We have seen a number of leading indicators recently (for example, we were first to note the FedEx implications for GDP) that point to a rapidly rising probability of recession. Today, via Bloomberg Brief, is a look inside the Philly Fed state economic indexes. To be specific, we look at the six-month ahead outlook for each state. Only once in the last 30 years did 20 states possess a negative outlook and the overall economy avoid recession.
Today's initial claims print was the 5th week out of 6 in which expectations missed: instead of coming in at the consensus number of 375K, down from last week's 382K, the BLS reported a miss to expectations of 7K, resulting in a seasonally adjusted number of 382K, or what is now once again secular shift higher. But, wait big miss was actually good news: why? Because the ever data-massaging BLS was kind enough to revise last week's print upward (for the 86th week in a row) from 382K to 385K (just as we predicted last week) which in turn led to such farcical headlines as " U.S. weekly jobless claims drop slightly to 382,000" from the WSJ. And so bad news is now great headlines: Orwell would be proud. Here is an alternative and realistic headline: "Initial Claims Rise Post Next Week's Upward Revision."
Over the past week much has been made over a picture of what appears to be hundreds of Chinese fishing boats which subsequent media plot goalseeking "assured" was headed toward the Senkaku islands. Turns out this may have been merely wishful sensationalist thinking on behalf of the press. According to JIJI press, information that a large number of Chinese fishing boats are heading for the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture is false, the chief of a Japan Coast Guard office in the southern prefecture said Tuesday. "Hiroshi Majima, who heads the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Naha, told Okinawa Lieutenant Governor Yoshiyuki Uehara visiting the office that talk of the fishing season's start and the departures of Chinese boats from their ports may have been misunderstood. According to the coast guard headquarters, China's fishing season stops every year in June-September in the East China Sea, where the islands are located. This year, the ban was lifted on Sunday. According to Uehara, Majima told him said that there is no evidence that Chinese fishing boats are gathering near Okinawa. In their meeting, Uehara requested the coast guard ensure the safety of Okinawa fishermen who operate in waters around to the islands."
One of the classic short cons, three-card Mario is a new swindle that uses official and misleading statements and trickery to swindle victims out of large amounts of cash. It’s one of the oldest cons around, and dates back to “the shell game,” a similar scheme that was popular during the Middle Ages. The new version uses a Central Bank and a Ponzi Scheme that loans money for debt, substitutes debt for collateral and then returns cash back to the grifter as he pledges the collateral back to those that lent him the money. This new European con has eliminated the use of cards in its play. Investors are the ‘marks’ and governments are the perpetrators.
Curious why nearly 4 years ago to the day Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson told Ken Lewis to purchase Merrill Lynch "or else" (but to make sure everyone gets paid their bonuses bright and early with no cuts)? It certainly had to do with the stock price and preserving the wealth of the shareholders. It had little to do with making the company viable in the long run, unfortunately, as the just announced news of a massive tsunami of 16,000 imminent terminations at the company confirms. All BofA did then was to take on dead weight at gunpoint, which it now has to shed. It also shows that despite rumors to the contrary the US economy is not getting better, the US financial system is not getting stronger, faith in capital markets is not returning (based on future staffing needs at banks), US tax revenues by the highest earners will go down, and the closed loop that is a procyclical economic move will just get worse as there are fewer service providers providing financial services, in the process taking out less consumer debt to keep the GDP "growing." What will also happen by January 1, 2013 is that BofA will no longer be America's largest employer, with the total headcount of 260,000 at year end being the lowest since 2008, and smaller than JPM, Citi and Wells.
- Obama, Romney tiptoe around housing morass as they woo voters (Reuters) ... just as ZH expected
- Poll Finds Obama in Better Shape Than Any Nominee Since Clinton (Bloomberg)
- Romney on Offense, Says Obama Can’t Help Middle Class (Bloomberg)
- Fed’s Fisher Says U.S. Inflation Expectations Rising (Bloomberg)
- Citigroup Warns Irish Investors to Plan for Losses (Bloomberg)
- Central Banks Flex Muscles (WSJ)
- China says U.S. auto trade complaint driven by election race (Reuters)
- Brussels sidesteps China trade dispute (FT)
- How misstep over trading fractions wounded ICAP's EBS (Reuters)
- Ex-CME programmer pleads guilty to trade secret theft (Reuters)
- Income squeeze will persist, says BoE (FT)
- South African miners return to work, unrest rumbles on (Reuters)
As if depressing PMI data out of China overnight was not enough (it was certainly enough to send the Shanghai Composite tumbling 2.08% to 2024.8 and just off fresh 4 year lows), we then got Europe to join in the fray with a composite PMI print of 45.9, down from 46.3, and a miss to expectations of a modest rise to 46.6 (driven by a manufacturing PMI of 46.0 up from 45.1, and a Services PMI down from 47.2 to 46.0). The biggest surprise was the sheer collapse in French manufacturing data which tumbled from 46.0 to a 4 year low of 42.6 on expectations of a rise to 46.4, which sent the EURUSD firmly into sub 1.30 territory and not even several good paradoxical bond auctions from Spain (because a good auction here means no bailout, means those who bought the bonds will soon suffer big losses) have managed to dent the very poor overnight sentiment which now implies a European GDP contraction of -1% of more. Reality has also halted the global easing euphoria (the USDJPY is now 40 bps below where the BOJ announced the injection of another Y10 Trillion), and has everyone wondering, now that QEternity is priced in, what next?
