ConvergEx's Nick Colas quarterly review of “Off the grid” economic indicators tells a story somewhat less sanguine than the typical government data. Confidence is returning, yes. But consider just how low it got: the top 3 Google autofills for “I want to sell my …” featured “kidney” for the first 3 quarters of this year. It was replaced in the current quarter with “Laptop”. Progress, of a sort...
Despite the collapse of inflation expectations in last month's UMich confidence, the push to 7-year highs was unstoppable (though missing expectations)...after soaring confidence amid Ebola scares and crashing stocks in October, even the surveyers were questioning the respondents' replies "it would be surprising if recent declines in household wealth did not reverse some of the recent gains in optimism in the months ahead." But sure enough, to maintain the magic, UMich consumer confidence rose from November's missed expectations to the highest since Jan 2007 at 93.6. Inflastion expectations for the next year fell from the preliminary to the lowest in over 4 years.
While the cancellation of 'The Interview' wiped billions off the US Box Office take in 2014 (</sarc>), ticket sales in North America will total roughly $10.5 billion, according to The NY Times, the lowest since 2000 (after inflation). Regal Cinemas and AMX Theatres have seen profits collapse and Carmike Cinemas has plunged to a loss as major movie delays (from Pixar and Universal), "pirating" of several movies (The Expendables 3 and Annie) before their release, and studios suffering one dud after another (Warner Bros.) the 4% YoY decline - for what is ultimately an affordable luxury - suggests the gas-price-savings are going anywhere but discretionary spending (just as we noted previously).
There are two key events driving overnight risk prices: first, there is the Bloomberg story that "China Offers Russia Help With Currency Swap Suggestion", which was previously covered extensively here a week ago, but now that the algos have official confirmaiton they have sent the Ruble shorts into a panic short squeeze, with the USDRUB tumbling another 5% as of latest. The other key development pushing oil prices modestly higher again, is yesterday's speech by Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi who "expressed confidence prices will pick up", however not due to a drop in supply - because he made it very clear OPEC will never cut output and instead will wait for the high cost producers to exit the game - but amid improved economic growth.
Yesterday's epic market surge, the biggest Dow surge since December 2011 on the back of the most violent short squeeze in three years, highlighted just why being caught wrong side in an illiquid market can be terminal to one's asset management career (especially if on margin), and thus why hedge funds are so leery of dipping more than their toe in especially on the short side, resulting in a 6th consecutive year of underperformance relative to the confidence-boosting policy tool that is the S&P. And with today's session the last Friday before Christmas week, compounded by a quadruple witching option expiration, expect even less liquidity and even more violent moves as a few E-mini oddlots take out the entire stack on either the bid or ask side. Keep an eye on the USDJPY which, now that equities have decided to ignore both HY and energy prices, is the only driver for risk left: this means the usual pre-US open upward momentum ignition rigging will be rife to set a positive tone ahead of today's session.
We are far too speechless to even comment on the latest Goldman "leading indicator" swirlogram, which we can only assume was made public after another unprecedented "North Korean hack" at US "recovery" propaganda central, so here is Goldman's own take:
Since the beginning of this year, Wall Street economists and analysts have been consistently prognosticating that following the Federal Reserve's latest bond buying campaign, economic growth would gather steam and interest rates would begin to rise. This has consistently been the wrong call. The recent decline in interest rates should really not be a surprise as there is little evidence that current rates of economic growth are set to increase markedly anytime soon. Consumers are still heavily levered; wage growth remains anemic, and business owners are still operating on an "as needed basis." This "economic reality" continues to constrain the ability of the economy to grow organically at strong enough rates to sustain higher interest rates. This is a point that seems to be lost on most economists who forget that the Federal Reserve has been pumping in trillions of dollars of liquidity into the economy to pull forward future consumption.
Sometimes I wish I could just passively accept what my government monarchs and their mainstream media mouthpieces feed me on a daily basis. Why do I have to question everything I’m told? Life would be much simpler and I could concentrate on more important things like the size of Kim Kardashian’s ass... The willfully ignorant masses, dumbed down by government education, lured into obesity by corporate toxic packaged sludge disguised as food products, manipulated, controlled and molded by an unseen governing class of rich men, and kept docile through never ending corporate media propaganda, are nothing but pawns to the arrogant sociopathic pricks pulling the wires in this corporate fascist empire of debt.
- New Normal headlines: Global stocks up on hopes of China policy easing (Reuters)
- China inflation eases to five-year low (BBC)
- U.S. Lawmakers Agree on $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill (WSJ)
- U.S. Braced for Blowback as CIA Report Lays Bare Abuses (BBG)
- CIA tortured, misled, U.S. report finds, drawing calls for action (Reuters)
- CIA Made False Claims Torture Prevented Heathrow Attacks (BBG)
- Oil Resumes Drop as Iran Sees $40 If There’s OPEC Discord (BBG)
- OPEC Says 2015 Demand for Its Crude Will Be Weakest in 12 Years (BBG)
- Greek yield curve inverted as politics raise default fears (Reuters)
The Nikkei 225 has fallen over 300 points from the v-shaped recovery close at the end of the US day session and is now trading below the lows of the day at 2-week lows. USDJPY has plunged over 100 pips having briefly neared 120.00, now back below 119.00. JGB Futures are trading near record highs prices as yields collapse to near-record lows (30Y -23bps since QQE, 20Y -15bps) only seen during last year's yield-crash. No surprise then with the bond market "dead" according to market participants and yields negligible, that RBS has decided to exit the Japanese fixed-income business, slashing 200 jobs, and surrendering its primary bond dealership.
Without doubt, the most memorable line from the latest quarterly report by the BIS, one which shows how shocked even the central banks' central bank is with how perverted and broken the "market" has become is the following: "The highly abnormal is becoming uncomfortably normal.... There is something vaguely troubling when the unthinkable becomes routine." Overnight, "markets" did all in their (central banks') power to justify the BIS' amazement, when first the Nikkei closed green following another shocker of Japanese econ data, when it was revealed that the quadruple-dip recession was even worse than expected, and then the Shanghai composite soaring over 3000 or up 2.8% for the session, following news of the worst trade data - whether completely fabricated or not - out of China in over half a year.
The investment game is becoming more suspect and dangerous as asset price levels continue to ignore economic weakness and the lack of necessary political reform. Instead, many investors (not just in the EU) have become conditioned like B.F. Skinner rats to bid up financial risk assets whenever a central banker makes a promise about accommodation or further stimulus; this even occurs when data disappoints, because investors expect ‘the promise’ to soon follow. Fear of missing the upside and underperforming peers and benchmarks is what makes this reflexivity work. This is actually a sad state of affairs and an ever-more dangerous and epic game of chicken. This conditional response pattern is unsustainable. Indebtedness and market speculation continue to soar. In the end, printing is a not a solution, but a source of long-term harm to markets and national economies.
In any economy, nothing works in isolation. For every dollar increase that occurs in one part of the economy, there is a dollars worth of reduction somewhere else. The real issue is what the fall in commodities in general, including oil, is telling us about the real state of the economy.