The Export-Import Bank died last night when its charter expired. After 81 years, what is commonly known as Boeing’s Bank is headed toward Washington’s trash bin. When Congress returns it could revive Ex-Im, which primarily subsidizes big business exports. But a proper burial for what Barack Obama once called “corporate welfare” would save Americans money, reduce economic injustice, and promote economic growth. Ex-Im’s closure is a very rare victory for the good guys in Washington. Crony capitalism is running rampant in America, undermining confidence in a market economy.
After March's six-year high disastrous kitchen-sink trade deficit revised down to -$51.4 billion, April saw a bounce back to just $40.9 billion deficit (considerably lower deficit than the $44 billion expectation). The imporvment was driven by a big shift in imports - dropping 3.3% (after a 6.5% jump in March) as exports rose just 1% (which is still the most in 2015).
A non-bombastic look at the week ahead and a number of key events in June. These could set the tone for Q3 and beyond.
History has not been kind to major trade blunders. Just as the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 sparked a global trade war that may well have put the “great” in the Great Depression, Congressional enactment of enforceable currency rules today could spark retaliatory actions that might devastate the free flow of trade that a sluggish global economy desperately needs.
With US markets closed for the Memorial Day holiday, and some of the key European markets likewise shuttered for public holiday including the UK, Germany and Switzerland, it is difficult to find where one can observe or trade the weekend's newsflow, which is once again centered on developments in Europe, where on Sunday Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party suffered its worst result in a municipal election in 24 years while Greece continues to threaten with default 5 some years after it should have officially pulled the plug.
"The public criticisms of the TPP have been vague. That’s by design—anyone who has read the text of the agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents. I’ve actually read the TPP text provided to the government’s own advisors, and I’ve given the president an earful about how this trade deal will damage this nation. But I can’t share my criticisms with you. I can tell you that Elizabeth Warren is right about her criticism of the trade deal. We should be very concerned about what's hidden in this trade deal—and particularly how the Obama administration is keeping information secret even from those of us who are supposed to provide advice."
Moments ago, in an embarrassing setback for the president, Senate Democrats in a 52-45 vote - short of the required 60 supporters - blocked a bill that would give President Barack Obama fast-track authority to expedite trade agreements through Congress, a major defeat for the president and his allies who "say the measure is necessary to complete a 12-nation Pacific trade deal that is a centerpiece of the administration’s economic agenda." But don't count it out yet: the WSJ cites Mitch McConnell who told reporters shortly before the vote, which he expected to lose, that “This issue’s not over" adding that "I’m hopeful we’ll put this in the win column for the country sometime soon.”
While we are sure President Obama will find a way to comment on today's jobs number (focusing on the unemployment rate we suspect and not the quality of jobs or record number of people out of work), his main topic of discussion is how wonderful the ultra-secret "Trans-Pacific Partnership" deal is for Americans... and why congress must pass it asap.
Having painted themselves into an impossible corner of junk Keynesian economics, they are now clueless about how to get out. So its time to recognize that there has been a monetary regime change. The Fed might well have been your friend since March 2009 or even for the last several decades. But stranded on the zero bound and smothered by a $22 trillion collective balance sheet, the central banks of the world are now fast becoming your fiend.
In the eight years that the Fed has issued GDP forecasts in the prior Fall, only once, in 2010, did the actual economic performance come in the range of its expectations. A more sinister possibility is that the Fed is not really forecasting at all but cheerleading. By forecasting strong growth, the Fed may be hoping to engender optimism, with more spending and hiring hopefully to follow. Kind of like a field of dreams recovery -- if the Fed forecasts it; it will come. Based on what we have seen thus far in the year, fantasies about a 2015 recovery should be evaporating.
"If you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you’ve got to be a member of Congress, and you’ve got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door. If you’re a member who wants to read the text, you’ve got to go to a room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center and be handed it one section at a time, watched over as you read, and forced to hand over any notes you make before leaving. And no matter what, you can’t discuss the details of what you’ve read."
China, the world’s largest gold producer and buyer, feels its market weight should entitle it to be a price setter for gold bullion. It is asserting itself at a time when the established benchmark, the century-old London ‘gold fix’, is under scrutiny because of long-running allegations of price manipulation.
As is almost always the case, the price of gold was leaned on at the standard PLAN A time in London when The Gold Cartel traders reported for work, but their nudge was thwarted pretty quickly. Gold took off again going into the Comex trading hours and managed to reach $1200 where it was stopped dead in its tracks. James Mc early this morning…
Remember that in a beggar thy neighbor world, where currency warfare has once again broken out between the US, Europe and Japan, for every winner there is a loser. In this case, the loser is the one country that has decided that a strong currency is a great thing for its economy (if only for the time being): that would be the US. Why is this relevant? Because as the chart below shows, US trade excluding Petroleum, just crashed to $43.7 billion, the worst print in the history of the series, suggesting that portrayals of the US as a resurgent export powerhouse are completely erroneous, and that instead the US is as big a net importer of goods and services (and soon to be oil) as ever.
After shrinking notably in Feb, March's US Trade deficit exploded. Against expectations of a $41.7bn deficit, the US generated a $51.4bn deficit - the worst since Oct 2008 and the biggest miss on record. Exports rose just $1.6bn while imports soared $17.1bn with the goods deficit with China soaring from $27.3bn to $37.8bn in March. Ironically, just as the "harsh winter" was found to lead to a GDP boost due to a surge in utility spending, so the West Coast port strike which was blamed for the GDP drop, was actually benefiting the US economy as it lead to a plunge in imports. In March, however, the pipeline was cleared, and US imports from China soared by over $10 billion to $38 billion. End result: prepare for upcoming Q1 GDP downgrades into negative territory.