Thursday, 20 August 2015

Towel chucking - Commodity style.

Yesterday was a towel chucking day in commodity land. 

Oil did it again and I hold up my hand with regards to getting oil wrong as that held up hand is devoid of fingers. The kevlar gloves, donned last week when buying for a bounce, provided no protection from the falling knife of prices. 

Glencore shares melted yesterday too along with most other miners. 'Caught out by fall in Chinese demand" said the head of Glencore

He also goes on to blame the price collapse on hedge funds pushing prices to unreasonable levels. HOHOHO Kerbonk (Laughing my head off).  Glencore is more hedge fund than most other hedge funds. But as always profit is genius and losses are someone else fault. In the same way as you never hear a corporation explaining away surprise profits through lucky moves in FX, though the reverse argument is often used.

So how many corporations are going to be looking at their balance sheets for Kazakh Tenge exposure this morning and hoping to find a small nugget of exposure on to which to kitchen sink all their management filings, as the Kazakh Tenge devaled 20% overnight? This has caused many shops to close for the day as they convert the devaluation into pure inflation by repricing everything accordingly. Do you really want inflation? Ask a Kazakh how it feels.

Kaz Minerals shares quoted on FTSE up sizeably (even priced in GBP) on the belief that this deal will give commodity producers a shot in the arm.

Not so sure how long that will last as a devaluation is identical to giving your workers a 20% wage cut, and like a wage cut they either take it, or demand more pay. But you have to take your hat of to them that was one hell of a devaluation at making China's 'deval' look like a rounding error. With the vietnamese Dong 1% softer too after manipulation by its CB, perhaps the headlines should read 'Emerging Asia revalues the CNY"

But the market is now in FX peg hunting mode and it appears that the only qualification needed to be a potential peg break goldmine is the word 'peg'. Some of the pegs appear to be being attacked by angry lynch mobs rather than reasoned investors. Take the Saudi real for example. It encapsulates the fears of whats happening next door in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, it captures the falling oil price and it encapsulates 'Emerging market' ( as much because most people have never heard of its currency rather than it actually being an emerging country). Ambrose Evans Pritchard* catapulting it to the fore a week or so ago also helped. But Saudi hardly have any debt and have about $670bio of reserves which would see them through 4 yrs of 20% budget deficits even if they never borrowed.

But why worry about the detail when you can just scream 'this is 1997' and ignore the background reserve structures. Even the Hong Kong Peg was being raised as a suitable peg break candidate today.   Just do the reverse. If the Central banks had any sense they would be writing all the USD call options being bought against their currencies. Oh but they can't. No, but their Sovereign Wealth Funds may be able to. Even if they can't trade their own currency, they could come to an agreement and sell each others currency usd calls?

The Fed - Fed fed fed fed fed up with the amount of time wasted by humanity trying to guess what the Fed will do when actually the Fed are spending their time watching what you are doing to work out what they will do. I am still sticking with my March 2016 call which took 30 seconds to come up with two years ago and is still as valid then as it was now. Call it my $5 plastic cheapo Fed watch to everyone else's Patek Philippe Grande Taille Fed Chronograph. It still tells the same time and yet I have enough change to buy a boat and a car.

With the air thick with towels and me bleeding to death, I am wondering if I should also chuck my towel or just use it to staunch my blood loss. I am a stubborn fellow who really should know better but this is still august and I have to keep reminding myself that it is silly season.  The market does suffer ADHD and though China, Emerging Markets,  commodities and High Yield may look like the four horsemen of the apocalypse right now, only a month ago those Horsemen where Greece and Europe and they have effectively been turned into donkey rides. If attention can switch that rapidly before then it can happen again.

As I finish this post the markets have gone strangely quiet. Is that it? Are we done? Can we now get back to buying again? I hope so. 

And one last thing . To the market acronyms of RORO and MOMO I would like to add one for the UK weather.  SOSO - Summer On Sumer Off. This year has seen high frequency oscillations between Summer weather and November weather. Today is another November day. 

*Has someone hacked Ambrose Evan Pritchard ? He wrote this about Chona and rather than calling for the end of the world he suggests quite the opposite in that China will be just fine. Odd. Also odd that John Ficenec has taken over the uber-apocalyptic role. Perhaps AEP has seen the light, is repenting his sins and becoming a missionary. 


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