Gold, Crude, the Dollar and Donald Trump

Since the 1970s, gold and crude oil have tended to rise and fall together as illustrated by the chart below, with gold and crude prices adjusted for inflation.

Spot Gold and WTI Light Crude

The reason is not hard to find. When crude prices rise the Dollar weakens. The chart below compares crude, adjusted for inflation, against an inverted Dollar Index. Major rises in crude are normally accompanied by a similar rise in the inverted Dollar index (signaling Dollar weakness).

WTI Light Crude and inverted Dollar Index

However, the inverse is not always true. The 1986 Plaza Accord — where Japan and Germany agreed to scale back Dollar purchases — caused a sharp fall in the Dollar without a corresponding rise in crude.

If Donald Trump successfully negotiates a new trade deal with China, cessation of Chinese purchases could spark a similar decline of the Dollar.

Dollar Index

The Dollar Index is currently consolidating between 88.50 and 91. I suggested last week that it may be forming a base. But rising Crude prices add downward pressure on the Dollar.

Dollar Index

And Gold is the likely beneficiary.

Spot Gold

Breakout above $1375/ounce would signal a strong advance.

We can’t blame Donald Trump for the rise in geo-political tensions around the world. Those are more a legacy of the previous administration’s failure to enforce red lines. But Trump’s communication style does tend to inflame issues and tensions in Syria, North Korea, South China Sea, Ukraine, the Balkans and Baltic states — to name but a few — are also likely to fuel demand for gold as a safe haven.

The challenge facing the West

Here is an excerpt from my recent post on Trump’s Trade War:

Why has it taken this long to respond?

The last incumbent in the White House refused to confront the rising menace. A risk-averse culture led to micro-management and Obama’s mantra of “Don’t do stupid sh*t” frequently translated into “Don’t do anything”.

On Obama’s watch the US abdicated its global leadership, leaving the door open for charlatans like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping to step into the void. His legacy is a series of brewing crises that risk a major global confrontation in the next few decades. Taiwan and the South China Sea, India and Pakistan, North Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Ukraine, the Balkans, and the Baltic States. All of these hotspots have the potential to spark a major conflict. It needs just a single miscalculation from an emboldened aggressor accustomed to being able to bully their neighbors into acquiescence.

All this seems eerily familiar. As Winston Churchill long ago warned: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

Bold leadership is required in the West. Unfortunately Trump is not up to the task.

Donald Trump

His style is too divisive to ever unite the country or Western allies against the common threat.

I later revised my description of Xi and Putin from charlatans to scoundrels after receiving this note from Alan Hartley:

Colin, you refer to “leaving the door open for charlatans like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping to step into the void”

Macquarie Ed.5 :”charlatan – someone who pretends to more knowledge or skill than they possess”

The reference to “charlatan” reflects an ill-informed Western view of world leadership. Rather, I suggest both men possess far more knowledge and skill than blinkered Western eyes have been able to discern.

Beware under-estimating leadership that has driven the rise of China and growing power of Russia. The tactics may not please Western pedantics, but those same people cannot be too at ease either with Donald Trump’s dragon diet approach – eats roots shoots and leaves.

I agree that we should not underestimate the threat that the two pose to Western democracy. Both have proved adept at exploiting weaknesses in our system. Their absence of principles and lack of respect for the rights of others make them a serious threat. The situation is exacerbated by weak leadership in the West.

Vladimir Putin

Putin in particular is highly skilled at exploiting weakness and creating chaos to keep his opponents off-balance. Like Erwin Rommel’s campaign in North Africa, a smaller opponent can outmaneuver larger, more ponderous forces through confusing and erratic behavior. But they are unlikely to prevail in the long-term over a patient, methodical opponent who slowly but relentlessly restricts their ability to maneuver, like Montgomery did at El Alamein1.

Xi Jinping

For that reason, Xi Jinping is a far more formidable opponent. The Chinese approach is more like Montgomery or Sun Tzu: slow, patient and methodical. While the US are masters at shock and awe, I question if they have the patience to play the long game. This is a struggle between two competing ideologies that may take generations to resolve.


