Minutes ago French socialist president Hollande once again climbed on top of Cloud Nine, fully hopeful that Draghi's bluff would be enough:
- HOLLANDE CITES `STRONG WORDS' BY ECB'S DRAGHI ON EURO
- HOLLANDE SAYS ALL WILL BE DONE TO `DEFEND, PRESERVE' EURO
This led to a brief spike in the EURUSD until moments later, CNBC's Steve Liesman, by way of the Bundesbank, just converted Cloud Nine into Cloud Nein, which in turn was promptly pulled from under Hollande:
- BUNDESBANK TELLS LIESMAN MONETARY POLICY SHOULD FOCUS SOLELY ON PRICE STABILITY, STATES NEED FISCAL INTERVENTION
This means the Bundesbank does not give its blessing to SMP reactivation, and does not all "all" to be done to defend the Euroe.
Confirming that the economy continues to be on life support and that the consumer has been actively withdrawing from providing that key lifeblood so needed to regain the "virtuous circle" [RIP: XXXX-2009] is the just released revised personal consumer data, which showed even further retrenchment, as personal spending came unchanged in June on expectations of a modest 0.1% increase, while income rose 0.5% on expectations of a 0.4% increase (among other things due to "Contributions for government social insurance -- a subtraction in calculating personal income -- increased $3.5 billion in June, compared with an increase of $0.8 billion in May."). End result: the Personal Savings Rate (revised) rose from 3.6% in April, to 4.0% in May, to 4.4%, in June: the highest it has been since August 2011, just before the economy as manifested by the Fed's favorite metric, the Russell imploded. All those expecting the consumer to step up and pick up the pieces will have to defer hope and prayer for one more month. Luckily, for everything else there is the Fed's Taxpayercard.
The financial press is far behind in what the public would like or needs as evidenced by the outflow of money from equities and equity funds and into bonds and bond funds. The financial TV press is still fixated on stocks, addressing day traders that are a much smaller group of people than in times past and many shows treat investments as if they were some kind of casino enterprise. In other words, there is a lot of coverage that is directed towards speculators and not nearly enough directed toward investors. The bond markets are multiples of the size of the equity markets and coverage here is close to nil as retail and institutions alike concentrate much more on investing in bonds rather than putting their core money in equities. There is an old saying on Wall Street that to be successful one must “follow the money” and it is quite statistically evident that the money has flowed into fixed-income investments and that the financial press has not followed it. The investment world has changed and we encourage the media to grasp it and to change as a result.
While we are not certain how many times we have used the above headline in the past we know it is not the first time. Nor the fifth. Yet here we are again, reporting that Greece is out of money again. "Near-bankrupt Greece is fast running out of cash while it waits for its next installment of aid from international lenders, a deputy finance minister said on Tuesday, sounding the alarm on the country's precarious financial position. Greece's European partners have repeatedly promised the country will be funded through August, when it must repay a 3.2 billion euro bond, but the details of the funding have yet to be disclosed. In the absence of that money, Greece would run out of funds to pay everyday public expenses ranging from police and other public service wages to pensions and social benefits. "Cash reserves are almost zero. It is risky to say until when (they will last) as it always depends on the budget execution, revenues and expenditure," Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras told state NET television" In other words just like the US yesterday, Greece has also overestimated its revenues and underestimated its expenditures; also Greece in August is what the US itself will be in about 3-4 months, when the debt ceiling is hit. Luckily, the political environment in D.C. is open and cordial, and a prompt resolution to both the debt ceiling issue and the fiscal cliff, especially as they all coincide just in time for the presidential election is guaranteed.
European equities are trading in flat-to-positive territory going into the North American crossover with the FTSE-100 the primary laggard, being driven lower by individual earnings releases. Oil supermajor BP released a disappointing set of Q2 earnings, reporting a net loss of USD 1.39bln, pressing the stock lower by 4.25% at the midpoint of the European trading day. Data releases from Europe today have picked up in volume, but come alongside expectations, proving unreactive across the asset classes, as German unemployment changes matches estimates at a reading of +7K for July. The topic of a banking licence for the ESM has arisen once more, as German politicians have begun voicing their concerns on the issue, with a German senior lawmaker commenting that he cannot see an ESM banking licence becoming a reality. However, this appears to be another reiteration of the German political stance, and therefore not a particular shock to markets. With today the last trading day in the month, larger than average month-end extensions have proved supportive in the longer-end of the curve today, with notably large extensions in Germany, France and the Netherlands.
Want to buy stocks on anything than a greater fool theory, or hope and prayer that someone with "other people's money" will bail you out of a losing position when the market goes bidless? That may change after reading the latest monthly letter from Pimco's Bill Gross whose crusade against risk hits a crescendo. Yes, he is talking his book (and talking down his equity asset allocation), but his reasons are all too valid: "The cult of equity is dying. Like a once bright green aspen turning to subtle shades of yellow then red in the Colorado fall, investors’ impressions of “stocks for the long run” or any run have mellowed as well. I “tweeted” last month that the souring attitude might be a generational thing: “Boomers can’t take risk. Gen X and Y believe in Facebook but not its stock. Gen Z has no money.”.... So what is a cult chasing figure supposed to do? Well, the cult of equities may be over. But the cult of reflating inflation is just beginning: "The primary magic potion that policymakers have always applied in such a predicament is to inflate their way out of the corner. The easiest way to produce 7–8% yields for bonds over the next 30 years is to inflate them as quickly as possible to 7–8%! Woe to the holder of long-term bonds in the process!... Unfair though it may be, an investor should continue to expect an attempted inflationary solution in almost all developed economies over the next few years and even decades. Financial repression, QEs of all sorts and sizes, and even negative nominal interest rates now experienced in Switzerland and five other Euroland countries may dominate the timescape. The cult of equity may be dying, but the cult of inflation may only have just begun."
