PBOC versus FRB inflation

Mish Shedlock has a good post (Misguided Love Affair with China; China's Massive Monetary Expansion and Crackup Boom) talking about the growth in money supply in China and the U.S. The chart below compares M2 growth since August 2008 in both China and the United States.

An important factor to consider is GDP growth in China, compared to no growth in the United States—but each person may have their own idea as to the quality of that growth.

I made this chart for the Chinese blog, but here's the relevant quote from Chen Deming, in English:
Because the United States' issuance of dollars is out of control and international commodity prices are continuing to rise, China is being attacked by imported inflation. The uncertainties of this are causing firms big problems.

The title of the graph is a Chinese idiom which is very similar to "the pot calling the kettle black." It refers to soldiers fleeing a battle: [Those who have retreated] 50 steps laugh at [those who retreated] 100 steps.

CMOC pops

China Molybdenum (洛阳栾川钼业) produces molybdenum and tungsten. It is a holding in REMX, the rare earth ETF I mentioned yesterday. Shares are up nearly 30% in Friday trading in Hong Kong (3993.HK), on no news...as of yet.

Update: China plans to restrict molybdenum mining in 2011. Same factor fueling the rare earth rallies.

Pat Buchanan on the social mood

In Obstructionism reaps its reward, Buchanan says the country is "up for grabs."

On Tuesday, the nation, including millions of Obama voters, will come out to empower the Party of No, even as the nation voted in 2006 and 2008 to throw out that party. While many did respond positively to Obama's politics of hope and change in 2008, as they ousted the Republicans, the nation, after Tuesday, will have voted in three straight elections in four years to be rid of its ruling regime.

The United States is starting to look like the French Fourth Republic.

After France lost Indochina, began losing Algeria and was flipping from one premier and one party to another, the call went forth from an exasperated nation to Gen. DeGaulle to come and take charge of affairs.

Consider the critical issue facing America today – the budget and trade deficits, the soaring national debt, an unemployment near 10 percent for 14 straight months – and how neither party seems to have the cure.
If the social mood continues to decline, we should see the approval ratings for the Republican Congress quickly decline in early 2011.


Rare Earth ETF (REMX) provides a shopping list

Investors looking for rare earth stocks can check out the rare earth ETF, Market Vectors Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF (REMX).

Here's a link to the holdings, in Excel spreadsheet. REMX Holdings

Here's the holdings as of October 13, 2010.

Lynas Corp Ltd LYC AU
Iluka Resources Ltd ILU AU
Titanium Metals Corp TIE UN
Thomp son Creek Metals Co Inc TC M CT
OSAKA Titanium Technologies Co 5726 JT
RTI International Metals Inc RTI UN
Toho Titanium Co Ltd 5727 JT
China Molybdenum Co Ltd 3993 HK
Kenmare Resources PLC KMR LN
Molycorp Inc MCP UN
Hunan Non-Ferrous Metal Corp 2626 HK
Neo Material Technologies Inc NE M CT
Cia Minera Autlan SA B de CV AUT LAN B MM
China Rare Earth Holdings Ltd 769 HK
Ferbasa-Ferro Ligas DA Bahia FESA 4 BS
Avalon Rare Metals Inc AV L CT
Rare Element Resources Ltd REE UA
Arafura Resources Ltd ARU AU
General Moly Inc GMO UA
International Ferro Metals Ltd IF L LN
Quest Rare Minerals Ltd QRM CV
5N Plus Inc GXY AU
Galaxy Resources Ltd VN P CT
Daiichi Kigenso Kagaku-Kogyo Co 4082 JT

RMB Appreciation part of U.S. agricultural strategy

Liu Jun Luo argues that renminbi appreciation is part of the larger U.S. agricultural strategy.

美国现在搞什么?美国现在都是在搞准备把这个农田,现在美国农田的价格大家去看一下,美国的楼市大家去看看,农田呢?全部重金投入,就是重金投在这一块。现在我们看到全球农产品[22.00 -0.77%]价格,包括我们现在富士康的内线,我们是加工贸易基地,比如说日本生产出来配件,韩国生产出来的配件,运到深圳去组装,再从深圳运到欧洲、美国去出口,现在我们是处理这个工程,把这些配件运到深圳或上海,再送到重庆,再运到河南去。为什么有这个成本?因为河南跟重庆把地价零成本给了富士康,但是这个成本要支付的是我们支付在纳税人的身上。


Here's the link to the Google translated version.
RMB Appreciation part of America's grand agricultural strategy

Molycorp (MCP) vs. China Rare Earth (0769) vs. Baotou (600111)

Update on the returns for New York, Hong Kong, and Shanghai listed rare earth producers.


