Very few know about the Federal Reserve's "other" phone number. You know, the one reserved for those in the innermost ring of power. Someone gifted me the number, and I found it offered up the most curious menu of choices:
Following misses to expectations in every single economic data point for the past week, not to mention today's Empire Index, Industrial Production, and Capacity Utilization we just got the latest June University of Michigan Consumer Confidence number which, lo and behold, printed at 74.1 on expectations of 77.5, and a plunge from May's 79.3. In brief, this was the biggest miss to expectations since February of 2006. If this latest economic datapoint abortion does not send the market soaring, nothing will.
Earlier in the week, UBS' Art Cashin noted that some traders were re-reading Bernanke’s speech of November 21, 2002 on countering inflation. Prior re-readings had given clues on things like QE1 and even Operation Twist. The primary theme of the speech was - what can the Fed do to fight deflation (and stimulate the economy) if the Fed Funds rate fell to zero (aah, those simple golden years). Cashin points out that most of the operations, however, tend to be means to make money available or easy. With nearly $2 trillion in excess free reserves that doesn’t seem to be the problem. Inducing spending is the problem. Of all the suggestions, the wider inflation tolerance may be the only one that may do that.
Perhaps all of this has gone on for so long, or perhaps because we keep hearing the cries of “Wolf” each week for the last several years, that the markets are impervious to any new cries for help. An odd kind of complacency seems to have set in where nothing matters too much and everything will just be fine. Yesterday’s equity market rally based upon the central banks providing liquidity is just what any serious observer would expect and yet the stock markets rallied as if this was something out of the ordinary which clearly demonstrates either the market’s lack of understanding of real world events or it represents the hype of some hedge fund that was tossed around in the media like it was a new product at Apple. In any event, don’t wake up on Monday morning and think that Greece will have left the Eurozone and returned to the Drachma. That is not how things will play out. In the final analysis it probably all comes down to what price the Germans are willing to pay for dominating Europe.
This just crossing the streams:
- ECB TO STOP PREPARATIONS FOR COLLATERAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
We have no idea what this means, but rumor is that the ECB finally looked at its "collateral" and found a picture of the Athens Ministry of Finance...
Did a BIS gold trader just spill coffee on his keyboard not once but twice, or did we just have another ye olde algo trick of stopping the hunts (get it?) out of all marginal players? We will never know. What we will know is that paper prices of physical objects are becoming increasingly more meaningless.
If yesterday's global intervention rumor was a feeler of market response to the next latest and greatest intervention then we may have big problems: the EURUSD is now unchanged, Spanish bond yields are now unchanged, stocks are doing their quad witching thing which means all stops will be taken out before the day is done, but most importantly the euphoria such an announcement would have created before is now completely gone (as per The Diminishing Returns Of Central Planning). What is actually worse, and how the G-20 rumor may have backfired, is that as we pointed out, suddenly there has been a significant shift in expectations: if Syriza does not have an outright win on Sunday then there will be no immediate central bank response, which was predicted to be "if needed". Remember: for this market, when all that matters is the next 10 minutes of trading, this is the only relevant metric. Which means that suddenly from a Risk On event, Syriza's loss has become Risk Off! Of course, the reality is that Sunday will almost certainly be a replay of the last election, where the parliament continues to be empty, and Greece continues to be "Belgium" - recall from May 3, "Previewing The First Of Many Greek Elections." In either case, as others have suggested holding on to positions over the weekend may not be the most prudent thing.
Plunging Empire Manufacturing Index Confirms Ongoing Economic Slide, Imminent Central Planner InterventionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/15/2012 - 08:38
Recall last month's soaring Empire Manufacturing Index which jumped far above all expectations, and was the last of the "baffle them with bullshit" series? Well no more need for baffling: we are in NEW QE mode. In June the Empire Manufacturing plunged from 17.09 to 2.29, on expectations of a 12.5 print: the lowest in 7 months. Confirming the crash in the economy, New Orders, Shipments, Unfilled Orders, Inventory, Prices Paid, Prices Received, Employees and Workweek, or all the subcomponents were lower in June than in May. Gold soars as the NEW QE becomes more and more obvious on the horizon, as there has now not been an economic indicator beat in weeks. So much for the 2012 recovery. Without the central banking CTRL-P'ing, the US, or any other country, continues to be in free-fall mode. Hopefully that can kill any debate about a "virtuous cycle" once and for all.
