Just two weeks after the 'Back To The Future'-Day hoax, Citi's Global Head of International Economics Nathan Sheets, notes that, the experience with fiscal deleveraging after World War II offers some striking lessons, as well as some important caveats, for the United States in the present episode. With the debt again on a high and rising trajectory, even if the headwinds that are now afflicting U.S. aggregate demand quickly abate, economic growth is unlikely to be as strong as that recorded in the late-1940s and 1950s. At the very least, demographics are less supportive. Similarly, while we cannot dismiss the risk that the Federal Reserve may stumble as it eventually exits from its unconventional policies. The key, Sheets concludes, is to find a path for expenditures and revenues that avoids the so-called “fiscal cliff” in the near term but that firmly reduces the trajectory of the debt over the medium to long run. Without such a solution, we leave ourselves vulnerable to the vagaries of sentiment in the bond market, thus opening the door to an unwelcome set of severe financial risks.
Two of the three major credit ratings agencies have recently affirmed their outlook on the US sovereign credit rating, but all three continue to hold a negative outlook on the rating. In Goldman's view there is little likelihood that additional ratings actions will be taken this year, but the possibility of a ratings change is another risk posed by the "fiscal cliff," debt limit, and related debate over medium-term fiscal reforms that looks likely in 2013. All three rating agencies look likely to reassess the rating over the next year or so. In light of the recent announcements and upcoming fiscal events that could influence the rating, Goldman Sachs Economics team provides some updated thoughts on the intersection of fiscal policy and the US sovereign rating, in Q&A form.
The decision to downgrade Italy's rating reflects the following key factors:
1. Italy is more likely to experience a further sharp increase in its funding costs or the loss of market access than at the time of our rating action five months ago due to increasingly fragile market confidence, contagion risk emanating from Greece and Spain and signs of an eroding non-domestic investor base. The risk of a Greek exit from the euro has risen, the Spanish banking system will experience greater credit losses than anticipated, and Spain's own funding challenges are greater than previously recognized.
2. Italy's near-term economic outlook has deteriorated, as manifest in both weaker growth and higher unemployment, which creates risk of failure to meet fiscal consolidation targets. Failure to meet fiscal targets in turn could weaken market confidence further, raising the risk of a sudden stop in market funding.
Many Other Core Economic Figures Manipulated As Well
Portugal is a country that I’ve always enjoyed, full of warm, welcoming people, excellent wine, and great weather. I came to Porto, the country’s second largest city of some 1.5 million, to get a sense of what’s been happening since the eurocalypse...
Can’t keep count of EGB all-time lows anymore: let’s simplify by saying that the whole non-Peripherals EGB universe up to 5 YRS has traded new all-time lows today. Under pressure…
Today's AM fix was USD 1565.50, EUR 1281.10 and GBP 1011.96 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1576.50, EUR 1284 and GBP 1012.91 per ounce.
Gold rose by 0.5% in New York yesterday and closed up $8.20 to $1,576.60/oz. Silver rose 0.93% or 25 cents to close at $27.09/oz.
Gold gradually ticked lower in Asian trading and has seen further slight weakness in European trading. Still robust physical demand is supporting gold at these levels and strong support is at the $1,500/oz level.
The Fed is promising once again to pound nails with the only tools in its toolbox, a saw and a chisel. The "nails" the Fed is trying to pound down are unemployment and deflation. Needless to say, whacking these big nails with a handsaw and a chisel is completely useless: they can't get the job done. The Fed claims all sorts of supernatural powers to sink nails at will--"unconventional monetary policy," quantitative easing, money dropped from helicopters and so on. But all it really has are two tools which have no positive effect on unemployment or the real economy.
- The Fed can manipulate interest rates to near-zero
- The Fed can shove "free money" to the banks
That's it. That's all the tools the Fed has in its toolbox. Let's consider what these tools accomplish in the real world.
Nearly full employment in all the cited developed economies except the US shows that the deflationary environment of the recent months is only temporary. Deflation is rather an effect of the recent strong fall in commodity prices. No wonder that the Fed is still reluctant to ease conditions; they saw the opposite temporary commodity price movements last year. We do neither expect a global inflation nor a deflation scenario but a balance sheet recession in many countries but still an increase of wages and therefore a very slow global growth in both developed and developing countries and continuing disinflation (see chart of Ashraf Alaidi to the left). CPIs will look soon similar for all developed countries, with the consequence that the currencies of the most secure and effective countries (measured in terms of trade balance and current accounts) will appreciate. These are for us e.g. Japan, Switzerland, Singapore and partially Sweden and Norway. The overvalued currencies with weaker trade balances like the Kiwi and Aussie must depreciate.
