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US retail growth, CPI as expected; Japan's growth streak extends; HNA cuts top exec; Canada challenges US; NAB has CML woes; AU adopts vacancy tax; UST 10yr yield at 2.40%; oil down, gold up; NZ$1 = 68.8 US¢, TWI-5 = 71.9

US retail growth, CPI as expected; Japan's growth streak extends; HNA cuts top exec; Canada challenges US; NAB has CML woes; AU adopts vacancy tax; UST 10yr yield at 2.40%; oil down, gold up; NZ$1 = 68.8 US¢, TWI-5 = 71.9

Here's my summary of the key events overnight that affect New Zealand with news of wider AML issues at Australian banks.

But first, in the US October retail sales rose at a healthy clip coming in pretty much as markets expected, up +4.6% from the same month a year ago. And consumer prices rose +2.0% in the year to October, also right on market expectations. They are up +1.8% excluding food and energy.

Japan has recorded its longest period of continuous expansion in over 16 years in the September quarter. It grew +1.7% in the year to September. That is up from the +1.4% in the June quarter, but analysts worry that the momentum is slowing, especially for private consumption which slipped from the June quarter and which represents 60% of Japan's GDP. Export growth is keeping the situation positive.

In China, HNA Group has removed the head of its tourism unit, which runs HNA’s flagship Hainan Airlines, in a major leadership reshuffle. Xin Di was ousted as chairman of the unit and as board member of HNA Group. Xin was one of HNA’s founders and joined Hainan Airlines in 1992. HNA has launched an internal probe of its tourism unit, but it isn’t clear what prompted the investigation.

Canada taking US to binding arbitration in NAFTA over its softwood dispute. Canada filed its application to strike down the United States’s punitive tariffs on Canadian lumber and did so under Chapter 19 of the treaty. This is one of the key sticking points in the NAFTA renegotiation wanted by the US: The Trump administration wants to abolish the Chapter 19 panels while Canada has vowed never to give them up. Hesitancy to take on the US seems to have evaporated, especially when an ally as close as Canada does so.

In Australia, the South Australian state government has abandoned their proposed bank tax, and said they will not take the issue into next years election.

And the NAB, the parent of BNZ, says it has ongoing AML issues which may be similar to those at CBA and also get it into trouble with regulator AUSTRAC. "The group is currently investigating and remediating a number of identified issues," NAB noted on page 108 of its annual report. The bank said it had identified "certain weaknesses with the implementation of 'Know Your Customer' requirements and systems and process issues that impacted transaction monitoring and reporting for some specific areas".

Foreign owners of Australian property who leave their homes vacant are set to be charged thousands of dollars a year after the federal parliament passed its vacancy tax legislation. In addition, investors will no longer be able to claim travel expenses to inspect and maintain their properties.

The World Energy Council's 2017 Energy Trilemma Index ranks countries on how well they achieve the energy balance of security, equity and sustainability. With an overall balanced rating of AAB, New Zealand has held on to its 9th position out of 125 countries and is still the best performing country in the Asia-Pacific region, and again the only non-European country in the top ten. Denmark was #1, Australia #33 and down from #31 last year. (However, New Zealand slipped from 7th in 2015.)

In New York, the UST 10yr yield is at 2.34%, -4 bps lower than this time yesterday.

The price of crude oil is now under US$55.50 / barrel, while the Brent benchmark is just over US$62.

The price of gold is unchanged at US$1,278 oz.

The Kiwi dollar is little changed today. We are now just under 68.7 US¢. And on the cross rates we are at 90.7 AU¢, and against the euro at 58.3 euro cents. That puts the TWI-5 index at 71.8.

If you want to catch up with all the changes yesterday, we have an update here.

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

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20 Comments

But first, in the US October retail sales rose at a healthy clip coming in pretty much as markets expected, up +4.6% from the same month a year ago.

Hmmmmm..

There just isn’t a level of weak consumer spending that won’t be described in the most glowing terms. In modern logic, it’s a fallacy in the cult-like obedience to authority, in this case monetary officials at whatever central bank. So long as they continue to raise rates, as in the Fed’s case, and proclaim the economy strong all the data is immediately colored in the mainstream by those terms alone; rather than the data performing as necessary evidence to validate, or deny, the official subjective opinion.

It’s the parallel in economic data to persistent denials about what the yield curve is saying (the same thing as retail sales).

The big problem is not strictly economics, but rather Economics. In other words, this can only sow further division and mistrust because the economy is not strong in any way. The longer it is described as robust and all its related qualifiers, the more regular people who are struggling (as retail sales actually show) are forced into one of the following conclusions: the economy is booming but I don’t see it, so it must be rigged against me and people like me; or, the media is lying to preserve the status quo at all costs. Read more

Interesing the term "technocrat' arises at the end of that piece. Someone here recommended the book "Voltaires Bastards", which I have started. The theme of the book is the development of the technocrat through the last 3-4 centuries. I think Bob Jones describes the same behaviour in a corporate way admirably in his book "On Management", his ideas are transferable to government IMO.

The same ideas lie at the heart of my fascination with Myers Briggs Typology, the predictableness of all this human behaviour.

A few years back I read a book (unfortunately the name escapes me) of a British Army Officer in WWII whose job was to follow the Army through Germany, with the understanding that the country would be smashed and disordered, and restore the bureaucracies. Firstly with British oversight, and then transfer back to local control as the experience was built up again. This planning probably arose out of the methods of Alexander the Great.

Where Sniders's comment is alarming, and in my opinion correct, is that we face a situation where on a worldwide scale we face a loss of faith and confidence in the structures that govern us, when most human behaviour is intrinsically and instinctively geared towards seeking assurance through these familiar structures.

