Today's nonfarm payroll number is set to be a virtual non-event: with consensus expecting an abysmal print, it is almost assured that the real seasonally adjusted number (and keep in mind that the average February seasonal adjustment to the actual number is 1.5 million "jobs" higher) will be a major beat to expectations, which will crash the "harsh weather" narrative but who cares. Alternatively, if the number is truly horrendous, no problem there either: just blame it on the cold February... because after all what are seasonal adjustments for? Either way, whatever the number, the algos will send stocks higher - that much is given in a blow off top bubble market in which any news is an excuse to buy more. So while everyone is focused on the NFP placeholder, the real key event that nobody is paying attention to took place in China, where overnight China’s Shanghai Chaori Solar defaulted on bond interest payments, failing to repay CNY 89.9mln (USD 14.7mln), as had been reported here extensively previously. This marked the first domestic corporate bond default in the country's history - indicating a further shift toward responsibility and focus on moral hazard in China.
A disaster of epic contortions...
Is the U.S. economy steamrolling toward another recession? Will 2014 turn out to be a major "turning point" when we look back on it? Before we get to the evidence, it is important to note that there are many economists that believe that the United States never actually got out of the last recession. In fact, that would fit with the daily reality of tens of millions of Americans that are deeply suffering in this harsh economic environment. But no matter whether we are in a "recession" at the moment or not, there are an increasing number of indications that we are rapidly plunging into another major economic slowdown. The following are the top 12 signs that the U.S. economy is heading toward another recession...
President Obama released his 2015 budget proposal this week...and as expected, it contained even more language about his MyRA initiative. As we’ve discussed so many times in the past, IRAs are an irresistible kitty for such a bankrupt government. The US government itself estimates that over $5 trillion is tucked away in American retirement accounts. They need that money. Your money. The US government is struggling to come up with new funding sources… and retirement accounts are by far the easiest target. Why? Because the majority of retirement accounts at trapped at big Wall Street banks, which are all de facto agents of the government. All the Treasury Department has to do is make a phone call. Yesterday’s budget announcement constitutes the next phase: automatic enrollment.
Though many may reckon the U.S. government (and its Deep State) are not so much incompetent as merely evil, we suggest incompetence sows the seeds of evil consequences. Why is our government so incompetent? Short answer: because incompetence has been fully institutionalized in every branch, every agency and every nook and cranny of the state.
In what is becoming an epic embarrassment, the WSJ reports that the Obama administration announced today that consumers can keep insurance plans that don't comply with the federal health law for another two years, pushing a potential firestorm over cancellations and broken promises that "you can keep your health plan". As The Hill adds, the unprecedented move will protect vulnerable Democrats in the midterm elections by staving off a wave of cancellation notices and for some consumers, rather stunningly, Obamacare will not be in place for all Americans when President Obama leaves office. Sickeningly, the administration explicitly gave cover to 13 vulnerable Democratic lawmakers by saying the extension was developed in “close consultation” with those members.
With even Warren Buffett saying it's a bad idea, we can't wait to hear how President Obama will explain how his move to raise the minimum wage will create jobs and save the middle class....
The soon-to-be-renamed-Boring-Book, for its constant uniformity of mediocre Goldilocks data offered little to strengthen bulls or bears (as usual) but it seems weather was the key once again. With 119 references to "weather" (6 times more than the January report), they remind us that:
- *FED SAW ECONOMY GROW EVEN AS HARSH WEATHER SLOWED HIRING, SALES
- *FED SAYS OUTLOOK 'AMONG MOST DISTRICTS REMAINED OPTIMISTIC'
But - the "m" words continue to dominate:
- *FED SAYS MOST REPORTS OF IMPROVEMENT WERE 'MODEST TO MODERATE'
As 8 of the 12 districts "reported improved levels of activity"... but but but the weather. Healthcare concerns were cited 16 times.
