After 3 months ago everyone was convinced there was no QE3 imminent ever, all it took for the lemming majority to scramble to the other side of the boat was a 20% drop in stocks. Since then, following a brief stabiliziation in stocks, based precisely on beliefs that Bernanke would once again pull something from this bag of goodies, the lemmingrati once again shifted back, and the majority now pretends it does not expect anything out of Jackson Hole tomorrow, even though it obviously does, as otherwise the market would resume its plunge. UBS earlier conducted a survey among money managers, finding that 50% of the 82 respondents expect Bernanke to limit Jackson Hole remarks only to reviewing the rationale for the Fed to pledge ZIRP until mid 2013. Then there are those who actually told the truth, such as Goldman which, in a note yesterday, says that $1 trillion in QE3 is an absolute minimum if the Fed wants to get GDP higher by at least 0.5%. To wit: "Taken together, our analysis suggests that QE3 is unlikely to be a panacea for growth. Nonetheless, our estimates suggests that $1trn of asset purchases–or an equivalent increase in the duration of the Fed's balance sheet–might increase GDP growth by up to 0.5 percentage point in the first year after any announcement of QE3." And since we are talking the truth here, why not stop pretending you care about GDP - just think of the marginal impact on Wall Street bonuses...
People seem surprised by the suddenness of the decline in the stock market. It keeps trying to rally, and the rallies keep getting sold. There’s no shortage of worrying circumstances in the real world to explain a fall in prices, and it’s normal for people to disagree about whether they should be going up or down. But the violence of this move has caught many of us by surprise. I don’t think it should have. I think there are good theoretical reasons, very simple, orthodox economic ones, to expect more of the same, to expect equally dramatic, or even more dramatic moves down, going forward. Of course, given the fact that I presumably have some sort of bets on the table, anything I say about that belief, like anything any market participant says, should be taken with a very large grain of salt. On the other side, there’s the danger that I’m merely stating the obvious, and wasting the reader’s time. (But then why are so many of us still long?). Nevertheless, despite the fact that I clearly can’t be trusted, and consequently won’t persuade many people to change their views, and even if there’s nothing startlingly original about what I’m going to say, I think it’s worth laying out what I believe to be the correct explanation of the crash as it’s still happening, so that later on, when we’re tempted to blame various scapegoats – derivatives traders, European politicians, bankers, our neighbors, immigrants, the opposing political party, etc., etc. – we’ll perhaps remember that one of these analyses was predictive of the timing and scale of the event at the time, while the others are invidious reconstructions after the fact.
- Moody's downgraded Japan's long-term sovereign rating by one notch to Aa3, with a stable outlook
- Financials came under pressure during the early European session after figures from the ECB revealed a sharp jump in lending to banks, re-igniting funding concerns
- The Greek/German spread widened partly on news that Troika has warned Greece on public payroll and public mergers
- The German IFO report was not as bad as some analysts expected, which provided appetite for risk
Marc Faber was on Bloomberg TV dispensing his traditional sarcastic and sardonic wit in copious quantities. Among the traditional topics touched upon are stocks and specifically trading ranges, "I think a lot of people will say the markets formed a double low and we have some technical indicators that are going to turn positive, so we could rally around 1,250, but as I said before, for me, we reached a high on May 2, 2011. 1,370 on the S&P--that we will not go through", on Operation Twist part 1 (already announced) and part 2 (coming): "To some extent we are in midst of QE3 already, because by announcing the Fed will keep zero interest rates until the middle of 2013, they basically encourage financial institutions to borrow short-term and to buy 10-year Treasuries" on a contrarian outlook on stocks: "I am the greatest bear on earth, but if you compare Treasury bond yields and equities, equities look reasonably attractive", on why Insider "buying" just as we have said repeatedly, is far too much ado about nothing: "Compared to all the selling in the last six months the buying is relatively muted" and lastly, like a gracious loser, Faber admits he was wrong and Rosenberg was right "David Rosenberg was right and I was wrong. The 30-Year has not made a new low. The low in December 2008 was 2.53%. Now we're around 3.4%"... although with a caveat: "Basically we have an artificial market." Alas, no strategic observations on what particular precious metal one's girlfriend would appreciate the most in the current gold-platinum parity environment.
The Keynesians had their chance. They controlled the Presidency and both houses of Congress. A Keynesian runs the Federal Reserve. They implemented everything they proposed. The $862 billion porkulus program, the $700 billion TARP program, home buyer tax credits, energy efficiency credits, loan modification programs, zero interest rates, QE1 and QE2. They increased social welfare transfers for Social Security, Unemployment Compensation, food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans by $600 billion since 2007, a 35% increase in four years. No one has foiled their plans. The Tea Party didn’t really exist until 2010. They didn’t lose the House until November 2010. They cannot blame the Tea Party extremists, but they do. The Keynesians have successfully increased Federal spending by $1.1 trillion, or 41% since 2007, and are running deficits exceeding 10% of GDP, but they call the Tea Party extremists. Domestic investment is still 9% below 2008 levels as the Federal government has crowded out the small businesses that create the jobs in this country. And now the Keynesians declare we need more stimulus, more programs, more debt, more quantitative easing and lower interest rates. It just wasn’t enough the first time. None of the Keynesian solutions worked during this crisis, just as they didn’t work during the Great Depression. The solution was simple, yet painful. The banking system needed to be saved, not the banks. The bad debt needed to be purged from the system. Wall Street criminals needed to be prosecuted. Bondholders and stockholders needed bear the losses from their foolish investments. Saving and investment in the country needed to be encouraged, while borrowing and consuming needed to be discouraged. Our leaders have failed to lead.
