Earlier we presented one side of the possible consequences of branding China a currency manipulator. In the realm of pundits nowhere is the China debate more pronounced than between Nobel (or is it Oscar) winner Paul Krugman and Morgan Stanley Asia Chairman Stephen Roach, in which the latter has proposed some amusing applied sporting goods suggestions vis-a-vis the former. Last night, the Morgan Stanley strategist made his case even clearer in an Op-Ed in the FT, titled "Blaming China will not solve America's problems." As we are fairly confident that the last thing America needs at this point is to antagonize its primary lender (sorry Ron Insana, the whole "if you owe a bank one trillion, you own the bank" is the most stupid thing one can say in this particular relationship), we would tend to agree that scapegoating at the national level, while easy to do (just ask Bill Lockyer and G-Pap), only shows the market that one is hopeless to actually fix the underlying problems and instead seeks to distract from the matter at hand. Roach's argument, by the way, is spot on: America is deflecting from the savings problem (which incidentally, after yesterday's PCE once again outpacing Consumer Incomes, slipped to 3.1% or the lowest levels since 2008). At this rate we will soon be back to negative savings, and the anger at China will be greater than ever. Why look to ourselves to fix a problem that so easily can be scapegoated onto others. And if it means purchasing a few more MaxiPads, pardon iPads, so much the better (out of curiosity, we wonder just where the components for the iPad are made, and just where it is assembled...).
Inverting Cause And Effect: Do Asset Prices (And Stock Market Bubbles) DetermineThe Economy And Monetary Policy?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/27/2010 17:23 -0500
Earlier Alan Greenspan shared some Fed insight, explaining the diagonal rise of the stock market, which can be summarized as follows - "stock prices determine the economy, not the other way round." In one simple sentence, Greenspan demonstrates that the Fed is not only chock full of people who can't read economic textbooks good (sic) but is populated by a subset of people suffering from cause-and-effect inversion disorder (it is also chock(er) full of new and improved stock traders and algos populating Liberty 33, doing all they can to make sure that in 13 up days, there is just one down). Yet in a market which has broken all laws of rationality, is the Fed's flawed self-fulfilling prophecy gaming the only thing that the amazing American's recovery is based on? To be sure, the main reason why economic skeptics such as Rosenberg, Edwards, Janjuah, and (ever decreasing) others retain their pessimism is that while the marker has now priced in one of the most ebullient, V-shaped economic recoveries in the history of the world, the underlying economy has stagnated and even downshifted into a double dip along numerous metrics, even despite ongoing fiscal stimulus and monetary pumpatude. So what is going on? Simple - the Fed, and by implication the administration, believe that once confidence and the market reach a given level, Joe Consumer will forget that the mortgage bill has not been paid in 12 months, the credit card in 3, that all neighbors lost their jobs a year ago and still can't find a new ones, and instead will merely look at the Dow (not the S&P - for some reason government/Fed workers still don't realize that nobody follows the DJIA, but whatever) and the UMich consumer confidence, for a barometer of economic health. The fallacy of this proposition is of course beyond preposterous, but these and such are the thoughts of the Federal Reserve.
Appropriately, Goldman's Sven Jari Stehn has just published an analysis looking at whether there is a two-way relationship between asset prices and the economy (merely the latest in a long line of such queries), and most relevantly: monetary policy.
The yuan-induced heated debates prompted two prominent economists--Paul Krugman and Jeffrey Frankel--to come up with two versions of swan songs for China. Ironically, the two, however diverging, could still lead to the same "next black swan" scenario warned by Albert Edwards at SocGen last November.
If you were wondering what is driving all the action in the stock market again, and, as long discussed on Zero Hedge, over the past 6 months, wonder no more. Presenting today's intraday JPY-EUR pair, better known as the carry, and best known as the S&P 500. With no fundamentals driving the market to speak of, or at least all fundamentals rolling over into double dip territory, the only safe correlation is once again the carry trade.
The velocity of money is collapsing. The end of a 50 year super cycle in lending. The government might as well be pushing on a wet noodle. The gold bugs have got it all wrong. The chances of the Fed being able to head off an inflationary burst are close to nil. But the bond vigilantes may have to wait a couple of years. Tax hikes of 3% of GDP next year will strangle the recovery in the crib. A wide ranging, in depth interview with John Mauldin on Hedge Fund Radio.
Yet another Fed-dictated market aberration today as the 10 year swap spread turns negative. “It’s hedge-related activity related to new corporate issuance,” said Christian Cooper, an interest-rate strategist at Royal Bank of Canada in New York, one of 18 primary dealers that trade with the Federal Reserve. “As more and more institutions receive, then swap rates will go lower.” We expect that with ZIRP continuing in perpetuity, many more abnormal market phenomena will transpire, courtesy of Ben Bernanke increasingly dominating every aspect of capital markets. We have yet to see if this most recent foray into economic central planning by our central bank will, for the first time in history, prove to be successful.
