The releveraging deleveraging continues. While US consumers barely dare to touch their credit cards, as they did in February when just $533 million in revolving consumer credit was added, they continue to take advantage of Federal largesse to take out student and car loans for the maximum amount possible, and as expected in February of the $18.1 billion in total credit taken out, a whopping 97% was non-revolving, or mostly student and GM loans (recall that now one can "finance" a car using their shotgun as collateral). To show just how dramatic the shift toward Uncle Sam as bank of only recourse for the US consumer has become, consider that in the past 12 months, of the $158.8 billion in total consumer credit issued, just $6 billion is credit card based. The remainder: debt that will never be repaid because those who take it out use it to finance such things as their education in vocational school (and iPads, tattoos, lap dances, semiautomatic guns and booze of course), as well as various GM cars that amortise by about 100% the second they are driven off the car lot.
Summary of key US events in the week ahead.
New highs will become a daily headline feature it seems until we actually have a down day.
Thursday, Jobless Claims fell (340K vs 347K previous), Productivity (-1.9% vs -2% previous) and Costs (4.6% vs 4.5% previous) were very poor reports, and the Trade Deficit grew (-$44.45B vs -$38B). Lastly, Consumer Credit expanded to $16.2 billion from $14.6 billion primarily on student loans (in a bubble) and auto loans (subprime auto loans booming).
Minutes ago the January Consumer Credit report was released. It was expected to post an increase of $14.7 billion. Instead it rose by $16.2 billion. On the surface this would be great: consumers are spending more, levering up confident in the future, etc, etc. Alas, as always in the New Normal, the story was below the surface. Specifically, of the $16.2 billion rise, a tiny $106 million was due to revolving, or discretionary spending credit card, debt. The balance, or 99% of the total, was non-revolving debt, best known as student loans, and less known as GM NINJA car loans. And here is the scary math: in the past 12 months, of the $153 billion in total consumer credit increase, just $6.4 billion was in revolving credit. The balance: student and car loans.
Futures Ignore 13 Year High In French Unemployment, Tumble In German Factor Orders; Rise On Spanish AuctionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/07/2013 07:55 -0400
In today's overnight trading, it was all about Europe (and will be with today's BOE and ECB announcements), where things continue as they have for the past six months: when it is a problem that can be "solved" by throwing bucketloads of money, and/or guaranteeing all risk, things appear to be better, such as today's EUR5.03 billion Spanish bond auction (the 0.03 billion part being quite critical as otherwise how will the authorities indicate the pent up demand by the Spanish retirement fund and various other insolvent ECB-backstopped Spanish banks for Spanish debt). And while events that can be "fixed" with massive liquidity injections are doing better, those other events which rely on reality, and the transfer of liquidity into the real economy, are just getting worse and worse. Sure enough, today we also learned that French unemployment rate just hit a 13 year high. But it wasn't only the French economy that continued to slide into recession: Germany wasn't immune either following "surprising" news that German January Factory Orders tumbled -1.9% M/M on expectations of a 0.6% rise, down from a revised 1.1% in December. The great equalization in Europe continues, as the PIIGS, kept still on artificial life support do everything in their power to drag down the core.
Earlier we reviewed the overnight plunge in China stocks, especially those related to the real-estate market in the aftermath of the latest move by the State Council to be far more hawkish than expected, in its effort to curb property inflation. The economic and market weakness that resulted has followed through to overnight US and European futures, even as peripheral bonds are trading roughly unchanged, surprising many who thought this weekend's Beppe Grillo statement on the future of Italian debt and presence in the Eurozone would be market moving: it wasn't as Grillo said nothing that he had not already made quite clear. In other, more recent economic news, UK construction PMI imploded to recession levels, plunging to 46.8 from 49.0, far below expectations and the lowest print since October 2009, setting the stage for much more Goldman-led reflation by the BOE. Also negative was the drop in the Eurozone Sentix Investor Confidence index which tumbled to -10.6 from -3.9 on expectations of -4.3, sending the EURUSD deep into 1.29 territory. It appears the Sentix excludes the soaring German confidence, which two weeks ago was the sole driver of all upside, not once but twice in one week. Today we get the first day of the sequester being digested by the market - this togetger with an empty macro calendar in the US means rumors and headlines will determine how far GETCO's algo push the stop hunts during the first and last 30 minutes of trading.
If anyone was hoping that in the peak holiday month of December the US consumer would finally open up the purse strings and "charge" everything, we have bad news: in the last month of 2012 revolving consumer credit dipped by some $3.6 billion, a reversion of the modest increases seen in November and October, and the biggest decline in credit card debt since July of 2012. Yet overall consumer credit rose by some $14.6 billion and beat expectations of a $14 billion increase. Why? Because as we have been warning for quite a while, everyone is now piling into student debt (and NINJA Uncle Sam subprime car loans). Sure enough, non-revolving credit soared by $18.2 billion in December - a monthly record for this time series since its revision several months back - and shows that when it comes to levering up, few are using their credit cards, as increasingly more opt to rotate proceeds from their "student loans" into everyday purchases.
