I gave a 45-minute presentation on Yield Purchasing Power at American Institute for Economic Research in Great Barrington, MA on October 14, 2016. I am grateful to the Institute for recording video of my presentation plus extended Q&A.
From 2011 (Jackson Hole) to 2015 (end QE3) everything was awesome for The Fed's 'trickle-down optimism' plan. As stocks rose so consumer confidence lurched higher as the artfice of equity market 'wealth' smoke-and-mirror-ed the population to believe that even if stuff wasn't awesome now, it soon would be. That has now ended... and as the following 'death cross' shows - Yellenomics is over.
Gold and bond prices dropped and stocks popped as yet another open-mouth operation went underway this evening from none other than Boston Fed president Eric Rosengren. Ahead of next week's FOMC meeting, and just days after another Fed president said no April hike, Rosengren spewed firth that "I don't think financial markets have it right." Of course, what this preacher means is that while stock markets are perfectly efficient (and correct), bonds and rate futures areclearly inefficient and "investor outlooks for Fed rate hikes are too pessimistic," because "the US economy is fundamentally sound."
We were wrong: several minutes ago when we documented the collapse in the Gallup Economic confidence, we said that "we look forward to the UMich confidence report to beat expectations when it is released in just a few minutes." Moments ago the official print came out and it was not pretty: sliding from 91 to 89.7, not only did the print miss expectations of a rebound to 92.0, but was the lowest print since September 2015. The reason for the drop? Consumers reported a slowdown in expected wage gains, weakening inflation-adjusted income expectations, and growing concerns that slowing economic growth would reduce the pace of job creation.
Government efforts to tackle a glut of vacant housing in China by spurring home lending have triggered a bigger problem: a surge in risky subprime-style loans that is generating alarm. Home buyers in China normally put down a third of the cost of a new property upfront. But a rapid rise in buyers borrowing for their down payments—an echo of the easy credit that cratered the U.S. housing market and sparked the financial crisis—has led authorities to clamp down
At the end of the day, it was all about the dollar and the reason for this morning's stock surge around the globe, as we noted last night, is absurdly delightful: Yellen signaled "weakening world growth" and "less confidence in the renormalization process." In other words, the "bad news is good news" mantra is back front and center.
A yuuge surge in stocks - amid collapsing earnings and GDP expectations - appears to have enabled a modest bounce off 2-year lows for consumer confidence. The Conference Board’s index ofconsumer confidence increased to 96.2 in March from 94 a month earlier - but still below January's levels. The bounce was driven purely by "hope" as expectations for the future rose and current conditions dropped to 4-month lows. At the same time Gallup's consumer confidence survey plumbes new depths to its lowest since 2015.
With Europe back from Easter break, we are seeing a modest continuation of the dollar strength witnessed every day last week, which in turn is pressuring oil and the commodity complex, and leading to some selling in US equity futures (down 0.2% to 2024) ahead of today's main event which is Janet Yellen's speech as the Economic Club of New York at 12:20pm, an event which judging by risk assets so far is expected to be far more hawkish than dovish: after all the S&P 500 is north of 2,000 for now.
At the same time as the PBOC was cautioning about the dangers of excess debt (just as it injected a record amount of loans into the financial system), China's central bank warned about dangers from a stock market bubble, and perhaps just to assure the bubble gets even bigger, at the same time China eased on margin debt limits, in the process sending Chinese stocks soaring higher by 2.2%, and pushing the Shanghai Composite over 3000 for the first time in months as China now appears set to attempt another housing bubble "soft landing" while at the same time restarting its housing bubble.
But, but, but - low gas prices, high stock prices... everything is awesome. It appears not even the average joe American consumer is fooled by the latest manufactured rally in stock prices as UMich confidence tumbles to 5-month lows (90 vs 92.2 exp) with future expectations "hope" perfectly anti-correlated with the surge in stocks...
"On the negative side, the forward inflation targets were downgraded substantially, ECB didn’t address the issue of capacity constraints, and the shift in focus away from facilitating further currency depreciation will, in our view, end up being a negative for region’s equity market. Overall, we believe the latest package is far from a game changer."