Gold is marginally higher against most currencies today and is trading at USD 1,614.40, EUR 1,130.50, GBP 990.08 and CHF 1,294.50 per ounce. Gold is flat against the dollar but remains just less than 1% from the record nominal high reached yesterday ($1,628.05/oz). The euro is under pressure again today and gold is 0.7% higher against the euro and is just less than 1.5% away from the record euro high of EUR 1,144.80/oz reached last Monday. Investors were made nervous by comments from chemicals major BASF, which said it saw global economic growth slowing as it posted weaker-than-expected earnings, sending its stock down 4.9%. Siemens AG, Europe's largest engineering conglomerate, warned that global economic risks were increasing and posted below forecast results. Its shares fell 1.3%. The Dow to Gold Ratio has again turned down suggesting gold may continue to outperform U.S. stocks and the DJIA, in particular, in the coming weeks. The long term target of below 2:1 remains viable.
Today's "Breakfast with Dave" from David Rosenberg is a veritable chartapalooza, the inspiration for which appears to have been the "reversion to the mean" theme presented in yesterday's IMF chartpack, presented here. There is, however, one section that is unique: that dealing with gold, and more specifically, why in Rosenberg's opinion gold is still quite cheap and why it is trading at about 50% of what the Gluskin Sheff strategist would consider bubble value. As Rosie says: "we have liked gold for a long time and we remain very constructive. It is more than just a hedge against recurring bouts of global financial volatility. The growth rate of gold production is roughly stagnant while the growth rate of fiat currency in most parts of the world continues to accelerate. It's all about relative supply curves - the supply curve for bullion is far more inelastic than is the case for paper money. It really is that simple." Indeed it is: when one strips out all the fancy talk, mumbo jumbo, and syllogistic gibberish out of modern economic theories, be they neoclassical Keynesianism (or, god forbid, just classical), chartalism (sorry, infinite debt-money issuance won't work: in two years we will all see why), or any other attempts to reduce a broken imbalance in supply and demand propped up by the "invisible hand", it is all about supply and demand. Sure enough, one thing we have an infinite supply of is fiat money, and the resulting debt necessary to "back it up." As for demand, well that's another matter. With gold: it is just a little inverted.
Is a second recession in so short of a time in the offing? It certainly seems that way. The hope for a continued recovery has grown dim as of late as many of the economic indexes are moving towards contractionary territory. As we posted recently in "EOC Index Shows Economic Weakness" there are several concerns pressing the US economy and, in the words of David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff, “one small shock” could send us into a second recession. With the recent release of the Chicago Fed National Activity Index our proprietary economic index is just one small step away from crossing the 35 mark which has always been a pre-cursor to recession. We have discussed many times recently that with the unemployment rate remaining high, housing prices slipping into a secondary decline, consumer and business spending slowing, while gas and food prices remain high eating up more than 20% of consumers wages and salaries. Add on top of these factors the likelihood of a Greek debt default, a slowdown in the Eurozone, a weaker dollar and Washington locked in debate over the debt ceiling - well, the list of risks far outweigh the positives. However, that doesn't seem to deter Wall Street economists and main stream media which seem to all be wearing an extremely thick pair of rose colored glasses these days. However, it doesn't take an economist to figure out that any one of these factors could send us tumbling into a second recession.
Strategic Investment Conference: Luminaries In Finance Presentation Series: Part 2 - David RosenbergSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/21/2011 17:08 -0500
Following up to the presentation by Gary Shilling at this year's Strategic Investment Conference, we next move on to an old Zero Hedge favorite: David Rosenberg.
Back in April, some of the most prominent economists and market visionaries took part in the annual Strategic Investment Conference among which such luminaries as Marc Faber, David Rosenberg, Gary Shilling, Neil Howe, Martin Barnes and Jean-Vincent Gave. While a few short months have passed since then we are delighted to present our readers with their comprehensive presentations and summary outlooks on the economy, markets and the world. Today we launch part 1 of this series, by sharing the outlook of Gary Shilling of A. Gary Shilling and Company, one of the original bears and a man who was one of the few to foresee the second great depression. In future posts we will complete the series by presentations the opinions and outlooks all of the above financial legends who, unlike 99% of Wall Street, stick with their opinion regardless of where now completely irrelevant intraday market gyrations push the prevailing conventional sentiment.
"It’s A Cash-Flow Problem": The Ever Broker US Consumer Increasingly Relying On Credit Cards For Daily StaplesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/21/2011 12:50 -0500
Somehow, in all the confusion, the endangered species known as the American "consumer" missed the economic recovery. The reason, as Bloomberg writes, is that consumers are increasingly "using credit cards to pay for basic necessities as income gains fail to keep pace with rising food and fuel prices." The data comes from credit card transaction processor First Data which reported that the dollar volume of charged purchases rose 10.7% in June (a 6.8% increase in the number of transactions). "The difference probably represents the increasing cost of gasoline, said Silvio Tavares, senior vice president at First Data, the largest credit card processor. "Consumers, particularly in the lower-income end, are being forced to use their credit cards for everyday spending like gas and food,” said Tavares, who’s based in Atlanta. “That’s because there’s been no other positive catalyst, like an increase in wages, to offset higher prices. It’s a cash-flow problem." Alas, it gets worse. As Bank of America's Joshua Dennerlein
reports today, the end of the year will see 3.7 million Americans stop
receiving jobless benefits. "This will act as a hit to consumption in
the first quarter of 2012." This number is completely independent of any
possible new legislation to extended jobless benefits for new
unemployed labor pool entrants, as it merely affects those about to hit
the 99 week cliff. Unfortunately even more "growth" over the next 6-9
months will have to come from the Fed and the only thing it knows how to
do: print, print, print.
