When a former Goldman executive and the prior head of its housing research team comes out with a shocking analysis so contrary to what the same individual would do in his "former life" when he would be extolling the "inevitable" rise of home prices from here to eternity and beyond, and also throw in an open letter to none other than president Obama, predicting at least a 15% crash in home prices in the next three years, a move which would without debt catalyze the next US recession, it is time to pay attention. Meet Joshua Pollard, who in February 2009 took over coverage of US Housing at Goldman Sachs. His point, in short: "House prices are 12% overvalued today. They have already started to decline. Today’s misvaluation matches the excess of 2006-07, just before the Great Recession... 5 of the last 7 US recessions were led by a weakening housing market... I am lamentably confident that home prices will fall by 15% within three years." Or, as some may call it, crash.
Despite lagging mortgage applications and home sales, homebuilder sentiment surged for the 4th month in a row to 59 (against expectations of 56) to its highest since November 2005. Prospective Buyer Traffic (hope) soared to 47. The South region rose dramatically as Midwest fell. The disconnect between hard data in the housing market and soft survey guesses by the homebuilders grows ever wider...
“It’s a questionably unquestionable situation... Are the markets prepared for a shocking answer... Will Janet Yellen announce the final end to QE? Or electrify the bulls with more accommodation? Can Yellen’s eloquent elocution energize the markets…or will she magnetize the bears? Tune in next time Fed fans... Same Fed time... Same Fed channel”
The financial media has no concern of negative outcomes, Wall Street has growth priced in that has never occurred in history, and there is NO expectation of a recession built into any forward assumptions. We have indeed discovered financial “Utopia,” or at least that is what is currently believe.
- -0.07%: Germany Secures Record Low Funding Cost at Bond Auction (WSJ)
- Pentagon Sees Possible Role for U.S. Ground Forces Against Islamic State Militants (WSJ)
- China Joins ECB in Adding Stimulus as Fed Scales Back (BBG)
- Stealthy or Normal? Analysts Diverge on PBOC’s Action (BBG)
- Sony Forecasts Massive $2B Loss as Smartphones Lag (AP)
- Islamic State campaign tests Obama's commitment to Mideast allies (Reuters)
- Brent Crude Rebounds as Libya’s Sharara Oilfield Shut (BBG)
- Market calm over Scottish vote at odds with disaster warnings (Reuters)
It has been a story of central banks, as overnight Asian stocks reversed nearly two weeks of consecutive declines - the longest stretch since 2001 - and closed higher as the same catalysts that drove US equities higher buoyed the global tide: a combination of Chinese liquidity injection (for the paltry amount of just under $90 billion; "paltry" considering Chinese banks create over $1 trillion in inside money/loans every quarter) and Hilsenrath leaking that despite all the "recovery" rhetoric, the Fed will not be turning hawkish and there will be no change in the Fed language today (perhaps not on the redline but Yellen's news conference at 2:30pm will certainly be interesting), pushed risk higher, if not benefiting US equities much which remains largely unchanged.
The Fed consistently managed the Fed Funds rates to keep oil prices steady, even when it required mid-teens interest rates and back-to-back recessions in 1980-1982. Since US Fed Funds rates were managed to preserve US creditors’ and oil exporters’ purchasing power in oil terms, the system proved acceptable to most nations. While the Petrodollar arrangement worked well for nearly thirty years, the arrangement began to wobble beginning around 2002-04...
US Industrial Production and the NY Fed Empire State Manufacturing survey are the two main releases for the US. In Europe, the euro area trade balance will be the notable print. Beyond today, US PPI, German ZEW and UK CPI are the main economic reports tomorrow. Wednesday will see the release of BOE’s meeting minutes, the US CPI, and the Euro area inflation report. On Thursday, President Obama will host Poroshenko and on the data front we have Philly Fed, initial claims, and building permits to watch out for, but the biggest market moving event will surely be the Scottish independence referendum. German PPI will be the key release on what will otherwise be a relatively quiet Friday.
China may need to expand its goalseek template to include the other far more important measure of Chinese economic activity, such as Industrial production, retail sales, fixed investment, and even more importantly - such key output indicators as Cement, Steel and Electricity, because based on numbers released overnight, the Q2 Chinese recovery is now history (as the credit impulse of the most recent PBOC generosity has faded, something we have discussed in the past), and the economy has ground to the biggest crawl it has experienced since the Lehman crash. What's worse, and what we predicted would happen when we observed the collapse in Chinese commodity prices ten days ago, capex, i.e. fixed investment, grew at the slowest pace in the 21st century: the number of 16.5% was the lowest since 2001, and suggests that the commodity deflation problem is only going to get worse from here.
While hardly able to match the wit, sophistry or, allegedly, satire of yesterday's MarketWatch grandslam in market insight "Why This Stock Market Will Never Go Down", we are confident readers will enjoy the following interview from none other than the Nobel prize winner in Keynesianomics, Paul Krugman, who in this interview with Princeton Magazine, had some comments on bubbles, inflation, student loans, minimum wages, artificially low rates, the Fed's dual mandate, and, of all things, Bitcoin.
Day after day we are told, just wait for rates to rise ("which they 'have' to because economic growth is so strong") and stocks will take off into the next leg of exuberance... why else would the Fed end QE and start more hawkish discussions? (aside from the fact they truly fear broken repo, exuberant markets, and lethargic politicians). Be careful what you wish for... Mortgage rates rose last week, back to the same level they have been at for 3-months, and refinancing activity (adjusted for holidays) collapsed to its lowest since 2008... and home purchase activity tumble back towards 20-year lows.
- British PM begs Scots: Don't rip apart our UK 'family of nations' (Reuters)
- Obama has become Bush: Obama’s Task: Rally U.S. Public, Allies in Terror Fight (BBG)
- Alibaba's record IPO covered after first few roadshow meetings (Reuters)
- Ferrari chairman Luca Di Montezemolo to quit after 23 years (BBC)
- Combat Reversals Pressure Assad (WSJ)
- Top LBO Fund Investors Pile on Leverage to Boost Returns (BBG)
- BOJ's Iwata upbeat on economy, unfazed by post-tax hike slump (Reuters)
- Carney Can’t Escape Housing as Debt Colors BOE Policy (BBG)
- Detroit Clears Crucial Hurdle on Bankruptcy (NYT)
When one thinks "recovery", some of the images envisioned include a healthy labor market (not one saturated by part-time, low wage jobs), rising earnings (not wages that have stagnated for years and in real terms are at Lehman levels) and a vibrant housing market in which new home buyers enter with confidence, and where mortgage loans are abundant and available to qualified creditors. One certainly does not imagine a housing "market" dominated by Chinese, Russian and Arab monely-laundering oligarchs, where half of all transactions are "all cash", and where, as Fannie Mae just reported, the number of Americans who said "now is a good time to buy a home" plunging to 64% - the lowest print in survey history!
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).