Enter Goldman Sachs, whose Alex Phillips just said that: "If a longer-term resolution can be reached over the coming days, we would expect the downside risk from the fiscal debate to be limited to about 0.5pp in Q4, compared to our current growth forecast of 2.5%." In other words, pro forma for the 14 day government shutdown (and continuing) Goldman has just cut its Q4 GDP forecast from 2.5% to 2.0%. And to think this was the year that Jan Hatzius was desperately praying his optimism (for the 4th year in a row - and who can possibly forget Hatzius boosting its Q4 2010 GDP estimate from 4% to 5.8% - and the same every year since) would finally be rewarded. Sorry Jan: we were right again, you were wrong. Again.
After seven months of investigating Goldman Sachs' legal and compliance divisions, former NYFed examiner Carmen Segarra found numerous conflicts of interest and breach of client ethics (specifically related to three transactions - Solyndra, Capmark, and the El Paso / Kinder Morgan deal) that she believed warranted a downgrade of Goldman's regulatory rating. Her bosses were not happy, concerned that this action would hurt Goldman's ability to do business, and, she alleges, they urged her to change her position. She refused, and as Reuters reports, she was fired and escorted from the building. “I was just documenting what Goldman was doing,” she said. “If I was not able to push through something that obvious, the [NY Fed] certainly won’t be capable of supervising banks when even more serious issues arise.”
For what it's worth, here is Goldman's Jan Hatzius with a Q&A on the Fed's announcement, which now sees the first tapering to start in December, QE to conclude (three months after their prior forecast), and expects the first rate hike to take place in 2016: 8 years after the start of the financial crisis: "We now expect the QE tapering process to start at the December 2013 FOMC meeting and to conclude in September 2014, three months later than before. Our baseline is that the first step will consist of a $10bn cut in Treasury purchases. These steps remain data dependent in all respects--timing, size, and composition. A change in the explicit forward guidance for the federal funds rate is also likely, probably at the same time as the first tapering step. Our baseline is an indication that the 6.5% unemployment threshold is conditional on a forecast of a near-term return of inflation to 2%, and that a lower threshold would apply otherwise. But there are also other options, such as an outright inflation floor or an outright reduction in the unemployment threshold. Our forecast for the first hike in the funds rate remains early 2016. The reasons are the large output gap, persistent below-target inflation, and some weight on "optimal control" considerations."
While the issue of whether they will or won't taper is certainly still not clear, the WSJ's John Hilsenrath notes that the other dilemma facing the Fed is whether to reduce their purchases of Treasurys, mortgage-backed securities or both. According to officials, Hilsenrath notes, there were two lines of thinking at the Fed on how to structure a pullback from the bond programs and the issue would be discussed at the meeting. Goldman's Jan Hatzius has posited that "Fed leadership probably views MBS purchases as more effective in boosting economic activity than Treasury purchases," but as Hilsenrath notes, some Fed officials prefer a simpler-to-communicate strategy of proportional cutbacks to both MBS and Treasuries. The fact that Hilsy is reporting this suggests that a Taper is somewhat inevitable - as we have noted since the Fed remains cornered. On average, the market expects a $6bn taper on Treasuries and $3 billion for MBS.
With bonds and stocks rallying (and the USD dropping) notably in the last few days, one could be forgiven for believing the Taper is off but Goldman's baseline forecast remains for a $10bn reduction in asset purchases - probably all in Treasuries - and $15bn is possible (though recently mixed labor data may choke that a little) and a strengthening of forward-guidance. As they note, the current redction in uncertainty (or rise in complacency some might say) has the potential to offset the tightening in financial conditions, barring another major outbreak of DC strife in the run up to the debt ceiling in late October/early November. However, what is most notable is Goldman's expectation that the Fed will start walking-back its unemployment-rate threshold as it has been clearly shown not to be a good catch-all indicator of broad economic and labor market performance. So it's data-dependent - but the data is unreliable at best and false at worst.
"While the August employment report was a moderate disappointment, we believe it is probably not weak enough to prevent the FOMC from tapering in September. However, it does raise the likelihood of a "dovish taper," which could include a small size of the overall adjustment to purchases, and which we think would likely coincide with an enhancement of the forward guidance."
While we found it modestly comedic (and certainly ironic) that CNBC's crack team celebrated the recovery from the initial knee-jerk drop in stocks after the FOMC by top-ticking that suspension of reality; we suspect the following post-mortem from Goldman on the minutes is what confirmed concerns across the street... "Minutes from the July 30-31 FOMC meeting were generally consistent with our view that tapering of asset purchases is likely to occur at the September meeting, coincident with an enhancement of the forward guidance."
As the disconnect between payroll data and GDP grows, and the schrodinger reality of a non-farm-payroll print and JOLTs data increases; it will not come as a total surprise to Zero Hedge readers that Goldman Sachs has finally been forced to admit that investors have been fooled by the relative importance of jobs data. While the payrolls data has the largest financial market effect of all economic indicators (by a large margin), Jan Hatzius finds that neither payrolls (or Advance GDP) provide any incremental information about the broad strength of the economy.
