Fed Beige Book reveals fizzle; but US housing market booming; Canadian retail disappoints; Cathay retrenches; yuan appreciates; wheat price jump; UST 10y at 0.79%; oil and gold unchanged; NZ$1 = 66.7USc; TWI-5 = 69.7

Fed Beige Book reveals fizzle; but US housing market booming; Canadian retail disappoints; Cathay retrenches; yuan appreciates; wheat price jump; UST 10y at 0.79%; oil and gold unchanged; NZ$1 = 66.7USc; TWI-5 = 69.7

Here's our summary of key economic events overnight that affect New Zealand, with news food prices are now expected to rise as northern hemisphere drought conditions have capped their growing season.

But first, the latest Beige Book summary of regional Fed economic activity is sombre reading. Only "slight to modest" expansions are now being recorded in all Districts as their rebound fizzles out. They are seeing more activity in housing markets however. But employment growth is low they say. Apart from warehousing, commercial real estate markets are in trouble, and their drought is bringing mixed rural conditions. Bankers are saying delinquency rates are expected to rise, although that hasn't happened yet.

US home loan originations are running hot and expected to swell to US$3.2 tln this year, the most since the unusual US$3.8 tln in 2003. Record low interest rates are driving a surge in refinancing and purchases. Housing activity has soared since the onset of the pandemic, driven by both those low interest rates and a desire to have more space to quarantine.

US stimulus negotiations are still inching forward between the Democrats and the White House - even as the Republican Senate vows to block any new spending. A lot of Wall Street positioning is based on them succeeding.

Canadian retail sales growth in September disappointed with a +0.4% rise over the prior month, showing their pandemic rebound has been exhausted. Markets had expected a +1.1% rise over August. Online sales account for only 5% of Canada's retail trade. Year-on-year, retail sales are up +3.5%.

In Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific airlines is cutting -8500 jobs region-wide in an emergency effort to stay afloat.

Meanwhile, the Chinese yuan has appreciated by nearly +2% since their Golden Week holiday.

Globally, wheat prices are at record levels. Two factors are at play here; many countries are stockpiling the essential commodity as the pandemic causes incomes to fall and social pressures to rise, just at the same time as dry growing conditions around the world, especially in the US and Russia, are expected to limit output this year. The combination is making things tough for the developing world especially. One beneficiary of this is Australia where very favourable growing conditions point to a record harvest.

Wall Street has started today with the S&P500 unchanged in early afternoon trade. Overnight European markets fell sharply by an average of -1.5%. Yesterday, Shanghai ended its Wednesday session unchanged, Hong Kong ended up +0.8%, and the large Tokyo exchange was up +0.3%. The ASX200 ended up +0.1% while the NZX50 ended down -0.2%.

The latest global compilation of COVID-19 data is here. The global tally is 40,932,000 and up +382,000 in one day. It is first-world countries that seem to be having the most difficulty containing the new wave. Global deaths reported now exceed 1,127,000 (+7,000 per day).

The largest number of reported cases globally are still in the US, which rose +59,000 in yesterday's update to 8,531,000. They are clearly now in a third wave (initial was in April, then a larger one in July, and this new one threatens to be larger again). The number of active cases is at 2,750,000 so many more new cases than recoveries. Their death total is over 226,000 and still rising at +1000 per day.

In Australia, there have now been 27,444 COVID-19 cases reported, and that is +14 more cases than we reported yesterday and most of these new cases in NSW. Deaths are unchanged at 905.

The UST 10yr yield is firmer again this morning by +2 bps at just on 0.81%. Their 2-10 rate curve is steeper at +65 bps, their 1-5 curve is also steeper at +22 bps, along with their 3m-10 year curve, now up at +73 bps. The Australian Govt 10 year yield will start today with a +4 bps rise at 0.80%. The China Govt 10 year yield is unchanged at 3.22%. And the New Zealand Govt 10 year yield is up +5 bps at 0.59%.

The price of gold is up from this time yesterday up +US$14 and now at US$1924/oz.

Oil prices are lower today, down -US$1 to just under US$40/bbl in the US, while the international price is now just on US$41.50/bbl.

The Kiwi dollar starts today more than +¾c higher at just over 66.7 USc, making back all of yesterday's dip and more. Against the Australian dollar we are a little firmer too at 93.5 AUc. Against the euro we have risen +½c to 56.2 euro cents. And that means our TWI-5 is up at 69.7.

The bitcoin price is a very sharp +7.4% higher today than this time yesterday, now at US$12,847 and a 15 month high. An embrace by PayPal is driving this rise. The bitcoin rate is charted in the exchange rate set below.

