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Will the Dollar Recover After CPI?

Overview: The US dollar remains offered ahead of today’s CPI report. Most European currencies are outperforming the dollar bloc, and the greenback is…

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Overview: The US dollar remains offered ahead of today’s CPI report. Most European currencies are outperforming the dollar bloc, and the greenback is holding inside yesterday’s range against the yen. Most emerging market currencies are firmer, as well. China’s markets re-opened from the long-holiday weekend and the yuan is a touch softer. After the strong close to US equities yesterday, and some mild follow-through buying today in the futures, equities in the Asia Pacific and Europe are also extending their recent gains. Hong Kong was a notable exception in Asia and reports that regulators asked state-owned entities to report their exposure to Fosun, one of the largest non-state conglomerates, weighed on the Hang Seng. Europe’s Stoxx 600 is rising for the fourth consecutive session and is at its best level in about three weeks. The 10-year US Treasury yield is a few basis points lower near 3.32%, while European benchmark yields are narrowly mixed. Gold is a little firmer at the upper end of yesterday’s range. December WTI is also in the upper end of yesterday’s range, a little below $88, ahead the OPEC+ report. US natgas is firmer for the fourth consecutive session, while the European benchmark is off 2.3%, its third decline in a row. It is now at its lowest level since late July. Iron ore recovered from yesterday’s 0.9% pullback and rose 1.4% today. It is at its best level this month. December copper is firm and is also at its best level here in September. If today’s gains are sustained, it would be the fifth advance in the past six sessions. December wheat has come back bid after yesterday’s 1.25% pullback. The USDA boosted its estimate of the wheat harvest, while reporting tighter supplies of soybeans. November beans rallied nearly 5.4% yesterday and are up a bit more today. They are at the highest level since late June.

Asia Pacific

The threats by Japanese officials have spurred more talk of intervention. There has been an evolution in official thinking about intervention. The Plaza Agreement (1985) and the Louvre Accord (1987) marked the high point of G7 foreign exchange coordination and intervention. However, consider that the Great Financial Crisis and the Covid pandemic without intervention in the major currencies. Officials recognized that the key problem was not foreign exchange rates per se but access to the dollar. Hence, the swaps lines offered by the Federal Reserve during the GFC, some of which were converted into permanent standby arrangement, and again during the pandemic. 

Under this framework, there is no compelling need for unilateral intervention. Japan is the only G7 central bank that is still pursuing quantitative easing and is the only G7 country that is projected to record a larger fiscal deficit than in 2021. Europe is unlikely to be any more sympathetic to Japan's plight than the US. The weakness for the yen has not affected the conduct of Japanese monetary policy. Japan's inflation is among the lowest for high-income countries, and the Japanese economy will likely outperform Europe's for the next several quarters. The yen reached is weakest level since 1998, while sterling fell to its lowest level since 1985. The euro traded at its lowest level since 2000. According to the OECD's purchasing power parity model, the euro is undervalued by about 41.5% and the yen is undervalued by a little less than 42%, an insignificant difference.

Japan verbal intervention coincided with the dollar's pullback more generally. Today is the fourth consecutive session that the greenback is recording lower highs. The pre-weekend low was JPY141.50 but yesterday and today, support has been found slightly above JPY142, where options for $670 mln expire today. In addition to the lower dollar, today's range, about 0.8 yen, is the smallest since last Monday when the US and Canada were on holiday. The greenback is also in a narrow range against the Australian dollar. It is consolidating in a narrow range below $0.6910. A move above $0.6920, could spur another half-cent gain. Initial support is seen around $0.6860. The Chinese yuan is a little softer today, as the mainland market re-opens from the long holiday weekend. The US dollar initially eased to about CNY6.9165, slightly below the pre-weekend low but rebounded above CNY6.9300. As it has done for nearly three weeks, the PBOC set the dollar's reference rate above when the median in Bloomberg's survey projected (CNY6.8928 vs. CNY6.9125).

Europe

Before the weekend, the (swaps) market was nearly 100% convinced the ECB would hike 75 bp at next month's meeting. The confidence has waned a bit and now is around 60%. This is despite the hawkish comments over the weekend by Bundesbank President Nagel. Other ECB officials have confirmed intentions to lift rates at the coming meetings, but not necessarily in such large steps. The neutral seen 1.5%-2.0%. The swaps market sees the deposit rate within that range before year end. After last week's high, the deposit rate is at 0.75%. Separately, the ZEW survey was weaker than expected. The current situation measure fell to -60.5 from -47.6. It is the worst reading since March 2021. The expectations component was even worse, dropping to -61.9 from -55.3. This level of pessimism was not seen even during the initial stages of the pandemic, when expectations bottomed at -49.5. Even during the sovereign debt crisis (2011), it did not fall this low. One has to go back to October 2008 to see such a low reading. That said, the euro barely wobbled on the news.

