Same Store Sales
While we are sure it is hard to make ends meet on the minimum-wage-paying positions at fast food restaurants these days; the lengths that one McDonald's employee in Pittsburgh went to subsidize her income could be a little much. As CNN reports, Shantia Dennis, 26, would drop a handy baggy of heroin in drive-thru customers' boxes if they uttered the secret phrase "I'd like to order a toy" with their food order. Police recovered over 50 bags of heroin and a small amount of marijuana... brings a whole new meaning to the term "Happy Meal".
It's Risk Off time.
Things got really out of control, and the USDJPY plunged by some 150 pips in the matter of hours, plunging as low as 102, when EM revulsion once again hit participants, in particular TRY and ARS which also supported bid tone in USTs. This also saw spot TRY rate print fresh record high, while 5y Turkish CDS rate advanced to its highest level since June 2012, while at the same time Argentina announced it would life currency controls and dollar purchases in the aftermath of the ARS devaluation by 13%. And since everything tracks the JPY carry pair as we have been showing for the past year, futures once again plunged overnight, for now held by 1810 support, Treasurys are bid throughout, with the same treasury yields that have "no where to go but up" sliding to 2.71% from 2.87% at the beginning of the week, while gold is finally spiking as the realization that absolutely nothing has been fixed, that apparently nobody got the taper is priced in memo, and that soon the Fed will have to untaper, begins to spread. Are the central planners finally starting to lose control?
"It looks like this year’s economic horse will pull up lame," warns Bloomberg's Richard Yamarone, adding that the Bloomberg Orange Book Sentiment Index – a proxy for the overall state of economic affairs in the U.S. – has been running below 50 for 49 consecutive weeks, which implies a stagnant growth rate in GDP in the 2-to-2.5% range. The driving theme behind this subpar, sluggish recovery, Yamarone points out, is the lack of desirable growth in real disposable personal incomes, which grew at just 0.6% during the 12 months ending in November.
If ever a chart provided unequivocal proof the economic recovery storyline is a fraud, the one below is the smoking gun.
As we have pointed out previously, in the context of corporations that have given up on growing the top line (as virtually all free cash goes into stock buybacks and dividends and none into growth capex), and in pursuit of a rising bottom line, employee wages are the one variable cost that corporations will touch last of all. But what's worse, these same unionized employees have zero negotiating leverage. Perhaps nowhere is this more visible than in the recent strategy of smoothie retailer Jamba Juice, which in order to battle a 4% drop in Q3 same store sales has decided to radically transform its entire retailing strategy by getting rid of labor, cheap, part-time or otherwise, altogether. Presenting the biggest threat to minimum-wage restaurant workers everywhere: the JambaGo self-serve machine that just made the vast majority of Jamba's employees obsolete. Coming soon to a fast-food retailer near you.
While the specter of the debt ceiling debate continues to haunt the halls of Washington D.C. it is the state of retail sales that investors should be potentially focusing on. While the latest retail sales figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis are unavailable due to the government shutdown; we can look at other data sources to derive the trend and direction of consumer spending as we head into the beginning of the biggest shopping periods of the year - Halloween, Thanks Giving (Black Friday) and Christmas. The recent downturns in consumer confidence and spending are likely being exacerbated by the controversy in Washington; but it is clear that the consumer was already feeling the pressure of the surge in interest rates, higher energy and food costs and stagnant wages. As we have warned in the past - these divergences do not last forever and tend to end very badly.
Stock market now held up by its one and final prop, a jerry-rigged, haphazard device with destructive side effects.
The latest policy being implemented by Governments around the world consists of simply making data points up when reality doesn’t conform to their wishes.
Starting with the Asian markets this morning, it appear the roller coaster ride for markets continued overnight. Asian equities started the day trading weaker but shortly after the open though, all of Asia bounced off the lows following the previously noted surge in Chinese A-shares soaring more than 5% in a matter of minutes in what was initially described as a potential “fat finger” incident. As DB notes, alternative explanations ranged from a potential restructuring of the government’s holdings in some listed companies, to market buying ahead of a rate cut this coming weekend. All indications point toward a fat finger. The A-share spike has managed to drag other indices along with it though some gains have been pared. Yet for all the drama the Shanghai Composite soared... and then closed red. The region’s underperformer is the Nikkei (-0.75%). Elsewhere, the NZDUSD dropped 0.5% after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck the city of Wellington this morning. Looking at the US S&P500 futures are trading modestly higher at 1660. Looking ahead to today there is very little in the way of Tier 1 data to be expected. Housing starts/permits from the US and the preliminary UofM Consumer Sentiment reading for August are the main reports. The moves in rates and perhaps oil will probably offer some markets some directional cues.
