This is where our economies are perverted. It’s the final excesses and steps of a broke society. It’s madness to the power of infinity. The only thing that’s certain is that in the end, your money will all be gone. That’s how Mario Draghi ‘saves’ the EU for a few more weeks, and that’s how the big boys of finance squeeze more from what little you have left (which is already much less than you think). A world headed for nowhere.
The economy we have now is like a mental patient, drugged up with so many antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers that the root of his problems has become undetectable. It sounds Utopian, but economic growth really is a panacea that improves standards of living for everyone in nearly every way. But instead of pursuing economic growth, the government wastes its time with piecemeal patches, trying to plug a hole whose cause remains unabated.
If over the weekend we got some terrible economic news out of China, then overnight it was turn for a major disappointment in capital flows, when Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in August crashed by 14%, far below the 0.8% increase expected, attracting just $7.2 billion in FDI, and the lowest in four years. This once again sparked fears of a Chinese hard landing and sent the Shanghai Composite tumbling 1.82%, the biggest drop in six months. In addition to China, there was the German ZEW Survey, which while beating expectations of a 5.0 print, dropped from 8.6 to 6.9 in August, the lowest since 2012. In fact, the gauge has decreased every month since December when it reached a seven-year high. And while there is not much other news today ahead of the blitz assault of data later in the week, including the Fed tomorrow, the TLTRO announcement on Thursday and the Scottish referendum results and the BABA IPO on Friday, we are stunned futures aren't as usual, soaring.
"So much for the ‘mini-stimulus’. The data on China’s economic performance in August released over the weekend were dismal, showing a significant and unexpected decline in growth. The boost from the government’s suite of supportive policies was always going to be temporary, but renewed weakness is appearing much sooner than expected. We had previously thought that policy could keep growth stable for a couple of quarters (see Fears For China’s Growth Postponed), but it only really worked for two months (May and June). So it looks as if the government has already lost its bet that it could keep GDP growth near its 7.5% target with only minimal intervention. With China transitioning out of its high investment phase, growth is on a downward trajectory. To alter that trajectory would require large scale monetary easing, but the government does not yet look inclined to support such a big shift in strategy. All of which points to more of the same: modest policy support and weaker growth."
As always, the bottom line is about leverage and bargaining power. It is here that, miraculously, things once again devolve back to, drumroll, oil, and the fact that an independent Scotland would keep 90% of the oil revenues! As we showed several days ago, Scotland's oil may be the single biggest wildcard in the entire Independence movement. It is this oil that as SocGen's Albert Edwards shows earlier this morning, is what gives Scotland all the leverage.
Something appears to have changed not only because the USDJPY is not some 100 pips higher overnight on, well, nothing but because the S&P, which is treading water, has yet to spike on no volume reasons unknown. That something may be algos which are too confused to buy ahead of this week's Fed announcement which may or may not have some notable changes in language or the Scottish referendum on the 18th. Or it could simply be that algos are no longer allowed to openly manipulate and rig the market on the CME as of today now that "disruptive market practices" are banned (why weren't they before)? In any case, keep a close eye on the market today: not all is at it has been for a while, unless of course it is still just a little early and the rigging algos (which haven't gotten the Rule 575 memo of course) haven't woken up just yet.
China may need to expand its goalseek template to include the other far more important measure of Chinese economic activity, such as Industrial production, retail sales, fixed investment, and even more importantly - such key output indicators as Cement, Steel and Electricity, because based on numbers released overnight, the Q2 Chinese recovery is now history (as the credit impulse of the most recent PBOC generosity has faded, something we have discussed in the past), and the economy has ground to the biggest crawl it has experienced since the Lehman crash. What's worse, and what we predicted would happen when we observed the collapse in Chinese commodity prices ten days ago, capex, i.e. fixed investment, grew at the slowest pace in the 21st century: the number of 16.5% was the lowest since 2001, and suggests that the commodity deflation problem is only going to get worse from here.
Getting out of a Liquidity Trap with monetary policy playing the lead role necessarily involves a Dornbuschian sequence of rational overshooting: The Fed must drive up Wall Street prices, which move quickly, so as to get to Main Street prices that move up slowly, most importantly, wages. This sequencing implies that Wall Street prices must become very rich relative to Main Street prices in order to achieve so-called escape velocity from the Liquidity Trap. At the transition point, Wall Street prices will be rationally “overvalued” relative to their long-term “fair value.” The dominant risk for Wall Street is not bursting bubbles, but rather a long slow grind down in profit’s share of GDP/national income. And you can stick that into a Gordon Model, too! Bonds and stocks may at present be rationally valued, but borrowing from the lyrics of Procol Harum’s Keith Reid: Expected long-term returns are turning a more ghostly whiter shade of pale.
The high-yield credit market remains stressed. An active week ended poorly as a heavy pipeline saw Vistaprint pull its deal citing "market conditions" as perhaps both a re-awakening of liquidity fears (Fed hawkishness concerns), price/spread moves, potential downgrades soar, and outflows signal the flashing red light that HY markets are shining is as red as ever. With buybacks having dwindled already - removing a significant leg from the equity rally - it seems CFOs are realizing that maybe they should have used some of that easy money to build as opposed to buy as they face weak growth, a lack of liquidity, and a wall of maturing debt in the next few years that will have to be refinanced at higher yields and spreads.
Washington’s Iraq-Syria Policy: Throwing the Ball to a Midget Surrounded by an Entire Team of 7-Foot Basketball PlayersSubmitted by George Washington on 09/12/2014 14:04 -0400
Who Do You THINK Will End Up With the Ball?
While today's key news event will likely be the preannounced latest, third, round of anti-Russian sanctions and the Russian retaliation, the reality as DB notes, is that the market seems to be seeing "some fatigue" in this story with the ECB, Scotland and next week's Fed meeting taking center stage. As a result, and ahead of expectations of change in Fed language which should carry a more hawkish tone, the dollar has been bid up some more overnight, leading to fresh multi-year highs in the USDJPY, and the now-paired TSY trade, with 10Y yields up to 2.57%, although this may now be in short-term oversold territory. The latest Scottish poll appears to have dented some of the "Yes" momentum, with 52% of the polled saying they would vote No in the referendum, although right now neither side has a clear majority when factoring in the undecideds: which means it will come down to the wire next week, with clear implications for Europe's secessionist movements if the Yes vote still manages to prevail, not to mention massive ramifications for the UK.
US 5Y Treasury yields are approaching a key level, but as BofAML's Macneil Curry warns, the MOVE Index (the Treasury market equivalent of equity's VIX) is more important to focus on... as a turn higher in US Fixed Income Vol could lead to a pretty nasty snapback in the carry trade.
A paradigm shift for the Eurozone...
Following yesterday's confusing exuberance, which saw the sluggish market rise in the last hours of trading as the latest Scottish poll showed a reverse of the "Yes" momentum (and fading Gartman's latest reco of course), overnight European jitters have re-emerged once more following a speech by Catalonia's Artur Mas, who has long pushed for independence of the region, and who said that while there are different ways Catalonia can vote, the important issue is that Catalans vote somehow. Mas says Spanish govt will likely try to block Catalan vote "the reasons why the central government is blocking the vote are political not legal", which in turn has once again brought attention to Europe's artificial, unstable and temporary political and monetary union, which threatens a reversion of the nightmare days from 2012 when Mario Draghi was promising he would do everything in his power to send the EUR higher (as opposed to now).