Thank the Lord (Keynes) for economic hockey-sticks...
With the Fed supposedly steeling itself at last to remove a little of its emergency ‘accommodation’, it has suddenly become fashionable to warn of the awful parallels with 1937 as an excuse The Fed must not act today. We strongly refute the analogy. Instead, the real Ghost of ’37 takes the form of mean-spirited and, counter-productive 'pitchfork populism' politics and the spectre should not be conjured up to excuse the central bank from further delaying its overdue embarkation on the long road back to normality and policy minimalism.
"...the deterioration in both economic data and profitability data leave a good bit of cause for near-term concern..."
Americans Not In The Labor Force Soar To Record 93.2 Million As Participation Rate Drops To February 1978 LevelsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/03/2015 12:32 -0400
So much for yet another "above consensus" recovery, and what's worse it is, well, about to get even worse, because while the Fed keeps baning some illusory drum that slack in the economy is almost non-existent, the reality is that in March the number of people who dropped out of the labor force rose by yet another 277K, up 2.1 million in the past year, and has reached a record 93.175 million. Indicatively, this means that the labor force participation rate dropped once more, from 62.8% to 62.7%, a level seen back in February 1978, even as the BLS reported that the entire labor force actually declined for the second consecutive month, down almost 100K in March to 156,906.
Yesterday we warned that "the whisper expectation is for a NFP print that will be well below consensus, somewhere in the mid-100,000s if not worse now that the bartender hiring spree is over." As already noted, we were spot on with the abysmal jobs print, the worst since 2013. We were also correct about the end of the "bartender hiring spree" because as the following chart shows, the number of "Food Services and Drinking Places" workers, aka waiters and bartenders just saw its worst monthly increase since June of 2012.
We are at an important juncture as a global society: either we immediately prioritize a new trajectory focused on creating a positive, functional future or -- by continuing the consumptive, extractive, exploitative status quo -- we will default into a nasty nightmare. What will determine which future path we take is our collective narrative. It's the story we tell ourselves -- who we are, what we value.
This morning I had left the TV mistakenly tuned to CNBC with the sound on - and unavoidably caught another bullish strategist jawing about the US economy’s awesome strength. This one was peddling as exhibit #1 the recent surge in C&I loans, arguing that it is a sure sign that business is gearing up for a post-winter boom. In this case, like most of the blizzard of bullish factoids spewed out each day on bubble vision, the purported business lending boom is not all that.
This long-term weakening of the economy is the direct result of financialization and the Federal Reserve's policy of propping up impaired debt with more debt and constantly bringing demand forward with zero interest rates. The U.S. economy is slowing to stall speed--the point when gravity overcomes the lift provided by central bank free money. This deceleration is evident in a number of indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP), which is now at 0% according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's GDPNow model.
Now we can see the real tragedy of negative interest rates: they not only have the perverse effect of reversing the flow of time, but they demonstrate that borrowers are not acting with the good faith incentives normally associated with someone who needs money. Rather than paying forward, borrowers are paying backwards because they are effectively trying to return something they don’t want. Such an arrangement renders it impossible for an economy to grow. By destroying the temporal and moral structure of money, negative interest rates destroy the economy. When tomorrow cannot be paid, the current regime must fail. The only question to be determined is the form that failure will assume. This may sound like philosophy but it is cold, hard reality.
Crude oil prices continue to push higher. Following the earlier drop in US crude production this week and PEMEX oil rig fire, we now have more substantive headlines from Switzerland:
*IRAN TAKES PAUSE IN TALKS, NO DOCUMENT SEEN TODAY: TASS CITES UNIDENTIFIED EUROPEAN DIPLOMAT
Of course, one wonders who really wants a deal now... with over-supply already a problem, any sanctions-lifting would boomerang back to US Shale firms and further destabilize the illusion of recovery in America.
* Silver surges 6.5% in dollars and 19% and 12% in euros and pounds *Oil and most commodities declined on economic concerns in the quarter (see table) *U.S. stocks eked out minor gains to new record highs and look toppy *Gold performance impressive given strength of dollar and equities, oil collapse and negative sentiment
- Oil holds around $55 as Iran nuclear talks drag on (Reuters)
- Bob Diamond’s African Banking Venture Runs Into Problems (WSJ)
- Iran Nuclear Talks Resume With Lavrov Saying Deal at Hand (BBG)
- Wal-Mart Ratchets Up Pressure on Suppliers to Cut Prices (WSJ)
- Renegades of Junk: The Rise and Fall of the Drexel Empire (BBG)
- Explosion at Yemen factory kills at least 25: residents, medics (Reuters)
- Macerich Rejects Simon Property’s $16.8 Billion Takeover Bid (WSJ)
- Reckoning Arrives for Cash-Strapped Oil Firms Amid Bank Squeeze (BBG)
It has been another whiplash, rollercoaster, illiquid session which saw US equity futures tumble early overnight driven by a bout of USDJPY and Nikkei selling, only to regain all losses as European, and BIS, traders walked in, and promptly BTFD. In fact at last check, it was as if all the fireworks that took place just a few short hours ago and sent the ES as low as 2037, and below what has become the key support level, the 50-DMA never happened.
After Japan's Tankan disappointed greatly and various talking heads from Japan came out to deliver the credibility-destroying-phrase of the day: that "the economic recovery is progressing smoothly" despite all evidence to the contrary... USDJPY took a dive. And when USDJPY takes a dive, all its risk-on, carry-trade-imbibed friends take a dive. Dow futures cratered 230 points in minutes only to bounce back modestly when some enterprising sell-side analyst reminded the machines that "bad news is good news." But that didn't last and US equity futures are sliding rapidly in the overnight session...
And the answer is...