China Eliminates Taxation For Foreign Companies Investing in China

China has responded to global competition that is exploding in the wake of the Trump Tax Reform. While domestic news in the USA continues to bash the tax reform on class warfare, the rest of the world is trying to come to terms with what Trump has set in motion. China’s response is to allow foreign companies complete tax-free business on any profits they reinvest in China upping the stakes. Their position was stated by the Ministry of Finance and it is designed to ‘foster the growth of foreign investment, improve the quality of foreign investment, and encourage foreign investors to continuously expand their investment in China.’ The tax exemption applies retroactively from January 1st, 2017 beating Trump at his own game once more. Foreign companies who have paid taxes in China for 2017 will be refunded.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Dec 30, 2017.

The Rise of the West

Throughout almost the entire span of human history, material privation and chronic insecurity were the norm. Not even those at the peaks of social status and political power could enjoy the creature comforts and consumer delights that “poor” people take for granted in the West today. At times, certain populations fared somewhat better – in ancient Greece and Rome, perhaps, and in China during the Sung Dynasty (960 – 1279) – but those cases were exceptional.
As late as the 14th century, the Chinese probably enjoyed the highest level of living of any large population. Recall the amazement with which Europeans greeted Marco Polo’s account of China in the latter part of the 13th century, even though, as Polo declared on his deathbed, he had not described the half of what he had seen.1
As the Middle Ages waned the Europeans began to make quicker economic progress, while the Chinese lapsed into economic stagnation. Even more remarkable, the economic energy of Europe began to shift away from the great commercial centers of northern Italy and toward the periphery of civilization in northwestern Europe. The barbarians, it seemed, had somehow stumbled onto the secret of economic progress. Henceforth, despite many setbacks, the western Europeans – and later their colonial cousins in North America as well – steadily pulled ahead of the human pack. By the 18th century they had far surpassed the Chinese, not to speak of the world’s more backward peoples, and until the late 20th century the gap continued to widen.
How did the West succeed in generating sustained economic progress? Historians and social scientists have offered various hypotheses, and so far no single explanation has gained general acceptance. Nevertheless, certain elements of an answer have received wide agreement. The growing individualism of Western culture, rooted in Christian doctrine, seems to have contributed significantly.2 In addition, the political fragmentation of the European peoples in the high Middle Ages and the early modern period – a political pluralism with hundreds of separate jurisdictions – fostered the institutional and technological experimentation by which entrepreneurs could discover how to make labor and capital more productive.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on 2017/12/29.

Housing Bubble 2.0: U.S. Homeowners Made $2 Trillion On Their Houses In 2017

Americans who are lucky enough to own their own little slice of the ‘American Dream’ are about $2 trillion wealthier this year courtesy of Janet Yellen’s efforts to recreate all the same asset bubbles that Alan Greenspan first blew in the early 2000’s. After surging 6.5% in 2017, the highest pace in 4 years according to Zillow data, the total market value of homes in the United States reached a staggering all-time high of $31.8 trillion at the end of 2017…or roughly 1.5x the total GDP of the United States.
If you add the value of all the homes in the United States together, you get a sum that’s a lot to get your mind around: $31.8 trillion.
How big is that? It’s more than 1.5 times the Gross Domestic Product of the United States and approaching three times that of China.
Altogether, homes in the Los Angeles metro area are worth $2.7 trillion, more than the United Kingdom’s GDP. That’s before this luxury home on steroids hits the market.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Fri, 12/29/2017 –.

US Dollar Has Worst Year since 2003, Defying the Fed

Where will it go from here?
Today is another down-day for the US dollar, the third in a row, capping a nasty year for the dollar, the worst since 2003. In 2017, the dollar dropped 7% against a broad basket of other currencies, as measured by the Trade Weighted Dollar Index (broad), which includes the Chinese yuan which is pegged to the US dollar. It was worse than the 5.7% drop in 2009, but not as bad the 8.5% plunge in 2003.
Here are the past four years of the dollar as depicted by the Broad Trade Weighted Dollar Index, which tracks 26 foreign currencies. The index is updated weekly, with the last update on December 26, and has not yet captured the declines of past three days:

This post was published at Wolf Street on Dec 29, 2017.

Hong Kong Ship Seized After Transferring Oil To North Korea

Just days after we showed satellite images which indicated that Chinese ships were trading oil with North Korean ships in a blatant violation of UN Security Council sanctions, South Korea said Friday that it was holding a Hong Kong flagged ship suspected of doing just that.
The Lighthouse Winmore is believed to have “secretly transferred” about 600 tons of refined petroleum products to the North Korean ship, the Sam Jong 2, in international waters in the East China Sea on Oct. 19, according to Bloomberg and the Associated Press.

The Hong Kong vessel had previously visited Yeosu port on Oct. 11 to load up on Japanese oil products and departed the port while claiming its destination was Taiwan. Instead, it transferred the oil to the Sam Jong 2 and three other non-North Korean vessels in international waters

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Fri, 12/29/2017 –.

Despite Being “Caught Red Handed”, China Denies Secretly Selling Oil To North Korea

An official statement from Chinese officials tonight smacks of Obi Wan Kenobi – ‘these are not the secret oil trades you are looking for’.

After being ‘caught RED HANDED’…according to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo, U. S. recon satellites have photographed around 30 illegal transactions involving Chinese vessels selling oil to North Korea on the West Sea in October. The images allegedly showed large Chinese and North Korean ships transacting in oil in a part of the West Sea closer to China than South Korea. The satellite pictures even showed the names of the ships.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Thu, 12/28/2017 –.

