You gets what you pays for

Reuters’ story that SAFE told its banks they should be as obstructive as possible in meeting customer demands for foreign currency, but should absolute not divulge the reason why, certainly succeeded in causing a stir in markets.    Continue reading

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said

I was recently flattered to be asked how I envisaged the dreaded ‘helicopter money’ working if it were not to simply add further to commercial banks’ already crippling mass of deadweight liabilities and assets, given that not only would printing it up in physical form be tortuous but that cash itself is only one conveniently heinous crime away from being proscribed altogether. Continue reading

Money, Macro & Markets – The Archive

Regular readers will know that the articles published here are but a small subset of the detailed work I undertake to analyse economic and political developments and their effects on markets. In order to give some idea of the scope of this, presented below is an archive of past issues of the Austrian School-informed, in-depth monthly publication, ‘Money, Macro & Markets’ in addition to which I compile twice monthly updates as the ‘Midweek Macro Musings’ which are also made available on a complimentary basis to subscribers to the former letter.

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Canaries in the Coalmine

The old Wall St. adage runs that ‘stocks are not bought, they are sold’, but the idea here is that they are sold to eager acquirers and that the act of selling does not therefore depress the price too much. The same cannot be said of what we have experienced these past six weeks or so.

If the damage in the major indices—measured from the early December highs—has so far been limited to a ‘corrective’ 10%, others—whether geographically more far-flung or more sector-specific—have not been so fortunate. Continue reading

Inside, Outside, Nowhere is Home

To the delight of everyone with a vested interest in the continuance of the global central bank bubble, the latest data round from China revealed that, in the past four months, the cumulative total of new RMB loans in China has set a major new high, amounting to no less than CNY4.6 trillion—a number 50% or so greater than the average of the preceding two years and one equal to around $730 billion, or $6 billion a day, even at today’s newly depreciated rate of exchange. Yet, in that same time, the figure for ‘total social finance’ rose by no more than (sic) the 2012-14 seasonal average of CNY5 trillion.

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Reserve Judgement

With regard to the vexed issue of the renminbi, let’s focus on the basics. The official response to July’s stock market collapse saw loans to non-bank financials (the PPT) rise CNY891bln. Many of the recipients, the bailees, took their funds and either moved them abroad or paid back external loans, causing a record CNY242bln efflux.

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The Only Form of Permanence

Perhaps the first great lesson of economics, as emphasized by Henry Hazlitt, is that there is no free lunch. The second, courtesy of Frederic Bastiat, is that if it sometimes appears that there is one, it means that we simply have not looked deeply enough into the consequences of our attempt to enjoy it. The third, the joint insight of several generations of Austrians, is that the attempt to buy one for ourselves by resort to monetary manipulation is eventually doomed to fail. A cynic might say that the fourth and final lesson is that no-one ever wishes to abide by the strictures inherent in the first three rules. Continue reading

Moths to the Flame

That’ll teach’em!

Enticed by the seemingly risk-free profits being offered by the Chinese stock market stabilization drive, burned fingers spent the week from the lows creeping back to the flames, adding another $1 billion-a-day to the official margin total as they did. Continue reading

We Will All Go Down Together

When we last wrote, some brave analyst at a Chinese brokerage was making headlines by talking of there being at least another CNY2–2.5 trillion in ‘shadow’ margin debt to add to the peak CNY2.3 trillion registered on the exchange ( that latter now already shrunken by over a third). Since then, the ante has been upped by one of our hero’s competitors, who added another CNY1-1.2 trillion to that already gargantuan guess. The man from Huatai Securities also suggested that half of the total was effectively being financed by the nation’s banks, whether they are strictly authorised to do so or not. Continue reading