Thursday, August 11, 2011

You Should be Turning Japanese

The S&P 500 showed signs of bottoming on Tuesday only to dash those hopes with a move back lower on Wednesday. The bottom may still be forming but there looks to be some volatility as it decides. If you are a day trader you are in heaven. If you try to place swing trades or position trades and are not on the sidelines watching, you are no doubt getting shredded. You already have your full allocation to Gold and US Treasuries. But frankly the parabolic rise in those asset classes has you feeling like lightening up a bit. There is nothing doing putting money to work in China or Emerging Markets as they are both falling fast as well. And Europe is just a mess. Cash is a fine alternative, but others have already weighed in on the virtues of a large cash allocation. But there is one other place that you may have overlooked because it is so obvious. One country keeps coming up as a horrific comparison to the US. One that has been floating in a lost Decade for about 15 years. Japan! What better place to put your money while the world is imploding than a country which has moved listlessly sideways for years. It has already imploded. Look at the weekly chart of the Nikkei ($NKY) below. Notice the floor at 9,000 since early 2009 and holding in the range between 9,000 and 10,000 over this period. This looks like a good place to hide.

But it is even more persuasive when looking at the ratio chart of the Nikkei against the S&P 500 ($SPX). The ratio broke above the shorter 10 month falling resistance line last week and this week is now over the longer term resistance line from mid 2009. It has a rising and strong

Relative Strength Index (RSI) and a Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) indicator that is increasing. As a long short trade this looks good as well. So maybe it is time to think about turning Japanese.

Desperate Measures

by Bruce Krasting

After Bernanke capitulated on the Fed’s responsibility to balance it’s dual mandate and committed to keep ZIRP alive for another 24 months the Swiss Franc exploded in value. It was up 6% in just a few hours. That was the biggest one-day move in 30 years.

The Swiss National Bank is getting desperate. They responded by announcing new emergency measures. They are immediately increasing “sight deposits” by CHF 40B. This is the second increase in a week. The two actions together will increase liquidity in the banking system from CHF 30B to CHF 120b. A 400% increase.

We are confronted with huge numbers every day. What does an increase of CHF 90b really mean? It’s a very big deal. Swiss GDP is about CHF 500b. So the increase in liquidity is equal to 20% of GDP. Now think of US GDP at $15 Trillion. What the Swiss have done in just a week is equivalent to $3 trillion in a big economy like the USA. That is massive.
This is the language from the SNB yesterday:
The massive overvaluation of the Swiss franc poses a threat to the development of the economy in Switzerland and has further increased the downside risks to price stability.
This was the sentence that caught my eye:
To accelerate the increase in Swiss franc liquidity, the SNB will additionally conduct foreign exchange swap transactions. The foreign exchange swap is a monetary policy instrument which the SNB uses to create Swiss franc liquidity.
From this I conclude that not only is the SNB trying to push interest rates to zero, they intend to push the interbank swap rates for Swiss Francs to BELOW ZERO. This is a form of intervention that is intended to discourage speculative holders of SFR. This action by the SNB is working as of this morning. The CHF has backed off against all currency pairs.

One sees the evidence of the monetary intervention in the short date swaps. This morning the Spot Next and Spot a Week roll of CHF to dollars is being priced in the hole. This is the area of the market where speculative holdings of CHF are rolled over. The one week bid offer spread pricing this AM is:
-1.9 / -0.83

Note that both sides of the swap are negative. This implies that CHF interest rates are negative. The left side (the bid side) is the price one has to pay if they were long CHF versus dollars and wanted to hold onto a long position for a week. Some math:

The USDCHF spot rate is .7378. The cost of the one-week roll is .00018. The cost of rolling a long CHF position of 10,000,000 Francs comes to $3,307 per week. That may not seem like a big deal as the dollar equivalent of CHF 10mm is $13,550,000. But that is not how things work in this big casino.

Currency trading is done on very high margin. Many participants can play at the table with only 2% margin. Others have to come up with as much as 5%. What does $3,307 come to when the equity involved is only a fraction of the principal? For the 5% player it comes an annualized cost of holding the position of 23% of equity. For that big shot who plays with only 2% down the rollover cost comes to an annualized penalty of a whopping 63%.

From long experience in this business I can tell you that short-term currency traders HATE negative carry trades. A long CHF position now has a big cost to it. If a trader has a short Dollar/Swiss position of $100mm (a modest currency position for these folks) the cost of holding it is now $25,000 a week. This cost was zero two weeks ago. This squeeze on short date swaps is a very good reason to cut those short dollar positions. That is exactly what has happened so far today. The CHF has backed off (a bit) against all other currency pairs as of this morning. As of today, the SNB has achieved its objective of getting people out of the currency market.

This won’t last for long. There will be another tremble in the market that gets people scrambling for safety. The “go to” trade will still be to buy CHF when that happens. The cost of ownership be damned. What will happen as a result of the liquidity steps is that greater volatility in spot Swissie will occur.
The relative rate of the CHF versus Euros or Dollars is important to the SNB. But even more important is the rate of change. The short date squeeze by the SNB may result in a bit of retrenchment for a few days. But it will almost certainly result in increased volatility.

My take on the actions by the SNB is that they are trying to buy time and create a more orderly adjustment to a stronger CHF. I think the consequences will be that we will have violent intraday adjustments, but over the course of a month the Franc will be stronger anyway. The SNB is trying to buy time as measured in days. To me, that is no plan at all, just a desperate act by a desperate central bank.

How long is the list of Central Banks that are undertaking extreme measures to influence very short-term outcomes? The list is endless. Virtually every CB in the world is doing it today. As a result, extremely high volatility across all markets will prevail. Squeezing short dates often has a negative affect. Something always blows up as a result. Yet every central bank is attempting essentially the same thing. They are trying to buy time. They are the source of the volatility we are living through.

