While the economy is showing some signs of impact from falling oil prices, a port strike in California, weak global demand for exports and an exceptionally cold winter; the markets are pushing all-time highs. There is much hype being placed on the ECB's plans for launching QE in March, however, much remains to be seen as to just how effective it will be in a negative interest rate/deflationary enviroment. But then again...there is always "hope."
What in god’s name does Janet Yellen think she is doing? Just a few weeks ago she established the ridiculous Fedspeak convention that “patient” means money market rates will not rise from the zero bound for at least two meetings. Now she has modified that message into “not exactly”.
The levels of spin and denial are reminiscent of the run-up to the 2007 crisis. We and many others were ignored for highlighting the dangers facing the Irish and global economy then and are being ignored again now.
and more news moving the markets
Janet Yellen is very alarmed that some members of Congress want to conduct a comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve for the first time since it was created. During testimony this week, she made “central bank independence” sound like it was the holy grail. Even though every other government function is debated politically in this country, Janet Yellen insists that what the Federal Reserve does is “too important” to be influenced by the American people. Does any other government agency ever dare to make that claim? If the Fed is doing everything correctly, why should Yellen be alarmed? What does she have to hide?
Although it may be unrealistically optimistic, I believe my paraphrase of a Churchill quote:
Case-Shiller Says "Housing Recovery Is Faltering" Despite December Home Prices Jumping Most Since MarchSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/24/2015 10:09 -0400
Home prices, according to Case-Shiller, rose 0.87% MoM in December (better than the expected 0.6% gain) for the biggest seasonally adjusted monthly gain since March, likely bringing the 'housing recovery is back on track' meme back into play (despite affordablity being a major driver of the slump in home sales). However, non-seasonally-adjusted the rise was a mere 0.1%, which nonetheless managed to snap the 3 consecutive months of sequential price declines. And yet, despite all this, Case Shiller was anything but optimistic: “The housing recovery is faltering. While prices and sales of existing homes are close to normal, construction and new home sales remain weak. Before the current business cycle, any time housing starts were at their current level of about one million at annual rates, the economy was in a recession”
As the market anxiously await Janet Yellen's Humphrey-Hawkins testimony this morning, hanging on every word and intonation, ConvergEx's Nick Colas is reminded of Harry Truman’s famous request: “Give me a one-handed economist!” The U.S. central bank clearly feels challenged by the cross currents of the global economy even as it reiterates confidence in domestic growth prospects. In an effort to help clear things up, Colas brings some 21st century data to the Fed’s distinctly old-school toolset and looks at the historical popularity of 10 Google search terms with a decidedly economic twist. Bottom line: the Google data is clear. The Fed needs to wait a while longer before raising interest rates.
"The economy is booming, according to recent data. GDP grew by 2.6% annualized in the last quarter. And yet oil prices have dropped faster than they did in the crisis of 2008. The US dollar is at record strength. And the gold price has spiked in many currencies ... Something’s not right here." So says Eric Sprott in his latest report observing what may lie in store for oil and gold in the near future.
When the German/Eurogroup decision came to throw either their own biggest banks, or the grandmas of a co-member nation of the currency union under the bus, they didn't even hesitate since they have control over the perfect vehicle for such tasks: the ECB (an allegedly neutral institution that in reality peddles political influence in a way that guarantees the poorer countries will always wind up footing the bill). For those of you who don’t want to wake up one day to find their own grandmas crushed under the same bus the Greek yiayia’s are under as we speak, it would be beneficial to ponder how perverse this all is, not just the isolated events but the entire underlying system that produces them. Banks are more important than people, certainly grandmas.
So, while the markets have surged to "all-time highs," the majority of Americans who have little, or no, vested interest in the financial markets have a markedly different view. Currently, mainstream analysts and economists keep hoping with each passing year that this will be the year the economy comes roaring back but each passing year has only led to disappointment. Like Humpty Dumpty, all the Fed stimulus and government support has failed to put the broken financial transmission system back together again. Eventually, the current disconnect between the economy and the markets will merge. Our bet is that such a convergence is not likely to be a pleasant one.
Last week it was 19 central banks (including the ECB which accounts for 19 nations) which had cut rates in 2015, mostly in "surprise", unexpected easing decisions. Moments ago the number became 20 when the Israel central bank just cut its interest rate by 0.15% to 0.1%, the lowest on record, a move which once again caught the market by surprise as only 3 of 23 analysts had predicted it.
With Greece moving to the, ahem, periphery if only for a few days/hours, this week the US calendar returns to the forefront with Fed Chair Yellen’s semi-annual monetary policy testimony before the Senate Banking Committee tomorrow night and the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, which the market will be paying very close attention to for the reconciliation of how the Fed plans to continue on its rate-hiking path despite rapidly deteriorating US macro data that has started 2015 at the worst pace (in terms of downside surprises) since Lehman.
If you thought the Greek tragicomedy is over, you ain't seen nothing yet, because despite the so-called Friday agreement, the immediate next step is for Greece to submit its list of reform measures to the Troika, which will almost certainly result in an immediate revulsion in Germany's finance ministry, and lead to another protracted back and forth between the Troika and Greece, which may once again well end with a Grexit, especially if the Greek liquidity situation, where bash is bleeding from both the banks and the state at a record pace, remains unhalted. It is therefore not surprising that the ongoing decline in the EURUSD since the inking of the agreement, and the fact that the pair briefly dipped below 1.13 this morning - over 100 pips below the euphoric rip on Friday - is a clear indication that the market is starting to realize that absolutely nothing is either fixed, or set in stone.
For the last few years - and most especially the last few months - all eyes have been focused on Greece. From record poverty rates to record suicide rates and levels of youth unemployment, post-election emboldened hopes for a phoenix-like rebirth of a nation from the flames of Eurogroup repression were seemingly dashed on Friday. However there is another nation, that begins with the letter 'G' and that is at the heart of the EU-Greece talks that is suffering seemingly silently. As Newsweek reports, poverty in Germany is at its highest since the reunification of the country in 1990, with 12.5 million residents now classified as 'poor'...