Leading Economic Indicators

S&P Futures Unchanged As Europe Rises; Dollar Slide Sends Oil Above $47

In the latest quiet trading session, European shares rose while Asian stocks fell and S&P futures were little changed. Minutes of the Fed’s last meeting damped prospects for a U.S. interest-rate hike, sending the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index doen 0.3%, approaching a three-month low. Dollar weakness continues to buoy commodities, with the Bloomberg Commodity Index set for the most enduring rally in more than two months, as WTI flirted with $47

The Message From The Collapsing Yield Curve

The FOMC is tightening monetary policy because Fed officials believe that the US economy is showing more signs of sustainable growth with inflation rising back near their 2% target. Yet the yield curve is warning that the Fed’s moves could slow the US economy and halt the desired upturn in the inflation rate. Most worrying for the Fed's narrative is the fact that the yield curve spread on a weekly basis has been highly correlated with the y/y growth rates in both the forward revenues and forward earnings of the S&P 500. The recent narrowing of the spread isn’t a good omen for either of them.

The Economy In Pictures: Weakness Continues

While there is currently a plethora of commentary strongly suggesting that the U.S. economy is nowhere near recession, it should be remembered the economy has NEVER been in a recession until future negative data revisions revealed it to be the case. Unfortunately, for investors, by the time a recession is widely recognized and accepted by the mainstream media and analysts, it will be far too late to do anything about it.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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."

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.

"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.

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.

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."  

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.