Interesing the term "technocrat' arises at the end of that piece. Someone here recommended the book "Voltaires Bastards", which I have started.

Ralston Saul, Crucial stuff. He paints rather broad strokes. The character (behavior / attitudes) of the technocracy is also frightening. Everyone can be justified, not by any rhyme or reason, but by the simple fact that someone belongs to implied executive authority.

Bob Jones puts them at two distinctly different levels. Box tickers, representing the supervisor level, and head nodders representing management level. He says as long as there isn't any pending crisis, the CEO can sit back and do bugger all with these box tickers and head nodders just doing what they will do.

Ever since 2012 (see "How The Fed's Visible Hand Is Forcing Corporate Cash Mismanagement")  we have warned that as a result of the Fed's flawed monetary policy and record low rates, corporations have been incentivized not to invest in growth and allocate funds to capital spending (the result has been an unprecedented decline in capex), but to engage in the quickest, and most effective - if only in the short run - shareholder friendly actions possible, namely stock buybacks.

We got a vivid confirmation of that recently when Credit Suisse showed that the only buyer of stock since the financial crisis has been the corporate sector', i.e. companies repurchasing their own shares...

... with SocGen showing previously that virtually all the net debt issued this century has been used to fund stock buybacks. Read more

Re Oz vacancy tax: This might give Labour/NZF/Die Grünen the chance to exercise their xenophobia, except for that pledge of 'No New Taxes...'

Care to run a sweep on how long it takes for the dam to break?

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The so called 'no new taxes' pledge wouldn't effect a tax on vacant property for non NZ tax payers. So it wouldn't be an issue if they wanted to introduce 'one' appropriately

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Jeez Waymad.
I actually used to like your comments and read your blog on the basis that you reported the logic, not the emotion.

This comment is purely emotion, as have been a couple recently.

I am against such a tax. But...I honestly don't see how adding a tax to vacant property is xenophobic. Without such a tax, these (overseas) 'investors' reap all the benefits of society that domestic taxes provide, but pay none in return. That's not xenophobia; that's equity.

Typed before that morning latte, perhaps. But in marketing, perception is reality, and guess what this would be Perceived as, if applied here. Politics is nothing if not Perception.

Vacancy tax creates a service industry providing "lived-in" services, presumably. A few timers on the lights and heating, wasting a bit of water on a regular basis should do it.

Typical sort of add on tax that adds to complexity and gives politicians and bureaucrats something to do, a make work scheme at best.

Now a Land Tax, on the other hand, is so simple that you could sack half the IRD, presumably we can therefore rest in our beds secure in the knowledge that it will never happen.

Agree.
As I said, I'm not for a vacancy tax. It is a stupid tax.
My point was to reprimand Waymad on his xenophobia comment.

I'm all for a land tax.

Yes, I see that. Personally I'm not so keen on lots of them there furriners pouring in. They can bring bad habits, depending on the culture they come from; eg English Civil Servants should be banned as they destroy the culture with regulation; as well as those who believe in honour killings and acid maiming, FGM and such like; or are under the thumb of a major foreign power. These people bring horrors we just don't need, but more importantly there are quite enough of us already.

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Yeah it may be window dressing but personally I like the message that is being sent -

That is - we are no longer a 2AM booty call for any Tom Dick and Harry....if you want the benefits of what we have in NZ you need to be committed in some way shape or form and "pay"/contribute.....and about bloody time.

Meanwhile as I go for my morning runs in Chatswood and ECB on the North Shore in AKL there are many (many) homes with grass up to the windows and curtains closed...

(many) homes with grass up to the windows and curtains closed.

Chatswood is a suburban hell hole. Nothing redeeming about the place whatsoever. Many of the teenagers walking the streets there look suicidal. For the immigrants, it's some kind of Nirvana.

The trains off the rails...in Wellington. The train drivers cannot exist without a raise, never mind "Save".

In USA the "Savings" are also off the rails.

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4125176-glum-note-u-s-savings-disaster

1970s redux? It's a bit of a theme of mine at the moment, but inflation came out of nowhere in the 1970s, and everyone below a certain age has no idea what it was like or what caused it.

" increased consumption not driven by increased production is not sustainable since the ability to demand in the first place is derived from what is produced."

Exactly!

Futures contracts for key commodities were tumbling in China on Wednesday, with iron ore down as much as 4.6 per cent following a disappointing round of readings from closely-watched growth gauges on Tuesday.

The futures contract for one tonne of the key steelmaking ingredient was down 4.1 per cent on the Dalian Commodity Exchange at Rmb446.5 ($67.30). That for a tonne of coking coal, used in steelmaking, was down 2 per cent at Rmb1,186. Read more

Now where could they possibly be talking about here?

Asiaciti’s clients included the family of Serik Burkitbayev, a former aide to Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev and head of Kazakhstan’s state-owned oil and gas company. In March 2009, a Kazakh court convicted Burkitbayev of embezzlement – the theft of $20 million – and other crimes. Burkitbayev was sentenced to six years in prison, according to Kazakh news media.

By September 2012, as Burkitbayev languished behind bars, his wife and two daughters had set up three trusts in – according to the phrasing of one lawyer – “a small island nation named after an intrepid English sea captain whose surname rhymes with book.”

https://www.icij.org/investigations/paradise-papers/paradise-papers-firm-managed-millions-carousel-millionaires-fraudsters/

Interesting that we tend to look at this through our own eyes, ie we assume he was actually guilty of embezzlement. However, $20 million is probably the sort of money that he routinely spent on entertainment given his position and not worth stealing. More likely a political falling out.