The media's ecstatic read through of today's Nonfarm payroll beat can barely end: after all, a print of 236k on expectations of 165K, why that has to be great. Well, it is. Until one looks to the number from February 2012, which happens to be 271,000. And even the Keynesian will agree that February follows January, which in 2013 was a downward revised 119K. January 2012? 311,000. In other words, the first two months of 2012 saw a 582,000 increase in non-farm payrolls. In 2013: 355,000. But something else happened between February 29, 2012 and February 28, 2013... Oh yes, the US government issued some $1,198,397,883,967.30 in debt. Oh, and the Fed monetized about half of this amount, and virtually all of the Treasurys issued to the right of the ZIRP period (i.e., risky debt). To summarize: $1.2 trillion in debt buys the US.... 61% of the jobs created a year ago.
The same pattern we have seen every day for the past week is back - slow overnight levitation as bad news piles on more bad news. What bad news? First as noted earlier, a collapse in Chinese imports and a surge in exports, which as SocGen explained is a harbinger of economic weakness in the months to follow, leading to yet another negative close for the Shanghai Composite. Then we got the UK January construction data which plunged by 7.9% according to ONS data. Then the Bank of Italy disclosed that small business lending was down 2.8% in January. We also got a negative Austrian Q4 GDP print. We also got Spanish industrial output plunging 5% in January (but "much better" than the downward revised -7.1% collapse in December). Capping the morning session was German Industrial Production which not unexpectedly missed expectations of a 0.4% increase, printing at 0.0%, although somewhat better than the horrifying Factory Orders print would have implied. Finally, the ECB announced that a total of EUR4.2 billion in LTRO 1+2 will be repaid in the coming week by 8 and 27 counterparties, about half of the expected, and throwing a monkey wrench in Draghi's narrative that banks are repaying LTRO because they feel much stronger. Yet none of this matters for two reasons: i) the Japanese Yen is back in its role as a carry funding currency, and was last trading at 95.77, the highest in four years, and with Jen shorts now used to fund USD purchases, the levitation in the stock futures was directly in line with the overnight rout in the Yen; and ii) the buying spree in Spanish bonds, with the 10 Year sliding overnight to just 4.82%, the lowest since 2010.
Futures Ignore 13 Year High In French Unemployment, Tumble In German Factor Orders; Rise On Spanish AuctionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/07/2013 07:55 -0400
In today's overnight trading, it was all about Europe (and will be with today's BOE and ECB announcements), where things continue as they have for the past six months: when it is a problem that can be "solved" by throwing bucketloads of money, and/or guaranteeing all risk, things appear to be better, such as today's EUR5.03 billion Spanish bond auction (the 0.03 billion part being quite critical as otherwise how will the authorities indicate the pent up demand by the Spanish retirement fund and various other insolvent ECB-backstopped Spanish banks for Spanish debt). And while events that can be "fixed" with massive liquidity injections are doing better, those other events which rely on reality, and the transfer of liquidity into the real economy, are just getting worse and worse. Sure enough, today we also learned that French unemployment rate just hit a 13 year high. But it wasn't only the French economy that continued to slide into recession: Germany wasn't immune either following "surprising" news that German January Factory Orders tumbled -1.9% M/M on expectations of a 0.6% rise, down from a revised 1.1% in December. The great equalization in Europe continues, as the PIIGS, kept still on artificial life support do everything in their power to drag down the core.
That is how much money the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States is creating as you wake, work or sleep. That is $85 billion a month and the stuff must go somewhere. It pours out like sugar upon the markets, each market, every market and it is no wonder that the American stock markets are hitting new highs. The spice must flow. I have been asked numerous times why the Fed’s balance sheet can’t be thirty trillion dollars and so the game continues. The answer is that it can be but, and a very big but, is that the debt of the United States would also be ten times the size it is now and it would have to be serviced by an economy that only has so many resources as the debt to GDP ratio of the country would be out of sight. The catch here is the amount of debt that would be created along with the creation of money and that is where the game halts or reverses the course. It would no longer be, and we are close to it now in my opinion, that the Fed is “the lender of last resort” but the only important lender in town.
Throughout history, bankrupt governments in decline almost ALWAYS fall back on a time-tested playbook. This includes imposing controls on everything - wage and price controls, trade controls, capital controls, border controls, people controls. Everything. And this idea goes back to the dawn of human civilization. From Mesopotamia to Rome and from France to Argentina, these policies have been a complete disaster for the country. But as the rest of the world looks on, people in ‘rich’ countries foolishly believe that ‘it can’t happen here.’ So, again, if you think that gold criminalization, price controls, and IRA/pension confiscation could never happen where you live, think again. This is wishful, ignorant, dangerous thinking. It can happen. It is already happening.
The budget for "rat fees" comes to $125m.
