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Fri, 26th May 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “Bank run” Tag

MSCI to make decision on China A-share inclusion on June 20

Mark your calendars China watchers.

MSCI will on June 20 announce whether it would finally include China’s domestic A-shares in its global indices.

The US index provider last June delayed for a third straight year the A-shares’ inclusion into its benchmark $1.5tn emerging markets stock index, citing regulation worries and accessibility for global investors.

Ahead of this year’s decision, China has embarked on a series of new actions aimed at addressing these concerns. Its banking regulator has launched a “regulatory windstorm” while the central bank has made the first move to ease capital controls, providing much needed liquidity to the offshore renminbi market.

Meanwhile, BlackRock has for the first time publicly backed the inclusion of onshore stocks in MSCI’s indices and Chinese officials have even criticised dividend-dodging companies, dubbed “iron cockerels”, and promised extra scrutiny.

Both ECB And BOJ Are Just Months Away From Running Out Of Bonds To Buy

With the Fed contemplating whether to hike again next month and start “normalizing ” its balance sheet before the end of 2017, the two other major central banks are facing far bigger problems.

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Two months after the BOJ quietly started tapering its QE program, when it also hinted it may purchase 18% less bonds than planned…

… Governor Haruhiko Kuroda admitted last week that the Bank of Japan’s bond holdings are currently growing at an annualized pace of only ¥60 trillion ($527 billion), 25% below the bottom-end of its policy range, and confirming that without making any formal announcement, the BOJ has quietly followed the ECB in aggressively tapering its bond buying program.

Trump To Sign Executive Orders On Corporate Inversions and Dodd-Frank Regulations

As pressure mounts on Trump to post some victories within the totally arbitrary window of the “First 100 Days” of his administration, the President is expected to join Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin later this afternoon to sign a combination of executive orders and memos targeting the reduction of tax regulations and certain components of Dodd-Frank. 

Per a statement from the White House, one of Trump’s new executive orders will seek to undo tax rules put in place in the last year of Obama’s presidency that were designed to limit so-called ‘corporate inversions’ which allows U.S. traded companies to recognize income in lower cost countries like Ireland.  Per Bloomberg

Under President Barack Obama, Treasury sought to rein in U.S. companies’ attempts to shift their profit offshore by proposing rules that would curb so-called “earnings stripping” and inversions — mergers in which U.S. companies transfer their tax address overseas to low-tax countries like Ireland to cut their tax bills.

 Some of those rules, first proposed in April 2016, sought to restrict lending among subsidiaries of the same corporate parent, a technique that can create income in low-tax countries and tax-deductible interest payments in the U.S. The proposed rules met a barrage of criticism from corporations and tax lawyers, who complained that they went too far by banning common, everyday cash-management practices that have nothing to do with tax avoidance.

 Amid the criticism, Treasury last October softened the proposed rules to allow cash pooling, a common corporate money-management technique in which excess cash in subsidiaries is swept daily into a single pool. It also delayed a related proposal, which would require companies to extensively document their related-party lending, until Jan. 1, 2018.

Emerging Markets :An Update

  • Malaysia’s central bank said it will allow investors to fully hedge their currency exposure.
  • Egypt declared a 3-month state of emergency after two deadly church attacks.
  • South Africa’s parliamentary no confidence vote has been delayed
  • Argentina central bank surprised markets with a 150 bp hike to 26.25%.
  • Brazil central bank accelerated the easing cycle with a 100 bp cut in the Selic rate.
In the EM equity space as measured by MSCI, South Africa (+3.1%), Turkey (+2.5%), and the Philippines (+0.9%) have outperformed this week, while Russia (-3.9%), Peru (-3.4%), and Brazil (-2.6%) have underperformed.  To put this in better context, MSCI EM fell -0.3% this week while MSCI DM fell -0.7%.
 
In the EM local currency bond space, South Africa (10-year yield -18 bp), Poland (-8 bp), and Indonesia (-8 bp) have outperformed this week, while Brazil (10-year yield +11 bp), Peru (+9 bp), and Colombia (+9 bp) have underperformed.  To put this in better context, the 10-year UST yield fell 15 bp to 2.24%.
 
In the EM FX space, ZAR (+2.5% vs. USD), RUB (+1.9% vs. USD), and ARS (+1.2% vs. USD) have outperformed this week, while HUF (-0.9% vs. EUR), KRW (-0.5% vs. USD), and PLN (-0.5% vs. EUR) have underperformed.