Following Tremonti Speech In Parliament, Serial Halts Of Italian Banks Resume

Not even an hour after Tremonti addressed parliament discussing the various ways Italy would have to reform in order to meet European demands for austerity, the now traditional serial collapse of Italian banks resume, with the halt of the unholy trinity Unicredit, Intesa, Banca dei Monte Pasci, as well as Mediobank ensuing. Concurrently the same Italian weakness appears to have spread to France where BNP falls over 5% and SocGen down over 6%, affecting financials across the Eurozone, and sparking visions of a repeat of yesterday's collapse in European markets led by the fins. And while there is the usual plethora of rumors as to what may be responsible for this renewed weakness for now it is best not to speculate for fear of black helicopters, what is certain is that Italy's main opposition leader is setting the stage for a rerun of Greek daily strikes, by objecting to the balanced-budget plan at the heart of the Italian deficit cutting program. As Reuters reports, Italian opposition leader Pierluigi Bersani on Thursday rejected proposals for a blanket constitutional rule forbidding budget deficits but said his party was ready to support rules for greater budget discipline. Bersani said his party was ready to support measures to reinforce discipline in public finances but said it made no sense to impose unrealistic constraints on policy. "First, let's not talk about things that don't exist in any place in the world," Bersani said during a hearing of the parliamentary constitutional committee. "Balancing the budget in the constitution -- well, we don't intend to castrate ourselves for centuries from any possible economic policy." "So let's find a solution that has flexibility." Translation: we now have at best a few weeks before the strike (and riot) cam moves from Syntagma Square to Piaza Navona. As for Italian (and French) bank halts: our advice - don't exhale or the entire thing will collapse, and the smallest rumor will bring the European financial sector to a screeching halt yet again.
Reuters on Tremonti's speech:
Italy is ready to act following European requests for labour market reform and privatisations to spur growth as well as other measures to balance its budget by 2013, Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti told parliament on Thursday.

A letter from the European Central Bank last week asked for large-scale privatisation of local services, pension reform and greater flexibility in the labour market, Tremonti said.

Tremonti said Italy needed stronger austerity measures to meet its target of balancing its budget by 2013, and pledged stronger action to fight tax evasion and abuse of fixed-term employment contracts.
And the contextual interpretation:
Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti appeared in parliament on Thursday to discuss the government's response to the euro zone debt crisis amid increasing criticism of its failure to provide any detail of austerity plans.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told unions and employers on Wednesday that the cabinet would approve an emergency decree with deficit reduction measures by August 18 but provided no concrete proposals.

With tense financial markets hungry for detail of government plans to fast track some 20 billion euros of austerity measures to balance the budget by 2013, Tremonti addressed the parliamentary constitutional affairs committee.

Pierluigi Bersani, leader of the centre-left opposition Democratic Party, said the extreme turbulence on financial markets over recent weeks showed that more urgency was needed.

"The government didn't say anything to the unions and employers yesterday, that's the point, just as they didn't say anything in parliament 10 days ago," he told state television. "I hope Tremonti comes with some more detail today," he said.

Berlusconi has made a handful of statements on the escalating markets crisis since the beginning of the month, addressing parliament last week and giving a news conference on Friday when he pledged to fast-track reform measures.

But there has been widespread criticism that the government has not been clear enough about its plans to repair public finances in the face of a collapse in market confidence.

"European bourses, in their disastrous fall, cannot wait until Aug. 18," the respected daily Corriere della Sera said in a front page editorial, adding that so far no credible proposals had been offered.
At least now we have a date (one week from now) when we can add Italian daily strikes to the roster of daily entertainment. And with the FTSE MIB already so fragile a mere whisper an ocean away halts the market, we can't wait to see what antics those pranksters at the CONSOB come up with to prevent this latest house of cards from dropping terminally.

The Manufacturing Imperative

We may live in a post-industrial age, in which information technologies, biotech, and high-value services have become drivers of economic growth. But countries ignore the health of their manufacturing industries at their peril.

High-tech services demand specialized skills and create few jobs, so their contribution to aggregate employment is bound to remain limited. Manufacturing, on the other hand, can absorb large numbers of workers with moderate skills, providing them with stable jobs and good benefits. For most countries, therefore, it remains a potent source of high-wage employment.

Indeed, the manufacturing sector is also where the world’s middle classes take shape and grow. Without a vibrant manufacturing base, societies tend to divide between rich and poor – those who have access to steady, well-paying jobs, and those whose jobs are less secure and lives more precarious. Manufacturing may ultimately be central to the vigor of a nation’s democracy.

The United States has experienced steady de-industrialization in recent decades, partly due to global competition and partly due to technological changes. Since 1990, manufacturing’s share of employment has fallen by nearly five percentage points. This would not necessarily have been a bad thing if labor productivity (and earnings) were not substantially higher in manufacturing than in the rest of the economy – 75% higher, in fact.

The service industries that have absorbed the labor released from manufacturing are a mixed bag. At the high end, finance, insurance, and business services, taken together, have productivity levels that are similar to manufacturing. These industries have created some new jobs, but not many – and that was before the financial crisis erupted in 2008.

The bulk of new employment has come in “personal and social services,” which is where the economy’s least productive jobs are found. This migration of jobs down the productivity ladder has shaved 0.3 percentage points off US productivity growth every year since 1990 – roughly one-sixth of the actual gain over this period. The growing proportion of low-productivity labor has also contributed to rising inequality in American society.

The loss of US manufacturing jobs accelerated after 2000, with global competition the likely culprit. As Maggie McMillan of the International Food Policy Research Institute has shown, there is an uncanny negative correlation across individual manufacturing industries between employment changes in China and the US. Where China has expanded the most, the US has lost the greatest number of jobs. In the few industries that contracted in China, the US has gained employment.

In Britain, where the decline of manufacturing seems to have been pursued almost gleefully by Conservatives from Margaret Thatcher until David Cameron came to power, the numbers are even more sobering. Between 1990 and 2005, the sector’s share in total employment fell by more than seven percentage points. The reallocation of workers to less productive service jobs has cost the British economy 0.5 points of productivity growth every year, a quarter of the total productivity gain over the period.

For developing countries, the manufacturing imperative is nothing less than vital. Typically, the productivity gap with the rest of the economy is much wider. When manufacturing takes off, it can generate millions of jobs for unskilled workers, often women, who previously were employed in traditional agriculture or petty services. Industrialization was the driving force of rapid growth in southern Europe during the 1950’s and 1960’s, and in East and Southeast Asia since the 1960’s.

India, which has recently experienced Chinese rates of growth, has bucked the trend by relying on software, call centers, and other business services. This has led some to think that India (and perhaps others) can take a different, service-led path to growth.

