With the major US equity markets within 1-2% of their record highs, Gavekal Capital notes that underneath the headline indices, stock markets are extremely tumultuous. Rather stunningly 21% of MSCI USA stocks are at least 20% off their recent highs, and 68% of Canadian stocks are in bear markets, but the real carnage is taking place in Emerging Markets.
Global oil prices have returned to a state of flux. This is hardly news to any who follow the oil markets closely and yet prices continue to drive international headlines. While oil prices are notoriously difficult to predict, it has failed to deter the speculators. There are those warning that the latest dip is a precursor for $40 a barrel, a catastrophe for oil markets in some minds. On the other end of the spectrum are the optimists betting on a return to $100 by 2020. The World Bank has taken a typically middle-of-the-road approach, with forecasts of $57 a barrel in 2015. That said, given Iran’s potential revitalization, Russia’s murky outlook, and U.S. shale supply limits uncertain, prices will be responsive to supply and demand trends; at least in the short to medium term.
On a day when market participants will care about only one thing - how hawkish (or dovish) the FOMC sounds at 2:00 pm (no Yellen press conference today) - Chinese stocks provided the usual dramatic sideshow and traded unchanged or modestly negative for most of the day despite the latest $100 billion injection, the close of trading on Wednesday was a mirror image of what happened in the last hour on Monday, as various Chinese "plunge-protection" mechanism went into a furious buying frenzy and government-backed funds rushed to buy anything that trades in the last 60 minutes of trading in what may be the most glaring example of banging the close yet.
"The rise of China’s currency on global markets is arguably the most significant development in currency trading since the introduction of the euro in 1999."
Bubblevision’s Scott Wapner nearly split a neck vessel today denouncing the US stock market sell-off. It was completely unwarranted, he thundered, because China don’t have nothin’ to do with anything. The collapse of red capitalism in China is exporting gale force deflation to the global economy, meaning that the already evident rollover of world trade is just beginning its descent. So S&P profits are not immune, not by a longshot. One of these days, perhaps soon, even Scott Wapner will get the memo.
The U.S. economy is growing at a painfully slow pace. Greece still threatens the euro. Chinese stocks have just pulled out of a frightening free-fall. Big companies in the U.S. are struggling to boost profits. You might think it's been a rough year for investors, but it's mostly been a smooth ride - and a profitable one. "Things have worked out," scoffs one analyst "and that has emboldened investors." Maybe too much...
Deflation is back on the front burner and it's going to destroy all of the careful central planning and related market manipulation of the past 6 years. Clear signs from the periphery indicate that a destructive deflationary pulse has been unleashed. After years of suppression, the forces of reality are threatening to overwhelm our managed global ""markets"'. And it's about damn time.
With two-thirds of companies still set to report, and as the second quarter earnings season continues and assures the first revenue and EPS recession since 2009, the question on everyone's lips is just how bad will/can it get. The answer will be determined largely by any/all of the following three "C"s which continue to define the ugly face of non-GAAP corporate earnings for the past 3 quarters which appear set to persist for the foreseeable future.
Tehran, Beijing, Moscow, Islamabad, and New Delhi have been actively establishing interlocking security guarantees. They have been simultaneously calling the Atlanticist bluff when it comes to the endless drumbeat of attention given to the flimsy meme of Iran’s "nuclear weapons program." And a few days before the Vienna nuclear negotiations finally culminated in an agreement, all of this came together at a twin BRICS/SCO summit in Ufa, Russia -- a place you’ve undoubtedly never heard of and a meeting that got next to no attention in the U.S. And yet sooner or later, these developments will ensure that the War Party in Washington and assorted neocons (as well as neoliberalcons) already breathing hard over the Iran deal will sweat bullets as their narratives about how the world works crumble.
Nowhere is this new "glamour" bubble more visible than in the divergence between these "sexy" names built up on nothing but hype, or as David Einhorn would call them "story" stocks, and good old "resource" companies: those engaging in such "old economy" activities as energy and materials.
Innovation in technology reduces the need for labor. More individuals are sitting outside the labor force increase the demand for available jobs. Increased competition for available jobs suppresses wage growth. It is a virtual spiral that continues to apply downward pressure on an economy based nearly 70% on consumption. Importantly, what small increases there have been in unit labor costs have primarily come at the expense of higher benefit and healthcare costs rather than an increase in wages. As discussed previoulsy, for roughly 80% of the working labor force, wages have declined over the last five years. Janet Yellen is right that wages will have a hard time increasing without a pick up in productivity. The issue is that innovation IS the problem, not the solution. That is unless we begin to include the productivity of robots.
There has been a lot of chatter in recent days about the plunge in commodity prices - capped off by this week’s slide of the Bloomberg commodity index to levels not seen since 2002. That epochal development is captured in the chart below, but most of the media gumming about the rapidly accelerating “commodity crunch” misses the essential point. To wit, the central banks of the world have shot their wad. The Bloomberg Commodity index is a slow motion screen shot depicting the massive intrusion of worldwide central bankers into the global economic and financial system. Their unprecedented spree of money printing took the aggregate global central bank balance sheet from $3 trillion to $22 trillion over the last 15 years. The consequence was a deep and systematic falsification of financial prices on a planet-wide scale.
- In Asia/Pacific, the sales decline was primarily due to lower sales in China and Japan.
- Decreases in Latin America were primarily due to continued weak construction activity
- Sales declined in EAME primarily due to the unfavorable impact of currency, as sales in euros translated into fewer U.S. dollars.
- Sales declined in North America as weakness in oil and gas-related construction was largely offset by stronger activity in residential and nonresidential building construction.
The action in gold in 2013 was a warning about the “dollar”, a warning that went completely unheeded yet has been largely fulfilled. Again, 2013 provides a guide as to why gold prices may be declining in sharp moves, especially right at the open or in weaker trading hours, and it has very little to do with interest rates apart from fixed income suggesting the same factors about the “dollar.” Whether it is growing unease about the global economic picture or the “sudden” recurrence of financial irregularity almost wherever you wish to gaze, the “dollar” is once more wreaking havoc. This isn’t controversial at all, but somehow economists can miss that gold is global and universal collateral and when the eurodollar system is stressed it becomes activated in that manner.