Andy Xie warns on QE2

Emerging economies need a fresh spray of capital controls and higher interest rates – because hot money inflows are about to go from boiling to molten

The conclusion:
The international community should give up on influencing the U.S. on what it would do. It will do what it will, driven by its domestic politics, even though its actions seem like madness to others. The U.S. starts to make sense when it first throws the people who caused the last bubble into jail rather than desperately searches for some quick fix.
Emerging economies, save yourselves!
There's a lot in between worth reading.

Immigration is now an issue in America

In The near term future of European politics, I linked to a Swedish political ad that painted immigration in terms of us and them.

In Sweden, a party can win by capturing a slice of the electorate because it is not a winner take all system like the U.S. Catching the social mood early can deliver big payoffs for candidates in ways that could be costly in the U.S. if done too early. We'll find out whether Sharron Angle's recent ad pays off in her run against Harry Reid for U.S. Senator from Nevada.

Canada shock election

Canada has jumped the gun on the United States with it's own shock election result.

Ford’s dominant victory ushers in a new era for Toronto
Rob Ford, the right-wing councillor who few expected to win the mayoralty race when he entered it seven months ago, defeated George Smitherman in a resounding victory last night that was called eight minutes after the polls closed. Mr. Ford won by 11 points, capturing 47 per cent of the vote to Mr. Smitherman's 36 per cent, and led a wave of political change that crashed across the city and the Greater Toronto Area.

Pest outbreak in NY a part of social mood

This headline says it all. Are people avoiding public spaces because of the pests, or are the pests just the excuse for staying home?

Concerns over bedbugs and other pests still have New Yorkers crawling away from public spaces
"I think about bedbugs everywhere I go," says film production manager Nora Killoran, who lives in the Village. "I'm very worried about it. I avoid stores that have been in the news that have reported having bedbugs. I used to love thrift stores, but now I avoid them. There was a screening in Tribeca of a film last week that I worked on, and I had to think twice about going."

Catherine Yan, 23, who recently moved from L.A. to east midtown, says she won't even sit on the subway - "or visit my friends' apartments who aren't the cleanest."
One can imagine that during peak social mood, people would say things such as, "I'm concerned, but I'm not going to let a few bugs ruin my plans."

Taking a broader look at the pest problem, it is probably mostly due to several factors including reduced use of pesticides (overconfidence during rising social mood?) and possible increased global travel, another artifact of peak social mood. International travel is going to decline with social mood, but how about the use of pesticides, will it increase during this phase?


Australian politics following the path of social mood

On August 21, 2010 I wrote the following in Australia's Snap Election:
After Kevin Rudd went down in flames over the mining tax, Julia Gillard stepped in and quickly made plans for a new election. She was smart to move swiftly because had she waited another month, her party would likely be in the minority. Instead, Australia may have a hung parliament.
In early September, the Labor party did indeed form a new government, see Australian Labor Party to Form New Government.

And now, less than two months later, what is the result?

Opp'n leaps on new poll finding
"This is a bad government that's getting worse," Mr Abbott told reporters on Tuesday.

The opposition leader was responding to a Newspoll, published in The Australian, showing the coalition leading Labor 52-48 per cent on the back of a big drop in support for the government outside the capital cities.

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Liberal frontbencher Scott Morrison said the government was "unravelling" across a number of issues.

Liberal colleague Sharman Stone said Prime Minister Julia Gillard was relying increasingly on "spin" to survive as the polls closed in on her.

"Spin won't get them out of the problem," she told reporters.
The Australian stock market has been performing well in nominal terms, but against gold, the run has been very muted.


Euro bulls pile on

FXE and the euro climbed back near its recent highs by the end of the week, but the rise in euro longs ahead of the G20 did not have the effect of pushing the euro to new short-term highs. Is a turn coming?
Those bullish on the U.S. dollar should continue to monitor the mortgage fiasco.

For a longer interview see Eric King's interview with Chris Whalen out today.


