Don't look now but futures are up as usual, driven higher by both good and bad news. The biggest event of the weekend, if largely priced in, was the victory by Abe's coalition in the upper-house leading to the following seat breakdown. Of course, judging by the Yen and market reaction, which barely managed to eek out a gain: its first in four trading days, the event was largely of the "sell the news" type despite such bold proclamations: "Abe’s victory in the upper house is bullish for Japanese equities and the Japanese economy as a whole, as the removal of political headwinds bolsters the government’s ability to press forward with all ‘three arrows’ of its growth strategy," John Vail, Tokyo-based chief global strategist at Nikko Asset Management Co., which manages $162 billion, wrote in an e-mail. Elsewhere in Europe, Portugal bond yields have plunged by roughly 60 bps on news that the Portuguese President Silva has backed the centre-right coalition government, consequently ruling out snap polls. Well, what else is he going to do? This also comes on the heels of a Goldman report that said a second bailout for the country will be necessary and will likely be discussed in the fall. That too is bullish. What also was bullish in Europe apparently is that government debt hit a new record high of 92.2% of GDP. Remember: debt is wealth so just buy more futures. Looking forward to the US, the market will focus on the latest existing home sales data, the Chicago Fed activity index, as well as earnings report releases from McDonalds, Texas Instruments and Halliburton and a bunch of other companies that will beat EPS and miss revenues.
Claiming he wasn't afraid to let everyone in attendance know about "the real mess we're in," Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke reportedly got drunk Tuesday and told everyone at Elwood's Corner Tavern about how absolutely fucked the U.S. economy actually is. Bernanke, who sources confirmed was "totally sloshed," arrived at the drinking establishment at approximately 5:30 p.m., ensconced himself upon a bar stool, and consumed several bottles of Miller High Life and a half-dozen shots of whiskey while loudly proclaiming to any patron who would listen that the economic outlook was "pretty goddamned awful if you want the God's honest truth." "Look, they don't want anyone except for the Washington, D.C. bigwigs to know how bad shit really is," said Bernanke, slurring his words as he spoke. "Mounting debt exacerbated—and not relieved—by unchecked consumption, spiraling interest rates, and the grim realities of an inevitable worldwide energy crisis are projected to leave our entire economy in the shitter for, like, a generation, man, I'm telling you."
Mortgage rates surging, check! Oil prices surging, check! Consumer Confidence surging, check? Equities surging, check? A funny thing happens when consumers face higher energy prices and mortgage rates - but, it seems, that this time is different (for now)...
It is becoming much more apparent that, as we have seen each year for the past three, the Fed's prediction of stronger economic growth by the end of 2013 will be revised lower from the current level of 2.5%. Either Bernanke was lying back then or is he lying now? The problem is that the Fed is literally caught in a "liquidity trap" from which there is currently no escape. If they reduce liquidity the markets tank, taking down consumer confidence and negatively impacting the economy. If they keep the liquidity going they will inflate an asset bubble which will ultimately burst destroying the financial markets and the economy. The choice is, ultimately, a lose-lose scenario even as the bullish case for equities persists. Of course, as Chuck Schumer stated to Bernanke at the last Humphrey-Hawkins testimony, "You are the only game in town."
Sometimes it is what is not discussed among the mainstream media that is most critical to understanding the new normal...
Much has ben written lately about the fact that the Federal Reserve is beginning to realize that they are caught in a "liquidity trap." However, what exactly is a "liquidity trap?" And perhaps more importantly how did we end up in it - and how do we get out?
In an odd reversal of recent trends, the future expectations sub-index of the UMich consumer confidence survey fell (lowest in 3 months) as the current rose notably (to its highest in 6 years). Is hope fading? Perhaps it is the spike in gas prices? Or the spike in mortgage rates? Critically though, this is the first miss of expectations since December 2012 as inflation expectations also surged to the highs of the year.
- Greece's Economic Future 'Uncertain,' Creditors Say (WSJ)
- Secret Court's Redefinition of 'Relevant' Empowered Vast NSA Data-Gathering (WSJ)
- Thomson Reuters Halts Early Peeks At Consumer Data (WSJ)
- Larry Summers Circles as Fed Opening Looms (WSJ)
- S&P to Argue Puffery Defense in First Courtroom Test (BBG)
- Geithner joins top table of public speakers with lucrative appearances (FT)
- Losing $317 Billion Makes U.S. Debt Safer for Mizuho to HSBC (BBG)
- Pilot Error Eyed in San Francisco Plane Crash (WSJ)
- Investment group sues U.S. over Fannie, Freddie bailout terms (Reuters)
- Egypt officials 'order closure of Islamist party HQ' (AFP)
- Heinz Kerry Transferred to Boston Hospital for Treatment (BBG) - a boating accident?
