"Take a long, hard look, Janet," warns Grant Williams, "the landscape over which you cast your eyes when you accepted the poisoned chalice prestigious role of Fed Chair changed last week." Just two days before you were confirmed in a rather lovely ceremony, in an interview in Mumbai, Raghuram Rajan (one-time Chief Economist at the IMF and current Governor of the Reserve Bank of India) rather UNceremoniously dropped something of a bombshell that went largely unreported (perish the thought, in this era of dogged journalism). The standout feature of central bank policy over the last five years has been the spirit of cooperation... then came the taper. It is every man for himself now, and the Fed will screw them all. The splintering of central bank policy is just the beginning. This is the end of the innocence.
Lured by the promise of jobs created by the oil and gas boom, unemployed people are flocking to North Dakota en masse. This is heralded by many in the mainstream media as great news - labor mobility at its best - however, there is a darker side: rents are surging and finding a place to live at any price is difficult. As Reuters reports, amid all the boomtime plenty, however, is a housing affordability crisis. North Dakota saw a 200% jump in homelessness last year, the biggest increase of any state - "people are coming because it's widely publicized that we have jobs, but it's not widely publicized that we don't have housing."
- "Slaughter House"
- "Job cuts in India STG. Announced today including managers.Asked to return laptops with in 2 hrs and leave premises."
- "STG Bangalore literally turned into a slaughter house today.
- "Several employees were called to a meeting and RA'd.
- "Their TPs were confiscated and they were asked to vacate premises immediately.
- "Severance package was on an average 3 months basic component of salary, which is like 6 weeks full pay.
For the first time ever, the majority of Americans are scared of their own federal government. A Pew Research poll found that 53% of Americans think the government threatens their personal rights and freedoms. Americans aren't wild about the government's currency either. Instead of holding dollars and other financial assets, investors are storing wealth in art, wine, and antique cars. The Economist reported in November, "This buying binge… is growing distrust of financial assets." Every central banker on earth has sworn an oath to Keynesian money creation, yet the yellow metal has retraced nearly $700 from its $1,895 high. The only limits to fiat money creation are the imagination of central bankers and the willingness of commercial bankers to lend. That being the case, the main culprit for gold's lackluster performance over the past two years is something else... It won't be inflation that drives up the gold price but the unwinding of massive amounts of leverage.
It appears it's not enough to have a record year on your stock market? Economic hardship, socialism, starvation, and not enough toilet paper have apparently led to the bloodiest riots in Caracas in years. As AP reports, at least 2 people were killed as large anti-Maduro protests engulfed the nation's capital.
While loathed to admit it, US auto makers have done it again. As we have vociferously explained month after month (and has been vocally denied until now by the car makers themselves), much of the recovery in auto sales has been a massive channel-stuffing make-work program (mal-investment once again triggered by 'false' signals created by Fed intervention). Now, as the WSJ reports, Detroit's big 3 are trying to sweeten discounts to clear a massive inventory of unsold vehicles from dealer lots (desparate not to start a profit-killing price war). "We believe we can sell our way out," said GM, but as Morgan Stanley warns, "the best of the U.S. auto replacement cycle is over." Good luck...
Dennis Gartman, already humiliated beyond any hope of reputation salvage in the media, appears to be refocusing his keen talents and acute sense of extrapolating instantaneous market momentum 1 millisecond into the future, to a renewed direct exposure in the capital markets. And while hoping that market junkies have forgotten the epic disaster that was his last foray into ETF-land with ONN and OFF, Gartman today announced that he is now launching his signature shtick as a brand new ETF: gold... in non-dollar terms.
Apart from a 45-minute period from 1030ET to 1115ET (POMO) of totally failed momentum ignition, US equities and USDJPY were once again perfectly coupled leaving the Dow and S&P in the red today and the rest practically unchanged on dismally low volumes. Treasuries continue to slide with yields now 5bps (30Y) to 10bps (5Y) higher in the last 2 days (the worst 2 days for 5Y in almost 2 months). The USD ended practically unchanged on the week (once again) as EUR weakness (Coeure comments on negative rates) offset GBP strength (Carney comments). VIX traded down to 14.02% intraday (and the term structure is very steep and complacent once again). Gold (new 3-month highs) and silver surged intraday but the afternoon saw selling even as bonds, stocks, and the USD weakened. Dow remains below 16k.
2014 has been an unusual year so far. The worst start for stocks in decades stunned many but has been saved by the best rally in a few years' asset-gatherers proclaim it was the dip to be bought but volume never came back to buy that dip (despite its exuberant surge). So where is all the volume in 2014? Nanex has the answer... investors have been geting 'high' by weeding-out OTC stocks...
It seems yet another (luxury) car maker did not get the "but it's the weather" memo. Following Mercedes record sales in January, Porsche has announced today that expects to hit a target of selling more than 200,000 sports cars next year, three years earlier than originally scheduled. As Reuters reports, Volkswagen-owned Porsche is entering the lucrative segment of compact SUVs with its new Macan model, which has already sold out about eight months of production ahead of its arrival at German dealerships on April 4. Wealth effect, of course, is all that matters... and the promise of higher minimum wages and a Maserati in every garage.
By the power of his pen... President Obama gives minimum-wage-earning Federal employees (and physically and mentally handicapped workers) a 39% pay hike to $10.10 (and there's nothing you can do about it) to "benefit hundreds of thousands of people." We suspect that the president will remind us to the new "myRA" program and its benefits and how we should all tell our young friends to sign up for Obamacare too... and how this is paid for by the usual unicorn-tears-for-dollars swap...
Many have opined that while the unemployment rate may be 6.6%, down from a peak of 10% three and a half year ago, the so-called recovery sure doesn't feel like one: after all so many Americans are still struggling to find work and as so many complain, employers are simply not hiring. Well, as it turns out, all those complaining are absolutely correct....