recovery

Bonds & Stocks Pop As Silver Drops

Despite the best day in the S&P (+0.6%) since the Taper (12/18), this remains the worst start to a year since 2005. The Dow stands out as the best of the bad bunch ( down only 0.25% from 2013 close highs) while Trannies remain the worst. Homebuilders tumbled back to recouple with Financials post-Taper. Treasuries decided to ignore the equity strength and rallied once again (with 10Y now -10bps on the year) even as the USD was well bid back to unch on the week (once again all the vol in the US open to EU close period) with notable CAD weakness to its lowest since May 2010. USDJPY was on-and-off in charge with stocks staying in sync until the EU close, reconnecting briefly in the afternoon, then taking off again. VIX dropped back under 13% (but stocks were relatively outperforming). Precious metals remained in the headlines, this time with weakness, but from the early spike down, they recovered half the losses.

One In Three Americans Lived In Poverty For At Least Two Months In Recent Years

Yesterday's chart of the day was the stunning prevalence of poverty in Greece, which soaring to 44%, up from 14% a year ago, was too mindboggling to even comment on. Today, courtesy of the Census Bureau, we get a glance at a just as disturbing aspect of poverty not in some country in depressed Europe, but in the US itself. The bad news: in the period from 2009 to 2011, 31.6% of Americans were in poverty for at least two months, "a 4.5 percentage point increase over the prerecession period of 2005 to 2007.

Tuesday Trivia: How Many Americans Applied For 36 Ice Cream Maker Jobs?

Of all the case studies in our "it is easier to get into Harvard than to get a job at X" series (flight attendants, Goldman summer interns, McDonalds, etc), this one may be our favorite because it captures at its core, just how "strong" the US economic "recovery" truly is for all those who don't have a spare million or two in financial assets to throw at the levitating, centrally-planned markets. As the WaPo reports, when a Maryland ice cream plant, shut down in 2011 and subsequnetly was brought back to life when a Co-op of dairy farmers purchased it in the summer of 2013 to process milk and icream, sent out "jobs wanted" notices to fill some three dozen open job positions, it got a surprise: 1,600 applicants (and counting) "a deluge" - 44 applicants for every position - or nearly three times more difficult than getting into Harvard to get a simple job... To make ice cream!

 

Spending On Gambling And Low-End Hookers Slides; Weak Booze Sales Blamed On Weather

In yet another indication that the US consumer is tapped out and rolling over, a report from the "Vice Index" reporting firm SouthBay Research which tracks spending on gambling, liquor sales and prostitution, says that "spending on vices wasn’t very strong in December, a sign that overall consumer spending was weak, according to the latest reading of the Vice Index from SouthBay Research’s Andrew Zatlin" as the WSJ reports. "The Vice Index for December points to stable but subdued consumer spending," according to SouthBay's head Andrew Zatlin further predicting that retail sales slipped 0.1% in December from November.  And while the split between "the 1%" and "everyone else" was evident in the faster decline in beer sales compared to wine sales, as well as gambling where the low-end contracted while the high end expanded, nothing says a recovery for the 1% like the following sentence: "High-end escorts successfully raised prices,” Zatlin wrote in the report. “Lower-end escorts did not.

Frontrunning: January 7

  • Yellen’s Record-Low Senate Support Reflects Fed’s Politicization (BBG)
  • Euro-Zone Inflation Rate Falls in December, even further below ECB's target (WSJ)
  • Zambia politician charged for calling president a potato (AFP)
  • Blame gold: India Savings Deposit Scam Collapse Leaves Thousands Penniless (BBG)
  • Hedge Funds Raise Gold Wagers as Yamada Sees $1,000 (BBG)
  • George Osborne limits cuts options with pensions promise (FT)
  • Vietnam Raises Foreign Bank Ownership Caps to Aid System (BBG)
  • But they said buy a year ago... Goldman to JPMorgan Say Sell Emerging Markets After Slide (BBG)
  • SAC Trial Seen by Probe Convict as Latest Abusive Tactic (BBG)

Deep Freeze Day Market Summary

Heading into the North American open, stocks in Europe are seen broadly higher, with peripheral EU stock indices outperforming after Ireland successfully returned to capital markets with its 10y syndication that attracted over EUR 10bln. Financials benefited the most from the consequent credit and bond yield spreads tightening, with smaller Italian and Spanish banks gaining around 4%. Following the successful placement, IR/GE 10y bond yield spread was seen at its tightest level since April 2010, while PO/GE 10y spread also tightened in reaction to premarket reports by Diario Economico citing sources that Portuguese govt and debt agency IGCP consider that the current level of yields already allows Portugal to go ahead with a bond sale. Looking elsewhere, the release of better than expected macroeconomic data from Germany, together with an in line Eurozone CPI, supported EUR which gradually moved into positive territory. In addition to that, smaller MRO allotment by the ECB resulted in bear steepening of the Euribor curve and also buoyed EONIA 1y1y rates. The Spanish and Italian markets are the best-performing larger bourses, Swedish the worst. The euro is stronger against the dollar. Japanese 10yr bond yields fall; Spanish yields decline. Commodities gain, with wheat, silver underperforming and Brent crude outperforming. U.S. trade balance data released later.

