The sea of red just got even redder as Japan, Korea, Norway, South Africa and Taiwan all dropped below 50, i.e., into contraction territory. From Bank of America: "Overnight and early this morning, a bevy of global manufacturing PMI reports were released. This provides us with an early reading on the state of manufacturing. Out of the 24 countries reporting so far, 10 saw month-over-month improvements in their manufacturing PMIs, while fourteen countries saw their PMIs worsen in June. Seventeen of the manufacturing PMIs were below the 50 breakeven level that divides expansion (+50) from contraction (+50). A majority of the below-50 PMI indices are located in the Euro area. The ongoing sovereign debt and banking crisis continues to weigh on the region’s economic activity and sentiment. The Euro area slowdown is beginning to impact the rest of the world."
The markets are getting mislead, one more time, by the spin that Europe places on events; by the focus that the giant European propaganda machine spits out from various sources again and again and again. You may recall, in the not too distant past, how the firewall was the thing, how the money needed to be bigger and how we were all led to believe that this giant, massive wall of Euros would protect the core nations of Europe. These nations included Spain and Italy without question and now the first mighty oak has fallen as Spain stepped up to the plate and swung the begging bat. Firewalls, of any size, do not do one thing to stop the infection of those that are heading economically south and Europe has placed its full concentration on the totally wrong aspect of the problem which has been to ward off the evil spirits of the bond vigilantes instead of on fixing the financial problems of the nations and so the problems continue and worsen. Over the weekend Spain said their second quarter results would be worse than the first quarter and Italy said there may come a moment when she needs help and the basis of what is driving the markets heightens as the economies of a mostly recession bound Europe are getting worse. What have we learned in short, in brief, in actuality is that the concept of some mighty firewall is a failed concept and Spain has just proved the truth of that.
- The Real Victor in Brussels Was Merkel (FT)
- German Dominance in Doubt after Summit Defeat (Spiegel)
- Euro defeat for Merkel? Only time will tell (Reuters)
- The Twilight Zone has nothing on Europe: European Banks Bolster Capital With Shunned Bonds (Bloomberg)
- Krugman is baaaaaack and demands even more debt: Europe’s Great Illusion (NYT)
- Republicans See Way to Repeal Obamacare (FT)
- Hollande Ready to Tackle Public Finances (FT)
- China’s Manufacturing Growth Weakens as New Orders Drop (Bloomberg)
- Protesters March in Hong Kong as Leung Vows to Fight Poverty (Bloomberg)
While Belgian caterers are delighted that Europe's increasingly more unelected leaders quarrel endlessly over who gets to foot the bill to keep the market fooled for one more week that things are fixed, Europe is burning. The just released MarkIt PMI data showed that while Spanish bonds may be up 50 bps one day, down 75 bps the next, "the downturn in the Eurozone manufacturing sector extended to an eleventh successive month. Production and new orders suffered further severe contractions, leading to the steepest job losses since January 2010." And here is where Germany, which as noted earlier, is becoming isolated in its European bailout ambitions, should pay attention: "The rate of decline in Germany was the steepest for three years, and marked a fourth successive monthly decline in the region’s largest economy." This metric is only going to get worse, only in the future it will be coupled with increasingly more direct and contingent debt all around. And further confirming that there is no easy way out for Europe was the May Eurozone unemployment number which at 11.1% rose to a new record
While the bailout ball is in the German constitutional court, which has 8 days to decide, and potentially put the entire timeline of Europe's bailout in limbo should it cogitate longer than July 9 without handing over the ESM law to the president, in effect forcing the country into a Euro bailout referendum, it is easy to forget that there are other AAA-rated countries in Europe, which also have a say as to who gets bailed out. As of this morning, it appears that Germany may increasingly be the only one left footing the insolvency bill as both Finland and Holland said "Ei" and "Nee" respectively.
From bull market gods and goddesses of the 1980s and 1990s, stock analysts now preside over a much more modest kingdom. Nic Colas, of ConvergEx notes that the world has moved on to new golden calves, from currencies (with great leverage) to exchange traded funds (with generally less volatility) to macro analysts (the current Zeuses and Heras). This even extends to the world of the retail investor – there are far more Google searches in the U.S. for "Storage auctions" (246,000/month) than for "stock research" (just 33,000/month), and the rate of decline resembles a fast-decaying radioactive particle. With asset price correlations near 90% for a wide range of investment choices, the on-off switch to market direction sits in Washington, Frankfurt, Beijing, and other centers of political and central bank power. Nic believes stock research will make a comeback for both technological (systemically delivering information to algorithmic traders) and cyclical reasons - as old-school stock research, with sector analysts, is ultimately tied to the fortunes of the equity market. And for analysts and stock market investors, that inflection point cannot come too soon.
