With all the excitement over France and Germany's emergence from recession based on this morning's advance first-guess GDP data - a recovery-less recovery the likes of which the US has been languishing in for years - we thought it worth a reminder of the hopeful hockey-stick growth embedded in the IMF's forecast for the European Union. Assuming that Europe is still clinging together in 2016, we present the IMF's dreams of the future.. and most intriguingly the OECD's forecast that Germany will grow at a mere 1.1% for the next 50%.
Every failing organization, from empires to school districts, responds to its embarrassingly visible failure by proclaiming one reform after another. To take but a few from a long list, China is "reforming" its hopelessly corrupt, debt-based central-planning economy, President Obama is "reforming" the Global Surveillance State (into a presumably kinder, gentler machine gun hand?), The European Union is "reforming" its banking sector and the overly complex U.S. Sickcare system is being reformed with 2,300 pages of additional complexity under the Orwellian title of Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a. ObamaCare. The one dynamic that matters is of course left unsaid: the inability of the Status Quo to reform itself, i.e. undertake fundamental, systemic reforms. This inability has many facets but only one root: political sclerosis caused by entrenched, vested interests seeking to protect their perquisites and power. This is as true of local school districts as it is of entire states.
We hear day in and day out that the economy here is going down the tubes, that the banks there are tying up the markets and exploiting them and that China is contracting, that Greece will be the ruin of the already-ruined European Union and the so the list goes on
In the world these days the markets often believe the rhetoric. This would be political rhetoric, corporate rhetoric or the prayers and hopes of the talking heads. This is especially true in the equity markets. Critical advice in this environment is, "forget what they tell you; just look at the numbers." So what is the Fed doing? As of July 31, 2013 they have parked $1,157 billion in foreign banks as compared with $1,112 billion in U.S. banks. To us this is a telling sign. The European banks are in trouble and the Fed is propping them up. One of the consequences of tapering, when it comes, may well be less available cash for this task and then the cracks in the European banks may well blow into gaping holes... "There is the plain fool, who does the wrong thing at all times everywhere, but there is the Wall Street fool, who thinks he must trade all the time."
- Solyndra Cola: California aims to 'bottle sunlight' in energy storage push (Reuters)
- Ackman may sues himself after all - Penney Board Assails Director William Ackman, Considered 'Rogue' After Releasing Deliberations (WSJ)
- CFTC subpoenas metals warehousing firm as inquiry heats up (Reuters)
- Obama Plan to Revamp NSA Faces Obstacles (WSJ)
- Japan growth slows in second quarter, adds to sales tax uncertainty (Reuters)
- China Urbanization to Hit Roadblocks Amid Local Opposition (BBG)
- Parents Losing Jobs a Hidden Cost to U.S. Head Start Budget Cuts (BBG)
- US seeks better access to Africa as part of trade pact review (FT)
- Singapore Cuts Trade Outlook as China Slowdown Caps Recovery (BBG)
- White House Sifts Fiscal Ideas With Band of Senators (WSJ)
- Spain may ask United Nations for support over Gibraltar (Reuters)
- Michigan Safety Net for Boomers Frays on Bankrupt Detroit (BBG)
The UK economy is recovery at its best rate since 2010 today with figures that are released by the British government via the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Obama cancels meeting with Putin in Moscow amid tensions over NSA leaker Edward Snowden. http://t.co/Wdy2SYXvSt
— WSJ Breaking News (@WSJbreakingnews) August 7, 2013
Confidence leads to spending; spending strengthens the economy; and economic strength buttresses confidence. It’s a circular, self-fulfilling prophesy. Confidence can also fuel market movements. Belief that the price of an asset will rise causes people to buy the asset... making its price rise. This is another way in which confidence is self-fulfilling. But, of course, as Oak Tree Capital's Howard Marks points out, the confidence that underlies economic gains and price increases only has an impact as long as it exists. Once it dies, its effect turns out to be far from permanent. As the economist Herb Stein said, "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop." This is certainly true for confidence and its influence. As far as confidence today, Marks notes significant uncertainty is one of the outstanding characteristics of today’s investing environment. It discourages optimism regarding the future and limits investors’ certainty that the future is knowable and controllable. In other words, it saps confidence. This is a major difference from conditions in the pre-crisis years. In fact, Marks warns he doesn't remember when his list of 'uncertainties' was this long...
