It’s been said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again but to expect a different result. On that basis, the western world’s economic policymakers are clearly certifiable. They cut rates. It does nothing. So they cut rates again. And again. They in debt future generations to ‘stimulate’ the economy. It does nothing. So they stimulate again. And again. Nothing that central banksters or politicians have done since the 2008 global financial crisis has fundamentally changed economic conditions. Yet they keep applying the same remedies, drawn from the same old Keynesian playbook. The false premise which guides their decisions is that we can all grow wealthy by borrowing and consuming, instead of by producing and saving. People have been sold this lie for more than a generation. It is embedded in social DNA. In the current western economic system, you are rewarded for going into debt with all sorts of tax deductions. Save money, on the other hand, and you are punished through taxation and inflation. The incentives are all wrong; it’s no wonder that people have over-borrowed and overspent given that the system is so blatantly slanted to promote such behavior.
Gold Report 2012: Erste's Comprehensive Summary Of The Gold Space And Where The Yellow Metal Is GoingSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/11/2012 - 12:21
Erste Group's Ronald Stoeferle, author of the critical "In gold we trust" report (2011 edition here) has just released the 6th annual edition of this all encompassing report which covers every aspect of the gold space. What follows are 120 pages of fundamental information which are a must read for anyone interested in the yellow metal. From the report: "The foundation for new all-time-highs is in place. As far as sentiment is concerned, we definitely see no euphoria with respect to gold. Skepticism, fear, and panic are never the final stop of a bull market. In the short run, seasonality seems to argue in favor of a continued sideways movement, but from August onwards gold should enter its seasonally best phase. USD 2,000 is our next 12M price target. We believe that the parabolic trend phase is still ahead of us, and that our long-term price target of USD 2,300/ounce could be on the conservative side."
The last forty years have seen five distinct regimes in the relationship between gold prices and Treasury yields. It would appear that the current regime (from 2006 to Present) is 'different' indeed as the Keynesian end-point seems to have arrived.
As many observers have noted, you can expand the money supply but if that money ends up stashed as bank reserves, it never enters the real economy, nor does it flow into household earnings. The velocity of that "dead money" is near-zero. M2 declined in the housing bubble as the velocity of money skyrocketed: everyone was pulling money out of housing equity via HELOCs (home equity lines of credit) and spending the "free money" on cruises, furniture, big-screen TVs, boats, fine dining, etc. The recipients of that spending also borrowed and spent as if the "free money" would never end. If M2 expansion is the only thing propping up an artificial market, what happens to the stock market rally as M2 rolls over?
Today's release of the FOMC's minutes should be helpful in gauging the near-term monetary policy outlook. Goldman's Jan Hatzius (who just cut his Q2 GDP outlook to a way below consensus +1.3%) believes they will confirm his expectations, for the July 31-August 1 meeting, of an extension of forward rates guidance to 'mid-2015', but no move to further asset purchases yet (not expecting NEW QE until late 2012/early 2013). In the minutes, Hatzius notes four specific issues to focus on: how many FOMC members expect further eventual easing, and in what form; how close the committee was to either doing more or less than Twist 2 at the June meeting; how much discussion there was of qualitative changes in the forward guidance; and how much more negative the Fed staff has become about the economic outlook. In other words, the minutes may provide more information about whether the weak data that have arrived since June 20 - another subpar payroll gain of just 80,000 and sharp declines in high-profile business surveys such as the manufacturing ISM and the Philly Fed - are likely to be sufficient to trigger additional moves.
First Goldman released this just after the trade data came out:
The trade deficit improves broadly as expected to $48.7bn in May, as nominal exports rise (+0.2%) and imports fall (-0.7%) on the month. (The April trade deficit was revised up slightly from $50.1bn to $50.6bn). The improvement in the trade deficit, however, was driven by a decline in petroleum imports (and thus an improvement in the petroleum deficit) while the real ex-petroleum trade deficit actually widened from $40.3bn in April to $41.4bn in May. The trade report is a slight negative for our Q2 GDP growth tracking estimate which we lowered from 1.5% to 1.4%.
And, moments ago after the wholesale Inventories was released, Goldman came out with this:
Wholesale inventories rose in line with the consensus expectation in May (up 0.3%), but from a downward revised April level. As a result, we revised down our Q2 US GDP tracking estimate to +1.3% from +1.4%.
Luckily there aren't another 13 releases today or we may be in recession right now.
First thing this morning when discussing the upcoming festivities in Europe in the aftermath of Spain's decision to hike sales tax from 18% to 21%, while making sure it is the common people who get hurt in the upcoming bank nationalization in which sub notes and hybrid debt is impaired, largely held by retail investors as the FT showed yesterday, we said that "Spain promised to crush its middle class even more by impairing retail held sub debt and hybrids, while forcing them to pay more taxes, a move which will lead to some spectacular Syntagma Square riotcam moments." Three hours later and the riotcam is now live.
