It is no secret that the gist of western thinking has been that sanctions against Russia would pressure its economy enough to force Putin to finally crawl to the negotiating table, tail between his legs, and beg for western forgiveness. Call it the law of unintended consequences striking once again, because while Russia's economy continues to hum along (if only for now, something that can't be said about Ukraine's) and has forced the Kremlin to seek a variety of deals with China to avoid western isolationism, one other country may have been crippled far faster than Russia: Germany.
The actual state of employment in the U.S. is likely far weaker than the economic statistics currently suggest. If this is indeed the case, it creates a potential for policy mistakes that could have negative consequences to both the economy and the financial markets.
It has been over six months since we first highlighted the growing deterioration in the quality of auto loans and mentioned the 's' word (subprime) as indicative that we learned nothing from the financial crisis. Since then, auto loans (and especially subprime in the last few months) have surged to record highs; and most concerning, recently has seen delinquencies and late payments spike. The reason we provide this background is that, thanks to The NY Times, this story is now hitting the mainstream media as subprime-quality car buyers (new and used) realize the burden they have placed on themselves thanks to exorbitantly high interest rates (and a rapidly depreciating 'asset'). As one car 'owner' exclaimed, "buying the car was the worst decision I have ever made."
If one looks past headline figures, things are not really getting better. As shown in Figure 1, real disposable income per capita in the U.S. has increased only modestly since the Great Recession. However, all of this increase is due to Government Transfers, not from an improvement in the real economy.
With U.S. rates higher than those of major foreign markets, investors are provided with an additional reason to look favorably on increased investments in the long end of the U.S. treasury market. Additionally, with nominal growth slowing in response to low saving and higher debt we expect that over the next several years U.S. thirty-year bond yields could decline into the range of 1.7% to 2.3%, which is where the thirty-year yields in the Japanese and German economies, respectively, currently stand.
The Euro is tumbling as Italy slashes economic growth expectations:
*BANK OF ITALY SEES ITALY GDP UP 0.2% THIS YR, 1.3% IN 2015
*BANK OF ITALY SEES DOWNSIDE RISKS FOR ITALY GROWTH EST. THIS YR
The Bank of Italy expected 0.7% growth for 2014 in January and this shift lowers the estimate below consensus. Of course, there's no need to wqory about a triple-dip recession as Italy raised its 2015 estimate from 1.0% to 1.3% - hockey sticks are back...
CEO's use of profanity in public changes with the economy. A Bloomberg review of thousands of conference calls recorded in the past 10 years shows CEO cursing spiked after the recession in 2009 and waned as the recovery strengthened. Here's a review of the four most common words of choice: the infamous F-bomb, the scatalogical S-word, the blasphemous G.D., and the derogatory A.H.
More basic suggestions for those who are seeking shelter from the coming storms of global financial crisis and recession (part 1 here).
There has been much discussion as of late about the end of the current quantitative easing program and the beginning of the Federal Reserve "normalizing" interest rates. The primary assumption is that as interest rates normalize, the financial markets will continue to rise as economic growth strengthens. While this certainly seems like a logical assumption, is it really the case?
The sell off was greeted by Chinese buyers as Chinese premiums edged up to just over $1 an ounce on the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE).
Gold price drops this year have led to a marked increase in demand for gold as seen in very large increases in ETF holdings (See chart - Orange is Gold, Purple is absolute change in gold ETF holdings). The smart money in Asia, the West and globally continues to use price dips as an opportunity to allocate to gold.
As Pepe Escobar explains, way beyond economy and finance, this is essentially about geopolitics - as in emerging powers offering an alternative to the failed Washington consensus. Or, as consensus apologists say, the BRICS may be able to "alleviate challenges" they face from the "international financial system".
- Microsoft to announce biggest round of job cuts in 5 years (BBG)
- Palestinian rocket fire persists, Israel warns truce at risk (Reuters)
- China tells U.S. to stay out of South China Seas dispute (Reuters)
- Merkel Resists Sundering U.S. Ties Over Spying Affair (BBG)
- BES slide, tumbling German sentiment hit markets (Reuters)
- Top 1 Percent Is Even Richer Than Surveys Say, ECB Paper Finds (BBG)
- Puerto Rico Utility May Default on January Interest Payment (BBG)
- Can't Get a Job From an Algorithm, or So It Seems as Hot Resumes Go Nowhere Fast (BBG)
- Bank of China-CCTV drama may reveal power struggle in Beijing (SCMP)
When we first brought the transformation of the American economy into a part-time worker society in 2010, many scoffed and suggested that when the 'recovery' really gets going the temp jobs will all be morphed into high-paying full-time jobs. That hasn't happened, and in fact, as we noted most recently, it's got worse. As Mort Zuckerman blasts in his rampagingly honest WSJ Op-Ed, "Most people will have the impression that the 288,000 jobs created last month were full-time. Not so." And more directly, "most Americans wouldn't call this an economic recovery." The lack of breadwinners working full time is a burgeoning disaster that we have covered extensively. There are 48 million people in the U.S. in low-wage jobs, resulting, as Zuckerman concludes, "Faith in the American dream is eroding fast."
"The world has changed," explains the 27-year old daughter of David Stevens - CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association. Despite her father's constant 30-year pitch of the merits of homeownership - and knowing full well that rates are low, rents are high, and owning a home 'builds wealth' - Sara Stevens is not buying. After watching "cousins and other family members go through pretty tough situations in 2008 and 2009," her skepticism is broad-based as Bloomberg reports, t’s more than the weight of student loans, an iffy job market and tight credit -- even those who can buy are hesitant. As Bloomberg so eloquently concludes, when even the cheerleader-in-chief for housing can’t get a rah-rah out of his daughter, you know this time is different.
This is it! The holy grail of forecasting, Jeffrey Kleintop has discovered it. You'll never have to worry about actual earnings reports, a massive bubble in junk debt, the sluggishness of the economy, new record levels in sentiment measures and margin debt, record low mutual fund cash reserves, the pace of money supply growth, or anything else again. Just watch the yield curve! Unfortunately, as we showed here in the US, this advice could turn out to be extremely dangerous for one's financial health - and has been across many nations throughout time. People remain desperate for excuses as to why the latest bit of asset boom insanity will never end