From consumer and retailer surveys to quantitative data such as household spending and private jet bookings, ConvergEx's Nick Colas has amassed a collection of 10 clues about this year's holiday shopping season. On the plus side, disposable personal income and consumer spending on discretionary items are rising, and travel to Palm Beach via private jet is quite popular this Christmas season. However, consumer confidence surveys are particularly weak, and consumer debt has ballooned to a 5-year high. Roughly equal parts good and bad, Colas' collection of holiday spending indicators points to a mediocre (at best) 2013 shopping season (as we noted earlier).
There were two events of note in the overnight session: first was the return of the Japanese jawboning, because now that the Nikkei has upward momentum - nearly hitting 15600 in early trading only to close unchanged - and the Yen has downward momentum, the Abe, Kuroda, Amari trio will do everything to talk Mrs. Watanabe to accelerate the momentum. In this case BoJ Governor Kuroda said he does not think JPY is at abnormally low levels and consumer inflation likely to hit 2% by fiscal year to March 2016. Kuroda also said he does not think JPY is excessively weak or in a bubble now and JPY has corrected from excessive strength after Lehman. This also means look forward to the daily bevy of Japanese speaker headlines in overnight trading to push the USDJPY and EURJPY higher on an ad hoc basis. The other notable event was the German IFO Business climate which jumped from 107.4 to 109.3, beating expectations of 107.7 and in the process pushing the EUR notably higher, and particularly the EURJPY which moved from 136.30 to nearly 137 or a fresh four year high. At this point European exporters must be tearing their hair out, as must the ECB whose every effort to talk the Euro lower has been met with relentless export-crushing buying.
The following Top Ten Market Themes, represent the broad list of macro themes from Goldman Sachs' economic outlook that they think will dominate markets in 2014.
- Showtime for the US/DM Recovery
- Forward guidance harder in an above-trend world
- Earn the DM equity risk premium, hedge the risk
- Good carry, bad carry
- The race to the exit kicks off
- Decision time for the ‘high-flyers’
- Still not your older brother’s EM...
- ...but EM differentiation to continue
- Commodity downside risks grow
- Stable China may be good enough
They summarize their positive growth expectations: if and when the period of stability will give way to bigger directional moves largely depends on how re-accelerating growth forces the hands of central banks to move ahead of everybody else. And, in practice, that boils down to the question of whether the Fed will be able to prevent the short end from selling off; i.e. it's all about the Fed.
Economic policymakers seeking successful models to emulate apparently have an abundance of choices nowadays. Led by China, scores of emerging and developing countries have registered record-high growth rates over recent decades, setting precedents for others to follow. While advanced economies have performed far worse on average, there are notable exceptions, such as Germany and Sweden. “Do as we do,” these countries’ leaders often say, “and you will prosper, too.” Look more closely, however, and you will discover that these countries’ vaunted growth models cannot possibly be replicated everywhere. The real heroes of the world economy – the role models that others should emulate – are countries that have done relatively well while running only small external imbalances.
As gold prices have fallen, yet another nation is choosing to use the drop to build its reserves. As Bloomberg notes, Turkey’s gold imports that doubled this year are set to reach the highest level since 2005 as the metal's price heads for the first annual drop in 13 years. As Commerzbank notes "there seems to be a lot of interest in physical gold at the current low price," as Turkey imported 251.4 metric tons of gold since January - the biggest tonnage increase since at least 1995 (a rate almost 60% more than 2012's average monthly rate). Turkey was the fourth-largest buyer of gold last year, after India, China and the U.S., World Gold Council data show.
Turkey has been aggressively adding to its gold reserves in recent years and now has the world's 11th-largest gold reserves.
Just as it is easy being a weatherman in San Diego ("the weather will be... nice. Back to you"), so the same inductive analysis can be applied to another week of stocks in Bernanke's centrally planned market: "stocks will be... up." Sure enough, as we enter October's last week where the key events will be the conclusion of the S&P earnings season and the October FOMC announcement (not much prop bets on a surprise tapering announcement this time), overnight futures have experienced the latest off the gates, JPY momentum ignition driven melt up.