Wholesales inventories were revised lower for the previous month but met current expectations with a modest 0.3% rise. However, under the surface (as ever) things are not quite as muddle-through-like. Wholesale 'sales' plunged by their most since March 2009 with Lumber (but but what about the housing recovery) dropping the most MoM in durables and Farm Products dropping the most YoY among non-durables. This plunge in sales pushed the relatively stable Inventory-to-Sales indicator up to its highest in 19 months.
We believe that we are in the early stages of what will happen with LIBOR. As we wrote yesterday, we believe there are two distinct phases the pre-crisis phase which saw potential manipulation of small amounts in both directions, and the crisis phase where LIBOR was allegedly much lower than the rate at which banks would realistically lend to each other. Much of this is supported by the FSA case against Barclays. If lawsuits start, banks have a few hopes, including "The 'central bank' made me do it" but banks will have to do everything they can to prevent being sued by 3rd parties. If they cannot prevent that, this could get very ugly in a hurry for some banks.
While virtually every European risk indicator is now being gamed to underreport the true nature of the capital flow panic on the continent, one remains steadfast: Swiss nominal yields, which as we pointed out a month ago, have become the only true indicator of liquidity stress. And as noted this morning, Swiss 2 Year bond just hit a record nominal -0.37% (which coupled with record low yields in German yields explains everything about where money is sprinting to in Europe, and just how much "confidence" in the system is left). And while the SNB continues to suffer massive losses on its EURCHF peg, the reality is that it continues to offer a free put to all those who wish to move away from EUR exposure and into the relative safety of the CHF (the risk of cantonal disintegration is still relatively low). Which is why the only recourse authorities have in dealing with the now record flight to Swiss safety is brute force. Sure enough, as Reuters reports, clients of the two largest Swiss banks: Credit Suisse and UBS was raided in two independent, but likely linked, operations in Germany and France, respectively, in a show of force that moves beyond mere tax-evasion and has a goal of scaring anyone who still thinks of keeping their money in the relative safety of Geneva and Zurich bank vaults.
Anticipating another leg-down in commodities (and mining stocks) before sufficient stress emerges in markets to force a decisive policy response - which will create an attractive buying opportunity - UBS joins our ranks of the anti-reflexive NEW QE front-running 'small-crowd'. Laying out five clear signals that keep them cautious: Equity valuations remain well above the October 2011 lows; Positioning is short in base metals and less long in oil and gold – improving this contrarian signal; China’s policy stance is not sufficiently stimulative to trigger restocking, and we see structural declines in commodity intensity there; and, Europe and emerging markets are in the early stages of destocking, with no stocking due in the US; UBS believes that investors will buy gold and gold equities early this cycle - correctly suggesting that it is right to move just ahead of the broader investor community, and buy gold and gold equities now. Clearly, buying gold early into a downturn carries greater risks and will be volatile – consequently, they advise investors wishing to go long gold and gold equities to hold a short or underweight copper and copper equity position against it. Interestingly within industrial commodities, they also like being long oil and short copper on a 3-year view.
Food Price Spike Dead Ahead: US Cuts Corn Crop Forecast By 12% As 56% Of America Is Under Drought ConditionsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/11/2012 - 09:21
Who knew the next black swan would be deep fried? The biggest piece of imminent food inflation news over the past months, coupled with what is shaping up to be another record hot summer (for the best tracking of real-time electricity consumption primarily for cooling news we recommend the following PJM RT tracker of power load), has been the collapse in the corn harvest due to the worst drought since 1988 as 56% of America is in drought conditions. Today, the US just added some burning oil to the popcorn by cutting the corn-crop forecast by 12% to 13 billion bushels on expectations of a 13.5 billion harvest. Then again, who needs corn, when you can have cake?
Prepare to have your minds blown courtesy of what is easily the most astounding chart we have seen in a long, long time, prepared by the economists at the, drumroll, New York Fed, which finds that absent what the Fed calls "Pre-FOMC Announcement Drift", or the move in the S&P in the 24 hours preceding FOMC announcements, the S&P 500 would be at or below 600 points, compared to its current level over 1300. The reason for the divergence: the combined impact of cumulative returns of in the S&P on days before, of, and after FOMC announcements. But, but, fundamental, technical, coffee grinds, Finance 101, Oprah Winfrey, Jim Cramer and Econ 101 analysis (in declining order of relevance and increasing order of voodoo) all tell us this is im-po-ssible? Because if the Fed is right about the Fed induced drift, it is all about, you guessed it, easy money.