It seems that to exclusively focus on one side of the equation can be human nature at times, and with regard to inflation concerns humans never see the other side of the equation, i.e., areas where they are actually experiencing deflation in their lives.
Whether you're aware of it or not, a great battle is being waged around us. It is a war of two opposing narratives: the future of our economy and our standard of living. The dominant story, championed by flotillas of press releases and parading talking heads, tells an inspiring tale of recovery and return to growth. The other side, less visible but with a full armament of high-caliber data, tells a very different story. One of growing instability, downside risk, and inequality. As different as they are in substance, they both share one fundamental prediction – and this is why you should care: This battle is about to break. And when it does, one side will turn out to be much more 'right' than the other. The time for action has arrived. To position yourself in the direction of the break you think is most likely to happen. It's time to choose a side.
The honey badger ramp continues, once more driven entirely by the USD carry as both the EURUSD and USDJPY hit new highs (14 month and 3 year, respectively). The EUR took another major leg higher following today's second ECB refinancing operation in two days, a 3 month LTRO, in which just €3.71 billion was allotted to some 46 bidders, far less than the €10 billion expected particularly in the context of the €6 billion the matured, leading to further Euribor curve steepening, more non-expansion of the ECB balance sheet, and a surge in the EURUSD to new post-2011 highs of 1.3560. But if it wasn't this it would be something else. Elsewhere we got the final official Spanish GDP number, which as previously reported once again came worse than expected at -0.7%, compared to expectations of -0.6%, and -1.8% Y/Y vs Exp. -1.7%. But once again we are told to ignore current reality and look with optimism to the future as various European confidence indices posted higher than expected prints. This seems logical: when the ugly fundamentals don't matter, one must at least pretend there is hope they will improve in the future to serve as a buying catalyst. Finally, and what the surging EUR and crushed exports are all about, Italy sold some €6.5 billion in 5 and 10 year BTPs at yields of 2.94% and 4.17%, both respectively lower than the prior auctions of 3.26% and 4.48%.
Gold fell $4.00 or 0.24% in New York yesterday and closed at $1,654.90/oz. Silver climbed to $31.30 in Asia before it eased off to $30.73 and finished with a loss of 1.09%.
Case-Shiller Home Price Index Posts Second Consecutive Monthly Decline, Average Home Prices Back To Fall 2003 LevelsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/29/2013 10:31 -0400
The Case-Shiller Home Price Index is unique among other economic data indicators for recommending that analysts focus solely on its Non-seasonal adjusted data series, as this is what the report uses in its own headline figures. It adds that "for analytical purposes, S&P Dow Jones Indices publishes a seasonally adjusted data set covered in the headline indices" - a far cry from the BLS, whose Arima X 12 models are the basis of the data "moves" on a monthly basis: moves which are based not so much in the underlying data but on the seasonal adjustment and fudging the government employees apply to it. And it is the unadjusted Case Shiller data that showed that in November, the 20 City Composite index posted its second consecutive monthly price decline in a row. Yes: on a year over year basis home prices did rise some 5.5%, but on the other hand, "average home prices across the United States are back to their autumn 2003 levels for both the 10-City and 20-City Composites." And while the price decline into the year end is somewhat seasonal, it certainly does not fit with all the other economic data released by the government showing a housing picture so bright not even the tiniest drops in prices were allowed.
Following yet another quiet overnight session, futures have surprised many walking into work today as the traditional overnight levitation is strangely missing. The reason for that may be the lack of the traditional for 2013 lift in various funding currency pairs, with both the USDJPY and the EURUSD lower. While there was no major macro news, the former may have been dragged lower by various comments from the German BDI industry federation chief who said he is worried about the devaluation race stemming from Japan's central bank policy echoing Merkel's comparable sentiment and revealing that the EURUSD may have topped out, while the latter was pushed lower following today's 7 day ECB MRO, which saw some €124.1 billion allotted at a 0.75% yield. This was largely in line with expectations, with Barclays seeing some €135.4 billion maturing, while BNP had expected modestly more, or some €150 billion. The MRO is the first such operation, with tomorrow's 3 month refinancing operation likely to give a better glimpse of the bank's post-LTRO repayment funding needs. Whether it is this, or the market finally demanding some action out of central banks which, except for the Fed, have been in constant promise mode, or just a random walk, is unknown, but for now the carry funded nominal devaluation of risk may have topped out.
