There has never been a more destructive central banking policy than the Fed’s current maniacal quest to stimulate more inflation and more debt. That’s what is killing real wages and economic vitality in flyover America - even as it showers prodigious windfalls of unearned wealth on Wall Street and the bicoastal elites who draft on the nation’s vastly inflated finances. Indeed, Fed policy has had a double whammy effect on the flyover zone economy. It drove inflation up when down was needed; and its strip-mined capital from American business when increased capital investment was of the essence.
In a world where fundamentals don't matter, everyone's attention will be on Janet Yellen who speaks at 1:15pm today in Harvard, hoping to glean some more hints about the Fed's intentionas and next steps, including a possible rate hike in June or July. And with a long holiday in both the US and UK (US bond market closes at 2pm today), it is no surprise overnight trading volumes have been dreadful, helping keep global equities poised for the highest close in three weeks; this won't change unless Yellen says something that would disrupt the calm that’s settled over financial markets.
This past Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of the US stock market’s death when stocks saw their last high. Market bulls have spent a year looking like the walking dead. They’ve tried to push back up to that distant high that means new life several times, but each time the market falls into a pit again to where the market is once again lower than it was a year ago. These are the last gasps of a stock market (and economy) that is struggling to rise again, which it simply cannot do now that QE has been turned off and the oxygen tank of zero interest is being slowly turned down.
It wasn't just Japan's PMI which overnight printed at a disappointing 47.6, missing expectations and signaling the sharpest decline in operating conditions since December 2012. Overnight Markit showed that the Chinese credit-induced global slowdown is coming far faster than most (if not Morgan Stanley) expected, when the Eurozone flash PMI printed at 52.9, the lowest level in 16 months. As Reuters put it, this offers "the latest evidence that a strong acceleration in growth in the first three months of the year was only temporary" and likely
While it most likely is just the usual Friday (past) midnight trial balloon by the Nikkei, a media outlet that has promptly become the BOJ's mouthpiece (recall a week ago the new owner of the FT reported that Abe would delay his 2017 sales tax increase, only to see the premier backpedal when the reaction in the USDJPY was not quite as desired), moments ago the Japanese publication reported that the Bank of Japan will "likely set aside funds for the first time to prepare for losses on its huge holdings of Japanese government bonds should the central bank end its monetary easing policy in the future."
The increasingly obvious trend reversal in inflation, amid softening growth, indicates the long predicted arrival of stagflation. While not unexpected, this is likely to propel the gold price higher.
After two violently volatile days in which the market soared (Monday) then promptly retraced all gains (Tuesday), the overnight session has been relatively calm with futures and oil both unchanged even as the BBG dollar index rose to the highest level since April 4. This took place despite a substantial amount of macro data from both Japan, where the GDP came well above the expected 0.3%, instead printing 1.7% annualized, which pushed stocks lower as it meant the probability of more BOJ interventions or a delay of the sales tax hike both dropped. Meanwhile, in China we got proof of the ongoing housing bubble when new property prices were reproted to have soared 12.4% Y/Y in April, which in turn pushed the local stock market to two month lows amid concerns the rampant housing bubble sector could divert funds from stocks. Yes, China is trading on the "risk" one bubble will burst another bubble.
Headline CPI rose 0.4% MoM (above +0.3% exp) for the biggest jump since Feb 2013 but sadly at the same time, price-adjusted hourly wages slid 0.1% in April. Following a small drop in March, from 8 year highs, Core (ex food and energy) Consumer Prices rose 2.1% YoY (as expected) abesent the effect of Gasoline's huge 8.1% MoM surge. Of course this is probably transitory but we note that rent inflation remains at 3.7% YoY - its highest since 2008 and definitively not transitory.
After last week's key event, the retail sales number, which the market discounted as being too unrealistic (and overly seasonally adjusted) after printing at a 13 month high and attempting to refute the reality observed by countless retailers, this week has a quiet start today with no data of note due out of Europe and just Empire manufacturing (which moments ago missed badly) and the NAHB housing market index of note in the US session this morning.
According to Deutsche Bank the worst kind of a recession, an "endogenous one" in which labor demand plunges as "corporations are not just tired of negative profit growth, but also because they are drawing a line in the sand from the perspective of defending margins" may be imminent... or is already here because based on "payroll reports like last week’s suggest it could be around here."
Donald Trump’s patented phrase “we aren’t winning anymore” lies beneath the tidal wave of anti-establishment sentiment propelling his campaign and, to some considerable degree, that of Bernie Sanders, too. What’s winning is Washington, Wall Street and the bicoastal elites. But most of America’s vast flyover zone has been left behind. Thus, the bottom 90% of families have no more real net worth today than they had 30 years ago and earn lower real household incomes and wages than they did 25 years ago. Needless to say, the lack of good jobs lies at the bottom of the wealth and income drought on main street, and this week’s April jobs report provided still another reminder.
Interestingly, the BoJ’s attempts to achieve its price inflation target continue to end in failure with unwavering regularity. While the central bank’s astonishing ineptness in this respect is a blessing for Japan’s citizens (at least for the moment, their cost of living doesn’t increase further), it harbors the danger that even crazier monetary experiments will eventually be tried.
Following yesterday's Yen surge in the aftermath of the disappointing BOJ announcement, the pain for USDJPY long continued, with the key carry pair tumbling as low as 106, the lowest level since October 2014 before stabilizing around 107, and is now headed for its biggest weekly gain since 2008, which in turn has pushed the US dollar to to its lowest close in almost a year as signs of slowing growth in the U.S. dimmed prospects for a Federal Reserve interest-rate increase. As a result, global stocks fell and commodities extended gains in their best month since 2010.
Less than one week after the BOJ floated a trial balloon using Bloomberg, that it would reduce the rate it charged some banks which set off the biggest USDJPY rally since October 2014, we are back where we started following last night's "completely unexpected" (for everyone else: we wrote "What If The BOJ Disappoints Tonight: How To Trade It" hours before said "shock") shocking announcement out of the BOJ which did absolutely... nothing. "It’s a total shock,” Nader Naeimi, Sydney- based head of dynamic markets at AMP Capital Investors told Bloomberg. "From currencies to equities to everything -- you can see the reaction in the markets. I can’t believe this. It’s very disappointing."
Venezuela is now so broke that it no longer has enough money to pay for its money.