Bloomberg has published a very interesting article arguing that China’s economy and financial system might be on the edge of implosion. The publication mentions that the government’s bailout of Baoshang Bank last month has put money markets on edge, and for the first time, short-term lending between big institutions has started to freeze up. For the first time in decades, lenders are facing the prospect of defaults and haircuts on loans to other financial institutions. This has led funding costs for companies to shoot higher.
FINSUM: As is the norm with China, we have little direct insight into this. However, if you take a step back and look at the overall pressure on the economy from the trade war and combine it with the data above, it does sound like something very nasty could be brewing.
Bank of America has just published an important piece of data. The bank has put out the results of its sentiment survey of investors and has found that US investors are the most bearish they have been since the Financial Crisis. The survey was of fund managers, so is an indication of institutional investment sentiment. Allocations to equities among those polled hit their lowest level since March 2009, the month the stock market bottomed. “FMS investors have not been this bearish since the global financial crisis, with pessimism driven by trade war and recession concerns”, said BAML’s chief investment strategist.
FINSUM: It is hard to know how seriously to take this. It is certainly a pertinent piece of information, but is it a bearish indicator or a bullish contrarian indicator?
Economic data this year has mostly surprised to the upside. However, recently, things have started to disappoint. For instance, Citigroup’s basket of economic indicators has fallen to its lowest level since the Financial Crisis. Even the Atlanta Fed is bearish, recently forecasting GDP at 1.6%. Bond King Jeffrey Gundlach agrees, saying he believes the odds of a recession in the next 24 months are “very high”. He believes the chances of a recession within 12 months are 50-50.
FINSUM: We think Citi’s indicator is definitely overstating the situation. However, there are legitimate concerns about the economy, especially if you start to consider the possible implications of a trade war.
A lot of investors are worried that the turmoil in Turkey could spark a global financial crisis. In particular, Turkey’s weak position could spread to European banks, letting the situation balloon from there. However, the reality is that such fears are overblown, according to a credit analyst. Europe’s banks are actually in a strong position and can absorb losses from Turkey, so there does not seem to be any contagion to spread. Turkey’s problems are largely self-inflicted and unique as well, so it is hard to see all EMs succumbing to the panic.
FINSUM: From an American investor’s standpoint, the Turkey situation should not be very concerning as it does not seem to have much direct relationship to the US economy or markets. Hence our shares rising while Europe’s are falling.
Investors may be watching the markets anxiously, and with good reason. Turkey is in the middle of a full blown financial crisis, and the threat of it leaking into western markets via European banks seems tangible. Emerging market stocks are down 18% from their peak in January and there is pressure on other EMs like South Africa, China, Russia, and India. However, the worries over a full-scale emerging markets meltdown seem overdone, especially considering the economies of EMs are actually quite strong and healthy at the moment, which should keep things from falling into dire straits.
FINSUM: EMs currently have good currency reserves and many are running budget surpluses, so they are not entering this period of turmoil in weak shape.