Weidmann had warned us about this...a new index, created by Handelsblatt, measuring the inflation of asset prices in Germany confirms the suspicion many have held - while German CPI stagnates (printing modestly hotter than expected today, driven by continued rises in higher gasoline prices and food prices), asset prices are rising sharply amid an over-relaxed monetary policy.
A look ahead at the major drivers in the days ahead.
- ECB Tells Greek Banks Not to Boost Exposure to Athens Government’s Debt (WSJ)
- Search teams probe wreckage of jet in French Alps (Reuters)
- Flight Recorders Offer Best Hope of Explaining Jet’s Fatal Drop (BBG)
- Yemen Houthi militia sweeps toward Aden in threat to president (Reuters)
- In Nigeria, Oil Price’s Slide Deters Theft (WSJ)
- Saudi Arabia building up military near Yemen border (Reuters)
- Quant Who Shook the Financial World Tries More Humble Approach (BBG)
- Executive Pensions Are Swelling at Top Companies (WSJ)
Following the first YoY deflation since 2009 in January, February's CPI YoY data managed to scrape its way back to unchanged (very modestly better than the 0.1% drop expected). Consumer prices rose 0.2% MoM - the most since May 2014 with gas prices up MoM for the first time since June. So what is the narrative now: if tumbling gas prices didn't get consumers to spend, rising gas costs will? Ex food and energy, prices rose 0.2% MoM (slightly hotter than the 0.1% rise expected) led by the shelter index (which increased 0.2 percent) accounting for about two-thirds of the monthly increase. The rent continues to be too damn high for most, and finally the BLS is starting to realize this.
It is a centrally-planned "market" and everyone is merely a bystander. Last night, following a dramatic China PMI miss, which as previously reported tumbled to the worst print since early 2014 and is flashing a "hard-landing" warning, the Shanghai Composite first dipped then spiked because all a "hard-landing" means is even more liquidity by the PBOC (which as we suggested a month ago will be the last entrant into the QE party before everyone falls apart). Then, this morning, a surprise beat by the German (and Eurozone) PMI was likewise interpreted by the algos as a catalyst to buy, and at this moment both European stock and US equity futures are their session highs. So, to summarize, for anyone confused: both good and bad data is a green light to buy stocks. In fact, all one needs is a flashing red headline to launch the momentum igniting algos into a buying spasm.
Recall Lenin’s quote: “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” Today, of course, the capitalists don’t even sell the rope; they give it away, for nothing. But what’s not to like? Stock investors are getting rich. Bondholders are making money. The government can spend as much as it likes. And the voters are bamboozled by it; they think it helps make the economy work better. This is going to be a hard habit to break. So, here’s the gist of my conclusion: Governments won’t break the habit of getting something for nothing. It will break them. But how?
All Good Things Must End... this may not be the end of the world exactly. But the end of the fiat money system President Nixon gave birth to in 1971... when he cut the dollar loose from gold. And it may feel like the end of the world, because of the social chaos it will provoke.
Following yesterday's inexplicable ramp in stocks, which perhaps was driven by the collapse in oil (which sent energy companies higher because a 30x energy forward PE is cheap), and by the latest battery of disappointing economic data which made it less likely the Fed will proceed with a tightening move, overnight futures have given up a portion of the gains, and were trading down 0.3% at last check. And yet, if yesterday's weakness was driven by USD weakness, today's jump in the EURUSD above 1.06 (on absolutely disastrous German ZEW investor index print) is now somehow responsible for risk offness? And, adding confusion to insult, the 10 Y is down to 2.05% and in danger of re-entering a 1% handle. Sadly, nothing makes sense any more and today's conclave of central planners in the Marriner Eccles building ahead of tomorrow's 2pm FOMC "impatient" announcement isn't going to make it any better.
"While equity prices look expensive relative to real economic activity, they are arguably cheap relative to bond valuations. S&P 500 earning yields are similar to BB/B bond yields, as opposed to A/BBB yields historically, indicating excessive yield-seeking behavior in the face of reduced bond market liquidity," UBS cautions.
As noted earlier, starting early with the overnight session there was already some serious fireworks in Asia, when first the USDJPY soared then tumbled, pushing the Nikkei lower some 0.7% with it, driven entirely by the surge in Dollar which rose to a fresh 12 year high overnight after gaining as much as 0.59%, in an extension of Friday’s post-NFP gains. Additionally, the EUR/USD slipped below 1.0800 to touch its lowest level since Sept’03 while USD/JPY rose above 122.00 for the first time since Jul’07, after breaching long-term resistance at 121.85. However, in recent trade the pair has seen a straight line sell-off which in turn has sent US equity futures sliding, and the ES down about 14 points as of this moment. Meanwhile, the frontrunning of the ECB continues, with German 10 Year yields sliding -3bps to 0.281%, the lowest in series history. Also touching fresh record lows were Austrian, Belgian, Dutch, Finnish, Irish, Italian, Spanish 10 Year rates.
The belief that the market economy requires “steering” by altruistic central bankers, who make decisions influencing the entire economy based on their personal epiphanies, has rarely been more pronounced than today... Whether this is seen as good or bad by the average citizen is not even up for debate: it is simply what the political and bureaucratic elites have long ago decided is good for the citizenry, since they think they know best.
Just hours after India's 'surprise' rate cut (which saw the SENSEX surge and then dump to close red), Poland has surprised the market with a bigger-than-expected rate cut. Despite two-thirds of econmomists expecting a mere 25bps cut, the Polish Central Bank slashed its benchmarket 7-day rate to just 1.5% - the lowest on record. Today's cut "makes up for inaction in previous months" after Poland held rate flat in January and February (but echoes Poland's Oct 'surprise' greater-than-expected ease of 50bps. Polish stocks dropped on the news (but recovered), banks are weaker, and the Zloty is selling off on this news (pushing back towards record lows)...
With key economic data either behind us (with the downward revised GDP), or ahead of us (the February payrolls on deck), and the Greek situation currently shelved if only for a few days/weeks until the IMF payment comes due and the farce begins anew, stocks are focuing on the widely telegraphed 25 bps Chinese rate cut over the weekend, which however has so far failed to inspire a broad based rally either in Asia (where the SHCOMP closed up 0.8% after first dipping in the red) or across developed markets. In fact, as of this moment futures are hugging the unchanged line as the USDJPY attempted another breakout of 120.000 but with numerous option barrier expiration stop at that level, it has since retracted all the overnight gains and is back to the Sundey lows, even as the EURUSD has seen a powerful breakout from overnight lows and is currently at the highest level since the US GDP print, following the release of the final European February PMI data, as a result of USD weakness since the European open.
Overview of the major events in the week ahead.