But the weakness of manufacturing is a drag on India’s overall economic performance and threatens the sustainability of its growth. India’s high-productivity service industries employ workers who are at the very top end of the education distribution. Ultimately, the Indian economy will have to generate productive jobs for the low-skilled workers with which it is abundantly endowed. Much of that employment will need to come from manufacturing.

For developing countries, expanding manufacturing industries enables not only improved resource allocation, but also dynamic gains over time. This is because most manufacturing industries are what might be called “escalator activities”: once an economy gets a toehold in an industry, productivity tends to rise rapidly towards that industry’s technology frontier.

I have found in my research that individual manufacturing industries, such as auto parts or machinery, exhibit what economists call “unconditional convergence” – an automatic tendency to close the gap with productivity levels in advanced countries. This is very different from the “conditional convergence” that characterizes the rest of the economy, in which productivity growth is not assured and depends on policies and external circumstances.

A typical mistake in evaluating manufacturing performance is to look solely at output or productivity without examining job creation. In Latin America, for example, manufacturing productivity has grown by leaps and bounds since the region liberalized and opened itself to international trade. But these gains have come at the expense of – and to some extent because of – industry rationalization and employment reductions. Redundant workers have ended up in worse-performing activities, such as informal services, causing economy-wide productivity to stagnate, despite impressive manufacturing performance.

Asian economies have opened up too, but policymakers there have taken greater care to support manufacturing industries. Most importantly, they have maintained competitive currencies, which is the best way to ensure high profits for manufacturers. Employment in the manufacturing sector has tended to increase (as a share of total employment), even in India, with its services-driven growth.

As economies develop and become richer, manufacturing – “making things” – inevitably becomes less important. But if this happens more rapidly than workers can acquire advanced skills, the result can be a dangerous imbalance between an economy’s productive structure and its workforce. We can see the consequences all over the world, in the form of economic underperformance, widening inequality, and divisive politics.

Dani Rodrik, Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard University, is the author of The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy.

See the original article >>

Exclusive: One bank in Asia cuts, others review credit

By Rachel Armstrong and Saeed Azhar

(Reuters) - One bank in Asia has cut credit lines to major French lenders while five other banks in Asia are reviewing trades and counterparty risk as worries about the exposure of French banks to peripheral euro zone debt mounts, banking sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Rumors on Wednesday that France was to lose its AAA rating, later denied by ratings agencies, helped trigger the biggest widening in the European credit default swap index since the credit crunch in 2008.

That sudden rise in risk perception, combined with sharp share price falls in French banks, prompted some banks in Asia to speed up reviews of counterparty risk and look at whether they should cut exposure to European lenders, sources at each of the six banks in Asia said.

Contacted about the moves by the banks in Asia, a spokeswoman for top French lender BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) in Paris said: "We never comment on market rumors."

Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) had no immediate comment to make while a spokeswoman for Credit Agricole (CAGR.PA), which will publish its second-quarter earnings later in August, said the bank would not make any comment.

The banks in Asia and the sources -- a mix of risk officers, senior traders and loan bankers -- could not be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information.

The head of treasury risk management for Asia at one bank in Singapore -- which has a significant presence across the region -- said their credit lines to large French banks had been cut because of the perceived risks in lending to these counterparties.

"We've cut. The limits have been removed from the system. They have to seek approval on a case-by-case basis," the treasury risk official said. The official declined to name the French banks.

Societe Generale put out a statement on Wednesday denying rumors about its financial health after its shares fell by as much as 21 percent.

The statement failed to fend off much of the market's concern with its shares ending the day 15 percent lower, taking losses since early July to more than 50 percent.

A senior credit trader in Singapore said that when a bank's shares fall that sharply their risk officer will automatically look at how much exposure they have to that lender.

SocGen shares were down 4 percent by 6:30 a.m. EDT on Thursday. BNP was down 5 percent while Credit Agricole (CAGR.PA) was largely flat.

Banks' heightened responses could exacerbate the market strains if they all acted simultaneously with portfolio-at-risk modeling, analysts said.

"The thing is if they all use it at the same time they will all sell at the same time when risk goes up, and that will drive prices down and it is like a snowball because then the prices go down and then your value-at-risk ratio will tell you 'oh, I must reduce my risk even more'," said Mark Matthews, head of research at Julius Baer.


Several of the traders and bankers in Asia said that while they had not cut all exposure to any particular institution, they were very cautious about taking on new trading positions with them.

A senior risk officer at a bank in Singapore said "obviously we are having a review," when asked if they were reassessing their positions with European counterparties.

Bankers and risk officers at the five institutions in Asia that were still dealing with French banks said that while short-term lending of up to 30 days was still taking place, they were conducting a thorough review of longer-term credit lines regardless of the type of transaction.

"It's all in relation to (our) take on a French bank's credit risk, regardless of whether it's a swap or interbank lending transaction," said a senior loan banker at a Japanese bank.

Criteria banks are reviewing include looking at whether parts of the credit lines they have in place with their 

French financial counterparties are as yet unused, and if so if they can be reduced. The term lengths of loans they've granted are also under review, with a view to cutting them if they can.

Lenders are also considering imposing a larger haircut on the European government bonds posted as collateral by the euro zone banks they lend to, the treasury risk official from the bank that has cut credit lines said.


These practices already look to be constraining European lenders' access to longer term funds, given that banks had to tap the European Central bank for 50 billion euros worth of six-month cash this week.

"They went on (credit) watch late last week for us. We can't extend further counterparty risk on French banks," said a senior trader at another financial institution in Singapore.

The restrictions, put in place on Friday, limited trading across financial asset classes that would increase the institution's exposure to the French banks, the senior trader said.

A compliance officer at another European bank in Singapore said banks are responding to changes in the risk outlook much more quickly than during the 2008 financial crisis.

"We have a dedicated unit not just going through our exposures on a name by name basis but looking at the broad portfolio of assets the whole bank is exposed to and the risks it contains," he said.
"People are flagging much earlier if they think there's counterparty risk we need to reassess."

Chris Matten, a financial services partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Singapore and a former CFO of OCBC Bank (OCBC.SI), said reviews of European lenders would have been happening regularly.

"The smarter banks would have gone through the exercise a while ago. We've seen sharp falls in shares this week but the debt problems in the euro zone have been a train crash in slow motion," Matten told Reuters.

"I know of at least a few smart banks that went through all their exposure to south European banks six months ago and have since cut that exposure quite substantially."

What Can Replace the Dollar?

