The Department of Labor states that there is no indication that the winter storm affected this week's numbers (though they are likely to remain volatile through January) as jobless claims dropped from a ubiquitously revised-upwards 345k to 330k this week - the lowest level since the end of November (even as NSA data jumped from 451k to 486k on the week). Continuing claims rose modestly back into the middle of the range of the last 4 months just like initial claims. The emergency claims data is lagged so we will not see the impact of congressional decisions on that until 2 weeks from now but its worth noting that the data we alreayd have shows 104,000 dropping off the rolls. California, Pennsylvania, and Michigan topped the initial claimants list with California worse than this time last year.
The economist Herbert Stein once said that if something can't go on forever, it will stop. The pattern of the last few decades, in which higher education costs grew much faster than incomes, with the difference made up by borrowing, can't go on forever... There is no point in trying to preserve the old regime as "working your way through college" is now impossible. For an 18-year-old, investing such a six-figure sum in an education without a payoff makes no more sense than buying a Ferrari on credit.
Another day, another low volume overnight meltup to record highs in equity futures. Stocks traded higher in Europe this morning, with tech stocks outperforming following reports that Apple has finally secured a deal to bring the iPhone to China Mobile, which has more than 750 million subscribers. As a result, the likes of ARM Holdings and STMicro traded with gains of over 2% and Apple's German listing traded up around 2.5%. At the same time, French CAC index under performed its peers, with Technip among the worst performing stocks after being removed from Goldman's Sustained Focus List. Addtionally, over the weekend, the ECB's Praet said that the ECB is ready to intervene if credit contracts - and since Euro credit is contracting at a record pace, we wonder what he is waiting for. This happened as Fitch affirmed France at AA+, outlook stable. Looking elsewhere, thin trading conditions resulted in an aggressive spike higher in CME US 30y futures this morning after a large clip was traded, which consequently saw the exchange adjust prices lower, but did not bust any trades.
Why Obama's Home Affordable Modification Program Failed (Spoiler Alert: Thank Bank Of America et al)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/16/2013 20:41 -0400
Back when the Executive and Congress at least pretended not to abdicate all power to the Fed, one of the centerpiece programs designed to boost the housing market for the benefit of the poor (as opposed to letting Ben Bernanke make marginal US housing a rental industry owned by a handful of private equity firms and hedge funds), was Barack Obama's Home Affordable Modification Program or HAMP, which attempted to prevent foreclosures by lowering distressed borrowers’ mortgage payments. Under the program, homeowners would be given trial modifications to prove they can make reduced payments before the changes become permanent. The program was a disaster as of the 3 million foreclosures that were targeted for modification in 2009, only 905,663 mods have been successful nearly five years later - a tiny 13% of the 6.9 million who applied (still, numbers which Obamacare would be delighted to achieve). Part of the reason: the program's reliance on the same industry that sold shoddy mortgages during the housing bubble and improperly sped foreclosures afterward. But there was much more. For the definitive explanation of everything else that went wrong, we go to Bloomberg's Hugh Son whose masterpiece released today explains how and why once again the banks - and especially one of them - won, and everyone else lost.
- BAD TRADE #1 For 2014: Ignoring Mean Reversion
- BAD TRADE #2 For 2014: Which-flation?
- BAD TRADE #3 For 2014: Forgetting Late Cycle Dynamics
- BAD TRADE #4 For 2014: Blind Faith In Policy
- BAD TRADE #5 For 2014: Reaching for Yield During Late Cycle
Chinese investment in London between 2010 and Q3 of this year has risen by a "ludicrous speed" comparable 1,500%, or from a frugal GBP54 million to over GBP 1 billion! And boy do the Chinese love London - according to the same report, over 50% of European property investment by Chinese buyers is now in London. As a result, China is now the third-largest overseas purchaser in U.K. behind Germany and U.S., which invested GBP 1.2 billion and GBP 1.1 billion respectively. "We expect the pool of investors from China targeting London to grow significantly in the coming years. They will consider everything from urban regeneration sites through to trophy assets." Which brings us to point number two: the latest target of the Chinese hot money colonization is none other than bankrupt Detroit.
The spin does not get any better than this... As they reported they would,
- *LEW SAYS U.S. SOLD ALL REMAINING SHARES OF GENERAL MOTORS RECOUPING $39 BLN OF ORIGINAL GM INVESTMENT
That is a $10.5 Billion loss! But, The Center for Automotive Research, a Michigan nonprofit organization that analyzes auto industry issues, those funds “saved or avoided the loss of $105.3 billion in transfer payments and the loss of personal and social insurance tax collections -- or 768% of the net investment.” We can't wait to hear how much Bill Ackman made or saved on his Herbalife investment...