The International Labor Organization says that UK unemployment unexpectedly fell to 3.6% in the three months through July from 3.8%. However, the government's data shows this was driven by a 194k decline in the workforce--seemingly reflecting sickness and return to school. The claimant count rose by 6.3k, bringing the number of unemployed to 1.22 mln (compared to a1.28 mln job openings, which fell by 34k over the three-month period). Employment rose by 40k in the three-months through July, which is about a third of the median forecast in Bloomberg's survey. Average weekly earnings rose 5.5% in three-month through July compared to a year ago. It was the first increase since March when it peaked at 7%. The swaps market is still favors a 75 bp hike next week with almost 69% confidence, which is where it was at the end of last week. Lastly, note that the dockworkers at Felixstowe rejected the pay deal and are preparing to strike. Separately, the dockworkers in Liverpool are also preparing to strike. In the US, the White House is said to be involved in trying to settle the railroad dispute that could lead to a strike at the end of the week.

The EC is expected to propose a mandatory program to cut power use. This is going to prove as controversial as it was when first aired earlier this year. The push back then resulted in voluntary cuts and between May and August, gas demand in northwest Europe fell by 18% year-over-year. Some countries have introduced light rationing already, in the form of temperature and light use in public buildings. The EC's proposal, leaked to the press, has two goals in terms of conservation. First a cut in overall consumption. Second a mandatory goal of lowering demand during peak hours or when electricity generation from renewables is expected to be low. The EC also will propose a minimum "exceptional and temporary" tax on "extra" (in excess of pre-tax profits reported for the past three years) made by oil, gas, coal, and refinery industries. The EC wants to cap the extra revenue other energy companies though limiting the price of electricity generated from renewables and nuclear.

The challenge is to find a solution that is agreeable throughout the EU, which like other issues, has proved quite difficult. The issues are thorny and earlier this year, tensions between Germany and the periphery were evident. in any event, it seems unreasonable to expect a quick solution. Instead, following von der Leyen's annual State of the Union address to the European parliament on Wednesday, look for the heads of state summit (informal meeting on October 6-7 and a summit October 20-21 to try to hammer out an agreement. Still, the idea that Europe is on the verge of an energy union seems to be more a case of wishful thinking. Sure, like the EU's joint bond issuance, it could prove to be the scaffolding, but more likely is one-off emergency measures.

The euro is trading with a firmer bias but holding below yesterday's high (almost $1.02). It seems to be sandwiched between two sets of expiring options today. One set is struck at $1.01 for about 725 mln euros. The other is for nearly 1.05 bln euros at $1.0175. After yesterday's advance, some, if not all the upper strike has likely been neutralized. The session highs were recorded in the European morning a little above $1.0165, and again North American dealers will start their session with the intraday momentum indicators stretched. The session low, slightly below $1.0120 was set in early Asia. Yesterday, sterling stalled near its 20-day moving average (~$1.1715), but today has edged through $1.1730. This is just shy of the (38.2%) retracement of the losses since the August 10 high near $1.2275. The next retracement (50%) is closer to $1.1840. Support is seen in the $1.1660-80 area. Our broad view anticipated the dollar to weaken through the US inflation report and then find better bids ahead of next week's FOMC meeting.

America

Today's US CPI report and the University of Michigan's preliminary September consumer confidence and inflation expectations are seen as the last two important data points before the FOMC meeting next week. Barring a surprise, another tame monthly CPI print is expected. The month-over-month reading in July was zero and the median forecast in Bloomberg's survey is for a 0.1% decline in August. The August core rate is expected to match July's 0.3% increase. The year-over-year headline rate may ease to 8%, while the core may tick up back above 6% for the first time since April. Given Fed's assessment that that labor market remains strong, and prices elevated, few really think that today's CPI report will spur a change in the official stance. Moreover, in a bit of "what came first the chicken or the egg", the market is giving the Fed a free option to hike 75 bp.