For more than a half-century, the US dollar has been not only America’s currency, but the world’s as well. It has been the dominant unit used in cross-border transactions and the principal asset held as reserves by central banks and governments.

But, already before the recent debt-ceiling imbroglio, the dollar had begun to lose its luster. Its share in the identified foreign-exchange reserves of central banks, for example, had fallen to just over 60%, from 70% a decade ago.

The explanation is simple: the United States no longer dominates the world economy to the extent that it did in the past. It makes sense that the international monetary system should follow the global economy in becoming more multipolar. Just as the US now has to share the world stage with other economies, the dollar will have to make room for other international currencies.

In my recent book Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar, I described a future in which the dollar and the euro would be the dominant global currencies. And, peering ten and more years down the road, I anticipated a potential international role for the Chinese renminbi.

I ruled out a role for Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), the accounting unit issued by the International Monetary Fund. One might think that the SDR, as a basket of four currencies, might be attractive to central banks and governments seeking to hedge their bets. But the process for issuing SDRs is cumbersome, and there are no private markets in which they can be traded.

There was no realistic alternative, I concluded, to a future in which the leading national currencies, the dollar and the euro, still dominated international transactions.

What’s different now is that a pox has been cast on both houses. The US debt-ceiling fiasco has raised doubts in the minds of central bankers about the advisability of holding dollars, while Europe’s failure to resolve its sovereign-debt crisis continues to fuel doubt that the euro can survive. Once upon a time (less than a year ago), it was possible to imagine international-reserve portfolios dominated by the dollar and euro; today, anxious central bankers are desperate for alternatives to both sick currencies.

The problem is that they have nowhere to turn. The gold market is small and volatile. Chinese bonds remain unavailable. Second-tier currencies, like the Swiss franc, the Canadian dollar, and the Australian dollar, are only a slightly larger midget when combined.

With central banks seeking an alternative to dollars and euros, isn’t now a perfect time to expand the role of SDRs? Why not issue more? Why not develop markets in which they can be traded? Isn’t this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move away from a world where the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank hold the supply of international liquidity in thrall?

The answer, unfortunately, is no. This much has not changed in the last year: the SDR still is not an attractive option for central banks disenchanted with the dollar and the euro. The reason is obvious on a moment’s reflection: the combined share of the dollar and euro approaches 80% of the basket of currencies that comprise the SDR.

Expanding the basket to include emerging-market currencies would help, but only a little, because the US and Europe still account for half of the world economy and more than half of its liquid financial markets. The SDR would offer little protection if the dollar and euro lost value over time.

A better idea is to start work now on creating a more attractive global reserve asset. The ideal instrument would be a global-GDP-linked bond, the returns on which would vary with global growth rates, just as returns on the GDP warrants issued by the governments of Costa Rica and Argentina, for example, vary with their national growth rates.

This would enable central banks to hold instruments that behave like a widely diversified global equity portfolio. They would be compensated for inflation and currency depreciation in the US and Europe, since the payout would depend on these economies’ nominal, not real, GDP. The IMF could use its bond-issuing power to purchase GDP-indexed bonds from national governments, thereby providing the new global reserve assets with backing and interest-generating capacity, while creating an incentive for governments to issue them.

The Yale University economist Robert Shiller has long argued that national governments should issue GDP-linked bonds as a safer way to borrow, but convincing them has been difficult. Persuading them to support issuance by the IMF of a global-GDP-indexed bond would be even harder. But if governments and central banks are serious about identifying alternatives to the dollar and the euro, now is the time to start – and GDP-linked bonds are the place to look.

Barry Eichengreen is Professor of Economics and Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley.

See the original article >>

Evening markets: data prospect shelters corn, soy from storm


Anybody home in Chicago?
External markets witnessed their customary mayhem on Wednesday, although this time with a twist in that New York crude, up nearly 4% in late deals above $82 a barrel, supported by data showing a decline in US oil inventories, charged the opposite way to stocks.
New York's Dow Jones Industrial Average was 2.9% lower in late deals following declines on other share markets, which saw London's FTSE 100 index close down 3.1%, amid fears for exposure of eurozone banks, and particularly French ones, to the region's debt problems.
France's Cac index plunged 5.5%.
Unusual situation
But in grain markets, the mood was altogether different.
"It has probably been the most stagnant price movement that we have seen in weeks," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.
At PitGuru, Matthew Pierce said: "Commodities are actually the 'stable' option right now as compared with equities and energies. How odd is that?"
Chicago corn for December ended flat at $6.88 ½ a bushel, with the best-traded soybean lot, November, adding all of 1.75 cents, albeit important ones, to drag the contract back above $13 a bushel, to $13.01 ½ a bushel.
Volumes were weak too.
Demand hopes
It wasn't that the day was bereft of news.
South Korean feed groups bought 55,000 tonnes of US corn, indicating that demand hasn't gone away even after the dent to sentiment wrought by August so far.
That goes for domestic demand too. US production of ethanol last week, at 98,000 barrels a day, was up 40,000 barrels a day week on week, meaning bigger consumption of corn by biofuel plants.
In soybeans, Chinese customs data showed the country's imports of the oilseed soared 24% last month to 5.35m tonnes, the best figure of 2011 so far.
The import rise is likely to reflect, besides the lifting of price caps on cooking oil, "soybean meal demand for the expanding pork industry with pork prices having risen markedly this year", Sudakshina Unnikrishnan at Barclays Capital said.
Pork price inflation in July remained at 57%, as Chinese farmers seek to rebuild herds even amid a time of soaring demand for the meat.
'A market mover'
However, the mood was nervous ahead of a US Department of Agriculture Wasde crop report on Thursday which has been anticipated for weeks, largely for its estimate of how much damage last month's US heatwave wrought on corn and soybeans, at a time of already-thin stocks.
"The report tomorrow is a market mover," US Commodities said, noting that, on average, August Wasde reports cause a swing of $0.24 a bushel in corn futures on the day, and $0.41 a bushel in soybeans.
For wheat, the briefing is viewed as less crucial, causing an average move of $0.14 a bushel, with much of the US crop already in the barn by now.
'Still some optimism'
And, indeed, the grain managed movement denied its peers, in an upward direction too, helped by its newly-rediscovered competitiveness against Russian wheat on export markets.
"There is still some optimism regarding wheat exports and that has supported wheat today," Mr Holaday said.
Furthermore, while some dry southern US wheat areas have received much-needed rain, the western wheat areas received nothing", leaving winter wheat growers facing the prospect of poor soil conditions for planting.
And the Rosario Grain Exchange pegged Argentina's wheat crop at 12.5m tonnes, lower than the current USDA forecast of 15m tonnes, taking some of the sting out of another upgrade for the French crop, this time from official farm bureau FranceAgriMer.
Big tender
There was also evidence of demand in wheat, with Saudi Arabia tendering for 660,000 tonnes of hard wheat.
Chicago (soft red winter) wheat for September added 2.0% to $6.85 a bushel, while Kansas (hard red winter) wheat for the same month closed up 2.9% at $7.85 a bushel.
Minneapolis hard red spring wheat gained 2.5% to $8.37 ¼ a bushel.
In Europe, Paris wheat for November added 0.8% to E195.00 a tonne, with London's November lot gaining 0.8% to £162.00 a tonne.
More data
Cotton, for which the Wasde is also considered likely to prove market moving, managed to show greater direction, closing up 2.1% at 95.76 cents a pound for the benchmark December lot.
The rise was attributed to investors with short positions taking profit ahead of a report which could cut the US crop estimate considerably – although there are other considerations to factor in.
"We have US production at 15.5m bales, down 500,000 bales, from the July report. Yet, we expect exports to shrink 900,000 bales to 11.20m bales," Keith Brown at Georgia-based brokerage Keith Brown & Co said.
For raw sugar, a close up a modest 0.5% at 27.62 cents, in New York, for October delivery, belied a reasonably volatile day, with the lot trading over a range of some 5%.
Movement was instilled by positioning ahead of data from Unica, the cane industry body, on Thursday.
'Bottoming effort is close'
And New York coffee for September continued a creep higher, by all but 0.1 cents to 234.85 cents, helped by lower exchange inventories and lingering fears for more frost in Brazil growing areas.
"Coffee prices have also been under pressure as traders seem reluctant to take on aggressive positions," Jurgens Bauer at PitGuru said.
"But with Ice [exchange] stocks at historically low levels, and Friday's freeze scare, there are many waiting for a bottom to be confirmed.
"Lord knows there are many sharp experienced traders considering a bottoming effort is close."

