Overnight asset classes got a jolt following a report by Nikkei that Obama was moving toward naming Summers the next Fed chairman, citing “several close US sources,” pushing stocks modestly lower in Europe, with bond yields higher. According to the report, Obama is to name Summers as next Fed chairman as early as late next week, after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Otherwise, risk is still digesting the news of the confidential Twitter IPO, as it is becoming quite clear that some of the largest names (Hilton also announced yesterday) are seeking to cash out in the public markets. Is this the top?
If ever there was an investor reaction that summed up just how much the Federal Reserve has broken the markets it was yesterday morning's post-dismal-jobs-report surge. As John Phelan notes, we now appear to be in a position where the interests of financial markets are precisely at odds with the interests of the rest of the economy; where the good news for us is bad news for them and bad news for us is good news for them. The one way bet of the Greenspan Put maintained, so far, by Ben Bernanke, has created a market of monetary-punch-drunk liquidityholics. On its 100th birthday the Federal Reserve has the tricky task of sneaking the punch bowl out of the party, a task it seems they’ll struggle to manage without starting a riot. They may have printed themselves into a corner.
As fast-food workers of the world unite under a common banner of "higher minimum 'livabale' wages", one can't help but reflect on the terrible jobs data this morning and the potential inability of workers to get anything but a low-skill 'part-time' job flipping burgers. But most importantly, these workers may soon not be able to afford the product they manufacture. Concerns over rising wage costs can be put aside for now as it is the soaring costs of beef (as we discussed here previously) that are causing "Dollar Menu" items to be adjusted upwards. "You can't sell a burger for $1 anymore because the cost of beef has gone up so much," and sure enough, as Bloomberg reports, McDonalds is testing a new version, dubbed 'Dollar Menu and More', that includes items selling for as much as $5. As one analyst notes, the industry's "definition of value has moved up from the Dollar Menu to $1.50 or $2.”
The Old Continent: Europe. They have always liked to pride themselves on the fact that they were quaint guys living in leafy suburbs and going to work along cobbled streets.
Throughout this year, the consensus view has been that current economic weakness is justified and we are just one or two quarters away from faster growth. Now, in the third quarter Guggenheim's Scott Minerd exclaims we are hearing the same arguments, although growth targets are starting to dip. He calls this "hope", the growth mirage. Minerd adds, that, in the heat of the desert, the eye perceives water on the horizon, but the closer one tries to get, the farther away it moves – until the traveler realizes that he has been chasing an illusion caused by shimmering layers of hot and cool air.
- Summers Faces Key 'No' Votes if Picked for Fed (WSJ)
- NYT Editorial Board Says Summers Would Be Wrong Fed Choice (NYT)
- Russia says it's compiled 100-page report blaming Syrian rebels for a chemical weapons attack (McClatchy)
- China says Syria crisis can't be resolved with military strike (Reuters)
- G-20 Faces Growth Threats as Syria Adds to QE Exit Risks (Bloomberg)
- Apple Supplier Fire Spurs Biggest Chip Price Rise in 3 Years (BBG)
- U.S. Decided Not to Horse-Trade With Russia on Assad (WSJ)
- Financial Crisis: For Corporations and Investors, Debt Makes a Comeback (WSJ)
- Gorman Says Chance of Another Financial Crisis ‘Close to Zero’ (BBG) and in other news, "no risk of a Us downgrade" - Tim Geithner
- A Biotech King, Dethroned (NYT)
With TrimTabs seeing real wage and salary growth at a mere 0.7% year-over-year in August, some of the more 'robust' expectations for tomorrow's non-farm payroll report appear a little exuberant. However, Goldman's 200k estimate (based on 24 labor market indicators) suggests there will be enough to provide cover (aside from the cornering via sentiment, deficits, technicals, and international resentment) for a Fed "Taper." SocGen's Brian Jones is top-dog at a stunning 220k expectations (2-sigma above the 180k median expectation for 'probably the most important data point in the world'). At the other end of the scale of 95 estimates summarized below by Bloomberg, is TrimTabs' Madeline Schnapp who sees a 5-sigma miss at a mere 79k jobs added. Goldman expects the unemployment rate to hold steady at 7.4%.