Successor to Hu Jintao: Xi Jinping

PROFILE: China's likely "next leader" cuts his teeth on Hu's ideology

Chinese students protest Japan; rare earth "ban" still in effect?

There wasn't much in the way of protests before, but now they're starting.

Thousands in China hold anti-Japan protests
Photos from the southwestern city of Chengdu and the central city of Zhengzhou show hundreds of people marching with banners and signs protesting Japan's claim on what China calls the Diaoyu islands. Japan calls them the Senkaku islands.

The state-run Xinhua News Agency said more than 2,000 protested in Chengdu and thousands of college students gathered in the northern city of Xian.

The report was in English only. The protests were not reported in Chinese-language state media.
China’s Ban on Selling Rare Earth Minerals to Japan Continues
The commerce minister, Chen Deming, suggested instead in a television interview on Sept. 26 that Chinese entrepreneurs in the rare earth industry might have halted shipments because of their own feelings toward Japan.

Thirty-two companies in China have export licenses for rare earth minerals, and 10 of them are foreign. Mr. Deming did not address why the 10 foreign companies would have strong feelings toward Japan, or why all companies in the Chinese industry halted shipments on the same day, Sept. 21.

Throughout the halt on exports of rare earth minerals, China has allowed exports of manufactured products that use them, like powerful magnets, and highly purified rare earth metals. Japan is the largest importer of rare earth minerals and ores. Japanese companies use them to make a wide range of technology products and have been reluctant to import manufactured goods from China instead.
And to round it out...

U.S. says Chinese businesses and banks are bypassing U.N. sanctions against Iran
The Obama administration has concluded that Chinese firms are helping Iran to improve its missile technology and develop nuclear weapons, and has asked China to stop such activity, a senior U.S. official said.

During a visit to Beijing last month, a delegation led by Robert J. Einhorn, the State Department's special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, handed a "significant list" of companies and banks to their Chinese counterparts, according to the senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue in U.S.-Chinese relations. The official said the Obama administration thinks that the companies are violating U.N. sanctions, but that China did not authorize their activities.
Politicians looking for an excuse for protectionism can take their pick...

Update: Here are some photos from a protest outside an Ito Yokado department store in Chengdu, with a smashed window.

How social mood interacts with economic policy

Social mood is the soil in which the future economy and society will grow, and policies can amplify the social mood or counteract it. In the case of central bankers, they are following the Japan model and their policies are just one step in the process of a very long decline. Here's an example from Hong Kong.

The disease that's killing HK's entrepreneurs

The city has always been a haven for speculators, but recent economic conditions such as negative real interest rates have made it even more attractive to become involved in short-term speculation. This, some experts say, is done at the expense of entrepreneurship. And that may be killing the very spirit that makes our city vibrant and successful, warns Paul Zimmerman, chief executive of Designing Hong Kong.

"What is the cost of [business] experimentation in Hong Kong?" asked Zimmerman, who last month was elected a district councillor representing Pok Fu Lam.

"Who can afford the rent and living costs and experiment with research, creativity, arts or trying out a new business? Moreover, we have abandoned the diverse street [model] owned by many different landlords each with a small plot and street frontage and replaced it with podium structures owned by one person (or a consortium) and under one `retail management strategy'.

"Rather than opportunities to start a small shop, the only job available is as a 7-Eleven cashier. Hong Kong's planning and lands policy is like a set of weights tied around the neck of a population thrown overboard in shark-infested water."

Entrepreneurship matters in Hong Kong because small and medium businesses account for about 98 per cent of local companies and employ about 1.2 million out of a workforce 3.66 million. It is the ultimate factor in revitalising the city.

Yet many people opt to invest in stocks, property and other risky assets as a way to increase their wealth, especially in times of ultra-low interest rates. Such speculation may be "safer" than committing capital and ideas to starting a business, because if a business goes under, the loss is likely to be total. Compare this with a stock or property market crash, where the stocks of a solid company or a flat still retain substantial value.
An economy cannot "make up" lost business starts. Entrepreneurs learn from the process of building a business and even if business starts make up for the past, the economy will still be at a lower level of output because the businesses will be at earlier stages of development.


Sunday socionomics

The headlines almost tell the whole story today.

Merkel says German multiculturalism has failed
"This (multicultural) approach has failed, utterly failed," Merkel told the meeting in Potsdam, south of Berlin.

