter, the biggest loss since the three months to June 2010, amid concern Greece will default on its debt
The US Dollar, $USD, rose as Business Insider reports Morgan Stanley: Resurgent Greenback To Keep Rallying Into Next Year. World currencies. DBV, emerging market currencies, CEW, and commodity currencies, CCX, fell lower today as Bloomberg reports New Zealand Loses AAA Ratings, Yields Jump. New Zealand lost its AAA grades on local currency debt at Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s, which both cited concerns about the nation’s fiscal burden. Benchmark government yields rose the most this year. The outlook is stable after the long-term local-currency rating was reduced one level to AA+ and the foreign-currency rating was cut to AA from AA+, S&P said in a statement, matching actions announced yesterday by Fitch. New Zealand joins the U.S. to Italy among nations whose sovereign credit ratings have been cut this year, as governments’ struggles to cope with their debt burdens roil financial markets. Fitch’s downgrade may raise funding costs, adding to the case for Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard to keep interest rates at a record 2.5 percent low. Bond yields rose amid concern some overseas investors will sell their New Zealand holdings after the downgrades. “If funding pressures do intensify, this is one key factor, through a further tightening in financial conditions, that would delay any interest-rate hikes from the RBNZ,” Philip Borkin, an economist at Goldman Sachs & Partners New Zealand Ltd., said in a note to clients after the downgrade.
The U.S. dollar, $USD, rose 0.4% this week. Currencies rising included the Swedish krona, FXS, 0.9%, the British pound, FXB, 0.9%, and the South African rand, SZR,0.3%. Other currencies declined sharply; these included, the Mexican peso, FXM, 2.4%, the Brazilian real, BZF, 2.4%, the Canadian dollar, FXC, 2.1%, the New Zealand dollar, BNZ, 2.0%, the Australian dollar, FXA, 2.0%, the New Zealand Dollar, BNZ, 1.3%, the South Korean won 0.9%, the euro, FXA, 0.8%, the Danish krone 0.8%, the Singapore dollar 0.7%, the Japanese yen, FXY 0.6%, the Norwegian krone 0.3%, the Swiss franc, FXF, 0.3%, the Taiwanese dollar 0.3%. and the Indian Rupe, 0.1%
Reuters reports Japan Sept. Manufacturing PMI Shrinks, First in 5 Months. Japanese manufacturing activity contracted in September for the first time in five months as a strong yen hurt exports and domestic orders shrank due to weak domestic demand, a survey showed on Friday. The Markit JMMA Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) fell to a seasonally adjusted 49.3 in September from 51.9 in August. The index fell below the 50 threshold that separates contraction from expansion for the first time since April, which was one month after a devastating earthquake in March. And Bruce Krasting in Zero Hedge reports The Boss At The IASD Says That The EU Banks Are Fudging The Books On Greek Debt. Financial Post reports Soros Warns World On Verge Of Second Great Depression. Associated Press reports Kodak Shares Plunge As Bankruptcy Fears Escalate.
2) … Debt deflation, that is currency deflation, is well underway, putting the nail in the coffin to the Milton Friedman Free To Choose Floating Currency Regime. Out of deleveraging, disinvestment, and derisking, that comes from sinking currencies, The Beast Regime of Neoauthoritarianism in its place, manifesting as a Ten Toed Kingdom of regional economic government as called for by the Club of Rome in 1974, as a means of providing order out of the chaos of disinvestment and deleveraging.
The risk trade is over, as the spigots of investment liquidity have been turned off: carry trade lending, and securitization of debt by wall street investment bankers, is no longer expanding the world economy. US Federal Reserve Easing is exhausting resulting in falling currencies. Doug Noland reports For the quarter on the upside, the Japanese yen increased 4.5%. On the downside, the Brazilian real declined 16.8%, the South African rand 16.4%, the Mexican peso 15.7%, the Australian dollar 9.9%, the South African rand 9.4%, the Canadian dollar 8.3%, the New Zealand dollar 8.2%, the Norwegian krone 8.2%, the Swedish krona 7.9%, the euro 7.7%, the Danish krone 7.5%, the Swiss franc 7.5%, Singapore dollar 6.0%, the Taiwanese dollar 5.8% and the British pound 2.9%.David Yong of Bloomberg reports: “Asian currencies had their biggest monthly loss in more than a decade as a global slowdown and concern some European nations will struggle to pay debts bolstered demand for the relative safety of the dollar.” The last 90 day 15% fall in Small Cap Pure Value, RZV, reflects that global currency deflation is underway.
