recovery

US Current Account Gap Worst Since Q1 2012; Biggest Miss Since Lehman

The US Current Account deficit was larger than any of the 40 'qualified' economists expected and missed expectations by the most since Q4 2008 (Lehman). Of course, this will be shrugged off as 'weather-related' but if weather can do as much damage as Lehman (sending the deficit back to the biggest levels since Q1 2012) then one has to wonder just how 'stable' this recovery is.

Futures Unchanged Ahead Of The Fed Announcement

it is suddenly not fun being a Fed president (or Chairmanwoman) these days: with yesterday's 2.1% CPI print, the YoY rate has now increased for four consecutive months and is above the Fed's target. Concurrently, the unemployment rate has also dipped well below the Fed’s previous 6.5% threshold guidance, in other words the Fed has now met both its mandates as set down previously. There have also been fairly unambiguous comments from the Fed’s Bullard suggesting that this is the closest the Fed has been to fulfilling its mandates in many years. Finally, adding to the "concerns" that the Fed may surprise everyone were BOE Carney’s comments last week that a hike “could happen sooner than the market currently expect." In short: continued QE here, without a taper acceleration, merely affirms that all the Fed is after is reflating the stock market, and such trivial considerations as employment and inflation are merely secondary to the Fed. Which, of course, we know - all is secondary to the wealth effect, i.e., making the rich, richer. But it is one thing for tinfoil hat sites to expose the truth, it is something else entirely when it is revealed to the entire world.

London's Whopping 18.7% Home Price Surge Means UK's Housing Bubble Slams China's

A month ago, using the latest UK housing data from Rightmove, we asked a simple question: whose housing bubble is bigger: China's, or the place where increasingly more of China's $25 trillion in bank assets are being parked: the UK (specifically London). Using then available data, the answer was still a toss-up, even if the divergence in directions was quite clear. Earlier today, we finally got the official data from the UK's Office for National Statistics, and we politely retract our question, as rhetorical as it may have been. The reason: there is no contest - the UK's housing bubble has officially slammed China's, and the result is nothing short of a knock out.

The Myth Of Wage Inflation Comes Crashing Down: Real Hourly Earnings Slide To Lehman Bankruptcy Levels

As reported moments ago by the BLS, real average hourly earnings just posted their third sequential decline in a row, dropping from $10.33 in February, to $10.32 in March, to $10.30 in April, to $10.28 in May.  Furthermore, this was the first year over year decline since October 2012. And to put today's $10.28 real average hourly earnings number in context, this is the same real wage seen last in July 2013, July 2012, March 2011 and then, if one goes further back... the month after Lehman failed!

What "Low-Flation"? Core CPI Jumps Most In 3 Years As Food Costs Push Higher

The Fed is losing its reasons for printing, leaving it desperate to revive the meme that the US economy is in self-sustaining recovery mode. At 2.0% Core CPI has caught up with the hot-flation of PPI removing the crutch of low-flation easement the Fed has been relying on. While Ex-Food-and-Energy is surging (well above expectations), the food index rose 0.5% in May after increasing 0.4% in each of the three previous months; and the index for food at home increased 0.7%, its largest increase since July 2011. This is all happening against a backdrop of real hourly wages dropping 0.1% YoY.

Fed Prepares For Bond-Fund Runs, Looking At Imposing "Exit Fee" Gates

With this unprecedented step, the Fed is sending a very clear message: it may be next year, or next month, or next week, but quite soon you, dear retail bond-fund investor, will be gated and will be unable to pull your money.... So wouldn't you rather just keep said money in the "safety" of stock funds, none of which will ever, ever be gated, pinky swear.... Unless the market crashes one final time of course, at which point the Fed will be on the first flight out to non-extradition countries.