The easiest place to stay up with event risk today is by following our Economic Calendar here ».

Daily exchange rates

Select chart tabs »

The 'US$' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
Daily benchmark rate
Source: RBNZ
The 'AU$' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
Daily benchmark rate
Source: RBNZ
The 'TWI' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
Daily benchmark rate
Source: RBNZ
The '¥en' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
Daily benchmark rate
Source: RBNZ
The '¥uan' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
Daily benchmark rate
Source: RBNZ
The '€uro' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
Daily benchmark rate
Source: RBNZ
The 'GBP' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
Daily benchmark rate
Source: RBNZ
The 'Bitcoin' chart will be drawn here.
Loading...
End of day UTC
Source: CoinDesk

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

68 Comments

A comment in one of yesterday's streams suggest there is an increasing trend of delinquency in the US housing market, while DC is saying it is going gang busters; which is true?

And if it is so hot, Why John Keys worries about bubbles yesterday?

The two are not necessarily independent, banks could be lending still to people like crazy for lots of reasons, while not caring so much about delinquencies as they know the gov will bail them out if it gets real bad. Clear moral hazard going on since 2008, they can take advantage of it.

People are not only buying assets but a friend working in countdown in Howick is surprised as everyday since lockdown, even now sell is much more like like it use to be in Xmas, so wondering where all this money is comming from as now even wage subsidy is over and on the otherside one hear of job loses.

May be those not affected and holding assets are on spending spree and those hit by panademic are having a very hard time - have two extremes and may be that is the new norm either will be boom or doom but rise in sale in supermarket is hard to understand.

Toys for the asset rich who have been given a windfall....comfort food for the poor at the supermarket.

I think the first lockdown caused a big change in consumer habits with restaurants being closed, and the first lockdown esp was long enough to reinforce those habitual changes of cooking your own dinner into becoming the new normal.

It's a very, very good time to be a supermarket owner. (and it was a very good time before we'd ever heard of covid)

Apart from warehousing, commercial real estate markets are in trouble, and their drought is bringing mixed rural conditions. Bankers are saying delinquency rates are expected to rise, although that hasn't happened yet.

I mentioned about a panic among banks over the financial health of the US commercial property market. DC has provided some commentary on it in this article [see above]. Demand for commercial property in Tier-1 US cities is at an all-time low, rents are collapsing while investors fear property values might follow suit.
A bubble pop in this market could quickly reach the wider financial market because US-based lenders have been structuring these commercial mortgages into securities and selling them off to the highest bidders. (deja vu, eh?)

Central Bank Digital currencies are coming. It may take much longer to phase out cash, but it is happening before our eyes. Looks like widespread CBDC will be introduced within 5 years.

I've been thinking of late about a principle I worked out and used to talk about a bit before you came on here, "The Battle for Unearned Income". There you have it. But first you have to lower resistance of the population.

if so its about populace control
nothing else
Communism here we come

Ham and eggs, in that I agree with you. It is a dangerous road to travel on. Increased surveillance and control. The black heart of manipulation.

One hopes, against hope, that one's Social Credit Score is adequate to guarantee most of the necessities of life......

Electronic currencies are the future, we are told. They are stable and resilient. We'll always have electricity, electronics won't break and there won't be software problems or hacking. And nobody will monitor your transactions.
Get ready to ditch cash for digital currency! Link

Planning, thinking about planning.
- They are writing their 14th five-year plan for 2021-25.

If you're thinking about starting a socialist country, you might want to take note: after 70 years of socialism, China's elite Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) has pronounced that,

"the rural collective economy is still at a low level of development [italics added], its development is uneven, and it lacks sustainability and profitability."

http://dimsums.blogspot.com/2020/09/chinas-collectives-at-low-level-of.h...

Yes and our own Central Planning Agencies have the same problems with house prices going up faster than wages. I think it is a feature of institutional preference for brainy people who advocate for intellectually satisfying and congruent theory. They weed out the people who are good at making decisions that work without needed a fully fledged theoretical framework for why they work.

Capitalist, by contrast, in all it's crazy unfairness, transfers resources to those who make good decisions in the situations they find themselves in. If the central planners skew the incentives in favour of silly house prices, they sniff out the opportunities that presents.

The usual bitcoin bashes seem to be quiet these days. PayPal acceptance a big tick...

