Leading Economic Indicators

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Cycles, Bounces, & The Only Question That Matters





Unfortunately, when central-planners "drag forward" future consumption today, you leave a "void" in the future that must be filled. That future "void" continues to expand each time activity is dragged forward until, inevitably, it can not be filled. This is currently being witnessed in the overall data trends as seen in the deterioration in corporate earnings and revenues. The only question is whether Central Banks can continue to support asset prices long enough for the economic cycle to catch up. Historically, such is a feat that has never been accomplished.

 
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Earnings Implosion Looms Amid The Illusion Of "Permanent Liquidity"





The problem with forward earnings estimates is that they consistently overestimate reality by roughly 33% historically. The illusion of“permanent liquidity,” and the belief of sustained economic growth, despite slowing in China, Japan, and the Eurozone, has emboldened analysts to continue push estimates of corporate profit growth higher. Even now, as the earnings recession deepens, hopes of a sharp rebound in profitability remains ebullient despite the lack of any signs of economic re-acceleration.

 
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Biggest Short Squeeze In 7 Years Continues After Bullard Hints At More QE, OECD Cuts Global Forecasts





Just when traders thought that the biggest and most violent 3-day short squeeze in 7 years was about to end a squeeze that has resulted in 3 consecutve 1%+ sessions for the S&P for the first time since October 2011, overnight we got one of the Fed's biggest faux-hakws, St. Louis Fed's Jim Bullard, who said that it would be "unwise" to continue hiking rates at this moment, and hinted that "if needed", the most natural option for the Fed going forward would be to do further Q.E.

 
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Neil Howe Warns The 'Professional Class' Is Still In Denial Of The Fourth Turning





"The world has fundamentally shifted over the last decade, especially since we’ve emerged from the Great Recession... But the professional class has been very slow to understand what is going on, not just quantitatively but qualitatively in a new generational configuration that I call the Fourth Turning. They don’t accept the new normal. They keep insisting, just two or three years out there on the horizon, that the old normal will return – in GDP growth, in housing starts, in global trade. But it doesn’t return."

 
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The Economy In Pictures: We've Seen This All Before





“Are we closer to an economic recession or a continued expansion?” With the Fed hiking interest rates, and talking a tough game of continued economic strength, the risk of a “policy error” has risen markedly in recent months. The markets, falling inflation indicators, and plunging interest rates are all suggesting the same.

 
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Global Stocks Surge, Oil Soars As Hopes For Central Bank Stimulus Return





"There is hope of more stimulus in March and potential for even more stimulus in Japan and China, so if we get concrete positive economic news the rebound could last into next week,” said John Plassard, senior equity- sales trader at Mirabaud Securities. “I told my clients to fasten their seatbelts and wait for better news, and this is finally happening."... "The turnaround in sentiment came amid signs central banks may be prepared to act after $7.8 trillion was erased from the value of global equities this year on China’s slowdown and oil’s crash."

 
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Gold & The Federal Funds Rate





It is widely assumed that the gold price must decline when the Federal Reserve is hiking interest rates. It seems logical enough: gold has no yield, so if competing investment assets such as bonds or savings deposits do offer a yield, gold will presumably be exchanged for those. There is only a slight problem with this idea. The simple assumption “Fed rate hikes equal a falling gold price” is not supported by even a shred of empirical evidence.

 
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"The Most Extreme Point Of Stock Market Overvaluation In History"





The atmosphere is getting thin up here, and every ounce counts triple when you're climbing in rarefied air. While near-term market dynamics are more likely to be impacted by Friday’s employment report than any other factor, our broad view remains that stocks are in the late-stage top formation of the second most extreme episode of equity market overvaluation in U.S. history, second only to the 2000 peak, and already beyond the 1929, 1937, 1972, and 2007 episodes, not to mention lesser extremes across history.

 
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Stocks Jump On Hope For More Central Bank Intervention After Japan's Quintuple Recession, Syrian Strikes





As so often happens in these upside down days, was the best thing that could happen to the market, because another economic slowdown means the BOJ, even without sellers of JGBs, will have no choice but to expand its "stimulus" program (the same one that led Japan to its current predicament of course) and buy up if not government bonds, then corporate bonds, more ETFs (of which it already own 50%) and ultimately stocks. Because there is nothing better for the richest asset owners than total economic collapse.

 
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Weekend Reading: Copious Contemplations





"After many years of ultra-accommodative polices, it is clear that ongoing interventions have failed to boost actual economic growth and only exacerbated the destruction of the middle class. It is clear that employment growth has only been a function of population growth, as witnessed by the ongoing decline in the labor-force participation rates and the surging levels of individuals that have fallen out of the work-force. While we will continue to operate to foster maximum employment and price stability, the reality is that the economy overall remains far to weak to sustain higher interest rates or any tightening of monetary policy."  

 
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US Leading Economic Indicators Tumbles Most In 30 Months





Missing expectations for the 3rd month in a row, US Lesading Economic Indicators (LEI) dropped 0.2% MoM. There has not been a bigger monthly drop since March 2013. Ironmically, initial jobless claims (which we have recently explained is now useless) was the largest positive contributor (after the yield curve steepness) but stock prices, average workweek, and building permits weighed heaviest.

 
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Fed Facade Fails: Everything Suddenly Questioned





From a financial market psychology standpoint it is however very important that central bankers don’t appear clueless. A majority of market participants needs to be able to suspend disbelief to an sufficient extent, i.e., they must be able to share in the collective hallucination that central bankers actually do know what they are doing. When it is no longer possible to maintain this facade, many things are likely to be suddenly questioned – and among these is the question whether it makes sense to remain exposed to yet another gargantuan asset bubble.

 
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Economy In Pictures: Is It Strong Enough?





The question on everyone's mind is whether the economy is strong enough to withstand rate hikes by the Federal Reserve? In our opinion, the answer is no. The economy continues to ebb and flow between weak growth and no growth. This puts the Federal Reserve at risk of a policy mistake that could trip the economy into an outright recession. While there have certainly been positive bumps in the data, as pent-up demand is released back into the economy, the inability to sustain growth is most concerning.

 
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The Incredibly Bearish Bull Market





Currently, there are things occurring that are very troublesome, and in more normal times, would likely already have investors heading for cover. However, in today's liquidity fueled, Central Bank supported environment, that has yet to be the case. The reason was best described recently by Dr. Robert Shiller "I call this the 'new normal' boom ó it's a funny boom in asset prices because it's driven not by the usual exuberance but by an anxiety." What happens next is only a guess. However, historically, it hasn't been the outcome that investors were hoping for. But then again, maybe "bearish bull" isn't as much of an oxymoron as it is just a warning.

 
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