Archive for category Strategy
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
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……
RMB has great opportunities for much bigger role in the trade flow between Africa and Greater China region. Please see my comments in Asia Risk
“Despite this uptick in interest in renminbi, trade and investment in Africa is still dominated by the US dollar: much of the Africa-China trade is resource based and therefore traded in the greenback. And despite the apparent existence of exotic currency crosses such as between the Zambian kwacha and RMB most are structured with the dollar as a go-between currency, according to Jeffrey Yap, managing director of fixed income trading Asia at Mizuho Securities”
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The current disparities between growth (+1.3%), deposit rates (zero!), inflation (5%) and property prices (20%) in Hong Kong its like watching a race between a hamster, tortoise, horse and cheetah! As mentioned in part 1 of this topic, the reason why there is inflation and upward pressure in monetary value of certain services and assets in Hong Kong is largely due to the demand from external factors. Similar to my analogy of Hong Kong resembling a shopping mall, most of the key products and services are targeted at serving/providing to foreigners (in a good way) The 3 key areas of growth for Hong Kong in this decade comes from the financial, property and luxury consumer sector which is largely targeted at foreigners (foreigner buying up luxury apartments, foreign companies raising IPO, foreign tourist buying up luxury products etc.)
Ok then you must be thinking what is different this time compare to 10 years ago? It is the HKD peg. Chinese Yuan and other Asian currencies have appreciated over 20% against HKD in the past 5 years and this trend is likely to continue with the quantitative easing in the west. The HKMA and Financial Secretary have denied the peg has brought about inflation? Look at 10 years Hong Kong Government Bond Yields 0.46%?! This is largely due to inflow of money and the result of increase in monetary base from defending the peg. 10 yrs yield at 0.46 while inflation is 10x of that??
Why are they in denial?They are just afraid to say it because given how well the peg has served Hong Kong, no one is going to change the peg, be it someone in HKMA, government or even the PBOC and the Chinese Government. One must also know this the HKD peg served as a good indicator for China on liquidity flow so why remove that….But something has to be done if we were to see a fairer race among the people in Hong Kong than the one we currently have. The peg can stay but for the sake of Hong Kong people who is reading, you should take your money out of the bank and move it into RMB, buy some equities or fixed income investments and last YOU mustn’t sell your property. If you don’t own a property in Hong Kong means you are short and the peg will kill you…If one decide not to do anything of such, they better make sure he/she gets a work in this mall or else you would be poorer even though the country continues to prosper….
Hong Kong announced on Friday its Gross Domestic Product grew 1.3% year-on-year in the third quarter, similar to the 1.2% growth seen in the second quarter. The data also unveiled the underlying consumer price inflation stands at 4% in the third quarter. Residential Flat prices from June to September rose by over 6% (in just 3 months!).
These data must look rather bizarre for general public as well as economists and financial professionals. Here is another observation, China Daily reported this “Hong Kong‘s Causeway Bay has dethroned New York‘s Fifth Avenue as the world‘s most expensive retail area, as luxury brands retailers such as Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo and Gucci compete for limited prime space in the city to court big spenders, particularly mainland tourists.
The average annual rent at Causeway Bay, the prime retail district on Hong Kong Island, surged 34.9 percent to $2,630 per square foot at the end of June from a year ago, beating the $2,500 price tag of Fifth Avenue in New York‘s Manhattan district, which has occupied the top spot for 11 consecutive years, according to estimates by commercial real estate consultant Cushman & Wakefield Inc.”
So why is this happening? This is because the economy has become more dependent on China and Global Spending (just imagine Hong Kong as a large Shopping Mall) hence even though growth been rather weak, inflation continue to rise especially in areas which supply goods and services to this large global shopping mall. In this shopping mall, you have bankers that provide credits, salesperson to serve customers, lawyers to document/advise the process and doctors to cure those that gotten sick while shopping,
This is the state of the Hong Kong’s economy. It is debateable whether it is good or bad but one thing is for such we need a good mall management team (the government!) to guide the people of Hong Kong to equip themselves to work in this mall. No shopping mall survive without makeover and enhancement and quality control. It is time for the government to start working on these or else it would turn into an unloved mall with little patrons just like those malls in Hong Kong which none of us patronise anymore…
PBOC Zhou And Commerce Minister Chen Absence From The China’s Central Committee List – What Would Be The Implications?
Interesting day with China political party announcing the new list of 205 members today on China state television after the party’s 18th Congress in Beijing, where a once-a-decade leadership change is taking place. The most relevant changes were PBOC Zhou and Commerce Minister Chen was absence from the central committee list which means Zhou will retire from PBOC and Chen from his post as Minister of Commerce. This is inline with what I have heard from onshore sources months back on the dissatisfaction of the recent policies adopted by the Ministry of Commerce and PBOC especially in preferring a weaker currency while draining liquidity from the system via RRR hikes. CNH and CNY appreciated to a 19th years high for the 5th day in a roll on the back of stronger official fixing today. With the absence of these old guards, we can expect further strengthening of the currency against global majors in the effort of promoting domestic demand and increase per capita income. We look forward to the new leaders to promote consumer and domestic credit growth which means further credit easing and capital market formation is likely. The offshore RMB market would be one major beneficiaries of this as well. Stay tune for further updates…
Yesterday as I walked around Central, Hong Kong i got a sense that retail purchases by Chinese shoppers have started to picked up. There were various groups of tourist with bags full of luxury items purchased from shops such as Burberry, Prada, Chanel etc. This was not the case for the past six months. I gathered in recent months from friends and colleagues who have travelled globally for work, holiday and honeymoon! the sense is Chinese shoppers are travelling further away from China to shop. That would mean less shoppers are likely to flock to Hong Kong for their shopping spree. However, given my observation yesterday, I believe the Chinese demand has started to picked up in Mainland China, abroad as well as Hong Kong.