And so we return to that point when the most engaging, yet useless, topic of discussion is what Bernanke will say or the Fed will do, in this case this coming Friday at the 2011 edition of the Jackson Hole Fed meeting, and specifically Ben's keynote speech. By now we have seen endless iterations of what pundits expect will happen: from nothing to another round of QE. Today, we present SocGen's take which is that while an outright third round of monetization is unlikely for now, the Fed may well proceed with a lite version of QE in the form of "sterilized" operations, or curve targeting, aka Operation Twist, as was noted here some time ago. One thing we certainly agree with SocGen on: "If markets remain under pressure, Bernanke could be forced to commit to something next week." The market obviously knows this, in which case if the market case is for QE3 or bust (and remember: Wall Street is still stuck in beta levered world where the only P&L comes courtesy of the Fed this will be most welcome) today's latest vapor rally will be promptly nullified by Wall Street which has only 4 days left to send a very loud message to the Chairsatan.
WTI and Brent crude futures traded under pressure in the early European session weighed upon by the news that Libyan rebels have taken control of most of capital Tripoli and increasing prospects that the ongoing civil war may come to an end soon. However, as the session progressed, prices came off their earlier lows with a weakening USD-Index. News from Libya also supported the oil & gas sector in the hope that companies may resume their business in the country, which also helped European equities to trade higher. Equities received additional strength on the back of early market talk of asset re-allocation from fixed income into equities, which exerted downward pressure on Bunds. Elsewhere, weakness in the USD-Index underpinned the strength in EUR/USD, GBP/USD and commodity-linked currencies, however CHF weakened across the board partly on the back of market talk that the SNB was active in one-month forward market. In other forex news, a sharp uptick was observed in USD/JPY overnight, however there was no confirmation of any forex intervention by Japan. Moving into the North American open, the economic calendar remains thin, however the Chicago Fed report from the US is scheduled for later in the session. In fixed income, another Fed's Outright Treasury Coupon Purchase operation in the maturity range of Nov'21-Aug'41, with a purchase target of USD 0.5-1bln is also due later.
Goldman Cuts Q3 Growth Forecast In Half, Sees Q3, Q4 GDP At 1.0%, 1.5%, Presents Jackson Hole Event Walk ThruSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/19/2011 20:33 -0500
Sorry Goldman, in the race to downgrade the US to 0.0001% above contraction, you are still well behind The Fonz in coolness. Frankly, following your December 2010 report you are not even cool enough to pass off for Richie Cunningham. But your third downgrade of US GDP in a month, this time slashing Q3 and Q4 GDP is surely a valiant attempt at regaining some of the Fonz pre-Jersey Shore panache. Keep at it. Another year of being just thiiiiis much behind the curve, and atoning for your shark jumping adventures, and you may be cool again. From a just released report by recent addition to the Goldman economics team (supposedly Jan was too busy elsewhere) Zach Pandl: "In light of the downshift in the data this week, we are cutting our second-half growth forecasts further. We now expect GDP growth of 1.0% in Q3 and 1.5% in Q4, both down from 2.0% previously. These changes reduce our forecasts for full-year 2011 GDP growth to 1.5% from 1.7%. Exhibit 1 shows the details." Now: who will join Zero Hedge in calling for negative GDP in Q3 and most likely Q4 (absent QE3; with QE3 the BEA will mysteriously find another 4-5 GDP percent hidden under the carpet). Far more importantly, Goldman once again explains what to expect at next week's Jackson Hole. We say importantly, because while Goldman is about as clueless at most at predicting the future, when it comes to monetary policy, Goldman determines it. So it is always useful to pay attention: after all Hatzius "predicted" the QE2 announcement roughly about a year ago to the dot.
- European equities remained under pressure during the session weighed upon by growing signs of a faltering global economic growth together with August options expiry in the European indices
- CHF and JPY remained the major beneficiaries of risk-aversion, whereas commodity-linked currencies generally traded lower
- After breaching the key USD 1,800 per ounce level yesterday, spot Gold continued its ascent towards the USD 1,900 technical level amid risk-aversion
- EU's Rehn said the EU may draft legislation for joint Eurobonds, however gave no timetable for the draft legislation
- EU Commission said collateral agreement between Finland and Greece is being examined by the Eurozone, adding that Finland is the only country to request Greece collateral. Meanwhile, Austrian finance minister said the Finnish deal to get a 20% cash collateral on Greek loans is unacceptable
For the last several months we have been posting our Economic Output Composite Index and warning that it was heading to levels that typically denote that the economy is in a recession or about to be in one. With today's read of the Philadelphia Fed Regional Manufacturing Survey coming in a not just contraction levels but a massive collapse to the downside, as we have been saying was a possibility, the EOCI index is now at levels signaling recessionary warnings..The safe play in the current environment is hedged investments, cash and fixed income for the current time. This has not been, nor will it be any time soon, a "buy and hold" investing market. The management of risk, the conservation of investment capital and the generation of total returns from portfolios is paramount for investors to survive the cycles that we will face in the coming years.