More than 80 institutions with collective assets under management of over $8 trillion attended the event and were polled regarding macroeconomic matters and their outlook for various asset classes. Gold is seen as one of the assets likely to outperform again in 2012 due to risks posed to the euro and longer term risks for the dollar. Those polled by UBS were also positive on emerging market debt. Both asset classes, gold and emerging market debt, were the top pick of 22.5% of the assembly – thereby accounting for 45% of the votes. On gold’s role as a reserve asset, the importance reserve managers attach to the yellow metal has slipped back to 2009 levels, with about 14% having the opinion that it will be the most important reserve currency in 25 years. This marks a decline from the past two years’ surveys wherein over 20% viewed gold to be the most important reserve currency.
The announcement by the UK Treasury and BoE to take co-ordinated steps to boost credit and with the central bank re-activating its emergency liquidity facility has resulted in a sharp move higher in UK fixed income futures. GBP swaps are now pricing in a cut of 25bps in the base rate by the end of this year and following on from Goldman Sachs, analysts at Barclays and BNP Paribas are now calling for an increase in QE next month. The new measures have seen the likes of Lloyds Banking Group (+4.3%) and RBS (+7.0%) outperform the more moderate gains observed in their European counterparts. Meanwhile in Europe the focus remains on the possibility of co-ordinated action from the major central banks. However, it would seem more realistic that any new measures will likely come after the Greek election results are known and once ministers have conducted their G20 meetings. Given that there is an EU level conference call this afternoon scheduled for 1500BST the likelihood of rumours seem high but as the wires have indicated already these conversations are purely based upon co-ordination ahead of the meeting which is usual practice. The yields in Spain and Italy have been a lot calmer so far with the 10yr in Spain at 6.88%, off the uncomfortable test of 7% seen yesterday.
While by now virtually everyone around the world is intimately familiar with the nuances of Greek electoral law, knows the names of Greek politicians better than of those at home, and is all too aware of the broader media propaganda that unless Greece does as the banks demand the world as we know it will end, one aspect of the Greek collapse into hell has gotten lost: the complete failure of the Greek healthcare system. As the following Reuters report shows, regardless of the outcome on Sunday, it just may be too late to preserve the future of Greek sickcare, and with that, of the entire population: "The country's state hospitals are cutting off vital drugs, limiting non-urgent operations and rationing even basic medical materials for exhausted doctors as a combination of economic crisis and political stalemate strangle health funding. "It's a matter of life and death for us," said Persefoni Mitta, head of the cancer patients' association, recounting the dozens of calls she gets a day from patients needing pricey, hard-to-find cancer drugs. "Why are they depriving us of life?"" They are depriving of you of life, Persefoni, because in old times, when a given country was enslaved, there was a specific aggressor that the people could revolt against. Now, when the slave-master is debt, and thus one's own desire to live beyond their means, it is far more difficult to look in the mirror and to revolt against what one sees. Which is why, one day at a time, the Greek civilization will continue to suffer the terminal consequences of infinite debt serfdom, until finally, after two thousand years, it no longer exists.
- Greece is Relevant: Central Banks Warn Greek-Led Euro Stress Threatens World (Bloomberg)
- Greece is very Relevant: World Economies Prepare for Panic After Greek Polls (Reuters)
- ECB's Draghi flags euro risks, spurs rate cut talk (Reuters)
- And as usual, beggars can be choosers... Hollande Urges Common Euro Debt, Greater ECB Role (Reuters)
- Wait and flee - Electoral uncertainty sends the economy into suspended animation (Economist)
- The EU Smiled While Spain’s Banks Cooked the Books (Bloomberg)
- Osborne’s £100bn Plan for UK Economy (FT)
- Two Cheers for Britain’s Bank Reform Plans: Martin Wolf (FT)
- BOJ Holds Policy Ahead of Greek Vote with Eye on Global Markets (Bloomberg)
- China Hits Back at U.S. Criticisms at WTO (Reuters)
Now that all the rage is now just the NEW QE, but global coordinated NEW QE, it would make sense to observe the impact the last three episodes of quantitative easing, QE1, QE2 and Twist, have had on the market. And more importantly, whether such impact is rising, dropping, or staying the same. Well, as the following chart from BofA shows, we may be lucky if there is any favorable impact on risk assets following the announcement of more easing, and incidentally perhaps global easing is what is necessary (if not sufficient) now that the devaluation of the US dollar has become an exercise in futility. Because it now appears that only an absolute currency devaluation would work, not a relative one. What is another way of saying this: a global devaluation of all currencies relative to some benchmark... say gold. Most importantly, the only question now is how long before the entire "global intervention rumor" is faded, and what happens when the market realizes that suddenly, Syriza not winning the Greek elections is the downside case as it would mean no coordinated central bank intervention. Great job central planners - you have just shot yourself in the foot once again.