This is the email Bank of America's economist Hans "Great Rotation" Mikkelsen blasted out moments ago, without shame and without the embarassment that thousands of people would read this and burst out laughing.
"The systematic destruction of the American way of life is happening all around us, and yet most people have no idea what is happening. Unfortunately, in our society the value that we place on individuals has a tremendous amount to do with how much money they have."
Despite another data series revision by the Department of Commerce, there was no way to put lipstick on the pig of America's wholesale trade data, and as reported moments ago, the all important merchant sales for February dropped for 3rd month in a row in February, the longest stretch since the last recession. What's worse however, is that the annual pace of decline has now stretched over both January and February, confirming that 2015 is now officially a year of contraction for the US economy. As a reminder, every time this series suffers an annual decline, there is a recession.
The great conundrum of the U.S. economy today is that we have record numbers of working age people out of the labor force at the same time we have businesses desperately trying to find workers. So why aren’t workers filling these available jobs - or getting the skills necessary to fill them. We would posit five impediments to putting more Americans back to work - First, government discourages work...
There are a host of signs as of late, including price momentum and internal deterioration in the financial markets, that suggests the risks are rising. For investors, this is critically important since the majority of major market reversions are coincident with economic recessions. While it is very likely that economic activity will bounce in the second quarter (data does not move in a straight line), it will likely be weaker than currently anticipated.
Initial Claims Slide Again; Trade Deficit Lowest Since 2009 Despite Soaring Dollar On Imports PlungeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/02/2015 08:52 -0400
The volatility in initial claims continues: after last week's drop to 282K pulled the heavily-watched number back under 300K, this week we have seen even less layoffs, with the DOL reporting that only 268K claims for unemployment benefits were filed in the past week, well below the 286K expected. The 4-week moving average was 285,500, a decrease of 14,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 3,250 from 297,000 to 300,250. And while it is no secret that US labor data leave much to be desired it was today's trade data that will shock many, after the BEA reported that in February, the US trade deficit collapsed to just $35.4 billion, a 17% plunge compared to the $42.7 billion January revision, and far below the $41.2 billion expected. The $7.3 billion drop in the deficit was the largest since the $8.3 billion drop posted in June of 2013. And even more notable: the total February deficit was the lowest since October 2009!
The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model forecast for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the first quarter of 2015 has been downgraded once again... to 0.0 percent on April 1, down from 2.3 percent on Feb 13th.
If America is the Land of Opportunity, why are so many parents worried that their princeling/princess might not get into the "right" pre-school, i.e. the first rung on the ladder to the Ivy League-issued "ticket to the upper middle class"? The obsessive focus on getting your kids into the "right" pre-school, kindergarten and prep school to grease the path to the Ivy League suggests there aren't as many slots open as we're led to believe.
Unless We Learn Our History, We're Doomed to Repeat It
When the phantom wealth evaporates and risk assets go bidless, cash will once again be king, for the simple reason there will be so little of it.
Does it really take purportedly intelligent people six years to see that the macros are not responding? Better still, isn’t it time for the Fed to explain the exact channel by which its interest rate pegging and forward guidance is supposed to be transmitted to the main street economy? After all, if these channels are blocked or ineffective - then its flood of liquidity never leaves the canyons of Wall Street. In that event, the central bank actually functions as a financial doomsday machine, inflating the next financial bubble until it bursts. Then, apparently, its job is to rinse and repeat.
From almost 2.5% GDP growth expectations in February, The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model has now collapsed its estimates of Q1 GDP growth to just 0.2% - plunging from +1.4% just 2 weeks ago. The reality of plunging capex and no decoupling is starting to rear its ugly head in the hard data and as the sun warms things up, weather will start to lose its ability to sway sentiment. While sell-side consensus has dropped (Goldman, Morgan Stanley, and Barclays all cut today following Durable goods), it remains unable to quite accept the reality of massively weaker than expected macro data evident everywhere (except in the soft-survey PMI data).
This is how ridiculous goverment data has become: in the same month in which both Housing Starts and Existing Home sales significantly missed expectations, misses which were promptly blamed on the weather, the Census Bureau moments ago released a stunner of a New Home Sales number, which supposedly rose from an upward revised 500K to 539K, a 25% spike from a year ago and up 7.8% from January, which incidentally is also the highest number since February 2008, even as the median home price dropped to the lowest since September. All of this would be great... if it was remotely credible. It isn't.
Despite the continuing commentary that all is well in America, economic growth expectations for Q1 just collapsed to a new cycle low. From just 4 months ago, growth expectations have been cut 20% to 2.4%... but that is still double The Atlanta Fed's dismal 0.6% forecast...
Stick a fork in the now proven wrong theory that plunging gas prices would boost consumer spending. Why? Because 4 months after the full impact of tumbling gas price was said to become apparent, consumer spending is not only not picking up, it is in fact slowing down more, especially in those places where there was snow in the winter, and gasp, where oil price actually fell the most!