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China

China Moves Towards Opening Domestic A-Share Equity Market and Hints of Policy Easing Continue

December 16, 2011
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China Moves Towards Opening Domestic A-Share Equity Market and Hints of Policy Easing Continue

China had an interesting announcement after the close of trading last night which entails opening up the mainland securities markets to Hong Kong investors. According to regulators, China National Radio reports the government is going to trial quota issuance to Hong Kong securities firms for mainland investment. Securities brokerages and fund management firms will be able to use Yuan proceeds raised in Hong Kong to invest in domestic securities markets. China is approving 20 billion Yuan for the initial trial of quota which will be investible up to 80% in fixed income markets and 20% in equity markets. There isn’t much information out at this stage, but opening the domestic market up to a wider array of investors is the first step towards opening the market in general. The...

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China’s Trade Balance is Adjusting – the Largest Imbalance in the World is no Longer Growing

November 14, 2011
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China’s Trade Balance is Adjusting – the Largest Imbalance in the World is no Longer Growing

Markets in China rallied to start the week. Part of the rally resulted from “catch up” to US markets which closed strongly. But part of the rally was based on positive economic comments coming from Chinese officials. China’s President Hu Jintao pledged to focus on building imports which would boost global economic growth. IMF Deputy Managing Director Zhu Min, and National Economic Research Director Fan Gang, told the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Honolulu that a “soft landing” for the economy was expected for China. The officials noted slowing inflation and lower bad debt at Chinese banks. To complete the string of positively toned news, there was also speculation that China was relaxing lending curbs which amounts to incremental monetary policy easing. Both the H-Shares (up 2.8%) and...

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CJF Read of the Week – Rogue Economist: “Similarity of China’s USD Peg with the EMU”

November 13, 2011
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CJF Read of the Week – Rogue Economist: “Similarity of China’s USD Peg with the EMU”

The Rogue Economist, located in Canada, wrote a provocative piece discussing the similarities between the USD/Yuan peg and the EMU construct. I agree with Rogue that currency pegs and distortions lead to predictable real world economic outcomes that become evident in the balance of trade. Many financial market participants confuse cause and effect when identifying the cause of an imbalance and debating the proper solution. Click for the full piece at Rouge Economist:

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Chinese Inflation Turning Down – More Confirmation on Inflection Point

November 9, 2011
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Chinese Inflation Turning Down – More Confirmation on Inflection Point

Overnight, China released inflation data for October, which came down as expected and declined meaningfully from the previous month. Chinese consumer inflation, which includes food and energy prices, was up 6.1% in September, and up 5.5% in October. This data shouldn’t be a complete surprise because China has been on a tightening campaign all year with higher interest rates, lower credit growth, and an exchange rate that has slowly appreciated this year. The actualization of lower Chinese inflation is  important because it provides the political cover for China to start easing monetary policy. In addition, many global commodities such as; copper, oil, cotton, wheat, corn, sugar, etc. have declined which will eventually help ease pressure on Chinese inflation. The Chinese Producer Price Index also declined meaningfully based on the...

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China’s Golden Week Retail Sales Remain Strong – No Hard Landing

October 11, 2011
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China’s Golden Week Retail Sales Remain Strong – No Hard Landing

China’s Golden Week is one of two major 7-day national holidays in China. The two holidays are the Lunar New Year which begins sometime in January or February and Golden Week which starts in early October. The idea of a week long holiday is to provide an opportunity to take time off from work and travel. Although businesses and government officials have a holiday, the retail sector stays open during both of these holidays which make them important for retail sales. Lunar New Year is more important because there is a gift giving tradition associated with Chinese New Year but Golden Week is a very important fall shopping week as well. A number of companies have come out in China and provided indications of strong sales during the week....

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China PMI – No Evidence of a Hard Landing

October 2, 2011
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China PMI – No Evidence of a Hard Landing

China’s official PMI was released over the weekend (after financial markets closed on Friday) and the September data point came in slightly higher than last month and slightly higher than expected. The total manufacturing PMI index came in a 51.2 which is the strongest month of the past 4-months. As important as the slight uptick, the gains were broad with improvements in the key categories. Total PMI rose to 51.2 (50.9 in Aug) Output rose to 52.7 (52.3 in Aug) New Orders rose to 51.3 (51.1 in Aug) Export Orders rose to 50.9 (48.3 in Aug) Backlogs rose to 48.9 (47.6 in Aug) Employment rose to 51.0 (50.4 in Aug) In short there was some modest yet broad improvement across the board. While a PMI reading of 51.2 is...