The present picture for the oil price looks increasingly bullish once more. Citi asks, is this a replay of the dynamics seen in the 1970’s? We hope not... but the feedback loop (from oil prices) to the economy and markets is undeniable...
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.
- Merkel Blames SPD’s Schroeder for Letting Greece Into Euro (BBG)
- U.S. Bank Legal Bills Exceed $100 Billion (BBG)
- U.K. to Request U.N. Action to Protect Syrians From Chemical Weapons (WSJ) - and Russia to veto any decision
- U.N. inspectors in new Syria mission as West prepares to strike (Reuters)
- Emerging-Market Rout Intensifies on Syria Jitters (WSJ)
- Rebels Without a Leader Show Limit to U.S. Role in Syria War (BBG)
- Anger at IRS Powers Tea-Party Comeback (WSJ)
- China has much at risk but no reach in Middle East (Reuters)
- 'London Whale' Penalties Put at $500 Million to $600 Million (WSJ)
- U.S. lawmaker says 'compelling' evidence of Syrian chemical attack (Reuters)
The key overnight events were already discussed previously, but here they are again: the wholesale selloff in Asia (which subsequently shifted to Europe), the accelerating outflows from India (moment ago the SEBI website announced a net INR13.7 billion selling in Indian stocks yesterday and the near record collapse in the Indian Rupee to new record lows, and the ongoing uncertainty over Syria and what it will do to crude prices (if SocGen is right, nothing good). In brief: a market conditioned and habituated to a world in which Bernanke promises "to make everything ok" suddenly finds itself in the throes of uncertainty and following 4 years of dumb trend-following, has no idea what to do.
The Richmond Fed survey surged to 14, its biggest beat since April 2010 and its highest level since January 2011. All makes perfect sense right? Just a 3.5 sigma beat of analyst expectations at 0. All sub-indices improved to multi-month highs and expectations for six months ahead also surged (even as prices paid and received collapsed). Consumer Confidence, amid surging interest rates and near-record gas prices for this time of year (and a pending war), rose (beating expectations) after falling last month. All of the gains in confidence came from 'hope' as the expectations sub-index rose from 86.0 to 88.7 as the present situation fell from 73.7 to 70.7 - the biggest drop since January. Remember, beware of the big 'con'.
Overnight the emerging market rout continued, with the India Sensex down another 3.18%, the Philippines tumbling 4%, Jakarta down 3.7% and Dubai crashing 7%. A driving factor continues to be the fear over an imminent air campaign launched at Syria, leading both WTI and Brent higher by 1%, and gold finally breaking out above the $1400 tractor beam, and printing at $1412 at last check, a hair away from a 20% bull market from the lows. In other news, the market is once again "surprised" to learn that Summers, who as we have been showing for over three weeks is the frontrunner for the Fed chair, is the frontrunner for the Fed chair according to CNBC. Of course, there is nothing preventing this from being the latest trial balloon (and nothing that suggest Summers will actually be hawkish as conventional wisdom seems to think: the guy basically works for the financial sector) but futures aren't waiting to find out, and US traders are walking in this morning to a red screen with ES down just over 10 point and sliding. Any minute now the great unrotation from stocks into bonds (10 Year was 2.77% at last check) is about to be unleashed. And if Obama actually goes to war (without talking to Congress of course), watch the bottom fall from the market.
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.
Last week it was the Nasdaq, today it was the Eurex Exchange, which broke down "due to technical issues" shortly after 2 am Eastern and which was offline for over an hour. Further keeping a lid on liquidity and upward momentum is today's UK market holiday which has resulted in a driftless move lower across European stocks, following a red close in the Nikkei225. It only means that the inevitable ramp up in the disconnected from all fundamentals and reality market will have to come only during US trading hours when the NY Fed trading desk steps up its POMO-aided levitation.