See the original article >>

Big cut needed to US corn estimate to lift prices


US farm officials need, in one of the key crop reports of the year, to cut their estimate for the domestic corn yield by well over 3 bushels an acre to restart the rally in prices of the grain.
Traders - who have for weeks been speculating over the corn yield estimate in Thursday's US Department of Agriculture monthly Wasde crop report - believe on average that the forecast will be cut by 3.1 bushels per acre to 155.6 bushels per acre to reflect damage from July's heatwave.
Official meteorologists this week confirmed that July bought Oklahoma and Texas their warmest months on record and, crucially, in the US as a whole the "heatwave was characterised by unusually warm minimum temperatures, during nights and early mornings" – a particularly negative feature for pollinating corn.
The proportion of US corn rated in "good" or "excellent" condition has, over the last four weeks, fallen from 69% to 60%, with some of the big growing states seeing even bigger declines. In Illinois, the figure has dropped from 67% to 50%.
However, a downgrade in the USDA yield estimate at least as large as the market consensus suggests has already been factored into prices, analysts believe.
Trigger points
"We have dialled in a yield of about 155 bushels an acre," Don Roose, the president of Iowa-based broker US Commodities told
"A yield figure of 153 or less and we would be up the limit," meaning a rise of the maximum $0.30 a bushel that the Chicago exchange (currently) allows on corn.
"A figure of 160 bushels per acre, and we would be down the limit."
Jerry Gidel, at North America Risk Management, estimated that a figure of 152 bushels an acre below "means we would not trade for two days" – meaning two sessions of limit-up prices.
Likely to be underwhelmed
At Australia & New Zealand Bank, Paul Deane estimated that a figure of 155-156 bushels per acre had been accounted for, saying that it would take a cut of at least 6 bushels an acre to foster a jump in prices.
"We think this is unlikely at this stage in the season, and so maintain the view that the market is likely to be underwhelmed by any [yield] changes," he added.
US Commodities believes that the estimate could easily be kept at 158.7 bushels per acre, noting that the majority of the crop, situated above a line represented by Interstate 80, had fared significantly better than that below.
"The question is did the better conditions to the north make up for the problems in the south?" Mr Roose said.
Data doubts
The impact of the yield figure on prices will also be complicated by a review the USDA is undertaking of its acreage forecasts in some states which suffered a particularly wet spring, with Mr Roose estimating a potential cut of 200,000 acres to corn plantings, and 300,000 acres to the soybean figure.
However, it also clouded by doubt over the likely accuracy of the USDA data, following a series of estimates which have been deeply questioned by traders.
"Industry believes that corn is in real trouble on yields due to a too wet spring planting season and the fourth hottest July in history," Tim Hannagan at PFGBest said.
"But the trade also believes the USDA is behind on its crop condition surveys and may not give a accurate yield estimates on corn, and that it may take until September or even harvest results on the October report for the true story."
Bearish risk
Sure, the report is the first of the growing season to be based largely on field observations, rather than estimates drawn from surveys and projections - but this does not necessarily mean it will give an accurate figure.
"This is not really the time of year that you get good yield estimates," Mr Gidel said, noting that they can still drop dramatically by harvest, as last year, when it fell from an estimate of 164.7 bushels an acre to a final figure of 152.8 bushels per acre.
Furthermore, the USDA will be using average data on issues such as ear weights to form its yield forecast, an issue some traders believe may end encourage a yield overestimate, given that is the potential for ear formation, rather than the density of plants, which is seen as the issue.
"If the USDA does end up using the five-year average ear weight, rather than what may actually be out in the field, it's possible the numbers could be construed as bearish as plant population was most likely on the heavy side for the majority of the Corn Belt," Jon Michalscheck at Benson Quinn Commodities said.
'Intolerable for the balance sheet'
Thursday's report will also be scoured for its estimate on the soybean yield, with traders, on average, expecting the USDA to trim its estimate for the figure by some 0.6 bushels per acre to 42.8 bushels per acre.
"A 42.8 bushels per acre yield, coupled with a 400,000 decrease in planted acres which could eventuate from the resurveyed states is probably intolerable for the balance sheet," signalling higher prices needed to ration demand, Victor Thianpiriya at ANZ said.
However, some analysts believe that the USDA may even raise the yield estimate, with the critical period for soybeans ongoing, and the crop heading into it without the damage suffered by corn.
The proportion of US soybean rated good or excellent is, at 61%, down a more modest three points over the past four weeks.