Existing Home Sales Double Dip Deteriorates With Biggest Increase In Months Supply Inventory In 20 YearsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/23/2010 09:48 -0500
The double dip in housing is getting worse by the month. After hitting a nearly 6.6 million in existing home sales in late 2009, the number has now plunged to 5.02 million, a decline of 0.9% sequentially, and a major drop from the artificially induced peak. Sales for single-family homes were down and were up for condos and co-ops, indicating a preference for smaller, cheaper units among a population concerned with record unemployment and expiring homebuyer taxes. The number came on top of expectations of 4.98 million, with the range being from 4.75 million to 5.2 million units. Sales in the Northeast and Midwast improved slightly, even as sales in the South and recently bubble West declined. Yet the biggest stunner was the months of supply on market which jumped by a 20 year high, from 7.8 months to 8.6 months.
With All Important Liquidity Rolling Over, Will Market React As Both Q Ratio And CAPE Index Indicate 50% Overvaluation?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/22/2010 09:37 -0500
David Rosenberg points out two important observations that go to the heart of what has been propping up the market for so long - cheap, abundant liquidity. As Rosie shows, both Money Of Zero Maturity (MZM) and M2 have now officially rolled over: "The liquidity backdrop is becoming less alluring — MZM has declined YoY for the first time in 15 years and the trend in M2 is down to a mere 1.5% from 10% when the bear market rally began in March 2009." And while Rosenberg is cautious in saying that equities are "overvalued by more than 20% on a normalized Shiller P/E ratio basis" the real stunner emerges when one considers just how mispriced the market is based on a combination of Q ratio and the CAPE index. According to economist Andrew Smithers, equities are about 50% rich currently, which should beat least a little concerning to all the electronic mountain of worry climbers.
Market pundits scrambled to fill up air time by attributing the market movement to this data or that comment. The market rally catalyst was quite singular however. As rumors spread of a firmed up Greek rescue package, and the S&P suggested it was shifting Greece out of ICU, the Euro soared. It spiked 0.7% which is a significant move in the currency arena. The result was immediately evident and dramatic. Gold spiked $20 and oil shot up over $2. Those moves came long before the FOMC statement. Those moves were not influenced by some piece of economic data. Those moves were not the result of some shift on the outlook for the President’s health plan. Those moves were the direct result of the jump in the Euro and the correspondent weakening of the dollar. We believe that the Euro/Dollar move was also the primary catalyst in the stock market. Given the action in gold and oil, the stock market’s reaction was rather mute. With such a strong tailwind, you might have expected something like a 100/150 point move in the Dow. The real question on stocks was what was holding stocks back given the currency boost.
The smoothed ECRI leading economic index for the U.S. fell last week for the 12th week in a row, to stand at its lowest level since July 2009. Something tells us a slowdown is about to start. With a week to go before the debate with the legendary Jim Grant at the Plaza in New York, we seem to recall that this was the index he was using several months ago to predict that nominal GDP growth was set to accelerate to a double-digit annual rate. We seem to have stopped well short of that mark. - David Rosenberg
The game is on the table. We’ll watch to see if the bulls can break out from the January levels and excite sideline money. Or, will the bears have a goal-line stand and force a double top. Friday did not give us a clear answer. Stay tuned! - Art Cashin
- Bring back the capitalist model (Washington Times)
- Initial claims at 462,000, higher than consensus, continuing claims higher by 37,000; snow not implicated (Bloomberg, Reuters)
- Naked swap crackdown in Europe rings hollow without Washington (Bloomberg)
- Volcker rule gets lift in Senate amid reform talks (Reuters)
- Greeks strike over budget cuts, stocks decline (NYT, Bloomberg, Reuters)
- China inflation surges (Bloomberg, Reuters)
My favorite party boy economist, Nouriel Roubini, just came out with his analysis for the second half and he notes that we may be heading toward a double-dip recession. Too much negative news, he frets. I have been saying this for some time.
Is Okun's Law Broken? SF Fed Discusses Why Record Worker Productivity Is Painting An Overly Optimistic Jobs PictureSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/08/2010 15:35 -0500
One of the big puzzles over the past several months has been the apparent plateau in the unemployment rate, even despite a double dip in initial claims and an overall sentiment that the economy is ready to take a second, post-stimulus, leg down. Aside from the traditional allegations of data fudging by the BLS, one concept often presented has been the unprecedented surge in labor productivity, which despite overall declines in hours per worker and a deterioration in the labor force, has allowed GDP to not only regain its losses from the recent lows, but to stage a dramatic improvement. Today, in a must read paper, the San Francisco Fed tackles precisely this topic, and comes to the unpleasant conclusion that unemployment rate forecasts may well be too rosy for 2010 and beyond, especially if companies continue to sacrifice workers at the expense of ever increasing "worker productivity" which in itself is about as "credible" as any other data series presented by the government over the past year.
A lot of conflicting data came in last week. There is a lot of positive news, but does it all add up to a recovery or is the cyclical recovery headed for a stall? Nothing has changed the underlying conditions that would relieve the credit freeze. And without credit, the economy will stall.