With less than three months to go, the outcome of the November election remains highly uncertain. SocGen notes that, as always, economic performance over the coming months will be a key determinant of who wins and who loses. If the elections were held today, the most likely outcome would be a Republican win in both Congressional races and a Democratic win in the race for the White House. This means that any new significant legislation will almost certainly have to be a product of compromise. In this sense, we may very well be looking at a status quo in terms of bipartisanship and gridlock which have dominated Washington politics over the past few years. This would be bad news at a time when the country faces a number of serious challenges with significant long-term implications. From the economy to long-term fiscal health, and from the debt-ceiling to Housing, Healthcare, and Energy policy differences, the following provides a succinct review.
- World’s Oldest Shipping Company Closes In Industry Slide (Bloomberg)
- Japan Growth May Slow to Half Previous Pace as Exports Wane (Bloomberg)
- China Export Growth Slides As World Recovery Slows (Bloomberg)
- Weidmann tries to muffle not spike Draghi's ECB guns (Reuters)
- Draghi lays out toolkit to save eurozone (FT)
- Concerns grow over prospects for sterling (FT)
- RIM Said To Draw Interest From IBM On Enterprise Services (Bloomberg)
- UN urges US to cut ethanol production (FT)
- Goldman Sachs Leads Split With Obama, As GE Jilts Him Too (Bloomberg)
- New apartments boost US building sector (FT)
ECB to EU governments: “Guys, we won’t fly solo…”
Bond Market to ECB “Show me the money!”
Equity market “Someone said Money? Buy!”
The surprising economic beats, even as Europe and now China slide, continues, following better than expected initial claims, which were released early as someone broke the news embargo, and trade deficit data. In the week ended August 4, 361K people filed initial jobless claims, lower than the upward revised 367K, and below expectations of 370K. This is the 5th week out of 6 in which claims have beat expectations, and heading into the September FOMC meeting, especially in the aftermath of the "blistering" August NFP report, any hope that the Fed will do anything forceful can now be taken off the table. Continuing claims rose by 53K from 3,279K to 3,332K. Adding to the economic tailwind was the June trade deficit, which narrowed by 11% in June, down to $42.9 billion from $48.7 billion, and well below the expected print of $47.5 billion, down on sliding energy prices (back in June - as a reminder crude has soared 20% since then). The reason was a 0.9% rise in exports and 1.5% drop in imports. As Bloomberg observes, "this is likely the last report that shows the narrowing of the deficit this quarter." Finally, perhaps the most notable move that will pass largely unobserved is that in the week ended July 21, a whopping 127K dropped off extended claims, which means no more free $400 weekly checks, and a corresponding hit to iGadget purchases and retail sales.
- Gu Kailai Trial Has Ended, verdict imminent (WSJ)
- Greek unemployment rises to 23.1 pct in May, new record (Reuters)
- Greece’s Power Generator Tests Euro Fitness Amid Blackout Threat (Bloomberg)
- Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Results May Ease Wind-Down Push (Bloomberg)
- Monti takes off gloves in euro zone fight (Reuters)
- U.S. Fed extends comment period for Basel III (Reuters)
- HP in $8bn writedown on services arm (FT) - must be good for +10% in the stock
- News Corp in $2.8bn writedown (FT) - must be good for +10% in the stock
- Japan to Pass Sales Tax Bill After Noda Avoids Election Push (Bloomberg)
- China May Set New Property Controls This Month, Securities Says (Bloomberg)
ECB Re-Regurgitates Draghi As Greek Unemployment Rises To New Record, China Deteriorates With No Easing In SightSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/09/2012 06:06 -0500
It has been a quiet session overnight (and that will continue until the Germans come back from vacation) punctuated by Mario Draghi's attempt to jawbone the market into submission again, this time following the release of the ECB monthly report in which it basically regurgitated Draghi's still misunderstood speech in it said it may buy bonds if strict conditionality is ensured, the same conditionality that Spain said it would not comply with, yet which European bond traders continue to misunderstand, because Spain will not request a bailout as long as its 10 Years are trading below 8% yield. Of course, nobody wants to sell first, until the selling actually begins. Then it will be waterfall. In other news Greek industrial production rose by a tiny amount from below sea level, rising by 0.3% in June following a 2.9% decline previously. This however must be due to the Greek workers' enhanced efficiency - Greek unemployment just rose yet again to the mindblowing 23.1%, from 22.6% - a new all time high (with youth unemployment just 45% away from 100%). And so the race between Spain and Greece over who can hit 50% unemployment first continues. Another notable economic milestone was crossed after the IFO institute euro-area economic climate indicator declined for first time this year, pushing the EURUSD to just above 1.2300. There were also more bad news from the UK whose trade deficit widened more than expected hitting GBP10.1 billion vs GBP8.7 billion estimated, with a record GBP28.3 billion good deficit, led by oil, cars and chemicals. In other news the European collapse continues unabated, yet the market which has long been nothing but a central bank policy tool and no longer discounts anything is perfectly oblivious to what is happening. There was one notable final change: the Chinese economy accelerated its own deterioration, and this time, courtesy of the specter of soaring food prices and a CPI print above estimates, it is very much powerless to even threaten with more easing.
After last week's event-a-palooza, where the headlines, the spin, the erroneous HFT trading, and the propaganda (Draghi is too cold; Draghi is too hot; Draghi is just right) just refused to stop, we finally enter the summer proper where all of Europe is on vacation, as is congress. Add on top of this a very light macro event week and an earnings season which has seen the bulk of companies already report, and we expect the volume in the coming 5 days to be among the lowest recorded in 2012, and thus in the past decade. Which of course means that the cannibalization among the market makers will continue as more and more firms succumb to "trading anomalies."
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 14:04 -0500
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."