Risk off with Italy and Spain collapsing-Major European banks in trouble

Three words to describe today’s action. Volare for Italy (to fly), mierda in Spain (shit) and the US has it’s own plain crap, Bofa. Needles to say, the French banks also contributed to the melt down in European equities. With Italian banks struggling big time, Soc Gen joined the party (for real) today. With all major banks holding mega short gammas in their exotic books, look for further volatility and further panic, as the market offers absolutely no liquidity to hedge positions, unless you are going to buy VIX at these somewhat elevated levels….As The Trader has been arguing over the last four months, risk has been mispriced for very long time.

See the original article >>

Analysis: More austerity may be the last thing Italy needs

(Reuters) - Italy's problem is not a high budget deficit but chronically weak growth, and forcing it to frontload austerity measures just as its economy is moving into yet another downturn may prove dangerously counter productive.

After a massive sell-off of Italy's government bonds threatened to make the euro zone debt crisis totally unmanageable, the European Central Bank agreed on Sunday to buy Italian bonds on the market, but only on stringent conditions.

The ECB, supported by the French and German governments, demanded Italy bring forward plans to balance its budget by one year to 2013 and urgently adopt reforms to liberalize its hidebound economy and boost growth.

Backed into a corner, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi accepted.

The second goal is vital and long overdue, but the first seems like a panic response to the recent market turmoil -- which has also swept up Italy's banks -- and could undermine the prospects for recovery and even for public finances in the medium term.

To respond to the ECB's prescription Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti must now frontload 20 billion euros of deficit cuts which could tip an already weakening economy into recession.

Early indications of measures considered, such as a wealth tax, cuts in welfare benefits and slashing tax breaks for firms and families will do nothing to help stagnant domestic demand.

"This latest fiscal tightening will definitely hit the economy, private consumption is going to be significantly weaker," said Barclays Capital analyst Fabio Fois.

He said in response to the latest news that he was in the process of cutting his growth forecasts for Italy, which stood at an anemic 1.0 percent in 2011 and 1.1 percent in 2012.

Berlusconi promised on Wednesday an emergency decree to approve austerity measures but faced union opposition over concern that the cuts would hit ordinary Italians.

A failed debt-cutting drive, if it also derails the structural reforms the economy desperately needs, could be the worst outcome of all.

"If the austerity budget hits the usual suspects we will mobilize to change it," Susanna Camusso, head of the CGIL, Italy's biggest union federation, told reporters after a meeting with ministers.


In the last 10 years, average Italian growth has risen less than 0.3 percent per year, making it not only the most sluggish economy in the euro zone but the third most sluggish in the world, ahead of only Zimbabwe, Eritrea and Haiti.

In the same period it was the only advanced economy to see a contraction of per-capita gross domestic product, hourly productivity has been stagnant and Italians' real purchasing power has fallen by 4 percent.

When the euro zone goes into a recession Italy goes into a deeper one, but when the rest of the euro zone recovers Italy's rebound is weaker. It has still regained only two of the seven percentage points of output it lost during the 2008-9 recession.

This wasting disease is Italy's curse, not a budget deficit which, at a targeted 3.9 percent of GDP this year is already below the euro zone average and is forecast by international bodies to remain so in coming years.
Indeed, until the summer, one of the main reasons Italy had stayed on the sidelines of the debt crisis was the prudent fiscal policy pursued by Tremonti, who kept a lid on spending and eschewed any significant stimulus during the recession.

Bank of Italy chief Mario Draghi was reportedly the co-author of a letter from the ECB to Italy's government telling it to balance the budget faster, yet in a keynote speech just two months ago Draghi called the 2014 target date "appropriate."

Even before the news of tougher austerity to come, analysts said a modest growth recovery in the second quarter, when GDP rose 0.3 percent, was already over. Some forecast that the economy could even contract between July and September.

Recent data has been dismal. Industrial output fell 0.6 percent in June after an identical decline in May. Purchasing managers' indexes for the last two months have pointed to an economy in stagnation at best, and business confidence in July fell for the fourth month running to its lowest level for a year.


Markets are likely to react just as badly to a further deterioration in Italy's economy as they are to any fiscal slippage of which, in any case, there has so far been no sign.

In the first seven months of the year, the central government budget deficit was 5 billion euros lower than in the same period of 2010.

One of the first triggers of what began as a gradual market attack on Italy were cuts in its ratings outlook by Standard & Poor's in May and then by Moody's a month later.

Yet neither agency called for accelerated deficit cuts. Rather, in strikingly similar analyses, they said weak growth and an inability to pass reforms threw doubt on the prospects for bringing down Italy's huge public debt in the medium term.

Italy's debt, like its deficit, has risen far less than those of its main partners, but at 120 percent of GDP it is still second highest in the euro zone after Greece's, and at 1.8 trillion euros is second only to Germany's in absolute terms.

Of course if Italy slashes new borrowing its stock of debt will also fall. But permanent austerity is unsustainable and the debt-to-GDP ratio will drop far more easily if it can match even modest deficit curbs with halfway decent GDP growth.

Only if it responds to that challenge does Italy have any hope of ending its inexorable decline and, more urgently, of avoiding a cut in its credit rating next month.

"Moody's review of Italy's sovereign rating will focus on the growth prospects for the Italian economy in coming years, and particularly the prospects for a removal of important structural bottlenecks that could hinder a stronger economic recovery in the medium term," the agency said in June.

See the original article >>

Fed: Big Bank, Big Profits Through 2013...Guaranteed

Well, it looks like it’s one down, three to go for the Federal Reserve as they promised to keep short-term interest rates freakishly low for at least the next two years (and possibly much longer) while holding in reserve three other options – changing their mix of assets to lower long term rates (which doesn’t appear to be necessary at the moment), spurring banks to lend by paying less on excess reserves, and, of course, the big kahuna of about a trillion dollars more in Treasury purchases, otherwise known as “QE3″.

By promising to keep rates low “at least through mid-2013″ in the policy statement released, the central bank assured the nation’s big banks of continuing to make big profits for the next two years on the interest rate spreads.

