As markets continue to yo-yo and commentators deliver mixed forecasts, investors are faced with some tough decisions and have a number of important questions that need answering. On a daily basis we are asked what’s happening with oil prices alongside questions on China’s slowdown, why global trade will collapse if Romney wins, why investors should get out of stocks, why the Eurozone is doomed, and why we need to get rid of fractional reserve lending. Answering these and more, Mike Shedlock's in-depth interview concludes: "The gold standard did one thing for sure. It limited trade imbalances. Once Nixon took the United States off the gold standard, the U.S. trade deficit soared (along with the exportation of manufacturing jobs). To fix the problems of the U.S. losing jobs to China, to South Korea, to India, and other places, we need to put a gold standard back in place, not enact tariffs."
The conventional view looks at the domestic credit bubble, the trillions in derivatives and the phantom assets propping the whole mess up and concludes that the only way out is to print the U.S. dollar into oblivion, i.e. create enough dollars that the debts can be paid but in doing so, depreciate the dollar's purchasing power to near-zero. This process of extravagant creation of paper money is also called hyper-inflation. While it is compelling to see hyper-inflation as the only way out in terms of the domestic credit/leverage bubble, the dollar has an entirely different dynamic if we look at foreign exchange (FX) and foreign trade. Many analysts fixate on monetary policy as if it and the relationship of gold to the dollar are the foundation of our problems. These analysts often pinpoint the 1971 decision by President Nixon to abandon the gold standard as the start of our troubles. That decision certainly had a number of consequences, but 80% the dollar's loss of purchasing power occurred before the abandonment of dollar convertibility to gold.
The week ahead brings a batch of Q2 GDP prints, which will provide guidance on the strength of activity in that quarter, as well as a bunch of business survey data which will offer insights into the strength of momentum at the start of Q3. Starting with the GDP data, the main attraction is likely to be the print from the US. Goldman expects a below trend print of 1.1%qoq, vs the consensus at 1.5%qoq. The Q2 print from the UK is expected to be negative. While only a few Q2 prints have been published so far, only China has recorded a recovery on Q1. The consensus expects soft prints for the business surveys out this week. The Euroland flash PMIs are expected to be unchanged, leaving them at levels consistent with a continued contraction in activity. The German IFO is expected to fall slightly, as is the Swiss KoF. There are no consensus expectations for the China flash PMI, however if it does not pick up from current levels around 48, questions over the extent/effectiveness of stimulus in China will remain.
First Goldman released this just after the trade data came out:
The trade deficit improves broadly as expected to $48.7bn in May, as nominal exports rise (+0.2%) and imports fall (-0.7%) on the month. (The April trade deficit was revised up slightly from $50.1bn to $50.6bn). The improvement in the trade deficit, however, was driven by a decline in petroleum imports (and thus an improvement in the petroleum deficit) while the real ex-petroleum trade deficit actually widened from $40.3bn in April to $41.4bn in May. The trade report is a slight negative for our Q2 GDP growth tracking estimate which we lowered from 1.5% to 1.4%.
And, moments ago after the wholesale Inventories was released, Goldman came out with this:
Wholesale inventories rose in line with the consensus expectation in May (up 0.3%), but from a downward revised April level. As a result, we revised down our Q2 US GDP tracking estimate to +1.3% from +1.4%.
Luckily there aren't another 13 releases today or we may be in recession right now.
If anyone still actually cares, or trades, we just saw the third California muni bankruptcy in two weeks, German bonds priced at record low yields, and Spanish 2 year nominal yields just hit all time lows of -0.37%. Abroad Spain promised to crush its middle class even more by impairing retail held sub debt and hybrids, while forcing them to pay more taxes, a move which will lead to some spectacular Syntagma Square riotcam moments, yet which has sent Spanish bonds slightly higher. As for US equity futures, they continue the headless chicken dance higher even as company after company now rushes to preannounce horrifying Q2 earnings. And that's it in a nutshell.
European equities are seen firmly in the green at the North-American crossover, with outperformance noted in the peripheral bourses. Overnight news from the Eurogroup has confirmed that the EFSF/ESM rescue funds will be given the powers to intervene in the secondary bond markets, easing sentiment towards the European laggard economies. Gains are being led by a particularly strong technology sector, with the riskier financials and basic materials also making solid progress. Asset classes across the board in Europe are benefiting from risk appetite, with the Bund seen lower and both the Spanish and Italian 10-yr yields coming below their key levels of 7% and 6% respectively. The moves follow a spurt of activity in Europe with a number of factors assisting the way higher.