  1. Hat tip to Tim Harford: Chaos has its limits even in Donald Trump’s White House

Martin Wolf: Xi’s power grab means China is vulnerable to the whims of one man

Xi's Power Grab

From Martin Wolf at FT:

Sometimes an announcement succeeds in being both unsurprising and shocking. It had long been evident that China’s Xi Jinping would not — indeed, could not — step down from power. He has made too many enemies, particularly through his anti-corruption campaign, even if he wanted to go, which seems unlikely.

Yet the announcement that the two-term limit on the presidency is to go, is still shocking. What seemed likely is now a fact. Mr Xi has discarded the attempt by Deng Xiaoping to institutionalise checks on the power of China’s leaders — itself a reaction to the wild excesses of the era of Mao Zedong. What is re-emerging is strongman rule — a concentration of power in the hands of one man…..

Read the full article at

The Chinese like free trade when it helps them achieve hegemony

From Henrique Shneider:

China has a long history of “state consequentialism.” According to this philosophy, all actions that make the state stronger are morally good. It even makes it the moral task of the state and its servants to take actions that make it stronger. While such thinking is not particular to China, the most ancient form of state consequentialism is Mohism, a philosophical movement that emerged there around the fifth century BC.

Two hundred years later, Chinese Legalism pushed state consequentialism to the next level. Han Fei, its chief proponent, was opposed to domestic markets with the free exchange of goods. His ideal was a central planner that determined input and output and prices. However, he loved the idea of export – if controlled by the state. In chapter 46 of his Han Feizi text, he wrote: “If people attend to public duties and sell their produce to foreigners, then the state will become rich. If the state is rich, then the army will become strong. In consequence, hegemony will be attained.”

Hegemony is usually the political goal of state consequentialism. With such a rich tradition in this philosophy, it may be that Xi Jinping’s China is only embracing free trade to become a new hegemon.

There are three reasons to believe this hypothesis. First, state consequentialist thinking is very much alive in China (and elsewhere). Second, Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic, was a great admirer of Han Fei. Third, the Legalists’ texts are widely read in the Communist Party’s cadre schools.

My grandfather was fond of saying “If you buy cheap, you pay dear.” The real price of cheap imports from non-democratic countries like Russia, China, North Korea or Iran is that you are funding their military expansion. Democracies, with the arguable exception of the US, tend to have other priorities.

Source: The Chinese like free trade when it helps them achieve hegemony

China holds its head above water

A quick snapshot from the latest RBA chart pack.

Manufacturing is holding its head above water (50 on the PMI chart) and industrial production shows a small upturn but investment growth is falling, as in many global economies including the US and Australia. Retail sales growth has declined but remains healthy at 10% a year.


Electricity generation continues to climb but steel, cement and plate glass production all warn that real estate and infrastructure development are slowing.


Interest rates remain accommodative.


Real estate price growth is slowing but remains an unhealthy 10% a year. Real estate development investment rallied in response to lower interest rates but is clearly in a long-term decline.


There are no signs of an economy in immediate trouble but there are indications that the real estate and infrastructure boom may be ending. Through a combination of fiscal stimulus and accommodative monetary policy the Chinese have managed to stave off a capitalism-style correction. But failure to clear some of the excesses of the past decade will mean that the inevitable correction, when it does come, is likely to display familiar Asian severity (Japan 1992, Asian Crisis 1997).

Daily iron ore price update (headfake) | Macrobusiness

By Houses and Holes
at 12:05 am on June 28, 2017
Reproduced with permission of Macrobusiness.

Iron ore price charts for June 27, 2017:

Tianjin benchmark roared 6% to $59.10. Coal is calm. Steel too.

The trigger of course was this, via SCMP:

China would like foreign businesses to keep their profits in the country and reinvest them, Premier Li Keqiang said in his keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in Dalian on Tuesday, although he added there would be no restrictions on the movement of their money.


China’s economic growth is gaining fresh momentum and there will be no hard landing in the world’s second-biggest economy. The unemployment rate in May dropped to 4.91 per cent, he noted, the lowest level in many years.