“Everyone should keep gold in their portfolios” as the precious metal will be able to offer value to investors even in a worst-case scenario, said Marc Faber, the publisher of the Gloom, Boom & Doom report. "In the worst case scenario, in the systemic failure that I expect, it would still have some value,” Faber, who is also the founder and managing director of Marc Faber Ltd., said today at an event hosted by Evli Bank Oyj in Helsinki. Faber said his outlook was so bleak that he is “hyper bearish”. He joked that “sometimes I’m so concerned about the world I want to jump out of the window.”.. In response to a question from Yale University’s Robert Shiller querying the recommendation to hold gold, Faber said: “I’m prepared to make a bet, you keep your U.S. dollars and I’ll keep my gold, we’ll see which one goes to zero first.” Shiller, who is the co-creator of the S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values, responded "I'm inclined to think gold prices after this crisis might return to a lower level. Given the low yields of the alternatives [ie, bonds], the valuation of the stock market doesn't look so bad." Faber, whose advice has protected millions of investors in recent years, warned of a global systemic crisis possibly due to massive size of the global derivatives market which is now worth over an incredible $700 trillion. He warned “when the system goes down,” and only plastic credit cards are left, “maybe then people will realize and go back to some gold-based system.”
Update: the BLS disclosed that it had to estimate the data for 19 states due to holiday office closures. Good enough for Ministry of Truth work.
In what is a traditional slowdown to the layoffs season in the week leading into Christmas, initial unemployment claims, dropped from an upward revised 362K (was 361K) to 350K, below a consensus print of 360K, and the lowest seasonally-adjusted number in nearly 5 years. The boost, of course, was all in the ARIMA X-12 seasonal adjustments, as the not seasonally adjusted number rose by 39K to 441K. Although in a world in which only Case-Shiller says to use its Non-Seasonally Adjusted print as a far more accurate indicator of concurrent data, nobody cares about the BLS pre-adjustment data. In fact, judging by the market response, nobody cares about BLS data anymore, period, with absolutely no response by the market following the Claims print. Perhaps the only realm, unfudged notable number was the jump in people claiming claims at the State level, which soared by 71K in the week ending December 8, to a 3.238MM total. This happened even the surge of those collecting EUCs finally ended, with just 4K new collectors of EUCs and Extended Benefits. The good news is that at least nothing is Sandy's fault, at least this week.
While the market will look with some last trace of hope to Obama's return from Hawaii to D.C. today, the reality is that even the mainstream media, which had so far gotten everything about the cliff spectacularly wrong (proving that sample polling and actual "predicting" are two very different things), is waking up and smelling the coffee. As Politico reports, "nearly all the major players in the fiscal cliff negotiations are starting to agree on one thing: A deal is virtually impossible before the New Year. Unlike the bank bailout in 2008, the tax deal in 2010 and the debt ceiling in 2011, the Senate almost certainly won’t swoop in and help sidestep a potential economic calamity, senior officials in both parties predicted on Wednesday. Hopes of a grand-bargain — to shave trillions of dollars off the deficit by cutting entitlement programs and raising revenue — are shattered. House Republicans already failed to pass their “Plan B” proposal. And now aides and senators say the White House’s smaller, fall-back plan floated last week is a non-starter among Republicans in Senate — much less the House. On top of that, the Treasury Department announced Wednesday that the nation would hit the debt limit on Dec. 31, and would then have to take “extraordinary measures” to avoid exhausting the government’s borrowing limit in the New Year."
