Having missed for a record 5 months in a row, Dallas Fed Manufacturing Outlook collapsed further in May to -20.8 (against expectations of -12.4). Thisis the 5th drop in a row (only ever seen in a recession) and 6th monthly miss in a row (never seen before) as it appears Former Dallas Fed Fisher was talking crap once again when he said "net, low oil prices were good for Texas." Despite Consumer Confidence indicating, somehow, that Texans are the most confident in a year (up from 121 to 130 in May), business survey continues to point to notable weakness with employment collapsing, hours worked crashing, and production plunged. However, on a bright note, expectations for the future jumped from -5.9 to +4.9 - hope springs etermal eh?
While yesterday most markets were closed and unable to express their concerns at the very strong showing of "anti-austerity" parties in Spain's municipal election from Sunday, then today they have free reign to do just that, and as a result European stocks are broadly lower, alongside the EURUSD which dripped under 1.09 earlier today, with Spanish banks among the worst performers: Shares of Banco Sabadell, Bankia, Caixabank and Popular were down 1.8 to 2.3% earlier this morning, and while the stronger dollar was a gift to both the Nikkei and Europe in early trading, after opening in the green, Spain's IBEX has since slid into the red on concerns of what happens if the Greek anti-status quo contagion finally shifts to the Pyrenees.
With US markets closed for the Memorial Day holiday, and some of the key European markets likewise shuttered for public holiday including the UK, Germany and Switzerland, it is difficult to find where one can observe or trade the weekend's newsflow, which is once again centered on developments in Europe, where on Sunday Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party suffered its worst result in a municipal election in 24 years while Greece continues to threaten with default 5 some years after it should have officially pulled the plug.
Stanley Kubrick's highly-disturbing film-version of A Clockwork Orange takes place in a dystopian futuristic London and exposes the extreme battle of good versus evil. Extracting out the violence, we can’t help but notice the symbolic similarities of the motif-ridden story with the 2008 financial market fallout and subsequent attempts at economic rehabilitation. The film forces us to consider how much liberty we are willing to give up for order, and how much order we are willing to give up for liberty. The central idea of the film has to do with the freedom of the individual to make free choices, but free choice becomes problematic when it undermines the safety and stability of society. It reminds us of the markets price discovery mechanisms (or lack thereof).
Hersh has pissed off some very powerful people and institutions with this story, and that means the inevitable media pushback to discredit his reporting is already underway... He got the same hostile reaction from his media colleagues when he broke his biggest story of his career: The 1974 exposé of the CIA’s massive, illegal domestic spying program.
Ben Bernanke’s skin is as thin, apparently, as is his comprehension of honest economics. The emphasis is on the “honest” part because he is a fount of the kind of Keynesian drivel that passes for economics in the financially deformed world that the Bernank did so much to bring about.
Despite all of Dick Fisher's promises, The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Outlook had collapsed in the last 4 months (and is down for 6 months in a row - the longest losing streak in history) and April did not disappoint. Against expectations of -12, Dallas Fed printed -16 (the 5th large miss in a row). Silver-lining enthusiasts will note this is a slight rise from 2-year lows at -17.4 in March but remains close to 6-year lows. Of the 15 sub-cmponents only wages and employment were positive (sure why not) as capacity utilization and new order growth rates slowing further. Prices Paid are at their most negative since Lehman and "hope" collapsed. It appears low oil prices are not a net positive to the Texas economy after all.
For the second week in a row, initial claims were worse than expected and increased year-to-date, While still below the magic 300k levels, claims printed 295k against expectations of 288k confirming the stagnation of the job market since the end of QE3 and the government's fiscal year. California and New York saw the biggest rise in initial claims with only Illinois seeing a drop; notably Texas saw layoffs across various sectors as it seems it ius not as 'diverse' as Richard Fisher propagandized. After 4 straight weeks of decline, continuing claims rose this week by the most in almost 3 months (but remains close to 15 year lows).
Baker Hughes has increased the number of jobs it plans to cut from 7,000 to 10,500 and will close 140 facilities worldwide citing a need to "reduce the cost base and resize [the company's] footprint" in the face of challenging market conditions. Meanwhile, JPM reminds Richard Fisher that "the only thing dropping in the Texas economy is the number of jobs."
Just as the S&P appeared set to blast off to a forward GAAP PE > 21.0x, here comes Greece and drags it back down to a far more somber 20.0x. The catalyst this time is an FT article according to which officials of now openly insolvent Greece have made an informal approach to the International Monetary Fund to delay repayments of loans to the international lender, but were told that no rescheduling was possible. The result if a drop in not only US equity futures which are down 8 points at last check, but also yields across the board with the German 10Y Bund now just single basis points above 0.00% (the German 9Y is now < 0), on its way to -0.20% at which point it will lead to a very awkward "crossing the streams" moment for the ECB.
As noted several hours ago, the main story overnight is not that Greece once again narrowly averted a Grexit when it was reported it would make its scheduled payment to the IMF today (adding that next month is a "different story") a development that was met with yet another ultimatum by its "partner", the Eurozone, but the dot com bubble deja vu-esque move in Hong Kong stocks, where the Chinese, seemingly tired of pushing up their local market into the stratosphere have turned their attention southward and are desperate to buy up every single Hong Kong stock.
There is virtually nothing in the substance of the deal for the War Party to attack. To defeat the deal, the War Party will have to defend its three-decade long campaign of exaggerations, distortions and bellicose animosity toward the Iranian state. But that is impossible because the axis-of-evil narrative was never remotely true. What the framework deal actually does, therefore, is to open the door to an eventual US withdrawal from its bloody, failed history of intervention in the middle east. So doing, it would pave the way for a drastic shrinkage of an obsolete war machine that has had no purpose since 1991 except to spill American blood and treasure in a region of the world where it has no business meddling. No wonder the War Party is going hysterical.
With the Fed supposedly steeling itself at last to remove a little of its emergency ‘accommodation’, it has suddenly become fashionable to warn of the awful parallels with 1937 as an excuse The Fed must not act today. We strongly refute the analogy. Instead, the real Ghost of ’37 takes the form of mean-spirited and, counter-productive 'pitchfork populism' politics and the spectre should not be conjured up to excuse the central bank from further delaying its overdue embarkation on the long road back to normality and policy minimalism.