Why Germany's TARGET2-Based Eurozone Preservation Mechanism Is Merely A Ticking Inflationary TimebombSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/30/2012 15:04 -0400
We have covered the topic of the German TARGET2 imbalances previously, both from the perspective of what catalysts can lead the Bundesbank to suffering massive losses (the one most widely agreed upon being a collapse of the Eurozone, which explains why even discussions of that contingency are prohibited in Europe), from the perspective of its being an indirect current account deficit funding mechanism, and from the perspective of what is the maximum size TARGET2 imbalances, funded primarily by the Bundesbank, can grow to before eventually causing irreperable damage to the Bundesbank. Still, there appears to be ongoing mass confusion about the topic, with numerous economists proposing contradictory theories, all of which supposedly rely on traditional economic models. Today, to provide some additional and much needed color, we once again revisit the topic of TARGET2, and this time we look at arguably the most critical question: what happens when the TARGET2 imbalance bubble ultimately pops. And here is where the true cost to Germans becomes apparent, because there is no such thing as a "borrowing from the future" free lunch. Which is precisely what TARGET2 does, only instead of a direct cost, the post-TARGET2 world will result in the now traditional indirect cost of all monetary experiments gone awry: runaway inflation.
Goldman recaps the past tumultuous week, and looks at events in the next 7 days, of which the key feature will be the next "latest and greatest" and most disappointing European summit on Thursday and Friday, where not even Greece is going any longer, and which not even the most resolute Europhiles expect to resolve anything: "The key event of next week is the EU summit. The latest European Economics Analyst details our expectations. In brief we expect to see finalization of the much-anticipated growth compact, involving financing for infrastructure investment and a restatement of the agenda for structural reform. We also expect announcement of a plan for ‘banking union’ in the Euro area, even if, owing to unresolved political differences, details are likely to remain sketchy on key issues—notably on how the implicit cost of providing fiscal backing for the Euro area banking system will be shared across countries."
Recently, there has been an intense debate in Europe on the TARGET2 system (Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross Settlement Express Transfer System 2), which is the joint gross clearing system of the eurozone the interpretation of this system and its balances has provoked divergent opinions. Some economists, most prominently Hans-Werner Sinn, have argued that TARGET2 amounts to a bailout system. Others have vehemently denied that. Philipp Bagus adresses the question of whether this 'mysterious' system, that we have been so vociferously discussing, simply amounts to an undercover bailout system for unsustainable living standards in the periphery? Concluding by comparing TARGET2, Eurobonds, and the ESM, he notes that all three 'devices' serve as a bailout system and form a tranfer union but governments prefer to hide the losses on taxpayers as long as possible and prefer the ECB to aliment deficits in the meantime.
The First BRIC to be Downgraded to Junk?
Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg may be cautious on the outlook for risk assets and cyclical securities over the near- and intermediate-term, but, he notes, change is always at the margin, and it usually starts in the political sphere. Austerity is not some dirty nine-letter word as the socialists in Europe would have you believe. It is all about living within your means and living up to your commitments. There is some good news in the United States with respect to this topic, but the uncertainty over the extent of next year's tax bite is likely to cause households and businesses to pull spending back and raise cash, at the margin, which means the economy won't turn around in time for Mr. Obama. As was the case with Ronald Reagan, just having a clear and coherent fiscal plan will part the clouds of uncertainty and encourage capital to be put at risk rather than sit as idle unproductive cash on corporate balance sheets. In a somewhat stunning sentence from the no-longer-a-permabear, he notes that "The future is brighter than you think", but just in case you are backing up the truck, he adds "this does not mean we will not have another recession, by the way — as we suffer through a deflationary debt deleveraging. I'm noticing a certain degree of despair these days, just as I am getting enthusiastic about the future. Much depends on what happens on November 6th and between now and then we still have the European mess, China hard landing risks and the U.S. debt ceiling issue to confront. Be that as it may, those with some dry powder on hand will be in a solid position to take advantage of whatever forced "panic" selling takes place."