In the shady underground world of banking, doing wrong means doing right, up is down, and left is right.
There is so much #win (not to be confused with #yuan) in the following article from today's edition of China Daily, that we just felt compelled to post it in its entirety for three reasons: i) an article like this will never appear in the US press - here the best one could get is the calculation of the lack of power of one's easily borrowed Charmin'; ii) it contains the phrase: "There are no lies, just statistics" when discussing data released by the China's National Bureau of Statistics, iii) being on the front page of the paper, and addressing a topic near and dear to everyone: namely how much pay Chinese workers are receiving in absolute and relative terms, in an attempt to spin the data, it confirms what everyone knows - that more and more Chinese workers are getting antsy about the only number that matters: the bottom one. So without further ado, here is China Daily and "Calculating the power of your hard-earned yuan."
Equity indices managed to close green on a generally lower-than-average volume day but while the morning was dominated by a 20pt rip post-ISM's 4.5-sigma surprise, the post-Europe-close afternoon session saw us give back over 60% of those gains on rising volume and average trade-size. As the day-session closed, ES (the S&P 500 e-mini futures) was right around yesterday's highs and today's VWAP in a relatively balanced manner but after-hours was leaking lower still. AAPL also had a big rotation day as it opened red, surged into the middle of the day then gave it all back to close within a few pennies of its 50DMA (and in fact is trading below it in after-hours trading). Stocks pushed well ahead of credit markets as they rallied and HYG was far less impressed. Sure enough by the close, equities had limped back in line with credit's reality but in the meantime, HYG was back down at last Wednesday's levels. The ISM caused the USD to pop, stocks to pop more, oil to pop about the same and gold/silver/Treasuries to drop. The post Europe-close action saw stocks give back most of those gains, the USD leak back lower (as CAD strengthened), Oil maintained it bid over $106 (month highs) and Gold/Silver pulled back up nicely. Treasuries remained under pressure though with only a very late-day dip lower in yields to show for the dips in stocks. As expected, Energy and Financials outperformed close-to-close on a rally-day but also retraced the most in the afternoon as Discretionary and Materials also joined the high-beta fray. The strength in oil and weakness in TSYs was enough to juice risk-assets in general and provided some support for the rally but stocks remain rich relative to risk in general and we wonder how the bulls have it both ways - rally on unsustainable good news (but no QE3) and on bad news (Ben's got yr back) as the first day of May (absent any European hedging) seemed a chaotic rush to buy this morning that may have been a short-term climax.
History shows that freedom is almost always the price that societies pay to maintain the status quo and keep their rulers in power. When the system finally collapses under its own weight, though, things can go from bad to worse as the people cry out for CHANGE. The French, for example, traded an absolute monarch in Louis XVI for an absolute dictator in Robespierre. Similarly, the Russians traded the empire of ‘Bloody’ Tsar Nicholas II for the Red Terror of Soviet Russia. As the Russian Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky said in 1937, “The old principle of ‘who does not work shall not eat’ has been replaced by a new one– who does not obey shall not eat.”
Two words: Screw that.
When we talk about Europe today in an economic context, we really mean the Eurozone, whose seventeen members are the core of Europe and share a common currency, the euro. The euro first came into existence thirteen years ago, on January 1, 1999, replacing national currencies for eleven states; Greece joined two years later. In theory, the idea of a common currency for European nations with common borders is logical, and it was Canadian economist Robert Mundell's work on optimum currency areas that provided much of the theoretical cover. However, the concept was flawed from the start.
Collateral matters when it comes to assessing the value of the debt. If a bank lists the mortgages in its "assets" column at full value even though the underlying collateral (the houses) has lost much of their value, then the bank is grossly over-estimating the value and security of the mortgage. The bank's "assets" are based on phantom collateral. Take away $1 in collateral and you impair $4, $10, $20 or even $30 of debt. Recall that the vast majority of real estate equity and financial wealth is owned by the top 20%, with the majority of that concentrated in the top 5%. That means the bottom 80% own little collateral to leverage into debt. How about leveraging income into more debt? Since the top 10% receive almost 50% of the income, and most of the bottom 90%'s income goes to non-discretionary spending and taxes, then only the top 10% have discretionary income that can be leveraged into more debt.
Google vs .GOV vs Apple vs Telcos: .GOV keeps old way of doing business alive for current broadband cos. Roads are expensive too, but we have found ways to build them without requiring tolls at the end of our driveways.
UPDATE: ES liquidity disappeared into the print but the reaction has been 'surprising' for an entirely unsustainable 4.5 Sigma beat, pushing ES +1%, TSYs +4-5bps, Gold/Silver -0.5%, and Oil +0.5% with no European restraint today so far.
Forget the Schrodinger "baffle them with bullshit" economy - it is now officially the Idiotmaker economy. Following the massive Chicago PMI drop yesterday, there were those who expected reality to revert and today's mfg ISM to plunge. No such luck, in fact the Manufacturing Data just came out and destroyed every single convergence thesis, printing at 54.8 on expectations of 53.0, and up from the March print of 53.4. This was the best ISM beat in 7 months, following the worst PMI print in 2.5 years yesterday, also the biggest MOM jump since June 2011, and the biggest 2 month rise since April 2010. Go figure. The only one who predicted the correct outcome? Why Zero Hedge, courtesy of none other than Joe LaVorgna.