Jim Kunstler's 2014 Forecast - Burning Down The House

"Paper and digital markets levitate, central banks pull out all the stops of their magical reality-tweaking machine to manipulate everything, accounting fraud pervades public and private enterprise, everything is mis-priced, all official statistics are lies of one kind or another, the regulating authorities sit on their hands, lost in raptures of online pornography (or dreams of future employment at Goldman Sachs), the news media sprinkles wishful-thinking propaganda about a mythical “recovery” and the “shale gas miracle” on a credulous public desperate to believe, the routine swindles of medicine get more cruel and blatant each month, a tiny cohort of financial vampire squids suck in all the nominal wealth of society, and everybody else is left whirling down the drain of posterity in a vortex of diminishing returns and scuttled expectations."

Why Faith In Gold? (One Simple Statistic)

2013 was the year that the mainstream financial media went aggressively anti-gold. So, why do we continue to keep the faith with gold (and silver)? We can encapsulate the argument in one statistic.

Why A French Triple-Dip Recession Is A Bull's Dream Come True

The possibility of a French recession is not exactly new: even the venerable Economist penned an an extensive article - with a humorous cover - over a year ago describing just such a possibility (the French were unamused). Yet to this date, not only has France managed to avoid the dreaded "Triple Dip" but its bonds continue to be well-bid, with the yield on the 10 Year well inside the US, at only 2.53%, nearly 1% below the wides seen in 2011. However, and especially now that Hollande's 75% millionaire tax has finally been enacted, the fuse on the baguette time bomb is getting shorter. So a French recession would be a bad thing, right? Well, yes - for the French population, and certainly whatever is left of its middle class. However, it is the wealthiest 1% and the stock market which, in keeping up with the old bad news is good news maxim, that may be the biggest beneficiary of a French triple dip. The reason, at least according to GaveKal and increasingly others, is that a French re-re-recession would be precisely the catalyst that forces the ECB out of its inaction slumber and pushes it to engage in what every other "self-respecting" bank has been doing for the past five years - unsterilized quantitative easing: an event which the soaring European stocks have largely been expecting in recent weeks and months.

Japan's Abe Explains Why Government Knows Best

Faced with dramatically declining demographics, sliding macro fundamentals, cost pressures on firm margins, slumping support among the people, and a recently rising JPY, Shinzo Abe, Japan's Prime Minister has decided an Op-Ed is the way to go to unveil his 'government knows better' concerted effort to raise Japanese worker's pay. The collective denial is strong among the leadership - no better expressed than this gem: "Abenomics, I am proud to say, has been successful in a more fundamental sense: we have rebooted Japan’s collective psyche." However, Abe's approval rating has never been lower - falling dramatically in the last month or two.

Frontrunning: January 6

  •  'Life-threatening' cold bites Midwest, heads east (Reuters)
  • Gold Analysts Get Most Bullish in a Year After Rout (BBG)
  • Asian Stocks Fall Most in Three Weeks on China Services (BBG)
  • Angela Merkel in skiing accident, cancels visits (Reuters)
  • High-Speed Traders Form Trade Group to Press Case (WSJ)
  • Toyota and Honda post record China sales (FT)
  • China Shadow Banking Risks Exposed by Local Debt Audit (BBG)
  • J.P. Morgan to Pay Over $2 Billion to U.S. in Penalties in Madoff Case (WSJ)
  • Corruption trial of Trenton, N.J., mayor starts Monday (Reuters)
  • Car Makers at Consumer Electronics Show Tout Ways to Plug Autos Into the Web (WSJ)

"Polar Vortex" Day Market Summary

The "polar vortex" (no, really) which is about to unleash even record-er cold temperatures upon the US may be the greatest thing to happen to the economy: after all once Q1 GDP estimates miss once again, what better scapegoat to blame it on than cold winter weather during... the winter. However, for the overnight markets, the weather seems to have had an less than desired effect following both much weaker Services PMI data out of China, and after the entire USDJPY ramp achieved during Bernanke's late Friday speech evaporated in the span of two hours in Japanese Monday morning trading, sending the Nikkei reeling lower by 2.35%. One reason for this may be that like in the early summer when both the Yen and the Nikkei froze in a rangebound formation, South Korea has vocally started t0 complain about the weak Yen, which as readers may recall was one of the catalysts to put an end to the surge in the USDJPY and EURJPY. This time may not be different, furthermore as Goldman forecast overnight, it now expects a BOK rate cut of 25 bps as soon as this Thursday. Should that happen expect the JPY coiled-short spring to pounce.