The performance of CRB's sub-industrials relative to Oil has been a consistently useful indication of economic sentiment. Given the recent performance, Oil prices suggest a significant drop in US Manufacturing PMI - sub-40! This leaves President Obama with a dilemma: one the one hand he needs to pressure Oil down (SPR jawboning?) in order to maintain some semblance of economic growth and recovery (and perhaps jobs) but given the highly correlated (and QEternity-driven liquidity spillover) asset markets, a lower oil price fundamentally suggests lower global growth and technically drags risk-assets lower - which in turn moves stocks lower. Once again an encumbent tries to find the Goldilocks-level of Oil - too hot and growth slumps, too cold and markets slump, just right and get re-elected.
Moments ago, the Fed released its latest Z.1, aka the Flow of Funds, which is the primary source of information of that one component of modern finance which all modern economists continue resolutely to ignore because it blows all their anachronistic theories on monetary theory out of the water: shadow banking data. But more on that later. for now, here is the graphic summary of that most important of conventional data points updated every quarter: the US household balance sheet, and specifically the net worth of the US consumer, which in Q2 declined from a 4 year high of $63 trillion to $62.7 trillion, on a $900 billion drop in financial assets, offset by a $400 billion hike in real estate assets. Most importantly, and the reason why to the CTRL-P operator the only thing that matters is the stock market, of a total of $76.1 trillion in assets, only $24.2 trillion are tangible: i.e., real estate and durable goods. The remainder, $51.9 trillion or 68.2% of total, is Financial assets. It is this number that is the sole target of Bernanke's "monetary policy" and which must be inflated at any and all cost.
For all those who thought the smooth-talking, avuncular Goldman operative Mario Monti would never lie when he said "Italy is fine", we have some bad news. He did:
- *ITALY REVISES 2012 GDP TO -2.4% FROM -1.2%
- *ITALY REVISES 2013 GDP TO -0.2% FROM GROWTH OF 0.5%
- *ITALY RAISES 2012 DEFICIT TARGET TO 2.6% FROM 1.7%
- *ITALY REVISES 2013 DEFICT TO 1.6% OF GDP FROM 0.5%
- *ITALY SEES 2012 DEBT AT 126.4% OF GDP, 2013 DEBT AT 127.1%
There is a reason why we called the graph of youth unemployment in Europe 'the scariest chart' as quite simply, it is the leading indicator for what most call 'social unrest' - but some would call 'uprising'. In somewhat stunning news today, not only do a majority (54%) of Greeks no longer trust any political party, but the popularity of the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn has risen dramatically since May. According to Ekathimerini, the popularity of Golden Dawn's leader Nikos Mihalolioakos has risen ten points since May to an incredible 22%. More than 1 in 5 Greeks now support the neo-nazi party as the general disillusionment with mainstream political parties - who are seen as lying to get votes - grows stronger. 85% believe that the new measures planned by the government to take affect them personally or another member of their family and 68% are against the terms of the EU's bailout.
Portuguese bond spreads have been weak all week; Spain has been bleeding in the front-end and belly of the curve; and today saw Italian bonds start to lose some gains. What is perhaps more notable is the weakness in Italian stocks (most notably banks) since the short-sale ban was lifted on Friday. FTSEMIB is down 3.5% from pre-FOMC and -5% from post-FOMC spike highs. EURUSD is back below 1.30 (and stands 1.5 sigma rich to swap-spread-implied levels). Meanwhile, Europe's VIX plummets to six-month lows as realized vol plunges - but the volatility risk premium is still high.
Financialization and the build-out of China provided Europe the illusion that the worker-to-retiree/beneficiary ratio could fall to 2-to-1 and be maintaned indefinitely. Now that the fast-growth phase of China's build-out has ended, and the disastrous consequences of financializing everything under the sun are apparent, the illusion has run aground on fiscal reality. Expectations that have been raised to unrealistic levels for decades are now in the process of being adjusted down to reality, and everyone who felt entitled to promises that cannot be kept is angry, frustrated, disillusioned and seeking a scapegoat for processes that are running entirely independent of the leadership of the moment. How long will this false calm of official reassurances last? Nobody knows, but if crises track an exponential curve like so many natural dynamics, the next phase of the Eurozone crisis will quickly reach escape velocity and accelerate beyond the reach of politicos and PR.
