The S&P 500 has made little headway for two years running and as Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg points out, it first crossed 1380 on July 1, 1999 and since then has run around like a headless chicken (while other asset classes have not). Meanwhile, Europe's bottomless pit of debt deleveraging (which is as much a problem for the US and China but less ion focus for now) makes the entire discourse of some new and aggressive intervention by the ECB even more ridiculous (and all so deja vu); and the US is facing up to an entirely topless earnings season as revenues are coming in at only 1.2% above last year as it appears Q2 EPS is on track for a 0.2% YoY dip - with guidance falling fast. But apart from all that, Rosie sees the only source of real buying support for the stock market is the stranded short-seller forced to cover in the face of CB-jawboning as there is little sign of long-term believers stepping into the void.
While markets await details on the next round of quantitative easing (QE) -- whether refreshed bond buying from the Fed or sovereign debt buying from the European Central Bank (ECB) -- it's important to ask, What can we expect from further heroic attempts to reflate the OECD economies? The 2009 and 2010 QE programs from the Fed, and the 2011 operations from the ECB, were intended as shock treatment to hopefully set economies on a more typical, post-recession, recovery pathway. Here in 2012, QE was supposed to be well behind us. Instead, parts of Southern Europe are in outright depression, the United Kingdom is in double-dip recession, and the US is sweltering through its weakest “recovery” since the Great Depression. QE is a poor transmission mechanism for creating jobs. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Citi Sounds A Warning: "The Misread Of The Fed May Also Worry Investors That They Have Misread Draghi"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/01/2012 15:33 -0400
The FX market remains the most anxious post-FOMC with USD strength across the board but we note that JPY crosses (e.g. EURJPY) are largely in line with equity's movements for now. Citi's FX Strategist, Steven Englander, is a little more concerned in his post-FOMC view that while "it is possible that there will be a revisionist view of the statement that puts a more positive interpretation on it", he adds that "investors may also be pulling back a bit from ECB expectations on the view that coordinated easing is out of the picture (keeping in mind that such coordinated easing is far from common). The misread of the fed may also worry investors that they have misread Draghi" which we explicitly said NOT to expect without Germany's buy-in - which remains absent for now.
In a brief 42 seconds, Bloomberg TV perfectly describes the sad reality that we are facing in the US. Conjuring images of gold medal winners and years of effort, this brief clip notes that not only is the current recovery the worst since WWII, it is worse than the poster-boy for dismal 'lost-decade' economy's - Japan. Somewhat ironic in its dysphoria given Larry Meyers' counterfactuals and the massive stimulus so far - but we do still have hope (and change). It seems we should forget 'Citius, Altius, Fortius' since reality is 'weaker, slower, longer'.
We previously observed that the US Treasury, under advisement of TBAC Chairman Matt Zames, who currently runs JPM's CIO group in the aftermath of the London #FailWhale and who will become the next JPM CEO after Jamie Dimon decides he has had enough of competing with the Fed over just who it is that run the US capital markets, would soon commence issuing Floating Rate bonds (here and here) as well as the implication that the launch of said product is a green light to get out of Dodge especially if the 1951 Accord is any indication (which as we explained in detail previously was the critical D-Day in which the Fed formerly independent of Treasury control, effectively became a subservient branch of the government, in the process "becoming Independent" according to then president Harry Truman). Sure enough, minutes ago the TBAC just told Tim Geithner they have given their blessing to the launch of Floating Rate Notes. To Wit: "TBAC was unanimous in its support for the introduction of an FRN program as soon as operationally possible. Members felt confident that there would be strong, broad-based demand for the product." Well of course there will be demand - the question is why should Treasury index future cash coupons to inflation when investors are perfectly happy to preserve their capital even if that means collecting 2.5% in exchange for 30 Year paper. What is the reason for this? Why the Fed of course: "Whereas the Fed had, as a matter of practice, reinvested those proceeds in subsequent Treasury auctions, Treasury must now issue that debt to the public to remain cash neutral. For fiscal years 2012-2016, this sums to $667 billion." Slowly but surely, the Fed's intervention in the capital markets is starting to have a structural impact on the US bond market.
Following David Einhorn's take-down of the great and glorious Oz Larry Meyer eighteen months ago, the latter has been in training - readying his counterfactual counter-punches and controlling his ire. The king of Keynesianism just had his bell rung once again by a market realist and pragmatist as Stephen Roach destroyed the "if-we-don't-have-models-we-are-making-it-all-up" maestro and his constant diatribe of counterfactual crap. "Where's the beef, Larry?" Roach asked on CNBC this morning, which was followed up with a rabbit punch from Kiernan, "and what about Christina Romer's stimulus-employment model?" The visibly shaken (seriously watch the clip) Meyer falls back once again to a defensive pose - and while practically admitting that the Fed is impotent - as he pulls out the ultimate "but without our models we would not be able to tell you how much worse it would be without the Fed interventions". Roach takes this weak cross to the chin and comes over the top with a devastating "mark your models to market in light of what the economy has done over the four and a half years, the traction from monetary policy has been the major disappointment of this so-called post-crisis recovery." TKO.
