When it comes to the poorest quartile of US society, some 14 million people, any suggestion that US society is deleveraging and setting the stage for pent up releveraging and thus, economic growth, is dead wrong. In fact, as the Fed's triennial Survey of Consumer Finances, released last week showed, America's poorest have never been more in debt!
China may need to expand its goalseek template to include the other far more important measure of Chinese economic activity, such as Industrial production, retail sales, fixed investment, and even more importantly - such key output indicators as Cement, Steel and Electricity, because based on numbers released overnight, the Q2 Chinese recovery is now history (as the credit impulse of the most recent PBOC generosity has faded, something we have discussed in the past), and the economy has ground to the biggest crawl it has experienced since the Lehman crash. What's worse, and what we predicted would happen when we observed the collapse in Chinese commodity prices ten days ago, capex, i.e. fixed investment, grew at the slowest pace in the 21st century: the number of 16.5% was the lowest since 2001, and suggests that the commodity deflation problem is only going to get worse from here.
Credit Suisse warns of a self-fuelling feedback loop of rising risks and costs to the Scottish financial and sovereign sectors, and a steady migration of capital, activity, jobs and taxes if the Scots vote "Yes". However, if the vote is a close "no", they warn "the cat is out of the bag," and risk remains.
History did not end with the Cold War and, as Mark Twain put it, whilst history doesn’t repeat it often rhymes. As Alexander, Rome and Britain fell from their positions of absolute global dominance, so too has the US begun to slip. America’s global economic dominance has been declining since 1998, well before the Global Financial Crisis. A large part of this decline has actually had little to do with the actions of the US but rather with the unraveling of a century’s long economic anomaly. China has begun to return to the position in the global economy it occupied for millenia before the industrial revolution. Just as the dollar emerged to global reserve currency status as its economic might grew, so the chart below suggests the increasing push for de-dollarization across the 'rest of the isolated world' may be a smart bet...
Getting out of a Liquidity Trap with monetary policy playing the lead role necessarily involves a Dornbuschian sequence of rational overshooting: The Fed must drive up Wall Street prices, which move quickly, so as to get to Main Street prices that move up slowly, most importantly, wages. This sequencing implies that Wall Street prices must become very rich relative to Main Street prices in order to achieve so-called escape velocity from the Liquidity Trap. At the transition point, Wall Street prices will be rationally “overvalued” relative to their long-term “fair value.” The dominant risk for Wall Street is not bursting bubbles, but rather a long slow grind down in profit’s share of GDP/national income. And you can stick that into a Gordon Model, too! Bonds and stocks may at present be rationally valued, but borrowing from the lyrics of Procol Harum’s Keith Reid: Expected long-term returns are turning a more ghostly whiter shade of pale.
"It is a bad sign for the market when all the bears give up. If no-one is left to be converted, it usually means no-one is left to buy.” The extraordinarily low level of "bearish" outlooks combined with extreme levels of complacency within the financial markets has historically been a "poor cocktail" for future investment success.
File this under Devil's Advocate: what if the easy money in the stock market is no longer the "guaranteed" Bull melt-up but the Bearish bet on a sudden air pocket? Just as a thought experiment, put yourself in the shoes of the money managers who have the leverage to move the markets.
While we have grown used to eye-poppingly 'odd' data from China (and increasingly the US), last night's surge in Aussie employment is among the greatest statistical pieces of muppetry we have ever seen. As Bloomberg reports, Australian employers added a record number of jobs in August - great news, right? Confirming CBA's decision to hold rates (not cut) and instantly AUD exploded higher. However, since then AUD has collapsed back to fresh 6-month lows plunging over 300 pips in 4 days. The reason - "the market's skeptical," says one trader, as Aussie's miracle jobs recovery was thanks to a 121,000 surge in part-time employees (equivalent to 1.3 million added in one month in the US).
- Obama orders U.S. airstrikes in Syria against Islamic State (Reuters)
- Obama Relying on Mideast Allies to Counter Islamic State (BBG)
- Scotland Nationalists Claim U.K. Oil in 40-Year Campaign (BBG)
- Scottish Polls Embolden Catalans Pushing Rajoy for Vote (BBG)
- Royal Bank of Scotland: RBS will leave Scotland if voters back independence (Guardian)
- Most Hedge-Fund Managers Are Overpaid, Unigestion Says (BBG)
- China Inflation Softens to Four-Month Low (WSJ)
- Munger Hosts Groupies, Mocks Wall Street, Praises Buffett (BBG)
Back in the summer of 2008, when crude seemed poised to take out $150, Goldman decided to declare the start of a commodity supercycle and boosted its oil price forecast to $200. Shortly thereafter crude cratered, plunging to the low double digits, and causing many to scratch their heads whether Goldman was merely taking advantage of the pre-Lehman panic to sell into the euphoria. The same questions, but inverted, will likely follow today's just as seminal note, one which this time calls for the end of a supercycle, this time of iron, with "The end of the Iron Age."
Today's markets exist in an Oz-like, fantasy world. For 5 years now, stock and bond prices have risen like Dorothy's balloon, with hardly a puff of downdraft to spoil the fun. Everybody likes higher prices, so let's have them always go up! Forever! But what if...
Deutsche Bank's Torsten Slok summarizes the various factors driving interest rates up (and down) noting that even if The Fed turns hawkish, other factors remain crucial narratives for lower long-term rates... most notably #6: 'Recovery Hope' Exhaustion.
Today's v-shaped recovery in US equities was brought to you by the number 107 (USDJPY target) and the words "Scottish poll" which showed a majority of "no"s this afternoon. Early weakness in stocks (but not in Treasuries) reversed almost perfectly as Europe closed and JPY started to ramp towards the next logical stop run at 107.00. Nasdaq led the way (as AAPLites swept back in) and pushed into the green for the week (while the rest are still red). Treasury yields rose on the day, led by the long-end (30Y +3bps) stalling some of yesterday's flattening (5Y +9bps on the week). GBP rallied notably after the "no" poll which kept pressure on the USD (closing practically unch on the day). Gold, silver, and oil slipped lower as US woke up then stabilized. Credit spreads compressed on the day but not as exuberantly as stocks even as VIX dropped back under 13 again. For the 2nd day in a row, the S&P 500 closed below 2,000 - turmoil?
Every three years the Federal Reserve releases a survey of consumer finances that is a stockpile of data on everything from household net worth to incomes. A major mainstream media theme has been that the surging stock market, driven by the Federal Reserve's monetary interventions, has provided a boost to the overall economy. However, given that the bulk of the population either does not, or only marginally, participates in the financial markets, the "boost" has remained concentrated in the upper 10%. The Federal Reserve study breaks the data down in several ways, but the story remains the same...
While we fully understand that when selling institutionally-priced newsletters to institutions (not retail for one simple reason: lack of "other people's money" to spend) one will have a far more lucrative career as a bull than as a bear simply because insecure (that would be most of them) institutional "strategists" prefer to surround themselves in cognitive bias-reinforcing groupthink just to convince themselves they are right, as the rating-agency era confirmed, one thing we are very confused by is whether David Rosenberg, who famously flipped from bear to bull a little over a year ago (recall David Rosenberg: Here’s why I’m bullish on the US economy), preaching a "wage-inflation" driven bout of economic growth which has not only not materialized, but the 10 Year recently hit 2014 lows, is now back to being a bear.