The currencies began to get some wind in their sails yesterday midmorning, and soon an all-out rally was taking place. The currency rally was led by the euro (EUR), just like in the old days, and the euro was getting bought like dealers were giving them away for free! Rumors of the European Central Bank backing off its previous stand got the euro on the rally tracks, and then the real strong push higher came when those rumors were proved to be true.
Here’s the skinny. The European Central Bank has made key concessions over its holdings of Greek government bonds that will contribute to a reduction of Greece’s debt burden. The ECB has agreed to exchange the Greek government bonds it purchased in the secondary market last year at a price below face value, provided the debt restructuring talks under way find a successful outcome.
The ECB won’t make a loss on the transaction, but it is not clear whether the bank will exchange the bonds at the below-par price at which it purchased them or whether it will make a profit.
I find this to be very interesting, as the ECB previously didn’t want any part of this trade. And once again, I point to the fact that I told you last month that there would some changes to the ECB’s stance and that some semblance of calm would come over the eurozone. Not that they are out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just that calm now means that all the negativity gets drowned out, temporarily.
So the euro has stretched all the way to 1.3280 overnight. And the rest of the currencies are following the old Big Dog’s lead.
And gold really took off! The shiny metal gained back all it had lost the previous two days, as the flight to dollars and the so-called “safe haven” was reversed. I would really like to see gold have some real direction, though. It goes up $25 and then goes down $25. But I did look like the Mighty Oz yesterday when I said that that it could be a good move to buy some gold at the cheaper price.
I have a couple of things to go over this morning that just made my blood boil yesterday. If you’re not interested, skip ahead.
First, my blood pressure just began to tick higher and higher when I read “Congressional Earmarks Sometimes Used to Fund Projects Near Lawmakers’ Properties”.
And then this one regarding the Federal’s Reserve’s explicit goal, to devalue the dollar.
A friend of mine sent this to me and asked what I thought. I said, “It’s nice to see someone other than the Butlers, Rogers, Caseys, Gallands, Bonners and Wiggins telling people that this is happening and what it’s going to do the value and purchasing power of the dollar!”
Yesterday, Big Ben Bernanke told the Senate that Congress should focus for now on economic growth, rather than budget deficits. “Abrupt action to reduce the deficit in the next few months could seriously damage the recovery,” he said
Lawmakers are torn. The have the general public banging on their doors to cut deficit spending and they have the Fed chairman banging to promote growth. It’s like a devil on the lawmakers’ collective right shoulder and an angel on the left. Who will win? I bet you all know which one I would side with if I were a lawmaker, even if I didn’t get re-elected — because it’s the right thing to do.
I would tell Big Ben, “Look, buddy, you’ve cut rates to near zero and held them there for over two years and you tell us they’ll stay there for another two years. You’ve implemented two rounds of quantitative easing. The government has done “cash for clunkers,” tax rebates, stimulus and many other stupid pet tricks to promote growth. But as the two old ladies in the old hamburger commercial said, ‘Where’s the beef?’”
I would continue to tell him that I’ve decided to go another direction. I would find ways to cut the deficit burden and remove the shackles holding back small business.
But I’m not a lawmaker now. I was once an elected official of my little river town, an alderman. But then lost re-election by 1 vote! Then I found out that a lot of friends and acquaintances that would have supported my re-election didn’t vote, because they thought I would win easily. I decided then that lawmaking, even in a little river town, wasn’t my cup of tea.
The Chinese renminbi, (CNY) after seeing weeks of give and take in the value, finally pushed higher versus the dollar last night, to an 18-year high! Of course, the news regarding Greece had a lot to do with this move higher, but add to that that Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is on his way to visit the US. When the Schumers and Grahams try to box Xi in a corner and badger him about China’s currency policy, Xi can simply point to the fact that the renminbi is at a 18-year high versus the dollar!
I have to mention the move that the Mexican peso (MXN) has been on for the past month. I’m not a fan of pesos, but they sure have gotten some wind in their sails with all the talk about the US economy recovering. That alone should make you want to back away from pesos, because if the US economic recovery is lacking terra firma, as I believe (as does the Fed, or else they would not be keeping rates near zero and laying the groundwork for more QE), the peso rally could be short-lived. But for now, it’s trading like it’s the new Pet Rock!
Another currency that has been very strong for some time now but looks to me to be very overvalued, the Japanese yen (JPY) is seeing some selling this morning on the news that the Ministry of Finance reported that Japan’s current account surplus for calendar year 2011 was the smallest since 1996. It’s still a surplus, but it’s dwindling away.
Yesterday, I told you about the Misery Index and how the US Misery Index had increased in 2011. A very astute reader mentioned to me that since I talk about John Williams and Shadowstats all the time, that instead of using the government numbers for the Misery Index, I would use the Shadowstats numbers. Very good point!
The US Misery Index goes from 11.30% per the government to 29% per Shadowstats. OUCH!
Remember a couple of weeks ago I told you about Byron King and his story about the US becoming energy independent? According to The Wall Street Journal:
“The US has reversed a decades-old trend of increasing dependence on foreign energy and is closer to complete energy self-sufficiency than it has been in nearly 20 years. Data from the Energy Department show that through the first 10 months of 2011, the US met 81% of its energy requirements from domestic sources.”
That’s great news! But then why is the price of oil still around $100? The cost to get the oil or natural gas out of the ground remains very high, and until those costs come down, if ever, the price of gas at the pump will remain high. In fact, I saw a story on HLN yesterday morning saying that gas would reach an average price of $4 a gallon by May.
To recap, the currencies and metals began to rally yesterday midmorning on rumors that the ECB was going to ease their stance on holding Greek debt. When those rumors proved to be true, the currencies and metals rallied even more strongly. Chinese renminbi reached an 18-year high versus the dollar last night, ahead of a visit to the US by the Chinese vice president. And the Japanese current account surplus is at the lowest level since 1996.