Are the markets already front running a potential announcement of a third round of Quantitative Easing (QE 3)? Maybe so. We had expected QE3 at the end of last summer as the economy weakened substantially from the impact of the Japanese earthquake/debt ceiling debate/Eurozone crisis trifecta. However, with political pressures running high due to the raging battle in Congress raising the debt ceiling there was little support from the public for further intervention. Furthermore, with inflation, as measured by CPI, already outside of the Fed's comfort zone, the Fed opted to institute "Operation Twist" (O.T.) instead. With the Euro-Crisis on the broiler, another debt ceiling debate approaching, the U.S. economy struggling along as Europe slips into a recession and corporate earnings being revised down there are plenty of reasons for stocks to decline in price. Yet, they have continued to inch up. With short interest on stocks having plunged in recent weeks it certainly sounds like the markets are betting on something happening and soon.
Houston, We Have Recoupling - Initial Claims Back Over 400,000 (Post Next Week's Revision), Retail Sales Ex Autos Worst Since Early 2010Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/12/2012 10:04 -0400
Remember that whole "US is decoupling" theme so pathologically spread around by two-bit propaganda media outfits staffed by journalism B.A. majors? Time to put it in the trash where it belongs. As long expected, the temp hire surge, so effectively used by retailers to dump inventory below cost (just ask Sears), is over, and in the first week of 2012, Seasonally Adjusted claims soared to 399,000, the highest since November and a number which next week will be revised over 400,000, a decimation of expectations of 375,000 (naturally last week's number was revised upward from 372K to 375K - a long-lasting BLS tradition of fudging data that everyone knows about now). The Non-Seasonally adjusted number was +102,314 claims in the first week of the year. And the real question is how many of these real departures were of the banker type, where the impact on lost withholding taxes going forward, and thus government revenues, will be quite dire. Continuing claims also missed expectations, rising to 3628K from a revised 3609K (expectation was for an unchanged print, pre revision, of 3595K). And the worst news is that the 99-week cliff continues to grab more and more, with 48k people dropping off all rolls, and thus from the labor force completely, meaning the labor force participation rate in January will likely drop to another fresh 30 year low. But the horrendous jobs update was only one part. The other one focuses on actual consumer spending, as confirmed by the major miss in retail sales which were up 0.1% on expectations of 0.3%, but the entire gain was due to car purchases primarily driven by cheap govt-funded subprime credit for GM vehicles. Sales ex-autos actually declined by 0.2%, on an expectation of 0.3% rise: this was the first decline and worst print since early 2010. So much for the consumer-led recovery. And so much for the unemployment pick up. And so much for the decoupling. The chart below shows what will happen as the world finally reconverges, as was posted yesterday.
UPDATE: EURUSD at highs of day now 1.2790, sovereigns and corps/fins tightening back modestly
The ECB press conference has begun and immediately the headlines are flying and driving EUR weaker (ironically not helped by the dismal US macro data that just printed). European sovereign spreads are leaking wider, stocks are underperforming, treasuries outperforming bunds, and corporate and financial spreads are widening rapidly on his comments, via Bloomberg:
- *DRAGHI SAYS ECONOMIC OUTLOOK FACING SUBSTANTIAL DOWNSIDE RISKS
- *DRAGHI SAYS FISCAL COMPACT MUST HAVE UNAMBIGUOUS WORDING
- *DRAGHI SAYS FISCAL CONSOLIDATIONS ARE UNAVOIDABLE
- *DRAGHI SAYS ECB WILL ACT AS AGENT FOR EFSF
- *DRAGHI SAYS HARD DATA DON'T YET SHOW STABILIZATION
- *DRAGHI SAYS HILDEBRAND WAS `VERY, VERY GOOD' GOVERNOR
- *DRAGHI SAYS ECB DIDN'T DISCUSS CUTTING DEPOSIT, MARGINAL RATES
- *DRAGHI SAYS ONGOING TENSIONS KEEP DAMPING ECONOMIC ACTIVITY
- *DRAGHI SAYS ECB `VERY CONCERNED' ON HUNGARY
- *DRAGHI SAYS ANY WAY TO INCREASE THE 'FIREWALL' FIREPOWER WELCOME
- *DRAGHI: NATIONS SHOULD HAVE HAD CAPITAL READY ON STRESS TESTS
- *DRAGHI SAYS NEW COLLATERAL RULES EXPANDED POTENTIAL RISK
- *DRAGHI SAYS PSI WAS RESPONSE TO `SELFISH' BEHAVIOR
- *DRAGHI SAYS ECB EXPECTS SUBSTANTIAL DEMAND FOR SECOND LTRO
- *DRAGHI SAYS GREEK CASE IS `UNIQUE'
Demand in Asia continues to be strong. China remains the world’s largest producer of mined gold. Premiums for gold bullion bars in Asia are rising again and are at their highest since October in Hong Kong and Singapore. Premiums are at $2.15/oz in Hong Kong and $1.65/oz in Singapore. Bullion’s strength was also attributed to the euro’s 16 month low, with Fitch warning the ECB to purchase assets to try to stabilize the euro. Spot gold was up 0.6 percent at $1,650.34 an ounce at 1009 GMT, having earlier touched a one-month high at $1,652.30. U.S. gold futures for February delivery were up $12.60 an ounce at $1,652.20. A stronger rupee has boosted the purchasing power of gold bullion consumers in India. This is in the run up for the Indian Wedding Season which resumes January 15th and continues until April, leaving a few weeks break for a period that is considered bad luck for nuptials. Chinese demand will weaken next week as many factories and businesses are set to close for the Lunar New Year’s celebrations.