Citi's FX Technicals group is biased to believe that the low in this correction may have been posted for Gold. Here's why...
- Egypt Girds for Muslim Brotherhood Protests (WSJ)
- SAC Capital's Steven Cohen Expected to Avoid Criminal Charges (WSJ)
- SAC insider-trading probe could last years (Reuters)
- RBI seen selling dollars around 60.59 levels: dealers (Reuters)
- China signals will cut off credit to rebalance economy (Reuters)
- Egypt army arrests key Muslim Brotherhood figures (BBC)
- Rise in Steel Prices Alarms Buyers (WSJ)
- Draghi-Carney Seek Independence Day Break From Bernanke (BBG)
- Samsung Warns Results Will Miss Forecasts (WSJ)
- Russia Prosecutor Seeks 6 Years in Jail for Putin Critic Navalny (BBG)
The New York Times had the definitive take on the vicious sell off in gold. The analysis provides a good representation of the current conventional wisdom. The only twist here is that the article from which this summary is derived appeared in the August 29, 1976 edition of The New York Times. At that time gold was preparing to embark on an historic rally that would push it up more than 700% a little over three years later. Is it possible that the history is about to repeat itself?
Gold has gone down Friday to under $1, 200 an ounce and that means it’s reached its lowest point for the past three years. Worse than that: it’s been the worst quarterly performance for gold for 45 years!
Overnight newsflow (which nowadays has zero impact on markets which only care what Ben Bernanke had for dinner) started in Japan where factory orders were reported to have risen the most since December 2011, retail sales climbed, the unemployment rate rose modestly, consumer prices stayed flat compared to a year ago, however real spending plunged -1.6% significantly below the market consensus forecast for +1.3% yoy, marking the first yoy decline in five months. This suggests that households are cutting utility costs more so than the level of increase in prices. By contrast, real spending on clothing and footwear grew sharply by 6.9% yoy (+0.6% in April) marking positive growth for a fourth consecutive month. Simply said, the Japanese reflation continues to be limited by the lack of wage growth even as utility and energy prices are exploding and limiting the potential for core inflation across the board.
It's almost as if the manic-depressive market has gotten exhausted with the script of surging overnight volatility, and following a week of breathless global "taper tantrumed" trading, tonight's gentle ramp seems modest by comparison to recent violent swings. With no incremental news out of China, the Shanghai composite ended just modestly lower, the Nikkei rushed higher to catch up to the USDJPY implied value, Europe has been largely muted despite better than expected news out of Germany on the unemployment front. This however was offset by a decline in Europe's May M3 (from 3.2% to 2.9%) while bank lending to NFCs and households simply imploded, confirming that there is no hope for a Keynesian, insolvent Europe in which there isn't any credit creation either by commercial banks or by the central bank (and in fact there is ongoing deleveraging across the board). US futures are rangebound with ES just shy of 1,500. We will need some truly ugly data in today's economic docket which includes claims, personal income/spending and pending home sales to push stocks that next leg higher. To think the S&P could have been higher by triple digits yesterday if the final Q1 GDP has just printed red. Failing that, the Fed's doves jawboning may be sufficient for a 100+ DJIA points today with Dudley, Lockhart and Powell all set to speak later today.
Once again it is all about central banks, with early negative sentiment heading into Asian trading - following the disappointing announcement from the PBOC about "ample liquidity" leading to the 6th consecutive drop in the Shanghai Composite while the PenNikkeiStock index tumbled yet again - completely erased and flipped as Mario Draghi spoke, although not to explain his involvement with the latest European derivative window-dressing scandal, but to announce that he is, once again, "ready to act" (supposedly through the OMT, which despite the best hopes to the contrary, still DOES NOT OFFICIALLY EXIST) and that while it is up to government to raise growth potentials, growth would "partly come from accommodative policy." In other words, ignore all BIS warnings, for Europe's unaccountable Goldmanite overlord Mario Draghi continues to promise more morphined Koolaid (read record Goldman bonuses) to any banker that comes knocking.