China’s currency, CYB, is controlled by the government. So deleveraging and derisking come mostly through disinvestment. Bloomberg reports The cost of protecting China’s sovereign debt from default jumped to the highest level since March 2009. Credit-default swap contracts on China surged 16 bps to 170, according to CMA. Everyone is getting more concerned about risks accumulating domestically’ said Ju Wang, a fixed-income strategist at Barclays Capital. Eventually in China, the burden in the banking sector will have to be reflected in the sovereign balance sheet.
Not only did currencies fall in the last quarter but stocks are as well on quantitative easing exhaustion and failure of growth prospects. Reuters reports World Stocks Post Worst Quarter in 3 Years. Stocks falling strongly in the last 90 days included FSE, TAN, EWI, EUFN, XSD, CHII, KME, GEX, KBE, CHIM, SLX, GERJ, URA, IGN, RSXJ, PSCT, WOOD, PSP, EWO, XME, TUR, EWQ, HAO, PSCE, FLM, VGK, QTEC, FONE, IGV, KOL, ARGT, BICK, RZV, KRE, CARZ, IWM, FNIO.
And the 15% fall in STPP over the last 90 days reflects the flattening of yield curves in a flight to perceived safety in longer duration US Government Bonds which is reflected in the weekly chart of the Zeroes, ZROZ. The 10 30 US Government Bond Yield Curve $TNX:$TYX, is only now starting to rise.
Junk Bond, JNK, fell sharply on the last day of the quarter, losing 2% of its value.
.The fall in world government bonds, BWX, near to its 200 day moving average, reflects that the global government finance bubble has burst, and the fiscal seigniorage of world governments, that is the fiscal authority of the world central banks, has come under debt deflation, and that bond vigilantes are successfully calling interest rates higher globally. The charts of Bonds, PICB, and International Corporate Bonds, PICB, show that the global credit bubble has been pricked.
Credit is evaporating as Bloomberg reports Credit Markets Heading for Worst Quarter Since 2008 in Europe. Corporate credit markets are heading for their worst quarter in Europe since the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008 as the prospect of a Greek default triggering an economic slump weighs on investors. The Markit iTraxx Crossover Index of credit default swaps linked to 50 companies with mostly high-yield credit ratings climbed more than 400 basis points since July 1, the biggest rise since the fourth-quarter of 2008 when it surged 456 basis points. And Bloomberg reports Bond Issuance Plunges on ‘Armageddon’ Scenarios: Credit Markets. Corporate bond offerings worldwide plunged in the third quarter to the lowest level since Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s 2008 failure as Europe’s sovereign debt crisis caused investors to shun all but the safest securities. Hewlett-Packard Co., the world’s largest maker of personal computers, and Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker Intel Corp. led borrowers issuing $543.2 billion of bonds in the past three months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Issuance fell 41 percent from the second quarter and 38 percent from a year ago as offerings by financial firms and junk-rated companies largely evaporated. And Bloomberg reports American Airlines is paying the highest interest rates since 2009 to raise cash in the debt markets. American sold $725.7 million of 10-year bonds backed by 43 aircraft with an 8.625% coupon. In January, the company sold similar debt at 5.25%”.
Doug Noland writes in Testing A Thesis: A unique period of unfettered Global Credit has spawned myriad historic Bubble Dynamics. The unprecedented policy response, fiscal and monetary, at home and abroad, to the bursting of the 2008 Mortgage Wall Street Finance Bubble unleashed the Global Government Finance Bubble. This Bubble was fueled by unprecedented growth in global sovereign borrowings and the unprecedented expansion of global central bank balance sheets, along with associated market pricing and risk taking distortions. Importantly, this global reflation stoked already overheated Developing Country Credit Systems and Economies to the point of dangerous Bubble Fragilities. This view is supported by extraordinary Credit expansion throughout China, Brazil, India and Developing Economies more generally. I have argued that post-2008 stimulus pushed China into a dangerous terminal phase of Credit Bubble excesses.
