In an interview with Louis James, the inimitable Doug Casey throws cold water on those celebrating the economic recovery. "Get out your mower; it's time to cut down some green shoots again, and debunk a bit of the so-called recovery."
From Historically Miserable Level
Do the charts look like a soft landing 7% GDP growth scenario to a thinking person?
Yesterday we discussed extensively how the narrative of US decoupling, which has so far trumped everything else, is finally fading, is coming to an abrupt end, and with no other "plotline" to take its place, as China, Europe and corporate profits are all in the dumps, the only option is for more easy money to come soon. However, with crude sticky this will be a problem in an election year. Today, this sentiment has become even more acute as new Greek 2023 bonds have for the first time trade over 20%, with weakness spreading to all the other PIIGS, and talk of yet another LTRO already picking up pace. The question of what if any assets European banks is luckily ignored for now. So as futures turned red once more, here is Bank of America summarizing the bearish market sentiment this morning.
And the US fell to second place. Nothing is gradual in modern China.
A growing number of Americans are frustrated with the way in which their economy has been managed and are becoming increasingly concerned about future measures the government may take to keep its coffers full. A question that is arising with increasing frequency is: does expatriation offer a viable protection to those concerned about a more financially-intrusive US system? The short answer is 'yes' but while it does offer a solution to ending one's obligations to pay US taxes - it's important to understand that it's not suitable for everyone. Mark Nestmann gives a great nuts and bolts breakdown of what's involved and what the benefits and risks are
After a disappointing home sales print in the US (as the shadow overhang remains heavy), some perspective on just how bad it is in Europe is worthwhile. With Spanish yields starting to blow out again, it likely comes as no surprise that, as Goldman notes, the Spanish housing market (and for that matter the periphery in general) is bad and getting worse. However, Ireland remains the worst of the worst and Goldman sees yet another growing divide between the haves and have-nots of Europe as the residential property price performance can essentially be split into four groups: Strong, Recovering, Weak, and Ireland/Spain; with the latter perceived as considerably worse than the 'reported' data would suggest. Is it any wonder that Spain trades wide of Italy again now and as Citi's Buiter noted earlier, Spain is now the fulcrum market (Spanish 10Y spreads +30bps from Friday's tights).
Earlier today, Goldman's Peter Oppenheimer made the news following publication of his report "The Long Good Buy" posted here. In itself, that would be nothing spectacular - just one man's opinion. However, when taken in the entirety of Goldman's views on the world, it bears some criticism, because while on one hand we have a key Goldman strategist telling the world it is all clear in stocks, virtually at the same time Goldman's chief economic strategist, Jan Hatzius, who is German, gave the following interview to Handelsblatt, in which he lays out his "doubts about an early recovery of the U.S. economy. In this interview he explains why positive unemployment figures are deceptive, and why the real estate crisis will have lasting effect." Perhaps his most important observation, when asked if Americans have learned anything from the crisis: "I do not think there has been a big change in behavior. During the crisis, Americans simply responded to the realities. They could no longer borrow as much money. Now again a little more credit is available, and you can borrow some more money again. But I do not think there has been a fundamental change." Alas he is correct, and incidentally the reason why Goldman has such a massive credibility problem is that while on one hand one part of the firm goes ahead and pitches equities, on the other, a respected economist says that the economy is so sluggish that he gives a greater than 50% chance of more QE. Perhaps at this point it is bear reminding what a third Goldman strategist said back in October 2010: "Goldman Sachs Admits The Truth: "The Economy Is Not The Market And QE2 Is Not A Panacea." Then again, with career risk once again paramount for every money manager out there, as the bulk of hedge funds once again underperform the market, perhaps not.
Housing remains a mess and recovery continues to be something found best in Disneyland at fantasy land (although not in Disney's movie-making business). The sector is showing only feeble growth as the American nightmare continues to chip away at the American dream. Or If every man's home is his castle, what am I doing in the moat,and why won't my banker lower the drawbridge?
If you were head of Central Planning (howdy, Ben!) and were tasked with crippling the real estate market, here's what you would recommend.
- Choke the market and banking sector with zombie banks.
- Have the central bank (the Federal Reserve) buy up $1 trillion in toxic, impaired mortgages.
- Lower the rate that banks can borrow from the Fed to zero, and then pay the banks interest on all funds deposited at the Fed.
- Try to prop up the housing market by giving poor credit risk buyers loans with only 3% down.
- Load young people up with the equivalent of a mortgage in student loans.
OK,let's see how our Organs of Central Planning are doing: check, check, check, check, check: a perfect score! they're doing everything possible to cripple the real estate market. Do they care? Of course not; the only goal is to keep the zombie banks alive, regardless of the cost to the nation. Great work, Ben, Barack, Timmy and the rest of the gang at Central Planning: thanks to your policies, the real estate market will never clear and therefore it can never be restored to health.
- There is no Spanish siesta for the eurozone (FT)
- Greece over halfway to recovery, says PM (FT) - inspired comedy...
- Sarkozy Trims Gap With Rival, Polls Show (WSJ) - Diebold speaks again
- IMF’s Zhu Sees ‘Soft-Landing’ Even as Property Slides: Economy (Bloomberg)
- Obama Uses Lincoln to Needle Republicans Battling in Illinois (Bloomberg)
- Three shot dead outside Jewish school in France (Reuters)
- Osborne Seeks to End 50% Tax Spat With Pledge to Aid U.K. Poor (Bloomberg)
- Monti to Meet Labor Unions Amid Warning of Continued Euro Crisis (Bloomberg)
This cannot be the right course for us to take in the wake of such a widely recognized crisis. The lack of purposeful outrage is deafening. We cannot restore lasting stability to our economy and society unless we are willing to face up to what we did wrong, right it, and throw out the bums who put us there. Without that, the pattern of ever escalating crisis and interventionist, market-distorting solutions will surely lead to a bigger crisis still ahead... Perhaps the most important symbol of our failure to address reform are the pictures accompanying much of the coverage of Greg Smith’s letter, those of a power-posing Blankfein and Cohn, who without the Government’s accommodation might be striking a very different pose, indeed. You want to sign on to Mr. Smith’s army in joint distaste for Goldman’s lost culture? Please, be my guest. But more deserving of your enmity is the insidious co-option of the core premise of capitalism by a handful of people to ensure the banks’ undeserved survival, and their managers’ really nice lifestyle.
Who's more foolish, the fool, or the fool who follows him?
Now in the curious world we live in today; this only came out in public as the answer to a question raised in the German Parliament. Some reflection on the nature of these guarantees, that the European Union had decided not to tell us about, causes me to think of them as “Ponzi Bonds.” These are the seeds of a great scheme that has been foisted upon us. Bonds of a feather that have flocked together and arrived with the black swans one quiet Wednesday afternoon. The quoted and much ballyhooed sovereign debt numbers are now known to be no longer accurate and hence the lack of credibility of the debt to GDP data for the European nations. Stated more simply; none of the data that we are given about sovereign debt in the European Union is the truth, none of it. According to Eurostat, as an example, the consolidated Spanish debt raises their debt to GDP by 12.3% as Eurostat also states, and I quote, that guaranteed debt in Europe “DO NOT FORM PART OF GOVERNMENT DEBT, BUT ARE A CONTINGENT LIABILITY.” In other words; not counted and so, my friends, none of the data pushed out by Europe about their sovereign debt or their GDP ratios has one whit of truth resident in the data.