For six years, the world has operated under a complete delusion that Central Banks somehow fixed the 2008 Crisis.
The question stands: how much longer will the Fed allow the ECB to export its recession to the US on the back of the soaring dollar, and how much longer will the market be deluded that "decoupling" is still possible despite a dramatic bout of weakness in recent US data. Look for the answer in today's BLS report, which - if the Fed is getting secound thoughts about its rate hike strategy in just 3 months - has to print well below 200,000 to send a very important message to the market about just how much weaker the US economy is than generally perceived. For now, however, the ECB is getting its way, and the question of just how much European QE is priced in, remains open, with peripheral bond yields dropping to new all time lows for yet another day, while the EURUSD has plunged to fresh 11 year lows, sliding below 1.094, and making every US corporation with European operations scream in terror. Looking at markets, US equities are just barely in the red, coiled to move either way when the seasonally-adjusted jobs data hits.
Once upon a time businesses borrowed long term money - if they borrowed at all - in order to fund plant, equipment and other long-lived productive assets. Today American businesses are borrowing like never before - to fund financial engineering maneuvers such as stock buybacks, M&A and LBOs, not the acquisition of productive assets that can actually fuel future output and productivity.
Let’s see. The Eccles Building has grown its balance sheet by 9X since the turn of the century, but real net investment in the business sector has plunged by 33%!
84% of JPMorgan’s 10-year long-term mutual fund AUM is ranked in the top two quartiles, while 70% and 81% of JPM US equity mutual funds have outperformed their benchmark on a 1- and 3-year timeframe, respectively according to an investor presentation. In last year’s presentation, the bank cited Morningstar and Lipper (who know a thing or two about calculating mutual fund returns) as sources. The only problem is that it later turned out that Morningstar and Lipper had no idea how JPM calculated the returns.
Should a tail event such a deflationary spiral or Grexit occur, limits on ECB asset purchases will put Mario Draghi at a disadvantage as other central banks race to the bottom. JP Morgan says this will force the ECB to cut interest rates for cash deposits to minus 3% while the dollar will appreciate by 20%, reaching parity with euro in 2015.
You wouldn't know it if you looked at the price of oil, but arguably the world's largest economy just unloaded a kitchen sink of fears, warnings, and downgrades on its economy; the most notable being:
*CHINA SETS 2015 GDP GROWTH TARGET AT ABOUT 7% (from 7.5% in 2014)
In a report to be delivered to the government tonight, Premier Li Keqiang warned China may face more economic difficulties in 2015 vs 2014 and downward economic pressure is still growing (despite Western 'analysts' proclaiming China fixed). The currency is weakening on the news and AsiaPac stocks are lower and as Chinese stocks open lower (despite hints at more easing), millions of newly minted "can't lose" Chinese investors begin to worry.
Pensioners are under attack. With yields depressed across asset classes, public pension funds in the U.S. are diving into risky investments in order to justify clinging to unrealistic investment rate assumptions. In Europe, low rates are causing corporations to adopt lower discount rates to determine the present value of their pension liabilities, dramatically increasing EU pension deficits. While in Greece, the government is robbing the public purse to make good on its commitments to the IMF.
Just in time for both total auto loans and total student debt outstanding to top the $1 trillion mark, we get a match made in FICO hell as the subprime lending unit of AIG Springleaf, has purchased OneMain, another subprime lender that’s been relegated to Citi’s Citi Holdings trash bin for years. The deal creates a subprime lending powerhouse with some $14 billion in possibly-not-toxic receivables.
Accommodative monetary policy, which is ostensibly supposed to stimulate aggregate demand thereby encouraging businesses to spend and hire, is now perversely causing people to work longer and preventing new employees from having access to a secure retirement.
To be sure, we’ve written quite a bit lately about the ECB’s upcoming plunge into the world of 13-figure debt monetization (or as we call it, Draghi’s Waterloo), and while we hate to beat a dead horse, the sheer lunacy of a bond buying program that is only constrained by the fact that there simply aren’t enough bonds to buy, cannot possibly be overstated. Here is everything you need to know about Q€ ahead of the ECB's Thursday meeting.
With little newsflow out of Europe, and just as little on deck out of the US (just NY ISM and auto sales later today), the main overnight events were out of Asia where first the RBA decided to leave rates unchanged but not before the announcement was leaked up to a minute early. In China, the rate-cut euphoria lasted just one day, and after a feeble 0.8% bounce on Monday, the SHCOMP was down 2.2% this morning over fears the PBOC is doing too little, too late to halt what is now perceived by many as a massive "tightening" capital flight out of China. Finally, Japan made the newsflow, after it JGBs continued to slide following a weak auction, fears that the BOJ is done easing after Abe advisor Etsuro Honda warned against overheating, and after the biggest jump in base pay in over a decade led some to think the BOJ may soon have to halt easing altogether, especially if real wages proceed to rise
One of Chancellor George Osborne’s senior advisers on economic policy has been captured on video smoking crack cocaine in a drugs den. Prof Douglas McWilliams, who last year estimated we would all be £165 a year better off by the election, is seen inhaling it through a glass tube at a flat in North London. Red-faced and slurring his speech, he later told the dealer he had “too much” and that he had spent the day on a binge. Two rocks of the deadly drug can clearly been seen on a table beside the dazed professor. The grainy footage, seen by the Sunday Mirror, will heap embarrassment on the Chancellor and raise serious questions about his choice of adviser.
The best performing asset overall in 2015? Well, just tell Putin "spasibo"...