China plans to move toward full liberalization of interest rates, but hasn’t outlined a specific timetable for the reform. PBOC’s Zhou echoed the Chinese leader’s wish during the first day of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) which would last for a week. In President Hu’s speech, he emphasis on market developments, increasing domestic demand and improving people of China’s wellbeing by targeting a doubling of per capita income by 2020. I have no doubt the doubling of per capita income would be achievable but the quality of the income may vary significantly. I support PBOC Zhou’s push for interest rate liberalization because this step is needed to ensure a proper formation of the second phase of China’s monetary system to ensure capital are allocated efficiently to the hands of people and companies that produces the most economic and social benefits to the people of China. Even though I am not from China (but ethnic Chinese by birth!), I would be ecstatic to see this happening. Could you imagine the multiplier effect on mankind would be with 1.3bil people having the ability to contribute effectively to the world or at least able to improve the quality of their own lives? However, what would be the impact of such liberalization? It would mean further opening up of the banking and capital markets to global institutions, doing business based on market clearing levels and allow capital to flow to the highest risk adjusted return investments. However, Chinese financial institutions would need to innovate fast and moving up the knowledge chain at lightning speed to assist and be part of such liberalization. I witnessed the road to 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and my advise to Chinese leaders today is to ensure great governance over such liberalization. Liberalization is good if not great but only if it is done properly.
As US and China going through change in leadership, global citizens continue with their daily lives. Do we care? Must we care? I believe strongly only a fraction of the seven billions people in the world cares but their actions will have significant effects on human lives in one form or another. Whether we like it or not, this is the fact. I constantly ask myself how much money is enough? Is it one million? ten millions? one hundred millions? one billions or ten billions? There i have decided to ask my six years old son, the person likely to inherit my monetary assets when i leave this world. So i did….I asked Joseph today “How much money do you want me to leave behind for you when you grow up?” He said “not too much, just enough will do” There i would like to share this with global leaders that have any abilities at all to influence the world to think of this – what can you do to make sure our next generations will have enough? Do we care who is leading US or China? We dont, but we all do care what they do to make this world a better place
China PMI rose as expected. This did not come as a surprise as indicators such as retail spending, freight volume, overtime etc has been on the rise recently. What is extremely encouraging was the reading was strong despite the general slowness in October with long holidays and leadership transition in the horizon. I am certain further picked up in economic activities and growth in months and quarters are very likely and the recovery seems broad-based too. Some critics who are unfamiliar with the developments in China might point to the lacklustre lending numbers but if one was to add the growth in debt issuance (which are typically long-term financing) the total pick up in financing activities have actually picked up in pace and in strength. I would suggest readers to position for beaten down sectors (credit and equity included) to have a good rally in the next 3 months. In debt, Chinese Property, Auto Sector, Cement, Retail while in equity, Property, Auto, Retail, Construction, Healthcare, Logistics, Brokerage would be my obvious sectors picks.
PBOC injected 395billion yuan today the highest number on record. 7-day repo rate plunges 123bps to 3.09% the largest drop since Jan 19. I believe many economist that called for RRR cut has been disappointed this year as PBOC and Chinese Government wants to control excess lending in unproductive economy and the move to inject liquidity instead of RRR cut is a sign that the authorities will start to move to boos the economy through other methods. I would expect tax cuts etc to come soon…
Running up to the US election and Chinese leadership change and now Hurricane Sandy, risk assets have pulled back last few days. I believe this week would be the best time to add risk assets to your portolio if you have miss the boat earlier. Global inflation have started to pick up and fund flows have move out of money market funds in search of yields and returns as US and China economic data points to further recovery. Right now many global investors has parked cash in low yielding fixed income instruments such as government bonds. Once global economy picks up slighlty and QE being withdrew from the system money will chase for higher return assets and given low valuation in the equity and credit space, we will see a long and sustain run up in the Risk assets in 2013.
The Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank) sold 10 billion yuan worth of 1-year policy bank notes at a yield of 3.35 percent and 12 billion yuan worth of 3-year ones at annual yield of 3.80 percent on Friday. Eximbank of China sold 1yr and 3yrs domestic debt at 35bps and 65bps higher yields than existing offshore yields. The average difference for the last 6 months has been in the region of 40bps for 3yrs debt. Is this a sign that some policy banks will take adavatage of the yield difference to tap the offshore market? You bet. Furthermore Citic Bank sold 2yrs debt at 3.75% on Friday, the highest coupon ever paid by a Chinese Bank in recent times.
Equity markets defied the fall last night to rally to new highs this month…What about other indicators?
Credit markets shown the similar decoupling vs Europe and US with Itraxx Asia narrowing 5bps today. DXY up, AUDJPY up, SGDJPY up despite the fall in EUR. Fund flows data tomorrow is likely going to point to further fund flows to Asia from western develop markets. This is the common given money will raise for the highest potential return in an improving global backdrop. I would bet on a stronger CNH/CNY and Chinese Equity markets next 9 months.