While GBP jumped and the world celebrated the UK's recent avoidance (for now) of a triple-dip recession (defined on GDP as opposed to reality), the situation in the island nation appears to be going from bad to worse. As Carney takes over the reigns of this once mighty nation he faces a country deeply divided. As the BBC reports, while London real estate prices smash old records, a stunning one-in-five households borrowed money or used savings to cover the costs of food in April. This is the equivalent of five million households unable to fund their food via income alone. Over 80% of these people are concerned about rising food prices (just as print-meister Carney is about to go 'Abe' on them) and almost 60% find it difficult to cope on their current incomes. The director of the consumer group 'Which?', noted that "many households are stretched to their financial breaking point," as "families face a cost of living crisis." While equity and real estate prices hit all-time highs, the opposition sums up the country's feeling, "this incompetent government needs to wake up to the human cost of their failed economic policies."
Seth Klarman Expains When "Investing Is At Its Hardest" And Why He Is Not Joining The Momentum TradeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/05/2013 08:35 -0500
If you thought that Baupost's Seth Klarman would be the next to join twitter, #timestamp his minute-holding trades, ignore the money-losing ones, trumpet his winners, always make money, scream at all those who don't agree with his "strategy", and otherwise become what is known these days as a (momentum) investor, we have some bad news: it's not happening. Here's why.
Nomura's Richard Koo destroys the backbone of the modern central bankers only tool in the tool-box in his latest paper. "As more and more people began to realize that increases in monetary base via QE during balance sheet recessions do not mean equivalent increases in money supply, the hype over QEs in the FX market is likely to calm down ...The only way quantitative easing can have a positive impact on economic activity is if the authorities’ purchase of assets from the private sector boosts asset prices, making people feel wealthier and thereby encouraging them to consume more. This is the wealth effect, often referred to by the Fed chairman Bernanke as the portfolio rebalancing effect, but even he has acknowledged that it has a very limitmed impact... In a sense, quantitative easing is meant to benefit the wealthy. After all, it can contribute to GDP only by making those with assets feel wealthier and encouraging them to consume more."
The middle class is being absolutely eviscerated, and poverty is soaring to unprecedented heights. The fact that 90 percent of the population is constantly sliding downhill is not good for our society. The United States is supposed to be a land of opportunity with a vibrant free market system that enables average people to make better lives for themselves. Unfortunately, free enterprise is being strangled to death in the United States today. Entrepreneurs and small business are being pounded into oblivion by rules, regulations, red tape and oppressive levels of taxation. Our founding fathers warned that we should not allow such large concentrations of wealth and power, because they tend to funnel the rewards of society into the hands of a select few. The following are 22 facts that prove that the bottom 90 percent of America is systematically getting poorer...
With any and every asset-gatherer capable of forming a sentence being trotted out on business media to proclaim victory and elucidate on why "there is no where else to invest but stocks" and "the US is the cleanest dirty shirt," we thought it might be useful to reflect on just how clean that shirt can remain as the rest of the world's growth slows down significantly. In the last decade, there has been particular growth in inter-regional trade, with a dramatic expansion in trade vis-à-vis Asia, reflecting globalization. At the same time, the deepening in global trade relationships means that the potential for a sudden shift in demand in one region can have a more significant impact on the rest of the world. This has been seen particularly in recent years, with the sharp retrenchment in domestic demand in southern Europe affecting the economy of Asia, particularly Japan. Looking at the rate of increase in regional imports (which we assume is what the 'heads' believe will power the US 'clean' shirt) and the picture is ugly. And while copper is enough of a tell for most, even the IMF (usually extraordinarily optimistic) sees World Trade slowing dramatically - and given these interconnections, perhaps being the cleanest shirt merely shows the stains even more clearly when they finally hit.