S&P Slashes US Growth Forecast, Says Current Crisis Is Worse Than 2008 As US At "Risk Of Default", Ridicules "Transitory"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/17/2011 11:37 -0500
First they cut the rating of the US, then the went and downgraded Google, now S&P is going for the "treason trifecta" by just releasing a report which literally takes the US to the toolshed. Among many other things, the rating agency just cut US growth for the next 3 years. To wit: "While July data finally showed a slight improvement in the U.S. economy, it's not enough to support expectations that the second half of the year will see a bounce in growth. We now expect to see an even slower recovery than the half-speed we earlier expected. We now expect just 1.9% growth in the third quarter and 1.8% in the fourth, to bring 2011 calendar year growth closer to 1.7% instead of 2.4% we earlier expected. We also downwardly revised growth expectations for 2012 and 2013, as a more drawn-out recovery is factored into our forecast." We wonder how soon before the realization that the US is in fact contracting will force S&P to downgrade America even further, a move which will force Moodys and Fitch to come up with a AAAA rating for the US in order to keep the weighted average rating at current levels. It gets even worse though as S&P now openly brings the 2008 analogy: "The markets' violent swings in early August resurrected fears of the market meltdown, such as the one in 2008 when Lehman Brothers went under and Reserve Fund broke the buck. Currently, the crisis is considered to be much more severe, with U.S. sovereign debt at risk of default. The low Treasury yields indicated that markets were expecting Congress to come to its senses and reach a deal. However, the wait and the last-minute deal, which left a lot to be desired, only increased worries that the government will do more harm than good. Confidence in the recovery and in U.S. policymaking has hit new lows. After U.S. sovereign debt lost its triple-A status and financial markets unwound, consumer confidence hit a 31-year low and manufacturing sentiment readings contracted." And the kicker: S&P, yes S&P, makes fun of the Fed, and specifically the "transitory" nature of the economic collapse: "Continued weak growth after sharply downward GDP revisions has made the "temporary argument" a less plausible explanation for the slew of bad news for the first half of the year. At least the GDP revisions make the persistently high unemployment rate make more sense. But the revised data also indicate a much weaker outlook than we previously expected. As the boosts from rebuilding inventories and fiscal stimulus unwound, consumer spending and housing couldn't cover the hole, because the former is still working off excess debts and the latter excess supply. The recovery comprised a first-half average growth of just 0.8%." And that is how you respond to endless scapegoating that now blames the S&P for the collapse. Look for S&P to make the FBI's most wanted list very shortly.
The meeting between German chancellor Merkel and French president Sarkozy yesterday yielded neither an approval for Eurobonds issuance, nor any immediate extension to the EFSF; instead the two leaders did say that a financial transaction tax will be proposed in September. The news promoted risk-aversion during the European session and weighed on equities, with particular underperformance seen in financials, whereas Bunds received support and marginal widening was observed in the Eurozone 10-year government bond yield spreads across the board. Elsewhere, weakness in the USD-Index supported EUR/USD, GBP/USD and commodity-linked currencies. However, GBP came under pressure following the release of BoE’s minutes, which showed that the MPC members voted 9-0 for no interest-rate hike, together with worse than expected jobs data from the UK. In other forex news, CHF received a boost across the board after the SNB didn’t mention EUR/CHF peg in its latest communiqué. Moving into the North American open, the economic calendar remains thin, however markets look ahead to the PPI and DOE inventories reports from the US later.
We were a little torn as to who should receive today's captain obvious award of the day. For a while Atlanta Fed's Lockhart was in the lead, who in a speech to the Rotary Club of Atlanta came up with this pearl of wisdom: "the stock market may not tell the economy's direction." Does this mean that the efficient market hypothesis is now dead and that the Chicago School of Voodoo should hand out refunds for decades of indoctrinated lies? Nonetheless, the winner was sealed when we read about an actual paper writtedn by BCA Research's Dhaval Joshi, which found that "Quantitative Easing is good for the rich, and bad for the poor." And there you have it: all those scrathcing their heads, confused, wondering how it is possible that QE which was supposed to make everyone richer, did not do so, have an explanation. And nobody could have possibly come up with this conclusion before: it is a true blessing that BCA decided to invest the capital and manpower into cracking this indecipherable quandary (which truth be told apparently stumped the geniuses at the Fed not once, but twice, and will continue to do so them every single time the S&P drops below 1000).