I’ve received a number of emails regarding the fact that stocks continue to rally despite Europe being on the verge of Collapse. Once again, investors are forgetting that stocks are the most clueless asset class on the planet.
Indeed, here are three reasons why this latest stock market rally isn’t to be trusted.
A big win for Google is the begining of a painful trend for MSFT.
The economic superstar, with unemployment at a 20-year low and exports at an all-time high, produces 34% of the Eurozone’s GDP—and it smacked into a wall.
Nearly 10-years ago to the day, the government of Argentina collapsed. Beset by weighty deficit spending and a completely unrealistic currency peg to the US dollar, Argentina became the poster child for the golden rule of economics: ‘that which is unsustainable will not be sustained.’ It’s reversion to the mean. Within a matter of days, the country had burned through several presidents, the currency collapsed, inflation soared, unemployment shot up, crime rates spiked, and the government defaulted on its debt. After limping along for most of the last decade with a socialist agenda, the government of Argentina is at it again. The economy is rapidly deteriorating, and street-inflation has surpassed 25%.
Those who depend on a strategy of pleading with central authorities to continue funding at old levels are doomed to disappointment--all systems follow an S-Curve of rapid expansion, stasis and decline. The Central State is no different. The solution is localism. By creating cheap housing with its own modest tax resources, then the village attracts young families, whose children will keep the village school from closing, and the commerce brought to the village and its post office will keep it above the "closure" threshold. Passively hoping that centralized concentrations of wealth and power will return to pre-eminence is a losing strategy, the equivalent of a cargo cult ritualistically hoping for a return to World War II-era bounty. Focusing local resources on obvious bootstrap solutions is the winning strategy, not just in the U.S. but globally.
Bob Janjuah, despite never leaving, is once again back, even if he really has nothing new to say: "Western policy makers, at the national and G20/IMF level, still seem to have no response to solvency problems other than printing more money, loading on more debt, and hoping that "time" sorts it all out. In other words, the extension of ponzi schemes which are being used to cover up our lack of competitiveness and real productivity growth through the use of money debasement and leverage....Apologies to all for not telling you anything new or very different. One day, when we collectively abandon the neo-communist experiment in the West that relies on more debt and printing money in order to maintain the status quo, then I will hopefully have a different and far more positive view of the years ahead. I look forward to this time. But for now, expect more of the same as in 2011. And I know it's a few weeks early, but as I am unlikely to write anything for at least a month, Kung Hei Fat Choi. The year of the dragon will soon be upon us."
The bullishness is rather interesting considering the notable headwinds that exist in the European sovereign debt markets, the geopolitical risk seen in light sweet crude oil futures, and the potential for a recession to play out in Europe.
- SEC calls for detail on debt exposure (FT)
- Calls for US taxpayers to bear housing (FT)
- Beijing Sets Meek Tone on Reform to Banking Sector Amid Uncertainty (WSJ)
- Merkel, Sarkozy to seek growth, jobs for euro zone (Reuters)
- UK leaves door open for cash to IMF (FT)
- Hungary Runs Out of Options in Row With IMF (Bloomberg)
- Monti Says No More Budget Cutting Needed to Balance Italian Budget by 2013 (Bloomberg)
- China to maintain 'prudent' monetary policy (China Daily)
- Regional free trade talks in the pipeline (China Daily)