The wild volatility continues, with markets set to open well in the negative wiping out all of yesterday's gains and then some, only this time the catalyst is not emerging market crashing and burning (at least not yet even though moments ago the ZAR weakened to a new 5 year low against the USD and the USDTRY is reaching back for the 2.30 level) but European inflation, where the CPI printed at 0.70%, dropping once again from 0.8%, remaining under 1% for the fourth straight month and missing estimates of a pick up to 0.9%. Perhaps only economists are surprised at this reading considering last night Japan reported its highest (energy and food-driven) inflation print in years: so to explain it once again for the cheap seats - Japan is exporting its "deflation monster", Europe is importing it. It also means Mario Draghi is again in a corner and this time will probably have to come up with some emergency tool to boost European inflation or otherwise the ECB will promptly start to lose credibility - is the long awaited unsterilized QE from the ECB finally imminent?
Over a year after Shinzo Abe unveiled his devalue-the-currency three arrows plan to save his demographically-challenged and debt-riddled nation from a third lost decade... and aside from a stock market that soared as the currency collapsed - the Japanese people have little (or worse less) to show for it. As MarketWatch reports, Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said Thursday that auto demand in Japan is expected to drop 9.8% in 2014 as the sales tax increase in April will dent consumer sentiment. The decline will be the first and sharpest drop in three years after auto demand remained nearly flat last year. It seems that 'recovery' will have to wait.
Show this article to anyone that believes that the economy has actually improved in the last 5 years. On Tuesday evening, the President once again attempted to convince all of us that things have gotten better while he has been in the White House. He quoted a few figures, used some flowery language and made a whole bunch of new promises. And even though he has failed to follow through on his promises time after time, millions upon millions of Americans continue to believe him. To say that his credibility is "strained" would be a massive understatement. No, things have not been getting better in America. In fact, they continue to get even worse. The following are 32 statistics that Obama neglected to mention during the State of the Union address...
If a third of all US homes cannot trade due to being underwater or not sufficiently above water to clear closing costs, then the US economy is going to suffer
You didn't think the US could at first slowly, and then all of a sudden, expropriate retirement accounts and invest them in the "no risk, guaranteed return" MyRA Ponzi scheme introduced by Obama during the State of the Union address without lots of behavior-modifying indoctrination in the "friendly press" first now did you? Sure enough, here is the first major propaganda salvo, coming from none other than the US Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, which will be published tomorrow across the McClatchy media empire.
Indicators of US balance-sheet repair hardly signal the onset of the more vigorous cyclical revival that many believe is at hand. Optimists see it differently. Encouraged by sharp reductions in households’ debt-service costs and a surprisingly steep fall in unemployment, they argue that the long nightmare has finally ended. That may be wishful thinking. Notwithstanding the Fed’s claims that its unconventional policies have been the elixir of economic renewal in the US, the healing process still has years to go. This should not be surprising. Far too many US households made enormous bets on the property bubble, believing that their paper gains were permanent substitutes for stagnant labor income... and appear to be doing the same again.
"In general, this morning’s confidence data bode well for current quarter consumption and likely reflect the ongoing massive improvement in household balance sheets that we have been highlighting for some time now as a key catalyst for growth in the coming quarters." - Joe LaVorgna
We can waste many words to explain today's absolutely atrocious and recovery killing durable goods report (wait for it... wait for it... it's the weather's fault), or we can just show this once chart explaining all that has happened so far in the "recovery."
"... either way 2014 is already proving to be more challenging, more volatile, more illiquid and more bearish than the significantly bullish positioning and sentiment indicators warranted as we came into this year, and way more bearish than the enormously bullish consensus emanating from the sell-side. We will see painful counter-trend rallies, perhaps even to marginal new highs (3A above) – never underestimate the willingness and ability of central bankers to persist with flawed policies – but overall I think the end of the post-2009 QE-driven bull is at hand (or very soon to be at hand) and the onset of the next significant (post-QE) deflationary bear market, which I think will run deep into 2015, should now begin to guide all investment decisions." - Bob Janjuah
- Emerging sell-off hits European shares, lifts yen (Reuters) - but not really if you hit refresh since the latest central bank bailout announcement
- Apple’s Holiday Results to Show Whether Growth Is Back (BBG)
- Israel attacked Syrian base in Latakia, Lebanese media reports (Haaretz)
- Abenomics FTW: Japan Posts Record Annual Trade Deficit as Import Bill Soars (BBG)
- When all else fails, Spain's hope lie in a 16th century saint: Saint “might help Spain out of crisis,” says interior minister (El Pais)
- Global Woes Fail to Send Cash Into U.S. Stocks (WSJ)
- IMF's Lagarde sees eurozone inflation "way below target" (Reuters)
- Minimum wage bills pushed in at least 30 states (AP)
- AT&T Gives Up Right to Offer to Buy Vodafone Within 6 Months (BBG)
Given that Chinese GDP numbers are manufactured top-down and don't add-up; and that the US - in its wisdom - added "intangibles" to its GDP measure of economic progress and create $500 billion worth of growthiness out of thin air; it should not come as a huge surprise to learn that Greece is picking up bad habits. Following the realization that all their promises (and IMF forecasts are total bullshit), Eurostat will adopt a "new methodology" that will boost Greek GDP by 3 percentage points and historically reducing the depression in the Greek economy to a 0.3% shrinkage to be proud of. But where it gets downright idiotic, is that as a result of the methodology change, Greek GDP in 2014 will "grow" 3.6%, orders of magnitude above the previous forecast expansion of 0.6%, and also well above how much the US economy is expected to grow in 2014. Yup - good stuff.
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) January 25, 2014
Markets are deteriorating around the world but what could cause a real correction in the markets?
In a week that has been marked by astonishing mainstream media headlines, BFI Capital’s CEO Frank Suess happened to give an outstanding interview about the outlook for global currencies, gold and manipulation in the markets. These developments are significant and could mark a tipping point. Up until now, the currency and precious metals manipulation has been a topic associated with conspiracy theorists in the corners of the blogosphere. The interesting fact is that this news breaks out exactly at the time when most people are being trapped into the “economic recovery” news. With the markets hanging at the lips of the central bankers, it is fair to say that “the central banks are the markets.” Frank Suess points out that, for several decades now, central banks around the world, with the US Federal Reserve in the lead, haven’t allowed business and credit cycles to happen anymore. In fact, they have been fighting consistently every sign of recession with more money, resulting in a race to the bottom of world currencies. The effect of this on world currencies is that they are shuffling each other down in a see-saw pattern...
Nearly two years ago, before the topic of (the great and constantly missing) Capex became a mainstream media mainstay, we said that as long as the Fed was actively engaged in manipulating the capital markets - and this was before the Fed launched its endless QEternity - the bulk of corporate cash would go not into investing for growth, i.e., capital spending and/or hiring, but dividends and (levered) stock buybacks. Nearly $1 trillion in stock buybacks later, and zero growth Capex, we were proven right, much to the chagrin of permabulls who said the capex spending spree is just around the corner again... and again... and. Of course, if this were to happen, it would promptly refute our fundamental thesis that the Fed's presence in the market results in the terminal misallocation of efficient corporate capital. We were not concerned. We are even less concerned now having just read an FT piece forecasting that "capital spending by US companies is expected to grow this year at its slowest pace for four years, in a sign of corporate caution over the outlook for global demand." And like that, dear permabuls, the key pillar beneath all "corporate growth" thesis was yanked. Again. Fear not. There is always 2015. Or 2016. You get it.