When it comes to signs of a US "recovery" nothing has been hyped up more than US auto companies reporting improving, in fact soaring, monthly car sales. On the surface this would be great news: with an aging car fleet, US consumers are surely eager to get in the latest and greatest product offering by your favorite bailed out car maker (at least until the recall comes). The only missing link has been consumer disposable income. So with car sales through the roof, the US consumer must be alive and well, right? Wrong, because there is one problem: it is car "sales" not sales. As the chart below from Bank of America proves, virtually all the growth in the US automotive sector in recent years has been the result of a near record surge in car leasing (where as we know subprime rules, so one's credit rating is no longer an issue) not outright buying.
- So that's what Obama meant by "costs" - Italy Recession, German Orders Signal Euro-Area Struggle (BBG)
- Russia worries, weak German data weigh on Europe (Reuters)
- Hedge Funds Betting Against Banco Espírito Santo in Line for Big Gains (WSJ)
- Bankers Called Up for Ukraine War as Rolls-Royce for Sale (BBG)
- Double Punch for 'Inversion' Deals (WSJ)
- Statist Strongmen Putin-Xi See History’s Capitalism Clash (BBG)
- China bans beards, veils from Xinjiang city's buses (Reuters)
- BATS to Settle High-Speed Trading Case (WSJ)
- Second Ebola patient wheeled into Atlanta hospital for treatment (Reuters)
With everyone focused on China as the source of next systemic risk, most forgot or simply chose to ignore Europe, which through Draghi's verbal magic was said to be "fixed." Or at least everyone hoped that the rigged European bond market would preserve the "recovery" illusion a little longer giving the world some more time to reform pretend it is doing something to fix it. Turns out that was a mistake, confirmed earlier not only by the plunge in German Factory Orders which cratered -4.3%, down from 7.7% and below the 1.1% revised, and UK Industrial production which missed expectations of a 0.6% boost, rising only 0.3%, but most importantly Italy's Q2 GDP shocker, which as we reported earlier, dropped for the second consecutive quarter sending the country officially into recession. As a result, European stock markets, Stoxx600, has joined the DJIA in the red for the year while Germany's 2 Year Bund just went negative on aggressive risk aversion, the first time since 2012.
Goodbye European recovery, we hardly knew you. It must have come as a huge shock to all hypnotized lemmings aka "sophisticated investors" who have been following the manipulated, artificial yields in the Italian 10Y relentlessly declining and thus suggesting at least some economic stability, when an hour ago instead of reporting a 0.1% increase for its Q2 GDP as widely expected, Italy "unexpectedly" reported a sequential contraction of -0.2% down from a -0.1% drop in Q1, and officially the start of yet another, its third since Lehman, recession. Then again, considering Italy's youth unemployment of over 40% just hit a record high, we use the term "unexpectedly" rather loosely.
As The WSJ reports, loan-application data show clear signs of growing student-debt burdens. A key metric that mortgage underwriters use to evaluate a borrowers' ability to repay a loan is their total debt-to-income ratio. It’s this metric that can make student loans a big negative in the loan approval process since new rules that took effect this year place greater legal liability on lenders to properly verify 'affordability' (or debt-to-income ratio). As the following chart shows, "between the approved universe and the denied universe, a few hundred dollars in student loan debt can push the debt-to-income above the approved threshold." Simply put, homeownership rates will face pressure until student borrowing slows or until mortgage investors and lenders come up with either more flexible underwriting tools or new loan products (and that never ends well).
We noted last week the coincidental surge in China's currency and stock market (bettering US equities for 2014) after they quietly unveiled QE-lite, but, as Bloomberg reports, Tom DeMark says "selling into strength is now recommended," with losses expected over the next six months. This follows his prediction from June that China's Shanghai Composite was due for a recovery, presaging a 16% rise. With last night's hint of China's credit impulse fading and CNY now recoupled with its fixing, perhaps he is right that the short-term catalysts for gains are exhausted. As DeMark concludes, "the trend is your friend until the trend is about to end."
- Second Ebola patient to arrive in U.S. on Tuesday (Reuters)
- Ebola Drug Made From Tobacco Plant Saves U.S. Aid Workers (BBG)
- Egypt plans to dig new Suez Canal costing $4 billion (Reuters)
- Apple Buybacks Pay Most Ever as CEOs Spend $211 Billion (BBG)
- DeMark Says Sell China Stocks Now After World’s Best Gain (BBG)
- Investors Stung by Losses After Exiting Struggling Property Fund in China (WSJ)
- B.A. in BTFD: MIT May Consider Granting Degrees in Less Than Four Years (BBG)
- Too late, money's already been spent: GPIF Needs Overhaul Before Asset Changes, Shiozaki Says (BBG)
- Oh look, another "truce": Israel withdraws troops, 72-hour Gaza truce begins (Reuters)
It is unclear how much of this morning's momentum-busting weakness in futures is the result of China's horrendous Service PMI, which as we reported last night dropped to the lowest print on record at the contraction borderline, but whatever low volume levitation was launched by the market after Europe's close yesterday may have fizzled out if only until Europe close (there is no POMO today). Still, futures may have been helped by yet another batch of worse than expected European data, namely the final Eurozone PMI prints, which in turn sent the EURUSD to day lows and the offsetting carry favorite USDJPY to highs, helping offset futures weakness. Because in the New Normal there is nothing like a little bad macro data to goose the BTFATH algos...
At this point these soft-survery-based PMIs are becoming a running joke. Japanese macro surprise data has done nothing (and we mean nothing) but disappoint recently and currently stands at 3-month lows. So it makes perfect sense that July Japan Services PMI would print its first expansion since March. On the other hand, after exploding to 18-month highs in June, China Services PMI collapsed to a 2005 record low. As BofA warned previously, it is important to understand how crude these surveys are - these data get way too much air time. They give a timely, rough read on the economy, but should get little weight once hard data are released.
President Barack Obama has a direct message for the leaders of America’s biggest companies: if you have a complaint, you can keep your complaint. "If you look at what’s happened over the last four or five years, the folks who don’t have a right to complain are the folks at the top," Obama said in an interview with The Economist published over the weekend. As The WSJ adds, Obama maintained that complaints from corporate CEOs in the current environment should be taken with “a grain of salt” as most policies he has implemented have "generally been friendly towards business." In other words, thank me for the recovery, but don't blame me for the inequality - an irony we have noted numerous times.
Here we are now, two years later, and the ECB has failed to create the sustainable recovery that it promised. Because of this, in June of 2014, Mario Draghi implemented Negative Interest rate Policies or NIRP and hinted at launching a QE program
The powerful engine to pull Europe out of its quagmire? It stalls as sanctions hit. “Disaster of 2008” is evoked, hastily denied.
Fearful of any impact to the Portuguese/European dream, EU commission leaders folded and bailed out Banco Espirito Santo. Bond and CDS traders are scrambling this morning to come to grips with the consequences of BES bail-out/bail-in. The $6.6 billion bailout's burden-sharing has wiped out shareholders and crushed subordinated debt holders (traded down to 16c on the dollar this morning) where "the likelihood of recovery for junior bondholders is minimal,” according to one trader; but leaves senior bond holders (+10pts to 100) and depositors unaffected. However, it is those 'smart' investors who bought insurance in the CDS market that are struggling this morning as the plan to transfer BES assets to a new company, Novo Banco, may constitute a so-called 'succession event' whereby all the contracts associated with CDS move to the new company (and this do not trigger the CDS to pay). CDS spreads ripped 350bps tighter.
Dispassionate, non-conspiratorial rant , fact-based high level discussion of the sigificant drivers of the week ahead.