Given the Fed's belated start and misunderstanding of the persistence of inflation, it may not want to under-deliver market expectations. That said, look at the evolution of inflation expectations. First, we note that NY Fed's August survey was out yesterday. It showed the one-year inflation expectation easing to 5.7% from 6.2%, and the three-year expectation at 2.8% from 3.2%. Second are the market-based measures. The two-year breakeven (the difference between the two-year inflation protected security and the conventional note) has fallen from almost 5% in late March (peak was almost two weeks after the Fed's first hike) to less than 2.2% last week. The 10-year breakeven peaked in late April, a little over 3% and fell to 2.30% in July and has bounced around a bit this summer, reaching nearly 2.65% in late August and now is around 2.42%, roughly the lowest it has trading since late July. Rightly or wrongly, the breakeven measure of inflation expectations seems heavily influenced by the price of oil. The generic WTI futures contract peaked in early March slightly above $130. It had a secondary peak in mid-June around $123.70. Last week, it fell to nearly $81, the lowest level since mid-January, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when many, including Ukrainians, did not believe the invasion was going to materialize.

There is an old rule of thumb about three gaps exhausting a move. Some interpretations of Japanese candlesticks also have rule like that. It is relevant because the S&P 500 and NASDAQ gapped higher on both Friday and yesterday, and the gaps are unfilled. The Canadian dollar, among the most sensitive among the major currencies to US equity fluctuations, has rallied sharply over the past of four sessions, which have been the best for US stocks here in Q3. The US dollar has fallen from a little above CAD1.3200 to below CAD1.3000. So far today, the greenback is trading in a tight range (~CAD1.2970-CAD1.2995). It is hovering a little above yesterday's low near CAD1.2965, which is roughly the (50%) retracement of the US dollar gains since the August 11 low (~CAD1.2730). A convincing break targets the next retracement (61.8%) a little above CAD1.2900. The US dollar fell to its lowest level since mid-June against the Mexican peso yesterday (~MXN19.7535) but closed back above the MXN19.80 floor. The greenback is under pressure today and there is little chart support ahead of MXN19.60. The JP Morgan Emerging Market Currency Index is extending yesterday's gains. If sustained, it would be the fourth gain in five sessions, and it is trading near its best level since mid-August.

 

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Biden’s Secret Promise To OPEC Backfires: Shellenberger

Biden’s Secret Promise To OPEC Backfires: Shellenberger

Submitted by Michael Shellenberger,

In early September, United States Secretary of…

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Biden's Secret Promise To OPEC Backfires: Shellenberger

Submitted by Michael Shellenberger,

In early September, United States Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, told Reuters that President Joe Biden was considering extending the release of oil from America’s emergency stockpiles, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), through October, and thus beyond the date when the program had been set to end. But then, a few hours later, an official with the Department of Energy called Reuters and contradicted Granholm, saying that the White House was not, in fact, considering more SPR releases. Five days later, the White House said it was considering refilling the SPR, thereby proposing to do the exact opposite of what Granholm had proposed.

The hand of Russia's President Vladimir Putin (right) is now strengthened within the OPEC+ cartel controlled by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (left), which today decided to cut production by 2 million barrels.

The confusion around the Biden administration’s petroleum policy was cleared up yesterday after a senior official revealed that the White House had made a secret offer to buy up to 200 million barrels of OPEC+ oil to replenish the SPR in exchange for OPEC+ not cutting oil production. The official said the White House wanted to reassure OPEC+ that the US “won’t leave them hanging dry.” The fact that this offer was made through the White House, not the Department of Energy, may explain why a representative of the Department called Reuters to take back the remarks of Granholm, who has shown herself to be out-of-the-loop, and at a loss for words, relating to key administration decisions relating to oil and gas production.

The revelation poses political risks for Democrats who, in the spring of 2020, killed a proposal by President Donald Trump to replenish the SPR with oil from American producers, not OPEC+ ones, and at a price of $24 a barrel, not the $80 a barrel that the Biden White House promised to OPEC+. At the time, Trump was seeking to stabilize the American oil industry after the Covid-19 pandemic massively reduced oil demand. Trump and Congressional Republicans proposed spending $3 billion to fill the SPR. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer successfully defeated the proposal, and later bragged that his party had blocked a “bailout for big oil.”

Even normally strong boosters of the Biden White House viewed the Democrats’ opposition to refilling the SPR as a major blunder. “That decision,” noted Bloomberg, “effectively cost the US billions in potential profits and meant Biden had tens of millions of fewer barrels at his disposal with which to counter price surges.” Moreover, observed Bloomberg, it will take significantly more oil today to fill the SPR than it would have two years ago. In spring 2020, the SPR contained 634 million barrels out of a capacity of 727 million. Now, the reserve is below 442 million barrels, its lowest level in 38 years.

