As the S&P 500 continues to make higher highs, Citi's FX Technicals group attempts to identify important levels to watch. As they have highlighted before, while they respect the price action and the fact that the markets are making higher highs, there is an underlying degree of skepticism surrounding the sustainability of this uptrend from a more medium term perspective. Important levels/targets on the S&P 500 converge between 1,806 and 1,833. A convincing rally through this range (weekly close above) may open the way for a test of the 1,990 area (coincidentally the Fed balance-sheet-implied levels for end-2014); however, at this stage they are watching closely over the coming weeks as we approach the New Year.
This brings me back to an earlier point, that profits and earnings are likely peaking. All of these point to a top forming.
Yesterday, it was fast-food workers explaining that a 100% minimum wage rise "would do just fine" and today it is Wal-Mart employees pressing for a 50% rise. As McClatchy reports, Wal-Mart employees plan to disrupt operations at 1,500 of the company's stores on Black Friday. "Wal-Mart raked in $15.7 billion in profits last year alone, but apparently they don't feel any need to share that wealth with their millions of workers," rages one union campaign organizer as they hope the protests will also put pressure on Congress to increase the minimum wage. The reality of raising the minimum wage remains lost on most who never stop to think of where the 'money' comes from. But the protest lines and "unprecedented" disruption is unlikely to encourage Wal-Mart executives to soften their stance.
- So much for the euphoria: Stores open early on Thanksgiving but shoppers in no rush (Reuters)
- Get to work Mr. Chairwoman: Do-Nothing Congress Dithers on Budget as Deadline Nears (BBG)
- FX to Libor Probes Leave U.K. Traders Looking for Lawyers (BBG)
- Protesters Briefly Storm Thai Army Headquarters (WSJ)
- Berlusconi accused of bribing witnesses in prostitution trial (Reuters)
- Japan Price Gauge Rises Most Since ’98 in Boost to Abe (BBG)
- S&P downgrades Netherlands’ AAA credit rating (FT)
- GrainCorp Verdict Clouds Australia Open-For-Business Pledge (BBG)
- Hertz Fix in Dollar Thrifty Deal Fails as Insider Warned (BBG)
- Narrow Budget Agreement Comes Into View (WSJ)
A hungover America slowly wakes up from a day of society-mandated consumption and purchasing excess to engage in even more Fed-mandated excess in the equity markets. The only difference is that while the "90%" was engaged in the former and depleting their equity, and savings, accounts in the process, far less than 10% will be doing the latter. Overnight attention was drawn to the rapidly escalating territorial dispute between China and Japan, now in the air, Bitcoin's brief surge above the price of an ounce of gold, and the ejection of the Holland from the AAA Eurozone club (where only Germany and Finland remain), following an S&P downgrade of the Netherlands from AAA to AA+, which however had been largely priced in long ago (and was coupled with an upgrade of Spain from negative to stable outlook, as well as an upgrade of Spain from CCC+ to B-). Europe surprised pleasantly on both the inflation (better than expected) and unemployment rate (dropped from an all time high of 12.2% to 12.1%), even if youth unemployment rose to fresh record highs.
In Collins’s fictional world known as Panem, a despotic government rules over all with a violent iron fist. There is a strict separation between the political class and the rest of the populace, with the latter working in slave-like conditions to support the former. Throughout Catching Fire, the subject of revolution is paramount. Stories such as the Hunger Games are wonderful things because they spark what conservative statesman Edmund Burke called the “moral imagination.” Whether viewers know it or not, the basic plot of the Hunger Games series is an appeal to the moral imagination that men should be free from working as servants to others. We may not be living hand-to-mouth while being forced to labor for thuggish overlords but the modern trend is clear: the political class is consuming more and more wealth-generating capital for themselves.
With the "inmates in charge of the asylum" during this holiday shortened trading week it seemed to be an apropriate opportunity to share a virtual cornucopia of topics to consider while enjoying the delicious delicacies, and subsequent tryptophan induced comas, of a traditional Thanksgiving.
For Shawndraka Mack, a 100% pay rise from her current $7.60 "would do just fine." While some employees turn to blood plasma donation, and most are on food stamps (and other benefits), the mother of two teenagers (on Medicaid) told Bloomberg Businessweek, “I love what I do, but I don’t want to work for nothing." Between the 40 hours a week she works and the benefits, Mack explains, “I work at McDonald’s and I can’t afford to eat there. It’s crazy.” Of course, McDonalds has 'tips' for surviving on their state-subsidized wages but once again, despite Harry Reid's extrapolated charts, the reality of raising the minimum wage is lost on most who never stop to think of where the 'money' comes from; and besides employees have little to no leverage as we explained here.
Since expectations of Q3's GDP growth began to get ratcheted lower with reality (in March), 'economists' have banked on Q4's fiscally-dragless-renaissance to fill the wedge between equity prices and fundamentals. That 'hope' has been dashed (once again) on the shores of QE insanity as Q4 2013 expectations have collapsed 30% in 2 months to only 1.8%... but 'hope' and 'faith' remain as Q1 2014 will save the day. Of course, all this is magically achievable - like this.
Japan – Like the U.S. – Turns to Censorship
In the US and Europe, 95% of the buyers are male. Average age is 55. What's different in China?
Recently, newspaper headlines declared that Greece would have a balanced budget for 2013 as a whole. The news came as quite a shock: Recall that when Greek officials came clean about the true state of their country’s public finances in 2010, the budget deficit was more than 10% of GDP – a moment of statistical honesty that triggered the eurozone debt crisis. It seemed too good to be true that the Greek deficit would be completely eliminated in just three years. In fact, it is too good to be true.
Initial claims fell 10k from last week's revised (and missing 5 states) data for its biggest beat in 2 months and lowest print in 2 months. The 'consistent' YoY ebbing of the initial claims print (aside from the last month or so's statistical glitches and idiocy) is all too predictable and the market simply shrugged as the claims data remains the least correlated to any sense of employment reality of all jobs data. This is the first supposedly "clean" data with no estimates in 2 months, however, the BLS is quick to point out that "claims are difficult to seasonally adjust during holidays" - so another pinch of salt for this data point.
Edward Snowden has recently revealed that he has a secret cache of ‘doomsday’ material that will blow the world apart and the US in particular.
"The reality is,"Kevin Warsh exclaims, "QE policy favors those with big balance sheets, those with risk appetites, and access to free money," while real people "are still looking around and saying what is fed policy doing for me." The problem, he explains, is a disconnect between what markets are discounting about the future and the Fed's credibility with regard their apparently divergent forecasts for unemployment, growth, and interest rates. In a little under 90 seconds, Warsh explains the dilemma and sums up the Fed perfectly, "they're just talking, rather than acting."