- Greek Banks Under Pressure (WSJ)
- France Seeks Eurozone Stability Package (FT)
- Germany Dashes Eurozone Expectations (FT)
- Geithner Says European Leaders Know They Must Do More (Bloomberg)
- In Athens, Party Aims to Delay Austerity (WSJ)
- Rajoy Battles ECB for Loans; Monti Appeals for EU Action (Bloomberg)
- Nokia Slashes 10,000 Jobs, Cuts Outlook (WSJ)
- H-1B Visas Hit the Cap, Sending Companies to Plan B (Businessweek)
- Swiss National Bank Vows to Defend Currency Floor (WSJ)
- Euro Crisis Deeper With Moody’s Downgrading Spain, Cyprus (Bloomberg)
- When all else fails... Truckers As Leading Indicator Show Stable U.S. Economic Growth (Bloomberg)
Following the now long-gone LTRO induced risk ramp through March, many of the C-grade economists out there predicted that housing would bottom in March (this time for real) and it would be smooth sailing from there. Alas, the just released March Case Shiller data puts this latest speculation very much in doubt (once again), following a miss of consensus expectations in the Top 20 Composite of a 0.20% increase, printing at half that, or 0.09%, and more importantly, a decline from the February rate of increase, which was 0.15%. The non-seasonally adjusted number declined by 0.03%, the 7th consecutive drop in a row. All this begs the question: did housing just quadruple dip, with a February local extreme in the Sequential rate of change. As the chart below shows, we had comparable peaks in the summer of 2009, in April 2010, and again in April 2011, following which the downward slide resumed every single time once the temporary benefits of monetary and fiscal easing subsided. Also, recall that March was the last month receiving benefits of a record warm winter: in effect a mini demand pull program. And now comes the hangover. Bottom line: based on a broad index, housing is about to decline once again, and make a total joke out of all those who, yet again, made "bold" annual housing bottom predictions.
PIMCO vs GARY SHILLING - ROUND 1
UK CPI this morning came in weaker than expected at 3.0% Y/Y in April, weighed by a fall in air fares, alcohol, clothes and sea transport, according to the ONS. The release saw aggressive selling of GBP in the currency market and has underpinned the rise in gilt futures. Alongside the 26th month low in UK CPI the IMF also issued their latest assessment on the UK economy and said further policy easing is required and that the Bank could cut its interest rate from the current 0.5% level. In other market moving news a Greek government source said that Greek banks are to receive a EUR 18bln recapitalisation down payment this Friday which initially saw the EUR and stock futures rally, however, the move was short lived as it became clear that the payment is scheduled as part of the bailout programme for Greece. Elsewhere, Fitch made a surprise announcement and downgraded the Japanese sovereign rating by two notches to A+, outlook negative. The move means Fitch has the lowest rating for Japan of the three main rating agencies so we remain vigilant for any comments from S&P and Moody’s today.
- Hilsenrath: Fed Pondering Why Inflation and Deflation Threats Ebbed (WSJ)
- The Naivete: France to push for eurozone bonds (FT)
- The rebuke: Merkel Says She Won’t Shy From Clash With Hollande at EU Summit (Bloomberg)
- The Euro-love: Hollande's euro arguments "nonsense": Austria's Fekter (Reuters)
- Obama Campaign Does Damage Control After Dems Question Anti-Bain Strategy (ABC)
- Greece: four major banks recapitalized by Friday (L'Echo)... and if they aren't?
- China to fast-track infrastructure investments (Reuters)... because China needs more cement
- Jeeps Sell for $189,750 as China Demand Offsets Tariffs (Bloomberg)
- As Facebook’s Stock Struggles, Fingers Start Pointing (NYT)
- Facebook 11% Drop Means Morgan Stanley Gets Blame (Bloomberg)
Michael Hudson argues that Mr. Krugman is a conservative in disguise.
Likely glowing from his glorious victory (h/t Trish Regan) over Krugman in Bloomberg's recent Paul vs Paul debate, Rep. Ron Paul destroys the central-planning arrogance of Bernanke and his ilk in an Op-Ed released by the FT today.
Control of the world’s economy has been placed in the hands of a banking cartel, which holds great danger for all of us. True prosperity requires sound money, increased productivity, and increased savings and investment. The world is awash in US dollars, and a currency crisis involving the world’s reserve currency would be an unprecedented catastrophe. No amount of monetary expansion can solve our current financial problems, but it can make those problems much worse.
