Another month down, another month in which US consumers deleveraged by paying down their credit cards. Although that is not exactly correct: as we showed recently, the New Normal source of credit has nothing to do with revolving debt, or credit cards, or any other old normal notions, and everything to do with student debt, which is used for everything except paying for tuition. That, and car loans of course. Sure enough, in February, of the $13.7 billion in new loans created, $13.9 billion, or 102% of all, was there to fund student and car loans. And looking further back at the data over the past year, of the $172 billion in new consumer debt, a stunning 96% has gone to new student and car loans.
The following charts are a summary taken from the "Money as you Grow" presentation prepared by the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability (created by executive order). What it highlights are "20 Things kids need to know to live financially smart lives" and is Barack Obama's personal advice to children ages 3 through 18+ on how they should spend their money. The list, which includes among it such brilliant advice as "you may have to wait before you can buy something you want", "it can be cost and dangerous to share information online" (with the NSA), "putting money in a savings account will protect and pay you interest", "the sooner you save, the faster your money can grow from compound interest", "your first paycheck may seem smaller than expected since money is taken out for taxes", "you should use a credit card only if you can pay the money owed in full each month", and of course "you need health insurance" has been pulled straight from Bizarro Day, and literally redefines New Normal humor since everything it recommends is the opposite of how the real world now works.
481 Barclays Employees Paid Over 1 Million Pounds In 2013, Increase Of 53 From 2012 Despite Losses, Mass LayoffsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/05/2014 12:40 -0400
It was less than a month ago when Barclays announced it would fire 12,000 workers after posting abysmal earnings with Q4 banking income crashing 37% and overall income sliding 9%. So, one would think, its employees would be punished with lower pay - those that are lucky enough to keep their jobs of course. One would be wrong. Reuters just reported that 481 of Barclays employees were paid 1 million pounds ($1.7 million) or more last year, 53 more than in the year before, and most of them were based in the United States. Barcalys' immutable rationale - fear of losing the traders to a better-paying competitor. Like who - is the Fed hiring again?
The Biggest Component Of CPI - Rent - Is Now The Highest Since 2008: What Does This Mean For Broad Inflation?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/03/2014 12:35 -0400
Even as the Fed laments that inflation as measured by either the hedonically adjusted CPI, or the PCE deflator measure (which on any given month is whatever a seasonal adjustment excel model says it is), is persistently below its long-term target of 2%, one component of the broader CPI basket has quietly continued risen to new multi-year highs. That would be the so-called owners’ equivalent rent (OER), which is the biggest component of the CPI, and measures imputed costs of renting one’s own home: it is currently the highest it has been since 2008. But what does this mean for broad inflation? Read on to find out why it is precisely the soaring rent, courtesy of the Fed's latest housing bubble, that means inflation will remain subdued for years to come.
Following last week's confirmation that capital expenditure in the land of the Free runs a very poor third to buybacks and dividends (and well anything that props up the over-inflated share prices of US corporates), and merely confirming what we have been discussing for the last few years (that Fed policy has focused management on short-term gratification and not long-term growth and stability), ex-PIMCO shit-cleaner-upper Mohamed El-Erian notes six reasons why the collapse in capex spend will continue and how central banks have failed to prime the pump of the real economy.
Who cares about tumbling GDP: it is all about the confidence of Wall Street CEOs, pardon, consumers whose confidence that the winter weather would finally end , if not so much in the economy with over 91 million people out of the labor force, resulted in yet another beat in the data, sending the Final UMichigan print higher from 81.2 to 81.6 on expectations of an unchanged print. The internals were largely irrelvant, but in terms of current conditions, consumers were most confident since November, up from 94.0 to 95.4, while expectations about the future was at 72.8 the highest since August. Finally, 1 year inflation expectations dropped modestly from 3.3% to 3.2%: don't worry though - in the New Normal declining inflationary expectations is enough to send the S&P 500 to new all tinme highs.
The latest algo-arbing gimmick: report estimate bearing results to get the momentum-ignition algos sending your stock higher... then a month later announce you "discovered" fraud in a subsidiary, which magically cut earnings by $235 million, hoping nobody will notice. This is precisely what Citigroup just did. "I can assure you there will be accountability for those who perpetrated this despicable crime and any employee who enabled it, either through lax supervision, circumvention of our controls, or violating our Code of Conduct. All will be held equally responsible and we will make sure that the punishment sends a crystal clear message about the consequences of such actions,” Mr. Corbat concluded.
