Remember when the "thesis" for Q2 growth was that just because Q1 was so horrible, Q2 will have to bounce back? Well, oops.
The US trade balance collapsed in April dashing hopes for the exuberant hockey-stock rebound in Q2 GDP. This is the biggest trade deficit since April 2012 and the biggest miss from expectations since October 2008. The last 2 months have seen the biggest slide in the deficit in a year as trade gaps with the European Union and South Korea reach records and the deficit with China surged by $7billion to $28 billion. Impots of capital goods, autos, and consumer goods all set records. And Q2 GDP downgrades in 3...2...1...
- U.S. sets new import duties on Chinese solar products (Reuters)
- U.S.-China Solar-Products Dispute Heats Up (WSJ)
- China Mulls Offshore Yuan Gold Trade in Free Trade Zone (BBG)
- Insider-Trading Probe Could Snarl a Deal for Icahn (WSJ)
- KCG Holdings Suspects Its Trading Code Was Stolen (WSJ)
- ‘Period. Full Stop’ Is the New ‘At the End of the Day’ (BBG)
- Draghi not so goof for bonds: Investors Flag Risk of ECB Disappointing After Europe Bond Rally (BBG)
- But great for stocks: Equity Traders See Draghi Turning Throttle Up on Rally (BBG)
A dispassionate look at the week ahead.
We can all pretend that debt doesn’t matter. We can pretend that demographics don’t matter. We can pretend that raising taxes aids rather than frustrates an economy, and we can pretend that citizens will continue to bend over and be sodomized by central bankers.
Just in case you were not convinced what a fragile fallacious lie the entire world's status quo has become, the Bank of Japan just provided one more straw on the camel's back of faith-based investing. As Bloomberg reports, BoJ officials are concerned that cooler-than-normal weather triggered by El Nino this summer will curb spending and weigh on an economic rebound. The Japan Meteorological Agency this week forecast a 70% chance El Nino will occur, the highest since its last occurrence in 2009, bringing lower temperatures that could continue through autumn - and, according to Dai-Ichi, could lower growth by as much as 0.9 percentage points. "We can't rule out the potential that the El Nino this summer causes unexpected damage to Japan’s economy," Nagahama said... the first pre-blamed weather forecast from a central bank we are aware of. Of course, given the dismal retail sales data this morning, we suspect a cooler-than-expected summer will be the scapegoat for a lack of economic escape velocity in the US also.
Any day, week, month, quarter, year now... that J-Curve 'recovery' will come bounding over the horizon and save the Japanese economy from its inevitable death spiral... for now, presented with little comment aside for historical confirmation (as even Goldman Sachs has now given up on hope of a bounce), Japan's largest (seasonally-adjusted) Balance of Payment Trade Deficit ever... For FY2013 as a whole, the current account recorded a surplus of +¥789.9bn but was far lower than the +¥4.2tn in FY2012 and the lowest since comparable records became available in FY1985.
- Alibaba files for what may be biggest tech IPO (Reuters)
- Early Tap of 401(k) Replaces Homes as American Piggy Bank (BBG)
- Developers Turn Former Office Buildings Into High-End Apartments (WSJ)
- Thai court orders Yingluck Shinawatra to step down as PM (Guardian)
- German industry orders fell 2.8% in March, the biggest drop in one and a half years (RTE)
- Ukraine Bulls Scatter as Death Toll Mounts (BBG)
- China Property Slump Adds Danger to Local Finances (BBG)
- Stein Says Fed May See Bouts of Volatility as It Approaches Exit (BBG)
Is Detroit destined to become a Chinese city? Chinese homebuyers and Chinese businesses are starting to flood into the Motor City, and the governor of Michigan is greatly encouraging this. In fact, he has formally asked the Obama administration for 50,000 special federal immigration visas to encourage even more immigration from China and elsewhere. So will Detroit be the first major city in the United States to be dominated by China? It could happen. Once upon a time, Detroit was the greatest manufacturing city in the history of the world and it had the highest per capita income in the entire country. But now it is a rotting, decaying, bankrupt hellhole that is in desperate need of a savior, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appears to be fully convinced that China can be that savior.
Update: JPM just jumped on the bandwagon and cut Q1 GDP to -0.8% from -0.4%. Don't worry: it snowed.
The US "recovery" is starting to feel more and more recessionary by the day. As we warned after we reported the trade deficit, it was only a matter of time before the Q1 GDP cuts came. And come they did, first from Barclays, and now from Goldman, which just doubled its GDP forecast loss for the past quarter from -0.3% to -0.6%.
And just like that Q1 GDP may have turned even more negative, after the March trade deficit ended up being worse than the $40.0 billion expected, printing at $40.4 billion. However, the one offset may be that the February deficit was revised from $42.3 billion to $41.9 billion, in effect being a wash to the Q1 GDP number, which as most already know, is set to be -0.4% at the first revision. Among the reasons for the (smaller than expected) decline in the deficit was a "decrease in imports of services mainly accounted for by a decrease in royalties and license fees, which in February included payments for the rights to broadcast the 2014 Winter Olympic Games." For once (not so) harsh weather (in USSR 2.0) was a boost to the economy.
More stimulus is coming and when combined with rising wages, it should push inflation higher. But this risks a bond market rout.
It has been a largely event-free weekend except, of course, for the previously reported re-escalation in Ukraine following what was a lethal shooting in the east Ukraine city of Slavyansk blamed on Ukraine's Right Front, which has made a mockery, as expected, of the Geneva Ukraine de-escalation announcement from last Thursday. Overnight in Asia, Japan reported its largest ever trade deficit, providing yet more evidence that Abenomics has been an abysmal failure: all we are waiting for now is confirmation that basic Japanese wages have fallen yet again, which would make nearly 2 years in a row of declines. Still, the USDJPY, gamed as usual by HFT algos for which FX is now the last respite as the equity market crackdown gets louder, is doing its best to ramp from the overnight lows and ahead of the traditional US market open surge, as a result equity futures are modestly higher.
UPDATE: Goldman folds on "J-Curve" - the pace of that improvement will be far more modest than in past periods of yen weakness.
Another month, another colossal miss for the "waiting-for-the-j-curve" Japanese trade balance. At 1.7tn, this month's adjusted trade balance is the 2nd largest on record, and is the 36th month in a row - the worst March deficit ever. Exports missed dramatically (+1.8% vs 6.5% expected) so, so much for devaluation driving competitiveness in a globally interdependent product development cycle - nearly the lowest YoY gain in exports since Abenomics began. Imports rose more than expected (+18.1% vs 16.2%) as the devalued JPY makes living standards more difficult to maintain. The result of this dismal data - JPY weakness which can mean only one thing - a 120 point rally in the Nikkei.
Distilling an economy's success in delivering "prosperity" to a single number has outlived its purpose. Political authorities knew exactly what was happening: they realized that their own credibility could be boosted by a rigged GDP number. Thus we have the central government of China issuing blatantly bogus claims of 7+% annual GDP, as anything less will severely erode their claim of managerial brilliance. In our own propaganda-dependent state, GDP is almost always positive, much like corporate earnings always beat expectations by a penny. But we should be paying attention to an even deeper critique of GDP: that prosperity no longer depends of the "growth" of consumption, financialization, etc. but on the Degrowth of narcissistic consumerism and more efficient use of resources and capital.