I have drawn parallels between last year’s Greek crisis and the eruption of subprime in 2007. Both were the initial cracks (“marginal borrowers” denied access to inexpensive market-based finance) in respective historic Bubbles (2007: U.S. mortgage Wall Street finance; 2010: global sovereign debt). With Greek crisis contagion having this summer spread to the third-largest issuer of sovereign debt in the world (Italy) and having severely impaired the European banking system, I have seen ample confirmation of this facet of my thesis. From my vantage point, last week appeared to provide another critical global crisis inflection point. In particular, escalating market tumult and contagion effects afflicted the Developing Currencies and Bond Markets. To that point, they’d been fairly resilient. Yet global derisking deleveraging dynamics seemed to lurch forward, and ever closer to the point of turning uncontrollable. I’ll suggest that the coming weeks will be crucial
The consensus view holds that the Developing economies and Credit Systems are robust and, as such, will prove resilient in the face of developed world structural financial and economic woes. I fear that the Developing Systems have themselves become acutely vulnerable to the downside of Bubble Dynamics. The soundness of Developing Credit Systems has quickly become a critical issue. Conventional analysis doesn’t foresee major problems. There is mounting support for the systemic fragility thesis with respect to the entire Developing World. And despite the positive outcomes in voting for expanding the scope of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), one had to squint this week to see improvement in Europe’s desperate financial situation. Various dynamics are in the process of falling like dominoes. This thesis will be tested. For now, my analytical framework has me confidently fearing that the deleterious consequences from this cycle’s reflationary excesses will prove especially formidable, and increasingly immune to policy prescriptions. This is what global equity (and CDS and risk asset) prices are shouting rather loudly and clearly, although our market continues listening for that little repetitive whispering voice: “next year is an election year and there’s way too much at stake for Washington to allow a debacle.”
The Automatic Earth reports How The European Rot Entered Wall Street French banks hold a lot of Greek debt, even own some of its banks. And -enter Wall Street stage left- Morgan Stanley owns a lot of French banks’ assets and/or liabilities. Not least of all is in the shape of derivatives. Hence, Morgan Stanley was down over 10% on Friday. If French banks go down because of their exposure to Greece, Morgan Stanley will go down too. And if Morgan Stanley goes, so does everyone on Wall Street who deals with it. Which is all of Wall Street. It’s not like you can ringfence Greece, or its banks. There are way too many links between countries on the one side and their central and commercial banks on the other. And many more links between all other central and commercial banks on the planet. There’s no way just one major bank will go down the abyss. Whoever’s first will take down many others.And so the vigilantes are licking their chops and waiting for Monday. Not as nervously, though, as all them market watchers all too eager to see the collapse. The vigilantes take too much pride and joy in picking them off one at a time. Pride and joy and profits.
Aaron Luccheti of the WSJ reports Morgan Stanley Takes Hit. Shares of Morgan Stanley sank 10% on Friday as the New York company continued fending off rumors about its exposure to troubled debt in Europe. The slump ended a month of harrowing volatility for investors in Morgan Stanley. Of the six largest U.S. banks, Morgan Stanley shares moved the most on 10 trading days in September, twice as many as Citigroup Inc. The concern with Morgan Stanley stems from its small size relative to other global financial firms and its reliance on debt markets, rather than customer deposits, to fund its business. As jitters about potential European debt defaults grow, investors are steering clear of bank stocks that might be dragged down as collateral damage if conditions in Europe worsen.
Morgan Stanley feels the concern more acutely because it is a big player in derivatives, risky opaque contracts that can often backfire on a bank if its risk management doesn’t limit losses. The situation at Morgan could turn dire if customers or lenders become skittish enough to flee. Three years ago, Morgan survived during such a panic, when it was essentially propped up by the federal government and secured a $9 billion investment from Japanese bank Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group.
Morgan Stanley has built up its cash hoard since then and raised more equity as a buffer against potential losses. It also has gotten out of many of the risky trading businesses that eat up capital and can force big, unpredictable losses. But the firm still is a big player in derivatives. Recent data from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency showed Morgan Stanley had derivatives contracts with a total notional value of $56 trillion at the end of June.