If Friday and yesterday it was Europe's reporting of ugly and below expectation economic data that pushed US stock futures ultimately higher, today it will be Europe's modest economic data beats that will send futures, where else, higher, and result in the Dow Jones breaking its nominal all time highs at the open or shortly thereafter. Following the Chinese economic update in its State of the Union address, which as we reported earlier, saw China set more moderate growth targets for itself resulting in the SHCOMP nearly wiping out Monday's losses, it was Europe's turn to shine which it did following the report of various Service PMI, which unlike last week's horrible manufacturing PMI data, were better than expected with the natural exception of Spain which printed at 44.7, well below the January 47.0, the first drop since September driven by the sharpest job losses since March of 2009, and Italy which dropped from 43.9 to 43.6, same as expected. The core countries' Services PMI beat: France coming at 43.7, on expectation of an unchanged print from last month's 42.7, and Germany printing at 54.7 vs also an expectation of an unchanged 54.1. Not very surprisingly, however, it was not the EURUSD which benefited the most from this data, which has lost nearly 50 pips from its overnight highs following the better economic news, but the various equity futures which have one centrally-planned goal: to take out all time DJIA highs or else, and unless something changes in the next three hours, precisely this will happen.
While Stocks Soar Towards New Highs, Sophisticated Investors Are Already Prepping for the Next, Bigger CollapseSubmitted by Phoenix Capital Research on 03/04/2013 11:10 -0400
While the mainstream financial media continues to trumpet the wonders of stocks closing in on all-time highs, larger, more sophisticated players are preparing for a financial meltdown in a much larger market: bonds.
Earlier we reviewed the overnight plunge in China stocks, especially those related to the real-estate market in the aftermath of the latest move by the State Council to be far more hawkish than expected, in its effort to curb property inflation. The economic and market weakness that resulted has followed through to overnight US and European futures, even as peripheral bonds are trading roughly unchanged, surprising many who thought this weekend's Beppe Grillo statement on the future of Italian debt and presence in the Eurozone would be market moving: it wasn't as Grillo said nothing that he had not already made quite clear. In other, more recent economic news, UK construction PMI imploded to recession levels, plunging to 46.8 from 49.0, far below expectations and the lowest print since October 2009, setting the stage for much more Goldman-led reflation by the BOE. Also negative was the drop in the Eurozone Sentix Investor Confidence index which tumbled to -10.6 from -3.9 on expectations of -4.3, sending the EURUSD deep into 1.29 territory. It appears the Sentix excludes the soaring German confidence, which two weeks ago was the sole driver of all upside, not once but twice in one week. Today we get the first day of the sequester being digested by the market - this togetger with an empty macro calendar in the US means rumors and headlines will determine how far GETCO's algo push the stop hunts during the first and last 30 minutes of trading.
'Buy-and-Hold'; Bonds-Schmonds. Sometimes a longer-term perspective is useful for context. Whether you are a safety-seeking, "some-return-is-better-than-no-return" bond-holder; or a "Jim Cramer said 'all clear' so I'm nuts deep in stocks" wannabe trader; the charts below at least provide from insight into why all that 'crazy' money might prefer the bond market to the stock market. Since rear-view-mirror investing appears the meme of the moment (and hope is now a strategy), it makes one wonder, when fixed income returns average 8.6% per annum for 33 years with a maximum 4% drawdown annually as opposed to stocks with a 8.9% per annum return and four 10%-plus annual drawdowns (and two 50% intra-period collapses within a decade). While we hold no judgment here, arguing that rates are so low they can't go any further is futile (ask Ben and see Japan) and applies just as well to equity multiples, margin expectations, and fundamentals. Context is king, be informed.
Rarely if ever do we consider that we presently labor under our own woefully wrong flat world perspectives so deeply engrained within our present day mindset that we are completely and utterly blind to how wrong we might just be.
My generation, born during or near post World War II, has been quite fortunate. Those of us lucky to have been born in the US during this period hit a sweet spot of both place and history. The economy thrived, standards of living soared and many avoided the numerous wars that dominated the Twentieth Century. Today, the future does not look so bright. Economies are stagnant, standards of living are declining and the threats of war increase. Younger generations will have more difficult lives than my generation. Life has its own ways of ensuring that TANSTAAFL (“There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”) is enforced. My twilight years now present major challenges. Because high inflation and a market collapse are real possibilities, I (and millions of others who believe similarly) am forced into playing the wildly dangerous game of financial chicken. When we should be enjoying our retirement and grandchildren, government has forced us to take risks that even wild teenagers likely would avoid.
The short-termist instant gratification society in which US consumers live in has seemingly - increasingly - permeated the supposedly more strategic CEO class. Building huge war-chests of cash - just in case - remain the status quo, seemingly more prescient now that real cash flow is slowing down. The subject of mis-allocation of corporate cash has been one we have often discussed. Thanks to Bernanke's ZIRP, investing corporate cash into improved RoC projects is outweighed by short-term reparations to a punishing investor class via special dividends or buybacks. Any use of cash for real business expansion is often frowned upon (as we noted here). Nowhere is it more evident than in this chart of post WWII business investment just how 'bad' our current 'recovery' is - CapEx spending rates are the lowest in 63 years.
The numbers we are faced with are so large, the COLA changes are really just a rounding error.
A few days ago Bloomberg mag did all it could to aliante virtually all racial minorities residing in the US (which in three decades will be the majority) by insinuating that Bernanke's second housing bubble is the sole source of riches for those not of the Caucasian persuasion. Now it is The Economist's turn to provoke well over half of Italy, by alleging that in not voting for technocratic, Goldman-appointed oligarchs who promote solely the banker backer interests, Italy has made a horrible mistake and has ushered in the circus...