The middle of the end is coming, The beginning of the end started in 2008, BTW...
As usual, the stock market was vexatiously out of step with reality last week, soaring on word that the ECB plans to do “whatever it takes” to preserve the euro and the political union that it binds. For U.S. investors, especially those who believe in hope and change (and, presumably, the Easter Bunny), there was also the invaluable news that the U.S. economy is once again verging on recession – a development which is widely believed to portend yet more Fed easing.
Pushing them to build up more debt to push additional debt on over-indebted nations who clearly can't pay back their current debt is quite foolish. Recession and depression looms everywhere.
Goldman's ex-employee Mario Draghi is in a box: he knows he has to do something, but he also knows his options are very limited politically and financially. Yet he has no choice but to escalate and must surprise markets with a forceful intervention as per his words last week or else. What does that leave him? Well, according to Goldman's Huw Pill, nothing short of pulling a BOJ and announcing on Thursday that he will proceed with monetization of private assets, an event which so far only the Bank of Japan has publicly engaged in, and one which will confirm the world's relentless Japanization. From Pill: "Given the (to us) surprisingly bold tone of Mr. Draghi’s comments last week, we nevertheless think a new initiative may well be in the offing. We have argued in the past that the next step in the escalation of the ECB response would be outright purchases of private assets. Acting in this direction on Thursday would represent a significant event. We forecast the announcement of measures to permit NCBs to purchase private-sector assets under their own risk to implement ‘credit easing’, within a general framework approved by the Governing Council. This would allow purchases of unsecured bank debt and corporate debt, enabling NCBs to ease private-sector financial conditions where such support is most needed." Why would the ECB do this: "A natural objection to outright purchases of assets issued by the private sector is that they involve the assumption of too much credit risk by the ECB. But substantial risk is already assumed via credit operations." In other words, the only thing better than a little global central banker put is a whole lot global central banker put, and when every central planner is now all in, there is no longer any downside to putting in even more taxpayer risk on the table. Or so the thinking goes.
- Schäuble View on Eurozone at Odds With US (FT)
- Juncker: Euro zone leaders, ECB to act on Euro (Reuters)
- German Banks Cut Back Periphery Lending (FT)
- Monetary Policy Role in EU Debt Crisis Limited: Zoellick (CNBC)
- Bond Trading Loses Some Swagger Amid Upheaval (NYT)
- As first reported on ZH, Deflation Dismissed by Bond Measure Amid QE3 Anticipation (Bloomberg)
- Record Cash Collides With Yen as Topix Valuation Nearing Low (Bloomberg) - but, but, all the cash on the sidelines...
- Greek Leaders Agree Most Cuts, Lenders Stay On – Source (Reuters)
- Chinese Investment in US 'set for record year' (China Daily)
With the 2012 London Olympics now underway, ConvergEx's Nic Colas takes a look at the business of the Games. As it turns out, the five-circle logo of the International Olympic Committee is essentially one of the strongest brands on the planet. The reason for this success seems to boil down to two fundamental drivers. In the developed economies of the world, the games represent an opportunity to reach a large audience that has grown fragmented and hard to reach due to everything from the social media to DVR devices. In emerging markets, ever-larger middle classes represent excellent growth opportunities for global brands. The bottom line is that the Olympics may prove to be the last piece of media content that remains relevant and interesting to the majority of the world’s consumers. The Olympics is therefore an unequivocal business success story, unharmed by global recession, sovereign debt woes, and the other economic problems of the moment. It just seems a shame that live-pigeon shooting and one-armed-weightlifting have been removed from the events and did dwarf-tossing ever make it?
There was not much in the GDP report that was unexpected, except durable goods. The decline in durable goods was comparable to Q2 2011, right down to the primary driver of that weakness - motor vehicles. However, there was no earthquake in Japan this year to disrupt supply chains, production schedules and brand availability. Just like last year, marginal economic growth overall seems to be backfilled with a tide of inventory. The trouble with inventory at the margins of growth is that it is essentially a build-up of forward demand, and therefore susceptible to reversal should overdone production move out of alignment with final demand. Both monetary and fiscal policies actively seek to pull forward demand, meaning this inventory-driven activity conforms to policy goals. It's almost like the 1960's and 70's, with motor vehicles and government spending driving the marginal economy again. All that’s missing is for Ralph Nader to show up and write about how cars are dangerous.
