This morning's catastrophic drop in the National Association of Hope Home Builders sentiment index has rapidly been spun as due to the weather... of course, makes perfect sense, right? What would happen if these drops were actually real fundamentals? If the status quo, the "common knowledge" was shown to be full of shit (once again). Well, riddle us this Batman... if weather was to blame, then why did the "West" region plunge the most? In fact, why did The West plunge the most on record? Too much sunny dry weather not good for sales? In fact, even the entirely indpendent provider of real estate research Trulia said that weather is not to blame...
Despite all the hoop-la of the UK economic recovery - and Mark Carney's credibility-sapping dynamic forward guidance "we'll know it when we see it" perspective - billions in QE has failed to spark enough 'inflation' to break the Bank of England's oh so critical 2% inflation target. For the first time since November 2009, UK CPI fell below the 2% 'threshold' in January (must be the weather) as Japan's deflation exporting (what goes up there must go down everywhere else) spreads from the US to the UK. Of course, the silver lining for equity markets is that this provides Carney just the right ammo to keep rates lower for longer at their record lows; but price pressures are building...
Last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen testified before Congress for the first time since replacing Ben Bernanke at the beginning of the month. Her testimony confirmed what many of us suspected, that interventionist Keynesian policies at the Federal Reserve are well-entrenched and far from over. Isn't it amazing that the same people who failed to see the real estate bubble developing, the same people who were so confident about economic recovery that they were talking about “green shoots” five years ago, the same people who have presided over the continued destruction of the dollar's purchasing power never suffer any repercussions for the failures they have caused?
The key event overnight was the monetary policy announcement by the BOJ in which its kept it QE unchanged while the Board decided by unanimous vote to double the scale of two funding facilities, namely the Stimulating Bank Lending Facility and Growth-Supporting Funding Facility and to extend the application period for these facilities by a year. Both facilities are designed to stimulate the provision of funding to Japanese banks, allowing them to borrow from the BoJ at a fixed rate of 0.1%pa, for a period 4 years now, instead of 1-3 years previous. Some are arguing that by expanding its funding programmes but not changing its asset purchase targets, the BoJ has signalled its intention to ease policy whilst preserving firepower for extra stimulus in coming months when a sales-tax hike is due to kick-in. The result was a surge in both the Nikkei and USDJPY. The problem, and confirmation that once again the market is now a bunch of cluless automatons unable to analyze even one sentence below the headline level, is that as Goldman explained overnight, the "surprise" announcement was already fully factored in.
The 17th of February, 2014, marked the annual observation of George Washington's birthday and the 5th anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. At a cost of $19.90 for each dollar of economic growth, almost $8 million for each job created and a loss of nearly $600,000 of fixed investment, it is hard to suggest that the government interventions have been successful. The WSJ sums it up succinctly, "The failure of the stimulus was a failure of the neo-Keynesian belief that economies can be jolted into action by a wave of government spending... The way to jolt an economy to life and to sustain long-term growth is to create more incentives for people to work, save and invest." Of course, 5 years on, the Keynesian argument remains "fool proof." The only reason that the economy is not growing faster is because the government is not doing enough. However, if the economy slips back into a recession, it will simply be because the government did not do enough. You simply can't argue against logic like that.
The strength of the real estate market should not be measured by price appreciation, or the number of new and existing home sales. It should be measured by the support of underlying fundamentals and whether they can help to withstand economic cycles without policy makers having to go hog wild just to avoid a total collapse.
So how healthy is the real estate market today?
Is the Treasury's rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac unfair to private shareholders? Yup. And they deserve it.
Spoos Rise To Within Inches Of All Time High As Overnight Bad News Is Respun As Great News By Levitation AlgosSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/17/2014 07:26 -0500
After tumbling as low as the 101.30 level overnight on atrocious GDP data, it was the same atrocious GDP data that slowly became the spin needed to push the USDJPY higher as the market became convinced that like everywhere else, bad news is great news and a relapse in the Japanese economy simply means more QE is coming from the BOJ despite the numerous articles here, and elsewhere, explaining why this very well may not be the case. Furthermore, as we noted last night, comments by the chairman of the GPIF panel Takatoshi Ito that the largest Japanese bond pension fund should cut its bond holdings to 40% were used as further "support" to weaken the Yen, and what was completely ignored was the rebuttal by the very head of the GPIF who told the FT that demands were unfair on an institution that has been functionally independent from government since 2006. The FSA “should be doing what they are supposed to be doing, without asking too much from us,” he said, adding that the calls for trillions of yen of bond sales from panel chairman Takatoshi Ito showed he "lacks understanding of the practical issues of this portfolio.” What he understands, however, is that in the failing Japanese mega ponzi scheme, every lie to prop up support in its fading stock market is now critical as all it would take for the second reign of Abe to end is another 10% drop in the Nikkei 225.
While the only fun-durr-mentals that matter appear to be global central bank liquidity injections (and thus the level of leverage entrusted to the JPY carry trade), the crowd is swayed by truthisms and "common knowledge" memes that recovery is here, that things are improving, that earnings are 'solid', that markets are still cheap, and that historical analogs are different this time. However, with monetary policy at a turning point, we also appear (fundamentally and technically) to be at "the inflection point from self-reinforcing speculation to fragile instability."
Overview of the events and data that will be of interest to investors.
Becoming more like Europe is not a good thing. But that is the path that we are currently on. For the most part, Europeans live in a socialist “Big Brother” system in which the government completely dominates your life from the cradle to the grave. Of course there are differences from country to country, but generally speaking the lives of most Europeans are very tightly regulated. You see, the truth is that high levels of individual liberty and freedom are considered to be “dangerous” by the European elite. They believe that if we are all allowed to just do whatever we want that it would result in utter chaos. They are convinced that life is better when those that are smarter (them) control the lives of everyone else.
"Money Launderer Until Proven Innocent" - Italy Imposes 20% Tax Withholding On All Inbound Money TransfersSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/16/2014 11:40 -0500
While the propaganda surrounding Europe's "recovery" has reached deafening levels, what is going on behind the scenes is quite the opposite, and in the latest example that Europe is increasingly formalizing a regime of implicit capital controls, we learn that Italy has just ordered banks to withhold a 20% tax on all inbound wire transfers: a decree which on to of everything will apply retroactively to February 1. As Il Sole reports, "the deductions will be automatic (unless prior request for exclusion), and then it will be up to the taxpayer to prove that the money is not in the nature of compensation "income." In other words, as of this moment, but really starting two weeks ago, all Italians are money launderers unless proven innocent.
The curse of the over-bearish (or over-bullish) magazine cover is well known. Of course, the media will only cherry-pick the "lows" as an indication that it's time to buy; as opposed to the exuberance-exhibiting article writers and their glaring headlines. To wit, this week's Barron's cover proclaims "GOOD NEWS - The US economy could grow this year at 4%... Forget the snow, consumers and businesses are ready to spend." Hhmm, it seems that Barron's forgot to look at the data...
It's not that the US has a scarcity of bizarre everyday stories - it does not. It is just that sometimes you encounter something so surreal, warped and ridiculous, that even the stock "market" makes sense by comparison. Such as this.
The US dollar lost ground against all the major currencies last week. It looks poised for additional near-term weakness.