As if the official news that the US economy is just one quarter away from an official recession (and with just one month left in the second quarter that inventory restocking better be progressing at an epic pace) but don't worry - supposedly harsh weather somehow managed to wipe out $100 billion in economic growth from the initial forecast for Q1 GDP - here is some even worse news: if one excludes the artificial stimulus to the US economy generated from the Obamacare Q1 taxpayer-subsidized scramble, which resulted in a record surge in Healthcare services spending of $40 billion in the quarter, Q1 GDP would have contracted not by 1% but by 2%!
The teleprompter is still hot from all the Obama spit unleashed in his latest sincerely passionate denial that his administration knew anything, anything at all, about what is merely the latest scandal to rock the president, this time surrounding the Veterans Affairs fiasco, and already a brand new scandal is taking shape, this one Obama however will not be able to sweep as easily under the rug. The LA Times reports that the "Obama administration has quietly adjusted key provisions of its signature healthcare law to potentially make billions of additional taxpayer dollars available to the insurance industry if companies providing coverage through the Affordable Care Act lose money." In other words, yet another taxpayer funded bailout.
To compare Japanese and European bond yields in order to justify an argument for US bond yields staying historically low once the Federal Reserve is completely out of bond buying is a failed comparison.
For those curious how much further into banana status the "developed" world may further drop, look no further than Turkey which is rapidly becoming the case study of banana governance par excellence.
Have you ever given food to a homeless person? Well, if you do it again in the future it might be a criminal act depending on where you live. Right now, there are dozens of major U.S. cities that have already passed laws against feeding the homeless.
In yet another quarter confirming that Walmart is merely a company that can beat analyst expectations when it cashes Uncle Sam's welfare checks and foodstamps, when the impact of Obamacare is ignored, and when the second it snows all bets are off, WalMart reported Q1 EPS of $1.10, below the $1.15 expected, even if the company was able to explicitly quantify what the impact of snow in the winter was: "Severe weather in the U.S. businesses negatively impacted EPS by approximately $0.03." Apparently the weather's impact on the top line was over $1 billion because revenues came in at $114.96 billion, below the $116.3 billion expected.
Friday, the 2nd day of May, brought two important pieces of government reported information: The April unemployment report came in much better than expected, or “blows pasts forecasts“ as USA Today reported, and initial Obamacare enrollment included more of the previously uninsured than expected, something that Mother Jones says is “far far higher than previous estimates.” Both pieces of information are a good way of looking at an analysis pitfall common in the world of Wall Street and now being increasingly ported over to the rest of the news cycle: the fallacy of mistaking how something does vs expectations with whether its good or bad.
Update: JPM just jumped on the bandwagon and cut Q1 GDP to -0.8% from -0.4%. Don't worry: it snowed.
The US "recovery" is starting to feel more and more recessionary by the day. As we warned after we reported the trade deficit, it was only a matter of time before the Q1 GDP cuts came. And come they did, first from Barclays, and now from Goldman, which just doubled its GDP forecast loss for the past quarter from -0.3% to -0.6%.
- Fed’s Fisher Says Economy Strengthening as Payrolls Rise (BBG)
- Russia Knows Europe Sanctions Ineffective With Tax Havens (BBG)
- EU Cuts Euro-Area Growth Outlook as Inflation Seen Slower (BBG)
- U.S. Firms With Irish Addresses Get Tax Breaks Derided as ‘Blarney’ (BBG)
- Portugal exits bailout without safety net of credit line (Euronews)
- Puzzled Malaysian Air Searchers Ponder What to Try Now (BBG)
- Barclays, Credit Suisse Battle Banker Exodus, Legal Woes (BBG)
- Germany says euro level not an issue for politicians (Reuters)
- Alibaba-Sized Hole Blown in Nasdaq 100 Amid New Stock (BBG)
- Obamacare to save large corporations hundreds of billions (The Hill)
For 364 days of the year, the theater that the press and the administration are on the opposite sides of the table, continues without a glitch. However, one day a year, during the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner, the facade falls and Obama, together with his fawning press corps, have a night of laughs in an Oscar-inspired night of self-congratularoty excess. Which, just like every other night in Washington, is at the taxpayers' expense. Here are the highlights from last night's festivities.
A perfect sign of the times is the unexpected success of a 700-page economics text called Capital in the 21st Century by French college professor Thomas Piketty reigniting the popularity of Marx's view of the world. Marx’s critique of the modern world was right-on, and the first half of his scenario is playing out just as he predicted; unfortunately, he went on to predict that the revolt of the 99% would result in a “dictatorship of the proletariat” in which workers of the world abolished private property and ran things so wisely that government would just fade away... This is of course crazy, and when it was tried in the 20th century it failed with catastrophic consequences for the Soviet Union, China, and a long list of smaller but no less tragic countries. The result: brutal dictatorships and the eventual dismissal of the Marxist ideas on which those societies are founded. Now the challenge is devising a monetary/financial reset that brings the 99% back into the game without producing a stagnant dictatorship. It will help if we understand why it’s happening.
Back in December of 2012, the Fed, after two and a half failed attempts to stimulate the economy (via QE1, QE2 and Operation Twist), announced Open-Ended QE of an indefinite injection of $85 billion per month (which it currently is tapering at a pace of $10 billion per month on the realization that it has soaked up virtually all high quality collateral). Since then the Fed's balance sheet has grown from $2.9 trillion to $4.3 trillion: a direct injection of $1.4 trillion in liquidity into the stock market, if not so much the economy, which as Wall Street is suddenly busy telling us following the latest disappointing construction spending data (the same Wall Street which initially expected Q1 GDP to be 2.75%), probably contracted for the first time in three years!
Curious why after inexplicably turning red earlier today (because as everyone knows in the New Normal selling is largely forbidden and the Caracas stock market is the model to imitation), the DJIA is about to turn green again and press on new all time record highs? Simple. Following the earlier disastrous construction spending report which feeds directly into the GDP calculation, banks promptly revised their Q1 GDP estimates. To negative.
It is May Day, which means half the world - the half where welfare contributions to one's standard of living are off the charts - celebrate labor, or rather the lack thereof, by taking a day off. Which means virtually all of Europe is closed, as are Eurex and Euronext futures, and most European markets expect the UK. In light of the non-existent volume, futures are relatively unchanged despite the latest Chinese Mfg PMI disappointment (50.4, below the 50.5, expected but just above the prior print of 50.3), and of course yesterday's US GDP debacle which helped push the DJIA to a record high. The good news is that with volume even more miserable than usual, the few momentum ignition algos that are operating will have a field day with the now standard low-volume levitation that happens like clockwork if the news is bad, and also happens just in case if the news is bad.
Here is a shocker: for all the damnation Obamacare, which according to poll after poll is loathed by a majority of the US population, has gotten if it wasn't for the (government-mandated) spending surge resulting from Obamacare, which resulted in the biggest jump in Healthcare Services spending in the past quarter in history and added 1.1% to GDP, real Q1 GDP, which rose only $4.3 billion sequentially to $15,947 billion, would have been negative 1%.