For the past few years (here from 2012 to most recently here) we have vociferously argued that the state of the US labor force is anything but healthy (and anything but cyclical) as the structural aging of America (where work is punished, college is free, and retirement long forgotten) drags at The American Dream. Even Goldman Sachs' Jan Hatzius - now desperate for a less positive spin to employment, in hopes of keeping The Fed dovish-er longer-er, has admitted that because of discouragement, disability, and schooling, coupled with a slowdown in the rise of the retired population will slow the pace of decline of the unemployment rate.
The phony 5.7% domestic unemployment rate reported yesterday has nothing to do with full employment. The relevant number in the report is that there are still 101 million working age Americans who do not have jobs, and only 45 million of them are on OASI retirement benefits. And that says nothing about the tens of millions of job holders who are employed far less than a full 40 hour work week. In short, there is a surfeit of available labor at home and abroad, meaning 3-4% wage gains are not coming down the pike any time soon or ever. So if that’s what the Fed is waiting for - then the so-called “lift-off” may not be coming even this year. And in any event, the trivial 25 bps increases in the funds rate that may eventually come have nothing to do with interest rate “normalization” or the return of honest price discovery in the casino. And that suits the needs of the Wall Street gamblers just fine.
And just like that, instead of praising the January jobs report, Goldman's Jan Hatzius is far more interested in pounding the table on its one scariest chart...
The difference between America's manufacturing workers and waiters has dropped to a record low of just 1.387 million. The same difference was 11.3 million on January 31, 1990.
In the 2003-2004 playbook, “considerable period” gave way to “patient” as a signal that the hikes were drawing closer, and it is interesting that the words “patient” or “patience” have shown up quite frequently in recent Fed speeches. The problem with a simple shift to “patience” without any qualifications on December 17 is that back in 2004 this shift occurred just 4½ months before the first hike, and some market participants might therefore take it to mean a hike before June.
"Sample issues: we aren’t controlling for changes in the quality of job growth when measuring average hourly earnings"
With the equity market back to near-historical highs, Goldman Sachs' Jan Hatzius revisits his analysis of the predictability of asset price busts. The main predictors of busts are past asset price appreciation and past credit growth, followed by a rising investment/GDP ratio. Hatzius warns that their model says that the further US equity price gains of 2014 have pushed the risk of an equity bust back up - as the chart below shows to levels not seen since 2008/9. Interestingly, the main factor holding down the risk of another bust, especially in the housing market, is the weakness of credit growth since the crisis.
"We start our Q4 GDP tracking estimate at +2.2%, eight-tenths below our prior standing forecast. The lower tracking estimate mainly reflects the larger-than-expected +0.7 percentage point contribution from defense spending to Q3 growth (which introduces risks for payback in Q4), the weaker-than-expected trajectory for consumer spending heading into the quarter apparent in today’s personal income and outlays report for September, and a slightly weaker assumption on net exports in light of the large net trade contribution in Q3, our global teams’ recent downgrades to rest-of-world growth forecasts and the recent appreciation of the US dollar." - Goldman Sachs
Goldman Cuts 2015, 2016 EPS Forecasts On "Diminished Global GDP Growth" Just As Fed Surprises With Hawkish OutlookSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/29/2014 15:48 -0500
It is perhaps the definition of irony that just two hours after the Fed issued a surprising statement that was so bullish on US growth it is as if the past month never happened, as if Williams and Bullard never threatened with QE4 just because the market almost entered a correction, and that made Goldman's chief economist Jan Hatzius to a express "modest hawkish surprise" that the very same bank, Goldman, whose alum is in charge of the NY Fed (leading to hours of secret tapes exposing the white glove treatment Goldman gets at the Fed), just announced it was cutting its 2015 and 2016 EPS forecasts "diminished global GDP growth and lower crude prices."
Of the last 150 years of developed market monetary policy, we suspect nothing will prepare market participants or Fed members for the twisted terms and double-speak the FOMC will try to unleash today as they attempt to 'end' the most extreme policy measures ever. Goldman Sachs' 'base-case' for today's FOMC is a "steady as she goes" message with few substantive changes in language and asset purchases ending on schedule... but Goldman warns, recent macro and market action might bias the Fed dovish.
News about the spread of the Ebola virus has been an increasing focus for market participants in recent days. Despite rising media coverage, Ebola seems to have had little discernible effect on consumer sentiment to date. However, as Goldman Sachs notes, the "fear factor" associated with Ebola appears more significant than in past instances of pandemic concern. While expert opinion sees the likelihood of a significant outbreak of Ebola in the US as very low, it is likely any negative macroeconomic consequences are most likely to be transmitted through fear or risk-aversion channels.
I don't want to spoil the revelations of "This American Life": It's far better to hear the actual sounds on the radio, as so much of the meaning of the piece is in the tones of the voices -- and, especially, in the breathtaking wussiness of the people at the Fed charged with regulating Goldman Sachs. But once you have listened to it -- as when you were faced with the newly unignorable truth of what actually happened to that NFL running back's fiancee in that elevator -- consider the following:
- You sort of knew that the regulators were more or less controlled by the banks. Now you know.
- The only reason you know is that one woman, Carmen Segarra, has been brave enough to fight the system. She has paid a great price to inform us all of the obvious. She has lost her job, undermined her career, and will no doubt also endure a lifetime of lawsuits and slander.
So what are you going to do about it? At this moment the Fed is probably telling itself that, like the financial crisis, this, too, will blow over. It shouldn't.
Reflecting on the farce that was the FOMC statement and press conference yesterday, Bloomberg's Richard Breslow jabs that it appears Janet Yellen's 'splaining can be summed up, "we can’t know what considerable time means because we’re told it’s a very nuanced concept." In other words, we are just not smart enough, leave it to the PhDs in the room. Even Goldman was struggling to find the dovish side reflecting that market movements were more driven by positioning than anything new policy-wise. As Breslow sums up so eloquently, "a 'true normal' balance sheet remains a very distant dream, perhaps end of decade, and who knows if they’ll ever get back there."
Since it is the NY Fed, headed by an ex-Goldmanite, which will ultimately be tasked with exiting 6 years of "unconventional monetary policy" - at some point during this "recovery" if not now or any time soon for that matter - it is probably best to listen to Goldman for its post-mortem on what the chairwoman did or did not say. Which is why we present a "Q&A" with Goldman's head economist, Jan Hatzius, known to occasionally exchange a sandwich and the occasional policy guidelene, with NY Fed's Bill Dudley at the Pound and Pence, in which he explains how Yellen managed to be both more dovish and more hawkish than the "market" expected.
Having confirmed yesterday that China's "Stealth QE" is absolutely uber-bullish (despite PBOC playing it down themselves), Goldman is out after the close (having seen stocks give all their post-FOMC gains back) to confirm the "Fed is still dovish" meme...