Japan, Once Dynamic, Is Disheartened by DeclineChuckle at the NYTimes being about a decade behind the times, but a good capture of social mood.
But his living standards slowly crumbled along with Japan’s overall economy. First, he was forced to reduce trips abroad and then eliminate them. Then he traded the Mercedes for a cheaper domestic model. Last year, he sold his condo — for a third of what he paid for it, and for less than what he still owed on the mortgage he took out 17 years ago.

“Japan used to be so flashy and upbeat, but now everyone must live in a dark and subdued way,” said Masato, 49, who asked that his full name not be used because he still cannot repay the $110,000 that he owes on the mortgage.
This is an older Japanese who has experienced the decline. How about the younger Japanese?
Yukari Higaki, 24, said the only economic conditions she had ever known were ones in which prices and salaries seemed to be in permanent decline. She saves as much money as she can by buying her clothes at discount stores, making her own lunches and forgoing travel abroad. She said that while her generation still lived comfortably, she and her peers were always in a defensive crouch, ready for the worst.

“We are the survival generation,” said Ms. Higaki, who works part time at a furniture store.

Hisakazu Matsuda, president of Japan Consumer Marketing Research Institute, who has written several books on Japanese consumers, has a different name for Japanese in their 20s; he calls them the consumption-haters. He estimates that by the time this generation hits their 60s, their habits of frugality will have cost the Japanese economy $420 billion in lost consumption.

“There is no other generation like this in the world,” Mr. Matsuda said. “These guys think it’s stupid to spend.”
Read this article and remember it whenever someone tells you the American consumer will always be there to buy. Although they had high savings rates, the Japanese enjoyed spending on conspicuous consumption and luxury goods. Now they either cannot afford it or view it as stupid. Just as the children of the depression continued counting pennies even as the stock market boomed in the 1980s and 1990s, these Japanese youth are unlikely to ever become big spenders.

Flashback to 1870 as Cotton Hits PeakA few takes. One, a historic price level, coming around the same time as the Republicans are likely to score one of their largest political victories since Reconstruction. Two, deflation. If there's only inflation in commodities, it means the money printing of the central banks is just going into speculation. The economy picks up as prices recover, but eventually these price increases become a tax and the economy falls back into recession, just as the high price of oil in 2008 weakened an already financially damaged economy. Three, the investment implications that follow are to buy low and sell high. People were very worried about price increases in June 2008 and most totally missed the direction of prices for the next year.

And if you wondering where the next leg down in social mood will emerge from, read up on MERS.


Buffett buying China Rare Earth?

It makes some sense since he's invested in a Chinese car company that needs rare earth elements, but at this point I think it's more rumor than anything. The impetus for this rumor was the halting of China Rare Earth (0769.HK) for a share placement.

Rare hopes for a Buffett bonanza
Rumors that US billionaire Warren Buffett will take part in a share placement by China Rare Earth (0769) has raised hopes the firm may be the next to get the "Midas touch" after PetroChina (0857) and BYD (1211).
The rare earth and refractory products maker is selling 100 million new shares to raise HK$395 million, Reuters reported.

At HK$3.95 each, the offer is a 10 percent discount to the stock's last closing price of HK$4.39 on Wednesday.

An over-allotment issue of 20 million shares could boost the total amount HK$474 million. Analysts estimate CRE's share price to soar after it resumes trading because of the "Buffett effect."

Euro bulls taper off

One Nation, Under Fraud

This is a story hitting the sweet spot of the social mood.

One nation, under fraud
Tomorrow, a bank—not your bank, but any bank—could evict you from your home. Even if you didn’t know the bank was foreclosing. Even if your mortgage is paid off. Even if you never had a mortgage. Even if the bank doesn’t hold a single piece of paper that you signed. And major banks not only know this fact, but have spent millions of dollars to defend it in court. Why? The answer starts with a Jacksonville homeowner named Patrick Jeffs.

In 2007, Deutsche Bank sued Jeffs for his home, which is a necessary step in the process of foreclosing on a homeowner in the state of Florida. Curiously, despite the fact that he immediately hired a law firm to defend his property when he found out about the foreclosure, neither Jeffs nor his attorneys were at the trial. That’s because it had already happened. Deutsche won by default because Jeffs wasn’t able to travel backwards in time to attend, even though the trial featured a signed affidavit indicating that he had been served his court summons.