Market access

China will continue to open its markets in the services and manufacturing sectors. It will loosen restrictions on shareholdings by foreign companies in joint ventures and will ensure China will continue to be the most attractive investment destination.

Economic policy

The Chinese government will not rely on stimulus to bolster economic growth. Instead, it will use structural adjustment and innovation to maintain economic vitality. The government will keep stable macro policies – a prudent monetary policy and a proactive fiscal policy – to ensure clarity and stability in financial markets.

Financial risks

China is fully capable of containing financial market risks and avoiding systemic ones. There are rising geopolitical risks and increasing voices opposing globalisation. China will keep its promises in combating climate change and will work to promote globalisation.

Absolutely nothing new there. In fact it is a little reassuring to those of us that think reform is on the verge of returning.

But the market has been heavily sold and so it got excited. There is a little room for it to run given lowish mill iron ore inventories:

But, in all honesty, I’m stretching to be positive. The price jump will very quickly arrive at Chinese ports as bowel-shakingly higher inventories in short order:

And the economy is still going to slow at the margin as housing comes off leading to a destock in the foreseeable future:

The great thing about markets is they always off[er] second chances. On this occasion it is to get even more short.

3 Headwinds facing the ASX 200

The ASX 200 broke through stubborn resistance at 5800 but is struggling to reach 6000.

ASX 200

There are three headwinds that make me believe that the index will struggle to break 6000:

Shuttering of the motor industry

The last vehicles will roll off production lines in October this year. A 2016 study by Valadkhani & Smyth estimates the number of direct and indirect job losses at more than 20,000.

Full time job losses from collapse of motor vehicle industry in Australia

But this does not take into account the vacuum left by the loss of scientific, technology and engineering skills and the impact this will have on other industries.

…R&D-intensive manufacturing industries, such as the motor vehicle industry, play an important role in the process of technology diffusion. These findings are consistent with the argument in the Bracks report that R&D is a linchpin of the Australian automotive sector and that there are important knowledge spillovers to other industries.

Collapse of the housing bubble

An oversupply of apartments will lead to falling prices, with heavy discounting already evident in Melbourne as developers attempt to clear units. Bank lending will slow as prices fall and spillover into the broader housing market seems inevitable. Especially when:

  • Current prices are supported by strong immigration flows which are bound to lead to a political backlash if not curtailed;
  • The RBA is low on ammunition; and
  • Australian households are leveraged to the eyeballs — the highest level of Debt to Disposable Income of any OECD nation.

Debt to Disposable Income

Falling demand for iron ore & coal

China is headed for a contraction, with a sharp down-turn in growth of M1 money supply warning of tighter liquidity. Falling housing prices and record iron ore inventory levels are both likely to drive iron ore and coal prices lower.

China M1 Money Supply Growth

Australia has survived the last decade on Mr Micawber style economic management, with something always turning up at just the right moment — like the massive 2009-2010 stimulus on the chart above — to rescue the economy from disaster. But sooner or later our luck will run out. As any trader will tell you: Hope isn’t a strategy.

“I have no doubt I shall, please Heaven, begin to be more beforehand with the world, and to live in a perfectly new manner, if — if, in short, anything turns up.”

~ Wilkins Micawber from David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Chinese real estate bubble “slows”

Elliot Clarke at Westpac reports that home price growth in tier-1 cities “slowed materially” in January 2017:

From 29%yr in September 2016, tier-1 new home price growth has slowed to 23%yr. Similarly for the tier-1 secondary market, price momentum has slowed from 33%yr to 26%yr since September.

Tier-2 and tier-3 cities have far lower annual growth rates: 12% and 9% respectively for new homes and 9% and 6% for existing dwellings.

When we compare tier-1 price growth to Sydney and Melbourne, the Chinese bubble is in a different league. From CoreLogic: “Sydney home prices surged 15.5 per cent and Melbourne’s 13.7 per cent over the year [2016]”.

It is hard to imagine a soft landing when property prices have been growing at 30% a year.

Even 15%….

