We believe Fed’s actions would be more appropriately described as permitted cancerous beliefs to spread throughout the financial system, thereby killing Democratic Capitalism which is the basis of the capital markets.
Another day, another epic ramp. Any "investor" watching the last two days of totally manic market behavior must be open-mouthed at the total lack of fundamental sanity behind any of the moves. Even the mainstream media is stunned by the moves embarrased into mere commentary and afraid to opine on any reason. The reason for today's rip - an economic assessment downgrade for Japan which smahed USDJPY higher and through magic of carry, lifted US equities. There was no let-up in Ukraine, no data to confirm growth hype, no US news... but the Russell and Nasdaq managed a 2.5% bounce in a stright line after the Japan headline. Away from the idiocy in stocks, precious metals were rammed lower early on but leaked back higher all day. The USD pushed higher but FX was relatively quiet aside from the idiotic moves in JPY. Treasuries rallied at the long-end on the day (despite the surge in stocks). "unrigged"
Earlier today, the NAHB released its latest builder confidence report. Something stood out to us, namely the following data, which shows that while confidence picked up modestly in the Northeast in April, it tumbled in the West and Midwest. What's the explanation for this ongoing deterioration in housing market sentiment in states that had, not only were not impact by the "vortex" but if anything, were "crushed" by the balmy March atmospheric conditions? Why, "it's the weather, duh."
There is no question about it, NYC feels more like “Disneyland for Wall Street” than ever before. The very rich are doing very well, everyone else, not so much. We are often told by charlatans and mainstream media propagandists that this mythical rising tide of wealth lifts all boats. If that’s the case, we find it quite perplexing that the homeless population in America’s financial center is exploding five years into the so-called recovery (homeless people are living in coffin-sized spaces inside the frame of the Manhattan Bridge). Meanwhile, let’s not forget that 22% of the city is on food stamps. How is this possible? Because we have witnessed five years of egregious corruption and crony capitalist theft, not a genuine recovery. That’s how.
Two rather amusing, and quite opposing views on surging food inflation (recall that as we first reported beef prices are at record high), which was confirmed by this week's PPI and CPI reports: one from Goldman, the other from IHS Global. We let readers decide which one is right... and which one will determine the Fed's "thinking" about soaring good inflation.
NAHB confidence missed expectations once again - the 7th miss in the last 8 months - as the 'hope' priced into this index is eroded and collapses back to the reality of actual sales. The index was up very modestly but all thanks to yet more "hope" as Future (expected) single-family sales expectations rose to 57 (the highest since Jan). The Northeast saw prospective buyer traffic rise while all other regions fell with the West collapsing.
If You REALLY Cared about Climate Change … You Would Stop Promoting Solutions which Do More HARM than Good
On the 'growth' side, Commercial and Industrial loans are rising at a double digit annual rate of change (although it is unclear whether this is an indication of business optimism or stress - after all, we did see a big jump in these loans leading into the last recession). On the flip side, the bond market and the US dollar index seem to be flashing some warning signs about future growth. Simply put, the outlook for the economy is decidedly uncertain right now and we think so is the confidence in Janet Yellen. We think the more dire outcome for stocks would be if Toto fully pulled back the curtain on monetary policy and revealed it to be nothing more than a bunch clueless economists sitting in a conference room with no ability to control the economy or the markets. If US growth disappoints after all the Fed has done, how could anyone continue to view the Fed wizards as omnipotent? That would send the stock market back over the rainbow to the reality of an economy with big structural problems that can only be solved through political negotiation, something that has been notable only by its absence over – at least – the last 6 years. Are we headed back to Kansas?
We joked about it as I pulled out a wad of cash I had recently procured from a street broker:
- Cocktails: 175 pesos
- Appetizers: 210 pesos
- Capital controls: Priceless
It turns out there really are some things money can’t buy. Especially in worthless currency.
To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, we work in the economy we have, not the economy we might want or wish to have at a later time. And what characterizes the economy we have? It's bewildering because nothing works like it's supposed to. For example, getting a college degree was supposed to guarantee a good job and an 80% lifetime wage premium over people without college degrees. But in the economy we have, getting a college degree no longer guarantees a good job, or indeed, a job of any kind: 53% of recent college graduates under the age of 25 are unemployed or doing work they could have done without going to college. The payoff for getting a college degree is declining while the risks of becoming a debt-serf due to crushing student loans is rising.
The level of governmental and corporate corruption, chronic unemployment, rising food and medical costs and the escalating taking of rights and freedoms are not unseen by the population at large, just desperately ignored.
During the course of its massive money printing campaign after the financial crisis of 2008, the Fed drove the 30-year mortgage financing rate down from 6.5% to 3.3% at its mid-2012 low. The ostensible purpose was revive the shattered housing market which had resulted from the crash of its previous exercise in bubble finance. But what it really did was touch off another of those pointless “refi” booms which enable homeowners to swap an existing mortgage for a new one carrying a significantly lower interest rate and monthly service cost. Such debt churning exercises have been sponsored repeatedly by the Fed since the S&L debacle of the late 1980s.
Two. Billion. Hours. That’s how much time people in the Land of the Free waste each year preparing and filing their tax forms to the IRS– roughly 13 hours for each of the ~150 million individual returns filed.
Taxes are morally reprehensible. Taxes rob an entire population of its financial resources in favor of a tiny political elite that has a long-term track record of incompetence and deceit.
Unfortunately, though, this humiliating exercise is forcibly perpetrated at gunpoint.
For a decade or two, it's been dubbed the widowmaker (though truth be told, the losses are more bleed than massive capital loss like those holding US growth stocks currently), but as Barclays notes the Japanese bond market 'conundrum' (that nothing like a recovery is priced into the JGB curve, which is failing to price even a partial, eventual success of the Abe government's reflationary agenda) may finally be ready to be played..."We are always on the lookout for asset prices that seem inconsistent with the more plausible economic and financial scenarios. Sometimes these discrepancies point toward necessary alterations of our fundamental world view. In other cases, they point toward investment opportunity. At the moment, one of the most glaring discrepancies between macro and markets is the long end of the Japanese curve."
The bull market in stocks is showing more signs of fatigue. Are we about to witness a change in trend?