Of course, this will continue to punish the nation’s savers who, for the foreseeable future, will be looking at rates of one percent or less for certificates of deposit.

Good luck, risk averse seniors…

There were three voting members of the Fed who disagreed with this action – Richard Fisher, Narayana Kocherlakota, and Charles Plosser – so, retirees will at least have some company in objecting to yet another first-of-its-kind monetary policy move that benefits the big banks and hurts the little people.

The Fed also downgraded their outlook on the U.S. economy, noting that growth has been “considerably slower” than they expected so far this year with indicators suggesting “a deterioration in overall labor market conditions”.

As usual, the two statements are shown side-by-side below.

About the only other important change in the statement was the acknowledgment that the slowdown in growth has not just been due to temporary factors such as the disaster in Japan and high energy prices, the committee noting that these factors “appear to account for only some of the recent weakness in economic activity”, meaning that, we probably won’t hear the word ‘transitory’ from the Fed for quite some time.

Why a U.S. Default Will Be a Good Thing

By Martin Hutchinson

Now that Standard & Poor's has finally slashed its U.S. credit rating, it's more apparent than ever that a U.S. default is imminent.

So if you're at all panicked by S&P's decision to downgrade the country's top-tier credit rating - and the resultant freefall in U.S. stock prices - brace yourself: It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. But make no mistake, it will get better.

In fact, at this point, a U.S. default is the only conceivable remedy to our debt affliction.

Here's why ...

The Wrong Road

The United States has been able to coast on its top -tier credit rating for far too long. The truth is, this country stopped being a AAA credit risk in early 2007.

That's when the Bush administration's excess spending and military forays into the Middle East sent us down the wrong road and ultimately drove the fiscal 2008 federal deficit to more than $400 billion. That's despite the fact that the economy was at the top of an economic boom at the time.

It's true that our fiscal position has grown substantially worse since then, but that's mainly because of the G reat R ecession of 2008-09.

Even if an imaginary amalgam of Calvin Coolidge and Bill Clinton had been in the White House since 2008, inheriting the overspending already built into the system, the federal deficit still would have reached $700 billion to $800 billion over the last few years.

Just the bailouts of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) and Chrysler would have added enough to the structural costs of recession to push the arithmetic off kilter.

The Bush administration's additional spending in 2008, U.S. President Barack Obama's $800 billion-plus of "stimulus," and the g rotesque addiction that Congress continues to have to subsidies for farmers, ethanol, and idiotic "green" energy projects have all made the position worse. But they only account for about half of the annual deficit.

Of course, while recent political decisions don't bear much responsibility for the current lousy U.S. position, our current crop of politicians have been - and will continue to be - ineffective in their attempts to emerge from it

The Slippery Slope

Far from representing $1 trillion or even $2.5 trillion in spending cuts, the recent debt-ceiling agreement will actually produce less than $100 billion in cuts, all in the fiscal years ending September 2012 and September 2013. Cuts beyond those dates will require further titanic efforts by future politicians.

Additionally, no major cabinet department has been abolished - or even downgraded. No major military operation has been terminated. And no major entitlement program has been cut. On the other side, even the low-hanging fruit of ethanol subsidies has not been eliminated from the tax code, and it seems very unlikely that taxes can be raised high enough to affect the problem without putting the U.S. into an even deeper economic hole.

Meanwhile, the recession that has already lasted nearly four years is showing no sign of giving way to healthy growth. Massive budget deficits and massive growth of debt are inevitable under these circumstances.

Therefore, the U.S. credit rating is on a slippery slope, and more downgrades are inescapable.

Standard and Poor's already has said there is a one-in-three chance of a further downgrade. And i t seems unlikely that Moody's Corp. (NYSE: MCO) and Fitch Ratings Inc. will maintain their top-tier ratings on U.S. credit since their competitor has already downgraded it.

From here on out, each incoming downgrade will be met by dire predictions of gloom, a slump in the stock market, a boom in gold prices - and, extraordinarily, by a further decline in U.S. Treasury bond yields.

Future Credit Downgrades and a U.S. Default

The idea of a decline in the safety of U.S. Treasuries causing a flight to safety in which investors buy still more U.S. bonds is a sign that markets are truly irrational.

But if nothing effective is done, this game eventually will come to an end. As the U.S. credit rating is downgraded again and again, somewhere this side of BBB-minus (the lowest "investment grade" rating) the markets will finally panic and decide that U.S. deficits can no longer be supported. That will make it impossible to sell enough Treasuries to finance America's debt burden.

As in the case of Greece last year, this is likely to happen quite suddenly. And when it happens, the market's negative verdict will be irreversible.

Furthermore, since there is no kind Sugar Daddy such as the European Central Bank (ECB) standing by with its force of German taxpayers ready to bail out the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. will be forced to default.

That will be very painful in the short run, but in the long run will be a good thing.

After all, there is no reason why governments should be considered better credit risks than top- quality companies.

The Proctor & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) and The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) make tangible products that people want to buy - and they do so at tightly controlled costs. So it's clear that companies like these can repay modest levels of debt under almost any circumstances.

The same is not true for a government - especially one that makes no money itself, produces few goods and services of value, and obtains money only by squeezing its unfortunate taxpayers. Just imagine a world in which investors won't lend to governments: That's a world in which governments cannot overspend - they won't have the money.

That's a world in which resources cannot be diverted from the productive to the unproductive. That's also a world in which economic power is determined by success - and one in which the chairman of Coca-Cola has more credibility than the U.S. Treasury s ecretary. Our leaders down in Washington may think that such a world is pure hell - a civil servant's version of Dante's Inferno.

But for investors like you and me, a world like that - where everything makes sense - is a financial Nirvana.

VIX HIgh, Time To Buy?

There’s an old contrarian investing maxim from Baron Rothschild that says “the time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets, even if the blood is your own.” The idea is that the best investors strategize when others panic, allowing them to buy stocks on “sale.” The legend of Warren Buffett was built on this philosophy during the market turmoil of the mid-1970s.

There was more “blood in the streets” Monday as the world continued to digest S&P’s downgrade of U.S. debt, the two-week market selloff, and the likelihood the U.S. economy could possibly slide back into recession. These concerns, combined with continued political/economic struggles in the eurozone from socialist policies, have created a potent concoction of fear across global markets and sent volatility skyrocketing Monday to its highest level since the May 2010 “Flash Crash.” While many investors are running for the exits, others have chosen to ride the wave of volatility or buy depressed shares.

