Did you know that there are more than 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job? Right now, there are more than 11 million Americans that are considered to be "officially unemployed", and there are more than 91 million Americans that are not employed and that are considered to be "not in the labor force". When you add those two numbers together, the total is more than 102 million. Overall, the number of working age Americans that do not have a job has increased by about 27 million since the year 2000. But aren't things getting better? After all, the mainstream media is full of headlines about how "good" the jobs numbers for October were. Sadly, the truth is that the mainstream media is not being straight with the American people. As you will see below, we are in the midst of a long-term unemployment crisis in America, and things got even worse last month.
The latest myth of a European recovery came crashing down two weeks ago when Eurostat reported an inflation print of 0.7% (putting Europe's official inflation below that of Japan's 1.1%), followed promptly by a surprise rate cut by Mario Draghi which achieves nothing but sends a message that the ECB is, impotently, watching the collapse in European inflation and loan creation coupled by an ongoing rise in unemployment to record levels (not to mention the record prints in the amount of peripheral bad debt). Needless to say, all of this is largely aggravated by the EURUSD which until a week ago was trading at a two year high against the dollar, and while helpful for Germany, makes the so-needed external rebelancing of the peripheral Eurozone countries next to impossible. Which means that like it or not, and certainly as long as hawkish Germany says "nein", Draghi is stuck in a corner when it comes to truly decisive inflation-boosting actions. But what is Draghi to do? Well, according to BNP's Paul-Mortimer Lee, it should join the "no holds barred" monetary "policy" of the Fed and the BOJ, and promptly resume a €50 billion per month QE.
History is full of people and institutions that rose to positions of supremacy only to come crashing down. In most cases, hubris – a sense of invincibility fed by uncontested power – was their undoing. In other cases, however, both the rise and the fall stemmed more from the unwarranted expectations of those around them. The more responsibilities central banks have acquired, the greater the expectations for what they can achieve, especially with regard to the much-sought-after trifecta of greater financial stability, faster economic growth, and more buoyant job creation. And governments that once resented central banks’ power are now happy to have them compensate for their own economic-governance shortfalls – so much so that some legislatures seem to feel empowered to lapse repeatedly into irresponsible behavior. The trouble is that few outsiders seem to be listening, much less preparing to confront the eventual limits of central-bank effectiveness. As a result, they risk aggravating the potential challenges.
JPM's "flows and liquidity' expert Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, who last week spotted the "most extreme ever excess liquidity" bubble, has just noticed yet another indication that not even corporations believe in further equity upside. Simply said, this means that that for the first time since the Lehman crisis, non-financial corporations within the entire developed, G-4 (US, Europe, Japan and UK) world, have shifted from net buyers of stock to net sellers, as net "equity withdrawal" have just turned positive.
One of the mysteries surrounding the insolvent, and already once bailed out Spanish banking sector, has been the question why reported bad loans - sharply rising as they may be - are still as relatively low as they are currently, considering the nation's near highest in the Eurozone unemployment rate, and in comparison to such even more insolvent European nations as Greece, Cyprus and Slovenia. Courtesy of the just completed bank earnings season, and a WSJ report, we now know why: it turns out that for the past several years, instead of accurately designating non-performing loans, banks would constantly "refinance" bad loans making them appear viable even though banks have known full well there would be zero recoveries on those loans. In fact, as the story below describes, banks would even go so far as making additional loans whose proceeds would be just to pay interest on the existing NPLs - a morbid debt pyramid scheme, which when it collapses, no amount of EFSF, ESM or any other acronym-based bailout, will be able to make the country's irreparably damaged banks appear even remotely viable.
With better US labor market data, the key event in the upcoming week could well be the Yellen nomination hearing in the Senate Banking Committee. Yellen will likely deliver brief prepared remarks followed by questions from members of the committee. Yellen is expected to be relatively circumspect in discussing potential future Federal Reserve policy decisions in the hearings. Nonetheless, the testimony may help clarify her views on monetary policy and the current state of the economy. Yellen has not spoken publicly on either of these topics since the spring of this year. In addition to the nomination hearing, there will be a series of Fed speeches again, including one by Chairman Bernanke.