Fourth Turning Accelerating

"In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” - The Fourth Turning - Strauss & Howe – 1997

John Hussman's Formula For Market Extremes

Market extremes generally share a common formula. One part reality is blended with one part misguided perception (typically extrapolating recent trends as if they are driven by some reliable and permanent mechanism), and often one part pure delusion (typically in the form of a colorful hallucination with elves, gnomes and dancing mushrooms all singing in harmony that reliable valuation measures no longer matter). This time is not different.

"Liquidity Is Becoming A Serious Issue" As Japan's Bond Market Death Goes Global

While we noted last week the death of the Japanese bond market as government intervention has killed the largest bond market in the world; it is now becoming increasingly clear that the dearth of trading volumes is not only spreading to equity markets but also to all major global markets as investors rotate to derivatives in order to find any liquidity. Central planners removal of increasing amounts of assets from the capital markets (bonds and now we find out stocks), thus reducing collateral availability, leaves traders lamenting "liquidity is becoming a serious issue." While there are 'trade-less' sessions now in Japanese bonds, the lack of liquidity is becoming a growing problem in US Treasuries (where the Fed owns 1/3rd of the market) and Europe where as JPMorgan warns, "some of this liquidity may be more superficial than really deep." The instability this lack of liquidity creates is extremely worrisome and likely another reason the Fed wants to Taper asap as DoubleLine warns, this is "the sort of thing that rears its ugly head when it is least welcome -- when it’s the greatest problem."

Homebuilder Confidence Beats; Remains Negative For 5th Month

After 5 months of missed expectations and tumbling to one-year lows, the NAHB sentiment index jumped 4 points to 49 (still below the 'positive' 50 level). The Northeast - most troubled supposedly by the weather - saw prosepctive buyer traffic drop, but the otheer 3 regions rose with the West spiking. Just as we have seen in the last 2 cycles, NAHB survey data remains far adrift of the reality of sales, but that won't stop the algos extrapolating this jump to new highs and a recovery in housing that is back on...as HANB Chair confirms "is a welcome sign and shows renewed confidence in the industry."

Empire Fed Hits 4 Year High Despite Tumble In Employee Index

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Empire Fed jumped to 19.28, notably better than the 15.00 expectation and reached highs not seen since June 2010, and up from the 19.01 last month. It doesn't get much better than that - even in the V-shaped recovery off the recession lows: if only sentiment surveys were the same as hard data - the US recovery would never be stronger. Alas, despite all this exuberant cycle high-ness - if only in the eyes of beholders, and certainly not in Q1 US GDP of -2.0%, the number of employees index tumbles from 20.88 to 10.75 and worse still the forward-looking index dropped after 3 months of gains.  However, the worst news, comes for those who continue to, incorrectly, predict a CapEx renaissance: The capital expenditures index fell for a second consecutive month, dropping to 11.8, and the lowest since February.

 

Frontrunning: June 16

  • Iraq Army Tries to Roll Back Sunni Militants’ Advance (BBG)
  • Starbucks to Subsidize Workers' Online Degrees (WSJ)
  • ‘Bitcoin Jesus’ Calls Rich to Tax-Free Tropical Paradise (BBG)
  • Medtronic Is Biggest Firm Yet to Renounce U.S. Tax Status (BBG), Medtronic to buy Covidien for $42.9 billion, rebase in Ireland (Reuters)
  • Oil Topping $116 Seen Possible as Iraq Conflict Widens (BBG)
  • Putin Seeks Paris Landmark as Hollande’s Russia Ties Defy Obama (BBG)
  • GM Says It Has a Shield From Some Liability (WSJ)
  • BOJ’s Bond Paralysis Seen Spreading Across Markets (BBG)

In Explosive Scandal, Head Of Polish Central Bank Recorded Promising Assistance To Government If Minister Fired

Yesterday, Polish magazine Wprost released a recording of a meeting between Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz and central bank Governor Marek Belka which took place in a Warsaw restaurant in July 2013. In the recording, Belka told the minister he would be willing to help the government out of its economic troubles if the finance minister was fired. And there goes the myth of impartial, apolitical central banks...