Back in late 2012, Goldman's Jan Hatzius did precisely what he did at the end of 2010: predicted that after many years of delays, the US economy would finally soar higher on the back of the reignition of the virtuous cycle driven by now endless Fed micromanagement of virtually every aspect of the economy. We mocked him in 2010 (6 months later he pulled his call following a series of embarrassing mea culpas), and did the same in 2012. So here we are, 8 months later, and this much-delayed recovery has been "delayed" again - just as we thought. Of course, once bitten by the fringe blogosphere, Jan is not willing to pull his recovery call for the second time in a row despite deteriorating GDP and employment data, and instead (like everyone else) if placing his faith with the Fed, despite five consecutive years of disappointment from St. Ben. Maybe this time it will be different... although it won't. In the meantime, from a glass fully full (which is where it was supposed to be by this time in the year), the Goldmanite has now reduced his economic assessment to half that.
One of the unpleasant side-effects for the Fed's forecasting (insert laughter here) abilities, is that following today's GDP revisions, H1 annualized GDP is now 1.4%. It means that there is no way that the economy can grow fast enough in the second half (especially with such early disappointments to the second half as the just released Chicago PMI miss) to meet the Fed's forecast growth of 2.3%-2.6%. Which, in turn, means more egg on the face of Bernanke and the FOMC's 2013 forecasts. Which is precisely what Goldman just said.
Until today, Goldman expected the Fed's tapering to start in December. Not any more: following today's better for part-time jobs than expected data, the squid has pulled its tapering prediction up to the September FOMC meeting: just what Zero Hedge said 2 months ago. But what just slapped ES across the face is the following from FRBNY's informal advisor Hatzius: "We now expect purchases to continue through Q2 2014 (vs. our prior forecast of Q3 2014), in line with the guidance given by Chairman Bernanke at the last FOMC press conference." That's ok Goldman, we are used to you being wrong. Speaking of, any more Stolper recos?
And now for something completely different. Citi's Willem Buiter is best known for his exhaustive, often times fatalistic outlook on Europe (he will ultimately be right about the Grexit, and Spexit, and ultimately Dexit, the only problem is so will Meredith Whitney about the state of the US municipals - eventually). It appears there may have been a reason for his dour outlook on life: a sexy stalker as it turns out. A sexy, but very demented stalker.
For all those unable to sleep tonight without the knowledge what Goldman thinks about this week's most important economic release, Friday's Nonfarm Payrolls number (and the unemployment rate, which is guaranteed to continue the previously observed divergence from GDP in a centrally-planned and completely "brokun Okun" environment), read on for your trivial Ambien. From Goldman "Our forecasts for the US dataset to be released this week will likely be mixed for rates... we think that payrolls will likely disappoint market expectations." As a reminder, consensus expectations are for a 165K print, declining from May's 175K, while Jan Hatzius now expects 150K. And with that the second great US renaissance which Hatzius forecast in late 2012 is being "tapered" away the same way his 4% GDP prediction in late 2010 devolved into sheer nothingness.
Extreme Developed Market (DM) monetary policy (read The Fed) has floated more than just US equity boats in the last few years. Foreign non-bank investors poured $1.1 trillion into Emerging Market (EM) debt between 2010 and 2012 as free money enabled massive carry trades and rehypothecation (with emerging Europe and Latam receiving the most flows and thus most vulnerable). Supply of cheap USD beget demand of EM (yieldy) debt which created a supply pull for EM corporate debt which is now causing major indigestion as the demand has almost instantly dried up due to Bernanke's promise to take the punchbowl away. From massive dislocations in USD- versus Peso-denominated Chilean bonds to spiking money-market rates in EM funds, the impact (and abruptness) of these colossal outflows has already hit ETFs and now there are signs that the carnage is leaking back into money-market funds (and implicitly that EM credit creation will crunch hurting growth) as their reaching for yield as European stress 'abated' brings back memories of breaking-the-buck and Lehman and as Goldman notes below, potentially "poses systemic risk to the financial system."
With 45 minutes left to go, only one thing matters: what does Goldman think (the other issue of whether Jan Hatzius shared a meal with Bill Dudley at the Pound and Pence will remain unknown until the next batch of Dudley daily "minutes" are released in a few months). So for all those scrambling for an edge in a centrally-planned world, here it is, via Goldman's Francesco Garzarelli : "Turning to today’s FOMC announcement and press conference, our US Economics team expect Chairman Bernanke to stick to the same message on ‘tapering’ of bond purchases used in previous pronouncements on the matter, but also emphasize that reducing the expansion of the balance sheet does not imply that the Fed is anywhere close to hiking rates. We think this is broadly what bondholders are also expecting to hear."