China: Inflation on the rise

China’s Shanghai Composite Index is approaching resistance at 3300 after respecting its new support level at 3100. Twiggs Money Flow troughs above zero indicate long-term buying pressure. Breakout would provide further confirmation of the primary up-trend.

Shanghai Composite Index

* Target medium-term: 3100 + ( 3100 – 2800 ) = 3400

The rising market is primarily a result of central bank stimulus so investors need to consider the result if this is withdrawn. Rising producer prices warn that underlying inflation is growing. If this continues the PBOC will be forced to retreat.

China: Producer Prices Annual Change

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index is also testing resistance, at 24000. A Twiggs Money Flow trough that respects zero would signal long-term buying pressure but that looks uncertain at present.
Hang Seng Index

Gold breaks through $1250

10-Year Treasury Yields are testing support at 2.30%. Expect this to hold. Breach of the rising trendline would warn of a correction but this seems unlikely with the Fed intent on normalizing interest rates. Breakout above 2.50% would offer a target of 3.0%.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The Dollar Index rally remains muted since finding support at 100. Rising long-term yields would fuel the advance, with bearish consequences for gold.

Dollar Index

China’s Yuan is consolidating. Resistance on USDCNY at 7 Yuan is likely to be tested soon.


The PBOC has been burning through its foreign reserves to slow the rate of depreciation against the Dollar, to create a soft landing. A sharp fall would destabilize global financial markets and fuel capital flight from China.

China Foreign Reserves

Spot Gold broke through resistance at $1250, signaling an advance to $1300.

Spot Gold

ASX: Steam or froth?

The ASX 200 broke resistance at 5500. Follow-through above 5600 would confirm a primary advance with a long-term target of 6000*. Rising Twiggs Money Flow indicates medium-term buying pressure.

ASX 200

* Target medium-term: 5600 + ( 5600 – 5200 ) = 6000

The ASX 300 Banks Index has followed through after breaking resistance at 8000. Expect retracement to test the new support level but respect is likely.

ASX 300 Banks

What could go wrong?

….Apart from a precarious property bubble in China fueling commodity exports, a property bubble in Australia fueled by record low interest rates and equally precarious immigration flows, declining business investment and slowing wages growth.

The ASX price-earnings ratio is close to historic highs, suggesting we are in Phase III of a bull market — where stocks are advanced on hopes and expectations of future growth rather than on concrete results. By all means follow the rally, but keep your stops tight.

China hits turbulence

Shanghai Composite Index is retracing from its recent high at 3300. A test of support at 3100 is likely. Rising Twiggs Money Flow indicates long-term buying pressure but this may be distorted by state intervention in the stock market earlier this year.

Shanghai Composite Index

* Target medium-term: 3100 + ( 3100 – 2800 ) = 3400

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index found support at 22000 but falling Money Flow warns of strong selling pressure. Breach of 22000 would signal a primary down-trend with an initial target of 20000.

Hang Seng Index

The best summary I have seen of China’s dilemma is from David Llewellyn-Smith at Macrobusiness:

…China’s choices are limited here by the “impossible trinity”, that a country [pegged to the Dollar] can only choose two out of the following three:

  • control of a fixed and stable exchange rate
  • independent monetary policy
  • free and open international capital flows

China has been trying to run this gauntlet by sustaining an overly high growth rate via loose monetary policy and recently liberalised capital markets plus exchange rate. But it can’t have stability in all three and so is in full reverse on the last two to prevent a currency rout and/or monetary tightening.

Rising interest rates in the US are likely to bedevil China’s monetary policy. A falling Yuan would encourage capital flight. Capital flight would damage the Yuan, encouraging further outflows. Support of the Yuan would deplete foreign reserves and cause monetary tightening. Loose monetary policy would encourage speculative bubbles which could damage the banking system. A falling Yuan and loose monetary policy would fuel inflation. Inflation would further weaken the Yuan and encourage capital flight. Restriction of capital outflows would end capital inflows.

I am sure that there are some very smart people working on the problem. But they are probably the same smart people who created the problem in the first place.