It has been another quiet overnight session, with macro data decidedly mixed and "adjusted", because while the key German December Industrial Production number came in sequentially at 0.3% on expectations of a 0.2% rise, it fell more than expected on an unadjusted Y/Y basis, dropping 1.1%, on expectations of just a 0.5% drop. On the other hand, Spain's industrial output not unexpectedly stagnated for a 16th consecutive month, plunging by 6.9% in December in line with expectations, and sliding by a whopping 8.5% Y/Y. In bond auction news, Spain sold some €4.61 billion in 2015, 2018 and 2029 bonds, all pricing with yields substantially higher than recent January auctions, which in turn sent the Spanish 10 Year to 2 month highs of 5.52% after the auction, however it has since regained most of the losses.
16 point 7 trillion dollars. That is our current national debt. 12 point 8 trillion dollars. That is the amount households carry in mortgage and consumer debt. We are now addicted to debt to lubricate the wheels of our financial system. There is nothing wrong with debt per se, but it is safe to say that too much debt relative to how much revenue is being produced is a sign of economic problems. At the core of our current financial mess is how we use debt as a parachute for any problem. We’ve been masking the shrinking of the middle class by allowing households to take on too much debt for a couple of decades. The results were not positive. People think that this recovery has come from organic forces when in reality, it has come because of number games and also the Fed injecting trillions of dollars into the banking industry. Ironically these banks are using this money to speculate in markets like stocks and housing where they are now crowding out working and middle class Americans. When you have access to a printing press with no restraints, it becomes too tempting to spend into oblivion. Addictions are never easily cured and we have yet to come to terms with our insatiable appetite for debt.
Work in the mortgage market? Never read about Kamala Harris or the CA "Home Owner Bill of Rights?" Read on....
Gold bullion for delivery in December climbed as high as 1.2% to 5,000 yen per gram on the TOCOM. In ounce terms, the yen fell to 155,180/oz against gold, its highest level since 1980. According to the data on Bloomberg, the all-time record high for gold priced in yen was 204,850 yen on January 21, 1980. Thus, yen gold remains 33% below the record intraday nominal high from 1980. Given the Japanese determination to devalue the yen to escape deflation, the record nominal high will almost certainly be reached in the coming months. Platinum also climbed 2.7% to 5,130 yen per gram for the same month, the highest level for the most-active contract since May of 2010.
There has been a tightening of European financial conditions. Two more pieces of evidence were reported today. This issue may very well overshadow other issues at Draghi's press conference next week. German 2-year rates are moving above the US-- a 30 bp swing since early Dec. Meanwhile, US rates are rising relative to Japan. The dollar-bloc (and sterling) continue to under-perform. We also look at the US economic calendar for the day that features the ADP employment estimate, the first look at Q4 GDP and the conclusion of the FOMC meeting.
Germany and Japan have a long tradition of cooperating, at least when it comes to various iterations of world war, generically in the conventional sense (and where they tend to end up on the less than winning side). Which is why it may come as a surprise to some that earlier today German politician Michael Meister launched what is now the third shot across Japan's bow in what is rapidly escalating as the most dramatic case of global currency warfare between the world's net exporters (at least legacy net exporters: thanks to Japan's recent political snafus, it has now become a net importer as it is rapidly losing the Chinese market which accounts for some 20% of its exports) which started as long ago as 2010 when it was quite clear that currency warfare is what the insolvent world can expect, before it devolves into outright protectionism, and finally regular war as Kyle Bass explained recently. To wit: “What can Japan’s competitors do?” Meister said today in a telephone interview. “Either we’re all smart and do nothing, or we follow suit and create a spiral that hurts us all.”
A few years ago back when I used to watch an occasional bit of television, I would always have an internal debate with myself: which was more funny– Comedy Central, or CNBC? It was always a toss-up. One channel has talking puppets. The other has Steven Colbert. Both are satires of our bizarre reality. These days it seems financial media has surged ahead in this contest, rolling out one expert guest after another to beat a steady drum that economic recovery has settled on terra firma. Now, I’m an optimistic guy... and there are plenty of good news stories around the world. But just looking at the numbers, it’s clear that there is a major disconnect between sentiment and reality. On one hand, western governments and mainstream media sources tell people that their economies are recovering and moving forward. Sentiment is high, confidence is growing. Unfortunately the data show a completely different story...
With Alcoa kicking off the earnings season with numbers there were in line and slightly better on the outlook (as usual), attention will largely shift to micro data and disappointing cash flows over the next two weeks, even as the countdown clock to the debt ceiling "drop dead" D-Day begins ticking with as little as 35 days left until debt ceiling extension measures are exhausted and creeping government shutdowns commence. There was little in terms of macro data from the US, even as a major datapoint out of Germany, November Industrial Production, missed expectations of a 1% rise, pushing higher by just 0.2% M/M (up from a -2.0% revised October print), once again proving that "hopes" (as shown by various confidence readings yesterday) of a boost to the European economy are wildly premature. This disappointing print comes a day ahead of the ECB conference tomorrow, when the governing council may or may not cut rates, although it is very much unlikely it will proceed with the former at a time when at least the narrative is one of improvement - pursuing even more easing will promptly dash "hopes" of a self-sustaining trough (forget improvement) for yet another quarter. Putting the German number in context, Greek Industrial Output slid 2.9% in November, down from a revised 5% rise, refuting in turn that this particular economy is anywhere near a trough.