As is well known, Goldman's Mark Carney is leaving the Bank of Canada on June 1 to take over the UK money printer in a few months, at which point he will proceed to create about GBP25 billion per month out of thin air, pushing the total monthly G-7 liquidity injection to a healthy $200 billion (an annualized rate of $2.5 trillion). Which meant that a successor had to be found. Moments ago we learned just who that is, and surprisingly it does not appear to be yet another Goldman Sachs Partner, MD or even Vice President. Carney's replacement is Stephen Poloz, the former head of Export Development Canada. Promptly upon the announcement Poloz noted that flexible inflation targeting no threat to credibility, and Canada's monetary policy has helped through crisis, and that experience at EDC gives him a feel for Canada's economy. If nothing else, at least he has held a real job. Unlike those mandarins in the Marriner Eccles building. Either way, his monetary stance is largely unknown, although it will hardly be a hurdle to the other lunatics who have taken over the money printing asylum.
There continues to be difficulty in securing physical bullion in large volumes, particularly in the small coin and bar market and particularly in the silver market.
One possibility for the markets to reverse has always been some grand event but another is just the economic deterioration that wears away at the markets as current levels cannot be rationally supported. It is not just the Law of Diminishing Returns which is coming into play as the central banks create more money but the effects on the consumer of seriously declining available cash to be used to purchase goods and services. We have been subject to a massive amount of monetary printing and an unconscionable manipulation of data but the affects of reality cannot be ignored forever because reality forces the consequences as the fantasy gives way over time.
Monday's income and spending (and implicitly 'saving') data provided plenty of fodder at the headline level for any and every opinion. We explained in great detail just how weak the data really was (here and here). But the following two charts suggest that any optimism of organic consumption-led exuberance is completely misplaced. Retail sales of clothing is growing at the slowest pace since 2010; but while major store sales are about to drop negative YoY for the first time in over 3 years, the utter collapse in general merchandise sales is worse that at the peak of the last recession at -5%. It seems tough to see how a nation with an economy built on 70% consumption is not in a recessionary environment. And while this alone is a dismal signal for the discretionary upside of the US economy/consumer; as Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg points out real personal income net of transfer receipts plunged at a stunning 5.8% annual rate in Q1. The other seven times we have seen such a collapse, the economy was either in recession of just coming out of one. But apart from that, everything is fine...
While it is the labor day holiday in most of the world, and as a result volumes will be more subdued than ever (meaning at least a 10 point algorithmic levitation on no volume for the S&P), let's not forget that Benny and the Inkjets are doing their best to make everyone into a professional day trader (the only "wealth effect" transmission mechanism left) so markets being open seems somewhat counterproductive. That said, futures are already up on the usual atrocious economic data out of Asia this time. First China's official manufacturing PMI slipped 0.3pt to 50.6, coming below expectations, suggesting weak momentum going into Q2. Meanwhile, Korea trade data indicated weaker momentum in exports than expected, rising 0.4% on expectations of a 2% bounce courtesy of Abenomics, and hence a lower trade surplus, while inflation defied median expectations of a rise and slowed yet further. Finally, Australia PMI was an absolute disaster printing even worse than the Chicago PMI, plunging from 44.4 to 36.7, meaning that the RBA is about to join the global "reflation effort." Given that most markets in Asia are closed today, there is no market reaction worth mentioning, aside from the fact that the yen which was logically weaker overnight then ramped up into the European open and US pre-trading as it is, after all, the primary source of "beta" for the global stock markets. Finally, while some are dreading the start of "sell in May and go away" season, what most have forgotten is that never before has May been accompanied by $160 billion per month in central bank de novo liquidity (a number which will only go up- you know, for the wealth effect). Which is why our redefinition of this infamous phrase is "buy in May and buy every day."
People always stop and stare at traffic accidents (no matter how minor) and arguing couples (no matter how unattractive); ConvergEx's Nick Colas has the same problem with the ever-moribund CBOE VIX Index, even though it’s essentially the exact opposite of the proverbial train wreck. Even with the zombie-like march higher for US stocks, surely the uncertain state of the world would demand more than a 13-handle VIX? Well, it doesn’t; and Nick offers up some off-the-beaten track explanations for why “13” isn’t the right answer. Implied volatility should either be higher or… (gulp)… much lower. The biggest overlooked factor for both directions: the role of technology in society and commerce.