The only problem with the summons Jeffs supposedly received was that it had been conjured out of thin air.

In June of this year, a Florida court ruled that the document was fraudulent, as the person who was supposed to make sure Jeffs was served had mysteriously received a copy of the summons before the lawsuit had even been filed, and Jeffs never even saw the copy. The text of that ruling was posted on various financial news websites in September. The lawyers that Jeffs hired to defend his case say that fraud such as this is not uncommon. It’s a widespread problem, and it has cost countless families their homes.

“I think it’s safe to say that 95% of the foreclosure cases in Florida involve some form of fraud on the part of the bank,” David Goldman of Apple Law Firm, PLLC told The Daily Caller in a phone interview. “It’s probably closer to 99%. And the court system is helping them get away with it.”
A lot more at the link. If you're trying to imagine how a major deflationary event can happen with all the Fed money printing, this is one very strong possibility as the banks are heading into the public's cross hairs.


Place your bets on the U.S. election

You can find all these links here. Note that most of these contracts did not move until September or October.

Hyperinflation or deflation?

The price of SPY, the largest S&P 500 Index ETF, divided by GLD, the largest gold ETF.

Socionomics meets present economic conditions

The world is spiraling towards currency wars and probably trade wars after that. Is there a solution to the problem? Michael Pettis offers up one possible solution to the current situation.

Xin Fa’an: A modest proposal to resolve the coming trade war
So why not have China do it directly? Let China engage in a massive rebuilding of US infrastructure – it can build airports, highways, damns, and railways – which would raise investment levels enough keep the US trade deficit high in a way that benefits the US and China.

Of course China would also have the right to charge for the use of these projects so that it can earn a positive return on its investment. The return doesn’t even need to be high – just better than the return it gets on its huge expansion in investment in China, which I suspect is negative for the country as a whole.
Putting aside the idea, look at this from a social mood and economic perspective. For the former, does anything even remotely like this idea have any chance of becoming reality? For the latter, how bad are things if this is a plausible adjustment mechanism?

Senate may pass currency bill

U.S. Senate's Baucus Warns China That FX Bill Could Pass

If the Senate passes the currency bill, then it goes to Obama, who is headed for a major electoral loss. As I pointed out before, the Republican leadership was almost uniformly against it. That means Obama would be able to present a bipartisan front against the bill after the election. Therefore, the Senate needs to pass this bill with a veto proof majority for it to become law, or Obama must cave on the issue.


Speculators add to long euro positions

6And ye shall hear of currency wars and rumours of currency wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

8All these are the beginning of sorrows.

9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.

10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.


China back from vacation, rare earths run

I'm looking at gold mining stocks to compare A-shares to H-shares, as China returns from vacation today. Lingbao Gold (3330) has been on a tear, up 30% in the past week including today's move, but it appears the A-shares aren't doing any catching up today, only pacing Lingbao.

I included China Rare Earth (0769) because that stock continues to catch a bid on monster volume. The relative performance versus Molycorp (MCP) is looking much better now. Since Yahoo has difficulty with the time difference, I had to create a chart comparing the prices. China Rare Earth includes today's intraday gains as of around noon in Hong Kong. This will be an interesting relationship going forward.

China Rare Earth and Lingbao Gold are both up more than 30% this week, with only a few hours left in trading. China Rare Earth has spiked before and I've seen shorter spikes occur before, only to watch them almost completely fade away in the ensuing days and weeks. Whether this rally is connected to the politics of the region (with China supposedly slowing rare earth exports to Japan during the brouhaha over the detained sea captain) or the expectation of currency devaluation (the similar move in Lingbao suggests the latter) could mean the move is more permanent, but I still expect a healthy and sizable pullback.

Demographics is Destiny: Social Networking

Asia Has Gone Mad for Social Media
If you find it hard to escape Twitter or Facebook, be glad you’re not living in Asia. As of June, 37% of tweets were coming from Asian users, compared with 25% in the United States.

Asians are taking to social media of all kinds, both foreign and home-grown, at a faster pace than Americans, notes news agency Agence France-Presse. And nowhere is this enthusiasm more evident, or more surprising, than in Indonesia, which landed on the Web technology radar in May when Yahoo! (YHOO) acquired Koprol, an Indonesia-born social networking site.

