The Dow had its narrowest range day of the year today and volume was dismal (as weak as yesterday's) but we made new record highs so USA USA USA. From the start of the day stocks were in a wild world of low volume levitation of their own as bonds made lower and lower yields and USDJPY was not supportive at all. Once Europe closed, the bid for US equities disappeared and Nasdaq and Russell tumbled, with the Dow and S&P catching down to unch. Bundesbank bullshit sent the EUR lower (cracking below 1.37 at 6 week lows) and thus the USD higher (+0.3% on the week). Treasury yields tumbled (and flattened) all day with 30Y -2bps on the week (and 7Y -6bps from today's highs). VIX had another seizure today (this time spiking up) and closed higher.
It is not coincidental that the middle class and small business are both in decline. Entrepreneurial enterprise and small business have long been stepping stones to middle class incomes and generational wealth, i.e. wealth that is passed down to future generations rather than consumed. As the headwinds to entrepreneurial enterprise and small business rise, the pathway to middle class prosperity narrows.
Some people are either born or nurtured into a time warp and never seem to escape. That’s Janet Yellen’s apparent problem with the “bathtub economics” of the 1960s neo-Keynesians. As has now been apparent for decades, the Great Inflation of the 1970s was a live fire drill that proved Keynesian activism doesn’t work. That particular historic trauma showed that “full employment” and “potential GDP” were imaginary figments from scribblers in Ivy League economics departments—not something that is targetable by the fiscal and monetary authorities or even measureable in a free market economy. Even more crucially, the double digit inflation, faltering growth and repetitive boom and bust macro-cycles of the 1970s and early 1980s proved in spades that interventionist manipulations designed to achieve so-called “full-employment” actually did the opposite—that is, they only amplified economic instability and underperformance as the decade wore on.
The US approach to the Russia/Ukraine situation reflects a serious misunderstanding of the situation. Russia has little choice but to try to raise the price of products it is selling, any way it can. It needs to cut out those who cannot afford its products, including the Ukraine. If Europe increasingly cannot afford its products, Russia needs to find customers who can afford them. There is little chance that the United States is going to be able to help Europe with its natural gas needs in any reasonable timeframe. Our best chance at keeping the global economy “working” for a little longer is to try to keep globalization working as best we can. This will likely require “making nice” to countries we are unhappy with, and putting up with what looks like aggression. Policymakers like to think that the US has more power than it really does, and like to encourage stories suggesting great power in the press. Unfortunately, these stories are not true; we need policymakers who understand our real situation
Confused by the market? You are not alone with irrational and "Fear of Missing Out" momentum trades and (not so great) sector re(un)rotation all that matters (as has been the case for years with fundamentals not relevant for about 24 months now), so here are some tips from Scotiabank's Guy Haselmann who believes "market noise can be simplified into the following: QE= risk on, End of QE=risk off. QE is now half way toward ending, so now is the time to adjust. The fact that…… EM central banks are hiking, China is attacking its credit bubble, and Japan hiked its VAT tax while the “third arrow” is M.I.A., are also reasons to de-risk. If sanctions on Russia expand to products or industries, then real problems to EU growth will arise. This is something to watch carefully."
Everyone knows that when it comes to apologists and scapegoats, Q1 was all about weather excuses, and as SocGen already showed earlier today when it took a $730 million charge on its Russian subsidiary, Q2 misses will all be Ukraine's fault, which is ironic because as recently as a month ago experts were screaming over each other how little Ukraine matters for the global economy, how meaningless Russian exposure is to western banks and so on. But while one can at least superficially justify a bank provisioning against deposit flight and the accumulation of bad debt in a country in which paying one's debt is the last thing on the population's mind, a new and quite different victim of the Ukraine crisis was revealed earlier today when beer titan Carlsberg swung to a net loss and issued a profit warning: beer.
News that China is soon to surpass the United States as the largest economy in the world is a stark reminder of how the American people are harmed by the welfare-warfare state, crony capitalism, and fiat currency. The only way to avoid continuing collapse is to finally reject an interventionist foreign policy, stop bailing out and subsidizing politically powerful industries, and restore a free market in money.
Capture, corruption, irreparable harm--and little hope for change.
Of the economic reports and events in the week ahead, we identify four potential drivers and emphasize one--the ECB meeting.
Oil prices have increased recently as tension in Ukraine has escalated and raised concerns about the risks of disruption in Russian energy exports. There is a risk that the security situation in the east Ukraine will worsen even further ahead of the 25 May elections. As Nordea notes, Russia is as important an oil exporter to Europe (of both crude and refined products) as it is a gas exporter, and the consequences of a cut in Russian oil supplies could be as grave since the global oil market has little back-up capacity to lean on. As a result, a halt in the oil deliveries from Russia to Europe will spark a sharp spike in oil prices (potentially to $150/bbl) and in a worst case scenario an oil crisis and European recession (and major slowdown in global growth) and US shale oil or an SPR release will prevent the spike.
The still-dominant consensus view that America’s economy is poised to single-handedly yank the world out of its lethargy is likely to be disappointed once again with the odds high that our economy will remain burdened by growth-inhibiting monetary policies. In addition, it will continue to be negatively impacted by various other impediments, including a populace that is increasingly under-employed, an unwieldy and inscrutable tax code, a Rube Goldberg-like healthcare system, an increasingly ossified infrastructure, and a regulatory apparatus that congests the lungs of our economy, small businesses... weaning the stock market off of casino capitalism promises to be anything but pain-free. But did any responsible adult really believe there would be no pay-back for all these years of the Fed’s force-fed gains? If you do, you probably also believe foie gras grows on trees.
"Everybody knows interest rates are going to rise." Whether you agree with this premise, or not, is largely irrelevant to this discussion. The current "bullish" mantra is the "great bond bull market is dead, long live the stock market bull." However, is that really the case? When the bond bubble ends this means that bonds will begin to decline, potentially rapidly, in price driving interest rates higher. This is the worst thing that could possible happen.
Speaking at The Brooking Institution on April 12, Reserve Bank Of India Governor Raghuram Rajan - no stranger to controversial truthiness (as we have noted here and here) - made clear his views on the rest of the world's central bankers as he concluded, "the first step to prescribing the right medicine is to recognize the cause of the illness. And, when it comes to what is ailing the global economy, extreme monetary easing has been more cause than cure. The sooner we recognize that, the stronger and more sustainable the global economic recovery will be."
What you have to realize is that this trend is inevitable... we are hopelessly lost in a declining spiral vortex of debt and corruption that will only change with war and civil unrest.