While the US is only now embarking on QE3, on Tuesday night, to much fanfare, the Bank of Japan, in sympathy to the Chairsatan, launched QE 8. As we reported, the entire JPY10 trillion incremental intervention was fully priced in and digested less than 9 hours later, confirming that monetary policy is now completely helpless to do anything but destabilize currencies for a brief period of time (and at every greater dilutions). Here is how this farce of central-planner hubris looked through the eyes of UBS' veteran trader Art Cashin.
It would appear the concerns regarding rising rates in the Treasury Bond market are overblown - no matter how much the inflation break-evens spike. Implied volatility for the Interest Rate market is practically at all-time record lows currently as the Fed continues to remove duration and high convexity assets from the market. One thing concerns us though - the velocity of spikes in volatility once it gets down to these levels has empirically been tremendous - though we are sure this time it's different. In fact this time is different, since this time it is the Fed (as majority owner) that faces the pain from the now-marginal Minsky-like seller of Treasuries running away from inflation-flares (or China/Japan tensions) - and what would Treasury do without that pass-through ponzi revenue from the Fed's winnings? Or as Taleb wrote: "There is no freedom without noise - and no stability without volatility."
The Philly Fed's current September Business Indicators index, long ignored when bearish and cheered when bullish, came slightly above expectations of -4.5, printing higher from last week's -7.1 to -1.9. This was the fifth consecutive negative print. And while there were no major highlights in the index, whose New Orders rose from -5.5 to 1.0 at the expense of Shipments and Inventories, both of which imploded to worse then -20, the real story is the Six Months expectations index, which exploded from 12.5 to 41.2: this was the biggest spike may not ever, but certainly in the past 22 years! Is there any wonder why everyone is transfixed with hope that Q4 will be the deus ex that saves the US economy. And so we are back to being a hopium driven economy - when reality sucks, there may not be much change, but there is always hope that finally, the central planners will get it right, and the future will be so bright you've gotta wear Made in China shades. One word of caution: if the so very much anticipated and 100% priced in Q4 recovery does not materialize, and with the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling issues still unresolved, get the hell out of Dodge, as the spread between hope and reality comes crashing.
We explained last week why the initial exuberance from QEternity was likely to fade since it basically removed all suspense from futures FOMC announcements - i.e. that bad news would once again become bad news as opposed to bad news stoking the hopes or more-er QE. Well this morning's bad news - to wit: China PMI, Europe PMI, and US initial claims - has indeed had a detrimental impact on S&P futures as they approach fresh post-FOMC lows.
GOP presidential candidate drop out Tim Pawlenty, who until recently was considered a top VP running mate candidate for Mitt Romney, has shown his true colors, and has become the head of the Financial Services Roundtable, a U.S. bank lobbying group that represents JP Morgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co , among other financial companies, the group said on Thursday. This is also known as the TBTF consortium. From Reuters: "Pawlenty, who dropped out of the White House race early and quickly backed Mitt Romney for the nomination, takes over as president and chief executive office of the industry group on Nov. 1, it said in a statement. As the industry's top lobbyist, he will play a major role in the industry's efforts to make new Dodd-Frank rules, which Congress passed in 2010 in response to the 2007-2009 financial crisis, more favorable for Wall Street as regulators implement the law. The measure - a response to the crisis fueled by risky financial swaps trading at some firms that required multibillion-dollar tax payer bailouts - has yet to be fully enacted. "Few industries have more impact on the entire economy - and on the lives of average Americans - than financial services. I realize there is still work to be done to continue to earn customers' confidence," Pawlenty said in the statement. "Our members will best accomplish that goal by responsibly investing every day in our communities and job creators," he added."
We have seen consecutive weeks of bullish strength in the gold and silver markets. Gold has completed what is known as a ‘Golden Cross’ and silver is poised to complete one in the coming days. A ‘Golden Cross’ occurs when not only the current price, but also shorter-term moving averages such as the 50 day moving average “cross” or rise above the longer term 200 day moving average. Gold’s 50 day moving average (simple) has risen to $1,651/oz and is now comfortable above the 200 day moving average (simple) at $1,645/oz and accelerating higher. Silver’s 50 day moving average (simple) has risen to $29.86/oz and will soon challenge the 200 day moving average (simple) at $30.47/oz.