Remember, It's Tuesday

Mixed data from around the world's economies - irrelevant. More promises from Europe - unimportant. Earnings misses and weather forecasts - useless. Knowing it's a Tuesday - Priceless.

Blame It On The... Blamy Spring Weather

Here is the spin: tapped out US consumers simply did not have money to go out and splurge after the March spending bonanza, which sadly fell in a quarter which as we already know, will have a negative GDP print and thus is a wash (due to weather, remember). However, as a result of the blamy (sic) spring weather, US consumers didn't spend online either, as they were forced to go outside and enjoy the lovely weather... where as already noted they didn't spend any money either.

No Unharsh Weather Rebound: Retail Sales Miss Across The Board

Having been revised up to a 1.5% growth for March (the most since March 2010), retail sales crumbled across the board in April as the promise of un-harsh weather rebounds evaporated into the reality of a one-off pent-up demand pop. All sub-series of retail sales missed expectations with Ex-Auto/Gas actually dropping 0.1%. The broad weakness was led by furniture (-0.6%) and electronics stores (-2.3%).

How Japan Became Irrelevant, And How China Took Its Place, In One Chart

While Asia in general may be slowing now that China's epic debt creation machine is starting to break down, when it comes to trends within Asia not everyone is equal. And nowhere is this more visible than when comparing Japan, that dynamo of Asia in the 1980s and 1990s, and China, that other "New Normal" dynamo which carried the world across the Great Depression chasm. For the best representation of Japan's epic fall from economic relevance and, inversely, China's superpower ascendancy, here is one chart showing how vastly more relevant to Asia China now is compared to Japan just under 20 years ago.

Frontrunning: May 13

  • EU Court: Google Must Remove Certain Links on Request (WSJ), people have right to be forgotten on Internet (Reuters)
  • Harsh weather: German Investor Confidence Drops for Fifth Straight Month (BBG)
  • More harsh weather: China Slowdown Deepens (BBG)
  • Harsh weather as far as the eye can see: China’s New Credit Declines (BBG)
  • "Alien" artist, surrealist H.R. Giger dies aged 74 (Reuters)
  • Pfizer urges AstraZeneca to talk as UK lawmakers slam offer (Reuters)
  • Property sector slowdown adds to China fears (FT)
  • Russia says EU sanctions will hurt Ukraine peace efforts (Reuters)
  • U.S. Considers Relaxing Crude Oil Export Restrictions (WSJ)

EUR Slides To 1.37 On ECB June Action Jawboning, Bundesbank Edition

Just in case the EURUSD didn't price in enough of the possibility of a June ECB rate cut (because with even Goldman saying no, there is zero chance Draghi will engage in QE) disclosed last week when Mario Draghi broke the ECB's cardinal rule and gave a hint at what is coming next month, an hour ago the WSJ, citing a "person familiar" and we would add likely person who also happens to be short the EURUSD, helped double down on the end of forward guidance (since going forward market will expect action from the ECB instead of mere talk) by saying that the Bundesbank "is willing to back an array of stimulus measures from the European Central Bank next month, including a negative rate on bank deposits and purchases of packaged bank loans if needed to keep inflation from staying too low, a person familiar with the matter said."

German ZEW Crushed, China Missing Across The Board? Have No Fear - It's Tuesday

If, in the New Normal, newsflow and facts mattered, facts such as the German Zew Investor Expectations index crashing from 43.2 to 33.1, smashing expectations of a 40.0 print to the downside and down to the lowest since January 2013 nearly half the 7 year half reported as recently as December confirming Germany can no longer be Europe's growth dynamo courtesy of a still nosebleed high EURUSD, or facts such as overnight Chinese data missed in every category with industrial output up 8.7% y/y in April vs an estimated 8.9%, retail sales up 11.9% below the estimated 12.2% rise and ; Jan.-April fixed-asset investment growing 17.3% vs est. 17.7%, then futures may just posted a downtick. However, since it is a Tuesday, with a ~$1 billion POMO, one can ignore the fundamentals and proceed straight to buying anything and everything with indiscriminate abandon. The only question is whether the NY Fed orders Citadel to slam the VIX under 11 to start off the morning S&P rampage which should push the broad market index above Goldman's 1900 price target for the end of the 2014.

Glenn Greenwald On The 2016 Elections – "They'll Probably Have A Gay Person After Hillary"

Glenn Greenwald is not one known for pulling punches, and in this excellent interview with GQ Magazine titled, The Man Who Knows Too Much, he is in particularly rare form. "Hillary is banal, corrupted, drained of vibrancy and passion... But she’s going to be the first female president, and women in America are going to be completely invested in her candidacy. Opposition to her is going to be depicted as misogynistic, like opposition to Obama has been depicted as racist. It’s going to be this completely symbolic messaging that’s going to overshadow the fact that she’ll do nothing but continue everything in pursuit of her own power. They’ll probably have a gay person after Hillary who’s just going to do the same thing... Americans love to mock the idea of monarchy, and yet we have our own de facto monarchy... what these leaks did is, they demonstrated that there really is this government that just is the kind of permanent government that doesn’t get affected by election choices and that isn’t in any way accountable to any sort of democratic transparency and just creates its own world off on its own."

