Tag Archives: Currencies

Will the Fed Have to Save Emerging Markets with QE4?, by Charles Hugh Smith

From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

The risk-off tide is rising, and sand castles of QE will only hold the tide back for a brief period of apparent calm.

A funny thing happened on the way to permanently expanding global markets: unintended consequences. Borrowing cheap, abundant U.S. dollars seemed like a good idea when the dollar was declining, and few voiced any concern when $9 trillion was borrowed in USD-denominated debt around the world in the years since 2009.

Few saw the possibility of the USD rising, or that if it did appreciate against other currencies, that the blowback would destabilize the global economy.

It turns out a strengthening USD has triggered capital flight as other currencies devalue. Anyone propping up their currency to stem the flood tide faces another unintended consequence–a faltering export sector: China: Doomed If You Do, Doomed If You Don’t (September 1, 2015).

Meanwhile, the Imperial economy is suffering its own spate of unintended consequences, notably rising yields, a.k.a. quantitative tightening. As emerging markets and nations attempting to defend their currency pegs to the USD sell U.S. Treasury bonds (which have been held as foreign exchange reserves), the yields on the Treasuries rise as a matter of supply and demand.

As supply increases, sellers must offer higher yields to entice buyers to soak up the inventory.

This increase in yields reverses the primary effect of quantitative easing, i.e. declining yields/interest rates in the U.S.

This dynamic undermines both the emerging markets and the U.S. Emerging markets are not really restored to growth by selling Treasuries; the strong dollar continues to crush their currencies and dampen growth, as assets must be sold to pay back debt borrowed in USD.

Rising rates threaten the feeble U.S. “recovery” as well.

So what’s the solution to this inconvenient dynamic? QE4, of course. Why would the Federal Reserve launch QE4, if not to push rates down in the U.S.?

The primary reason is not yield suppression in the U.S. but to provide sufficient USD liquidity to everyone in the world who borrowed USD-denominated debt. If dollars are scarce, emerging market assets will have to be sold, and the demand for USD will push the USD higher vs. other currencies.

To continue reading: Will the Fed Have to Save Emerging Markets with QE4?

Why The Great Petrodollar Unwind Could Be $2.5 Trillion Larger Than Anyone Thinks, by Tyler Durden

From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Last weekend, we explained why it really all comes down to the death of the petrodollar.

China’s transition to a new currency regime was supposed to represent a move towards a greater role for the market in determining the exchange rate for the yuan. That’s not exactly what happened. As BNP’s Mole Hau hilariously described it last week, “whereas the daily fix was previously used to fix the spot rate, the PBoC now seemingly fixes the spot rate to determine the daily fix, [thus] the role of the market in determining the exchange rate has, if anything, been reduced in the short term.” Of course a reduced role for the market means a greater role for the PBoC and that, in turn, means FX reserve liquidation or, more simply, the sale of US Treasurys on a massive scale.

The liquidation of hundreds of billions in US paper made national headlines this week, as the world suddenly became aware of what it actually means when countries begin to draw down their FX reserves. But in order to truly comprehend what’s going on here, one needs to look at China’s UST liquidation in the context of the epochal shift that began to unfold 10 months ago. When it became clear late last year that Saudi Arabia was determined to use crude prices to bankrupt US shale producers and secure other “ancillary diplomatic benefits” (think leverage over Russia), it ushered in a new era for producing nations. Suddenly, the flow of petrodollars began to dry up as prices plummeted. These were dollars that for years had been recycled into USD assets in a virtuous loop for everyone involved. The demise of that system meant that the flow of exported petrodollar capital (i.e. USD recycling) suddenly turned negative for the first time in decades, as countries like Saudi Arabia looked to their stash of FX reserves to shore up their finances in the face of plunging crude. Of course the sustained downturn in oil prices did nothing to help the commodities complex more broadly and as commodity currencies plunged, the yuan’s dollar peg meant China’s export-driven economy was becoming less and less competitive. Cue the devaluation and subsequent FX market interventions.

In short, China’s FX management means that Beijing has joined the global USD asset liquidation party which was already gathering pace thanks to the unwind of the petrodollar system. To understand the implications, consider what BofAML said back in January:

During the oil-boom era, oil-exporters used oil earnings to finance imports of goods and services, and channeled a portion of surplus savings into foreign assets. ‘Petrodollar’ recycling has in turn helped boost global demand, liquidity and asset prices. With the current oil price rout, external and fiscal balances of oil exporters are undermined, and the threat of lower imports and repatriation of foreign assets is cause for concern.