Last week the BEA published it preliminary take on the international investment position (IIP) of the country. As Citi's FX team note, the IIP measures foreign investment assets minus native assets owned by foreigners. In the US, the IIP has been negative (meaning the US is a debtor nation) since 1985. The US’s IIP deficit reached USD 4.03trn in 2012, up sharply from 2.47trn in 2011. As a share of nominal GDP, the IIP deficit reached a record (for the US) of -27%. Commonly accepted wisdom based on a combination of models and experience is that an IIP bigger than +30% of GDP or smaller than -30% is a problem. On the IIP surplus side, having too big of a net creditor position leads to a perennially strengthening currency that chokes out industry and stokes deflation (think JPY). On the IIP deficit side, having too big of a net debtor position leads to a debt spiral. High debt leads to reluctant external creditors charging ever high interest rates, which leads to economic stagnation and ultimately crisis. The US may not be able to run another dozen years of 3-6% current account deficits without starting to look like a ponzi scheme - but while risk aversion flows (and rates) suggest there is little to worry about, we have noted again and again the moves behind the scenes in global trade flows to shift away from the world's current numeraire.
From what seemed like a very low bar on expectations, last week's summit headlines surprised modestly on the upside, even if the details remain far from clear - and implementation even murkier. Political talk of wanting to break the link between sovereign and banking risk was well-received by markets - but we remind all that talk-is-cheap with these Euro-pols. As Goldman noted this weekend, "we do not see the outcome as a game changer", rather can-kicking until one of four possible endgames are realized. The absence of any explicit commitment to plans for fiscal or political integration; the lack of reference to any pan-European deposit insurance; and Ms. Merkel's limited concessions (to ensure passage of the growth compact) to the terms on which the existing pool of EFSF/ESM resources are offered leaves the underlying issue - the terms on which mutualisation of financial risk is offered by Germany in return for mutualization of control over fiscal decisions throughout the Euro area - remaining inharmonious. German tactical concessions at the summit do not change their basic position on this issue: that discipline, reform and consolidation must be achieved and cemented first before mutualization of financial obligations is possible. Looking to the future Goldman sees four paths for the Euro are from here - and short-term too many crucial issues are left unresolved.
Haim Bodek thought practically nonstop for days about what the trade-venue representative had told him that night at the New York party. The way that the abusive order types worked made him think back to a document he’d been given by a colleague that summer as he researched what was going wrong at Trading Machines. The document was a detailed blueprint of a high-frequency method that was said to be popular in Chicago’s trading circles.
It was called the “0+ Scalping Strategy.”
I’ll be the first to admit the incredible aggravation I feel whenever liberty is trampled upon by the state’s obedient minions. Everywhere you look, government has its gun cocked back and ready to fire at any deviation from its violently imposed rules of order. A four year old can’t even open a lemonade stand without first bowing down and receiving a permit from bureaucrats obsessed with micromanaging private life. The state’s stranglehold on freedom is as horrendous as it is disheartening. The worst part is that the trend shows no signs of slowing down, let alone reversing. Politicians are always developing some harebrained scheme to mold society in such a way to circumvent the individual in favor of total dictation. If it isn’t politicians, then it’s an army of unelected bureaucrats acting as mini-dictators.
There is a reason why WWII legendary "pineapple" grenade bore the initials MK2. Those who enjoy the works of Mike Krieger and Max Keiser are in for a treat, with this 2 for the price of 1 (technically for the price of zero) interview of Krieger by Keiser, as the MKs of the world unite, and take on financial fraud.
Markets are true democracies. The allocation of resources, capital and labour is achieved through the mechanism of spending, and so based on spending preferences. As money flows through the economy the popular grows and the unpopular shrinks. Producers receive a signal to produce more or less based on spending preferences. Markets distribute power according to demand and productivity; the more you earn, the more power you accumulate to allocate resources, capital and labour. As the power to allocate resources (i.e. money) is widely desired, markets encourage the development of skills, talents and ideas. Planned economies have a track record of failure, in my view because they do not have this democratic dimension. The state may claim to be “scientific”, but as Hayek conclusively illustrated, the lack of any real feedback mechanism has always led planned economies into hideous misallocations of resources, the most egregious example being the collectivisation of agriculture in both Maoist China and Soviet Russia that led to mass starvation and millions of deaths. The market’s resource allocation system is a complex, multi-dimensional process that blends together the skills, knowledge, and ideas of society, and for which there is no substitute. Socialism might claim to represent the wider interests of society, but in adopting a system based on economic planning, the wider interests and desires of society and the democratic market process are ignored. This complex process begins with the designation of money, which is why the choice of the monetary medium is critical. Like all democracies, markets can be corrupted.