The decision looks even worse in light of the decision by OPEC+ today to cut production, which will increase oil prices. The Biden administration in recent days has been pulling out the stops trying to persuade Saudi Arabia and other OPEC+ members, a group that includes Russia, to maintain today’s levels of oil production. Last Friday, the Biden administration sought a 45-day delay in a civil court proceeding over whether Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman should have sovereign immunity for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, for which bin Salman has taken responsibility.

The behavior by the Biden White House displays a willingness to sacrifice America’s commitment to human rights for the president’s short-term political needs. Instead of pleading with OPEC+ to maintain or increase high levels of oil production, the Biden administration could have simply allowed for expanded domestic oil production. Instead, Biden has issued fewer leases for on-shore and off-shore oil production than any president since World War II. As such, the pleadings by Biden and administration officials have backfired. The perception of the U.S. in the minds of OPEC+ members has weakened while the influence of Russian President Vladimir Putin has strengthened.

Why is that? Why did the Biden administration decide to spend so much political capital trying, and failing, to get Saudi Arabia and other OPEC+ members to expand production when it could have simply expanded oil production domestically? What, exactly, is going on?

President Joe Biden greets the Saudi Crown Prince on July 15, 2022.

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Tyler Durden Thu, 10/06/2022 - 22:20

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Government

What Really Divides America

What Really Divides America

Authored by Joel Kotkin via UnHerd.com,

The Midterms aren’t a battle between good and evil…

Reading the…

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What Really Divides America

Authored by Joel Kotkin via UnHerd.com,

The Midterms aren't a battle between good and evil...

Reading the mainstream media, one would be forgiven for believing that the upcoming midterms are part of a Manichaean struggle for the soul of democracy, pitting righteous progressives against the authoritarian “ultra-MAGA” hordes. The truth is nothing of the sort. Even today, the vast majority of Americans are moderate and pragmatic, with fewer than 20% combined for those identifying as either “very conservative” or “very liberal”. The apocalyptic ideological struggle envisioned by the country’s elites has little to do with how most Americans actually live and think. For most people, it is not ideology but the powerful forces of class, race, and geography that determine their political allegiances — and how they will vote come November.

Of course, it is the business of both party elites — and their media allies — to make the country seem more divided than it is. To avoid talking about the lousy economy, Democrats have sought to make the election about abortion and the alleged “threat to democracy” posed by “extremist” Republicans. But recent polls suggest that voters are still more concerned with economic issues than abortion. The warnings about extremism, meanwhile, are tough to take seriously, given that Democrats spent some $53 million to boost far-Right candidates in Republican primaries.

Republicans are contributing to the problem in their own way, too. Rather than offering any substantive governing vision of their own, they assume that voters will be repelled by unpopular progressive policies such as defunding the police, encouraging nearly unlimited illegal immigration, and promoting sexual and gender “fluidity” to schoolchildren. They ignore, of course, the fact that their own embrace of fundamentalist morality on abortion is also widely rejected by the populace. And even Right-leaning voters may doubt the sanity of some of the GOP’s eccentric candidates this November.

In short, both major parties stoke polarisation, the primary beneficiaries of which are those parties’ own political machines. But most Americans broadly want the same things: safety, economic security, a post-pandemic return to normalcy, and an end to dependence on China. Their divisions are based not so much on ideology but on the real circumstances of their everyday life.

The most critical, yet least appreciated, of these circumstances is class. America has long been celebrated as the “land of opportunity”, yet for working and middle-class people in particular, opportunity is increasingly to come by. With inflation elevated and a recession seemingly on the horizon, pocketbook issues are likely to become even more important in the coming months. According to a NBC News poll, for instance, nearly two-thirds of Americans say their pay check is falling behind the cost of living, and the Republicans hold a 19-point advantage over the Democrats on the economy.

A downturn could also benefit the Left eventually. As the American Prospect points out, proletarianised members of the middle class are increasingly shopping at the dollar stores that formerly served working and welfare populations. Labour, a critical component of the Democratic coalition, could be on the verge of a generational surge, with unionisation spreading to fast food retailers, Amazon warehouses, and Starbucks.

To take advantage of a resurgent labour movement, however, Democrats will have to move away from what Democratic strategist James Carville scathingly calls  “faculty lounge politics”: namely, their obsession with gender, race, and especially climate. For instance, by demanding “net zero” emissions on a tight deadline, without developing the natural gas and nuclear production needed to meet the country’s energy needs, progressives run the risk of inadvertently undermining the American economy. Ill-advised green policies will be particularly devastating for the once heavily Democratic workers involved in material production sectors like energy, agriculture, manufacturing, warehousing, and logistics.