While Krugman does not by any means endorse the level of centralism that Diocletian introduced, his defence of bailouts, his insistence on the planning of interest rates and inflation, and (most frighteningly) his insistence that war can be an economic stimulus (in reality, war is a capital destroyer) all put him firmly in Diocletian’s economic planning camp. So how did Diocletian’s economic program work out? Well, I think it is fair to say even without modern data that — just as Krugman desires — Diocletian’s measures boosted aggregate demand through public works and — just as Krugman desires — it introduced inflation. And certainly Rome lived for almost 150 years after Diocletian. However the long term effects of Diocletian’s economic program were dire. Have the 2008 bailouts done the same thing, cementing a new feudal aristocracy of bankers, financiers and too-big-to-fail zombies, alongside a serf class that exists to fund the excesses of the financial and corporate elite? Only time will tell.
The recent LTRO by the ECB provided lquidity; but at a cost. It is apparent that the banks in Europe pushed up the prices for European sovereigns in the short term but also increased their own risks by doing so. Recent data suggests that almost 10% of foreign buyers exited many of the weaker sovereign credits in Europe while their domiciled banks picked up the slack but, in doing so, increased their own risk and as yields have gapped back out in Italy, Spain et al the banks are facing significant losses on their balance sheets. It is quite possible now that with this weekend’s elections in Europe that Germany will find itself backed into a corner and nationalism could become a self-centered affair in Berlin with surprising consequences that could result from finding itself backed up against the wall. As much of Europe now finds itself in recession I note the continuing possibility of social unrest that could burst at any time as the unemployment numbers for much of the youth in Europe are abysmal and idleness can ignite in the most controlled of societies.
The pastel-wearing President of TrimTabs proffers an entirely non-perfunctory prose explaining why he believes we are now due for a stock market decline. Echoing our thoughts, Charles notes that "It's the Federal Reserve that controls the market, it's their money, they're the boss, we play with their money that they print or stop printing". Sadly true (especially for all the highly-paid economists and strategists out there), the pre-2009 drivers of equity performance (specifically new or excess savings) are no longer so; since the initial QE1 this has not been the case and providing us with a thoughtful history of equity market valuations relative to the various QE-efforts over the past few years - especially when compared to income growth and/or macro-economic data - provides just the color required to comprehend this essentially a obvious thread of reality that merely four years ago would have been denigrated to the tin-foil-hat-wearers of the world. Real-time data says that wages and salaries are barely growing above inflation, Europe is a disaster, and the emerging nations are seeing slowing growth; without the Fed's new money where will cash come from to drive stock prices higher? The question is, assuming the Fed will 'stimulate' again pre-Election, will the market react the same way? And will the trigger for such an event be a major decline once again in asset prices?
Obama and Romney Are Both Ignoring the Real Issue with Killing Bin Laden
April ended on a weak tone (after another set of weak macro data) with a day of risk-asset deterioration amid low ranges and low volumes as the S&P 500 broke its 4-day rally streak. AAPL was a standout having given back over 60% of its post-earnings spike and nearing a break below its 50DMA once again. HY credit outperformed with an afternoon surge (in HYG also) taking it back into the green for the month - even as the S&P 500 remains marginally off March's close and underperformed along with IG credit today. Treasuries leaked lower in yield for most of the day but gave half of it back into the close (after Treasuries' best month in 7 months - perhaps a modestly expected give back on some rebalancing). Gold outperformed Silver once again today as Silver fell back to basically retrace all of its YTD gains relative to stocks - both up just over 11% YTD now (note that Silver was +32% prior to LTRO2). Stocks remain rich relative to Treasuries less-than-stellar implications but financials (which had their worst month since November) dragged the broad market down for its first losing month in the last six, as Utilities and Staples the only sectors with a reasonable gain this month. JPY strength and AUD weakness were evident and implied weakness today but in general the USD did very little on this last day of the month. VIX ended above 17% on the day, up almost 1vol as the term structure bear-flattened a little. Overall, a weak-end to the month with little apparent confidence in extending the QE-hope trend of the last few days as stocks remain hugely rich to broad risk-assets overall and most notably Treasuries.
By definition, we cannot shrink our way back to the sort of growth required to service the West's accumulated debts. Something has to give. That something will ultimately be social and political disorder on a continent-wide basis, particularly as the taxpayer becomes increasingly frustrated in his obligations to fund the rapidly growing and untenable costs of Big Government. Such disorder is almost universally feared-- by politicians, by markets, by institutions. As the London-based marcoeconomic research consultancy Capital Economics recently commented: "The last thing that the markets need right now is increased political uncertainty at the heart of Europe at a time when the economic outlook is already bleak..." The only reasonable response to this is: tough. If social and political disorder is what it takes to shift an unsustainable status quo in which vampire banks and clueless bureaucrats suck the life out of the productive economy, bring it on.
“…we have not had to put any taxpayers’ money into our financial system in Canada, nor do I anticipate that we’ll be obliged to do so.”
—Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance
“Without wanting to appear arrogant or vain, which would be quite un-Canadian... while our system is not perfect, it has worked during this difficult time, I don’t want the government to be in the banking business in Canada.”
—Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance
“It is true, we have the only banks in the western world that are not looking at bailouts or anything like that...and we haven’t got any TARP money.”
—Stephen Harper, Prime Minister