Specifically Indonesia. Take a look at the population pyramid for Indonesia below.
And compare that to the United States.

Here's the AFP article mentioned above. Asians muscling into social media world
"Twitter users in Asia, mainly located in Japan, Indonesia and South Korea, account for 37 percent of tweets," said Semiocast, which studied 2.9 million tweets over a period of 24 hours on June 22.
It said US-generated tweets now account for only 25 percent of messages on Twitter, down from 30 percent in March.
Asia-Pacific users are also creating social media content "to an extent that is unheard of almost anywhere in the world," Crampton added.

Data from research firm Forrester showed Chinese, South Korean, Japanese and Australians creating video, music and text content for social media at a much higher rate than Americans did last year.

And despite China's ban on Facebook and Twitter, the nation still boasts the largest number of social media users in any country thanks to locally-developed substitutes, the Hong Kong-based Crampton said.
Demographics is destiny. We need to be looking at the world as it will be, not as it is. Today, the Asians are leading the way in social networking, an industry dominated by the young. In 20 years, these social networkers will dominate the financial markets.

Much of the economic analysis I come across in mainstream outlets assumes that the world as it exists today will be the world of tomorrow. Yes, there are projections of economic growth and countries such as China, India, Indonesia and Brazil become larger portions of global trade, but I don't have the sense that many have thought through the implications of this, especially with regards to demographics.

Many Westerners can understand the impact of the baby boom and how the Boomers affected the entire socio-politcal-economic structure in their country. Their rebellious youth translated into global political rebellion. Their early working and household formation years helped drive inflation. Their peak savings period of middle age led to massive financial bubbles. Their switch into retirement led to a collapse of the bubbles and large entitlement liabilities. The Boomers are at the center of the story because they are the largest demographic group. It's going to be the same with Asia. The future is here, in the East.

I believe there is also a demographic component to socionomics. The young are generally more optimistic than the old. The political debates in Europe, U.S. and Japan are about preserving the existing system. In Asia, the debates are about how to create new wealth. When looking at social mood on top of demographics, Asia is generally in a rising social mood (good for social networking), while the developed world has a declining social mood (bad for social networking).

China is actually aging demographically, its working age population has peaked as a percentage of the total, but the Chinese definitely have an optimistic mindset. China will present a clear contrast with Japan, which aged after it's economy had reached parity with the West, and the younger Asian countries such as India, which hopefully leads to a better understanding of demographics and growth.

China is the exception among the developing economies in the region though. Overall, the demographics in East Asia will support decades of economic leadership.


The western front of the currency war

EU pushes China on currency -- but action unlikely
Countries around the world are acting to keep their currencies from rising, in what one official calls a looming "international currency war." Europe, however, stands out as unlikely to intervene and lower the value of the euro.

European leaders do complain publicly that the euro is too strong against China's yuan -- a key trade disadvantage for the 16 countries that use the shared currency.

But analyst say that displeasure probably won't go farther than talk.

The European Central Bank remains skeptical in principle of interventions -- actually buying and selling currencies to affect exchange rates, while European Union leaders have praised China's commitment to purchase debt issued by troubled Greece -- a measure that would support rather than lower the euro.
Many countries (25 in one week according to Hinde Capital) are trying to devalue their currency versus the U.S. dollar. One major country is making their currency rise versus the U.S. dollar—China. The Chinese use a currency basket to value the renminbi, which means that in order to diversify away from the U.S. dollar they must buy the currencies of other countries.

The Federal Reserve has admitted it wants more inflation and will probably launch the QE2 unless the markets first do their work for them. In other words, the world's largest economy, the home of the world's reserve currency and the financial capital of the world, wants to devalue its currency. The world's largest manufacturing economy, the world's largest source of GDP growth and the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasuries, is working in concert with the United States (albeit independently and for their own benefit), as it buys the currencies of the world. The response of everyone else is to try to inflate faster than the United States.

We just had a decade of inflation that ended with the financial crisis. If the countries of the world behave the same way, what will be the result?

Maybe this time it should be yuan and gold...

