The fairy dust peddlers who moonlight as Wall Street economists were out in force yesterday after March retail sales came in with a positive m/m change for the first time since November. This purportedly confirms that we’re back on track for a big rebound in Q2. In any event, what happens next is not too hard to figure. Unless you are a Wall Street economist.
We simply don’t see any time in the future that would see Americans start spending again at a rate anywhere near what would be required for an economic recovery. However, that is by no means a generally accepted point of view in the financial press; and so these issues must be addressed time and again until people begin to understand, and quit making the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons. People have a right to know what’s truly happening to their lives, and their societies. And they’re not nearly getting enough of it through the ‘official’ press.
This long-term weakening of the economy is the direct result of financialization and the Federal Reserve's policy of propping up impaired debt with more debt and constantly bringing demand forward with zero interest rates. The U.S. economy is slowing to stall speed--the point when gravity overcomes the lift provided by central bank free money. This deceleration is evident in a number of indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP), which is now at 0% according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's GDPNow model.
Did stocks window dressing come one day early in this volatile, bipolar, stop-hunting, HFT-infested market? Looking at futures this morning, which are down about 12 points already on yet another surge in the USD which has sent the EURUSD just above 1.07, the lowest since March 20 , and the USDJPY back under 120 now that the "strong dollar is bad for stocks after all" algo seems to be back from vacation, all those hedge funds who chased risk higher yesterday because their peers did the same, may find they are all selling on the way down. It will be oddly ironic if all of yesterday's widely touted gains evaporate comparably in the first 10 minutes of trading today, and lead to an end in the longest streak of quarterly increases in two decades.
- Setbacks and progress as Iran, six powers meet to end nuclear impasse (Reuters)
- Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Leave Iran Nuclear Talks (WSJ)
- Obama Ramps Up Lobbying on Iran as Deadline Looms (WSJ)
- Greek yields edge up as lenders scrutinise reform pledge (Reuters)
- Oil prices drop on possible Iran deal, dollar (Reuters)
- Yemen’s Houthis Battle for Aden as Saudi Strikes Hit Rebels (BBG)
- Iran nuclear deal to see $20 oil if Tehran floods crude market (Telegraph)
- China’s Zhou Says PBOC Has Room to Act on Growth Slowdown (BBG)
With the rest of the developed world's central banks waiting for the Fed to admit defeat for one more year and delay its proposed rate hike (or launch NIRP/QE4 outright) it was all about China (the same China which a month ago we said would launch QE sooner or later) and hope that its central bank would boost asset prices, when over the weekend the PBoC governor hinted that more easing is imminent to offset the accelerating drag after he admitted that the nation’s growth rate has tumbled "a bit" too much and that policy makers have scope to respond. How much scope it really has now that its bad debt is rising exponentially is a different question. It got so bad, Shanghai Securities News leaked a false rumor earlier forcing many to believe China would announce an unexpected rate cut as soon as today, in the process sending the Shanghai Composite soaring by 2.6%.
The only news that matters to algos today is whether Janet Yellen will include the word "patient" in the FOMC statement as a hint of a June rate hike, even though the phrase "international developments" is far more important in a world in which everyone (such as the 25 or so central banks who have cut rates in the past 80 days) is now scrambling to export deflation to everyone else. And with carbon-based traders recuperating from St. Patrick's day, few will notice that the oil tumble continues as WTI touches new 6 year highs after yesterday's shocking 10MM+ API build, and is now openly eyeing a collapse into the $30s. Just as nobody will notice that even as futures in the US and European stocks are looking a little hungover ahead of the Fed and perhaps on the latest bout of anti-austerity out of Europe, the China levitation has gone full retard, with the SHCOMP up another 2.1% yesterday and now in full-blown parabolic mode as housing data confirms the Chinese housing bubble has truly burst, and as shadow bankers dump all their funds into stocks in hopes of making up for losses due to regulatory intervention.
unlike the late summer and early fall of 2014, when the rise in the Chinese stock market could be attributed to the PBOC's PSL "QE Lite", the relentless buying leg that started in mid-November has stunned most people, as nobody has been able to figure out just who is responsible for all this buying. Until now. According to Reuters, it is precisely China's trust firms, with total assets of $2.2 trillion, and who together with Banker Acceptances comrpise the bulk of China's shadow banking pipeline, are shifting more cash into frothy capital markets and over-the-counter (OTC) instruments instead of loans. In other words, instead of using their vast cash hoard of over $2 trillion to re-lend and stimulate China's economy, China's unregulated, shadow banking conduits are now directly buying stocks!
