venerdì 21 maggio 2010

Il collasso delle materie prime, la regolamentazione finanziaria in Europa e negli USA

Oltre al flash crash del 6 maggio e alla "correzione" che i mercati azionari stanno attraversando si addensano le nubi sulle materie prime: secondo Barron's
WITH ALL THE ATTENTION FOCUSED on the so-called flash crash of May 6, there's been a nearly silent crash in commodities.
From copper to crude oil to corn, prices have been tumbling for the better part of a month.(...)
The commodities decline has been overshadowed by news of the European debt crisis, the oil-spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the flash crash which caused a thousand points of fright in the Dow Jones Industrials a couple of weeks ago. But the slide in commodities has been picking up speed in the last week and, anomalously, has come against the backdrop of soaring gold, which hit a record price in dollars of $1,249 an ounce last week.
The proximate factor driving down commodities has been the rise in the dollar. "A strong dollar, all things being equal, equates to a weak commodity market. It has always been thus; it shall always be thus," writes Dennis Gartman, editor of the Gartman Letter, which is the first read in the morning for traders and investors around the globe.
In particular, Dr. Copper is looking sickly. "The metal with a PhD in economics," so named for its sensitivity to the global economy, is down more than 20% in the past month. headlined its chart of the day "Now This Is a Deflationary Collapse," which seemed no exaggeration as copper plunged 6.4% Monday.
Copper's slide joined other disquieting signs of slower global growth. Monday, the Shanghai Composite Index plunged over 5%, putting China's stock market into bear territory at more than 20% below its peak last year. (...) Traditionally, rising gold prices have pointed to higher commodity prices. Similarly, rising gold also has been associated to an increase in bond yields as well as a falling dollar.
In the last month, those historic relationships have been turned on their ear.(...)
That simplistic explanation leaves out the broader subtext of the debt deflation resulting from the austerity measures being enacted in Europe along with the impact of the multiple monetary tightening measures in China. In the U.S., meanwhile, the maximum effect from last year's fiscal and monetary stimuli may have been felt; tax hikes loom for next year and the Fed continues to mull how to shrink its balance sheet.
In the context of the deflationary impulses now being felt in the world's economy, the flight from commodities such as copper makes sense -- even as investors seek the haven of gold.

Il vento della deflazione rischia di affossare ulteriormente le borse. D'altronde il Wall Street Journal osserva ieri che l'inflazione USA è ai minimi da 44 anni, attestandosi allo 0.9% se si escludono l'energia e gli alimentari. Scrive il WSJ che
Europe, too, is grappling with weak or falling prices. That trend could exacerbate debt problems by affecting sales tax and other revenues governments need to close gaping budget deficits.
Spain, Ireland and Portugal all have reported drops in prices excluding food and energy, while annual core inflation in the 16-member euro zone slid to a record low of 0.8% in April.
Asian countries are experiencing much higher inflation rates. One reason is that by effectively tethering their currencies to the U.S. dollar, China and other major exporters expose their economies to the influence of U.S. interest-rate policy.(...)  Uncertainty about how effective China's inflation fighting methods will be has sent its stock market into the doldrums. The Shanghai Composite is down 21% this year as investors worry that the government will flub the effort to contain prices by overshooting or undershooting.
"There is risk of stagflation, lower growth rate with higher consumer prices later this year," said Jeremiah Feng, fund manager for HSBC Jintrust Fund Management Co., a mutual-fund company that caters to mainland investors.
Elsewhere in Asia, policy makers for the most part have taken only tentative steps to change the loose monetary policy implemented during the depths of the global financial crisis.
Australia has been the most aggressive, raising interest rates six times since October.
Malaysia and Singapore also have taken policy actions. Yet several prominent Asian economies, including Indonesia, South Korea and Taiwan, are operating with crisis-level interest rates while growth has bounced back to precrisis levels.

Vi segnalo due articoli interessanti sull'Economist appena uscito:

il primo analizza le proposte europee di regolamentazione di hedge funds e dei fondi di private equity: 
sulla regolamentazione degli investimenti "alternativi"  l'Economist ha numerose riserve:

But some of the AIFM proposals still look too draconian.
The parliamentary draft dangles the possibility of a “passport” that would enable authorised third-country funds to sell their wares throughout the EU. But it comes at a high price. Funds would not just have to satisfy the EU about the quality of their home regimes in areas such as money-laundering and tax, but their home supervisors would also have to ensure that funds comply with EU rules—a bit of regulatory over-reach that will not go down well in places like America. Worse still, the parliamentary draft appears to ban EU investors from placing money with offshore funds that do not meet European rules.
The second big area of contention concerns custodian banks—financial institutions that are responsible for keeping investors’ assets safe. Stung by the losses that European investors suffered at the hands of Bernie Madoff, perpetrator of the world’s biggest financial fraud, legislators want to increase custodians’ liability for the assets they look after. Pension funds and other investors fear they will be charged a higher premium by custodians as a resul.

il secondo il mercato delle obbligazioni governative:

The compression of bond yields over the past decade was another manifestation of the mispricing of risk as investors sought higher returns. “Many investors thought they were buying German bunds with a bit of free yield,” says one fund manager. “Now they realise they had bought a lot more of the lira and a lot less of the Deutschmark than they thought.” However, repricing is deeply destabilising. Most large holders of government debt are risk-averse. A fall in price is more likely to prompt a stampede than a calm appraisal of valuations.
That leaves the ECB in a quandary. In buying bonds of distressed countries it is, in effect, opening the emergency exits of a crowded theatre. Its hope is that in doing so it will make everyone feel safer and thus less likely to bolt at the first wisp of smoke. Yet the risk it faces is that in making an exit easier, more people will leave.(...)
A second dilemma is how far the ECB should allow interest rates to increase on the government bonds of countries such as Spain. Holding down borrowing costs will help make its fiscal adjustment easier, which should attract private capital. Yet unless yields widen there is little incentive for investors to hold its debt.
Germany’s bans on naked short-selling seem only to have heightened skittishness about owning European assets, as investors fret that hedging will get harder and rules tougher. The problem facing the euro zone is not speculative shorting of its countries’ bonds, but rather the reluctance of investors to buy them in the first place. Berating the markets that fund it is a very odd tack for any government to take.

I commenti negativi sulla mossa tedesca di vietare lo short selling sono numerosi: eccone qui uno, due e tre.

Infine ieri il Senato USA ha approvato un disegno di legge di riforma finanziaria piuttosto ampio: è un tema sul quale torneremo certamente in futuro, nel frattempo vi consiglio di leggere i contenuti sul Wall Street Journal

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