Recycling of Asia-dollars might partly replace the recycling of petrodollars. Asian sovereign wealth funds ($2.8tn) account for about 39% of total sovereign wealth funds, and will likely see their size increase at a faster clip. Sovereign wealth funds of China (CIC & SAFE), Hong Kong (HKMA), Singapore (GIC & Temasek) and Korea (KIC) rank in the Top-15 globally.

Yes, the “recycling of Asia-dollars might partly replace the recycling of petrodollars.” Unless of course a large Asian country is suddenly forced to become a seller of USD assets and on a massive scale. In that case, not only would the recycling of Asian-dollars not replace petrodollar recycling, but the “Eastern liquidation” (so to speak) would simply add fuel to the fire – and a lot of it. That’s precisely the dynamic that’s about to play out.

To continue reading: The Great Petrodollar Unwind

Origins Of China’s Credit Bubble And Stock Market Crash—–The Key Explanatory Charts, by Gwynn Guilford

From Gwynn Guilford at Quartz via davidstockmanscontracorner.com:

This week’s Chinese stock market implosion has been widely viewed as a reaction to the Chinese government’s devaluing the yuan on Aug. 11—a move many presume was a frenzied bid to lower export prices and strengthen the economy.

This interpretation doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. First, Chinese investors haven’t been investing based on how the economy is doing, but rather, based on what they think the government will do to prop up the market. The crash, termed “Black Monday,” was more likely a reaction to the central bank’s failure over the weekend to announce a widely expected cut to the bank reserve requirement since previous cuts in February and April had boosted stock prices. The government eventually caved andannounced a cut on Tuesday (Aug. 25).

Second, the crash happened nearly two weeks after the devaluation, and the government only let the yuan depreciate by about 3% before swooping in and propping up its value again—which hardly helps exporters since the currency’s value effectively rose some 14% in the last year.

The devaluation probably had more to do with breaking the yuan’s tightly managed peg to the US dollar, an obligation that has been draining the economy of scarce liquidity as capital outflows swell.

Both moves—the government pulling back from its market bailout and the currency devaluation—stem from the same ominous problem: China’s leaders are scrambling to find the money to keep its economy running. To understand the broader forces that led to this predicament, here’s a chart-based explainer tracing its origins:

China used its exchange rate to stoke growth

China has long pegged its currency to the US dollar at an artificially cheap rate. Keeping the yuan cheaper than it should be, even as export revenues and foreign investment gushed in, allowed China to amass huge foreign exchange reserves, as we explain in more detail here:

To continue reading: Origins Of China’s Credit Bubble And Stock Market Crash

China Is Pushing On A String Ensemble, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

Look, it’s very clear where I stand on China; I’ve written a lot about it. And not just recently. Nicole Foss, who fully shares my views on the topic, reminded me the other day of a piece I wrote in July 2012, named Meet China’s New Leader : Pon Zi. China has been a giant lying debt bubble for years. Much if not most of its growth ‘miracle’ was nothing but a huge credit expansion, with an outsize role for the shadow banking system.

A lot of this has remained underreported in western media, probably because its reporters were afraid, for one reason or another, to shatter the global illusion that the western financial fiasco could be saved from utter mayhem by a country producing largely trinkets. Even today I read a Bloomberg article that claims China’s Q1 GDP growth was 7%. You’re not helping, boys, other than to keep a dream alive that has long been exposed as false.

China’s stock markets have a long way to fall further yet. This little graph from the FT shows why. The Shanghai Composite closed down another 1.27% today at 2,927.29 points. If it ‘only’ returns to its -early- 2014 levels, it has another 30% or so to go to the downside. If inflation correction is applied, it may fall to 1,000 points, for a 60% or so ‘correction’. If we move back 10 or 20 years, well, you get the picture.

That is a bursting bubble. Not terribly unique or mind-blowing, bubbles always burst. However, in this instance, the entire world will be swept out to sea with it. More money-printing, even if Beijing would attempt it, no longer does any good, because the Politburo and central bank aura’s of infallibility and omnipotence have been pierced and debunked. Yesterday’s cuts in interest rates and reserve requirement ratios (RRR) are equally useless, if not worse, if only because while they may provide a short term additional illusion, they also spell loud and clear that the leadership admits its previous measures have been failures. Emperor perhaps, but no clothes.

To continue reading: China Is Pushing On A String Ensemble