Bond markets may be closed today for Veterans' Day, but equities and far more importantly, FX, are certainly open and thanks to yet another overnight ramp in the ES leading EURJPY, we have seen one more levitation session to start off the week, and an implied stock market open which will be another record high. There was little overnight developed market data to digest, with just Italian Industrial Production coming in line with expectations at 0.2%, while the bulk of the attention fell on China which over the weekend reported stronger Industrial Production and retail sales, while CPI was just below expectations and additionally China new loans of CNY 506 billion (below est. of CNY 580bn) even as M2 in line, should give the Chinese government the all clear to reform absolutely nothing. That all this goldilocks and goalseeked data is taking place just as the Third Plenum picks up pace was not lost on anyone.
For almost two years (most recently this week), we have been vociferously explaining the dismal fact that "quantity" of jobs in this recovery is no match for dreadful "quality" of jobs as the "born-again jobs scam" contonues to roll on. Bloomberg's Matthew Klein has decided that nine pictures are better than a thousand words as he explains (in short sentences and simple charts) what the jobs report really means...
The MSM did their usual spin job on the consumer credit data released earlier this week. They reported a 5.4% increase in consumer debt outstanding to an all-time high of $3.051 trillion. In the Orwellian doublethink world we currently inhabit, the consumer taking on more debt is seen as a constructive sign. The storyline being sold by the corporate MSM propaganda machine, serving the establishment, is that consumers’ taking on debt is a sure sign of economic recovery. They must be confident about the future and rolling in dough from their new part-time jobs as Pizza Hut delivery men. Plus, they are now eligible for free healthcare, compliments of Obama, once they can log-on. Of course, buried at the bottom of the Federal Reserve press release and never mentioned on CNBC or the other dying legacy media outlets is the facts and details behind the all-time high in consumer credit. They count on the high probability the average math challenged American has no clue regarding the distinction between revolving and non-revolving credit or who controls the distribution of such credit. A shocking fact (to historically challenged government educated drones) revealed by the Federal Reserve data is that credit card debt did not exist prior to 1968. How could people live their lives without credit cards? 1968 marked a turning point for America...
"Debt matters... even if it is possible to pretend for many years that it doesn't," is the painful truth that, author of "Avoiding The Fall", Michael Pettis offers for the current state of most western economies. Specifically, Pettis points out that Japan never really wrote down all or even most of its investment misallocation of the 1980s and simply rolled it forward in the form of rising government debt. For a long time it was able to service this growing debt burden by keeping interest rates very low as a response to very slow growth and by effectively capitalizing interest payments, but, as Kyle Bass has previously warned, if Abenomics is 'successful', ironically, it will no longer be able to play this game. Unless Japan moves quickly to pay down debt, perhaps by privatizing government assets, Abenomics, in that case, will be derailed by its own success.
It wasn’t “disenchantment,” explained Euro Disney CEO Philippe Gas, but an “economic problem.”
Recent activity in asset markets suggests dangerous bubbles are building everywhere. It's time to bunker down and we look at ways to best protect your capital.
Most market watchers expect that Janet Yellen will grapple with two major tasks once she takes the helm at the Federal Reserve in 2014: deciding on the appropriate timing and intensity of the Fed's quantitative easing taper strategy, and unwinding the Fed's enormous $4 trillion balance sheet (without creating huge losses in the value of its portfolio). In reality both assignments are far more difficult than just about anyone understands or admits.
European monetary policy/monetary conditions are too tight and, Citi's FX Technical group explains, the EURO is too strong thereby exacerbating the effects of the internal devaluation in Europe (as we noted here). Looser monetary policy and a weaker currency are becoming increasingly necessary conditions for the Eurozone to recover/survive. The present period in the Eurozone, Citi adds, where the financial architecture is coming apart at the seams is not remotely unprecedented and in fact offers a very compelling historical perspective for significant devaluation of the EUR in the years ahead.
One of the most trumpeted stories justifying the US economic "recovery" is the resurgence in car sales, which have now returned to an annual sales clip almost on par with that from before the great depression. What is conveniently left out of all such stories is what is the funding for these purchases (funnelling through to the top and bottom line of such administration darling companies as GM) comes from. The answer: the same NINJA loans, with non-existent zero credit rating requirements that allowed anything with a pulse to buy a McMansion during the peak day of the last credit bubble. Bloomberg reports on an issue we have been reporting for over a year, namely the 'stringent' credit-check requirements for new car purchasers by recounting the story of Alan Helfman, a car dealer in Houston, who served a woman in his showroom last month with a credit score lower than 500 and a desire for a new Dodge Dart for her daily commute. She drove away with a new car.