While real consumer spending growth remains perilously close to recessionary levels for another year, one of our favorite indicators of real consumer sentiment (as opposed to the anchoring bias-driven surveys we are force-fed a few times per month) is the growth in spending on eating meals out. As Bloomberg Briefs notes, spending on dining out has fallen from 4.5% growth at the beginning of the year to under 1.8% growth currently (the lowest since May 2010). Add to this the slowdown in jewelry spending and the drag on discretionary spending likely from Sandy and we suspect the modicum of estimate revisions that have started to be published by sell-side analysts will need a little more adjustment.
If it wasn’t because the government sponsorship doping Q3 US GDP, we wouldn’t have much on the bright side.
European equities still desperate to shoot up. Feels like too many fickle shorts and too many uncomfortable longs at the same time.
Markets uneasy after round-tripping back to OMT / QE unleash levels and no follow-up stimuli to be seen.
There have been no major overnight events or surprises, with Europe continuing a war of semantics whether the Spanish bailout is a bailout, and attempting to avoid it as long as possible while reaping the benefits of Spanish bonds which are trading at post-bailout levels for a 3rd months now, as well as whether Greece will receive more Troika money (the WSJ reported that Greece requires €30 billion through 2016 to close its funding gap: a number which will eventually double, then triple), and yet as of moments ago the EURUSD slipped under the psychological 1.2900 support, which also means that 1400 on the SPX cash is in play. Italy did not help after business confidence declined from 88.3 to 87.6 on expectations of a rise to 88.7 What news there has been is largely the realization that reality is here to stay, following misses and guides lower from Amazon and Apple, and no matter what some low-volume algo tries to represent by buying the stock in the after hours session, profitability and cash flow creation for both companies will be lower going forward. In terms of newsflow, the NYT released a report last night that China's Premier may have been hiding billions in "related-party" transactions - imagine that, and one which promptly got the NYT blocked from China's internet. Obviously this is a touchy topic for China days ahead of its internal party vote, and one which will hardly score the US brownie points with the domestic administration. Concurrently, Japan announced a new fiscal "stimulus" for a whopping ... $9.4 billion. That is roughly the amount of money needed to evade deflation for 2-3 hours. More apropos, Bild reports what Bloomberg noted earlier, namely that Merkel has no majority for reported Greek aid, further blowing up the hole that Greek finmin Stournaras dug himself in with his lies earlier this week. So while everyone is once again on edge, with the Shanghai composite sliding 1.7%, and key technical levels either breached or in play, today's session promises to be quite interesting.
Each and every day, a veritable smorgasbord of CEOs are trotted out before our very eyes to spew forth their company's vision and how it's all looking so rosy. Of course we hang on every word as gospel and react accordingly. Similarly, a rise in consumer sentiment is more ammunition for bulls to argue that animal spirits are here and we can go back to the old re-leveraging ways of spending-more-than-we-have (or ever will have). There's only one problem - when push comes to shove and real capital has to be put to work, its not happening! Expectations for capital expenditure (investment in growth and maintenance) has plunged in the last few months, while at the same time, consumer sentiment has surged (no doubt led by an ebullient equity market and inherent recency bias). As we wrote previously, in an environment of soaring liquidity and free money, the hurdle rate on new investments collapses, as does the requirement to invest in CapEx, both growth and maintenance. In fact, as we have shown over the past year, the age of the global asset base has hit a record high across the world, both in the developed and developing countries, leading to record low return on assets on record low assets (and record debt encumbrance, but that's a different story). And since companies are forced to dividend cash to shareholders at a record pace (in lieu of fixed income in a ZIRP environment), there is less and less cash left to support CapEx spending (or hiring!).