If there was any doubt that the taper would take place shortly, it can be wiped out following the just released June international trade data, which showed a surge in exports to a record high $191.2 billion, an increase of $4.1 billion compared to May, even as imports declined by $5.8 billion to $225.4 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of just $34.2 billion, or 22.5% lower compared to the $44.1 billion in May, which is the lowest trade deficit since October 2009. It is also the biggest beat to expectations of -$43.5 billion since March 2005. Whether this plunge in the deficit was the result of the new GDP methodology is unknown, however the resulting surge in revised Q2 GDP following this bean-counting addition to the last month of Q2, means that the economy grew even more than expected and that the Fed's tapering course is now assured. It also means Q3 GDP based on July trade data will be dragged down as there is no way this surge in the collapsing deficit can be sustained.
The summer doldrums continue. Overnight news included an expected 25 bps rate cut in Australia to a new record low of 2.50%, although the statement surprised by not retaining its expected dovish outlook. Perhaps this is due to the PBOC finally folding and despite raging for weeks that it was dead serious about its tightening experiment, injected another CNY12 billion in its banks via 7-day reverse repos at 4.0% compared to the previous, July 30 CNY14 billion 7 day injection at 4.40%. The Chinese central bank came, saw, and didn't like what it found in the Chinese interbank liquidity situation. Whether and how this will change the Politburo's reform agenda, and whether the provided liquidity will do much if anything, remains to be seen. Elsewhere, in Europe, German factory orders soared 3.8% on expectations of +1.0%, however all driven by Paris airshow orders which boosted bulk orders, and without which orders would have fallen -0.7%. The UK upward momentum continues with Industrial Production's turn now to soar to the highest since January 2011, while Italian GDP declined less than expected, dropping -0.2%, on expectations of a -0.4% slide. In other words Europe continues to rep and warrant that it does not need any assistance from the ECB despite a complete lock up in private lending and credit creation. Good luck with all that.
Just four months ago, the CEO of Titan International laid down some ugly truthiness on the dismal realities in the united socialist states of France. It was not well-received by the French. But it seems we have been too hasty with our prognostications on the hard-working (or hardly working) French. As Reuters reports, despite France's move to a 35-hour week (a flagship of the socialist government) a decade ago, French workers put in an 'astounding' 39.5 hours a week in 2011. While management complain that these policies have bloated labor costs and hurt their ability to compete globally (as Taylor argued), "this is the problem of France. It's cut in half. Half the French are working like madmen to make up for the other half who stick to their hours." But just for some context, this rise in French (average) working hours, leaves them ranked 21st in terms of hours worked per week out of the 27 states that comprised European Union in 2011.
NSA Spying Directly Harms Internet Companies, Silicon Valley, California … And the Entire U.S. EconomySubmitted by George Washington on 07/31/2013 13:47 -0400
Mass Surveillance Is “Killing Our Most Productive Golden Goose”
- Ackman Says Pershing Square Takes 9.8% Stake in Air Products (BBG) - So is APD Carl Icahn's biggest ever short yet
- Latest Hilsenplant: Summers Hedges His Doubts on Fed's Bond Buying (WSJ)
- China Stocks World’s Worst Losing $748 Billion on Slump (BBG)
- U.S. Spy Program Lifts Veil in Court (WSJ)
- Abenomics on the rock again: Japan July manufacturing PMI shows growth at 4-month low (Reuters)
- EADS to be renamed Airbus in shake-up (FT)
- Goldman's GSAM has significantly increased its exposure to European equities (FT) - there is a reason why this is Goldman's worst division
- Japanese Megabanks Post Mega Profit Gains (WSJ) - when one excludes MTM impact from rate surge of course
- Ex-workers sue Apple, seek overtime for daily bag searches (Reuters)
- Hong Kong Yuan Deposits Snap Eight-Month Increase on Cash Crunch (BBG)
- Downtown NYC Landlords Remake Offices in Shift From Banks (BBG)
Is there such a thing as a ‘safe’ fiat currency? The term itself is as intellectually disingenuous as terms like ‘fair tax’ or ‘government innovation’. But as we’ve been exploring recently why modern central banking is completely dysfunctional, it does beg the question – is any currency ‘safe’? Let’s look at the numbers for some data-driven analysis. But which is the safest major currency?
- More Doctors Steer Clear of Medicare (WSJ)
- Syrian Looters in Bulldozers Seek Treasure Amid Chaos (BBG)
- Siemens CEO Peter Löscher Is Set to Leave His Post After Series of Earnings Misses (WSJ)
- Silver Vault for 200 Tons Starts in Singapore as Wealthy Buy (BBG)
- Omincom and Publicis merger shows that advertising is now firmly in the business of Big Data: collecting and selling the personal information of millions of consumers (NYT)
- Apple supplier accused of labour violations (FT)
- 'BarCap was the Wild Wild West – that’s what we called it’ (Telegraph)
- P&G chief seizes opportunity in era of three-day stubble (FT)
- Federal Reserve 'Doves' Beat 'Hawks' in Economic Prognosticating (WSJ) - LOL: Fed "hawks"