Why dd our parents stage a "Pass the Parcel" game for us at our young birthday parties?
To teach us what happens when the music stops.
Investing in Bitcoin or property or art ar anything else without personal necessity (we all only live in one place at any given time) is being passed the parcel.
It ties up debt in non-productive endeavours in the hope that we as an individual aren't caught holding it when the music stops.
You might argue "Yes. But the $12,000 I pay to own a Bitcoin is then used by someone else to do something!". And you'd be right. But who is going to want to hold those dollars if they see purchasing power falling? No one. So they'll buy something else that a sure-fire store of value.
And so it goes on until all the 'dollars' are held by a Central Bank, and then what? "I know!" Negative Interest rates to force them back out into.....more bitcoin, art and property buying. And the cycle repeats......until the music stops and someone is not going to find a chair. Just make sure it's not you.

There comes a time where the weight of evidence that your beliefs may be incorrect, starts to become so great, that perhaps it's time to start seriously looking into the what and why yourself. For no other reason but from a purely financial perspective.

Perhaps when Bitcoin is the best performing asset of 2020 (55% up), or the best performing asset of 2019 (92% up). It destroyed the field in 2017 (1550% up), also in 2016 (102% up), and 2015 (40% up). It's 4000% up over the past 5 yrs.

Now of course it was 70% down in 2018, and 56% down in 2014. The volatility in BTC is significantly greater than the S&P500 clearly. But investing in this should be for the long term, and the trend is inarguable. Don't look at the peaks, look at the yearly lows, and they are climbing and climbing... It's far and away the best performing asset of the last decade.

There is only a 6 week period in the past 12 years that the price has been higher than it is now.
Every serious investor should be doing their own research, and IMO should have 1-5% of their portfolio allocated as a hedge.

we arent short of money / coin / store of values ....

we are fast running into INCOME problems
Unless people are gainfully employed producing something , all apparent stores of value (stocks, bonds, shares, pension funds... etc ) fast become worthless

if you think digital currency is the answer, you dont understand the problem

Another listed company joins the crowd, putting up to 10% of its cash reserves into btc. That is now around $10 billion of btc held by listed companies + greyscale trust. https://www.coindesk.com/uk-listed-firm-mode-putting-10-of-cash-reserves...

or joins the roulette wheel?

Interesting. I'm not sure what to make of this, so post it to see others might.
https://www.nextgov.com/it-modernization/2020/10/pentagon-will-move-prim...

Its everything in the cloud.
& here too.

https://www.digital.govt.nz/standards-and-guidance/technology-and-archit...

Department of Internal Affairs

Government Chief Digital Officer

gcdo@dia.govt.nz

Cloud services
Government organisations are required to use public cloud services in preference to traditional IT systems. They are required to adopt these services on a case by case basis, following risk assessments.

RIP excel spreadsheet.

RIP excel spreadsheet - why if you work on it in the cloud? Do you actually know what the term cloud refers to Henry?

If you are relying on spreadsheets for operations, you are missing the point.

Hint1: the cloud is not a new place to file spreadsheets, if you think so, you have been miss informed.

Hint2: IBM Watson would keep track of comments perfectly too.

More gobblygook? I give up Henry you operate in another dimension to me?

Response to security and vulnerability issues? It makes sense if one considers that distributed cloud storage, while using robust encryption systems can make systems less vulnerable to point attacks. There are still risks though.

I bit like cryptocurrency then? When you are going to attack something you find and focus on the weakest point.

If my bitcoin is stored on a USB will I be under attack from a swarm of hackers at my door?

If my bitcoin is stored on a USB will I be under attack from a swarm of hackers at my door?

BTC cannot be stored on a USB. BTC is stored on the blockchain. The BTC blockchain has never been hacked.

With concerning regularity, the weakest point is some numpty attaching some sensitive data to an e-mail then doing a Michael McIntyre 'send to all'

MoH style.

Not sure that it is like cryptocurrency at all. I think that somewhere there still needs to be a central registry of who owns what, and how much is out there. Frazz's comment below about how his BTC is on a USB. Is it really, or is it just some unique identifier to links into some central registry? And as he gained that identifier through the internet then it too must be discoverable by an appropriately talented hacker? This becomes all about encryption systems.

So no, putting some or all of the Pentagon's data into the cloud is about removing the vulnerability of having it stored on a single server somewhere. Even in one of the supposedly most secure buildings in the world, a server that is still connected to the internet that can be accessed through multiple ports is vulnerable to not only being hacked, but worse - wiped! While information is a valuable commodity these days, the ability to deny it to an enemy would be an extremely valuable weapon. In this case you don't have to crack an encryption, you only have to 'Format C' and voila! their family photos vanish forever! Distributed storage, which is in effect what the cloud is, protects against this denial. To crack even relatively unsophisticated commercially available encryption systems is generally acknowledged as very difficult and takes some serious computing power, which many organisations and even countries do not have, so why worry about what they know when all you need to do is erase it!