Australian democracy is in very serious jeopardy | Macrobusiness

By Houses and Holes on November 4, 2016:

Australian democracy is in very serious jeopardy. China is making great strides towards it and its intentions are not benevolent. It’s obvious in local, regional and global trends and if we do not do something soon to protect our freedoms they are going to be sold into the burgeoning Chinese empire, as well as political hegemony, by a corrupt oligarchy.

Some of you will tell me to take off my tin foil hat for writing this. To you I say ‘listen up’.

For the next few decades the global political economy will be a contest between post-cultural free moving capital and deeply cultural labour. This will mean ebbs and flows between investment and regulation in an overall trend towards de-globalisation.

As nation states rise from the past few decades of globalisation to protect their respective labour pools, there will be an increasing Balkanisation of trade and investment flows, particularly in terms of regions. One can foresee a time when a European trading bloc competes with American and Asian trading blocs as each’s respective hegemon – US, China and Germany – muscles out its sphere of influence.

In terms of the magnitude of these respective spheres, the biggest loser will be the United States as it is increasingly contested in North Asia. Europe may also lose as the eurozone either disintegrates or shrinks. China will win big.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not arguing that China will grow to rule the world, nor that the US will decline and fall. In fact, I expect US economic dominance to outlast China’s great leap forward owing to its immense sophistication, markets, research capability and excellent demographics. On the other hand, China faces an extremely difficult transition through the ‘middle income trap’ and terrible demographics.

Nonetheless, the sheer magnitude of these economies and powers mean that the great regional Balkanisation will transpire.

Thus Australia will find itself an object of contest within a region caught between respectively receding and advancing Super Powers. We are already seeing this very clearly in the shifts undertaken by both the Philippines and Malaysia. Both nations are led by highly dubious democratic leaders under intense pressure from a traditional US ally to come clean on corruption.

Yet both have instead turned to China to prop up their respective regimes with enormous investment deals that have come with fabulous reciprocal endorsements for Beijing, Manila and Kuala Lumpur. This while the US’s rather foolishly self-serving TPP dies on the shelf.

At the risk of stereotyping, these new Asian power relationships much more resemble a Confucian model that privileges patronage and filial bonds above the probity and meritocracy of democracy.  China’s goals here are very obviously to undermine not just US influence but to empower local entities that are sympathetic to its interests. It may or not be an explicit goal to undermine democracies as well but if promoting local ‘strongmen’ does so then all the better!

Now turn to our local circumstances. Australia is the midst of a terms of trade boomlet engineered exclusively in Beijing. After decades of stupidly pro-cyclical policy-making Australia is now little more than a southern province of Chinese economic policy. With the flick of a pen in an obscure public service department, China delivers tens of billions to our shores in coal revenues and our monumental trade deficit evaporates overnight.

There is no other economy on earth that I know of that works with this dependence. We call it lucky. And it is. But it also comes with strings attached and they have been on display for a decade or more. Australian policy attitudes towards China have morphed steadily from a middle power engagement that included dialogues on human rights and democratic process to today’s pragmatic “do what you like boss” attitude.

I’m not writing to judge that. The kids of Tibet and Tienanmen are not Australian and there are limits to how much anyone can care about far flung folk. Especially when you’re offered a hundred billion dollar blindfold. Moreover, China needs Australian dirt to power its development so the power transmission is not all one way. The natural asymmetry of the political relationship is counter-balanced by the natural asymmetry of the economic one.

That’s the past. The future is very different indeed. China is going to need less and less dirt over time as it grows richer and more regionally powerful. And that’s where the recent events in the Philippines and Malaysia are a very important cautionary tale for Australian democracy. As we’ve seen, the next phase of Chinese development will be to throw off enormous sums of capital and people. Australia is happily gobbling up both at the moment to offset the declines in its dirt fortunes.