Trump Warns China – “No Friendly Solution” If They Keep Cheating On Korean Oil Exports

Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2017

President Trump took aim at President Xi this morning in a very clear tweeted warning that follows US spy satellite evidence that showed China allowing oil exports to North Korea.
Trump exclaimed “caught red-handed” and said he was “very disappointed” by China’s actions. Perhaps more notable is that he explained “there’s no friendly solution” if this continues…
As a reminder, this is what President Trump is upset about, according to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo, U. S. recon satellites have photographed around 30 illegal transactions involving Chinese vessels selling oil to North Korea on the West Sea in October. The images allegedly showed large Chinese and North Korean ships transacting in oil in a part of the West Sea closer to China than South Korea. The satellite pictures even showed the names of the ships.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Thu, 12/28/2017 –.

China Beige Book Warns Economic Slowdown Has Begun

When it comes to the global economy, few things matter as much as China, the trajectory of its economy and especially the pace and impulse of its credit creation, which is ironic because virtually all data coming out of China is fabricated and manipulated, and thoroughly untrustworthy, either on purpose or “by accident.”
The latest example of the former was highlighted over the weekend, when we discussed that a nationwide Chinese audit found some local governments inflated revenue levels and raised debt illegally, once again making a mockery of China’s credibility on the global stage. As Bloomberg reported ten cities, counties or districts in the Yunnan, Hunan and Jilin provinces, as well as the southwestern city of Chongqing, inflated fiscal revenues by 1.55 billion yuan, the National Audit Office said in a statement on its website dated Dec. 8.
An even more blatant example of the former was highlighted in October ahead of China’s Communist Party Congress, when the local securities watchdog literally “advised” some loss-making companies to avoid publishing quarterly results ahead of the Congress as authorities sought to ensure stock-market stability during the critical gathering of China’s political elite. As a result, at least 17 Shenzhen-listed companies announced delays to their earnings reports from Oct. 20 to Oct. 24, up from three during the same period last year.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Wed, 12/27/2017.

To Avoid Liquidation Panic, HNA Assures Deutsche Shareholders It’s A “Long-Term Investor”

The notoriously acquisitive Chinese conglomerate HNA – which recently had a sharp falling out with Beijing resulting in a margin call “shocksave” – is facing a serious cash crunch in 2018 as nearly a quarter of its $100 billion in debt – a large chunk of which was accumulated during a multi-year buying spree that saw it become a major shareholder in Deutsche Bank, Hilton Worldwide and a large portfolio of international holdings – comes due.
But even as the company resorted to loaning out shares and entering into arcane derivative financing agreements to finance its debt-service payments, it is quickly finding that traditional avenues of financing are disappearing or becoming too costly.
Despite being one of China’s largest conglomerates, HNA has been shut out of stock and bond markets as lenders worry about its outsized debt load, forcing the company to pledge some of its core holdings as collateral for short-term loans, as the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month.
This has forced the conglomerate to explore other options. To wit, the bank recently pledged some of its Deutsche Bank shares to UBS as collateral for a loan worth roughly $117. It also executed an options strategy known as a collar. This strategy involves purchasing out-of-the-money puts to protect against a large drop in the stock while simultaneously selling out-of-the money calls to offset the cost of the puts.
On Dec. 20, HNA’s unit entered into a new series of collar transactions with Swiss bank UBS Group AG, and pledged its Deutsche Bank shares to UBS in exchange for a total of 2.36 billion euros (US$2.8 billion) in net financing. It also has a margin loan from UBS and ICBC Standard Chartered PLC. In all, the new total amount of financing was about 99 million euros (US$117.6 million) higher than what was disclosed in a similar filing in May.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 27, 2017.

Global Stocks Rise, Copper Soars In Thin Holiday Volumes

European stocks are steady in post-Christmas trading if struggling for traction after a mixed session in Asia, amid trading thinned by a holiday-shortened week and ongoing worries about the tech sector; however a strong rally in commodities – including copper and oil – buoyed expectations for a strong 2018 and helped offset concerns over the technology sector triggered by reports of soft iPhone X demand.
U. S. equity futures nudged higher while the dollar weakened against most G-10 peers as investors await the release of U. S. consumer-confidence data, with much of the spotlight falling on commodity currencies. The OZ dollar holds onto gains as copper surges to a three-year high; oil retreats after reaching the highest close in more than two years following a pipeline explosion in Libya on Tuesday. Treasuries and core European core bond yields are a touch lower.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index edged lower, with tech stocks hit for the third day amid rumors of weak iPhone demand and leading the decline as chipmakers slumped after analysts lowered iPhone X shipment projections, sending the Nasdaq Composite Index lower overnight. While mining and oil stocks strengthened due to a surge in copper prices to a 3.5 year high (see below), the European STOXX 600 index slipped 0.1% as European tech stocks tumbled on reports that demand for Apple’s iPhone X may be weaker than expected. The equity benchmark index is poised for an annual gain of 8.1%, the best advance in four years. Elsewhere, Volvo rose as China’s Geely bought Cevian’s stake in the truckmaker, making it Volvo AB’s largest stakeholder. IWG surged the most since 2009 after confirming it has received a a non-binding takeover offer from a consortium backed by Brookfield Asset Management and Onex.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 27, 2017.