Last week, investors also started focusing on Morgan’s exposure to French banks after a website published a report about Morgan’s 2010 annual report, which noted $39 billion in gross exposure to French banks. People familiar with the firm’s finances said the figure in the report was outdated and included money being held on behalf of clients. The firm’s net exposure, which takes into account hedges, is about zero, they added. But investors don’t necessarily trust hedges as much as they used to. And if the hedges are with other weakened banks, the exposure might actually be greater than zero, critics allege. “There’s nothing the company can do with its statements because everyone thinks the banks are doing things off balance sheet,” says Richard Bove, a Rochdale Securities analyst that has a “buy” rating on Morgan Stanley shares.
Joe Weisenthal writes The Decline And Fall of Morgan Stanley Morgan Stanley is getting killed today, falling more than 9%, amid all kinds of rumors, talk about its CDS curve, European exposure, etc.It’s fairly stomach turning, and reminiscent of 2008.
3) … Brazil shares, EWZ, BRF, BRAQ, fall sharply as former hot money flow carry trade investments unwind.
Alender Ragir of Bloomberg reports Rousseff Crisis Spurred by Lula Debts as Brazil Boom Diminishes Rousseff, 63, inherited just about everything a president could want from her mentor and predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva: an economy growing at a 7.5 percent annual pace and unemployment, at 5.3 percent, that was the lowest since at least 2001. Brazil’s Bovespa stock market index rose six-fold during Lula’s eight-year tenure, as iron ore, soybean and sugar exports boomed, driven in large part by demand from China. Lula pulled 24.5 million people out of poverty in his years in office, according to data compiled by the Getulio Vargas Foundation, and Rousseff says that in the next four years, she will eliminate extreme poverty in Brazil.
Yet Rousseff took office in what has turned out to be a rocky period for Brazil’s economic miracle. Her government and Brazil’s economy have been hit with a series of setbacks. Brazil’s subdued mood may be best captured by the swoon in its stock prices: The Bovespa index was down 22 percent in 2011 as of yesterday. The bad news spills over into politics. From June to September, five of Rousseff’s cabinet ministers resigned, four of them after the police or the press made allegations they had misused public money. On Aug. 17, Agriculture Minister Wagner Rossi stepped down after Veja magazine alleged he had illegally used his influence for personal gain. Rossi denies wrongdoing. His PMDB party, with 80 deputies in the 513-member lower house, is a crucial part of the 15-party governing coalition led by Rousseff’s Workers’ Party, which itself has just 86 Assembly seats.
The dilemma for Rousseff’s government is that officials don’t want the fight against inflation to choke off economic growth. From January to July, central bank President Alexandre Tombini responded to the inflation threat by raising Brazil’s benchmark interest rate five times. Then, on Aug. 31, to the surprise of analysts, the central bank lowered the rate, to 12 percent from 12.5 percent. Even after the cut, Brazil’s rate was the highest among the Group of 20 nations, representing the world’s largest economies.
The central bank’s rationale for the rate cut was that a “substantial deterioration” in global economic growth will also slow Brazil’s expansion and push down inflation. “Even assuming that they’re correct on their overly bearish view on Brazil’s economy, they’re clearly putting growth above their inflation target,” says Tony Volpon, Latin America strategist at Nomura Securities International Inc. in New York. “The outcome in the long run will be higher overall inflation.” Despite the global economic gloom, Will Landers, who manages $8.5 billion in Latin American stocks at New York-based BlackRock Inc., sees only blue sky for Brazil’s economy. “The natural resources aren’t going away, global food demand isn’t going anywhere and the middle class will continue to develop,” Landers says. “The domestic consumption story is unparalleled. It’s still a great place to invest.”
There are two immediate culprits behind what is the worst inflation in six years: skyrocketing credit and heavy spending by the government. Bank lending to businesses and consumers stood at 47 percent of GDP as of July, up from 24 percent when Lula took office in 2003, according to the central bank.And in the run-up to the Oct. 31, 2010, election that put Rousseff into the presidency, Lula spent lavishly. Government spending in 2010 jumped 22.3 percent to 700 billion reais ($378 billion). To tame inflation, Rousseff pledged on Feb. 9 to cut 50 billion reais from the 2011 budget. She also needs to cut the government subsidies that allow the National Development Bank to lend money at cheap rates, says Paulo Vieira da Cunha, a former central bank director who’s now a partner at New York-based hedge fund Tandem Global Partners LLC. The bank handed out a record $101 billion in loans last year for projects such as building nuclear power plants, dams and roads and improving the electrical grid 40 percent more than the $72.2 billion loaned to countries around the globe by the World Bank.Commercial banks have also contributed to the inflation spiral. With near-zero interest rates in the U.S. and Europe, banks have been borrowing at low rates abroad and then lending at higher rates in Brazil, prompting Tombini to tighten bank liquidity requirements, a move that he says has removed 61 billion reais from circulation and helped prevent a credit bubble. Brazil’s high interest rates have attracted speculative investors to Brazil’s bond market, adding fuel to the 27 percent rise in the value of the real against the dollar since the end of 2008. The strong real makes exports more expensive and imports cheaper, which has resulted in a flood of Chinese goods filling store shelves, hurting local manufacturers.
