"By all measures, the U.S. stock market is currently frothy," warns Paul Singer, founder of $24.8 billion hedge fund firm Elliott Management, ominously concluding, "The apparent stability of the world financial system is superficial – financial asset prices are not real, the equilibrium is temporary, the lack of volatility is a trap, and when the whole thing goes haywire, there will truly be hell to pay."
As always, for the best take of what the Fed was thinking, skip Hilsenrath and go straight to the people who provide it with its talking points. Here is Goldman's Jan Hatzius with hos post-mortem of the just released FOMC minutes.
As expected, The FOMC continued its taper pace at $10bn but what was supposed to be a 'steady as she goes' statement had a few surprises:
- *PLOSSER DISSENTS ON DECISION, CITING GUIDANCE ON RATE OUTLOOK
- *FOMC SEES SIGNIFICANT UNDERUTILIZATION OF LABOR RESOURCES
- *FOMC: ODDS OF PERSISTENT SUB-2% INFLATION `DIMINISHED SOMEWHAT'
More of the same but some modestly hawkish sentiment sneaking in regarding improving labor markets. Oddly - no trade recommendations from Yellen. Full redline below...
Pre-FOMC: S&P Futs 1961.5, 10Y 2.55%, JPY 102.90, Gold $1294
This week's US data onslaught begins today, with the ADP private payroll report first on deck (Exp. 230K, down from 281K), followed by the number of the day, Q2 GDP, which after Q1's abysmal -2.9%, is expected to increase 3%. Anything less and in the first half the US economy will have contracted, something the purists could claim is equivalent to a recession. The whisper numbers are to the downside since consumption and trade never caught up and the only variable is inventory as well as Obamacare, whose impact was $40 billion "contribution" in Q1 was entirely eliminated and instead led to a deduction, something we expect will be reversed into Q2. Following the backward looking GDP (which will be ignored by the sellside penguins if it is bad and praised if good) at 2:00 pm Yellen Capital LLC comes out with a correction on her call to short social networking stocks, as well as admit once again that the "data-driven" Fed really has no idea what it is doing and how it will tighten, but that tightening is imminent and another $10 billion taper to QE will take place ahead of a full phase out in October. Joking aside, the Fed is expected not to do much if anything, which may be just the right time for Yellen to inject an aggressively hawkish note considering her inflation "noise" refuses to go away.
Beige Book summary:
- "Optimistic" or "Optimism": 24
- "Pessimism": 1
Fed Chair Janet Yellen will provide Congress with an update on the state of the economy, how rosy the future is, why she needs to keep rates lower for longer, and that there are no bubbles (oh apart from in bonds which everyone should sell because we need the collateral). These are her first comments since the FOMC press conference in mid-June and stocks have soared since then (as bond yields have tumbled) and she will have to tread a fine line between exuberant over headline job improvements and the need to keep over-inflated bubbles pumped full of cheap/free money for longer...
A look at key events and data in the week ahead.
1 minutes, 555 words, and Fed-whisperer Jon Hilsenrath declares that based on the FOMC minutes, QE is dead and now the uncertainty is all about rate-hike timing. Crucially, given the Fed's concerns over complacency, Hilsenrath explains, "while they don't expect rates to get very high because of lingering headwinds to the economy, they also don't want to give the public too much comfort that they'll remain near historically low levels far into the future."
Gold has held firmly above $1300 for over two weeks, confounding those who said it would never see that key level again, but as the constantly-bearish SocGen explains in this 'astounding' report, gold's downturn is set to return... except their reasoning has a fatal flaw - it's entirely factually incorrect.
U.S. consumers think one-year domestic price inflation will run 50-100% higher than the current headline Consumer Price Index that Wall Street uses to value financial assets. That surprising finding doesn’t come from the fringe "Inflation is nigh, repent!" camp; as ConvergEx's NBick Colas points out, it is the central observation of the New York Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Expectations. This relatively new but rigorously designed monthly dataset polls 1,200 American households on a range of financial questions, from inflation expectations to household finances and labor market conditions. The news The Fed is hearing from the survey must be a bit tough to hear. Inflation expectations are significantly higher than their "Target" of 2% already, meaning any acceleration in prices will "Feel" higher than the central bank’s notional goals.
This week's "Things To Ponder" is focused on things that, in my opinion, far too many individuals are ignoring. Bob Farrell once wrote that "when all experts and forecasts agree; something else is bound to happen." Today, that is the case as much as it ever was. Despite rising geopolitical risks, weak economic data, deteriorating fundamentals and softer internals - the overwhelming belief is "equities are the only game in town." Of course, we have seen this mentality many times in past history whether it was 1929, 1987, 2000 or 2007. While every market peak was different, there were all the same.