America is now exactly 5 months away from the day the US Fiscal cliff will crater the economy unless a Congress which has never been as partisan as it is currently agrees to collaborate and delay the day of reckoning. This is very unlikely to happen before the presidential elections for obvious reasons, and it is even more unlikely to happen after the elections when politicians demonstrate just why the term "graceful loser" has never existed when describing what happens in D.C. So what would happen to the US economy if and when January 1, 2013 rolls in and nothing has changed, and how does this differ from the consensus? The chart below from BofA answers that particular question, and brings up a new one: even if the Fed goes ahead with more NEW QE today or in September, if the "cliff" consensus really is as wrong as it very well may be, will the Fed have no choice but to follow up its easing at this FOMC meeting or the next with another one immediately following? And is this precisely the one consideration for Ben Bernanke, who realizes very well that if financial conditions, read the Russell 2000, are relaxed just in time for the crucial decision on Bush Tax Cut extension, then absolutely nothing will happen, forcing the Fed to continue being the sole source of "stimulus" in America. Of course, in that case expect nothing from the Fed not only in in August and September, but well into 2013.
A Fed decision to launch QE3 would increase the yellow metal’s appeal as an inflation hedge and bolster prices. US house prices increased for their 4th month in a row suggesting that the US housing market recovery may be underway which dampened further hopes of any immediate easing in the US Fed’s monetary policy. The markets are playing a waiting game and investors are cautious. Thursday’s ECB policy meeting will determine if President Mario Draghi will have the backing he needs to embark on significant policy changes to rescue the region’s financial woes. Yesterday, German Finance Minister Schauble said in an email response to a newspaper, “The rules of the European Stability Mechanism don’t foresee a banking license to allow refinancing at the European Central Bank”. Schauble’s comments fell like a penny in a wishing well that rippled to curb the market’s enthusiasm. Since Draghi’s initial comments to “do anything it takes” gold has increased by nearly $50/oz.
Some market participants seem to be eagerly anticipating or hoping for another stimulus in China, and each day that has passed without a big policy announcement seems to have depressed the Chinese market further. While the Chinese government has been very concerned about the economic slowdown and has taken policies to support growth, UBS' Tao Wang suggests investors not be holding their breath for another big stimulus. The previous stimulus in 2008-09 did lift growth much higher than otherwise would have been, but the excessive credit expansion also worsened the imbalance in the economy and left serious negative consequences which are still been dealt with today. The Chinese government has clearly recognized this and is keen to avoid making a similar mistake this time. This is not to say that the government has done little or will do little to support growth; but the ride, of course, may not be pretty.
The Hilsenrath-Haggle Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is likely to ease monetary policy at the July 31-August 1 meeting in response to the continued weakness of the economic data and the persistent downside risks from the crisis in Europe. While we expect nothing more exciting than an extension of the current “late 2014” interest rate guidance to "mid-2015", Goldman adds in their preview of the decision that although a new Fed asset purchase program is a possibility in the near term if the data continue to disappoint, their central expectation is for a return to QE in December or early 2013.
In an administration that has completely lost its mind, and in which the solution to every problem is the forgiveness of debt to those who lived beyond their means, FHFA's Ed DeMarco is a lone voice of sanity. In a letter to Tim Geithner, the FHFA has the temerity to tell the truth and say that "after extensive analysis of the revised [Principal Reduction Act]...FHFA has concluded that the anticipated benefits do not outweigh the costs and risks... FHFA concluded that HAMP PRA did not clearly improve foreclosure avoidance while reducing costs to taxpayers relative to the approaches in place today."Via Bloomberg:
- *FANNIE MAE, FREDDIE MAC WON'T WRITE DOWN LOANS, DEMARCO SAYS
- *FHFA'S DEMARCO SAYS PRINCIPAL REDUCTION WON'T BENEFIT TAXPAYERS
Needless to say, when presented with a minority opinion that socialism just may not be the answer, Geithner was not happy and penned his own response. Both are presented below.
As usual, the stock market was vexatiously out of step with reality last week, soaring on word that the ECB plans to do “whatever it takes” to preserve the euro and the political union that it binds. For U.S. investors, especially those who believe in hope and change (and, presumably, the Easter Bunny), there was also the invaluable news that the U.S. economy is once again verging on recession – a development which is widely believed to portend yet more Fed easing.
Fixed income markets have always focused closely on news about the US macro-economy; while traditionally, equity market participants have focused more on the “micro” data – in particular, news about current and prospective corporate earnings – to form their views about the relative attractiveness of different stocks or the market as a whole. Goldman finds that the financial crisis changed all that. The responsiveness of the US equity market to economic news increased dramatically, now showing about twice as much sensitivity to macro data as it did in the years before the financial crisis. While micro data remains important - especially in quantifying just how much QE-hope the market is 'abiding' by, macro news is likely to be the critical driver of equity markets until the global economic outlook is considerably brighter than it looks today (or macro decouples from Fed/ECB jawboning). On average the market’s responsiveness to all these economic indicators suggests that we are still very much living in a macro world. In the meantime, there are some exceptions to the fairly consistent reactions to economic news that we see between equity and bond markets.
While it would appear that all news is good news; good news (or no news) is better news; and old-news is the best news; here is your one stop summary of all the notable bullish and bearish events in the past seven days.