But this wave comes with much more explicit power compromises than we have already seen in action. The Sam Dastayari donations and rampaging property developer corruption scandals are the tip of the iceberg. Since then we’ve seen more and more Chinese bids for Australian strategic assets. This week we saw barely former trade minister Andrew Robb take a job advising the Landbridge Group, the owner of the Darwin Port. Landbridge is a shadowy firm involved in all sorts of stuff from chemicals to armed militias. It is widely considered to be beholden to Beijing in some way. At the very least the Darwin Port is the butt end of Beijing’s One Belt, One Road trade bloc monster. So here we have a trade minister out of the job for six months, a job that involved intimate consultation on the US’s competing regional trade deal, the TPP, tipping his intelligence directly into the Beijing trade bloc.

A less generous analyst might see this as some form of commercial treason. I will say that it is indicative of just how unprepared Australian parliaments are to address Chinese soft power influence in its manifold forms. Indeed, with the current crop of money-grubbing mock-libertarian ideologues in charge, we are a complete bloody pushover. Our checks and balances appear gossamer-thin in the executive. The intelligentsia is under assault from the Chinese student pipeline and pseudo-intellects like Bob Carr and his Chinese apologism. Nor can we rely on the media to hold any to account. Of the duopoly, Murdoch will give China the nod the moment the deal is good enough. Fairfax is dying and in its death throes has grabbed for a real estate lifeline that is itself China dependent.

It is not at all hard to imagine a circumstance like that that has engulfed the politics of the Philippines and Malaysia happening here. An Australian PM finds himself under siege and turns to Chinese patronage to bail him out. Explicitly or otherwise it will only take one desperate narcissist and Australia too will be welcomed into the waiting arms of Beijing patronage with all of its carrots and sticks determining precisely who wins and who loses Downunder. The following election would be fought between a candidate armed with hundreds of billions of dollars of firepower versus a guy promising recession.

So, I worry. I worry a lot, actually, that Australia is on the verge of giving away its most prized possession – its freedom – quietly in the dark for a few pieces of silver. To stop it we must move now, not tomorrow. We need:

  • a big to cut the immigration intake and a rein the “citizenship exports sector”;
  • an overhaul of the Chinese investment regime such that it be placed alongside the nation’s strategic objectives;
  • a ban on foreign political donations (where is it?) and a Federal ICAC;
  • a proper enforcement of rules governing foreign buying of real estate;
  • a reboot of foreign policy that engages the US much more heavily in Asia.

Another couple of years of current policies and a few more Andrew Robbs and Aussie democracy as we know it is toast.

Reproduced with kind permission from Macrobusiness.

Gold approaches a watershed

Expectations of interest rate rises are growing, with 10-year Treasury yields advancing towards 2.0 percent after breaking out above 1.60.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The Chinese Yuan is easing against the US Dollar, in a managed process from the PBOC which will use up foreign reserves more slowly than a direct peg. It is also likely to minimize selling pressure on the Yuan, both from capital flight and from Chinese borrowers covering on Dollar-denominated loans.


Spot gold is easing, in a falling wedge formation, towards a test of medium-term support at $1300/ounce. This is a watershed moment. Breach of $1300 would warn of a test of primary support at $1200. But respect of support would suggest another test of the July high at $1375.

Spot Gold

* Target calculation: 1375 + ( 1375 – 1300 ) = 1450

Rising interest rates and low inflation increase downward pressure on gold but uncertainty over US elections, Europe/Brexit, and the path of the Chinese economy contribute to buying support. Gold stocks serve as a useful counter-balance to growth stocks in a portfolio. If there are positive outcomes and a return to economic stability, then growth stocks will do well and gold is likely to underperform. If things goes wrong and growth stocks do poorly, gold stocks are likely to outperform.

In Australia the All Ordinaries Gold Index ($XGD) continues to test support at 4500. Respect (recovery above 5000) would signal another test of the recent highs at 5600. A weakening Australian Dollar/US Dollar would tend to mitigate the impact of a fed rate hike. Breach of 4500 is less likely but would confirm a primary down-trend.

All Ordinaries Gold Index $XGD

* Target calculation: 4500 – ( 5000 – 4500 ) = 4000

Asia steadies

China’s Shanghai Composite Index steadied and is again testing resistance at 3100. Breakout would signal a primary up-trend. Rising troughs on Twiggs Money Flow indicate buying pressure.