Of course, why not. University of Michigan Consumer Confidence jumped from 75.1 to a preliminary 82.5 beating expectations by the most on record. While we remain below the July 2013 highs, current conditions soared to the highest since May and the economic outlook spiked to the highest since August. This is the biggest absolute improvement in current conditions since December 2008.... and that ended well eh?
Futures Pushed Higher On Weaker Yen, But All Could Change With Today's "Most Important Ever" Jobs NumberSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/06/2013 07:58 -0400
The latest "most important payrolls day of all time" day is finally upon us. Of course, this is a ridiculous statement: considering that the average December seasonal adjustment to the actual, unadjusted number is 824K jobs, it will once again be up to the BLS' Arima X 13 goal-seeking, seasonal adjusting software to determine whether the momentum ignition algos send stocks soaring or plunging, especially since the difference between up and down could be as small as 30K jobs. As Deutsche Bank explains: " today's number is probably one where anything above +200k (net of revisions) will lead to a further dip in risk as taper fears intensify and anything less than say +170k will probably see a decent relief rally after a tricky week for markets. Indeed yesterday saw the S&P500 (-0.43%) down for a fifth day - extending a sequence last seen in September." And then consider that nearly 30 times that difference comes from seasonal adjustments and it becomes clear why "farcial" is a far better definition of labor Friday.
As an experiment, Bloomberg Businessweek typed the names of the 50 states into Google to see what people most frequently ask about them. The questions range from dumb (well, mostly dumb) to revealing, both about the states and about the people doing the searching. Lots of questions about carrying a gun, buying alcohol, getting divorced, and fighting union organizers. Whether a state is in the Midwest or South seems to be a particular obsession. But the most common question about the states is even more basic: Is it a state? or Is it racist?
While the abundance of commercials for cars across all media this time of year is nothing new, the manufacturers (and even more so the dealers) are likely getting more desperate. As Bloomberg reports, inventory climbed to almost 3.4 million cars and light trucks entering November - at 76 days of supply, that was the highest for the month since 2005. This should come as no surprise as we previously noted GM's post-crisis highs in channel stuffing as hope remains high that the recent slowdown in sales does not continue. The question, of course, is, "will manufacturers be responsible and curb production to keep inventory in check, or are some going to resort to old, bad habits and churn it out and then throw incentives on them." We suspect we know the margin-crushing answer.
Previewing the rest of this week’s events, we have a bumper week of US data over the next five days, in part making up for two days of blackout last week for Thanksgiving. Aside from Friday’s nonfarm payroll report, the key releases to look for are manufacturing ISM and construction spending (today), unit motor vehicle sales (tomorrow), non-manufacturing ISM (Wednesday), preliminary Q3 real GDP and initial jobless claims (Thursday), as well as personal income/consumption and consumer sentiment (Friday). Wednesday’s ADP employment report will, as usual, provide a preamble for Friday’s payrolls.
While moderate recovery in growth and inflation is BofAML's rates team's base case, there are numerous risks to that forecast. The risk of tapering is already quite well known and they suspect it may not result in the significant market-moving event many expect when it actually happens; however, the following downside and upside risks threaten BofAML's central scenarios for 2014 as well.
In a carry-trade driven world in which news and fundamentals no longer matter, the only relevant "variable" is whether the JPY is down (check) and the EUR is up (check) which always results in green equities around the globe and green futures in the US, with yesterday's sudden and sharp selloff on no liquidity and no news long forgotten. The conventional wisdom "reason" for the overnight JPY underperformance against all major FX is once again due to central bank rhetoric, when overnight BOJ's Kiuchi sees high uncertainty whether 2% CPI will be reached in 2 years, Shirai says bank should ease further if growth, CPI diverge from main scenario. Also the BOJ once again hinted at more QE, and since this has proven sufficient to keep the JPY selling momentum, for now, why not continue doing it until like in May it stops working. As a result EURJPY rose above the 4 year high resistance of 138.00, while USDJPY is bordering on 102.00. On the other hand, the EUR gained after German parties strike coalition accord, pushing the EURUSD over 1.36 and further making the ECB's life, now that it has to talk the currency down not up, impossible. This is especially true following reports in the German press that the ECB is looking at introducing an LTRO in order to help promote bank lending. Since that rumor made zero dent on the EUR, expect the ongoing daily litany of ECB rumors that the bank is "technically ready" for negative rates and even QE, although as has been shown in recent months this now has a half-life measured in minutes as the market largely is ignoring whatever "tools" Draghi and company believe they have left.