To win in the coming election and beyond, Democrats need to focus instead on basic economic concerns such as higher wages, affordable housing, and improved education. They also need to address the roughly half of all small businesses reporting that inflation could force them into bankruptcy. Some progressives believe that climate change will doom the Republicans, but this is wishful thinking. According to Gallup, barely 3% of voters name environmental issues as their top concern.

Racial divides are also important — though not in the way that media hysterics about “white supremacy” would lead you to believe. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s decision to fly undocumented immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard was undoubtedly a political stunt, and one arguably in poor taste. But it succeeded in its main goal: highlighting the enormous divide between the border states affected by illegal immigration and the bastions of white progressivism who tend to favour it.

Under Biden, the Democrats have essentially embraced “open borders” — illegal crossings are at record levels, and few of the migrants who make it across the border are ever required to leave. This policy reflects a deep-seated belief among elite Democrats that a more diverse, less white population works to their political favour. Whether they are right to think so, however, is far from clear. Black people still overwhelmingly back the Democrats, but Asians (the fastest-growing minority) and Latinos (the largest) are more evenly divided, and have been drifting toward the Republicans in recent years.

Here, too, class is a key factor. Many middle and upper-class minorities are on board with the Democrats’ anti-racist agenda. But many working-class Hispanics and Asians have more basic concerns. After all,  notes former Democratic Strategist Ruy Teixiera, these are the people most affected by inflation, rising crime, poor schools, and threats to their livelihoods posed by draconian green policies.

Culture too plays a role. Immigrants, according to one recent survey, are twice as conservative in their social views than the general public and much more so than second generation populations of their own ethnicity. Like most Americans, they largely reject the identity politics central to the current Democratic belief system. Immigrants and other minorities also tend to be both more religious than whites; new sex education standards have provoked opposition from the Latino, Asian, African American and Muslim communities.

The final dividing line is geography, always a critical factor in American politics. For decades, the country seemed to become dominated by the great metropolitan areas of the coasts, with their tech and finance-led economies. But even before the pandemic, the coastal centres were losing their demographic and economic momentum and seeing their political influence fade. In 1960, for example, New York boasted more electoral votes than Texas and Florida combined. Today, both have more electoral votes than the Empire State. Last year, New York, California, and Illinois lost more people to outmigration than any other states. The greatest gains were in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and North Carolina. These states are high-growth, fertile, and lean toward the GOP.Likewise, regional trends suggest that elections will be decided in lower density areas; suburbs alone are  home to at least 40% of all House seats. Some of these voters may be refugees from blue areas who still favour the Democrats. But lower-density areas, which also tend to have the highest fertility rates, tend to be dominated by family concerns like inflation, public education and safety, issues that for now favour Republicans.

Put the battle between Good and Evil to one side. It is these three factors — class, race, geography — that will shape the outcome of the midterms, whatever the media says. The endless kabuki theatre pitting Trump and his minions against Democrats may delight and enrage America’s elites — but for the American people, it is still material concerns that matter.

Tyler Durden Thu, 10/06/2022 - 21:40

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International

Switzerland, Not USA, Is The ‘Most Innovative’ Country In The World

Switzerland, Not USA, Is The ‘Most Innovative’ Country In The World

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has released its 2022…

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Switzerland, Not USA, Is The 'Most Innovative' Country In The World

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has released its 2022 Global Innovation Index. It evaluated innovation levels across 132 economies focusing on a long list of criteria such as human capital, institutions, technology and creative output as well as market and business sophistication, among others.

The 2022 index has found that innovation is still blossoming in some sectors despite the global economic slowdown and coronavirus pandemic, especially in industries to do with public health and the environment.

As Statista's Katharina Buchholz reports, Switzerland topped the rankings with a score of 64.6 out of 100, the 12th time it has been named the world leader in innovation. The United States come second while the Sweden rounds off the top three.

You will find more infographics at Statista

One of the biggest winners of the ranking was South Korea, which climbed up from rank 10 in 2020 to rank 6 in 2022.

China is now the world's 11th most innovative nation, up from rank 14 in 2020 and 2019 and rank 17 in 2018.

China was also named the most innovative upper middle-income country ahead of Bulgaria (overall rank 35), while India (overall rank 40) came first for lower middle-income countries, followed by Vietnam (overall rank 48).

Notably, China is now on a par with the United States in terms of the number of top 100 Science & Technology clusters

Finally, WIPO notes that on the one hand, science and innovation investments continued to surge in 2021, performing strongly even at the height of a once in a century pandemic. On the other hand, even as the pandemic recedes, storm clouds remain overhead, with increasing supply-chain, energy, trade and geopolitical stresses.

Tyler Durden Thu, 10/06/2022 - 20:40

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