Central bank stimulus is not leading to virtuous circles but to vicious ones. How can we get out? – Only by changing our attitudes to monetary interventions fundamentally. Only if we accept that interest rates are market prices, not policy levers. Only if we accept that the growth we generate through cheap credit and interest-rate suppression is always fleeting, and always comes at the price of new capital misallocations. The prospect for such a change looks dim at present. The near-term outlook is for more heavy-handed interventions everywhere, and the endgame is probably inflation. This will end badly.
When it comes to keeping track of China's economy, one can listen, and ignore, the official goalseeked and made-up-on-the-fly data released by the government, or one can simply observe the price dynamics of the all-important Chinese commodities sector (because with fixed investment accounting for well over 50% of GDP, the marginal price of the commodities that are used in capital investment tell us all we need to know about the true state of the Chinese economy). It is here where we find that contrary to the recent performance of the Shanghai Composite, which has been trading exclusively on the coattails of the most recent unofficial QE by the PBOC, commodity prices in China are actually crashing across the board, which in turn suggest that the real GDP is most likely anywhere between 20% and 60%, if not more, below the "official" 7.5% GDP print.
We believe Fed’s actions would be more appropriately described as permitted cancerous beliefs to spread throughout the financial system, thereby killing Democratic Capitalism which is the basis of the capital markets. Today we’re going to explain what the “final outcome” for this process will be. The short version is what happens to a cancer patient who allows the disease to spread unchecked (death).
How do we know when an asset class is in a bubble? When everyone who stands to benefit from the continuation of the expansion declares it can't be a bubble.
"Rather than trying to spur private-sector spending through asset purchases or interest-rate changes, central banks, such as the Fed, should hand consumers cash directly.... Central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, have taken aggressive action, consistently lowering interest rates such that today they hover near zero. They have also pumped trillions of dollars’ worth of new money into the financial system. Yet such policies have only fed a damaging cycle of booms and busts, warping incentives and distorting asset prices, and now economic growth is stagnating while inequality gets worse. It’s well past time, then, for U.S. policymakers -- as well as their counterparts in other developed countries -- to consider a version of Friedman’s helicopter drops. In the short term, such cash transfers could jump-start the economy... The transfers wouldn’t cause damaging inflation, and few doubt that they would work. The only real question is why no government has tried them"...
The fourth (or is it fifth?) dead cat bounce in the US housing market is rapidly fading, as we just confirmed by the latest Case-Shiller Home Price Index data for the month of June, which saw a Y/Y increase in home prices of just 8.07%, below the 8.3% expected, and the slowest increase since December 2012. As the report noted, "for the first time since February 2008, all cities showed lower annual rates than the previous month." On a monthly basis, the NSA index, Case-Shiller's preferred, rose by 1.0% for the 10 and 20-City composite, with the Seasonally Adjusted composite declining for the second consecutive month: the last time there were two consecutive monthly declines during a price declining phase was in late 2010.
The econ data this week signal the US Economy is in a bull market (not the same as the Fed -roided stock and commodity markets), now let`s hope we can keep inflation from spoiling the party!
For those who are looking for just one chart with which to summarize the US housing market, here it is.
The arrogance, hubris and contempt for morality displayed by the ruling class is breathtaking to behold. They think they are untouchable and impervious to norms followed by the rest of society. They may have won the opening battle, but will lose the war. Discontent among the masses grows by the day. The critical thinking citizens are growing restless and angry. They are beginning to grasp the true enemy. The system has been captured by a few malevolent men. When the stock, bond and housing bubbles all implode simultaneously, all hell will break loose in this country. It will make Ferguson, Missouri look like a walk in the park.
