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."
The mainstream media staple 'common wisdom' within the financial markets is that when the Federal Reserve "tapers," or eventually ceases, its current bond buying program that interest rates will begin to rise. However, there are three primary issues which should be considered that fail to support this widely held belief. The Federal Reserve has gotten itself trapped into creating an asset bubble in the equity markets because any reversal of policy leads to severely negative economic consequences. With the current economic recovery cycle already very extended in historical terms, along with the financial markets, it is unlikely that we have just begun a growth cycle that will allow the Federal Reserve to extract its support. The reality is quite the opposite, and the next asset rotation will not be from bonds to stocks; but just the opposite.
No matter what measure of confidence, sentiment, or animal spirits one uses, the consumer is not encouraged by the record-er and record-er highs in the US equity market. The Conference Board's consumer confidence data missed for the 2nd month in a row - its biggest miss in 8 months - as it seems in October consumers were un-confident due to the government shutdown... but in November they are un-confident-er due to its reopening. As we have noted in the past a 10 point drop in confidence has historically led to a 2x multiple compression in stocks (which suggests the Fed will need to un-Taper some more to keep the dream alive). Ironically, more respondents believe stocks will rise of stay the same over the next 12 months even as the 'expectations' sub-index collapsed to its lowest in 8 months.
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...
Just as many expect that the #1 buyer of Treasuries (the Fed) will soon begin paring back its purchases, the top foreign holder (China) may cease buying, thereby opening a second front in the taper campaign. Little thought seems to be given to how the economy would react to 5% yields on 10 year Treasuries (a modest number in historical standards). The herd assumes that our stronger economy could handle such levels. That is why when it comes to tapering, the Fed is all bark and no bite. But the market understands none of this. This is not unusual in market history. When the spell is finally broken and markets wake up to reality, we will scratch our heads and wonder how we could ever have been so misguided.
Here’s the crucial part of what Summers and Krugman are saying: this is not a temporary gig. This isn’t going to just “get better” on its own over time. This really is, as Mohamed El-Erian of PIMCO would call it, the New Normal. And if you’re Jeremy Grantham or anyone for whom a stock has meaning as a fractional ownership stake in a real-world company rather than as a casino chip that gives you “market exposure” … well, that’s really bad news... Just don’t kid yourself into thinking that your deep dive into the value fundamentals of some large-cap bank has any predictive value whatsoever for the bank’s stock price, or that a return to the happy days of yesteryear is just around the corner. It doesn’t and it’s not, and even if you’re making money you’re going to be miserable and ornery while you wait nostalgically for what you do and what you’re good at to matter again. Spoiler Alert: Godot never shows up.
One is a dystopian society of haves and have-nots (favored or disfavored) controlled from The Capitol by a totalitarian 'big' government and entertained by reality TV shows... the other is a fictional movie entitled "The Hunger Games"...
We are used to hedge fund managers blindly making up "facts" to hide the reality that nothing else matters (most definitely not fundamentals) except the Fed's balance sheet (in order to defend his 2-and-20 sapping performance). So it is ironic that Pershing Square's Bill Ackman has added to his previous 342-slide PowerPoint presentation with the following 61 pages of his reality in the hope that market technicals (i.e. the weight of activist longs and shrinking float) and momentum will give way to his view that 'these' Herbalife's fundamentals will eventually win. Good luck with that...
Most people – certainly most governments and economists – define inflation as a general rise in prices. But this is wrong. Inflation is an increase in the money supply, of which a rising general price level is just one possible result – and not the most common one. More often, excessive money creation shows up as asset bubbles, where the new money, instead of flowing equally to all the products that are for sale at a given time, flow disproportionately into the ‘hottest’ asset classes. In each case, mainstream economists and government officials pointed to modest consumer price inflation as a sign that things were fine. And in each case they were simply looking in the wrong place and completely missing the destabilizing effects of an inflating money supply. Now we’re at it again, with economists, legislators and central bankers using low consumer price inflation as a rationale for even easier money, while ignoring epic bubbles in sovereign bonds, equities, high-end real estate and collectibles around the world. A chart tracking the tangible asset classes of the super-rich would show all lines going parabolic - except one, gold - for now.
Yet another case of rodents departing a sinking ship as the pent up discrepancy between reality and future expectations means imminent scapegoating of executives for poor performance:
- WAL-MART STORES NAMES DOUG MCMILLON CEO, SUCCEEDING MIKE DUKE
- BLACKBERRY SAYS ROGER MARTIN RESIGNS FROM BOARD
- BLACKBERRY SAYS COO, MARKETING CHIEF TO LEAVE; REPLACES CFO
You decide... The press releases are mind-blowingly full of fluff.
Another day, another carry currency-driven futures melt-up to daily record highs (the all important EURJPY soared overnight on the return of the now standard overnight Japanese jawboning of the JPY which sent the EURJPY just shy of a new 4 year high of 138 overnight), and another attempt by the ECB to have its record high market cake, and eat a lower Euro too (recall DB's said the "pain threshold" for the EUR/USD exchange rate - the level at which further appreciation impairs competitiveness and economic recovery - is $1.79 for Germany, $1.24 for France, and $1.17 for Italy) this time with ECB's Hansson repeating the generic talking point that the ECB is technically ready for negative deposit rates. However, with the halflife on such "threats" now measured in the minutes, and soon seconds, the European central bank will have to come up with something more original and creative soon, especially since the EURJPY can't really rise much more without really crushing European trade further.
Anyone suggesting that things are unraveling in fundamental ways quickly encounters a standard reflex response: "same as it ever was."
- Environmental degradation? Same as it ever was: humans have been trashing the environment for thousands of years.
- The influence of money in politics? Same as it ever was: money has always been the mother's milk of politics.
- The dominance of central bankers? Same as it ever was: the banks and the Federal Reserve have been colluding for decades. Income inequality? Same as it ever was: there will always be rich and poor, etc.
- The rise of the National Security State/Empire? Same as it ever was: Manifest Destiny, etc.
History lessons are all well and good, but this constant refrain of "same as it ever was" is actually a pernicious form of perception management, i.e. propaganda. The desperation is obvious, and so is the agenda: mask the reality that things are unraveling, and that it's no longer "same as it ever was."