ISM Services headline index collapsed to 51.6 (missing expectations of 53.5) to its lowest since February of 2010. We are sure many will proclaim this as "weather-related" but remember the strong performance of the Manufacturing print. Respondents worried about weather, Obamacare, and oil prices... as the employment sub-index crashed from 56.4 (highest since Nov 2010) to 47.5 (lowest since Mar 2010) - the biggest drop since Lehman!
With the world still on edge over developments in the Ukraine, overnight newsflow was far less dramatic than yesterday, with no "bombshell" uttered at today's Putin press conferences in which he said nothing new and simply reiterated the party line and yet the market saw it as a full abdication, he did have some soundbites saying Russia should keep economic issues separate from politics, and that Russia should cooperate with all partners on Ukraine. Elsewhere Gazprom kept the heat on, or rather off, saying Ukraine recently paid $10 million of its nat gas debt, but that for February alone Ukraine owes $440 million for gas, which Ukraine has informed Gazprom it can't pay in full. Adding the overdue amounts for prior months, means Ukraine's current payable on gas is nearly $2 billion. Which is why almost concurrently Barosso announced that Europe would offer €1.6 billion in loans as part of EU package, which however is condition on striking a deal with the IMF (thank you US taxpayers), and that total aid could be as large as $15 billion, once again offloading the bulk of the obligations to the IMF. And so one more country joins the Troika bailout routine, and this one isn't even in the Eurozone, or the EU.
Mainstream media discussion of the macro economic picture goes something like this: “When there is a recession, the Fed should stimulate. We know from history the recovery comes about 12-18 months after stimulus. We stimulated, we printed a lot of money, we waited 18 months. So the economy ipso facto has recovered. Or it’s just about to recover, any time now.” But to quote the comedian Richard Pryor, “Who ya gonna believe? Me or your lying eyes?” However, as Hayek said, the more the state centrally plans, the more difficult it becomes for the individual to plan. Economic growth is not something that just happens. It requires saving. It requires investment and capital accumulation. And it requires the real market process. It is not a delicate flower but it requires some degree of legal stability and property rights. And when you get in the way of these things, the capital accumulation stops and the economy stagnates.
With the world distracted by Putin and ICBM launches, The White House, according to the WSJ, is about to extend Obamacare deadlines by another year:
*U.S. MAY GRANT 1-YR EXTENSION ON HEALTH LAW REQUIREMENTS: WSJ
*WSJ CITES INDUSTRY OFFICIAL ON INSURANCE COS., HEALTH CARE LAW
Allowing insurers to keep selling policies that do not meet standards for another year. It seems, if you like your healthcare policy, you can keep it for one more year... (most importantly past the Midterms)
After once again clearly delineating that Russian "costs" are set to surge, and hopefully he means more than just the drop in the Micex and its artificial, paper wealth effect which Putin couldn't care less about as long as crude is soaring...
- OBAMA SAYS INCIDENT WITH UKRAINE WILL BE ‘COSTLY’ FOR RUSSIA
... the US president has laid out his latest tactic:
- OBAMA SAYS HE'S CONSIDERING ECONOMIC STEPS TO ISOLATE RUSSIA
And the punchline:
- OBAMA URGES CONGRESS TO PROVIDE PACKAGE OF ASSISTANCE QUICKLY TO UKRAINIAN PEOPLE; SAYS SHOULD NOT BE PARTISAN ISSUE ON CAPITOL HILL
Maybe time to send Obamacare to Kiev: so many young, strapping participants just waiting to sign up? Or maybe it just time to raise minimum wages in the Ukraine while giving the local population the safety of mind that comes with investing in the "no risk, guaranteed return" MyRA.
"January nominal personal spending rose 0.4% (vs. consensus +0.1%). Both durable (-0.4%) and nondurable (-0.7%) goods spending fell on the month. Services spending rose a sharp 0.9%, the strongest gain since the bounce-back from the September 11 attacks in October 2001. Out-sized gains occurred in two categories of services spending: household utilities (+9.7%), boosted by colder weather, and health care (+1.6%) in light of enrollments in the Affordable Care Act exchanges."