Total collapse. That is the only way to explain what just happened with the Chicago PMI which imploded from 52.4, and printed at a contractionary 49: the first sub-50 headline print since September 2009. But that's not all: Deliveries, Prices Paid and Production all hit their lowest since 2009; Backlogs posted their tenth month of contraction in the past 12 months. And what's worst for the Department of Making Shit Up, Employment plunged from 551. to 48.7, its third month over month decline. Actually another way to phrase it: complete disaster. Obviously this number explains why S&P should have no problems crossing 1,600 today. Because for that other Department: of Propaganda and Creating money out of thin air, this means only one thing: the Fed is preparing to print ONE KROOGOL MORE!
- Euro-Area Unemployment Increases to Record 12.1% Amid Recession (BBG)
- Fed faces calls for radical reform (FT) - Has Jamie Dimon approved of this message? No? Carry on then
- CEO Pay 1,795-to-1 Multiple of Wages Skirts U.S. Law (BBG)
- Ex-UBS Executive Convicted of Paid Sex With Underage Girl (BBG)
- Six months after Sandy, New York fuel supply chain still vulnerable (Reuters)
- Older, richer shoppers lead Japan’s surge in consumer spending (FT)
- Sharp euro zone inflation fall, joblessness point to ECB rate cut (G&M)
- Gold Rush From Dubai to Turkey Saps Supply as Premiums Jump (BBG)
- Japan Industrial Output, Retail Sales Disappoint (MW)
- Gunmen surround Libyan justice ministry (Reuters)
- Insider-Trading Probe Trains Lens on Boards (WSJ)
- Best Buy exits Europe (WSJ)
- Banker Roommates Follow Zuckerberg Not Blankfein With IvyConnect (BBG)
The weakness in economic data (not to be confused with the centrally-planned anachronism known as the "markets") started overnight when despite a surge in Japanese consumer spending (up 5.2% on expectations of 1.6%, the most in nine years) by those with access to the stock market and mostly of the "richer" variety, did not quite jive with a miss in retail sales, which actually missed estimates of dropping "only" -0.8%, instead declining -1.4%. As the FT reported what we said five months ago, "Four-fifths of Japanese households have never held any securities, and 88 per cent have never invested in a mutual fund, according to a survey last year by the Japan Securities Dealers Association." In other words any transient strength will be on the back of the Japanese "1%" - those where the "wealth effect" has had an impact and whose stock gains have offset the impact of non-core inflation. In other words, once the Yen's impact on the Nikkei225 tapers off (which means the USDJPY stops soaring), that will be it for even the transitory effects of Abenomics. Confirming this was Japanese Industrial production which also missed, rising by only 0.2%, on expectations of a 0.4% increase. But the biggest news of the night was European inflation data: the April Eurozone CPI reading at 1.2% on expectations of a 1.6% number, and down from 1.7%, which has now pretty much convinced all the analysts that a 25 bps cut in the ECB refi rate, if not deposit, is now merely a formality and will be announced following a unanimous decision.
Capitalism may have bested communism a few decades ago, but exactly how our economic system allocates society’s scarce resources is now undergoing its first serious transformation since the NYSE’s founding fathers met under the buttonwood tree in 1792. Technology, complexity and speed have already transformed how stocks trade; but As ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, the real question now is what role these forces will play in long-term capital formation and allocation. Rookie mistakes like the Twitter hack flash crash might be easy to deride, but make no mistake, Colas reminds us: the changes that started with high frequency and algorithmic trading are just the first step to an entirely different process of determining stock prices. The only serious challenge this metamorphosis will likely face is a notable crash of the still-developing system and resultant regulation back to more strictly human-based processes.