"The consensus view was that QE3 was going to send the stock market to the moon. Yet the peak level on the S&P 500 was 1,465 on September 14th, the day after the FOMC meeting. The consensus view was that the lagging hedge funds were going to be forced to play some major catch-up and take the stock market to the moon too. Surveys show that the hedge funds have already made this adjustment...Q3 EPS estimates are still coming down and now stand at -3% YoY from -2% at the start of October....this is the first time the Fed embarked on a nonconventional easing initiative with the market overbought and with profits and earning expectations on a discernible downtrend. Not only that, but the fact the pace of U.S. economic activity is still running below a 2% annual rate, which is less than half of what is normal at this stage of the business cycle with the massive amount of government stimulus, is truly remarkable. Keep an eye on the debt ceiling being re-tested — the cap is $16.394 trillion and we are now at $16.119 trillion. This is likely to make the headlines again before year-end — the rating agencies may not be taking off much time for a Christmas break."
Divergence in thinking.
- Global easing deluge resumes: Bank of Korea Slashes Policy Rate (WSJ)
- And Brazil: Brazil cuts Selic rate to new record low of 7.25 pct (Reuters)
- With Tapes, Authorities Build Criminal Cases Over JPMorgan Loss (NYT) Just don't hold your breath
- IMF snub reveals China’s political priorities (FT)
- Add a dash of trade wars: Revised Duties Imposed by U.S. on Chinese Solar Equipment (Bloomberg)
- IMF calls for action as euro zone crisis festers (Reuters)
- Dubai Losing Billions as Insecure Expats Send Money Abroad (BBG)
- Softbank in Advanced Talks to Acquire Sprint Nextel (WSJ)
- Lagarde calls for brake on austerity (FT)
- EU lambasts Turkey over freedoms (FT)
- Race Tightens in Two States (WSJ)
The BOJ pioneered QE in March 2001, with two objectives. The first was to eliminate deflation, which took hold in the mid-1990s; and the second was to shore up Japan’s fragile financial system. Did it work? Yes, for the second objective - the BOJ arguably bought time for banks tied up in NPL disposal; but, unfortunately, QE was not successful in combating deflation. The BOJ’s intended policy transmission mechanism was so-called portfolio rebalancing. Ideally, the buildup in banks’ deposits at the BOJ that earned no return (but carried zero risk) should have prompted banks to seek higher returns (with higher risk) and thus increase their lending. But portfolio rebalancing did not kick in for several reasons; most of which are the same as are occurring in the US currently. More fundamentally, however, Japan's demographics hindered any hopes of a capex-driven recovery - and policy can do little to affect that. While the US faces a less dismal demographic picture, the Japanese experience highlights that other policies (as Bernanke himself admits) are required for any sustained benefit in the real economy.
Equity markets continued to edge higher today as market participants grew hopeful that a full scale bailout of Spain will take place in the very near future. So much so that even though reports that Spain is to seek bailout this weekend was denied, the risk on sentiment held strong. As a result, SP/GE and IT/GE bond yield spreads tightened further, with IT 10s now yielding close to 5%. The renewed sense of security saw EUR/USD squeeze higher towards the psychologically important 1.3000 level, while GBP/USD also benefited from a weaker USD and is trading in minor positive territory in spite of another round of disappointing macro data from the UK. Going forward, the second half of the session sees the release of the latest ISM New York index, as well as the regular weekly API report. Both the BoE and the Fed are due to conduct another round of asset purchases at 1445BST and 1600BST respectively.
Well, my fellow Slope-a Dopes, your favorite intrepid seafaring Frenchman got blown out of the water by Benjamin Moby-Dick Bernanke once again. I have to hand it to captain grey beard, for a guy with a curiously quivering lower lip, who seems so utterly unsure of himself every time he opens his moronic mouth, he sure does have some pair of ballistic brass balls. Not only did he delivered on his QE3 promise, but he actually turbo charged it into a terrifying trifecta! Boatswain BDI was left for dead, desperately drowning in a sea of red DOOMs (Deep Options Out of the Money). So now that Moby Dick has breached and surged the equity waves to new highs, where do we sail from here?
The Fed panicked. It is extraordinary that the Fed would announce an open-ended "we'll print as much as it takes, as long as it takes" policy. Chairman Bernanke is sending a signal to the markets and to government that the economy is bad and getting worse and that the Fed will do its part as everyone expects them to do. This is a clear signal to the markets and the world that the Fed stands for monetary inflation. They don't know what else to do. Here is the fallout.
