China's Arithmetic When It Comes to the Dollar

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Includes: CNY, CYB, UDN, UUP
by: Keith McCullough

“It will be helpful if Geithner can show us some arithmetic”
-Yu Yongding

From the lens of a global risk manager, this morning has to be one of the more fascinating that I have ever woken up to. At the same time as the US Government is setting themselves up to announce one of the largest bankruptcies in US corporate history, we have a squirrel hunting US Treasury Secretary telling the Chinese to “trust us” and America’s currency. That a boy!

Providing leadership to the world’s increasingly interconnected economy is by no means an easy task, and maybe that’s why the world is voting against America holding the world’s reserve Currency Conch any longer. Timmy Geithner’s effectiveness with the Chinese translators overseas this morning is borderline laughable.

There was a time when the Wizards of Wall Street’s Oz could fly overseas and make a comment like “we are committed to a strong dollar” and it would actually matter. Rather than getting on a plane and shaking hands with The Client (China) himself, President Obama opted to send the same guy that called the holder of $768B in US Debt “manipulators"... Nice!

When it comes to financial market sophistication, other countries aren’t as gullible as they used to be. An internet connection and You Tube screen have effectively changed all that. On the heels of Timmy’s “reassuring” comments, the US Dollar is getting spanked again, trading down another -0.73% to lower-lows at $78.63. Rather than fading Geithner from my soapbox, now the world is – it’s sad.

I understand that this is all doesn’t matter yet because someone on CNBC is hopped-up about where the US futures ramped into Friday’s close and look here on today’s open. That manic behavior really helps America’s reputation. At the end of the day, the US stock market could go up another 6% to 9% today, and it would still be amongst one of the worst performing stock markets in the world.

The Dollar moving into crisis mode matters. First, all of the reflation trades pay themselves out in full. Second, all of the global political capital associated with the almighty Petro-Dollar gets redistributed. And Third, well… rather than analyzing this as the said Great Depression Part Deux… how about another Third Quarter of 2008 in US Equities?

Nah, that’s crazy right? Like they say in the Canadian Junior Hockey Leagues, “crazy is as crazy does”! There are loads of unintended consequences associated with a US Dollar crashing – the only other sustainable break we’ve seen in the US Dollar Index below the $80 level since 1971 (when Nixon abandoned the gold standard), was that one that led us to that 2008 Third Quarter…

After locking in another +5.3% month for May, the S&P500 is up a whopping +1.8% for the YTD. Unlike most global equity markets that are charging to higher-highs this morning, the S&P500 is still trading below its January 6th high of 934.

On the heels of another strong, albeit not herculean PMI manufacturing report last night (it decelerated slightly month over month), China’s stock market charged to higher-highs, closing up another +3.4%. The Shanghai Composite Index is now +49.5% YTD, and we, as our British philosophy competitor likes to say remain “long of it.”

From Hong Kong to Russia, stock markets are up +4 to +6% this morning. Why? Because, much like the only other time we saw the US Dollar break down to these levels, everything that China needs reflates. Oil prices and the promises of a potentially empowering Chinese handshake have the Russian Trading System Index (RTSI) up +83% for 2009 to-date. Now that and the price of oil trading up +19% in less than 2-weeks is getting someone paid - and it isn’t the American Consumer!

As she trashes her currency, America will continue to lose political capital both domestically and abroad. After all, a -12% three-month swan dive in the US Dollar has hacked over $90 Billion of value from the Chinese position in US Treasuries. Creditors and citizenry hush yourselves! All the while, 17 out of 23 Chinese economists polled are calling holding those Treasuries a “great risk” this morning.

I know, I know… an economist or a billion US Dollars ain't what it used to be…

At some point, China’s interpretation of the arithmetic is going to really matter.