Ron Paul Asks "What Does The US Government Want in Ukraine?"

In several eastern Ukrainian towns over the past week, the military opened fire on its own citizens. Dozens may have been killed in the violence. Although the US government generally condemns a country’s use of military force against its own population, especially if they are unarmed protesters, this time the US administration blamed the victims. After as many as 20 unarmed protesters were killed on the May 9th holiday in Ukraine, the State Department spokesman said “we condemn the outbreak of violence caused by pro-Russia separatists.” The real question is why the US government is involved in Ukraine in the first place. We are broke. We cannot even afford to fix our own economy. Yet we want to run Ukraine? Does it really matter who Ukrainians elect to represent them? Is it really a national security matter worth risking a nuclear war with Russia whether Ukraine votes for more regional autonomy and a weaker central government? Isn’t that how the United States was originally conceived? Has the arrogance of the US administration, thinking they should run the world, driven us to the brink of another major war in Europe?

 

China's Oil Rig Gambit: South China Sea Game-Changer?

China’s placement of the giant state-owned oil rig HD-981 in Block 143 inside Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on May 2 was unexpected, provocative and illegal. China’s deployment of the rig was provocative because the oil rig was accompanied by as many as 80 ships, including seven People’s Liberation Army Navy warships. When China first announced the deployment of its oil rig, it stated that its operations would terminate on August 15. This provides plenty of time for both sides to orchestrate and manage the confrontation and provide a face saving means for ending the confrontation.

Europe's Luxury Home Bubble: People Are Dying To Own Dracula's Castle

With 560,000 visitors a year, Dracula's Castle may not be the ideal seclusion spot for the uber-wealthy European real estate magnate, but, as the realtor notes "n the right hands it has the potential to generate far more revenue than we could ever imagine," - we suspect followed by an echoing 'mwuahahahahaha'. Construction on Bran Castle (for it's not actually Vlad The Impaler's residence of old but he was imprisoned there briefly) began in 1377 and as HuffPo notes, the 57-room manor on 22 acres has been on the market several times in recent years, with investors at one point hoping to get $135 million. As the firm running the castle noted, “If someone comes in with a reasonable offer, we will seriously entertain the idea." We suspect people will be dying to buy this and with rates so low, it won't bleed you dry either...

Guest Post: Gun Control In Nazi Germany

There is no shortage of theories or writings related to the rise of the Third Reich and the subsequent Holocaust. Students of history as well as Second Amendment enthusiasts will find this a fascinating book and will find parallels between gun prohibition in pre-Nazi and Nazi Germany, and attempts to prohibit types of gun ownership and implement other forms of gun prohibition in the United States today. Less government regulation and a tradition of rejecting tyranny could have led to a different outcome in Germany. Instead, systematic creation and manipulation of firearms registration and regulations, coupled with the decimation of individual citizen’s rights, enabled Hitler’s dictatorship and the slaughter of millions of innocent Jews and citizens of Nazi-occupied countries, as well as tens of thousands of Germans. It remains for all of us to wonder what might have been had people refused to register their firearms. Indeed, we should all take note and never forget.

The Writing Is On The Wall... And We Should All Read It

The "Shiller P/E" is much in the news of late, and, as ConvergEx's Nick Colas suggests, with good reason. It shows that U.S. equity valuations are pushing towards crash-worthy levels. This measure of long term earnings power to current price is currently at 25.3x, or close to 2 standard deviations away from its long run median of 15.9x. As Colas concludes, the writing is on the wall and we must all read it. Future returns are likely going to be lower. Competition for investor capital will get even tougher. That’s what the Shiller P/E says, and it is worth listening.

GaveKal On The Recent Emerging Market Surge: "Little To Suggest Any Sustainable Economic Healing"

Is there anything fundamental to explain why the equity indices of the "Fragile Five" countries, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, India and Turkey, have regained their recent highs? According to GaveKal the answer is a resounding no: "As investors, we like equity rallies to be propelled by fundamental factors, like earnings re-ratings or growth surprises. But there is little behind this rally to suggest any sustainable economic healing." So what is pushing this particular subset of risk higher? Why the global liquidity tsunami of course.

US Holds Massive Nuclear Weapons Exercise "To Deter And Detect Strategic Attacks" Days After Russian Drill

Last week it was Russia, so now it is America's turn. As the U.S. Strategic Command reported earlier, the US will conduct Exercise Global Lightning 14 from May 12-16 in coordination with other combatant commands, services, and appropriate U.S. government agencies "to deter and detect strategic attacks against the U.S. and its allies." Among the units taking part in this drill are bomber wings that will fly approximately 10 B-52 Stratofortresses and up to six B-2 Spirit bombers "to demonstrate flexibility and responsiveness in the training scenarios throughout the continental U.S."

Another Snapshot Of The European Recovery

What can one say... Europe's stock markets are booming, bond yields (and spreads) are tumbling... and earnings growth expectations are - collapsing...