Capitalism gets into deep trouble when the price of financial assets becomes completely disconnected from economic reality and common sense. What ensues is rampant speculation in which financial gamblers careen from one hot money play to the next, leaving the financial system distorted and unstable - a proverbial train wreck waiting to happen. That’s where we are now.
The US may be closed on Monday, but after a summer lull that has seen trading volumes plunge to CYNKian lows, activity is set to come back with a bang (if only for the sake of banks' flow desk revenue) with both a key ECB decision due later this week, as well as the August Nonfarm Payrolls print set for Friday. Among the other events, in the US we have the ISM manufacturing on Tuesday, with markets expecting a broadly unchanged reading of 57.0 for August although prices paid are expecting to decline modestly. Then it is ADP on Thursday (a day later than usual) ahead of Payrolls Friday. The Payrolls print is again one of those "most important ever" number since it comes ahead of the the September 16-17 FOMC meeting and on the heels of the moderation of several key data series (retail sales, personal consumption, inflation). Consensus expects a +225K number and this time it is unclear if a big miss will be great news for stocks or finally bad, as 5 years into ZIRP the US economy should be roaring on all cylinders and not sputtering every other month invoking "hopes" of even more central bank intervention.
If last week's disappointing global economic data, that saw Brazil added to the list of countries returning to outright recession as Europe Hamletically debates whether to be or not to be in a triple-dip, was enough to push the S&P solidly above 2000, even if on a few hundreds ES contracts (traded almost exclusively between central banks), then the overnight massacre of global manufacturing PMIs - when not one but both Chinese PMIs missed spurring calls for "more easing" and pushing the SHCOMP up 0.83% to 2,235.5 - should see the S&P cross Goldman's revised year end target of 2050 (up from 1900) sometime by Thursday (on another few hundreds ES contracts).
Dispassionate look at the week ahead, without the hysterics of the sky is falling or the mother of all crises is around the corner.
Faith that the future will be better than the present is slipping, as despite President Obama's demands that Americans not be "cynics," a new report shows there is a major lack of confidence that the next generation will have it better than the last one. As WSJ reports, most strikingly, only 16% of respondents agree that job and career opportunities will be better for the next generation than for their own – a drop from the 56% who were optimistic about this measure in 1999 and down even from the 40% who agreed in November 2009, well into the recession.
What is hard to measure is often hard to manage. Employers using new technologies need to base hiring decisions not just on education, but also on the non-cognitive skills that allow some people to excel at learning on the job; they need to design pay structures to retain workers who do learn, yet not to encumber employee mobility and knowledge sharing, which are often key to informal learning; and they need to design business models that enable workers to learn effectively on the job (see this example). Policy makers also need to think differently about skills, encouraging, for example, industry certification programs for new skills and partnerships between community colleges and local employers. Although it is difficult for workers and employers to develop these new skills, this difficulty creates opportunity. Those workers who acquire the latest skills earn good pay; those employers who hire the right workers and train them well can realize the competitive advantages that come with new technologies.
Curious why European bond yields tumble to fresh new lows day after day (with the explicit backstop of the ECB of course, which makes fundamental analysis of sovereign solvency an irrelevant matter)? Then look no further than Italy, where as the chart below shows, not only has the economy "filled the gap" of its economy as tracked by its EU-Harmonized CPI, but at an August print of -0.2%, this is the lowest print in history, worse even than the brief -0.1%, flirt with deflation recorded just in the aftermath of the Lehman crash. But it wasn't only Italy: as Eurostat also reported today, Euroarea inflation also dropped once again, touching 0.3%, down from 0.4% a month ago, the lowest print October 2009.