Almost a year ago I wrote Deflation, Chinese yuan, gold and other connections
The yuan could be the critical currnecy. As the "whither depegging" article discusses, if the yuan started appreciating now it could cause an acceleration away from the U.S. dollar. That would cause gold and other commodities to gain and give the Federal Reserve a huge headache.
Now it seems the Fed wants to have this headache, but the point about gold is what I'm thinking about. Oil shot up during the last revaluation because China was building petroleum reserves and energy was a big investment theme. What do Chinese want to buy today? Yes, they still need oil and natural resources, but to my mind, what's more popular (besides real estate, which should also appreciate) is gold.

Yuan appreciation and crude oil

With Japan's failed efforts to keep the yen from appreciating, the BOJ's interest rate cut to zero having an effect measured in hours and the subsequent effect on the gold price, I thought it be worth it to take a look at the renminbi versus oil.

I have no idea whether this situation it will repeat. I used today's data for the last data point, but monthly data back to 2005. As the chart shows, it took a long time for the effects to kick in, but once the renminbi started appreciating more rapidly, oil also began a steep ascent. Using this recent data gives the appearance of an effect that does not exist, but if the race to devalue is on then it may well be that this is the start of it. Oil prices are likely to rise no matter what if nations devalue their currencies, but if there's a Chinese carry trade in oil or other commodities, there will another bubble. Also pay attention to real estate, stocks and inflation rates in China.

A condensed version is cross posted here: 人民币美元汇率和石油价格.

Japan is doomed!

The World Monetary Earthquake - The Dash From Cash - 起劲的作…形从…小额货币


Central banks are not all-powerful

One of the reasons (among many) Presidential candidate and Congressman Ron Paul's efforts to end the Federal Reserve are often met with a chuckle is because people cannot imagine the central bank could be dissolved. Although a private institution, the Fed does operate with government approval and when was the last time the federal government voted to abolish a major agency or department?

Historically, however, central banks have been abolished in the United States. And now we have evidence in the present day.

BOJ Independence Challenged as Japan Deflation Continues
Your Party, an opposition group, plans to submit a bill in the Diet session running through December that would give the government a greater role in BOJ policymaking. Ichiro Ozawa, a former challenger to Prime Minister Naoto Kan whose calls for currency intervention and enlarged fiscal stimulus have been adopted by Kan, made a similar proposal last month.
Your Party is the Japanese upstart party that bears some similarities to the U.S. tea party movement. They cannot move the legislation without help because the party only has seats in the upper house, but expect this bill to move forward in some form.

Here's a Wall Street Journal article from earlier this year discussing central banks and political threats to their independence.

Crisis Threatens to Curb Central Banks

Trade and Bosoms

Two stories in the Journal today.

Americans Sour on Trade

A solid story worth reading, but the tagline says everything we'd expect from following socionomics:
Majority Say Free-Trade Pacts Have Hurt U.S.; Wedge Issue in Some Races

Another story also touches socionomic themes from the fashion world.

The Bosom is Back (Right along with the stock market.)
Whether evoking the decadence of Marie Antoinette's era or Christian Dior's "New Look," which reintroduced the world to the hourglass silhouette in the late 1940s, the shape is cheerful and appealing. The return of a feminine ideal with some flesh marks the arrival of a more forgiving chapter in fashion history. Enough with the self-denial and minimalism spurred on by the recession. The new standard is both opulent and grounded in realism.
Definite rising social mood implications from feminine fashion, with mid-1960s and late 1940s time comparisons in the article. Whether one reads it as a turn in social mood or a correction during a longer decline, it does show that form the next phase of rising social mood will take, with more clearly defined differences between the sexes.


Speculative traders get bullish

I'm still of the opinion that the magnitude of the change in speculative positions is not reflected in the change in the euro. In other words, sentiment has swung from extremely negative to bullish, but the euro should be higher; it remains well below it's late 2009 highs.

As the charts below show, the dollar index, of which the euro is almost 60%, failed to break its early 2009 crisis high. It is seeing higher lows, but the 74 area is very important. A drop below would signal the end of the intermediate term U.S. dollar rally.

However, the euro (FXE) is more than half of the index, and its chart is much worse. It shows lower highs and lower lows, a downtrend that has yet to be broken.

September Performance


Sep %


S&P 500 TR






上海 Shanghai







Green Dragon



Best of Funds



Pharma & Dogs



China Fund






Yield to Me



Catch a Falling Knife



A big up month for the markets and a big drop for the U.S. dollar worked against several portfolios. Defensiveness continues to hamstring the returns, but overall they're still doing well relative to the market.