While we politely disagree with David Rosenberg on what is the ultimate flight to safety "security" (in our insolvent day and age perhaps the very word at the heart of capital markets needs to be changed), with him believing in bonds, predicated by a fear of an eventual deflationary crunch, while we ignore any instrument that is used a policy tool by the central planners and instead prefer precious metals, we always are impressed by his ability to synthesize reality in a few succinct bullet points (even if according to Eni's Recchi itself is irrelevant after saying that "Italy’s bond yields don’t reflect reality"). That is most certainly the case today when in his latest Breakfast with Dave letter to clients, Rosie summarizes the 7 reasons why "we should be worried."
When it comes to the debt ceiling, we have heard everyone and the kitchen sink's opinion on this issue at this point. Yet one person who has been silent so far is the original skeptic David Rosenberg. Summarized: "Despite the fear mongering, the U.S. government is not going to default. Any backup in bond yields from a failure to cobble together a deal will drive market rates down because of the deflationary implications from the massive fiscal squeeze that would ensue at a time of a huge 5% output gap. Even if there were to be some sort of "buyer's strike" if the U.S. were to be defaulted, rest assured that the Fed would step in aggressively." Obviously to a mega bond bull like Rosenberg, this is the only possible outcome. After all an alternative would mean the central planners have failed, and the most artificially inflated security in the history of man: US bonds, which are only there because they are the "best of all evils" was enjoying an extended "ignore the emperor's nudity" sabbatical... which alas does not change their evilness, nor is this equilibrium stable once more and more realize it is all about gold at the end of the day. And as yesterday demonstrated when existential fear grips the market, the impossible does happen, and both bonds and stocks can sell off, and in the process lead to all time records for gold. Bookmark July 14: it is a harbinger of what is coming.
Hey, it helps the big banks ... so shut up, already!
In advance of tomorrow's Bureau of Labor Statistics fireworks, Goldman's Andrew Tilton explains why GS has a prediction of +125,000 for tomorrow's NFP number (and sees the unemployment rate declining to 9.0%), and provides a short perspective on why the market is still bearish on the employment picture. Probably a more fitting question is why the market is not far more bearish on jobs: 13 weeks of 400K+ claims, offset merely by one 0.1 increase in the service ISM employment component (from 54.0 to 54.1). Ah yes, the ADP number. The same ADP number which "surged" in January leading Barclays to come up with the insane NFP prediction of +580,000 (and a 95% confidence in a 450,000 print) only for the final number to be a gross disappointment. But who cares about headfakes: the market is back in its mania phase when good news are doubly accentuated, and bad news are immediately ignored. So anyway, here is Goldman and David Rosenberg. As to what happens tomorrow, only the Obama administration, Congress, Larry Meyer, and virtually every single NFP bank, know what is coming tomorrow.
The Economy Cannot Recover As Long As Inequality Continues to Skyrocket ... But Government Policy Is INCREASING InequalitySubmitted by George Washington on 07/06/2011 20:16 -0500
What do Hu Jintao, David Cameron, Warren Buffett, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Alan Greenspan, Robert Shiller, Joseph Stiglitz, Robert Reich and Mark Thoma - and both conservatives and liberals - all agree on?
As is by now well known, when it comes to upside theories debunking the bearish "economic contraction" case, there are two core arguments: a Japanese pick up, and a surge in automotive production and sales. And following a jump in Japanese industrial production last week, there was a brief consensus that the soft spot as a result of the earthquake and tsunami have been overcome. Until the subsequent Tankan confidence index release, that is. And in the meantime, nobody can still explain how the economy is expected to return to trendline if peak electric consumption can not be met by a crippled electrical infrastructure. Which leaves auto production, and the latest iteration of inventory restocking. Zero Hedge already discussed the glaring split in inventory data between the Chicago PMI and the Manufacturing ISM, which as Goldman noted previously is a major wildcard in determining future GDP growth. Perhaps David Rosenberg said it best in his Friday Breakfast with Dave: "While there is no doubt that we will see an inventory boost from a revamping of auto production in the coming quarter, what will be critical is whether final sales will hold up. So far in June, chain store sales are running below plan. Auto sales, however, are the real wild card and could hold the key as to whether we are, in fact, at an inflection point. Go back to August 2007 and they put in an interim peak of 16.3 million annualized units. They bottomed for good in February 2009 at 9.2 million units. Then they hit a nearby high of 11.7 million units in March of last year just ahead of the market downturn and "double dip" concerns, only to then trough at 11.5 million in August 2010 just as the market was ready to rip. And then, in February of this year, sales peaked at 13.4 million in February. The May number was 11.8 million - and today we get June. Stay tuned." Consensus was for a significant rise to 12.0 million in June. The actual number was 11.45 million. The lowest since August 2010. So much for an inflection point (not to mention that all of this ignores the record channel stuffing in post-reorg GM).
Recession and/or brink of collapse?
Insider Selling Update: 2 Buyers, 50 Sellers; Ratio Of Corporate Stock Buybacks To Insider Purchases: 16,800 To 1Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/28/2011 12:53 -0500
Nothing new in the latest S&P 500 insider selling (and occasional buying). There were 2 (count them: two) purchases of stock by corporate insiders, of which one, which accounted for 97% of all purchases, came from Berkshire Hathaway. As usual selling dominated, with a ratio of 41 in notional sales to buys. And while we have been exposing this relentless dumping by insiders for years now, TrimTabs has added some voice to these ongoing warnings in which insiders sell their holdings to far less knowledgeable investors who are happy to burn "other people's money." Specifically, TrimTabs looks at the corporate share repurhcase-to-insider stock buying ratio, and gets some shocking results, namely that companies that have enacted $168 billion in corporate buybacks in 2011 have matched this with just $10 million in insider buying, a 16,800-to-1 ratio.