Rate of Change
Futures Pushed Higher On Weaker Yen, But All Could Change With Today's "Most Important Ever" Jobs NumberSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/06/2013 06:58 -0500
The latest "most important payrolls day of all time" day is finally upon us. Of course, this is a ridiculous statement: considering that the average December seasonal adjustment to the actual, unadjusted number is 824K jobs, it will once again be up to the BLS' Arima X 13 goal-seeking, seasonal adjusting software to determine whether the momentum ignition algos send stocks soaring or plunging, especially since the difference between up and down could be as small as 30K jobs. As Deutsche Bank explains: " today's number is probably one where anything above +200k (net of revisions) will lead to a further dip in risk as taper fears intensify and anything less than say +170k will probably see a decent relief rally after a tricky week for markets. Indeed yesterday saw the S&P500 (-0.43%) down for a fifth day - extending a sequence last seen in September." And then consider that nearly 30 times that difference comes from seasonal adjustments and it becomes clear why "farcial" is a far better definition of labor Friday.
Just as in the 1930s the Fed fueled deflation by not making credit available, today the opposite seems to be the case – low rates are fueling deflation and preventing markets from clearing.
Chart Of The Day: How China's Stunning $15 Trillion In New Liquidity Blew Bernanke's QE Out Of The WaterSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/25/2013 20:25 -0500
Even we were shocked when we ran the numbers on this one...
There is currently a debate being waged on Wall Street. On one side of the argument are individuals who believe that we have entered into the next "secular bull market" and that the markets have only just begun what is an expected multi-year advance from current levels. The other side of the argument reiterates that the current market advance is predicated on artificial stimulus and that the "secular bear market" remains intact, and the next major reversion is just a function of time. The series of charts below is designed to allow you to draw your own conclusions. While it is certainly easy to be swept up in the daily advances of the stock market casino, it is important to remember that eventually the "house always wins." What has always separated successful professional gamblers from the weekend sucker is strictly the difference of knowing when to cash in your chips and step away from the table.
With the economy now more than 4 years into an expansion, which is long by historical standards, the question for you to answer by looking at the charts below is: "Are we closer to an economic recession or a continued expansion?" How you answer that question should have a significant impact on your investment outlook as financial markets tend to lose roughly 30% on average during recessionary periods. However, with margin debt at record levels, earnings deteriorating and junk bond yields near all-time lows, this is hardly a normal market environment within which we are currently invested. Therefore, we present a series of charts which view the overall economy from the same perspective utilizing an annualized rate of change. (Spoiler Alert: the economy is far to weak to stand on its own two feet.)
The last two weeks have seen US equity markets on a one-way path to the moon, breaking multi-year records in terms of rate of change and soaring to new all-time highs. However, away from the mainstream media's glare, another 'market' has been soaring - but this time it is not good news. Chinese overnight repo rates - the harbinger of ultimate liquidity crisis - have exploded from 6-month lows (at 2.5%) to 4-month highs (6.7% today). The PBOC even added liquidity for the first time in months yesterday (via Reverse Repo - at much higher than normal rates) but clearly, that was not enough and the banks are running scared once again that the re-ignition of the housing bubble in China will mean more than 'selective' liquidity restrictions.
Today there is a great sense of relief that has swept the nation as news flowed through the media that the government shutdown had come to an end. After all, during the 16 days of the shutdown, there was great hardship inflicted on the average American as the stock market rose by 2.4%, government workers that were furloughed received a 2+ week paid vacation and interest rates fell from a peak of 2.65% on October 1st to 2.59% on October 17th. Outside of the financial markets, which were never concerned of a "default," the reality is that the government shutdown did likely clip up to 0.5% off of 4th quarter's GDP. While that clip to economic growth created by the government standoff is temporary - the ongoing persistant weakness of economic growth is another issue entirely. This is the focus of this discussion. The most disturbing sentence uttered during the debt ceiling debate/government shut down, that should raise some concerns by both political parties, is: "We must increase our debt limit so that we can pay our bills."
While the specter of the debt ceiling debate continues to haunt the halls of Washington D.C. it is the state of retail sales that investors should be potentially focusing on. While the latest retail sales figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis are unavailable due to the government shutdown; we can look at other data sources to derive the trend and direction of consumer spending as we head into the beginning of the biggest shopping periods of the year - Halloween, Thanks Giving (Black Friday) and Christmas. The recent downturns in consumer confidence and spending are likely being exacerbated by the controversy in Washington; but it is clear that the consumer was already feeling the pressure of the surge in interest rates, higher energy and food costs and stagnant wages. As we have warned in the past - these divergences do not last forever and tend to end very badly.
The process the Fed is wrestling with is no different than that of the drug addict. After a certain point, dependency develops. Then the withdrawal process is so painful it is not willingly accepted. The drug analogy is appropriate up to a point. Here is a major problem with the analogy. The drug addict brings the outcome on himself. Those who will suffer the most for the Fed’s actions are not responsible for the pain they will endure. Regardless, the pusher has made most of us junkies. We have been forced into an economic haze that seems real but is not. Whether we know it or not, we are hooked. A great “drying-out” period lies in front of us. Few have understanding of what “economic cold turkey” means, but we will all learn.
In mathematics, the term ‘linearity’ describes a relationship in which the rate of change for a variable is constant. However, just like the erosion of civil liberties, the destruction of financial privacy, the growth in world population, the expansion of the money supply, and the demand/depletion of natural resources, debt is an exponential challenge. The danger with exponential problems is that they can really sneak up on you. The numbers do not lie. Debt grows exponentially. Tax revenue grows linearly. So the only question is – what time would you leave?
While headlines, we are sure, will crow of industrial production's best gain in six months, the sad fact is that the market was expecting more. At +0.4% - against an expectation of +0.5% - this is the 5th month in a row of missed expectations for this significant indicator of economic health. Capacity utilization rose but also missed expectations. It seems manufacturing and mining got a modest boost (the former bounced more than expected but only thanks to a notable prior revision downward) and Utilities dragged the headline index down - so we await the "it's the weather's fault" remarks.
For the right answer, we look to the past....
One of the main reasons that investors so often get caught up in major market meltdowns is due to the short-sighted, near term, focus of market analysts and economists. The data has to be analyzed with relation to the longer term trends and a clear understanding that all things, despite ongoing central bank interventions, do eventually end. The problem with the current environment is that the artificial inflations have detached the market from the underlying economic fundamentals which has historically led to larger than expected reversions and outright crashes.
A recent survey of asset managers globally, managing USD 27.4 trillion between them, found that 78% of defined-benefit plans would need annual returns of at least 5% per year to meet their commitments, while 19% required more than 8%, "a target of 5% per year can be reached but only by using leverage, shorting, and derivavtives." And sure enough, as Deutsche Bank (DB) reports, in short, investors have rarely been more levered than today! According to DB, a MoM change in NYSE margin debt >10% has to be taken as a critical warning signal as there are astonishing similarities in the sequence of events among all crises. As the S&P 500 just hit a new all-time high, investors might want to ask themselves when it is a good time to become more cautious – yesterday, in our view. Simply put, the higher margin debt levels rise, the more fragile the underlying basis on which prices trade; with even a less severe sell-off in equities capable of triggering a collapse.
Every time real personal income goes negative, a recession occurs. Now that personal income is falling, a recession is baked in. The Big Lie of the "recovery" is that it is self-sustaining. Minus government transfers, the reality that the Fed and Federal government are simply enriching the top 1/10th of 1% with access to unlimited credit at zero interest is revealed.