Deflation remains the enemy thanks to debt, deleveraging, demographics, tech disruption & default risks. US aggregate debt is today a staggering $58.0 trillion (327% of GDP); the number of people unemployed in the European Union is 23.6 million; Greece has spent 90 of the past 192 years in default or debt restructuring. 7 years on from the GFC... The massive policy response continues. Central bank victory means that lower rates, currencies, oil successfully boosts global GDP & PMI’s in Q2/Q3, allowing Fed hikes in Q4. Bond yields would soar in H1 on this outcome. Defeat, no recovery, and currency wars, debt default and deficit financing become macro realities.
The earnings season is all over except for the shouting, but the outcome doesn’t remotely validate Wall Street’s happy times narrative. Reported Q4 earnings for the S&P 500 companies (with about two-thirds reporting) stand at $25.02 per share compared to $26.48 in the year ago quarter. That’s right. So far Q4 profits are down 5% but shrinking corporate profits is something that you most definitely have not heard about on bubble vision. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We have had a tremendous inflation of PE multiples during the last three years in anticipation, apparently, of the US economy hitting escape velocity and the overall global economy continuing to power onwards and upwards. As is evident from the financial news and “incoming” data, however, that presumption is not remotely correct.
The world believes it is in a sweet spot. There is global consensus that central banks know what they are doing and are in control, and that if economies falter, a bigger dose of QE or ZIRP or NIRP (negative interest rate policy – we just made that one up) will keep it from getting out of hand. Additionally, there seems to be a universally held belief that the U.S. is unquestionably the safe haven for the foreseeable future, that its financial crisis and long recession are behind it and that China has complete control over its own destiny. It may not surprise you to learn that we either disagree with or remain unconvinced about every one of the foregoing propositions.
Marc Faber warned at the weekend that 2015 may be the year that investors will lose confidence in central banks and that investors will “suddenly realise what a scam that central banking is”.
- RBA cuts interest rates to record low of 2.25% (SMH)
- RBI keeps rates on hold (Reuters), India allows banks flexibility on big projects to reboot growth (Reuters)
- BP slashes capital spending by 20% (FT)
- Greek Retreat on Writedown May Move Fight to Spending (BBG)
- Rosneft accounting move helps BP beat profit forecast (Reuters)
- Amazon in Talks to Buy Some of RadioShack's Stores (BBG)
- Behind Obama's budget proposals, a gloomy view of the future (Reuters)
- How the Justice Department, S&P Came to Terms (WSJ)
- Staples, Office Depot in Advanced Talks to Merge (WSJ)
The rally that was sparked by yesterday's late-day FT report had all but fizzled overnight, replaced by more concerns about the state of the global economy when Austrialia's central bank surprised the world (just 9 of 29 analysts had expected this move) by becoming the 15th in a row to ease in 2015 (the list: Singapore, Europe, Switzerland, Denmark, Canada, India, Turkey, Egypt, Romania, Peru, Albania, Uzbekistan and Pakistan, Russia and now Australia), cutting the cash rate to an all-time low of 2.25%, and sparking more concerns about a global currency war or rather USD war against every other currency, when the USDJPY algos woke up again, and did everything they could to re-defend the critical 117.20 level in the USDJPY which has proven critical in supporting the market in recent weeks, once again using the Greek "softening tone" story as the basis for the ramp as Europe woke up, which in turn sent the DAX promptly to new all time highs, while the Athens stock market surged by 9% at last check.
ZIRP in essence is deflationary in nature, it becomes a self-fulfilling, reinforcing slippery slope of “Monetary Extremism” and should be rejected at all costs!
In January, gold surged 8 per cent in dollar terms, 11 per cent in pound terms and a very large 16 per cent in euro terms. January’s 8.4% gain for gold in dollar terms was the best month in terms of price gains in three years.
Tsipras Does Not Rule Out Russian Aid As UK Chancellor Calls Greece "Greatest Risk To Global Economy"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/02/2015 14:54 -0400
"It is clear that the stand-off between Greece and the eurozone is the greatest risk to the global economy," warns UK Chancellor George Osborne adding that he hopes Greece's new finance minister "acts responsibly," as Varoufakis toured Europe to discuss Greece's 'demands'. Mainstream media's attention, however, is not focused on this warning (remember, Greece is small and contained is the meme to pay attention to), but instead proclaimed Greece's pivot to Russia over when in fact, Tsipras words did anything but 'rule out' Russian aid as he said - specifically - "we are in substantial negotiations with our partners in Europe and those that have lent to us," adding that with regards Russia, "right now, there are no other thoughts on the table." Hardly the definitive "ruling out" that US media spins.
The new Greek PM has a thing against ties; The new Greek finmin, on the other hand, has a thing for boots and barbour jackets as seen in this series of photos of him arriving from Paris (where he secured French support for the Greek debt "renegotiation") for a meeting with UK chancellor George Osborne.
We are witnesses to an epic failure of planning, statecraft and social justice. Regardless of where your politics be, these elements are critical for a modern globally connected economy to function.
Sadly, the geopolitical backdrop is one of suspicion and hostility in the form of a festering proxy war between western and Russian interests in Ukraine and regional crisis and humanitarian catastrophe in the middle east as Syria and Iraq descend into stateless anarchy. These factors reduce the odds of a successful solution in Greece being found in time.
With every central bank scrambling to export deflation, and with the Saudis doing everything in their power to definancialize crude as an investment asset and destroy the US shale patch, it is probably no surprise that the ECB is utterly hopeless to prevent Europe from sliding into an all out deflationary contraction, which this morning Eurostat confirmed when it reported that in January, Euro Area deflation was "worse" (assuming it is worse when consumers pay less for goods and services, which it only is if they are sinking in debt) than the -0.5% expected reading, instead sliding from -0.2% in December to -0.6% in January, which also happens to be tied for the worst deflationary print in the Euroarea history, matching the number from July 2009 when the world was reeling in the global Great Financial Crisis depression.
Quietly behind the scenes - and not at all reflective of a collapsing global economy (because that would break the narrative of over-supply and pent-up demand) - The Baltic Dry Index plunged over 5% today to 632... That is the lowest absolute level for the global shipping rates indicator since August 1986...
Bill Gross Slams Broken Capitalism: "Policymakers Must Promote A Future Which Offers Hope As Opposed To Despair"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/29/2015 09:17 -0400
"Officials at the Federal Reserve – the most powerful and strongest of Parker Brothers – seem to now appreciate the hole that they have dug by allowing interest rates to go too low for too long.... While there is no better system than capitalism, it is incumbent upon it and its policymakers to promote a future condition which offers hope as opposed to despair. Capitalism depends on hope – rational hope that an investor gets his or her money back with an attractive return. Without it, capitalism morphs and breaks down at the margin. The global economy in January of 2015 is at just that point with its zero percent interest rates."
Forget rate hikes… an entire generation of investors and money managers (anyone under the age of 55) has been investing in an era in which risk has generally gotten cheaper and cheaper. What happens when the bond bubble bursts?