With data showing very little sign of the Q2 post-weather bounce that The Fed forecast, and markets quaking in their boots on every 'good' data print, The Fed remains cornered - desperate to hike (to regain some ammo) but needing to lie through their teeth in order to rationalize why...
- *FED FORECASTS IMPLY TWO QUARTER-POINT RATE INCREASES THIS YEAR
- *FED SAYS ECONOMY EXPANDING `MODERATELY,' JOB GROWTH PICKED UP
- *FED REPEATS INTL DEVELOPMENTS TO BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT
So the bottom line - The Fed has no idea still, is data-dependent (unless the data disagrees with them), and is now the world's plunge protection team. It seems the IMF's warnings have been ignored.
Pre-FOMC: S&P Futs 2091, 10Y 2.387%, EUR 1.1260, Gold $1178
“It is perfectly possible for a man to be out of prison and yet not free - to be under no physical constraint and yet be a psychological captive, compelled to think, feel and act as the representatives of the national state, or of some private interest within the nation wants him to think, feel and act... To him the walls of his prison are invisible and he believes himself to be free.” - Aldous Huxley,
Officially, the unemployment rate in the U.S. is 5.6%, meaning 5.6% of the work force is temporarily out of a job and actively seeking another one. But these do not feel like good times for most households, despite the low unemployment rate. By our reckoning, roughly 60% of the civilian work force is fully employed and 40% are marginally employed or unemployed.
We are what we think more so than what we eat.
On the heels of highly contentious (and largely unsuccessful) negotiations in Riga on Friday, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras is "reshuffling" his negotiating team in an effort to jumpstart talks with creditors. As Reuters reports, the well-liked deputy Foreign Minister Euclid Tsakalotos will now coordinate the team and will "have a more active role in face-to-face talks from now on." Meanwhile, Yanis Varoufakis hates "boring dinners."
There was once a time, perhaps, when unprecedented things happened only occasionally. In today’s financial markets, unprecedented things are commonplace. The Queen in Lewis Carroll’s ‘[Alice] Through the Looking-Glass’ would sometimes believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast. She is probably working in the bond markets now, where believing anything less than twelve impossible things before breakfast is for wimps.
“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” ? George Orwell
“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you mad.” ? Aldous Huxley
Huxley’s words describe a psychological condition termed cognitive dissonance. According to the American Psychological Association, cognitive dissonance is induced when a person holds two contradictory beliefs, or when a belief is incongruent with an action that the person has chosen freely to perform. Cognitive dissonance is on full display today in the financial markets. The U.S. economy has been supported for seven years by a zero interest rate policy, record fiscal deficits and unprecedented surges in the money supply. Despite all of the stimuli, the economy is slogging along well below trend. The actions taken by the Federal Reserve, federal government and governments around the world are unprecedented. In a normally functioning economy such actions would generate massive growth and inflation. Since growth has been tepid and inflation benign, there is obviously something amiss.
Do our childish minds really think those whom we blindly empower will scurry away like cockroaches exposed by the refrigerator light and leave us be after the fall? Really? Are we serious?
Despite the total and utter cognitive dissonance of talking-heads on mainstream media channels, the US economic data is not 'strong', is not 'goldilocks', is not 'decoupled', is not 'solid'. In fact, it's absolutely terrible. Bloomberg's US Macro data indicator which tracks both beats-and-misses and improvement/deterioration in data - is at 11-month lows. February alone has seen 29 data items miss expectations (from retail sales to industrial production) with only 4 data points beating expectations (including the constantly revised nonfarm payrolls data which so many hang their hat on). But apart from that... everything is awesome.
The arrogant European Union has seriously overplayed its hand and now is no longer certain exactly who is the fool still seated at the table.
When you accept the fact history is cyclical and continuous linear progress is not what transpires in the real world, you free yourself from the mental debilitation of normalcy bias and cognitive dissonance. Things do get worse. There are dark periods of history and they recur on a regular cycle. And we are in the midst of one of those dark periods. This Crisis will not be resolved without much pain, sacrifice, bloodshed, and ultimately war. The American people have lost their ability to think, reason, question, do math, control their urges, defer gratification, or realize when they are being lied to by the people they elected to public office. A culture of ignorance, celebration of the absurd, salutation of stupidity, honoring of the inane, being mesmerized by electronic gadgets, and satiating their egocentric shallow impulses on social media, is a sure recipe for societal collapse.
Following last month's narrative-crushing drop in retail sales, despite all that low interest rate low gas price stimulus, January was more of the same as hopeful expectations for a modest rebound were denied. Falling 0.8% (against a 0.9% drop in Dec), missing expectations of -0.4%, this is the worst back-to-back drop in retail sales since Oct 2009. Retail sales declined in 6 of the 13 categories.
Update: OBAMA ASKS CONGRESS TO AUTHORIZE WAR AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE: AP
Several years ago, Obama impressed a handful of crusty, old people in Norway who believed the recent Illinois senator's vision of a world without war, validated by his eagerness to end the war in Iraq and withdraw US troops to their native country. He got an award for it. Today, Obama will finally complete the circle started in August when, under the premise of "humanitarian intervention", allegedly meant to save a group refugees stranded on a mountain, Obama launched an airborne coalition effort to destroy the same group of radical jihadist extremists that the US was assisting when they were merely fighting the Assad regime in Syria. Because today is when Obama will officially request that those same troops that he so liberally pulled out in compliance with his Nobel Peace Prize, be put back in Iraq in order to declare war on, drumroll, a nation that doesn't technically even exist: the Islamic State.
"According to the University of Michigan survey, consumers have not been this upbeat since January 2004, when the economy was booming. The natural outcome should be for consumers to splurge, hitting the malls and going out to restaurants. But much to our surprise, the data suggest otherwise." - BofA