Presented with little comment since our jaws just hit our chest - these stunning headlines from a PWC report:
*CHINA TOP 10 LISTED BANKS' OVERDUE LOANS REACH 489B YUAN END-1H
*CHINA OVERDUE LOANS RISE FROM 112.9B YUAN END-2011: PWC
*INCREASE IN CHINA OVERDUE LOANS SHOWS NPLS MAY RISE, PWC SAYS
*PWC CITES BANKS' REPORTS FOR OVERDUE LOAN DATA
Just two days ago we tweeted the rather stunning 'slogan' that a happy-smiley joy-joy bunch of Audi-China staff 'celebrated' at their dealership. The somewhat subtle translation of the banner: "We will kill every single Japanese person, even if it means deaths for our own; even poverty will not deter us from reclaiming the Diaoyu Islands" has now been addressed by Audi management:
- *AUDI CHINA JV SAYS ANTI-JAPAN BANNER INCIDENT AN ISOLATED CASE
- *AUDI CHINA JV ASKED DEALERSHIP TO REMOVE BANNER, LU SAYS'
- *AUDI CHINA JV URGES `REASONABLE' EXPRESSION OF PATRIOTISM
UPDATE: *SHANGHAI COMPOSITE INDEX FALLS 1%, APPROACHES 2009 LOW
September's HSBC China Flash PMI just printed at 47.8, a slight beat of the final August print at 47.6 but still below 50 - for the eleventh month in a row. With only one month of expansion according to this data since June of last year, it seems more reverse repos are ahead (since as we already discussed in detail here - they are caught between a rock and a hard place on easing as the economy 'supposedly' transitions not-so-softly). Market reaction to this potentially good-is-bad data print (i.e. not cold enough to warrant massive China stimulus) is USD strength, EUR weakness, and modest S&P futures selling pressure.
And so the great standoff continues. On one hand, the Chairman will literally do anything and everything to get the retail investor to break their 4 year boycott of stocks, and come rushing back to the artificial and fabricated safety of an endlessly rising market: after all he has gone so far as to implicitly guarantee that there will never be a -1% day in the market ever again: all natural market forces will be crushed in the pursuit of the great asset bubble-based "wealth effect." On the other hand, the retail investor, older, wiser, and most importantly poorer, observing inexplicable and unpunished daily flash crashes across the numerous 'highly frequently traded' asset classes, still recovering from a market in which everyone told him to buy only to see a 50% loss in months, with ever less disposable income, is no longer interested in said "wealth effect" proposition, or any other proposition premised on the artificial manipulation of the political construct once upon a time known as the market, no matter how many personal guarantees of perpetual QEasing the Chairsatan will hand out. The culmination: the week ended September 12 domestic equity mutual funds saw the 8th consecutive outflow from stocks, amounting to $2.8 billion, and 32nd outflow of 37 weekly readings in 2012. The brings the total cumulative outflow year to date to $92 billion. The same period in 2011 had a total outflow of $79 billion, even though the market now is not only higher than it was in 2011, but the highest it has been since 2007.
Human beings basically try to do two things at the same time; on the one hand we want to be able to look in the mirror and feel good about ourselves - ego motivation from honesty, and on the other hand we want to benefit from dishonesty. It would seem at first glance that we could only do one (honesty or dishonesty) but thanks to our 'flexible cognitive psychology' and our ability to 'rationalize our actions', we can in fact do both. Nowhere is this more clearly equivocated than in Bernanke's entirely disingenuous commentary and justification for QEternity last week. He is of course rationalizing his actions (via empirical studies or Woodford's paper), knowing full well the implications, but remaining an 'honest and wonderful' asset to society in his own mind. This outstanding clip from Dan Ariely on The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty will provide much food for thought about whether you are more honest than Bernanke, Draghi, or Juncker and at the same time what motivates their self-effacing dishonesty.
On the heels of last Thursday’s Fed announcement, there has been much commentary on the whys and wherefores of a new quantitative easing (the so-called QE3). Rather than re-hashing well-covered ground, I want to instead discuss the potential effects and unintended consequences of this policy and how it may impact the investment landscape going forward. Suffice it to say that the Fed had its reasons. QE3 evidences a belief in the so-called “wealth-effect” – the idea that one will spend more if he/she feels wealthier – and the Fed also believes it can contain any negative consequences. However, others would argue that it’s another shot across the bow of our foreign lenders that we are willing to engage full-out in a currency war as this policy clearly weakens the U.S. dollar. Because the Fed has embarked on a path with little historical precedent – where a central bank has signaled the intent to expand its balance sheet as much as it needs to – we are all now part of an experimental economy.
"A serious inflationary disaster will only be prevented if governments succeed in reducing their deficits and stop selling bonds" is how the infamous destroyer of Krugman, Pedro Schwartz, describes the dangerous 'tennis match' being played between The Fed and The ECB. In an excellent interview with GoldMoney's James Turk, the Spanish 'Austrian' economist talks about bank regulation, the creation of money out of thin air, and the beauty of a trult free market system. From fictional reserve lending to the fragility (and boom-bust cycles) of our financial system, the mild-mannered 'Keynesian-Krusher' concludes that "there has to be a change in social mentality - so that people realize that nothing is free, and the government has to shrink."