Rate of Change
The market is currently engaged in the longest bull run in history without a 10% correction. The decline in momentum, the weakness in economic underpinnings and lack of Central Bank interventions (not to mention the threat of an increase in overnight lending rates) certainly provide the necessary ingredients for a sharper than expected correction this summer.
While The Fed and its apologists (except for Jim Bullard) remain firmly attached to the idea that it is the 'stock' (or absolute level) of Fed Assets that represents the amount of policy-easement and not the 'flow' (rate of change), we have explained numerous times that this is complete rubbish. With the Federal Reserve balance sheet hitting 6-month lows this week, we thought the following 4 pictures would paint more than a thousand words on why The Fed will need to restart the flow soon... or the game is up.
Something serious is brewing under the hood...
While it is entirely likely that "economic bulls" will get a bounce in Q2 and Q3 due to pent-up demand from the previous two-quarters, the strength and sustainability of that bounce will be critically important. After all, in just a few short months, the cold breath of winter will once again be upon us.
The science of economics has taken a decidedly wrong turn sometime in the 1930s. In the field of monetary science specifically, sober analysis has given way to broad-based support of central economic planning, with both policy makers and their advisors seemingly trying to trump each other with ever more lunatic proposals.
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.
There are a host of signs as of late, including price momentum and internal deterioration in the financial markets, that suggests the risks are rising. For investors, this is critically important since the majority of major market reversions are coincident with economic recessions. While it is very likely that economic activity will bounce in the second quarter (data does not move in a straight line), it will likely be weaker than currently anticipated.
While everyone is focusing on tomorrow's Nonfarm Payrolls number, the far more important number is today's Factory Orders data (because it is far less fuged, adjusted and generally doctored to preserve faith in a contracting economy). Because according to America's manufacturing output, not only is the country already in a recession but it is getting worse with every passing day.
It's become a running theme, at least since last September, but the latest release of CPI numbers from around the world has brought our simple average World CPI proxy to its lowest level since the financial crisis. For the period ending in February, our World CPI proxy hit just 1.01% year-over-year. This is the lowest rate of change since November 2009. The year-over-year rate in our World CPI proxy has been falling for six months straight.
At the end of the day there is a considerable irony. The Fed has now become the tool of liberal Keynesian do-gooders - exemplified by the school marm who heads it. But its policies are exclusively benefiting Wall Street and the top 1%. They are redistributing income and wealth to the top, not the bottom of society as liberals have always claimed. Needless to say, main street does not need that kind of “help”. And it would do far better on its own hind legs if the monetary politburo joined its Soviet colleagues in the afterlife of mistaken ideologies.
Hint: Take a look at the latest COT reports!
The belief that the market economy requires “steering” by altruistic central bankers, who make decisions influencing the entire economy based on their personal epiphanies, has rarely been more pronounced than today... Whether this is seen as good or bad by the average citizen is not even up for debate: it is simply what the political and bureaucratic elites have long ago decided is good for the citizenry, since they think they know best.
Four months ago, in another failed attempt to boost confidence in the Eurozone and stimulate lending (failed because three months later the ECB finally launched its own QE), the ECB conducted its latest stress test, which as we explicitly pointed out was an utter joke as even its "worst-case" scenario did not simulate a deflationary scenario. Two months later Europe was in outright deflation. It was initially unclear just how comparably laughable the Fed's own stress test assumptions were, but refuting rumors that Deutsche and Santander would fail the Fed's stress test (perhaps because former FDIC head and current Santander head Sheila Bair wasn't too happy about her bank being one of the failed ones), moments ago the Fed released the results of the 2015 Fed stress test, and.... it seems there was no need to provide a sacrificial lamb as with stocks at record highs. In fact everything is awesome! FED STRESS TEST SHOWS ALL 31 BANKS EXCEED MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
Forget what you think you know about credit and debit cards, PayPal, bitcoin, Apple Pay and any other modern conveniences meant to displace physical currency. The truth is that transactional currency ($1 through $20 bills) in circulation per capita today in America is essentially where it was, inflation adjusted, in 1994: $661 then and $649 today. Simply put, despite the mainstream media buzz, the “Cashless economy” is myth.
Financial markets and investing reflect the same characteristics as my attempt at keeping fit