Emerging Market :An Update

EM FX was mixed last week.  The rebound in oil helped some, such as COP, RUB, and MXN.  On the other hand, idiosyncratic political risks weighed on South Africa.   This week could pose a challenge to EM, with lots of Fed speakers, FOMC minutes, and US jobs data.

Thailand reports March CPI Monday, which is expected to rise 1.30% y/y vs. 1.44% in February.  If so, this would be moving closer to the bottom of the 1-4% target range.  BOT just left rates steady at 1.5% last week.  We expect inflation to pick up again, and so BOT should tilt more hawkish as the year progresses.  Next policy meeting is May 24, and we expect steady rates again.  

Indonesia reports March CPI Monday, which is expected to rise 3.80% y/y vs. 3.83% in February.   The target range is 3-5%, but Bank Indonesia has signaled that the easing cycle is over, and should lean more hawkish this year if inflation continues to rise.  Next policy meeting is April 20, we expect rates to be kept steady at 4.75%.
Turkey reports March CPI Monday, which is expected to rise 10.70% y/y vs. 10.13% in February.  Inflation is moving further above the 3-7% target range, and the central bank hiked the Late Liquidity Window lending rate 75 bp to 11.75% at its last policy meeting.  If price pressures continue to rise, the central bank may have to tighten again at its next policy meeting April 26.
Korea reports March CPI Tuesday, which is expected to rise 2.1% y/y vs. 1.9% in February.  The inflation target is 2%, and so BOK should tilt more hawkish if inflation continues to rise.  Next BOK meeting is April 13, and we expect rates to be kept steady at 1.25%.  Korea reports February current account data Wednesday.
Hungary reports February retail sales Tuesday, which are expected to rise 3.5% y/y vs. 3.8% in January.  It reports February IP Wednesday, which is expected to rise 3.0% y/y vs. 1.6% in January.  February trade will be reported Friday.  The economy remains robust, and yet the central bank just eased policy more than expected last week.  The cap on 3-month deposits was cut to HUF500 bln for end-Q2 from HUF750 bln for end-Q1.  

Gold Bugs: Why Russia is Stacking Bullion Bricks Like There’s No Tomorrow

Standard 24 karat gold bars being cast in the foundry of the Novosibirsk gold refineryRussia’s Central Bank purchased record amounts of gold in 2016, and plans to accelerate its purchases, retaining its spot as global leader in the growth of gold reserves. That’s according to a recent survey by the GFMS analysts at Thomson Reuters. Russian economists explain the thought process behind the Bank’s purchases.

According to GFMS analysts, Russia’s Central Bank purchased 201 tons of gold in 2016, more than the central bank of any other country. The Bank made its purchases over 11 consecutive months, with purchases accelerating to an average of 36 tons per month between October and November as gold prices fell.

The analysts expect Russia to continue buying large volumes of gold in 2017, predicting about 200 tons in purchases, regardless of fluctuations in gold prices, oil prices and even exchange rates. For comparison, the report estimates the total purchases of gold by other Central Banks to amount to roughly 250 tons for the year.

As of March 1 2017, Russia’s sitting on 1,654.7 tons in gold reserves, making its reserves the sixth-largest in the world, behind the United States, Germany, Italy, France and China.

Commenting on the Central Bank’s moves, economist Valentin Katasonov, professor of the faculty of international finance at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, told Russia’s Svobodnaya Pressa online newspaper that the Bank is making the right move.

“The Bank is doing the right thing. Specialists know that the today the price of the precious metal is undervalued, and significantly so. Therefore, investors looking for long-term results are investing in gold,” Katasonov said.

“Of course, from the perspective of the short-term investor, such an investment means possible losses. The gold market includes very large speculators, who periodically reduce prices artificially for some period of time, making it possible for interested investors to buy gold at a lower price. But this market also has its own written and unwritten rules.”

Katasonov reiterated that as far as Russia is concerned, the Central Bank’s decision to stock up on gold is almost exclusively beneficial. “Among other things, it allows us to support the domestic gold mining industry, which in the 1990s and the early 2000s faced a very difficult situation. And what is especially insulting is that most of its output at the time went abroad.”

$21,714 For Every Man, Woman And Child In The World – This Global Debt Bomb Is Ready To Explode

According to the International Monetary Fund, global debt has grown to a staggering grand total of 152 trillion dollars.  Other estimates put that figure closer to 200 trillion dollars, but for the purposes of this article let’s use the more conservative number.  If you take 152 trillion dollars and divide it by the seven billion people living on the planet, you get $21,714, which would be the share of that debt for every man, woman and child in the world if it was divided up equally.