While it would appear that all news is good news; good news (or no news) is better news; and old-news is the best news; here is your one stop summary of all the notable bullish and bearish events in the past seven days.
While in principle central banks around the world can talk up the market to infinity or until the last short has covered without ever committing to any action (obviously at some point long before that reality will take over and the fact that revenues and earnings are collapsing as stock prices are soaring will finally be grasped by every marginal buyer, but that is irrelevant for this thought experiment) the reality is that absent more unsterilized reserves entering the cash starved banking system, whose earnings absent such accounting gimmicks as loan loss reserve release and DVA, are the worst they have been in years, the banks will wither and die. Recall that the $1.6 trillion or so in excess reserves are currently used by banks mostly as window dressing to cover up capital deficiencies masked in the form of asset purchases, subsequently repoed out. Which is why central banks would certainly prefer to just talk the talk (ref: Draghi et al), private banks demand that they actually walk the walk, and the sooner the better. One such bank, which has the largest legacy liabilities and non-performing loans courtesy of its idiotic purchase of that epic housing scam factory Countrywide, is Bank of America. Which is why it is not at all surprising that just that bank has come out with a report titled "Shipwrecked" in which it says that not only will (or maybe should is the right word) launch QE3 immediately, but the QE will be bigger than expected, but as warned elsewhere, will be "much less effective than QE1/QE2, both in terms of boosting risky assets and stimulating the economy."
The first estimate of the 2nd Quarter GDP was released at a 1.5% annualized growth rate which was just a smidgen better than the 1.4% general consensus. There has been a rising chorus of calls as of late that the economy is already in a recession. For all intents and purposes that may well be the case but the GDP numbers do not currently reveal that. What we are fairly confident of is that with the weakness that we have seen in the recent swath of economic reports is that the 2nd quarter GDP will likely be weaker than reported in the first estimate. It is this environment, combined with the continued Euro Zone crisis and weaker stock markets, as the recent rumor induced bump fades, that will give the Federal Reserve the latitude to launch a third round of bond buying later this year. While the impact of such a program is likely to be muted - it will likely push off an outright recession into next year.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) came out with a report that confirmed what many of us were projecting.
How can such a small country blow through so much money?
Somewhat stunned by the market's exuberant reaction to Mario Draghi's 'Believe Me' speech this morning, Charles Biderman, CEO of TrimTabs, sees the slow-motion train-wreck that is the European crisis speeding up and rapidly running out of track. Charles sees the European crisis as "not a solvable problem the way the world works today." Neither Draghi nor any of the bankers even bothers to talk about the real problem of not enough regional income and too much government spending. Draghi's only solution is some form of money printing. "Printing money to pay bills maybe will work over the short term. But long term, it cannot"; if money printing works in the real world why not print and give every one a billion Dollars, Euros or Yen? While governments will do anything to maintain the status quo (and avoid the tough times ahead), Charles succinctly reminds that, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."
Did you know that Chinese government officials are all corrupt? Did you know that many of Chinese statistics look either weird or totally unreliable to a point that even the Vice Premier can’t help admitting it? People outside of China have never really trusted the Chinese Communist Party as far as politics are concerned, and probably never will. However, the seemingly unstoppable growth engine of China has produced a remarkable level of complacency among investors that China is going to do well. While recent economic data from China are mixed at best, the market consensus is unanimously biased towards believing that the second quarter is the bottom. We do not understand the reasons behind the faith in the Chinese leadership as far as running the economy is concerned. Here are a few reasons why you should just stop believing in the Chinese leadership when it comes to running the economy.
With the Olympics about to kick off in all its glorious celebration, the sad reality of UK's GDP shrinking 0.7% as the empire drops further into a double-dip. As Bloomberg Brief notes, this came along with a 5.2% plunge in construction output as the IMF estimates austerity has cut 2.5% off GDP. What is most concerning is that GDP has fallen for five of the last seven quarters and is now 4.5% below pre-crisis levels. The level of disbelief is palpable though since the BoE sees only a 10% chance of this recession lasting into 2013 and while it estimates that it will take until 2014 before the UK gets back to the 2008 level (magically), we note that that is already longer than it took during The Great Depression.