Somewhat Misguided

The story in Turkey remains
One loaded with stresses and strains
While Erdogan dithers
The lira, it withers
And everything points to more pains

It seems, though, most traders decided
Their fears turned out somewhat misguided
So havens they’ve sold
From Swiss francs to gold
As safety’s now soundly derided.

The crisis in Turkey is, literally, yesterday’s news! This morning, while there have been no policy changes announced by the Turkish government, it seems that markets are feeling a bit less stressed. In fact, the Turkish lira has rebounded 5.5% as I type, although it is still lower by 25% in the past week. There has been no indication that President Erdogan is going to allow interest rates to rise nor has there been any hint that the Turkish government is going to heed calls to address its fundamental economic problems. Rather, it appears that in the manner of autocrats everywhere facing economic stress, Erdogan is blaming foreign influences for his domestic problems. It makes no sense to me that this crisis in Turkey has ended, but it is not that surprising that after a market move of the magnitude we have just seen in TRY, it should pause. Remember, too,
a key stressor has been the US-Turkish dustup over the detention of an American pastor and the tariffs imposed by President Trump in an effort to force Erdogan to comply with the US request to release him. And that shows no signs of ending either. The point is that while things today have calmed down, my sense is this is a temporary lull.

Moving on from Turkey, we see that China released a passel of data last night, none of which impressed. Fixed Asset Investment fell to 5.5%, the smallest gain in this series since it began in 1996. Retail Sales fell to 8.8%, below expectations and continuing the downward trend that has been evident for the past two years, while Industrial Production rose 6.0%, also below expectations, and continuing the gradual decline in the pace of this statistic. Taking it all together demonstrates that China’s efforts to reel in excessive debt growth earlier this year is starting to pay dividends. The problem for President Xi is that combining that effort with a trade fight with the US is starting to have a bigger nationwide impact than he would like to see. This is why we will continue to see the PBOC ease policy further this year, and why I continue to expect further pressure on the renminbi going forward. There have been many analysts who claim that the PBOC will prevent the currency from weakening beyond 6.90 or 7.00 as they fear the potential effects on capital flows. I disagree with that assessment and expect we can see a further decline in CNY as long as the dollar continues its broad based rally.

As to other emerging markets that had been severely impacted yesterday, we have seen most of those currencies rebound this morning. For instance, ZAR has rallied 2.5%, RUB is +1.5% and MXN is +0.9%. The point is that with TRY taking a breather, the same has been true elsewhere in this space.

Turning to the G10, we received a significant amount of data this morning with most of it better than expected. For example, UK Unemployment fell to 4.0% while Eurozone GDP grew at a 0.4% rate in Q2, a tick higher than expected. We also saw the German ZEW Sentiment Index rise to -13.7, up significantly from last month and a full 7 points better than expected. There were myriad individual national prints regarding GDP, employment and inflation, most of which showed that Q2 growth in the Eurozone was better than Q1. However, none of that has had much of an impact on the euro, which continues to hover unchanged on the day around 1.1400. While this level is a few pips better than the lows seen yesterday, there is no indication that traders have changed their collective minds regarding the euro’s eventual strength. The pound, meanwhile, has rebounded a touch this morning, +0.15%, but that seems more to do with the fact that Brexit has been off the front page than with any specific data releases. Ultimately, unless the Brits figure out a fudge and can get the Europeans to go along, I fear the pound will test the post Brexit vote lows seen two years ago.

As to today’s session, the only data point in the US is NFIB Small Business confidence (exp 106.9). This could actually be quite important in telling us how the trade saga is playing out amongst small companies. Thus far, corporate America seems to have weathered the storm, although if the President does go through with his threatened 25% tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, I expect that will have a larger negative impact on the economy. But for now, it remains full speed ahead in the US, and that includes for the Fed, which is almost certainly going to raise rates in September and again in December. In fact, I think the real risk is that they hike more than three times in 2019, and they do it sooner than the market is expecting. And that, my friends, will continue to support the dollar.

Good luck