The S&P 500 Index has fallen 11 percent over the past three trading sessions. This has only happened fives times since 1960: The 1987 Crash, the Asian financial crisis in 1998 and twice in 2008, according to research from Desjardins. In each of these instances, markets gained an average 9 percent the following month.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) rose more than 46 percent to break the key 40 level, signaling an extreme event, and is up over 164 percent for the year. In general, any time the VIX reads above 30 means conditions are volatile. Above 40, it’s clear the only thing at a premium in this market is fear.

The S&P 500 isn’t the only investment that’s been experiencing extremes. A flood of safe-haven buying sent gold prices up more than $50 an ounce (more than 3 percent) to $1,715.40 at market close Monday. Gold continued its climb early Tuesday morning, rising another $34 an ounce. Gold prices are up over 46 percent for the past year and roughly 13 percent the past 30 days. The increase over the past month is roughly equal to gold’s normal volatility over an entire year and is a short-term risk for a minor correction in a secular bull market.

Meanwhile, oil (along with oil-related equities) has been bludgeoned down to price levels not seen in a year—off almost 30 percent from April 2011 highs. Other commodities such as copper, wheat and cotton have also taken sizable haircuts over the past two weeks.

Such market turmoil creates a real challenge for investors who are in it for the long haul. Investors must control their emotional response and remain on the lookout for opportunities. Equity performance and fear-driven volatility carry a strong inverse correlation.

This chart shows sharp spikes in the VIX trigger an autonomic selloff in the S&P 500. However, these selloffs have historically resulted in strong rebounds, thus providing an opportunity for clever investors who like to buy their summer clothes during a winter sale and their winter clothes during the summer.

S&P 500 and VIX

Before Monday, the VIX closed above the 40 level five times since 1995, and in all but one occurrence the market was at higher levels just three months later. The exception is 2008, when the VIX passed 40 on its way to 90 and remained elevated for months during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

You can see from the table that the market has rebounded roughly 6 percent on average over the three-month period after hitting the 40 mark. Short-term reactions are more mixed. The market has swung 11 percent in either direction during the next month of trading and the average gain is only 80 basis points.

For the purposes of this exercise, the analysis is based on weekly data from August 8, 1995 through August 8, 2011. There were stretches of time, such as in 2008, when the VIX remained above 40, but we’re only counting the initial breach.

Market selloffs are actually common this time of year. According to the Stock Trader’s Almanac, August has been the second-worst month of the year for the Dow Jones and S&P 500 since the 1987 crash. The 7.2 percent decline for the S&P 500 last week was the worst week ever recorded during the month of August, beating out another dismal week for performance in 1974.

With this in mind, investors must remember there are some good opportunities out there and we’re working relentlessly to find them. Some of the best are in great American companies, whose balance sheets are the envy of Washington, with many carrying dividend yields above the 10-year Treasury bill. Currently, the 2.28 percent yield for the S&P 500 is the highest level since July 2009, Desjardins says.

A similar phenomenon took place following banking crises in France, Sweden and the U.S. during the 1990s. Without the ability to tap banks for additional capital, companies moved to large positive cash-flow positions and self-financed their growth, GaveKal research said in a note this morning. These strong capital structures provided the foundation for the market’s bull run during the back half of the decade.

This opportunity has largely been ignored as investors have fled like lemmings to the “safety” of cash, government bonds and money market funds. These investments “afford zero prospects for capital gains and only microscopic income,” says Murray Pollitt from Pollitt & Co.

This mad dash for cash is driven by fear and investor desperation to preserve their money rather than make any. Naysayers have been flippantly labeling gold a bubble since it reached $500 an ounce, but have turned a blind eye to the unprecedented amount of “money pouring into government bits of paper” that is the “biggest bubble of all time,” says Pollitt.

History is filled with cycles and each asset class carries its own DNA of volatility. Those who are highly leveraged or those forced to sell in order to raise capital are experiencing the most pain right now. Investors not in those two camps must remember that the markets are cyclical, just like the tide, which comes in and out each day, and the moon, which cycles every 29 days.

One area with potential is gold equities, which have lagged bullion significantly this year, pushing the gold-to-XAU ratio to the second-lowest level in nearly 30 years in June. Gold stocks also have a history of performing well when the U.S. economy hits a bump in the road. Depression-era babies might remember gold stocks’ strong performance during the 1930s.

This lag sets the stage for a possible strong rally in gold equities relative to bullion once mean reversion to historical levels kicks in, just like it has done time and time again. Desjardins notes that one current catalyst for a rebound in gold stocks is increased profitability from rising gold prices and decreased input costs due to oil’s 28 percent decline off of 2011 highs.

In addition, many quality gold companies are “paying investors to wait” by increasing dividend yield rates above those of money funds. This creates a cash incentive to hold shares of the company and allows investors to participate in rising earnings.

A key question for the global economy is: Who will lead a recovery in global markets? Where will growth come from?

With trillions of dollars in debt acting as a ball-and-chain for much of Europe, the U.S. and the rest of the developed world, must detoxify their balance sheets before hitting the ground running. On the other hand, emerging market economies carry low levels of debt and operate like a cash business, making them the final frontier for strong economic growth.

A key reason is emerging market governments have the long-term policies in place to facilitate growth of their economies. GaveKal points out it’s unlikely we’ll get a second dose of large stimulus like we did in 2008-2009 because of inflationary pressures, but that magnitude of assistance isn’t needed. Because China and other emerging market governments focused their stimulus on job creation and infrastructure development, their roads to economic growth have already been paved.

This will allow them to flex their economic muscles during short-term instability and insulate them from the turmoil. This is why we think emerging markets will continue to shine for many years to come.

Take China’s $300+ billion commitment to construct a nationwide high speed rail network, for example. The project is already paid for and will invigorate consumption across all sectors of the economy by connecting 700 million people across 250 cities. The recent accident was a terrible tragedy but the country is not going to abandon its plans. Rather, China will learn from the setback and push forward with better safety standards.

While the investment herd rushes into CDs and other “zero” yielding investments, nimble-minded investors can use these cycles to seize current opportunities and position portfolios for when the bull market tide returns.

Follow Us