In an unscheduled release moments ago the Fed's Plosser just explained why he was the sole dissenter with the FOMC's announcement. Here is the punchline: "I cast a dissenting vote because I opposed retaining the statement language that reads "…it likely will be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends." I viewed such language as an inappropriate characterization of the future path of policy and so may limit the Committee's flexibility going forward."... "In addition, the economy today is very close to achieving the central tendency outcomes for 2015 reported in the December 2013 Summary of Economic Projections. Specifically, the central tendency projection for unemployment at the end of 2015 was 5.8 to 6.1 percent, and that for inflation was between 1.5 and 2.0 percent. From this perspective, we are nearly 18 months ahead of where the Committee thought we would be just seven months ago." He concludes: "the Committee's statement does not appear to reflect what was once thought to be appropriate policy based on the behavior of unemployment and inflation."
- As we predicted yesterday, the "big" Gaza ceasefire lasted all of a few hours (Reuters)
- To Lift Sales, G.M. Turns to Discounts (NYT)
- Espirito Santo Family’s Swift Fall From Grace Jolts Portugal (BBG)
- Argentine Debt Feud Finds Much Fault, Few Fixes (WSJ)
- Fiat Says Ciao to Italy as Merger With Chrysler Ends Era (BBG)
- Euro zone factory growth eases in July as inflation fades away (Reuters)
- CIA concedes it spied on U.S. Senate investigators, apologizes (Reuters)
- Ukraine Reports Losses After Pro-Russian Ambush Near Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Crash Area (WSJ)
- U.S. says India refusal on WTO deal a wrong signal (Reuters)
- Why Putin Has 2006 Flash Before His Eyes After Sanctions (BBG)
China PMI Jumps To 2 Year Highs (Jobs Contract For 27 Months), Japan PMI Slips (Jobs Worst In 11 Months)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/31/2014 21:51 -0400
China's official manufacturing PMI beat expectations by the most since Nov 2013 and jumped to its highest since April 2012 - sure it did after all the forget-the-reforms liquidity, QE-lite, and local government spending dragged forward. Perhaps worryingly the steel industry saw domestic and export new orders crater (from 55.7 to 48.2 in July). The employment sub-index fell once again (now in contraction since May 2012) as large enterprises dominated the upbeat report (medium and small clinging to 50.1 PMIs). Japan's PMI dropped for the first time in 3 months from 50.8 to 50.5 with output contracting and payrolls only marginally positive (slowest since August 2013). And then to end the night, Markit/HSBC's China Manufacturing PMI drops from its Flash 52.0 to 51.7 - perfectly in line with the government's data.
For reasons that have no rational explanations at this time, the US and Europe have embarked on a concerted program to demonize Putin, ostracize Russia, and bring the world as close to a major conflict as it's been since the Cold War, a time hardly memorable to many in the current crop of our elected officials. A dangerous dynamic is brewing between the West and Russia/Putin. We are seeing a rush to war very similar to the one that led up to Saddam's ouster, but this time, we have much less justification (hard to believe) and the opponent is tremendously more capable. There is little sense in the course the West is currently pursuing, little to gain, and much to lose. The main conclusion here is that not only is the US poking the bear, but it is doing so with increasing frequency and upping the ante dangerously with each step.
Americans are so broke...
The economic "recovery" has been based on a simple premise: debt can be substituted for income with no ill effects. As real household incomes have declined, the legitimate foundation of additional spending--more income--has eroded for the bottom 90%. The Fed's substitution of debt for income has only doomed the nation to a deeper, more painful realignment of real income and expenses.
Like so many other things in popular American culture, this quaint notion of a "middle class" in the U.S. is at this point nothing more than a myth; a rapidly fading fantasy from a bygone era. As we have noted for quite some time, the decimation of the middle class began long ago. It really got started in the early 1970?s after Nixon defaulted on the gold standard and financialization began to take over the American economy. Median real wages haven’t increased since that time and the rest is history.
