Calling himself 'the king of debt' in his business dealings, Donald Trump warned correctly this morning that the national debt would be troublesome if the cost of borrowing increases, asking rhetorically, "we're paying a very low interest rate. What happens if that interest rate goes up 2, 3, 4 points? ...We don't have a country." The U.S. should "renegotiate longer-term debt," he added rather shockingly to the CNBC anchors, and with the recent surge in US Treasury default risk (now at 3-month highs), it appears the market is growing more nervous also.
Rising wages and employment costs (benefits, healthcare, etc.) are a direct input into the profitability equation. Therefore, as the economy slows and other cost-cutting measures, accounting gimmicks and share buybacks lose their ability to increase bottom line profitability, it is only a function of time before the focus returns to the cost of labor. With corporate profitability currently under pressure, overall economic activity weak and global conditions deteriorating, just how long can companies sustain employment and wage growth? The answer is not long.
This chart says it all: real income is declining and the bottom 95% are poorer. No wonder people are socking away what they can and tightening their spending: they have no other choice, even as the Federal Reserve strip-mines their savings.
First there were seventeen. At length, there was one. Donald Trump’s wildly improbable capture of the GOP nomination, therefore, is the most significant upheaval in American politics since Ronald Reagan. And the proximate cause is essentially the same. Like back then, an era of drastic bipartisan mis-governance has finally generated an electoral impulse to sweep out the stables.
It appears the credit market's dead-cat-bounce party is over. Following the almost unprecedented bounce off the February lows, the last few days have seen HYG (the largest high yield bond ETF) tumble back below its 200-day moving average as credit spreads (in IG and HY) start to widen significantly. The driver of this sudden weakness is now clear - a $2.3bn 4-day outflow which is the most sudden and largest redemption ever.
The paradoxical divergence between the government's data on initial jobless claims, which in just over half an hour is expected to print at or close to another multi-decade low, and the actual number of layoff announcements by employers as tracked by Challenger Gray, and which continues to soar is puzzling to say the least. In the first four months of 2016, employers have announced a total of 250,061 planned job cuts, up 24% from the 201,796 job cuts tracked during the same period a year ago. This represents the highest January-April total since 2009, when the opening four months of the year saw 695,100 job cuts in the aftermath of the biggest financial crisis in modern history.
Could a cash ban and carry tax be coming to the US?
While markets remain relatively subdued ahead of tomorrow's nonfarm payrolls report, after several days of losses in US stocks which pushed the S&P500 to three week lows, overnight markets ignored the latest weak data out of China where the Caixin Services PMI was the latest indicator to disappoint (dropping from 52.2 to 51.8), and instead focused on crude, which rebounded from yesterday's post inventory-build lows and briefly printed above $45/bbl over uncertainty related to the impact of Canada wildfires on production and how long will last. The bounce in WTI has meant Brent briefly traded at parity with West Texas for the first time in 6 weeks.
Is there anyone on the planet who's actually stupid enough to believe these New Normal charts are healthy and sustainable? We doubt it. Rather, the apologists, toadies, apparatchiks and flacks are being well-paid to cheerlead, and the "leadership" (using the term lightly) of the discredited institutions are terrified of what will happen when people finally catch on. The New Normal is not sustainable.
Just a month after the UK's luxury housing bubble burst, it appears the nice friendly bankers at Barclays are looking for some scapegoats to flip their condos to. That the housing recovery has been driven primarily by a steady flow of foreign investment, and not necessarily the underlying economic fundamentals improving is becoming clear to everyone and so in what appears a desperate act of deja vu, Barclays has brought back the 100 per cent mortgage - the first major bank to do so since the last financial crisis - to keep the ponzi dream alive just a little longer.
Despite a modest rise in April's headline Services PMI print to 52.8 (from 52.1) the details under the surface paint a different picture (remaining weaker than its post-crisis average of 55.6). The rate of employment growth was the weakest seen since December 2015 as backlogs of work declined for the ninth consecutive month, which is the longest continuous period of depletion since the survey began in late-2009. ISM Services data also beat expectations, rising to 55.7 despite a drop in business activity and backlogs. As Markit warns, "the fragility of growth is highlighted by inflows of new business rising at a rate only marginally above the post-recession low."
While there was no unexpected overnight central bank announcement unlike yesterday's surprise by the RBA which unleashed volatility havoc in the FX market, which promptly spilled over into all asset classes, overnight stocks around the world saw another leg lower without a tangible catalyst, while EM currencies fell to a one-month low after two Fed presidents raised concern investors had become too complacent in their belief that U.S. interest rate raises will stay on hold. Or perhaps all that is happening is that after ignoring Trump, the market is starting to finally price in the possible reality of the Donald in the White House (although as Jeff Gundlach pointed out, Trump would be a far better president for the economy and the market than Hillary or Bernie).
Despite today's jump in the USD index, the sharp dollar selloff trend remains even as U.S. rates have climbed and the commodity rally pauses. It’s logical to query if there is an end in sight for the rout. The short answer, according to Bloomberg's Mark Cudmore, is no. The dollar may be due a bounce, but that would likely mark a consolidation phase rather than a trend reversal.