A dispassionate look at the issues and events shaping the investment climate in the week ahead.
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...
Two weeks ago we highlighted just how "screwed" Las Vegas is due to the catastrophic drought that is occurring (combined with almost total ignorance that this is a problem). As Bloomberg's James Nash reports, about 55% of Nevada, already the nation’s driest state, is under “extreme’’ or “exceptional’’ drought conditions, the worst grades on the U.S. Drought Monitor; but recently the situation has got even worse. Lake Mead, the man-made reservoir that supplies 90 percent of the water for 2 million people in the Las Vegas area, has been reduced by drought to the lowest level since it was filled in 1937, according to the federal government who explained "It concerns us all very much," as it is a resource used by 3 states. Simply put, The shortfall is endangering water supplies to the residents and 43 million annual visitors to the driest metropolitan area in the country.
You feel poorer because you are poorer.
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.
Following the rather stunning shenanigans of Q1 GDP with regard healthcare spending (as we detailed here), we thought, four years after its passage in 2010, it worth analyzing Obamacare's economic impact? Beforehand, economists generally believed that the broader coverage would raise the demand for healthcare goods and services, although there was some disagreement about related effects on healthcare inflation. In reality, as UBS notes, there was too much optimism about a positive immediate economic impact and a negative price inflation effect.
The economic releases of the past few days are putting the lie to the Keynesian escape velocity myth. The latter is not just around the corner—-and 2014 is now virtually certain to mark the fifth year running when the boom predicted by Wall Street economist at the beginning of the year fizzled as actual results unfolded.
Following yesterday's S&P surge on the worst hard economic data (not some fluffy survey conducted by a conflicted firm whose parent just IPOed and is thus in desperate need to perpetuate the market euphoria) in five years, there is little one can comment on how "markets" react to news. Good news, bad news... whatever - as long as it is flashing red, the HFT algos will send momentum higher. The only hope of some normalization is that following the latest revelation of just how rigged the market is due to various HFT firms, something will finally change. Alas, as we have said since the flash crash, there won't be any real attempts at fixing the broken market structure until the next, and far more vicious flash crash - one from which not even the NY Fed-Citadel PPT JV will be able to recover. For now, keep an eye on the USDJPY - as has been the case lately, the overnight USDJPY trading team has taken it lower ahead of the traditional US day session rebound which also pushes the S&P higher with it. For now the surge is missing but it won't be for longer - expect the traditional USDJPY ramp just before or as US stocks open for trading.
Remember when in January 2014, Q1 GDP was expected to rise 2.6%? Well, here comes the final Q1 GDP revision and it's a doozy: at -2.9%, far below the -1.8% expected and well below the -1.0% second revision, it is an absolute disaster, and is the worst print since Q1 2009.
Between the second and final revision of Q1 GDP something dramatic happened: instead of contributing $40 billion to real GDP in Q1, Obamacare magically ended up subtracting $6.4 billion from GDP. This, in turn, resulted in a collapse in Personal Consumption Expenditures as a percentage of GDP to just 0.7%, the lowest since 2009!
The S&P500 has now gone 47 days without a gain or loss of more than 1% - a feat unmatched since 1995, according to AP. Overnight markets are having a weaker session across the board (except the US of course). Even the Nikkei is trading with a weak tone (-0.7%) seemingly unimpressed by the Third Arrow reform announcements from Prime Minister Abe yesterday (and considering in Japan the market is entirely dictated by the BOJ, perhaps they could have at least coordinated a "happy" reception of the revised Abe plan). Either that or they have largely been priced in following the sizable rally in Japanese stocks over the past month or so. Abe outlined about a dozen reforms yesterday including changes to the GPIF investment allocations and a reduction in the corporate tax rate to below 30% from the current level of 35%+. Separately, the Hang Seng Index (-0.06%) and the Shanghai Composite (-0.41%) 98closed lower as traders cited dilutive IPOs as a concern for future equity gains.
Judging by the surprising reversal in futures overnight, which certainly can not be attributed to the latest data miss out of Europe in the form of the June German IFO Business Climate report (print 109.7, Exp. 110.3, Last 110.4) as it would be naive to assume that centrally-planned markets have finally started to respond as they should to macro data, it appears that algos, with their usual 24 hour delay, have finally discovered Dubai on the map. The same Dubai, which as we showed yesterday had just entered a bear market in a few short weeks after going turbo parabolic in early 2014. It is this Dubai which crashed another 8% just today, as fears that leveraged traders are liquidating positions, have surfaced and are spreading, adversely (because in the new normal this needs to be clarified) to other risk assets, while at the same time pushing gold and silver to breakout highs. Recall that it was Dubai where the global sovereign crisis started in the fall of 2009 - will Dubai also be the place where the first domino of the global credit bubble topples and takes down the best laid plans of central-planners and men?
This week brings PMIs (US and Euro area ‘flash’) and inflation (US PCE, CPI in Germany, Spain, and Japan). Among other releases, next week in DMs includes [on Monday] PMIs in US (June P), Euro Area Composite (expect 52.8, a touch below previous) and Japan; [on Tuesday] US home prices (FHFA and S&P/Case Shiller) and Consumer Confidence (expect 83.5, same as consensus), Germany IFO; [on Wednesday] US Durable Goods Orders (expect -0.50%, at touch below consensus) and real GDP 1Q anniversary. 3rd (expect -2.0%) and Personal Consumption 1Q (expect 2.0%), and confidence indicators in Germany, France and Italy; [on Thursday] US PCE price index (expect 0.20%), Personal Income and Spending, and GS Analyst Index; and [on Friday] Reuters/U. Michigan Confidence (expect slight improvement to 82, same as consensus), GDP 1Q in France and UK (expect 0.8% and 0.9% yoy, respectively), and CPI in Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan.
Simple overview of the week ahead.
Has the next major economic downturn already started? The way that you would answer that question would probably depend on where you live. If you live in New York City, or the suburbs of Washington D.C., or you work for one of the big tech firms in the San Francisco area, you would probably respond to such a question by saying of course not. In those areas, the economy is doing great and prices for high end homes are still booming. But in most of the rest of the nation, evidence continues to mount that the next recession has already begun for the poor and the middle class.