As we end the month and quarter, we remind ourselves that a massive amount of the recent 'strength' in risk markets occurred on just two days - ECB and Fed statements. Reflecting on the post-euphoria 'sell-the-news' or BTFD meme, we look at how various asset classes and securities have performed post-QEternity. Two lessons are clear: Front-Run The Fed (every time) and Buy Precious Metals.
From the financial repression and encumbrance of the central banker to the wild speculators and their angry 'fast-money' flows, we continue to hang on every tick in Europe's bond markets (for both validation of a political leader's view or confirmation of his asininity). The sadder truth is that Europe's secondary bond trading market has shriveled. Spain's Treasury just released August's daily average Spanish government bond trading volumes and they have plunged over 40% YoY - now at levels (under EUR40bn per day) not seen since 1996 (pre-Euro-zone). It strikes us that once they lose the secondary market then the primary market will be very close behind (thanks to liquidity concerns among other things) - unless of course the ECB really does soak up all future issuance and hold-to-maturity.
There was a time when Goldman, which recently went full retard with its bull thesis, seeing only upside in everything from stocks (and a once in a lifetime opportunity to sell bonds... just like in March, and then back in the summer of last year, and so on), to EURUSD, to housing, just like it did in December 2010, only to be humiliated a few short months later, had its Q3 GDP forecast at 2.3%. In fact the latest Q3 annualized forecast of 2.3% economic growth as recently as September 11. How much has changed in two short weeks. Apparently, out of leftfield, so many things have gotten worse that a whopping 0.4% or 20% of the growth in the quarter has bee eliminated in under three weeks. Just out from Goldman: "While nominal personal spending and core PCE prices rose in line with expectations in August, real spending gains were modest and income grew less than expected. We reduced our Q3 tracking estimate for real GDP growth from 2% to 1.9%." And that's why Jan Hatzius gets paid the big bucks. Only problem is now that Goldman has gotten the QEternity it lobbied for so long and hard, where will the upside growth come from?
Yesterday, the Fed reported the first $20.1 billion in net, non-rolling purchases of MBS eligible under QE3 (consisting of FHLMC, FNMA, GNMA and GNMA2, most likely the bulk of them coming out of a certain office in Newport Beach which has decided to start locking in its monster profits for the year after getting QEternity spot on). End result: jobs created or saved zero. But at least we got the first recessionary PMI print, and an employment component that was the lowest since March 2010. When in doubt who can destroy the economy the best, just leave it to Benver.
A picture paints a thousand words but in the case of the world of college education (and its surrounding income, unemployment, debt burden, and pricing implications), we decided 19 charts was the simplest way to explain the path to debt servitude that an increasing share of the US population is taking - despite record delinquencies, falling real incomes for graduates, stagnant graduate employment, and rising college costs. As BofAML notes, the cost of higher education has continued to climb, fueled by debt and government aid. Over the past twenty years, tuition growth exceeded the average rate of inflation by nearly 3% annually, while both grant aid and Federal loans per full-time undergraduate exceeded by about 5% annually. This trend is not sustainable, in our view. The challenging labor market, which has left the youth population underemployed and underpaid, has put the spotlight on the burden of student debt. We expect a correction in the price of tuition and reduction in debt. There will likely be lasting effects on the economy from the high cost of education and large debt burden. Graduating during a recession leads to permanently lower earnings growth, making it that much harder to service the debt burden.
Cue Stagflationary Recession: Chicago PMI Huge Sub-50 Miss, Back To September 2009 Levels; Prices Paid SpikesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/28/2012 - 08:57
QE1, QE2, Operation Twist 1, Operation Twist 2, a Fed balance sheet that is now expected to be $5 trillion in 2 years, and all we get is a lousy manufacturing economy that according to the Chicago PMI just dipped into contraction, or for all intents and purposes, recession, printing its first sub-50 print, 49.7 specifically, on expectations of a 52.8, and down from 53. This was the lowest since September 2009 and the biggest miss in 4 months. Specifically, the employment index came at a two and a half year low, New Orders, Backlogs and Deliveries had their 3 month moving averages at the lowest since Mid 2009, and Capital Equipment printed at a 17 month low. But not all hope is lost: at least prices paid soared for the third consecutive month to 63.2 from 57. Cue not just recession, but stagflationary recession. It also means that both the Manufacturing ISM and Q3 GDP will be a total disaster. Time to start pricing in QE X to be followed 24 hours later by QE X+1. The central bank cartel is starting to lose
It appears banker popularity is low to quite low not only in the US but virtually everywhere. According to Lepizig-Fernsehen, a toxin alert has been issued at a Deutsche Bank branch in Schkeuditz, a suburb town of Leipzig, where 40 people have been "injured" after inhaling a white powdery substance delivered hours before, and which spread via the building's air conditioning system.
