- Whale of a Trade Revealed at Biggest U.S. Bank With Best Control (BBG)
- ECB backs away from use of ‘big bazooka’ to boost credit (FT)
- Turkish unions join fierce protests in which two have died (Reuters)
- Europe Floods Wreak Havoc (WSJ)
- Beheadings by Syrian Rebels Add to Atrocities, UN Says (BBG)
- RBA Sees Further Rate-Cut Scope as Aussie Remains High (BBG)
- China’s ‘great power’ call to the US could stir friction (FT)
- J.C. Penney Continuing Ron Johnson’s Vision on the Cheap (BBG)
This is no time to be complacent. Massive economic problems are erupting all over the globe, but most people seem to believe that everything is going to be just fine. In fact, a whole bunch of recent polls and surveys show that the American people are starting to feel much better about how the U.S. economy is performing. Unfortunately, the false prosperity that we are currently enjoying is not going to last much longer. Unfortunately, the majority appear to be purposely ignoring the economic horror that is breaking out all over the globe.
With JPY losing 100 and the Nikkei futures trading down to a 19.25% loss from the highs (12815 the dreaded bear-market 20% drop level), a combination of a desperate Japanese 2015 plan for the pension fund to buy moar stocks, bad-is-good economic data, and front-running of the now-ubiquitous Tuesday rally provided the ammo for a rally in equities - recovering almost 50% of their post Friday drop losses. Risk-assets in general correlated extremely closely on the day and while volume was well above average, this was driven by the surge to the downside (not the upswing). Treasuries ended the day unchanged (amid a 12bps range on the day) ending near the low yields (moar QE). VIX snapped above 17.5% (its highest in 6 weeks) before fading back in the ramp to unchanged at 16.25%. Credit tracked stocks closely but was less exuberant in the late-day ramp. USD weakness (JPY and EUR strength) supported commodities, with gold and silver outperforming on the day (up 1.65% and 2.2% respectively).
Since Mr. Krugman tells us all this spending and debt issuance/guarantees are not only good and necessary but in the long run, painless, why are we bothering with personal income taxes?
The US government will collect approximately $2.0bn this year in Personal Income and Payroll taxes. But why? Why are we even bothering with this when today’s leading economists and politicians are telling us that debts/deficits don’t matter and running up astronomical debts is a long-term painless process? It’s practically patriotic. So why shouldn’t we just add our tax burden to the list of items the Fed should be monetizing? Seriously. Why not relieve the burden on every tax paying citizen in the United States (about 53% of us according to Mitt Romney)? You want an economic recovery? Reduce my taxes to zero and see how fast I go out and start spending some of that extra income.
So much for the Chicago PMI 8 Sigma renaissance. Moments ago the Manufacturing ISM came out and confirmed that all those "other" diffusion indices were correct, except for the "data" out of Chicago (yes, shocking). Printing at a contractionary 49.0, this was a drop from 50.7, well below expectations of 51.0 (and far below the cartoonish Joe Lavorgna's revised 53.0 forecast). More importantly, this was the worst ISM headline print since June 2009, the first sub-50 print since November 2012, while the New Orders of 48.8, was the worst since July 2012. Both Production and Backlogs tumbled by -4.9 and -5.0 to 48.6, and 48.0 respectively. In brief, of the 11 series tracked by the ISM, only 3 posted a reading over 50 in May. This compares to just 2 out of 11 that were below 50 in April. Oh well, so much for this recovery. But the good news for the market is that today is really bad news is really good news day, and stocks have soared as according to the vacuum tubes, the result means no taper. The farce must go on.
By my count we are now in our fourth “Recovery Summer.” The recession was officially (and mistakenly) declared over in June 09. Yet, no data series in economics not influenced drastically by liquidity and a zero interest rate policy (e.g., stock prices and home prices) supports the claim. Recovery advocates point to the stock market as a barometer of how well the economy is doing. A key takeaway is that the stock market misled people during the 1930s and may be doing the same thing today. Those who want to argue against this position will declare the 1930s an unfair comparison because it was a Great Depression. Just what makes them think what we are in today is not the same thing, although not yet as far advanced. Given the trillions of dollars wasted to hide the true condition of the economy, that is not an unreasonable possibility. This liquidity hides the true nature of the economy (also falsely drives up financial asset prices) and creates even bigger distortions in the real economy.