S&P Futures Surge Over 2000, At Record High, On Collapsing Japanese, European Economic Data, Ukraine EscalationsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/29/2014 07:07 -0400
Following Wednesday's laughable tape painting close where an algo, supposedly that of Citadel under the usual instructions of the NY Fed, ramped futures just over 2,000 to preserve faith in central planning, yesterday everyone was expecting a comparable rigged move... and got it, only this time milliseconds after the close, when futures moved from solidly in the red, to a fresh record high in seconds on no news - although some speculate that Obama not announcing Syrian air strikes yesterday was somehow the bullish catalyst - and purely on another bout of algo buying whose only purpose was to preserve the overnight momentum. Sure enough, this morning we find that even as bond yields around the world continue to probe 2014 lows, and with the Ruble sinking to fresh record lows as the Ukraine situation has deteriorated to unprecedented lows, so US equity futures have once, driven by the now generic USDJPY spike just after the European open, again soared overnight, well above 2000 and are now at all time highs, driven likely by the ongoing deflationary collapse in Europe where August inflation printed 0.3%, the lowest since 2009 while the unemployment remained close to record high, while the Japanese economic abemination is now fully featured for every Keynesian professor to see, with the latest Japanese data basically continuing the pattern of sheer horror as we reported yesterday.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse... In a veritable deluge of data from Japan tonight, there is - simply put - no silver lining. First, Japan's jobless rate unexpectedly jumped to 3.8% - its highest since Nov 2013 (despite the highest job-to-applicant ratio in 22 years). Then, household spending re-collapsed 5.9% for the 4th month in a row (showingh no sign of post-tax-hike-recovery). Industrial Production was up next and dramatically missed expectations with a mere 0.2% rebound after last month's plunge (-0.9% YoY - worst in 13 months), quickly followed by a 0.5% drop in Japanes retail trade MoM (missing hope for a 0.3% gain). That's good news, right? Means moar QQE, right? Wrong! Japanese CPI came hot at 3.4% YoY with energy costs and electronic goods 'hyperinflating' at 8.8% and 9.1% respectively. As Goldman's chief Japan economist warns, "the BOJ doesn’t have another bazooka," adding that "The window for reform may already have been half closed." We're gonna need another arrow, Abe!
Financial markets are broken. Fundamental analysis and Modern Portfolio Theory are relics of the past. Investors used to care about maximizing a portfolio’s expected return for a given amount of targeted risk. Fed policies have led to (investor) herd behavior that has plunged market volatilities and manipulated asset prices and correlations to lofty levels. The allure of the Fed’s magic spell has lapsed investors into a soporific state of cognitive dissonance, with them focusing more on trying to justify valuations, rather than on the Upside Downside Capture Ratio. Markets have thus mutated into one of two possible combustible states. Either financial assets have all transcended into prodigious bubbles, or stocks and bonds are signifying two completely separate outcomes. Either possibility will have dangerous repercussions for the economy, and for portfolios and investors.
- Clearly it's time to bomb Assad (on Qatar instructions): Islamic State executes dozens of Syrian army soldiers (Reuters)
- Ukraine Declares Russian Invasion as Sanctions Threat Raised (BBG)
- Ukraine Reports Russian Invasion on a New Front (NYT)
- German Unemployment Rises as Risks to Economy Build (BBG)
- Ebola spreads to Nigeria oil hub Port Harcourt (BBC)
- FBI Probes Possible Hacking Incident at J.P. Morgan (WSJ)
- FBI, Secret Service investigate reports of cyber attacks on U.S. banks (Reuters)
- If you like your Venezuela, you can stay in Venezuela: Airlines Abandon Fliers Amid Currency Dispute (WSJ)
- Boomer Wealth Dented by Mortgages Poses U.S. Risk (BBG)
- People Aren't Buying Guns (BusinessWeek)
If you like your de-escalation, you can keep your de-escalation. To think that heading into, and following the Russia-Ukraine "summit" earlier this week there was so much hope that the tense Ukraine civil war "situation" would somehow fix itself. Oh how wrong that thinking was considering overnight, following rebel separatists gains in the southeast of Ukraine which included the strategic port of Novoazvosk and which is "threatening to open up a new front in the war" including setting up a land corridor to Russia controlled-Crimea, Ukraine's president Poroshenko for the first time came out and directly accused Russia of an "Invasion", or at least a first time in recent weeks, saying he has convened the security council on the recent Russian actions.
"Germany will flirt with recession by Q4 of this year," warns Saxo Bank's Chief Economist Steen Jakobsen, adding that "the US is in worse shape than most people believe." It's important to underline, he notes, that major US investment houses, and certainly every single sales person we talk to, believe US is about to accelerate in growth not slow down. Jakobsen warns though that Q3 could be ok but the real damage will come in Q4 as the lead-lag factor of geopolitical risk, lack of reforms and excess global supply leads to low inflation. His conclusion, "it’s time to be defensive... very defensive."
There's only one small problem with relying on artifice: we haven't actually fixed what's broken in the real world.
"Rather than trying to spur private-sector spending through asset purchases or interest-rate changes, central banks, such as the Fed, should hand consumers cash directly.... Central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, have taken aggressive action, consistently lowering interest rates such that today they hover near zero. They have also pumped trillions of dollars’ worth of new money into the financial system. Yet such policies have only fed a damaging cycle of booms and busts, warping incentives and distorting asset prices, and now economic growth is stagnating while inequality gets worse. It’s well past time, then, for U.S. policymakers -- as well as their counterparts in other developed countries -- to consider a version of Friedman’s helicopter drops. In the short term, such cash transfers could jump-start the economy... The transfers wouldn’t cause damaging inflation, and few doubt that they would work. The only real question is why no government has tried them"...