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China Hard Landing Fears – The Reality and The Preposterous

September 30, 2011
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China Hard Landing Fears – The Reality and The Preposterous

Slowdown fears in the market have shifted to China. The past two days has seen the start of a shift in sentiment with China exposures viewed more as risk than as opportunity. There is clearly some slowing in China, and there should be, because the government has been trying to slow the economy to help contain inflation for the past year. China starting to slow is a positive because it helps inflation remain under control which is a key element towards China achieving its multi-year economic plans.  Over the latter half of this week, the fear has shifted that the slowdown is no longer orderly and that it is accelerating towards a hard landing in China. If this were to be true, it would dramatically increase the chances of...

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Chitaly Starts to Mambo Italiano – China in Talks To Buy Italian Sovereign Debt?

September 12, 2011
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Chitaly Starts to Mambo Italiano – China in Talks To Buy Italian Sovereign Debt?

I mentioned this possibility over a month ago on August 5th, in the story “Chitaly – China to Purchase Italian Sovereign Debt?”. Headlines just hit that Italy is in talks with China to directly buy Italian bonds according to the FT. This headline caused an immediate lift to depressed markets which is quickly getting faded. I believe this may actually transpire because it accomplishes two aims. Most clearly, it helps Italy fund their sovereign debt, which they had some trouble doing today as evidenced by the 1-YR note auction going for 4.15% this month vs 2.96% last month. Secondarily, China is desperate to maintain the euro, because this is the only other major currency which has the potential to be investible for large quantities of reserves. To the extent that China runs a current...

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It’s Time to Buy in Hong Kong

August 31, 2011
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It’s Time to Buy in Hong Kong

After a brutal correction in both prices and valuations it is time to get long(er) China geared Hong Kong listed equities. I believe the timing is right because the single largest risk factor, inflationary pressure, is in the process of peaking, and is likely to abate moving forward. China growth has been continuing at a 9% clip and I believe this growth rate is likely to slow gradually. Through a combination of currency appreciation, higher real interest rates, and credit constraints (the growth rate of credit) China will start the gradual process of focusing on domestic demand. Valuation is on the side of real investors as the H-Shares (HSCEI index) are at ex-crisis lows and sub 10x forward earnings. This is a 30%-40% valuation discount to what is “average”...

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China Rate Hike Cycle Over?

August 11, 2011
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China Rate Hike Cycle Over?

                 The markets have been on edge like high-schoolers lining up prom dates. This type of volatility isn’t fun – the ups and downs. It weighs on professional investors, it interjects more emotion into the investment process, while elevating stress, and causing people to lose sleep. The above is natural as money is made or lost at an outsized pace in hourly timeframes. This phenomena is measured in the VIX index which has surged to over 40 this week (was 15-25 the majority of the past couple of years). I point out the above, because when you are stressed, tired, and emotional, you don’t think or research as clearly. Things get missed. There was some subtle news in the past week about August 10th being a key date for...

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China Inflation – Non-News News

August 8, 2011
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China Inflation – Non-News News

The Chinese CPI is not an apples-to-apples measure relative to the CPI (consumer price index) that is reported here in the US. Some are attributing the overnight leg-down in the S&P futures (down another 24 or 2.25% at 11:00pm) to the fact that Chinese inflation came in at 6.5% when the consensus was 6.4%. Crackerjack says: “bullocks”. This is just some more good old fashion market panic in our opinion. Chinese food inflation came in at +14.8%. Certainly high, but food inflation is much more volatile and both weather, crop, and commodity price dependent (notice how all commodities except for gold have been collapsing the past few days). Chinese inflation ex-food is running up 2.9%. Not too much different than inflation in the US, nor should it be with...

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Chitaly – China to purchase Italian Sovereign Debt?

August 5, 2011
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Chitaly – China to purchase Italian Sovereign Debt?

Crackerjack continues to hold the view, that what has transpired in the markets is a crisis of confidence relative to an actual crisis. There is a very big and important difference. During the real-deal 2008-2009 economic crisis you had actual insolvent institutions as the value of mortgage securities declined when the US housing market imploded. The sovereign debt crisis in Europe is also a real crisis as it relates to Greece, Portugal, and Ireland (these countries can never pay back what they borrowed) but we have been stressing that these economies aren’t big enough to tip the world into a global recession. While Spain and Italy have numerous longer-term structural issues which need to be addressed, it appears to Crackerjack, that both Spain and Italy as nations have ample...

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