In addition to the already noted repeat spike in Chinese overnight repo rates as the PBOC refuses to inject liquidity for nearly a week offsetting the "news" of a better than expected HSBC PMI, the other kay datapoints to hit in the overnight session were various European PMIs which were broadly lower across the board. Of note being the French, which missed both the Manufacturing Index (49.4 vs 50.1 expected, down from 49.8) and the Services (50.2 vs 51.0 expected, down from 51.0) and Germany, which missed in Services (52.3 vs 53.7 expected, same as September), while modestly beating Manufacturing at 51.5 vs 51.4 expected, up from 51.1 last. On a blended basis, the Composite Flash PMI fell from 52.2 to 51.5, against the consensus expectation of a modest rise (Cons: 52.4). Today's correction brings to a halt a series of six consecutive monthly rises in the Euro area composite PMI.
Dear World Gold Council Executives;
As you very well know, the business environment for gold producers has been extremely challenging over the past few years. While demand for physical gold remains extremely strong, prices on the COMEX have fallen precipitously. This contradictory situation is the single most important obstacle to a healthy gold mining industry.
In my opinion, the massive imbalance between supply and demand is not reflected in prices because available statistics are misleading...
Petro-dollars, the word used to describe the billions of dollars earned from the sale of oil and natural gas, have helped change the shape and future of many counties in the Middle East, usually for the better, but not always. In a few short years Petro-dollars have helped shape the Gulf states into the modern and futuristic looking cities of the future that one finds in today’s architecture in Dubai, Doha and Riyadh. But now those petro-dollars are being used to shape the political future of the region and to model specific policies in a number of countries, such as Syria, for example, where petro-dollars are hard at work today.
Historians who look back on these strange years of suspended consequence will marvel at how this empire of grift kept its wheels turning after its engine died. Being on the downhill slope is often enough to keep anything going. One might think the young people of this land would be seething at the eclipse of their futures, but it seems they have been successfully lobotomized with cell phones — when the endorphin hits lag between text messages, they can watch sitcoms, or porn. You can be sure there will be a snapback from all this drift and anomie, and when it comes, the snap will be savage.
Despite stock (not bond) euphoria yesterday that a DC debt ceiling deal was sealed leading to the second largest risk ramp of 2013, last night was spent diffusing the excitement as one after another politician talked back the success of a "non-deal" that Obama rejected, at least according to the NYT. As a result, with both retail sales data and the PPI not being released (and the only data of note the always leaked UMichigan consumer confidence) markets will again be at the behest of developments on Capitol Hill, with some talk from Republicans suggesting a deal as early as today could be possible in an effort to reopen government on Monday. It is entirely possible that talks could continue over the weekend though, which would ensure a gappy open to Asian markets on Monday.
Quick: which BRIC nation has the highest consumer loan default rate?
If you said China, India or Russia, you are wrong. Actually, if you said China you are probably right, but since absolutely all economic "data" in China is worthless, manipulated propaganda, only a retrospective post-mortem after the Chinese credit, housing, commodity, consumption bubbles have all burst will we know the answer. So excluding China, which country's consumers after a multi-year shopping spree funded entirely on credit, are suddenly suffering the epic hangover of soaring non-performing loans as they suddenly find themselves unable to even pay the interest on the debt? Just ask former billionaire Eike Batista whose OGX oil corporation is days away from filing bankruptcy. The answer, with 5.6% of all loans in default, above Russia, South Africa, Mexico, Turkey and India, is Brazil.
It takes a lot of courage to go against the crowd. Whether in investing, or acknowledging that your country is heading towards an epic fiscal crisis, it isn’t easy to stand alone... especially when everyone else is betting the other way. After more than a decade of positive returns, many investors have abandoned their precious metals positions. The conventional wisdom says that gold is ‘finished’. After all, the dollar price is falling... so it must be a bad ‘investment’. Others, however, are looking at where gold is right now, where it probably will be a few years from now, and thinking that it’s a hell of a bargain.
The US Federal Reserve’s recent surprise announcement that it would maintain the current pace of its monetary stimulus reflects the ongoing debate about the desirability of cooperation among central banks. Discussion of central-bank cooperation has often centered on a single historical case, in which cooperation initially seemed promising, but turned out to be catastrophic. We are thus left with a paradox: While crises increase demand for central-bank cooperation to deliver the global public good of financial stability, they also dramatically increase the costs of cooperation, especially the fiscal costs associated with stability-enhancing interventions. As a result, in the wake of a crisis, the world often becomes disenchanted with the role of central banks – and central-bank cooperation is, yet again, associated with disaster.