It was a quiet start to the week today with just the June Euro area trade balance (which rose €21.9bn vs €23.1 bn expected, up from €21.3 bn) in the European timezone and Empire manufacturing and NAHB housing market index for August this afternoon in the US. Under the radar, but perhaps the most news today, is the June TIC data which will likely confirm the ongoing liquidation of "FX Reserves" aka TSYs by "Belgium" aka China. Expect another $15-20 billion drop in Belgian Treasury holdings in the month of June.
There is much stunned confusion among Wall Street's "best and brightest" following China's historic Yuan devaluation overnight which was predicted by exactly zero of said best and brightest, just like nobody expected the SNB to give up its own peg to the EUR in January.
While many labor market indicators were softer in July, some important service sector indicators, such as ISM nonmanufacturing employment, were significantly stronger; and on balance, they expect job growth roughly consistent with the 223k increase in June. The participation rate showed a surprising drop of 0.3pp in June to 62.6% - due in large part from a calendar effect caused by the timing of the reference week relative to the end of the school year - they therefore expect an at least partial rebound in July.
Hope, quite simply, just isn’t close to enough for a real recovery. There is an undeniable element of troubling prevarication in the whole attempt to coax unearned optimism, as taken to the extreme it means that policymakers will never quite be honest about especially realistic downsides. That may even mean, in their zeal to “fool” consumers, they fool themselves on the circular logic.
Just the tip of the iceberg?
You could call it the "Mystery of the Missing Worker" – why do so many people of working age chose not to enter the workforce? Here are the numbers, as of the most recent Employment Situation report: 250 million: the total number of people of working age in the United States; 149 million: the total number of people in that population that have a job; 8 million: the number of people who want a job but do not have one; leaving 93 million: the number of people who don’t work, and don’t want work. To put some context around that last number, it is 30% of the entire U.S. population. Why?
- Second-quarter GDP seen rebounding on consumer spending, housing (Reuters)
- China Stocks Fall as Traders Puzzle Over Sudden Late-Day Swings (BBG)
- European 'alliance of national liberation fronts' emerges to avenge Greek defeat (Telegraph)
- Thomas Cook warns on earnings over Greece (MW)
- Largest Greek toy seller Jumbo warns of hit from capital controls (Kathimerini)
- Chevron and Exxon Get the Plaudits, but Some Smaller Drillers Faring Well (WSJ)
- Schäuble outlines plan to limit European Commission powers (FT)
- UBS Deal Shows Clinton’s Complicated Ties (WSJ)
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 Conference Board just reported that US Consumer Confidence, having bounced in June, has collapsed in July (and saw the bounce revised drastically lower). At 90.9, this is the lowest since September 2014 and is below the lowest economist estimate. More worrying is the crash in "hope" - as consumer expectations plunge from 92.8 to 79.9 (lowest since Feb 2014). This should not be a surprise since Gallup has been indicating fading confidence in its weekly survey for a while. 57% of Americans believe the US economy is "getting worse," which has left Gallup's Economic Confidence Index tumbling to its lowest in 10 months.
A slow week devoid of virtually any macro news - last night the biggest weekly geopolitical event concluded as expected, when Greece voted to pass the bailout bill which "the government does not believe in" just so the ECB's ELA support for Greek depositors can continue - is slowly coming to a close, as is the busiest week of the second quarter earnings season which so far has been largely disappointing despite aggressive consensus estimate cuts, especially for some of the marquee names, and unlike Q1 when a quarterly drop in EPS was avoided in the last minute, this time we won't be so lucky, and the only question is on what side of -3.5% Y/Y change in EPS will the quarter end.
How hard do you work compared to the rest of the world?
While this week has been, and continues to be, devoid of macro updates, yesterday's flurry of mostly disappointing earnings releases both before and after the open, including some of the biggest DJIA companies as well as the current and previously biggest and most important companies in the world, AAPL and MSFT, both of which came crashing down following earnings and forecasts that were well short of market expectations, came as a jolt to a market that was artificially priced by central bank liquidity and HFT momo algos beyond perfection. Add to that yesterday's downward revision to historical industrial production which confirmed the US economy is a step away from recession, as well as last night's Crude API inventory build which is once again pressuring WTI lower and on the verge of a 49 handle, and perhaps the biggest question is why are futures not much lower.
Today's action is so far an exact replica of Friday's zero-volume ES overnight levitation higher (even if Europe's derivatives market, the EUREX exchange, did break at the open for good measure leading to a delayed market open just to make sure nobody sells) with the "catalyst" today being the official Greek repayment to both the ECB and the IMF which will use up €6.8 billion of the €7.2 billion bridge loan the EU just handed over Athens so it can immediately repay its creditors. In other words, Greek creditors including the ECB, just repaid themselves once again. One thing which is not "one-time" or "non-recurring" is the total collapse in commodities, which after last night's precious metals flash crash has sent the Bloomberg commodity complex to a 13 year low.
"There is room for improvement. But in general China’s GDP deflator hasn’t been underestimated, nor has GDP growth been overstated. Both objectively reflect the real situation."