Well, the joy of the Chinese stimulus package lasted….err……about 12 hours. By the end of the day yesterday, stocks finished solidly in the red and oil had reached a new cyclical low, with front-month WTI trading down onto a 50 (!) handle since Q1 2007.
The fun has continued this morning, with everyone’s favourite kleptocrats adjusting the top end of the rouble basket, allowing for a 1% deval from 30.40 to 30.70. Anecdotals suggest plenty more trapped positions.
Another pegged currency that Macro Man is watching is the Hong Kong dollar. Hong Kong faces a) recession brought on by declining trade, b) the popping of a domestic property bubble, and c) the prospect of deflation in 2009. While betting on a HKD revaluation has been a sporadically popular trade for the last few years, the underlying pressure is actually shifting towards Hong Kong requiring a weaker currency. And yet the spot rate is hugging the bottom of the band (you can actually buy USD forward below the 7.75 lower bound.) Therre was a similar episode this time last year, which culminated in a fairly sharp rally back towards the upper half of the 7.75-7.85 band. It looks like a pretty decent risk/reward trade to bet on a similar outcome now.
LIBORs keep tumbling (3 month USD could fix below 2.20% today), but swap spreads remain relatively elevated. The 2 year dollar swap spread, shown in the chart below, seems to have reached a reasonable support level at 100. Lower LIBOR should help pressure these spreads lower; if they cannot break 100, that’s probably as good a sign as any that there remains considerable underlying stress in the financial system.
Finally, (and this one is directed towards non-expert users of Bloomberg, most of whom have probably seen this chart before), we can probably all be happy that the rule of law in South America seems to have remained resilient throughout the current financial crisis. At least, that’s the most obvious interpretation of the chart below, which shows that monthly kidnappings for the purpose of extortion in Colombia remain on their lows.
So at least that’s one reason for optimism….
UPDATE: As a colleague points out, the data in the chart above ends in December . So perhaps the rule of law hasn’t been as stable as first hoped……