Recession

Frontrunning: December 2

  • DAX’s ‘Brilliant’ Run Sends Red Flag as German Index Tops Record (BBG)
  • U.S. military warned of possible Islamic State attacks at home: report (Reuters)
  • Russia Faces First Recession Since 2009 as Banks Add to Oil Pain (BBG)
  • Dodgy Home Appraisals Are Making a Comeback (WSJ)
  • U.S. Corporate Bond Sales Pass $1.5 Trillion for Annual Record (BBG)
  • Basic Costs Squeeze Families (WSJ)
  • China Orders Stricter Checks on Local Debt as Sales Surge (BBG)
  • Draghi Powerless on ECB Path Toward QE Without Reforms (BBG)

Stocks Rebound, Oil Resumes Slide, Ruble Tumbles As Yen Flirts With 119

A few days of near-record crude volatility (which the CME is scrambling to reduce following 2 crude margin hikes in the past week) is giving way to the New Normal default thinking: that central banks will soon take care of everything. And sure enough, just an hour earlier, US equity futures had jumped 8 points on virtually zero volume, wiping out all of yesterday's losses, driven higher by that new "old favorite", the USDJPY, which has once again resumed its climb higher, briefly rising above 119.00 once again and sending the Nikkei and the Topix to fresh 7 year highs, perfectly oblivious to both yesterday's Moody's downgrade and now open warnings from both Eisuke Sakakibara and Goldman Sachs that further declines in the Yen will accelerate the collapse of the Japanese economy. And, since there is also zero liquidity in the market, that entire gain was also just as promptly wiped out with futures now practically unchanged from yesterday's close.

The Oil Price Decline - In Pictures

The decline in oil prices is a clear message that "something is awry" globally and investors should take heed that risks of a market decline have risen markedly. While I am not saying that the economy is about to slide off into a recession, previous declines in oil prices of the current magnitude have been associated with poor outcomes for investors. Caution is advised.

"You've All Gone Mad" - The S&P Is More Than Double Its Historical Valuation Norms

"As was true at the 2000 and 2007 extremes, Wall Street is quite measurably out of its mind. There’s clear evidence that valuations have little short-term impact provided that risk-aversion is in retreat (which can be read out of market internals and credit spreads, which are now going the wrong way). There’s no evidence, however, that the historical relationship between valuations and longer-term returns has weakened at all. Yet somehow the awful completion of this cycle will be just as surprising as it was the last two times around – not to mention every other time in history that reliable valuation measures were similarly extreme. Honestly, you’ve all gone mad."

The Oil-Drenched Black Swan, Part 1

"Every sustained action has more than one consequence. Some consequences will appear positive for a time before revealing their destructive nature. Some will be foreseeable, some will not. Some will be controllable, some will not. Those that are unforeseen and uncontrollable will trigger waves of other unforeseen and uncontrollable consequences."

Oil-Producing Nations Currency Carnage Continues, Russia Intervening

The Nigerian Naira and Russian Ruble have been the hardest hit in the last few days as oil-producing nations across the world see their currencies come under increasing pressure. With both hitting new record lows against the USDollar (with the Naira at 184.5,  already exceeding the recently devalued currencies upper peg band at around 176 per USD), chatter this morning is that the Russian central bank is actively intervening in the Ruble market after it hit 53.9 in early US trading.

The Three Reasons Why Moody's Just Downgraded Japan From Aa3 To A1

1. Heightened uncertainty over the achievability of fiscal deficit reduction goals and containing debt
2. Economic growth policy uncertainties and challenges in ending deflation
3. Erosion of policy effectiveness and credibility could undermine debt affordability

OPEC Presents: QE4 And Deflation

You can’t force people to spend, not if you’re a government, not if you’re a central bank. And if you try regardless, chances are you wind up scaring people into even less spending. That’s the perfect picture of Japan right there. There’s no such thing as central bank omnipotence, and this is where that shows maybe more than anywhere else. And if you can’t force people to spend, you can’t create growth either, so that myth is thrown out with the same bathwater in one fell swoop. Some may say and think deflation is a good thing, but I say deflation kills economies and societies. Deflation is not about lower prices, it’s about lower spending. Which will down the line lead to lower prices, but then the damage has already been done, it’s just that nobody noticed, because everyone thinks inflation and deflation are about prices, and therefore looks exclusively at prices.

Are You Better Off This Thanksgiving Than You Were Last Thanksgiving?

Are you in better shape financially than you were last Thanksgiving?  If so, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate because most Americans are not.  As you chow down on turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce this Thursday, please remember that there are millions of Americans that simply cannot afford to eat such a meal.  According to a shocking new report that was just released by the National Center on Family Homelessness, the number of homeless children in the U.S. has reached a new all-time high of 2.5 million.  And right now one out of every seven Americans rely on food banks to put food on the table.  Yes, life is very good at the moment for Americans at the top end of the income spectrum.  The stock market has been soaring and sales of homes worth at last a million dollars are up 16 percent so far this year.  But most Americans live in a very different world.

Stimulate This! Thoughts On Intergenerational Fairness

Since this is the season for giving thanks in the US, we might give some consideration to the unsung heroes who have been underwriting a big chunk of our economic recovery of late. Actually, we literally owe our future to them - in more ways than one. Since there are no free lunches in economics (that we all must agree on), somebody has to pay for this. And it should be obvious by now who that will be: our children and grandchildren (and at this rate, probably their children and grandchildren too).

"We Blew It," Chuck Schumer Says Democrat Focus On Obamacare Was Wrong

With friends like this, who needs Republicans. President Obama may be turning over in his golf cart this Thanksgiving weekend as no lessor Democrat than Chuck "get back to work, Mr. Chairman" Schumer said Tuesday night that Democrats acted wrongly in using their new mandate after the 2008 election to focus on the issue rather than the economy at the height of a terrible recession. As National Journal reports, Schumer exclaimed, we "blew the opportunity the American people gave [us]." Little late to distance yourself from this cluster-tax chucky boy...