Archive for category Economics
The fall in Japanese Yen for the past 3 months has caught many people by surprise and with its magnitude of fall (-15% against major global currencies) is it undoubtedly one of the best/worst performing investment assets for many people in the same period. Why is it falling the way it did? Is it because the world’s economy is picking up again? Is it because risk appetite is back again? Is it investors selling yen because they think its over-value? Is it the return of the carry trade? All these reasons might explain the fall in Japanese yen we have seen recently. But then again from 2003 to 2007 when the global economy was ragging and risk assets globally appreciated in value, the Japanese yen actually held its value against major currencies. So what could be different now? Despite the fall in the value of the Japanese yen in the past 3 months, the currency is still 25% stronger against USD, 10% stronger against EUR and almost 35% stronger against KRW in the past decade and that is the root of the cost. The carry trade is a result and not the cause if you like deeper. One would get similar cheap funding monies from EUR/USD/HKD/SGD/CHF etc
The strong yen in the past 10 years has caused a huge imbalance for Japanese corporations causing their competitiveness to fall against global peers. We have seen the rise of German automakers, Korean electronics and European consumer care companies in the expense of Japanese counterparts during this period. The strength of the yen has also discourage Japanese companies’ investments overseas in favor of a more domestic strategies during this period. With this strategy in mind, Japanese companies and financial institutions have in the pass decade favor a “long” yen position naturally.
With burst of the US subprime bubble and the European Sovereign Debt Crisis, the global imbalances have started to correct itself and with the natural force of nature and economics this would reverse the strength of yen we have seen in recent times. I would expect yen would at least need to fall by the magnitude it has risen against USD, EUR and KRW over the next few years for its products to be competitive against in the global landscape. At the same time it would encourage financial institutions in Japan to expand their business overseas and lend a higher proportion of their money outside Japan as well. Therefore, eventhough the yen has fallen 15% recently…it might have a long way to go if one is to take a longer term view..
The financials market got off to a great start in 2013 as expected. Please refer the articles i have written in the past 3 months calling for this
The financial markets are likely to see a very strong year as equity risk premium for major economies such as EU, Japan, China, Hong Kong, South Korea are all over 10%. The fall in risk free rate plus the major compression of credit spread in 2012 has made equity markets one of the cheapest asset class out there. The other 2 asset class which could also perform well would be convertible bonds and high yield bonds as global default rate continue to fall on the back of quantitative easing.
Furthermore, in 2013 we are likely to see a repeat of 2003 and 1993 of which in 2003 the money that came out of the Nasdaq bubble fueled global risk assets including US subprime and asset backed markets which burst in 2007 . In 1993, the money that came out of post Japan bubble also fueled the markets in Asia ex Japan which resulted in the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis later on. I believe we are seeing a repeat here as globally central banks has embarked on massive quantitative easing and this year onwards the money is going to flow out of government bonds and money market funds to fueled risk assets especially those markets trading above historical risk premiums.
Stay tune for Part 3 of this article – as I analyze sectoral performance globally.
2 months ago I made this call on Chinese Equity Markets and Currency – Equity markets defied the fall last night to rally to new highs this month…What about other indicators?
2 months ago I made this call on Chinese Equity Markets and Currency. Since then the benchmark indices have rallied more than 10% to recoup all losses this year while the currency has hit a new 19 year high against USD
Debt offerings by weak/low credit standing companies guaranteed by Asian Banks have started to picked up recently. For example Doosan’s debt guaranteed by Korea Development Bank, China Cement debt guaranteed by DBS Bank and the latest the debt offering by China Cosco guaranteed by Bank of China.
Please click on the link below for full report by Bloomberg.
“If Cosco was on a standalone credit they would probably struggle to raise any money from the market,” Jeffrey Yap, the Hong Kong-based head of Asia fixed-income trading at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. said in a telephone interview yesterday
Still, the banks are taking on off-balance sheet risk by guaranteeing the debt, which could create problems if more lower-quality companies’ bonds are protected, according to Mizuho’s Yap. That could lead to a number of claims on the bank for funds, he said.
“The authorities need to watch out if the banks are putting on a lot of risky credit onto the book by guaranteeing the credit of those companies,” he said. “If we start seeing smallish companies, or even property companies, getting bank guarantees that’s what we need to watch out for.”
Domestic Chinese A-shares fell to 4-year low today, however many Chinese equities or China related equities listed overseas are rising in value. This include H-shares in Hong Kong as well as China related shares in US, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. How do we read into it? In my recent conversations with onshore and offshore investors, there seems to be a reverse in terms of their outlook this time around. Domestic investors are less convince on the performance of the equity market going forward due to the fact for the pass 4 years China has registered above 30% in accumulated growth and property prices have doubled but we have seen flat performance in its equity markets. Foreign investors on the other hand are beginning to turn bullish on Chinese equities and its currency on the back of cheaper valuation on a global comparison. It is therefore a very smart move by investors to purchase Chinese companies and China related companies listed overseas. By the act itself, investors are buying cheap call option on the performance of Chinese equities and currency in the medium term.
Global major economies are implementing quantitative easing in a scale never seen before in human history, is it necessary? Is it because global growth is sub-par compare to the last 5 decades? I believe it’s partly due to global aging population and with aging population sub-par growth would be inevitable unless we have a huge jump in productivity.
The question is what does it do to our money? I had a colleague which came back from an art auction today in Hong Kong and he told me investors were grabbing up art pieces at prices significantly higher than 6 months ago. Furthermore, it was reported in the media recently, average car park prices in prime locations in Central Hong Kong have risen to HKD5,000,000 ($630,000!). Why is this happening when more than half the global economies such as Europe/US/Japan are barely growing? This is because quantitative easing reduces opportunity cost of capital which inversely appreciates anything which has finite supply such as paintings and car parks?
What should one do facing such a tsunami of easing? Don’t go against it is what I would advise (for now!). For those that followed me, this has always been my advice for the last 4 years post Lehman. There are morale hazards that come with quantitative easing and money printing and leveraging up but is more debt bad when the growth is likely to remain low due to global ageing population? If you work your math it is not. Just look at yourself right now, if a bank said to you, “you can have more money, but you only need to make the same repayment” would you say no? You probably would if you know your repayment will rise one day. What I am telling you now is the “repayment or cost of money” probably won’t be rising anytime soon but meanwhile your food, property, clothing, child education, university tuition fees, watches, handbags, cosmetics and even paintings and car parks will continue to rise……