Case-Shiller Posts 9th Consecutive Increase Driven By Phoenix, Detroit - Back To 2003 Levels, NSA DropsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/26/2012 10:39 -0400
As was expected, the October Case Shiller data showed that the recent transitory pick up in the housing sector, now that both REO-to-Rent and Foreclosure Stuffing, not to mention unparalleled debt forgiveness by virtually every bank has been thrown at the housing problem, continues with a ninth consecutive month in Top 20 Composite Index increases, rising 4.3% in October. On the other hand, based on the NSA data, the 4th consecutive dead cat bounce may be coming to a much expected end with October NSA data posting the first sequential decline since March. What drove the pick up in Seasonally Adjusted data? Nothing short of yet another housing bubble in the much beloved speculative areas such as Phoenix and Detroit, where home prices rose by 21.8% and... 9.9%. Yes: apparently one can pay for mortgages with foodstamps now. Other places such as Chicago and New York were not quite so lucky, with the average price declining by 1.3% and 1.2% in the past 12 months. What remains unsaid - very much on purpose - is that the shadow inventory problem is only getting worse, as we reported a week ago, when we showed that nearly half the market cap of Bank of America is in 6 month + delinquent mortgages, or mortgages that are not yet in foreclosure but virtually certainly will be, and will also be discharged.
The market grudgingly comes back to work today, overdosed on caffeine and other alkaloid derivatives, a day when traditionally everyone calls in sick, as absolutely nothing has been resolved over the Fiscal Cliff with just 3 real trading sessions left in the year. And the likelihood that no real trading will take place is very high as both the House and Obama are still out of town, although the latter will take a late night AF-1 trip back to D.C. to rekindle rumors of an imminent 11th hour deal. It is increasingly looking as though the E-bay market, when all real trading take places at 3:59:59 pm, will manifest itself at the calendar level too, with either a market surge or plunge in what appears to be the last trading day of the year. One can only hope if the news is negative that it has a hard limit like the ES limit down plunge last Thursday.
As DB's Jim Reid summarizes, "it is fair to say that newsflow over the next 72 hours will be fairly thin before we head into a tense final few business days of the year." It is also fair to say, that the usual tricks of the new normal trade, such as the EUR and risk ramp as Europe walks in around 3 am, precisely what happened once again overnight to lift futures "off the lows", will continue working until it doesn't. In the meantime, the market is still convinced that some compromise will appear miraculously in the 2 trading sessions remaining until the end of the year, and a recession will be avoided even as talks now appear set to continue as far down as late March when the debt ceiling expiration, not cliff, will become the primary driving power for a resolution. That said, expect to start hearing rumors of a US downgrade by a major rating agency as soon as today: because the agenda is known all too well.
As of late there has been a flood of commentary written about the housing recovery pointing to the bottom in housing and how the revival in housing will drive economic growth in the years ahead. It is true that the revival in the housing market is a positive thing and is certainly something that everyone wants. However, the hype surrounding the nascent recovery to date may be a bit premature. Much of the current buying in the housing market has come from speculators and investors turning housing into rentals. This, however, has a finite life and rising home prices will speed up its inevitable end as rental profitability is reduced. Furthermore, the majority of home building has come in multifamily units, versus single family homes, and that segment has been growing faster than underlying demand. It is important to understand that housing will recover - eventually. However, the reality of that recovery could be far different than what the current media and analysts predict. The point here is that while the housing market has recovered - the media should be asking "Is that all the recovery there is?"
It wouldn't be Europe if the insolvent continent did not announce, to much pomp and circumstance, another final rescue for a broke country which was nothing but a short-termist can kicking exercise. It also wouldn't be Europe if the leaders did not do much if any math when coming up with said "rescue", and it certainly wouldn't be Europe if the initial EURphoria following such an announcement was not promptly faded. Sure enough, all three have now occurred with the EURUSD soaring to over 1.3000 in the moments after last night's soon to be obsolete announcement, only to see a gradual and consistent sell off over the next several hours, dropping to a week low of just under 1.2940 as details emerged that... there were not details. To wit, as Market News reported:
- EU COMMISSION: FUNDING FOR GREECE DEBT BUYBACK NOT WORKED OUT YET
In other words, the use of funds for the third Greek bailout has been more than detailed. The only tiny outstanding issue - the source of funds.
Hard pressed to find anything remotely exciting today. Equities losing a little shine, but understandable given last week’s 5% rush (and 14% tightening in Credit). Bonds stuck in range. Fiscal Cliff hailing back (in yet rather timid manner, though). Waiting on Greek rescue revelations. Yawn!
"Sailing" (Bunds 1,41% -3; Spain 5,6% unch; Stoxx 2542 -0,4%; EUR 1,296 unch)