- Just how many rats are there? Steven Cohen's Firm Loses Another Top Executive (WSJ)
- Iceland Sees a Potential Volcanic Eruption, and Airlines Cower (Bloomberg)
- Iraqi forces battle to drive jihadists from Saddam's home town (Reuters)
- Israel, Palestinians Agree to Extend Gaza Truce for 24 Hours (BBG)
- Pimco now buying junk (BusinessWeek)
- Pakistan arrests 147 in Punjab towns as protests in capital continue (Reuters)
- Ex-Rabobank Employee Pleads Guilty in Libor-Rigging Probe (BBG)
- Ebola Orphans Targeted by Aid Groups as Newest Victims (BBG)
- Two California youths accused of plotting high school shooting spree (Reuters)
- Only Rich Know Wage Gains With No Raises for U.S Workers (BBG)
A quick reminder of how geopolitics governs markets: on Friday, the market plunged 0.005% over fears Ukraine and Russia may be about to go at it all out after a fake report Ukraine shelled a Russian military convoy. On Monday, the same "market" soared just under 1% as the news that had caused the "crash" was refuted. That has been the dominant rinse, repeat theme for the past month and will continue to be well after Yellen's Friday speech at Jackson Hole (although one does wonder why she is not speaking on Wednesday when the symposium begins). Not surprisingly, with only modest re-escalation news overnight (that Russia is preparing further retaliatory sanctions against the West), which is simply "pent up de-escalation" in the eyes of Keynesian algos, futures are again up a solid 0.2% and rising, and the way the rampy USDJPY is being manipulated before its pre-market blast off, we may well see the S&P hit 1980, if not a new all time high before 9:30am, let alone during today's cash session. In any event, whatever you do, don't you dare suggest that algos should care one bit about Ferguson and its implications for US society.
The main event of the week will be Yellen's long awaited speech at the Jackson Hole 3-day symposium taking place August 21-23. The theme of this year's symposium is entitled "Re-Evaluating Labour Market Dynamics" and Yellen is expected to deliver her keynote address on Friday morning US time. Consensus is that she will likely highlight that the alternative measures of labour market slack in evaluating the ongoing significant under-utilisation of labour resources (eg, duration of employment, quit rate in JOLTS data) have yet to normalise relative to 2002-2007 levels. Any sound bite that touches on the debate of cyclical versus structural drivers of labour force participation will also be closely followed. Unlike some of the previous Jackson Hole symposiums, this is probably not one that will serve as a precursor of any monetary policy changes but the tone of Yellen's speech may still have a market impact and set the mood for busier times ahead in September.
- Yellen Dashboard Warning Light Glows as Millions Work Part Time (BBG)
- More US drones boosting global GDP: Unidentified war planes, explosions heard in Libyan capital (Reuters)
- London Home Asking Prices Plunge Most in More Than Six Years (BBG)
- Carney - Rate Hike before Pay Recovers (Times)
- No Fed fireworks, but plenty of clues, expected at Jackson Hole (Reuters)
- Kurdish, Iraqi forces in control of Mosul dam (Reuters)
- China Pushes Cleanup of Banks (WSJ)
- Russia Widens Ruble Trading Band in Move Away From Managed Rate (BBG)
- Dollar General Makes $9.7 Billion Family Dollar Counterbid (BBG)
- Autopsy finds unarmed teen killed by police was shot six times (NYT)
- Bull Market Waning as Barclays Sees 1% Gain for S&P 500 (BBG)
- Credit Suisse Caught Up in Espírito Santo Mess (WSJ)
Friday's main event, Ukraine's alleged attack of a Russian military convoy, has come and gone, and as we mused on Friday has promptly faded into the memory of all other fabricated headlines released by the country engaged in a major civil war and an even more major disinformation war. To be sure, Germany's DAX has recovered virtually all losses, US futures are up about 9 points, and the 10 Year is back to 2.37%. One wonders what algo-slamming headline amusement Ukraine has in stock for us today, although anyone hoping for a quick "de-escalation" (there's that word again) will have to wait following yesterday's meeting of Russian, Ukraine, German and French ministers in Berlin where Russia's Lavrov said he saw no progress on Ukraine cease-fire, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says in Berlin, adding that a cease-fire should be unconditional.
At the end of July, 2014, an article was distributed called “seven charts that leave you no choice but to feel optimistic about the US economy”. Although the facts that they presented are correct, the conclusion that they drew is not. In the following sections, we will examine and refute each of the seven pieces of "evidence" that were presented.