Shanghai Composite Index

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rallied for another test of resistance at 17000. Breakout above 17000 would suggest a primary up-trend. Follow-through above 17600, completing a broad double-bottom, would confirm. Further consolidation, however, is more likely.

Nikkei 225 Index

India’s BSE Sensex broke out of its narrow rectangle at 28000, signaling another advance. Expect a test of the 2015 high at 30000. Bearish divergence on Twiggs Money Flow now appears misleading.


Gold surges on BREXIT fears

Long-term interest rates continue their decline, with 10-year Treasury yields breaking support at 1.65 percent. Breach signals a test of the all-time (July 2012) low of 1.40 percent.

10-year Treasury yields

Gold broke resistance at $1300/ounce on fears of a BREXIT vote on June 23rd and expectations that the Fed will need to soft-pedal on interest rates. Breakout offers a long-term target of $1550*.


* Target calculation: 1300 + ( 1300 – 1050 ) = 1550

Chinese buying of gold has been relegated to secondary status, at least for the next week. Sale of foreign reserves appear to have resumed, with the USDCNY running into resistance at 6.60. PBOC sale of foreign reserves weakens the Dollar, boosting demand for Gold.


Disclosure: Our Australian managed portfolios are invested in gold stocks.

Rising inflation, Dollar weakens

The consumer price index (CPI) ticked up 1.14% (year-on-year) for April 2016, on the back of higher oil prices. Core CPI (excluding energy and food) eased slightly to 2.15%.

CPI and Core CPI

Inflation is muted, but a sharp rise in hourly manufacturing (production and nonsupervisory employees) earnings growth (2.98% for 12 months to April 2016) points to further increases.

Manufacturing Hourly Earnings Growth

Despite this, long-term interest rates remain weak, with 10-year Treasury yields testing support at 1.65 percent. Breach would signal another test of the record low at 1.50% in 2012. The dovish Fed is a contributing factor, but so could safe-haven demand from investors wary of stocks….

10-year Treasury Yields

The Dollar

The US Dollar Index rallied off long-term support at 93 but this looks more a pause in the primary down-trend (signaled by decline of 13-week Momentum below zero) than a reversal.

US Dollar Index

Explanation for the Dollar rally is evident on the chart of China’s foreign reserves: a pause in the sharp decline of the last 2 years. China has embarked on another massive stimulus program in an attempt to shock their economy out of its present slump.

China: Foreign Reserves

But this hair of the dog remedy is unlikely to solve their problems, merely postpone the inevitable reckoning. The Yuan is once again weakening against the Dollar. Decline in China’s reserves — and the US Dollar as a consequence — is likely to continue.

USD: Chinese Yuan

IMF warns about Chinese debt

From FT (via the Coppo Report at Bell Potter):

China’s leaders need to look beyond the current solutions being floated to tackle the country’s mounting corporate debt problems and come up with a bigger plan to do so, the International Monetary Fund’s top China expert has warned. The IMF has been expressing growing concern about China’s debt issues and pushing for an urgent response by Beijing to what the fund sees as a serious problem for the Chinese economy. It warned in a report earlier this month that $1.3tn in corporate debt — or almost one in six of the business loans on Chinese banks’ books — was owed by companies who brought in less in revenues than they owed in interest payments alone. In a paper published on Tuesday, James Daniel, the fund’s China mission chief, and two co­authors, went further and warned that Beijing needed a comprehensive strategy to tackle the problem. They warned that the two main responses Beijing was planning to the problem — debt­-for­-equity swaps and the securitization of non­performing loans — could in fact make the problem worse if underlying issues were not dealt with. The plan for debt­ for equity swaps could end up offering a temporary lifeline to unviable state­ owned companies, they warned. It could also leave them managed by state­ owned banks or other officials with little experience in doing so.

Bad debt is bad debt …… and nonproductive assets are nonproductive assets. Financial window-dressing like securitization or debt-for-equity swaps will not change this. The assets are still unproductive. Effectively, China has to stump up $1.3 trillion to re-capitalize its banks. And that may be the tip of the iceberg.