- Hilsenrath: Heat Rises on Central Banks (WSJ)
- Some at Fed Are Urging Pre-Emptive Stimulus (NYT)
- Obama Warns of Headwinds in Europe; Urges European Leaders to Take Decisive Action on Euro (WSJ) - also needs reelection
- ECB thinks the unthinkable, action likely weeks away (Reuters)
- Games Turn London Into ‘Ghost Town.’ (FT)
- Greek Leaders Seek to Defer Austerity Cuts (FT)
- Hong Kong Builders Unload Properties to Raise Cash for Land Rush (Bloomberg)
- North India Crippled by Power Cuts (FT)
- Euro-Area Unemployment Rate Reaches Record 11.2% on Crisis (Bloomberg)
- Italy's Monti sees hope of end to euro crisis (Reuters)
Two weeks ago we touched upon the possibility that the US climatic deep fried black swan could soon stretch to India where the Monsoon season was 22% below normal conditions for this time of year. Today India is the locus of another flightless bird sighting following an epic powergrid meltdown which left half of its 1.2 billion people without power on Tuesday "as the grids covering a dozen states broke down, the second major blackout in as many days and an embarrassment for the government as it struggles to revive economic growth... More than a dozen states with a total population of 670 million people were without power, with the lights out even at major hospitals in Kolkata." Indicatively this is the same as every man, woman and child in America having no electricity. Twice over."Stretching from Assam, near China, to the Himalayas and the deserts of Rajasthan, the power cut was the worst to hit India in more than a decade. Trains were stranded in Kolkata and Delhi and thousands of people poured out of the sweltering capital's modern metro system when it ground to a halt at lunchtime. Office buildings switched to diesel generators and traffic jammed the roads." Hopefully, two events in a row don't confirm a trend. Although if indeed systemic, and if suddenly the Indian power infrastructure is unable to handle the local drought-related conditions, thus serving as a natural cap on economic expansion, all bets may be off as to the unlimited upside potential capacity of the BRICs.
Previously we presented an expose on various Geneva-based hedge funds traders, all of whom were implicated in Libor manipulation in their current or prior positions, which promptly resulted in the halting of trading privileges of one of the named individuals. Tonight it is time to back away from the buyside and to refocus on the banking sector, in the process jumping a few hundred kilometers to the northeast and that other Swiss banking capital, Zurich, where we get to do a quick run through several UBS Libor traders. Pardon, make that ex-traders. And make that "short-term interest rate" traders which naturally means OIS, IRS, FRA, Money Markets and, sometimes Euribor. In other words, all the other various IR derivatives which will blow up next as the Libor inquiry gets deeper and deeper into the Swiss rabbit hole. But before the global media juggernaut gets there, in about 6-8 weeks, we will do a quick roster of several voluntarily "retired" UBS traders, all of whom are now "looking for new challenges" and a rather amusing finding.
Our earlier discussion of the rapid slowdown in Asia trade volumes and the anecdotal evidence of growthiness issues across many industries brings up the seemingly dichotomous relationship between top-down 'data' such as GDP or PMI and bottom-up sector-level activity. As BofAML points out, there has been a significant improvement in data collection in this activity data which enables 'outsiders' to cross-check macro data and potentially obtain leading information. As markets have become skeptical of China's macro data, so the effort to search for alternative measures such as power output, container throughput, and rail transport seems worthwhile. Though not perfect by any means, the higher frequency data mapping flowchart below and a comprehension of the upstream vs downstream activity flows seems to go a long way towards building a credible view on the real state of the Chinese economy - for better or for worse.
Lately various media outlets have been swamped with stories and allegations of precious metal manipulation ranging from the arcane, to the bizarre to the outright ridiculous. At issue is not that these claims of price fraud are unfounded - they very well may be completely true - but without a notarized facsimile of an actual trade ticket signed by Brian Sack, or his replacement Simon Potter, or any of the BIS traders confirming they are indeed selling gold on behalf of the Fed, BOE, ECB, SNB or BOJ simply to keep the price of the metal down, what such constant factless accusations (and no, sorry, a chart showing that the price of gold may go up or go down sharply indicates merely that and nothing about the underlying factors for such a move) do is to habituate the broader public to the real issues surrounding precious metal, and other asset class, manipulation. So instead of searching for circumstantial evidence which one can easily find everywhere, we decided to go straight to the source. To do that we go back to a post we wrote back in September of 2009, based on an internal previously confidential Fed document, which conveniently enough explains everything vis-a-vis gold manipulation and leaves nothing to speculation or misinterpretation. Zero Hedge presents the smoking gun that may provide responses to all the various open questions regarding the Fed's Modus Operandi in the gold arena which answer the core question - motive - courtesy of a declassified memorandum, written by none other than the then Fed Chairman, and addressed to the president of the United States.
As markets continue to yo-yo and commentators deliver mixed forecasts, investors are faced with some tough decisions and have a number of important questions that need answering. On a daily basis we are asked what’s happening with oil prices alongside questions on China’s slowdown, why global trade will collapse if Romney wins, why investors should get out of stocks, why the Eurozone is doomed, and why we need to get rid of fractional reserve lending. Answering these and more, Mike Shedlock's in-depth interview concludes: "The gold standard did one thing for sure. It limited trade imbalances. Once Nixon took the United States off the gold standard, the U.S. trade deficit soared (along with the exportation of manufacturing jobs). To fix the problems of the U.S. losing jobs to China, to South Korea, to India, and other places, we need to put a gold standard back in place, not enact tariffs."