The lucky number for the S&P500 was four, which after three aborted attempts to take out the January 15 all time high, finally succeeded on the fourth try materializing in a furious buying panic in Spoos in the last minutes of trading. However, in terms of catalyst, there was absolutely nothing to push the market to new highs: durable goods were a disappointment as we explained earlier (and led banks such as Barclays to further lower their GDP forecast for the year), while initial claims rose to the highest of the year. Which leaves only Yellen as the factor, although as can be seen on the chart below, one can just as easily say once US traders walked in today, the channel lift algo was activated, and with Spoos meandering all day in a straight line within the channel, finally burst through to highs with the closing print.
For now the only number that matters is the capital goods orders nondefense aircraft, aka core capex. It is here that while the sequential print was a modest increase of of 1.7%, compared to expectations of a -0.2% decline, it is the annual number that is of interest. We focus on this, because as can be seen on the chart, the annual change just posted its first annual decline in a year: in the past any such decline would mark the start of a recession, except of course for in 2012 when the New Normal central planning, and the trillions in Fed liquidity injections, made the business cycle as we know it meaningless. So much for that $1+ trillion in QE: it is good to know that it went to stock buybacks and dividends... if not so much to actually investing in future growth.
When a hypertotalitarian banana republic takes another turn for the gigasurreal, even Elon Musk is speechless.
The new normal has morphed from a slow-to-no recovery to a "strong" recovery hampered only by bad weather. When data is bad, it's "due to bad weather;" when data is good, it's the recovery... As Google 'quantifies' below, bad weather is 83 times more worrisome than good weather is positive...
All you need to know about the New Normal breed of crony capitalism and unbridled hypocrisy is once again best exemplified by the following quote by Charlie Munger - the lifetime business partner of crony capitalist par excellence Warren Buffett - from May 2013, in which he said that "I think it is very stupid to allow a system to evolve where half of the trading is a bunch of short term people trying to get information one millionth of a nanosecond ahead of somebody else. It's legalized front-running. I think it is basically evil and I don't think it should have ever been allowed to reach the size that it did. Why should all of us pay a little group of people to engage in legalized front-running of our orders?" Noble, noble words Charlie. What Munger, however, did not disclose is that as part of the Berkshire Hathaway-owned Business Wire news service, the company was enabling just this "basically evil" frontrunning, by allowing some, those who could afford the hefty fee of course, to make Munger and Buffett even richer and to subscribe to BW's HFT direct news access which gave them a few millisecond headstart and in the process frontrun everyone else.
This was one of the all too real Bloomberg headlines posted overnight: "Asian Shares Rally as U.S. Manufacturing Data Beats Estimates." Odd: are they refering to the crashing Philly Fed, or the just as crashing Empire Fed data? Wait, it was the C-grade MarkIt PMI that nobody ever looks at, except to confirm that where everyone else sees snow, the PMI saw sunshine and growth. Remember: if the data is weak, it's the snow; if it's strong, it's the recovery. Odder still: one would think Asian shares care about manufacturing data of, say, China. Which happens to be in Asia, and which two nights ago crashed to the lowest in months. Or maybe that only impact the SHCOMP which dropped 1.2% while all other regional markets simply do what the US and Japan do - follow the USDJPY, which at one point overnight rose as high as 102.600, and brought futures to within inches of their all time closing high. Sadly, it is this that passes for "fundamental" analysis in this broken market new normal...
Take a wild guess...
"Victory" This morning's USDJPY 102 stick-save was just the momentum ignition required to send the Russell 2000 and S&P 500 to critical 'unchanged' levels... "Mission Accomplished"... The Dow and Trannies remain down over 2% as the Nasdaq leads the way up 2.4% on the year. It would seem that despite 'economists' proclamations that the terrible maco data is 'weather' driven (and this transitory), they are also seeing it as bad news... which is - in our new normal - great news for liquidity-fueled bubbles (which the Fed will remind us later in the Minutes do not exist). US Macro data has plunged to six-month lows.