European equities are seen softer at the North American crossover as continued concerns regarding global demand remain stubborn ahead of tonight’s Chinese GDP release. Adding to the risk-aversion is continued caution surrounding the periphery, evident in the Spanish and Italian bourses underperforming today. A key catalyst for trade today has been the ECB’s daily liquidity update, wherein deposits, unsurprisingly, fell dramatically to EUR 324.9bln following the central bank’s cut to zero-deposit rates. The move by the ECB to boost credit flows and lending has slipped at the first hurdle, as the fall in deposits is matched almost exactly by an uptick in the ECB’s current account. As such, it is evident that the banks are still sitting on their cash reserves, reluctant to lend, as the real economy is yet to see a boost from the zero-deposit rate. As expected, the European banks’ share prices are showing the disappointment, with financials one of the worst performing sectors, and CDS’ on bank bonds seen markedly higher. A brief stint of risk appetite was observed following the release of positive money supply figures from China, particularly the new CNY loans number, however the effect was shortlived, as participants continue to eye the upcoming growth release as the next sign of health, or lack thereof, from the world’s second largest economy.
Something is different this morning. Whether it is the aftermath of yesterday's inexplicable 10 Year auction demand spike, or more explicable plunge in the ECB's deposit facility usage, or, the fresh record low yield in the supreme risk indicator, Swiss 2 Year bonds, now at under 0.5%, market participants are realizing that the status quo is changing, leading to fresh 2 year lows in the EURUSD which was at 1.2175 at last check, sliding equity futures (those are largely irrelevant, and purely a function of what Simon "Harry" Potter does today when the clockworkesque ramp at 3:30pm has the FRBNY start selling Vol like a drunken sailor), and negative yields also for German, French, and Finland, with Austria and Belgium expected to follow suit as the herd scrambles into the "safety" of the core (which incidentally is carrying the periphery on its shoulders but who cares about details). Either way, Europe's ZIRP is finally being felt, only not in a way that many had expected and hoped and instead of the money being used to ramp risk, it is further accelerating the divide between risky and safe assets. Look for the Direct take down in today's 30 Year auction: it could be a doozy.
- If Hilsenrath leaks a Fed party line and nobody cares, does Hilsenrath exist? Fed Weighs More Stimulus (WSJ)
- Clock Is Ticking on Crisis Charges (WSJ)
- South Korea in first rate cut since 2009 (FT)
- Shake-Up at New York Fed Is Said to Cloud View of Risk at JPMorgan (NYT)
- Italy stats office threatens to stop issuing data (Reuters)... because Italy is "out of money"
- China New Yuan Loans Top Forecasts; Forex Reserves Decline (Bloomberg).. and here are Chinese gold imports
- Italy Faces 'War' in Economic Revamp, Monti Warns (WSJ)... says Mario Monti from Sun Valley, cause Italy is "out of money"
- NY Fed to release Libor documents Friday (Reuters)
- U.S. House Again Votes to Repeal Obama’s Health Care Law (Bloomberg)
- Germany May Turn to Labor Programs as Crisis Worsens, Union Says (Bloomberg)
- Ireland to unveil stimulus package (FT)
The debt-to-GDP ratio is gradually falling, yet it is still at a far higher level than the historical average, and it is still proportionately higher than industrial output. And at the same time, consumers are re-leveraging, and government debt is soaring. And industrial production is barely above where it it was a decade ago, and far below its pre-2000 trend line. We have barely started, and already this has been a slow and grinding deleveraging; rather than the quick and brutal liquidation like that seen in 1907 where the banking system was effectively forced into bailing itself out, the stimulationist policies of low rates, quantitative easing and fiscal stimulus have kept in business zombie companies and institutions carrying absurd debt loads. Like Japan who experienced a similar debt-driven bubble in the late ’80s and early ’90s, we in the West appear to have embarked on a low-growth, high-unemployment period of deleveraging; and like Japan, we appear to be simply transferring the bulk of the debt load from the private sector to the public, without making any real impact in the total debt level, or any serious reduction in the debt-to-GDP ratio.
For many months, if not years, we have been beating the drum on what we believe is the most hushed, but significant story in the metamorphosis of the US labor pool under the New Normal, one which has nothing to with quantity considerations, which can easily be fudged using seasonal and birth death adjustments, and other statistical "smoothing" but with quality of jobs: namely America's transformation to a part-time worker society. Today, one of the very few economists we respect, David Rosenberg, pick up on this theme when he says in his daily letter that "the use of temps is outpacing outright new hirings by a 10-to-1 ratio." And unlike in the old normal, or even as recently as 2011, temp hires are no longer a full-time gateway position: "Moreover, according to a Manpower survey, 30% of temporary staffing this year has led to permanent jobs, down from 45% in 2011.... In today's world, the reliance on temp agencies is akin to "just in time" employment strategies." Everyone's skillset is now a la carte in the form of self-employed mini S-Corps, for reason that Charles Hugh Smith explained perfectly well in "Dear Person Seeking a Job: Why I Can't Hire You." Sadly, that statistic summarizes about everything there is to know about the three years of "recovery" since the recession "ended" some time in 2009.
Continuous Spain running ahead , dragging Italy. Micro movements in equities and FX in total pip for tick sync.