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."
With only new home sales (which we actually report as opposed to NAR goalseeked marketing materials) to hit the docket in the US, the only newsflow that matters again will be that coming out of Europe, which is holding an informal summit. As BofA reminds us, the summit was originally set up to discuss growth. Now, it is there for Grexit damage control. Today's discussions will focus on the use of existing tools for supporting short-term growth. Spain and Greece are likely to be on the agenda as well. On Greece, although discussions should focus on the pros and cons of a Greek exit, we believe there will be no communiqué other than to mention that Greece should stay in the euro area and implement the programme. On Spain, discussions will likely focus on the banking sector. The discussion will likely be around using the EFSF (or its successor ESM) directly to fund the banking sector, a step Germany opposed in the past. Overall, we do not expect many decisions from the summit. Rather, we expect a communiqué about what was officially discussed, and a date for a later rendezvous. In other words, "investors are likely to be let down by today's summit" (that was BofA's assessment). Also let down, were markets in the overnight session when the BOJ, contrary to some expectations, left its QE program unchanged. As usual keep an eye on headlines: record EUR interest means violent short covering squeezes if the algos sense a hint of optimism in any red flashing text (if only briefly, as the long-term outlook for the situation is quite hopeless).
We have not been shy to point out the potential (and now proven) flaws in the Euro experiment (here, here, and here for example) over the past year or so but UBS reminds us that while most people remain fixated on the absence of a fiscal transfer union in so large a monetary union (to offset incidents of inappropriate monetary policy) as Eurobonds and Federalism come back to the fore; it is the second flaw - the absence of an integrated banking system (backed implicitly by a credible lender of last resort) - that should be getting front-page headlines. As Niall Ferguson noted at Zeitgeist this morning, "Structural reforms will work but will not work this week" and in the meantime, TARGET2 balances grow out of control and the longer the 'problem' remains, the worse it becomes leaving an implicit infinitely supported firewall as the only interim solution. While most who foresaw the Euro as implicitly leading to federalism were right, it seems the link to a German dominance (of ECB rulings and general fiscal and monetary decisions) has been the ultimate outcome. While an integrated banking system would do nothing to change the relative competitiveness or growth issues that plague Europe, the 'essential' internal capital flows would be sustained. Is this sort of integration a realistic prospect? The politics is not especially propitious.
The World Gold Council has released the Q1 2012 Gold Demands Trend report. Gold demand grew 16% over the past 12 months to 1,098 tonnes. This had a US dollar value of just $59.7 billion spent on gold, globally, in Q1 2012. While global demand was down 5% from the record high of Q4 2011, it was significantly higher than demand in Q1 2011 suggesting that global demand may be consolidating at these higher levels. Probably the most important aspect of demand and one of the most important fundamentals in the gold market is that of still very robust and increasing Chinese demand. In this the Chinese Year of the Dragon – China is becoming a fundamental driver of the gold market. Global demand was boosted by China posting a quarterly record of 98.6 tonnes of investment demand up 13% from Q1 2011. This increase was a result of investors’ continued move to preserve wealth amid ongoing concerns over inflation, volatility in equity markets and price falls in some property markets. Jewellery demand in China, much of which is also store of wealth demand, increased to 156.6 tonnes – 30% of the global appetite. This increase places China as the largest jewellery market for the third consecutive quarter.
All you need to read and some more.
Same Trick Different Week: "Initial Claims Decline Following Revision"; Deficit Surge Pushes Q1 GDP To 1.5%Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/10/2012 08:44 -0400
Stop us when this sounds familiar. Last week's 365K number has been revised to 368K, which is where the expectations for this week's print were. Instead, we got 367K claims this week, a 1K beat to expectations, which will be a 2K miss next week of course, but at least the pre-election propaganda media has their headline: "Initial Claims improve by 1,000." And scene. Naturally, the same thing happened for continuing claims, which beat expectations of 3275K, printing at 3229K, with the last week's print revised to 3290K from 3276K. The more disturbing form an end demand standpoint data, is that yet another 40K dropped off extended claims and EUCs. Finally in what is the best new for the market, and worst for the Economy, is that the March trade deficit soared to $51.8 billion, on expectations of -$50 billion, which was the biggest trade balance drop in 10 months. What this means is that Q1 GDP which already is tracking at 1.9%, just got lobbed to 1.5%. Yes: the Q1 GDP first revision will likely show the 2.2% number is now in the low to mid 1% range.
There was no good news overnight: CSCO (a rather prominent DJIA member) imploded on global demand weakness, China posted a larger than expected trade surplus which however was due to a greater than expected drop in imports, European industrial production was slightly better in Italy but offset by worse than expected news out of France (as for Greece - forget it), while all the attention continues to be focus on how the Greek endgame plays out, and now Spain too. Still, futures are on the cusp of greenness simply because following 6 days of declines stocks are oversold, and will desperately try to rally into any good news: such as initial claims later today, which will once again be spun as "declining" following a bigger upward revision to last week's number, making this week's appear to drop... at least until next week. As usual be on the watch for any erroneous headlines based on spurious rumors out of Greek developments: these tend to more the EURUSD, and thus ES, quite violently.
Goldman summarizes what to look forward to in the next few days, when once again fundamental will be ignored and all attention will be on the ECB. "The Week ahead will be dominated by global PMI and US labour market data as the two key releases. A few central banks meetings are on schedule, but market consensus suggests clearly that that ECB will not change its policy, while the RBA will likely cut interest rates by 25bp. There are also central bank meetings in Columbia, Thailand and the Czech Republic. The impact of these events on the FX markets, in particular the key activity data, will mainly be driven by the usual risk-on/risk-off mechanics. Moreover, with cyclical data generally weakening, chances are that risk-off currencies could perform relatively better this week. Some additional Yen strength is therefore possible, as well some under-performance of pro-cyclical currencies. The AUD may be worth some particular attention with the RBA meeting this week and the Chinese PMI - both key drivers of the currency."
In 45 minutes we will get the first unrevised big picture look of how the US economy did in the record hot weather-boosted first quarter of 2012. Consensus is looking for a +2.5% print, although according to some preliminary analysis, the weather, which simply pulled "demand" forward, may have resulted in an up to 30-40% increase in the baseline print. Whether or not that is the case depends on the flow through Q2 data, which so far has been quite horrible as we showed yesterday, but far more importantly, on how much debt the Treasury issues, as when one cuts out the noise, the only thing that does matter for "growth" is what the net re-leveraging in the system is. Everything else is mostly weekly BLS BS that only serves to increase the general level of Schrodingerian confusion. Anyway, for those who enjoy observing the trees and ignoring the forest, here is a preview of what to expect today, first from Bloomberg and then from Goldman.
Futures are unchanged after dropping steeply overnight following the Spanish re-downgrade as the Italian 5/10 year bond auction was bad, but still passed (somehow the lack of the European bond market ending is good news). This is ironic with Europe very much on edge following the release of very disappointing EU data, with German confidence, French consumer spending, Spanish unemployment all worse than estimates. Offsetting all of the negativity to some extent is the gross JPY10 trillion and net JPY5 trillion injection by the BOJ, which is a harbinger of what will happen west of Japan when push comes to shove. And so now all eyes turn to US GDP, which, continuing the Constanza bizarroness, better miss for stocks to surge, as a beat of consensus of 2.5% will mean the Chairman was not joking when he told the world he was morphing from a dove to a hawk (if only for theatrical purposes).