We warned last month that under the covers Chicago PMI looked a lot weaker than the headlines and this morning's collapse confirms that. Against expectations of a small rise to 63.0, Chicago PMI plunged from 62.6 to 52.6 (13-month lows) for the biggest miss on record. According to the release itself, "A monthly fall of this magnitude has not been seen since October 2008 ." The was an 8 standard-deviation miss from analyst expectations (Joe Lavorgna was on the high side at 63.0). New orders, inventory, production, order backlogs, and prices paid all dropped (but employment rose?). This is the biggest 2-month drop since Lehman (and 2nd biggest since 1980). We await the seasonal adjustment "correction" as MNI get the call from Yellen.
Curious what Europe's true economic state is? The chart below, showing Europe's annual inflation or lack thereof, and which just dropped from 0.5% to 0.4%, missing estimates of an unchanged print despite the ECB's ongoing and losing war with disinflation, and soon deflation, shows all you need to know.
"...the numbers that they crank out to make everybody feel good are almost as phony as the numbers that the Argentine government cranks out... I would say that inflation is realistically in the 8-10% range here in the US—and it’s going much higher. The growth is all a fantasy. It’s all a result of the assumption that there is no inflation, when there really is because what we have is inflation masquerading as economic growth. But the bottom line is the economy is really contracting, that’s why the labor force is shrinking, that’s why we’re using less energy, that’s why the people’s standard of living is going down, and real incomes are falling and job opportunities are disappearing. It’s because we’re in a recession and no one wants to admit it."
"More of the same," should summarize today's FOMC statement. There will be no press conference or refresh of the 'dot plot' economic projections. The Fed is expected to continue to taper by $10 billion with confirmation that the "growth meme" is playing out just as they projected (especially after today's GDP print). Goldman believes the focus will be on the jobs 'dashboard' and recent inflation data enables the dovish Fed to argue recent moves were noise and stay easier for longer. The downside risk (for markets) may be that Fed hawks will likely have little luck in altering the way forward guidance is employed by the Fed (and chatter over a Fisher dissent is possible).
If Venezuela is the case study of a country in the late stages of transition into a socialist utopia, then France is the clear runner up. The most recent case in point, aside from the already sliding French economy, whose recent contraction can be best seen be deteriorating PMI data which hints at the dreaded "triple dip" recession, nowhere is the economic collapse in France more evident than in its housing market which as even Bloomberg admits, citing industry participants, is now "in total meltdown." Pierre-Andre de Chalendar, chief executive officer of Saint-Gobain, summarized the current dire situation best: "Current figures are worrying and will be disastrous if nothing is done; clients of the building sector are sounding the alarm bell.”
There are grounds for optimism about Europe’s single currency area. Yet beneath the surface of favorable sentiment towards the euro zone, the seeds of the next financial crisis are being sown. If markets connected all these dots - a weak and fragile economic recovery, the failure to break the “doom loop” between banks and sovereigns and, most importantly, scant prospect of a more secure political and economic union - the glaring disconnect between asset prices and underlying fundamentals in the euro zone would be a source of much greater concern.
The following are six of the most prevalent economic myths that appear time and again in the mainstream media...
This week's US data onslaught begins today, with the ADP private payroll report first on deck (Exp. 230K, down from 281K), followed by the number of the day, Q2 GDP, which after Q1's abysmal -2.9%, is expected to increase 3%. Anything less and in the first half the US economy will have contracted, something the purists could claim is equivalent to a recession. The whisper numbers are to the downside since consumption and trade never caught up and the only variable is inventory as well as Obamacare, whose impact was $40 billion "contribution" in Q1 was entirely eliminated and instead led to a deduction, something we expect will be reversed into Q2. Following the backward looking GDP (which will be ignored by the sellside penguins if it is bad and praised if good) at 2:00 pm Yellen Capital LLC comes out with a correction on her call to short social networking stocks, as well as admit once again that the "data-driven" Fed really has no idea what it is doing and how it will tighten, but that tightening is imminent and another $10 billion taper to QE will take place ahead of a full phase out in October. Joking aside, the Fed is expected not to do much if anything, which may be just the right time for Yellen to inject an aggressively hawkish note considering her inflation "noise" refuses to go away.