Recession

The Fallacy Of Unequivocal Faith In The Fed's Babbling Bubble-Blowers

To preserve any idea that the US is not heading into recession, the FOMC is now wholly reliant on statistical processes within the BEA’s use of the Census Bureau’s updated ARIMA-X13 modeling system. It is amazing to see this policy body that once proclaimed, unequivocally and forcefully, that it could perform the monetary equivalent of sorcery and alchemy reduced to quivering about winter. The latest policy statement, a silly farce of its own accord, is, quite simply, an embarrassment.

 

3 Things: If You Don't Like It Change It

Since QE programs have not been effective at creating organic economic growth, the only effective monetary policy tool of the Fed to stave off the effects of a recessionary drag, lowering interest rates, is not available. This is why, despite weak economic growth, little inflation and a large amount of labor slack in the economy, the Fed has consistently hinted that they will likely raise the overnight lending rates in June. Therefore, since the Fed is "data dependent," a boost to GDP, via the recalculation of the numbers, would be vastly supportive in justifying that increase. However, is economic growth really stronger than currently reported? We can look at some alternative measures of the economy to answer that question.

With ISIS Controlling "More Than Half Of Syria", The US Prepares To Pounce

Gun to our head, this is what happens next: several false flag YouTube clips once again emerge just around the time Obama announces it is time to send a tactical, contained group of troops in Syria to retake the cultural "heritage that" is Palmyra, at which point the war against ISIS morphs into what it has been from day one: the western attempt to crush and topple the Assad government, and to hand over control of Syria to Turkey and Iraq, just so the US, Saudi Arabia and Qatar can control what happens behind the scenes, by which we mean finally allow that long overdue gas pipeline to traverse the nation. We expect this scenario to start unfolding within the month.

Kansas City Fed In Recession Territory After Respondent "Laid Off 8% Of Workforce In 2 Months"

For the 5th month in a row, Kansas City Fed missed expectations by an inmcreaisngly large amount. May's -13 print is the worst since April 2009, and is the biggest drop since 2009. Every single individual component also tumbled led by orders, backlog, number of employees and average workweek. Firmly in recession territory, the respondents comments are stunningly reminiscent of the great recession (or depression)...

You Know It's A Fiscal Crisis When... Republicans Raise Taxes

"Six years after the recession ended, many U.S. states are hard pressed to balance budgets because of a sluggish recovery and their own policy decisions and in fact, thirty-two states faced budget gaps in fiscal 2015 or 2016 or both." Bloomberg reports. Indeed, state and local governments are so broke that "even Republican governors loath to raise taxes have proposed higher levies."

Despite Weak Economic Data Overnight, Futures Slide On Rate Hike Concerns

The big news overnight was neither the Chinese manufacturing PMI miss nor the just as unpleasant (and important) German manufacturing and service PMI misses, but that speculation about a rate hike continues to grow louder despite the abysmal economic data lately, with the latest vote of support of a 25 bps rate increase coming from Goldman which overnight updated its "Fed staff model" and found surprisingly little slack in the economy suggesting that the recent push to blame reality for not complying with economist models (and hence the need for double seasonal adjustments) is gaining steam, and as we first suggested earlier this week, it may just happen that the Fed completely ignores recent data, and pushes on to tighten conditions, if only to rerun the great Trichet experiment of the summer of 2011 when the smallest of rate hikes resulted in a double dip recession.

Putin Pans Ukraine's Debt Moratorium As "De Facto Default", Threatens Court

In exactly a month, Ukraine will owe Russia a $75 million debt coupon payment. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters in Moscow today that "if they miss the payment, we will use our right to go to court." Then it got serious, as Vladimir Putin instructed Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to assume control of Ukraine's repayment of its $3-billion debt in Eurobonds that Russia bought in 2013, slamming Ukraine's bill allowing them to impose a moratorium on foreign debt repayments as a de facto announcement of default. As one market participant warned, "I would wait until after June 20 to go forward with" any moratorium, as "if Russia takes Ukraine to court, that might be an incentive for other creditors to go down the same route."

China Bails Out Brazil In $50 Billion Regional Power Grab

On the heels of pledging $46 billion in infrastructure aid to Pakistan, China is set to invest as much as $50 billion in Brazil including $10 billion on a cross-mountain railway that will connect Latin America's largest economy with Peru's ports in what Premier Li calls "a new road to Asia." The move is a dramatic example of China's growing foothold in what is ostensibly Washington's strongest sphere of influence.

Our "Junkie Economy" Will Soon Hit Rock Bottom

A robust economy would allow central banks to raise rates and still allow debts to be paid down. But that is not what is happening. And it won’t happen. Junkies rarely go out and get a job... and gradually “taper off” their habit. No. They have to crash... hit bottom... and sink into such misery that they have no choice but to go cold turkey. Now, major central banks are committed to QE and ZIRP forever. They have created an economy that is addicted to EZ money. It will have to be smashed to smithereens before the feds change their policies.

The Market's One-Sided Game Of Chicken

That the Fed and other central banks have unleashed the speculative furies is an unassailable and baleful reality. What is going on here plain and simple is a one-sided game of chicken. The robo-traders and hedge fund buccaneers on Wall Street press the market higher on virtually no volume or conviction whenever macro-economic weakness presents itself, virtually daring the Fed to maintain is ultra-accommodative stance still longer. The casino gamblers will keep chop, chop choppin’ higher until they finally lose confidence that the Eccles building is heaven’s door to further riches. Then the machines will sell, sell, sell. There will be no credible Fed speakers to stop them.

Frontrunning: May 20

  • Clinton aides sometimes blocked release of documents requested under public-records law (WSJ)
  • House Benghazi panel subpoenas former Clinton White House aide (Reuters)
  • Cash Crunch, for Many, Is a Monthly Woe (WSJ)
  • Doubts over Greece add to euro's ECB-driven frailty (Reuters)
  • For Many American States, It's Like the Recession Never Ended (BBG)
  • Japan debt plan needs BOJ to keep rates low for years (Reuters)
  • Euro Continues to Fall; European Bonds, Stocks Broadly Steady (WSJ)
  • Los Angeles gives preliminary approval to $15 minimum wage (Reuters)

Futures Flat With Greece In Spotlight; UBS Reveals Rigging Settlement; Inventory Surge Grows Japan GDP

The only remarkable macroeconomic news overnight was out of Japan where we got the Q1 GDP print of 2.4% coming in well above consensus of 1.6%, and higher than the 1.1% in Q4. Did it not snow in Japan this winter? Does Japan already used double, and maybe triple, "seasonally-adjusted" data? We don't know, but we do know that both Japan and Europe have grown far faster than the US in the first quarter.

Recession Check: Updating The Indicators

The largest problem with the data sets below is that they are all subject to large historical revisions. This is why the NBER is ALWAYS well after the fact in pronouncing the start and end of recessions in the U.S. economy. Given the ongoing interventions from the Federal Reserve and the current administration, it is likely that many of the statistics, and seasonal adjustment metrics, have been skewed in recent years. In the quarters ahead it is likely that we could see rather sharp adjustments to historical data which may suggest the economy has been far weaker than headline statistics have suggested.