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Weekend Links 28-29 March, 2015

China China ramps up global manhunt for corrupt officials with operation ‘Skynet’ – SCMP China’s government debt-bond swap plan expected to draw investors – SCMP Mainland China imports less gold from Hong Kong as prices fall – SCMP China to let mutual funds invest in Hong Kong via connect scheme: regulator – Reuters S. questions


MB 2.0 soft launch

Welcome to the MB 2.0 soft launch. We’ve recreated the site to provide members with a simpler and quicker user experience. The growth of the site continues to be extraordinary and it was experiencing slowdowns on the Wordpress platform. In the foreseeable future we expect demand for quality analysis on the economy to rise much further so we have prepared


ASX at the close

Stan Shamu for Chris Weston, Chief Market Strategist at IG Markets Calm restored in Asia Sentiment is somewhat improved in Asian trade in the absence of fresh developments from the Yemen conflict. Currency moves remain key at the moment and there are signs the greenback might be looking to start gaining momentum yet again. The


Comrade Colin embraces the cartel

From Fairfax: Colin Barnett said there had been an over-reaction to Mr Forrest’s idea, including by Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh, who labelled it a “harebrained scheme” and “absolute nonsense”. “I don’t think Andrew Forrest ever used the word cartel and I think the response has been a little bit exaggerated,” the Liberal leader


Saxo Bank: 50% chance of Aussie recession

By Leith van Onselen Steen Jakobsen, chief economist at Denmark’s Saxo Bank, has given a stinging critique of the Australian economy, claiming that it is afflicted by a housing bubble and has a 50% chance of falling into recession. From Yahoo Finance: The mining boom had inspired laziness and arrogance… There’s dangerous levels of investment


Fortescue ‘worthless’ at current ore prices

More scuttlebutt on Fortescue this afternoon, via The AFR: Fortescue’s stock is worthless at current spot iron ore prices, analysts at CBA calculate. Zippo, zilch… There is $US7.5 billion ($11.5 billion) in net debt squatting on Fortescue’s balance sheet. In Aussie dollar terms, that’s approaching twice the company’s market capitalisation – just a number, sure,


TPP so bad even the US congress is shocked

By Leith van Onselen More worrying details have emerged about the the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – the US-led regional trade pact between 12 nations (including Australia) – with the New York Times revealing that members of the US Congress have been viewing the secretive document and are disgusted by its contents: Members of Congress have


PIMCO shorts the Aussie dollar

Fixed income investment management company, Pacific Investment Management Co. (PIMCO), has told investors that it is short the Australian dollar, citing falling commodity prices and interest rates. From Bloomberg: “Our highest conviction views are in the currency markets, and we remain short the yen and the Australian dollar against a long U.S. dollar position”… According


Should Australia cut company taxes to boost growth?

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Treasury’s head of revenue, Rob Heffren, is pushing to cut the rate of company tax in order to boost foreign investment. From The Canberra Times: Mr Heferen said lower company taxes boosted foreign investment, resulted in more jobs, higher wages and increased productivity… “Let’s be clear: taxes have negative


Aussie banks borrow offshore like drunken sailors

By Leith van Onselen The release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Financial Accounts yesterday revealed a large $33 billion (5%) jump in Australian banks’ gross external liabilities (offshore borrowings) in the December quarter, with borrowings now at all time record levels. This surge in offshore borrowings was driven by increases in One


More flawed arguments for a “Big Australia”

By Leith van Onselen The Australian’s David Uren wrote an extraordinarily one-eyed article yesterday in support of rapid population growth, which espouses all of the so-called economic positives without due regard for the negative consequences: …rapid population growth has been a vital support to the Australian economy since the global financial crisis… Apart from Luxembourg,


A big and bloody Pilbara wet builds

Some years ago I described what was coming in the iron ore market as “blood flowing through the gullies of the Pilbara”. We’re still a long way from that but the first trickles are beginning to run. The Twiggy Forrest’s outburst two days ago calling for a iron ore cartel has generated fantastic quote after


Mining “years” from bottom

From the AFR comes some sense at last: The managing director of Denham Capital, Bert Koth, also defied optimists who have called the bottom for commodity prices. “We believe we are still two years away from the bottom and then we are going to stay there for at least four to five years,” Mr Koth


Daily LNG price update (Yemen)

The Brent oil price took off last night as the Middle East launches a war on Yemen. As I write the price is up 4.5% at $59.06. The war will very likely be brief and is not a major strategic threat in the region. Here are some links: Saudi Arabia in air strikes Ground invasion next Iran has


On China and gold

Cross-posted from Investing in Chinese Stocks. Here are snips from a long piece on gold’s role, or lack of one, over the past 60 years. The KMT’s plan to transport central bank gold to Taiwan was accidentally discovered by Western media and immediately reported. The widespread “gold run” on banks in Shanghai that ensued in