Iran is not blameless, and continues to provoke Israel through its support for Hamas and Hezbollah and through eliminationist rhetoric. But given the level of provocation from the Israeli and American side, it is astonishing that Iran remains free of nuclear weapons. Yet it is a fact that Iran is not armed with nuclear weapons, and it remains a fact that Iran has not attacked nor occupied any foreign lands since World War 2. Iran is not an expansionistic country. As neocon provocateur Patrick Clawson essentially admitted in advocating for a false flag attack to get America to war, Iran is not likely to attack either the United States or Israel. So when it comes to drawing red lines, we in the West would do well to draw a red line around our behaviour — because right now, we in the West are the ones who are stirring up trouble by threatening to strike first.
We, just like everyone else, have grown quite tired of all phrases containing some variant of "Pain in Spain." Which is why instead we are focusing on its Misery. As in Misery Index, defined as the combination of inflation and unemployment. Following today's announcement of a surge in Spanish inflation which soared from 2.7% to 3.5%, trouncing expectations of a modest rise to 2.8%, it is clear to see that the Misery in Spain has never been higher.
There were no surprises in the August Personal Income and Spending numbers, which came at 0.1% and 0.5%, respectively, on expectations of a 0.2% and 0.5% rise. Summarized: less income, more spending. This however, did not make the consumer income statement data any better: the bottom line is that adjusted for inflation, Real Disposable Income slid 0.3% in August, after a tiny 0.1% increase in July, the first such decline since November 2011, and as Bloomberg's Joseph Brusuelas says this is "another rough report for the consumer which doesn’t bode well for household spending going forward." Which means Bernanke knew precisely what he was doing when he launched QE3, which all advocated of QE3 will now say was fully justified. There is one problem with that logic however: for QE3 to be justified, it would mean QE1 and 2 were. Well, last we checked the US is still in a major depression, and neither QE1, 2, nor Twist 1 or 2 have done anything to prevent today's ugly data. Surely, this time it will be different. Finally, and as a result of the ongoing contraction in income, as expected the savings rate dropped from 4.1% to 3.7%: the lowest since May.
The US takes... and China makes. With the Western world doing all it can to cripple the Iranian regime with embargo after embargo, desperate to provoke the country into an offensive move that would be promptly retaliated as a move of "liberation", Iran, which in a few short months has achieved just what all the Western central banks have been desperate to do and see its currency collapse to record lows, continues to find eager allies in the unlikeliest of places. Namely China, which today delivered the first of 12 crudesupertankers to Iran " giving Tehran extra capacity to transport its oil to Asia as it struggles against Western sanctions, but it is unclear if the ship has the permits necessary to call at global ports." What is most amusing is the glaring override of the western isolation of Iran by China, which together with India and Russia, have now become critical trading and strategic partners of Iran, a consideration which any offensive moves by Israel or the US will most likely need to factor in.
Europe is becoming quite strange. The World is becoming quite strange. A politician gets up and speaks and says nothing, no one listens to what he said, then he is roundly congratulated for his bold words that were heard by no one and then everyone disagrees with what they think he might have said. The Continent seems to be in a dream-state where the worse it gets; the better it is because the ECB will be drawn in and provide liquidity like the ever-after will provide Redemption. I am not sure America is any better actually. In the United States we admit we are printing money while in Europe they “print and deny” but the outcome is about the same. Economic and fiscal reality is a thing of the past as the world’s Central Banks will provide manna, sustenance and well-being.
The "mañana" approach to fiscal management, that Spain is known for, presented what is generally perceived as overly optimistic growth forecasts for 2013 and lacked details on structural reform resulted in another risk off session. As a result, Spanish stocks continued to underperform (IBEX seen lower by over 5% on the week), with 10y bond yield spread wider by around 12bps as market participants adjusted to higher risk premia. The state is due to sell 2s and 5s next week, which may also have contributed to higher yields. As a reminder, Moody’s review on Spain is set to end today, however there is a chance that the ratings agency may extend the review for another couple of months or wait until the stress test results are published to make an announcement. In other news, according to sources, Greece could return to its European partners for a Spanish-style rescue of its banking sector, as the country is looking to ease the burden via another writedown of its debts or a strong recapitalisation of its banks (no official response as yet). Going forward, the second half of the session sees the release of the latest PCE data, as well as the Chicago PMI report for the month of September.
Gold reached highs in euros and Swiss francs yesterday, in London trading it hit EUR 1,379.60/oz compared to EUR 1,375/oz last September. In Swiss Francs gold traded at CHF 1,666/oz. Europeans have been viewing scenes of violence and riots from protestors in Madrid and Athens over the past few days. Barclays Plc. announced yesterday it was opening its own London vault to store gold and other precious metals due to demand from their clients. Investment banks have readjusted price targets upward in the past few days with some calling for gold at $2,000 and higher in the next few months. This signals that the recent rally of the euro against the dollar was largely due to the poor US monetary and fiscal situation and the greenback’s weakness and not due to any great confidence in the single currency per se.