The main event of the past 48 hours: the Chinese "Schrodinger" PMI, which came much weaker or stronger, depending on whether one uses the HSBC or official data (which always has a seasonal jump from February into March) has been forgotten. Any bullish sentiment from a 'hard landing-refuting' PMI (which incidentally means less chance of easing), was erased following a very weak Japanese Tankan sentiment report, which saw exporters fret about a return to Yen strength. Naturally, the market response was to immediately shift hopes and dreams of more easing to the BOJ, if the PBOC is for the time being off the hook. Alas, since the BOJ's actions have traditionally had much less impact on global markets, stocks are not happy. This was followed by a bevy of Eurozone data, where unemployment rose to 10.8% from 10.7%. And while this deterioration was expected, the slide in French PMI was not, dropping from 47.6 to 46.7, on expectations of an unchanged print. The modest bounce in German PMI and especially in the UK from 51.5 to 52.7, where QE is raging, were not enough to offset fears that it is now "France's turn" and that global PMIs are once again showing that the recent $2 trillion in global liquidity equivalent injections have already peaked, in line with expectations: after all the half life of central planning interventions is getting progressively shorter.
The week ahead will offer significant inputs to our views. ISM and payrolls will likely set the market tone for the next few weeks. Despite the softer signals from regional surveys, Goldman expects the ISM to improve at the margin relative to last month’s print. In contrast, it expects payrolls to grow by 175k, down from last month’s 227k jobs gain. FOMC minutes will likely show that Fed officials had a discussion on further easing but are unlikely to offer strong hints about the likelihood and possible timing of a third round of Quantitative Easing.
The United States of America (and the rest of the world for that matter) has not fundamentally grown much at all over the last 40 years. We have instead replaced fundamental growth with the illusion of growth brought on by constantly increasing the monetary supply, aka, inflation. But like any good Ponzi scheme, even this one has a limit and investors briefly approached it in 2008. When it looked like our global banking system was going to collapse, investors started dumping everything in site, essentially a de facto rejection of dollar based assets. Alas, this terrible 'fiat' system is finally coming to its' inevitable end. And good riddance at that. The death of fiat money will be the best thing to happen to human freedom and liberty in over 100 years. However, you must realize that the deflation associated with the collapse of the dollar-based fiat monetary system will wipe out decades worth of false asset price growth in a very short time. Think days or months.
What can one say but "wow"... assuming one isn't chewing on some cheap, high calorie junk food at the moment of course.
Still confused about the fiat system praised last week so highly by the Chairman, to students from a university named for a person who would do away with the Fed in a heartbeat? The following 3:30 mintue video will explain everything.
A few words on this IMO must watch lecture - Niall Ferguson: Empires on the Edge of Chaos While Fergie is brilliant in his historical analysis, he gets a few niggling points wrong - Which I suspect is in part from having an Anglocentric viewpoint, which leads one to ignore some fairly hushed up (by the MSM) points of the good 'ol US of A, and in part from his rather British nature of believing in above all else, order, honoring of contracts, rule of law, and other quaint genteel notions of civil society.
That the BLS perpetually distorts and manipulates data is no secret and has been reported previously both here and elsewhere numerous times. That the BLS also has a habit of leaking critical market moving data to various entities is also well known. However, we had yet to see just what the BLS is capable of when it comes to fudging and outright slaughtering economic data in a presidential election year. The result is nothing short of a 3 sigma stunner.
Overnight, the NYT's Nicholas Kristof penned an article which exposes Goldman, already deeply embroiled in muppetgate damage control, as being a 16% indirect owner in Backpage, an "emporium for girls and women - some under age or forced into prostitution... which has 70 percent of the market for prostitution ads, according to AIM Group, a trade organization." " Yet some may be surprised to learn that this is not the firm's only expansion into the world of monetized prostitution. As the chart below shows, as of Q4, 2011, the firm also happens to be the top ten owner of Adult Friend Finder (Nasdaq: FFN), a company which recently went public, and which is nothing more than a porn portal for women, who can sell their "assets" to the highest bidder.
Back in February we were quite amused by conflicting internal and external reports of manufacturing growth in China, which according to the HSBC Markit Manufacturing PMI index had contracted for a 4th consecutive month even as the official Chinese PMI data showed 3 consecutive expansions. It just happened again, only this time the spread between the two indices has jumped to the second highest ever, with the official PMI index surging to 53.1, an expansionary number, an eleven month high while according to HSBC it slid to 48.3, indicative of contraction, and paradoxically indicating that in "the first quarter as a whole, the index averaged its lowest reading since Q1 2009." In other words, the Schrödinger paradox - where the economy was doing better and worse at the same time - which was experienced for the past three months in the US (and is now finished with the economy rolling over), has shifted to Shanghai, where it is now the PBOC's turn to baffle all with bullshit. Why? One simple reason: despite what everyone believes, China still has residual and quite strong pockets of inflation. So while the world may be expecting an RRR, or even interest rate, cut any second now (just as China surprised everyone literally house before the November the global FX swap line expansion by the Fed in November 2011), the PBOC is just not sure it can afford the spike in inflation, or even perception thereof.
By forcing private firms and individuals into spending money on things they don’t believe they need, government can create demand, which will lead to jobs via the magic of Keynesian multipliers. Central planners know better than individuals and businesses. That is because they tend to be better educated, having attended the best schools and universities. Central planners tend to think about the bigger economic picture, while businessmen and individuals tend to have small parochial horizons. They are simply not qualified to know how to spend their money. The biggest problem with “free” markets is the stupidity of the common people. How can they possibly know what they want, or what they want to achieve when they have not attended prestigious universities like Oxford, Harvard, or Yale? Without help from central planners working with fact-based information derived from simulations, mathematical models, and empirical studies the common people will never be able to make informed economic choices. Thanks to the genius of central planning for the common good — as well as the hard work and self-sacrifice of central planners — the common people are liberated from making difficult economic decisions.
Wonder why the premise of a Gross Domestic Product is bunk? Wonder why politicians care first, foremost and only about bailing out banks, with little thought put to actually saving that core driver which according to economic canon is responsible for 70% of GDP? Wonder why the status quo is more threatened by a gold, or any kind of standard, that limits the potential of infinite dilution of nominal concepts? The Privateer's Bill Buckler expains, in three short paragraphs, the great lies that are Elastic Economics and Elastic Money, and why everything else is noise.
It appears that these days a EUR1 trillion hot liquidity injection (such as that from the ECB's LTRO 1+2) will buy you about 3 months of breathing room. Then the ostriches have no choice but to pull their head out of the sand, especially in Europe, where after three months of spread tightening, and hence the belief that "all is fixed", things are starting to turn ugly again: sovereign government spreads are beginning to widen, Europe is demanding more money from the IMF (i.e. America, even as the BRIC countries are starting to consider a world without the USD as a reserve currency, and are now forming their own bank) to boost its firewall, strikes are promptly converting to riots, Italian bank stocks are being halted due to rapid moves lower, the LTRO stigma trade is at 2012 wides, in short everything we grew to know and love in Q3 and Q4 of 2011. Ironically, having papered over the symptoms courtesy of fresh new money, the underlying causes were never addressed, and only got worse as the deteriorating European economic data suggests. What is scary, as UBS shows, is that this is just the delayed carryover from 2011! Just like the US which had the benefit of abnormally warm weather to mask a "bounce" in the economy which was never structural, so Europe had a relatively quiet quarter in terms of newsflow. Things are about to change: read the following for why the eye of the hurricane is about to pass over Europe and why this time around there is $1.3 trillion less in firepower to delay the onset of reality.