So if you have a family of four, your family’s share of the global debt load would be $86,856.

Le Pen Victory Would Lead To “Massive Sovereign Default”, Global Financial Chaos, Economists Warn

With two months left until the French election, analysts and political experts find themselves in a quandary: on one hand, political polls show that while National Front’s Marine Le Pen will likely win the first round, she is virtually assured a loss in the runoff round against either Fillon, or more recently Macron, having between 20 and 30% of the vote; on the other, all those same analysts and political experts were dead wrong with their forecasts about both Brexit and Trump, and are desperate to avoid a trifecta as being wrong 3 out of 3 just may be result in losing one’s job.

Meanwhile, markets are taking Le Pen’s rise in the polls in stride, and French spreads over Germany are moving in lockstep with Le Pen’s rising odds. In fact, as noted earlier in the week, French debt is now the riskiest it has been relative to German in four years.

World’s Largest Actively Managed-Bond Fund Dumps “Excessively Risky” Eurozone Bank Debt

Back in September, Tad Rivelle, Chief Investment Officer for fixed income at LA-based TCW, said in a note that “the time has come to leave the dance floor”, noting that “corporate leverage, which has exceeded levels reached before the 2008 financial crisis, is a sign that investors should start preparing for the end of the credit cycle.” Ominously, he added that “we’ve lived this story before.” Five months later, the FT reports that TCW, which is also the US asset manager that runs the world’s largest actively managed bond fund, has put its money where its bearish mouth is, and has eliminated its exposure to eurozone bank debt over fears these lenders are “excessively risky.”

In an interview with the FT, Rivelle said the company began to reduce its exposure to debt issued by eurozone lenders following the UK’s vote to leave the EU last June. In the first half of last year TCW, which oversees $160bn in fixed income strategies, had around $2bn invested in European bank debt. This has fallen to less than $500m since the Brexit vote, most of it in UK banks.

Rivelle, who previously was a bond fund manager at PIMCO, said his biggest concern was the number of toxic loans held by eurozone lenders, which amount to more than €1 trilion. Last month Andrea Enria, chairman of the European Banking Authority, said the scale of the region’s bad-debt problem had become “urgent and actionable”, and called for the creation of a “bad bank” to help lenders deal with the issue. Rivelle said: “The [eurozone] banking system [has] a bad combination of negative rates, slow growth and lots of problem non-performing loans. It is inherently prone to a potential crisis should global economic conditions, or European economic conditions, worsen. [These are] the preconditions of a potential banking crisis.”

Continuing his bearish bent, Rivelle added that there is a 50% likelihood of another global recession within the next two years, removing any incentive to invest in the eurozone banking sector within that timeframe. The forthcoming French presidential elections in April, which could see Eurosceptic candidate Marine Le Pen come to power, and the problems facing the Italian banking system, are additional risks for eurozone banks this year.

Deutsche Bank To Scrap Bonuses For 2016: As Many As 90% Of Bankers, Traders Affected

While Deutsche Bank shareholders have certainly seen some recent relief following last year’s stock acrobatics which sent the the largest German lender crashing to all time lows last fall, the bank’s employees have far less to look forward to.

First, it was a report by the NY post, according to which Deutsche Bank may hold back on giving out bonuses to as many as 90% of bankers and traders, noting that only the top 10% of revenue generators may get a bonus for 2016, and even that would be paid out over the next five years, according to a source briefed on internal discussions.

The bank was rocked last year by concern about its capital adequacy, a 23% in its share price and rising litigation bills from Europe to the U.S. Chief Executive Officer John Cryan, 56, has eliminated jobs, suspended dividends and sold risky assets to shore up profitability and capital buffers. The bank on Tuesday reached a $7.2 billion final settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over its sales of mortgage securities before the financial crisis. It’s still seeking to end an investigation related to its Russian unit. While reports have suggested that the settlement could affect the bank’s ability to pay bonuses, it couldn’t be confirmed if the bank had used incentive compensation for the settlement.

The post added that this wouldn’t be the first time that John Cryan, Deutsche’s CEO, has cut bonuses since taking over in 2014: last year, the bank cut the bonus pool by 11 percent and delayed paying its employees until March.

Then earlier today, Bloomberg confirmed the news when it reported that Deutsche will tell senior employees as soon as this week that they probably won’t get a bonus for 2016 because of the lender’s performance last year.