The weakpoint for bitcoin is getting it onto the USB, and off again. Plus key generation in the first place, only a programming would really know if they key generator isn't compromised.

Hope everyone is happy with their PII being stored offshore - how many major hacks and data leaks from poorly secured S3 buckets have there been of late..

Are we about to have another stress test? Which companies and individuals have reduced debts, accumulated what they can and taken stock of what needs to be covered in the event of another Level 3 lockdown? And which households have loaded up with cheap and easy debt on the assumption of labour stability for the foreseeable future?

You would think with all the Gm crops we would be in grain surplus for years. I had a friend who farmed in Poland and he said the weather can get very settled and weather patterns hang around longer, as he was from the UK i took it with a grain of salt.
I think China is rebuilding stocks, went for a hunt on google and sure enough, China is buying massive quantities

https://www.forbes.com/sites/salgilbertie/2020/09/24/chinas-agricultural...

command economies always stuff up agriculture, I have seen it in eastern Europe on some of the best soils in the world.

That is because they know, while the rest of the world plays ignorance:

https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/markets-by-sector/agriculture/coming-...

I really doubt that is true, farmers in the USA are super efficient, infrastructure is good and farms are well run. They won't have wasted a bushel. Pork production had a hick up but pigs are super quick at recovery, give them 90- days. I suspect it's just a lot of unknowns unsettling markets.

Yep.

https://youtu.be/NYGNHuEAxSE
Millennial Farmer.

And further North
https://youtu.be/X19KFlFkG4s

Remember the Green Recovery will be drawn up by John Deere.

Farming was becoming rote and joyless; the main change from one year to the next was intensively planting more and more acres of corn and soy, churning up the soil and using ever more chemical fertilizers and herbicides to try and turn a profit. As their top soil turns to dust and blows away - some have seen a better way but farming culture — and government — aren't making it easy.

A clump of soil from a heavily tilled and cropped field was dropped into a wire mesh basket at the top of a glass cylinder filled with water. At the same time, a clump of soil from a pasture that grew a variety of plants and grasses and hadn’t been disturbed for years was dropped into another wire mesh basket in an identical glass cylinder. The tilled soil–similar to the dry, brown soil on Cobb’s farm—dissolved in water like dust. The soil from the pasture stayed together in a clump, keeping its structure and soaking up the water like a sponge. Cobb realized he wasn't just seeing an agricultural scientist show off a chunk of soil: He was seeing a potential new philosophy of farming.
https://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/09/13/soil-health-agriculture...

Have you watched Kiss the Ground? - it appears most US farms are still operating in the industrial past where the soil is nothing more than a sterile growing medium.

yes i watched it. USA farmers are often as not, smart operators and adoption of GM made them linked at the hip to Monsanto and that's a hard thing to break.
They will change it is happening but it's a big ship to turn. France is changing faster.

Yes - highly recommend it - try and spread the word to farmers on this site?

Exactly, & what we do with an often average of 12 inches of topsoil is amazing.

Hungry, you can bury a horse, the black soils wonderful ( look at Moree)

https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/history-culture/2010/09/m...

1.5m to 10m!!

Do New Zealand farmers convert production when the prices of wheat rises? I'd have thought livestock was very inflexible.

My thoughts exactly
So its small, but still vital for our future.

Consider these facts.

It's estimated an additional billion tonnes of cereal a year will be needed to feed a population of nine billion people in 2050. This doesn't include the grain to feed the animals that will provide the additional 200 million tonnes of meat. To make this possible arable land is expected to expand by around 70 million hectares, and farming will become more intensive and irrigated.

New crops that use water efficiently and improve crop yields are vital in meeting these demands. New cultivars must be nutritious and meet the requirements of the food industry regarding health, convenience and good processing qualities..
https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/109065071/arable-farming-the-si...

No livestock are very flexible, it's because they have legs. Grain can go into Chicken and pork Monogastric animals are %80 more efficient at converting grains to protein than ruminants.
If the world gets short of food it's chicken and pigs that will feed us. I remember a French girl who had chickens in her yard and a couple of those giant rabbits. Eggs for breakfast and a roast rabbit once a week, from scraps, rabbits eating the lawn, breeding every few months.

