Consumer sentiment and confidence has been a smorgasbord of confusion recently. Bloomberg's Consumer Comfort index just had its biggest 3-week plunge in 16 months falling back to its lowest since the first week of April. Conference Board confidence was 'stable' at 5.5 year highs and now UMich Confidence, which missed expectations for the first time in 2013 last month in its preliminary print, has been revised up with its final data to the best level in 4 months. The schizophrenia is completed with this little beauty from Gallup. As we have warned before, beware 'the big con' and as these two charts suggest, confidence seems very much in the eye of the beholder.
- UN Insecptors to leave Syria early, by Saturday morning (Reuters)
- Yellen Plays Down Chances of Getting Fed Job (WSJ)
- JPMorgan Bribe Probe Said to Expand in Asia as Spreadsheet Is Found (BBG)
- No Section 8 for you: Wall Street’s Rental Bet Brings Quandary Housing Poor (BBG)
- Euro zone, IMF to press Greece for foreign agency to sell assets (Reuters)
- Brothels in Nevada Suffer as Web Disrupts Oldest Trade (BBG)
- U.S., U.K. Face Delays in Push to Strike Syria (WSJ); U.S., U.K. Pressure for Action on Syria Hits UN Hurdle (BBG)
- Renault Operating Chief Carlos Tavares Steps Down (WSJ)
- Vodafone in talks with Verizon to sell out of U.S. venture (Reuters)
- Dollar Seen Casting Off Euro Shackles as Fed Tapers (BBG)
A quiet week to send off August ahead of a deluge of key data next week and as the fateful Septembr 18 FOMC announcement approaches. Still, quite a few macro events to keep track of.
- Egypt on the edge after Mursi rebuffs army ultimatum (Reuters)
- Inside China's Bank-Rate Missteps (WSJ)
- Obama Urges Morsi to Respond to Protesters' Concerns (WSJ)
- How Fed’s 7% Jobless Avoids Deterring Bondholders Is Mystery (BBG)
- Obama Joins With Political Foe Bush at End of Africa Trip (BBG)
- China may introduce deposit insurance by year-end (China Daily)
- China’s Slowdown Could Slam Hong Kong (BBG)
- Government 'to ask Rothschild to advise on RBS split' (Telegraph)
- Martin Feldstein: The Fed Should Start to 'Taper' Now (WSJ)
- Turmoil Exposes Global Risks (WSJ)
- China Money Rates Retreat After PBOC Said to Inject Cash (BBG)
- Fed Seen by Economists Trimming QE in September, 2014 End (BBG)
- Booz Allen, the World's Most Profitable Spy Organization (BBG)
- Abe’s Arrows of Growth Dulled by Japan’s Three Principles (BBG)
- China steps back from severe cash crunch (FT)
- Smog at Hazardous as Singapore, Jakarta Spar Over Fires (BBG)
- U.S. Weighs Doubling Leverage Standard for Biggest Banks (BBG)
The good old days are back, those of the last housing bubble when money grew on trees.
The Conference Board's measure of just how awesome everyone feels just hit its highest level since February 2008 driven by an impressive surge in 'Expectations'. This should surprise nobody: as we previewed earlier today, "just to make sure that the market closes well green today, the only actual "data" will be yet another reading of consumer "confidence" this time from the Conference Board. Expect this to surge on news that it is Tuesday and stocks have nowhere to go but up, which in turn will send stocks, where else but, up." In short: reflexivity in all its glory. And to think it was just 10 days ago that the market reacted in absolutely the same way to a UMichigan confidence print that beat expectations by the most ever and to the highest since 2007. Perhaps if the US had one consumer confidence metric for every day of the week, all days would be like Tuesdays.
First, the important news: in a few hours the Fed will inject between $1.25-$1.75 billion into the stock market. More importantly, it is a Tuesday, which means that in order to not disturb a very technical pattern that will have held for 20 out of 20 Tuesdays in a row, the Dow Jones will close higher. Judging by the futures, this has been telegraphed far and wide: it is a Ben Bernanke risk-managed market, and everyone is a momentum monkey in it. In less relevant news, the underlying catalyst for the overnight rip higher in risk was the surge in the USDJPY, which left the gate at precisely Japan open time, and after languishing at the round number 101 support for several days, did not look back facilitated by what rumors said was a direct BOJ intervention via a Price Keeping Operation in which banks bought ETFs directly. This was catalyzed by the usual barrage of BOJ and FinMin individuals engaging in post-crash damage control and chattering from the usual script.