In perhaps the most courageous (and now must-read) speech ever given inside the New York Fed's shallowed hallowed walls, Economic Policy Journal's Robert Wenzel delivered the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth to the monetary priesthood. Gracious from the start, Wenzel takes the Keynesian clap-trappers to task on almost every nonsensical and oblivious decision they have made in recent years. "My views, I suspect, differ from beginning to end... I stand here confused as to how you see the world so differently than I do. I simply do not understand most of the thinking that goes on here at the Fed and I do not understand how this thinking can go on when in my view it smacks up against reality." And further..."I scratch my head that somehow your conclusions about unemployment are so different than mine and that you call for the printing of money to boost 'demand'. A call, I add, that since the founding of the Federal Reserve has resulted in an increase of the money supply by 12,230%." But his closing was tremendous: "Let’s have one good meal here. Let’s make it a feast. Then I ask you, I plead with you, I beg you all, walk out of here with me, never to come back. It’s the moral and ethical thing to do. Nothing good goes on in this place. Let’s lock the doors and leave the building to the spiders, moths and four-legged rats."
In the science of physics, we know that ice freezes at 32 degrees. We can predict with immense accuracy exactly how far a rocket ship will travel filled with 500 gallons of fuel. There is preciseness because there are constants, which do not change and upon which equations can be constructed.. There are no such constants in the field of economics since the science of economics deals with human action, which can change at any time. If potato prices remain the same for 10 weeks, it does not mean they will be the same the following day. I defy anyone in this room to provide me with a constant in the field of economics that has the same unchanging constancy that exists in the fields of physics or chemistry. And yet, in paper after paper here at the Federal Reserve, I see equations built as though constants do exist. It is as if one were to assume a constant relationship existed between interest rates here and in Russia and throughout the world, and create equations based on this belief and then attempt to trade based on these equations. That was tried and the result was the blow up of the fund Long Term Capital Management, a blow up that resulted in high level meetings in this very building. It is as if traders assumed a given default rate was constant for subprime mortgage paper and traded on that belief. Only to see it blow up in their faces, as it did, again, with intense meetings being held in this very building. Yet, the equations, assuming constants, continue to be published in papers throughout the Fed system. I scratch my head.
Once again pundits are claiming that housing is "finally recovering." But they're overlooking three peaks: Peak Housing, Peak Financial Fraud, and Peak Suburbia, all of which suggest years of stagnation and decline, not "recovery." Once the belief that housing is the bedrock of middle class wealth fades, so too will the motivation to risk homeownership in an economy that puts a premium on mobility and frequent changes of careers and jobs. Only one aspect of housing hasn't yet peaked: property taxes. If the risks of homeownership weren't apparent before, they certainly are now as local governments jack up property taxes to indenture homeowners into tax donkeys.
...Add all these charts up and we get a snapshot of a housing recovery that seems to have stalled or rolled over. The reasons why are apparent: mortgage debt remains elevated, a vast "shadow inventory" of underwater or foreclosed homes remains off the market and household income has stagnated or declined, as reported in What If Housing Is Done for a Generation?.
Last week we had the Fed's hawks line up one after another telling us how no more QE would ever happen. We ignored them because they are simply the bad cops to the Fed's good cop doves. Sure enough, here comes Bernanke's right hand man, or in this case woman, hinting that one can forget everything the hawkish stance, and that ZIRP may last not until 2014 but 2015! Which, by the way, is to be expected: since ZIRP can never expire, it will always be rolled to T+3 years, as the short end will never be allowed to rise, until the Fed has enough FRNs in circulation to absorb the surge in rates without crushing the principal, as explained yesterday.
Since we have grown tired of variations on the theme of "The Pain in ...." (having been guilty of encouraging it ourselves), we will spare readers this triteness, and instead summarize the attached must read slidedeck from Carmel Asset Management as the ultimate Spanish doomsday presentation. Naive and/or idealistic Spanish readers are advised to resume sticking their heads in the sand, and to stay as far away as possible from the attached 54 pages, which prove without any doubt why not only was Greece the appetizer (have your UK law:non-UK Law divergence trade on yet?) but why things in Europe are about to get far, far worse, as the Hurricane shifts to its next preferred location, somewhere above and just south of the Pyrenees.
The ponzi will fail, and the economy will reset - the only question is when.