Farmers growing crops have to decide before spring what mix they are going to plant, most of us are pretty gun shy due to the costs of this type of agriculture and fluctuating prices. High prices will fix any food shortage problem and that's going to happen for the foreseeable future. Russia was a net importer now the world biggest exporter, Russia still has huge potential as does Brazil. When they stop making ethanol then it could signal a food shortage ,at present that's up to %30 of US production, massive in Brazil too. I also suspect China agriculture has potential for huge change.

It wasn't that long ago that people were hungry, humans are incredibly adaptable. In Cornwall you can find old rabbit hutches where they tried to establish rabbits in the country as another source of food, worked rather well.

In 1949 there was an operating Rabbit Cannery in Bluff.

Don't need rabbit hutches here, just walk out in the paddock and take your pick.

"High prices will fix any food shortage problem.."

Indeed
But when you cant pay high prices?

We can all probably eat %30 less without having much of an affect on our health.

It depends entirely on the contour and composition of the land. Hill country will never be able to convert to arable cropping, whereas flat rolling country can be cropped in a heartbeat.

you still have options, forestry is one that's going forward at present.

You'll never be able to afford to reverse that option, however.

No and I see that could be a problem down the track a little.

It's already a growing problem - pines and manuka

Problem or a solution?

NZ food prices aren't just rising from drought! Farmers planted 30% less vegetables last year. So tell me again why NZers should buy local?

if you want to buy local you may have to pay more, it's hard to compete with all the Chinese frozen vegetables in the supermarkets.

Hepatitis
Some are slow learners

https://amp.smh.com.au/business/consumer-affairs/same-chinese-farm-suspe...

The frozen berries recalled this month are understood to have been from the same shipment of fruit from China that caused the 2015 hepatitis A outbreak.

Fairfax Media can reveal that health authorities suspect the berries at the centre of the February 2015 and June 2017 recalls were produced at the same place in China around the same time.

We already do Andrew, Fonterra's products are put on the market here at the price they sell to the world, not what it costs to produce. There is considerable debate as to whether we are being gouged by Fonterra or the Supermarkets but in the end does it really matter? NZ cheese I am told is cheaper in Aussie and the UK than it is here.

Cheese is cheaper in London than here, we have crazy dairy prices. NZ has monopoly prices and gouging all over the place. Like my tractor brake cylinder, 70 euros in france, $380 here +gst.

We are certainly being gouged by the fishing industry. We're an island country surrounded by sea and yet we're paying a fortune for tasty fish like snapper and blue cod....if, indeed, you can source it; at my local P'n'save snapper is over $40 a kilo, and what's more you can't rely on the 'best before' date; I now always ask to smell a fillet before I will commit to buying it. The fish around NZ belongs to all NZ citizens and should be used to feed NZders first...at an affordable price!
But, more obscenely, what the hell are the NZ fishing companies, Sealord, IFL, and Maruha, doing importing 440 Covid-infested Russian and Ukranian fishing boat crews to man their boats as the Herald reported yesterday. What, with all the unemployment, current and projected, why aren't NZders filling these roles. We are gifting these fishing companies quotas and yet they take the easy road by importing crews instead of getting off their arses and training NZ crews themselves. (Similar problem to the construction company Fletchers who should have have had their own building cadet training academy years ago.) NZ business is still full of winners and losers, depending on what the government lets them get away with.

TOP has a great policy here - buy back all quotas as its not working for the average Kiwi. Convert to leases ..TOP has plans to address the 35 years of greed and neglect in our fisheries system. We will: Restore fish stocks by increasing marine reserves off-limit to fishing. Ensure quota can only be leased to companies who can prove they are fishing sustainably.
The only hook in the proposal is the Treaty Claims will be on the table..

Must be the Japanese half of Sealord calling the employment shots. Maybe they tried Maoris before at the insistence of the Maori half of Sealord but found them lacking.

So it looks like there still just under one third of Australian Covid cases are community sourced in the last 7 days (36 of 110). On a population basis maybe that's similar to NZ having 7 community cases in a week?

Everyone saw the problem, and during lockfown they were the in-joke in Wellington.
Now see the brass neckhart response.
It is in deed "Stunning"

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/428925/government-department-had-not...

MBIE deputy chief executive of corporate, governance and Information Richard Griffiths, said its IT staff were not caught flat-footed.

That was despite 3800 of its 5500 staff only having access to old Windows 7 systems that would not work properly for those trying to work from home for most of the first month of lockdown.

"They did a stunning job, considering," Griffiths said.

#history rewritten as we watch.
#monty python weeping