A dispassionate look at the drivers of the investment climate in the week ahead.
Four and a half years after Brazil's FinMin Guido Mantega first re-introduced the world to the term "currency wars," it appears the Brazilians have admitted defeat. Amid what Goldman calls a sharp decline in consumer confidence - to the lowest level in series history - which could also extend the ongoing macroeconomic adjustment processes and therefore delay the recovery of the economy; Brazil's central bank has announced that it will no longer intervene to support the Real via its Dollar-Swap program. In a SNB2.0-esque move, though somewhat anticipated by the market, Brazil enables the devaluation that has occurred to perhaps extend (improving competitiveness) and removing what was becoming a notable fiscal drag. Implicitly, Brazil just followed the Swiss and admitted defeat in the global currency war...
"There's a liquidity conundrum in fixed income markets facing policy makers and investors: how it’s resolved will have long term investment implications across banks, asset managers and infrastructure players," a new report from Morgan Stanley and Oliver Wyman notes. The joint effort is an attempt to dig deep into the all important issue of credit market liquidity (or lack thereof) and determine the short term and long term implications.
*FISCHER SAYS RATE LIFTOFF LIKELY WARRANTED BEFORE END-2015
With the world now convinmced that Janet Yellen is as dovish as she has ever been on rate hikes, today comes the first post-FOMC speech. None other than Vice-chair Stanley Fischer is due to address The Economic Club of New York on the topic of "Monetary-policy lessons and the way ahead." As Art Cashin warned this morning, Fischer "seems to feel that the Fed must raise rates this year. He is also the only Fed official to concede that any rate hike will be different than any seen before."
"Seasonally adjusted housing starts for February plunged by one of the largest amounts in the post-crisis period. The chart below shows a subset of the February non-farm payroll report, residential construction jobs. Seasonally adjusted these jobs increased by 17,200 in February, the most in two years (Feb 2013 was greater) and the second most in four years. So while economists are blaming the weather for the plunge in housing starts, residential construction jobs were fairly robust in February. This makes no sense."
This week's main event will be the FOMC announcement on Wednesday at 2:00 pm and the subsequent press conference, the conclusion of the March 2-day Fed meeting, in which it is widely expected that Yellen will announce the end of the Fed's "Patience" with an economy in which resurgent waiters and bartenders continue to skew the job market even if it means consistently declining wages for 80% of the US labor force. Here is a summary of what else to expect this week.
- As reported here first: The U.S. Has Too Much Oil and Nowhere to Put It (BBG)
- Dollar Drops From 12-Year High as S&P Futures, Bonds Gain (BBG); Dollar Bulls Retreat From 12-Year High to Euro With Fed in View (BBG)
- Clinton Private Email Plan Drew Concerns Early On (WSJ)
- ECB Bond Buying Not Needed With Economy Improving, Weidmann Says (BBG)
- China Feb new yuan loans well above forecast (Reuters)
- U.S. probing report Secret Service agents drove car into White House barrier (Reuters)
- Kerry tells Republicans: you cannot modify Iran-U.S. nuclear deal (Reuters)
- PBOC Pledges to Press on With Rate Liberalization Amid Slowdown (BBG)
- China Prepares Mergers for Big State-Owned Enterprises (WSJ)
It’s one thing to predict one person’s shopping or investment decisions. But can brain scans be used to forecast the entire market? Neuroeconomist Paul Glimcher says, “If we had access to that data, when people pick stocks, can these models predict macro-level changes in stock prices from individual-level models of angels picking stocks? There’s reason to believe it might work.” Already, neuromarketing consultancies advise large companies like Google and PepsiCo on which products will do well, and how to position them in the marketplace. Maybe one day there will be boutique equity research consultancies that scan the brains of focus group participants as they answer questions about individual securities, and investors could incorporate these neural inputs as they mull whether to buy or sell a security.
Following Friday's "great" jobs data - which tumbled stocks - investors were looking hopefully at this morning's Labor Market Conditions Index for any bad news that was good enough to hint that The Fed will stay lower, longer and extend liftoff just one or two more quarters... they were disappointed...
To some (mostly those in the 1-10% wealth bucket) the main event today is the iWatch unveiling. To others (mostly those not in the 1-10% wealth bucket) it is the Eurogroup meeting in which the fate of Greece will be discussed and perhaps decided. One thing is certain: virtually nobody will care when the Fed's Mester and Kocherlakota speak later today as the Fed is now - supposedly - set to hike no matter what. Here is what the other main events are for the balance of the week.
- ECB Starts Buying German, Italian Government Bonds Under QE Plan (BBG)
- Creditors Reject Greece's Reform Proposals (BBG)
- Is Apple Watch the Timex digital watch of the Internet era? (Reuters)
- Tesla shedding jobs in China as sales target missed (Reuters)
- Malaysia Airlines says expired battery on MH370 did not hinder search (Reuters)
- Gunmen kill more than 12 Islamic State militants in eastern Syria (Reuters)
- GM Plans Share Buyback, Averting Proxy Fight (WSJ)
- Wisconsin capital marked by third day of protests after police shooting (Reuters)
It was not all smiles and jokes as Mario Draghi's European QE officially launched in Europe, with Greece leaving the proverbial turd in the monetary punch bowl.
Since the start of February, 48 US macro data items have missed expectations and 8 have beaten. Since then the S&P 500 has risen over 5.5% (and the Nasdaq even more) and 10Y yields are up 50bps. Bloomberg's US Macro Surprise index is now as weak as it was just after Lehman and is falling at the fastest pace since Summer 2012. While everyone is well aware that markets can stay irrational longer than a trader can stay liquid, one has to wonder just how long this farce can continue before even the most effusive talking head has to admit... things ain't great.
Goldman's Global Leading Indicator (GLI) final print for February affirms the global economy has entered a contraction with accelerating negative growth. Just six months after "expansion", the Goldman Swirlogram has collapsed into "contraction" with monthly revisions notably ugly and 9 out of 10 components declining in February. Some have suggested, given US equity's strong February (buyback-driven) performance, that the US economy will decouple from the world... or even drive it.. but that is 100% incorrect. US Macro data has fallen at its fastest pace in 3 years and is at its weakest level since July 2011 as 42 of 48 data items have missed since the start of February.
US Macro data has collapsed to 12-month lows with 38 data 'misses' and only 6 'beats. Earnings expectations have plunged most since Lehman (over 5% in the last 3 months) hovering at 10-month lows. So it makes perfect sense that, unless we see a late-day collapse today, the S&P 500 will post the best monthly performance since October 2011.