The weakness in economic data (not to be confused with the centrally-planned anachronism known as the "markets") started overnight when despite a surge in Japanese consumer spending (up 5.2% on expectations of 1.6%, the most in nine years) by those with access to the stock market and mostly of the "richer" variety, did not quite jive with a miss in retail sales, which actually missed estimates of dropping "only" -0.8%, instead declining -1.4%. As the FT reported what we said five months ago, "Four-fifths of Japanese households have never held any securities, and 88 per cent have never invested in a mutual fund, according to a survey last year by the Japan Securities Dealers Association." In other words any transient strength will be on the back of the Japanese "1%" - those where the "wealth effect" has had an impact and whose stock gains have offset the impact of non-core inflation. In other words, once the Yen's impact on the Nikkei225 tapers off (which means the USDJPY stops soaring), that will be it for even the transitory effects of Abenomics. Confirming this was Japanese Industrial production which also missed, rising by only 0.2%, on expectations of a 0.4% increase. But the biggest news of the night was European inflation data: the April Eurozone CPI reading at 1.2% on expectations of a 1.6% number, and down from 1.7%, which has now pretty much convinced all the analysts that a 25 bps cut in the ECB refi rate, if not deposit, is now merely a formality and will be announced following a unanimous decision.
Confused about the latest disconnect between reality and propaganda, this time affecting the (foreclosure-stuffed) housing "recovery" which has become the only upside that the bulls can point to when demonstrating the effectiveness of QE now that the latest attempt at economic recovery has failed miserably both in the US and globally? Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg is here to clear any confusion.
Houston we may have a problem: with the DJIA trumpetedely hitting new all time highs day after day in March, one would expect that its traditional second derivative - US Consumer Confidence, would be at all time highs as well, or close thereby. One would be wrong, because according to the Conference Board, March consumer confidence plunged to 59.7 from 69.6, and well below expectations of a 67.5 print. Both components of the index dipped, with both the present situation and expectations indices sliding from 61.4 and 72.4, to 57.9 and 60.9, respectively. And just to make sure the S&P ramps to all time highs on ongoing miserable economic, corporate profit and, of course, sovereign insolvency news, we got both New Home Sales, dropping from 431K to 411K, missing expectations of 420K, and the Richmond Fed also missing expectations of a 6 print, dropping from last month's 6 to 3. All in all, if this latest round of ugly and rapidly getting worse economic data doesn't send the S&P to new all time highs, nothing will. Well, perhaps another European country going broke may do the trick...
While the news flow is dominated by Cyprus, it will be important to not lose sight of the developments in Italy, where we will watch the steps taken towards forming a government. The key release this week is likely to be US consumer confidence. Keep a watchful eye on the health of the consumer in the US after the tax rises in January. So far, household optimism and demand has held up better than expected. The IP data from Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Thailand, Japan will provide a useful gauge on activity in the region and what it reflects about global activity, however Chinese New Year effects will need to be accounted for in the process.
- JPMorgan Report Piles Pressure on Dimon in Too-Big Debate (BBG)
- Employers Blast Fees From New Health Law (WSJ)
- Obama unveils US energy blueprint (FT)
- Obama to Push Advanced-Vehicle Research (WSJ) - here come Solar-powered cars?
- BRICs Abandoned by Locals as Fund Outflows Reach 1996 High (BBG)
- Obama won't trip over Netanyahu's Iran "red line" (Reuters)
- Samsung puts firepower behind Galaxy (FT)
- Boeing sees 787 airborne in weeks with fortified battery (Reuters)
- Greece Counts on Gas, Gambling to Revive Asset Sales Tied to Aid (BBG)
- Goldman’s O’Neill Says S&P 500 Beyond 1,600 Needs Growth (BBG)
- China’s new president in corruption battle (FT)
- Post-Chavez Venezuela as Chilly for Companies From P&G to Coke (BBG)
Is the U.S. economy about to experience a major downturn? Unfortunately, there are a whole bunch of signs that economic activity in the United States is really slowing down right now. In many ways, what we are going through right now feels very similar to 2008 before the crash happened. Back then the warning signs of economic trouble were very obvious, but our politicians and the mainstream media insisted that everything was just fine, and the stock market was very much detached from reality. When the stock market did finally catch up with reality, it happened very, very rapidly. Sadly, most people do not appear to have learned any lessons from the crisis of 2008. Americans continue to rack up staggering amounts of debt, and Wall Street is more reckless than ever. As a society, we seem to have concluded that 2008 was just a temporary malfunction rather than an indication that our entire system was fundamentally flawed. In the end, we will pay a great price for our overconfidence and our recklessness.