Technically we’re all poorer than we were before 2008 happened. Most of us are making less money. And we’re spending more just trying to get by thanks to higher food, energy, and healthcare prices. Heck, housing is now even soaring again, pricing most beginning homebuyers out of the market.
In almost every asset class, volatility has made a phoenix-like return in the last few days/weeks and while equity markets tumbled Friday into month-end, the bigger context is still up, up, and away (and down and down for bonds). From disinflationary signals to emerging market outflows and from fixed income market developments to margin, leverage, and valuations, here is the 'you are here' map for the month ahead.
Nothing like a solid dose of schizophrenia to start the week, following Chinese PMI news which showed that once again the Chinese economy was both contracting and expanding at the same time. Sure, one can justify it by saying HSBC looks at smaller companies while the official data tracks larger SMEs but the reality is that just like in the US, so China has learned when all else fails, baffle with BS is the best strategy. As a result the media is attributing he drop in European stocks to the weaker than expected China PMI, while the green prints in US futures are due to... stronger than expected China PMI. There were no split-personalities in Japan, however, where Mrs. Watanable's revulsion with recent euphoria led the Nikkei to tumble over 500 points, to closed down another 3.72%, and is now on the verge from a 20% bear market from its May 23 multi-year highs. The fact that the USDJPY reached within 3 pips of the Abenomics "fail" zone of USDJPY 100 didn't help overnight sentiment.
Here is what is shaping the global capital markets.
In a world in which glaringly misreporting factual news no longer generates much more than a shrug, the latest lie reported so often by the mainstream media and various 'expert' pundits it has almost become "the truth", is that that the key missing link to a global recovery - free cash flow, and its derivative, capital expenditures - are now once more rising. After all, corporations can not grow revenue (as confirmed by the most recent reported quarterly earnings) without investing in themselves, and they can't spend for maintenance or growth unless they generate Free Cash Flow: this is simple finance 101. So in order to put this pervasive lie to rest, we present the following chart showing free cash flow and Capex in the developed "G-4" region as a % of world GDP, which have now round-tripped back to 2010 levels, and ask a simple question: what growth?
Back in 2010 we started an annual series looking at the (re)distribution in the wealth of nations and social classes. What we found then (and what the media keeps rediscovering year after year to its great surprise) is that as a result of global central bank policy, the rich got richer, and the poor kept on getting poorer, even though as we predicted the global political powers would, at least superficially, seek to enforce policies that aimed to reverse this wealth redistribution from the poor to the rich (a doomed policy as the world's legislative powers are largely in the lobby pocket of the world's wealthiest who needless to say are less then willing to enact laws that reduce their wealth and leverage). Now that the topic of wealth distribution (or rather concentration) is once again in vogue, below we present the latest such update looking at a global portrait of household wealth. The bottom line: 29 million, or 0.6% of those with any actual assets under their name, own $87.4 trillion, or 39.3% of all global assets.
Turd Ferguson, of the TF Metals Report, does superb work and commentary on the precious metals markets. His latest analysis on Friday’s Commitment of Traders Report caught my attention for a number of reasons, in addition to it being so well done.
In the wake of the financial collapse of 2007, central banks around the world run by Keynesian zealots religiously applied the formulas they had been taught would boost aggregate demand and rescue the economy from the brink of total catastrophe. Easy money, going under the euphemistic moniker of “quantitative easing” was supposed to stimulate borrowing, spending and growth through the mechanism of historically low interest rates. Predictably, this approach failed miserably, as these kind of policy decisions largely miss the point of how the economy really works. As long as central banks continue to meddle with the money supply, investments will not be made efficiently and the economy as a whole will suffer.
The spin-doctors are hard at work talking up America’s subpar economic recovery. All eyes are on households. Thanks to falling unemployment, rising home values, and record stock prices, an emerging consensus of forecasters, market participants, and policymakers has now concluded that the American consumer is finally back. Don’t believe it. In short, the American consumer’s nightmare is far from over. Spin and frothy markets aside, the healing has only just begun.