Suddenly the delicate balancing of variables is once again an art and not a science, ahead of a week packed with binary outcomes in which the market is already priced in for absolute perfection. Per DB: We have another blockbuster week ahead of us so let's jump straight into previewing it. One of the main highlights is the German Constitutional Court's ruling on the ESM and fiscal compact on Wednesday. On the same day we will also see the Dutch go to the polls for the Lower House elections. Thursday then sees a big FOMC meeting where the probabilities of QE3 will have increased after the weak payrolls last Friday. The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors will meet on Thursday in Mexico before the ECOFIN/Eurogroup meeting in Cyprus rounds out the week on Friday. These are also several other meetings/events taking place outside of these main ones. In Greece, PM Samaras is set to meet with representatives of the troika today, before flying to Frankfurt for a meeting with Draghi on Tuesday. The EC will also present proposals on a single banking supervision mechanism for the Euro area on Tuesday. If these weren't enough to look forward to, Apple is expected to release details of its new iPhone on Wednesday. In summary, it will be a good week to test the theory that algos buy stocks on any flashing red headlines, no longer even pretending to care about the content. Think of the cash savings on the algo "reading" software: in a fumes-driven market in which even the HFTs no longer can make money frontrunning and subpennyiong order flow, they need it.
Several recent releases of data bring the problem into focus; a sharp focus. In Germany, once thought to be almost invincible and somehow outside the recession that is raging in Europe, the crisis is just beginning - but it is clearly indicated by the newest data which shows that Germany has begun the descent down the rabbit hole with the rest of its brethren. Germany is now trapped; having lost control of the situation - first by the way the game has been played; and second by the limitations of her capital. We suspect you will soon find a politician in Germany who is opposed to the policies of Ms. Merkel and who will rise to power based upon "Germany for the Germans". All of this is also defined by a very warped time-line. The problems are now, the recession is now, the economic difficulties are now and the solutions that have been proposed are one to three years out. Germany is in the box and we are afraid that it is now Frau Pandora and not Frau Merkel who owns the key.
Last week was a scratch in terms of events, if not in terms of multiple expansion, as 2012 forward EPS continued contraction even as the market continued rising and is on the verge of taking out 2012 highs - surely an immediate catalyst for the New QE it is pricing in. This week promises to be just as boring with few events on the global docket as Europe continues to bask in mid-August vacation, and prepare for the September event crunch. Via DB, In Europe, apart from GDP tomorrow we will also get inflation data from the UK, Spain and France as well as the German ZEW survey. Greece will also auction EU3.125bn in 12-week T-bills to help repay a EU3.2bn bond due 20 August held by the ECB. Elsewhere will get Spanish trade balance and euroland inflation data on Thursday, German PPI and the Euroland trade balance on Friday. In the US we will get PPI, retail sales and business inventories tomorrow. On Wednesday we get US CPI, industrial production, NY Fed manufacturing, and the NAHB housing index. Building permits/Housing starts and Philly Fed survey are the highlights for Thursday before the preliminary UofM consumer sentiment survey on Friday.
- Gu Kailai Trial Has Ended, verdict imminent (WSJ)
- Greek unemployment rises to 23.1 pct in May, new record (Reuters)
- Greece’s Power Generator Tests Euro Fitness Amid Blackout Threat (Bloomberg)
- Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Results May Ease Wind-Down Push (Bloomberg)
- Monti takes off gloves in euro zone fight (Reuters)
- U.S. Fed extends comment period for Basel III (Reuters)
- HP in $8bn writedown on services arm (FT) - must be good for +10% in the stock
- News Corp in $2.8bn writedown (FT) - must be good for +10% in the stock
- Japan to Pass Sales Tax Bill After Noda Avoids Election Push (Bloomberg)
- China May Set New Property Controls This Month, Securities Says (Bloomberg)