The real has fallen 13 percent this month against the dollar as investors have fled emerging market assets on concern Europe’s debt troubles will stall the global economy. The decline may improve Rousseff’s image with exporters and manufacturers, although it will fuel inflation by increasing prices for imported consumer goods, says Mauricio Rosal, an economist with Raymond James Financial Inc. in Sao Paulo. “The real fell because of problems with Europe, but if a solution is found, the currency will bounce back,” Rosal says. “What’s happening in Europe isn’t going to solve Brazil’s structural problems.” Rising borrowing costs make government financing more expensive for the road improvements and other construction projects.
Brazil is undertaking to prepare for hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. The government is building stadiums, housing and other facilities for the games and is also upgrading transportation and other infrastructure as part of an $886 billion investment plan through 2014.
On the economic side, Brazil is once again suffering from an old affliction: inflation. Consumer prices, as measured by Brazil’s IPCA index, rose 7.2 percent during the 12 months ended in August. “I’ve never seen an economy with so many macro issues that can be addressed with just one instrument,” Ramos says. “If they would cut the fiscal budget significantly, they’d let the central bank loosen monetary policy. Lula rode the wave of rising commodity prices and forgot to make the reforms needed to make it sustainable.” By cutting government spending, Brazil could both lower taxes and reduce the cost of its $1.73 trillion debt by making more room for policy makers to cut interest rates, Ramos says. In 2008, the last year for which data are available, Brazil’s federal, state and local governments collected taxes equivalent to 35 percent of Brazil’s GDP, with half of the money spent on pensions, corporate subsidies and welfare programs and 16 percent spent on debt payments. Both public and private projects are expensive to bring off because of what Ramos and other analysts call the Brazil Cost. The price of doing business is driven up by taxes, graft, a turgid bureaucracy and high borrowing costs, Ramos says. Brazil, the world’s seventh-largest economy, ranks 127 out of 183 countries in the ease of doing business, according to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2011 survey. It takes an average of 120 days to complete the 15 procedures to start up a company. Persuading the legislature to spend less will be an uphill battle, according to an Aug. 10 report on the economy by Bank of America Corp.
The most Rousseff can hope for, the report says, are modest changes in the tax code and a rise in the time younger government employees need to work before they get their pensions. The generous pension system is an important component of government overspending, says Simon Nocera, founder of San Francisco-based hedge fund Lumen Advisors LLC, who studied the subject while working as an economist at the International Monetary Fund in the 1990s.Public servants can retire with 100 percent of their final salary after as few as 25 years of service, though men must be 60 and women 55 before they can collect. In 2010, the government spent 333 billion reais on pension, almost the GDP of Ireland. “If they reformed the pension system, they could lower taxes and interest rates,” Nocera says. “It’s the easiest way to lower costs, but there’s no political will.” Rousseff, who had never run for any office before being elected president, has little experience in negotiating the political deals that will be needed to reduce the budget and push down inflation and interest rates. And the recent cabinet resignations don’t help. One victim was Antonio Palocci, Dilma’s chief of staff, an experienced Workers’ Party leader who stepped down in June after a news report that his consulting firm had earned 20 million reais in 2010, most of it when he was running Dilma’s electoral campaign.continued.
4) … Has a bottom been reached in silver, SLV?
Tyler Durden writes Gold, Silver Speculative Longs Plunge To March 2009 Levels. An inquiring mind asks have gold and silver bottomed out? Options expiration week is upcoming; is the night of the long knives over? Is there enough physical demand for silver to maintain its current price? Does Jesse’s Weekly Silver Chart suggest support for silver?