In a day in which there was and will be virtually no A-list macro data (later we get the FHFA and Richmond Fed B-listers), the inevitable low volume centrally-planned levitation was attributed to news out of China, namely that Likonomics has set a hard (landing) floor of 7% for the GDP, and that just like other flourishing economies (Spain, Italy, California) China would invest in "monorails" to get rid of excess capacity, as well as a smattering of European M&A activity involving Telefonica Deutscheland and KPN. In Japan, the government upgraded its economic view for the 3rd straight month and also raised its view on capex for the 1st time in 4 months: who says the (negative Sharpe ratio) PenNikkeistock market is not the economy? All this led to a 2% rise in the Shanghai Composite - the most in 2 weeks - and the risk on sentiment also resulted into tighter credit spreads in Europe, with the iTraxx Crossover index falling 4bps and sr. financial also declining by around 4bps, with 5y CDS rates on Spanish lenders down by over 10bps. Naturally, US futures wouldn't be left far behind and took today's first major revenue miss of the day, that of DuPont, which beat EPS and naturally missed revenue estimates, as bullish and a signal to BTFATH (all time high). On the earnings side, in addition to Apple, other notable companies reporting include Lockheed Martin, Altria, AT&T and UPS.
From Perennial (Rumored) LBO Candidate To Imminent Restructuring: How The Unmighty Radioshack Has FallenSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/11/2013 14:13 -0400
There was a time when one couldn't spend an hour without some moronic rumor of a Radioshack LBO popping up. Those time are gone. Instead, as DebtWire reports, the rumor of a takeover has been replaced with the all too unpleasant reality of a corporate restructuring which may or may not end up in Chapter and which likely means the equity is all but wiped out. As DW reports the firm is set to listen to restructuring pitches from the usual restructuring suspects, which means unless someone is crazy enough to do another JCP-type deal (they aren't), the firm's debt is about to be substantially discharged. This usually means a full or at least partial wipe out of the equity tranche below it. "The move to hire a banker to explore a balance sheet fix comes as the struggling electronics retailer faces a string of maturities, escalating cash burn and bloated inventory levels, the sources said. RadioShack first engaged AlixPartners for operational help over a year ago, as previously reported by Debtwire."
Confirming that while Central Banks may have halted economic logic and reason indefinitely, supply and demand still have some relevance in the real world was today's earlier news that in the aftermath of McDonalds' 20% price hike of basic burgers in Japan three weeks ago, that the company's Japanese same store sales tumbled by a whopping 3.7% in April, a major contributor for the miss in the expected global same store sales for April which came at -0.6%, below Wall Street expectations. One can only guess what the SSS drop would have been had MCD implemented the price hike at the start of the month. One can also guess if the increase in average price offset the drop in sales volume - we will know soon, but just to make doubly sure if what MCD loses in volume it makes up for in price, McDonalds announced that one month after the 20% price hike in Japan, its Indian franchise operator said it too would proceed with a price hike - the second one this year - amounting to 5-6%.
With China offline celebrating its New Year, and potentially mobilizing forces in (not so) secret, and not much on the global event docket, the upcoming G20 Finance Ministers meeting in Moscow at the end of the week will be the key event for FX markets, which these days define every other aspect of risk. It should surprise nobody the last couple of weeks have seen increased attention on exchange rates and the frequent use of the “currency war” label by policymakers in many countries. No news announcements are expected at the BoJ meeting on Thursday, following the formal announcement of a 2% inflation target and an open-ended asset purchase program. On the data side, US retail sales on Wednesday will provide an important signal about the strength of the US consumer following the largest tax increase in decades. Although January auto and same store sales data was reasonably solid, new taxes will soon begin to weigh on spending. Also on Wednesday, Japan Q4 GDP will be released. On Thursday, Q4 GDP for France, Germany, Italy and the Euro area will be released. While Q4 contraction is assured, the key question mark is whether German can rebound in Q1 and avoid a full blown recession as opposed to a "brief, technical" one, as the New Normal economic term goes.
This objective report concisely summarizes important macro events over the past week. It is not geared to push an agenda. Impartiality is necessary to avoid costly psychological traps, which all investors are prone to, such as confirmation, conservatism, and endowment biases.
Earlier today, fast food juggernaut McDonalds reported same store sales for the month October. At -1.8%, this number was well below expectations of -1.1%, and a drop from September's 1.9%. It was driven by a 2%+ drop in comp store sales across all locations: US, Europea and APMEA, with the US performing just as bad as Europe. Most importantly, this was the first monthly drop in MCD comp sales since March 2003! So our question is: at what point does the perpetually self-deluded US population finally admit to itself that when even 99 cent meals are no longer affordable, that this country has a problem?