There is no mystery anywhere to be found in the fact that US retail sales don’t follow the jobs trend. Not if you look at what kind of jobs they are, let alone at all the other made up and manipulated numbers that are being thrown around about the US economy. The only mystery is why everyone persists in talking about a recovery. That recovery will never come, simply because all 90% of Americans do is pay for the other 10% to get richer. There are many other factors, but that all by itself makes a recovery a mathematical mirage.
With little newsflow out of Europe, and just as little on deck out of the US (just NY ISM and auto sales later today), the main overnight events were out of Asia where first the RBA decided to leave rates unchanged but not before the announcement was leaked up to a minute early. In China, the rate-cut euphoria lasted just one day, and after a feeble 0.8% bounce on Monday, the SHCOMP was down 2.2% this morning over fears the PBOC is doing too little, too late to halt what is now perceived by many as a massive "tightening" capital flight out of China. Finally, Japan made the newsflow, after it JGBs continued to slide following a weak auction, fears that the BOJ is done easing after Abe advisor Etsuro Honda warned against overheating, and after the biggest jump in base pay in over a decade led some to think the BOJ may soon have to halt easing altogether, especially if real wages proceed to rise
Following December's worse than expected drop in personal spending (and slowing groweth in incomes), analysts wewre expected the usual hockey-stick bounce... it did not happen. Despite all the exuberance over low gas prices, US personal spending dropped 0.2% in January - twice as bad as the 0.1% drop expected and the 3rd miss in a row. The spending drop was driven in large part by a slide in non-durables. Personal income also missed excpectations, rising just 0.3% (against a +0.4% expectation) hovering at its lowest growth since September. The savings rates surged to 5.5% - its highest since Dec 2012.
- Hilsenrath: Fed Ushering in New Era of Uncertainty on Rates (WSJ)
- Is Supreme Court's chief justice ready to take down ObamaCare? (The Hill)
- Netanyahu arrives in U.S., signs of easing of tensions over Iran speech (Reuters)
- Nemtsov Murder Fuels Suspicion, Fails to Spur Russia Selloff (BBG)
- ECB uncomfortable with leading role in Greek funding drama (Reuters)
- Video shows Los Angeles police shooting homeless man dead (Reuters)
- Iraq Military Begins Campaign to Reclaim Tikrit (WSJ)
- How Billionaires in London Use Secret Luxury Homes to Hide Assets (BBG)
With key economic data either behind us (with the downward revised GDP), or ahead of us (the February payrolls on deck), and the Greek situation currently shelved if only for a few days/weeks until the IMF payment comes due and the farce begins anew, stocks are focuing on the widely telegraphed 25 bps Chinese rate cut over the weekend, which however has so far failed to inspire a broad based rally either in Asia (where the SHCOMP closed up 0.8% after first dipping in the red) or across developed markets. In fact, as of this moment futures are hugging the unchanged line as the USDJPY attempted another breakout of 120.000 but with numerous option barrier expiration stop at that level, it has since retracted all the overnight gains and is back to the Sundey lows, even as the EURUSD has seen a powerful breakout from overnight lows and is currently at the highest level since the US GDP print, following the release of the final European February PMI data, as a result of USD weakness since the European open.
What in god’s name does Janet Yellen think she is doing? Just a few weeks ago she established the ridiculous Fedspeak convention that “patient” means money market rates will not rise from the zero bound for at least two meetings. Now she has modified that message into “not exactly”.