Somewhat disastrous trade balance data from Japan - with exports dramatically worse-than-expected (EU exports -25.1% YoY) and imports worse-than-expected (which will come as no surprise to any ZH reader given Europe's depression and our discussion of world trade here) - has crushed JPY crosses overnight (especially AUDJPY) which is exactly what we said at the close today was required to extend today's equity weakness. Sure enough, S&P 500 futures are down over 6 points from the close now - and trading below day-session lows.
What Do Mental Health Professionals Say About Those Who Question 9/11?
"Houston, we have a problem"
How does the current 'recovery', which according to the NBER officially began in June 2009, compare to those of the past? The Council on Foreign Relations updates its recovery chartbook and succinctly notes that "the current recovery remains an outlier among post-war recoveries along several dimensions." Consumers remain reluctant to take on new debt and the stock of debt is lower than it was when the recovery officially began. The global economic slowdown is beginning to manifest itself in world trade. After staging the strongest recovery of the post–World War II era (thanks to the depth of the plunge), growth in world trade has begun to decelerate.
What You Should Know about this “Unthinkable” Development…
- ECB's Nowotny - ESM banking license could be advantageous (Reuters) - just keep regurgitating headlines until they generate a short squeeze
- IMF Says China Downside Risks Significant as Growth Slows (Bloomberg)
- Moody's cuts outlook on EU stability facility to negative (Reuters)
- Rome places spending controls on Sicily (FT)
- Big banks' glory days feared to be gone for good (Reuters)
- China's CNOOC scoped Nexen, partnered, then pounced (Reuters)
- Germany backs Spanish austerity plans (FT)
- Are 2012 Games one too many for London? (Reuters)
- Euro Crisis Spreading East Damps Growth, Development Bank Says (Bloomberg)
- Japan Flags Yen-Sales Impact as BOJ Eyes More Easing (Bloomberg)
If you are reading this, you are probably a member of what the sociologists would term middle class (albeit at the upper end). This is precisely the segment of society which is poised to come off worst from what is coming. Here is a very disturbing idea. As this crisis develops, if you are an equity portfolio manager and you want to outperform the market, you are going to have to position your portfolio so that it benefits most from your own wealth destruction and that of your family, friends and colleagues. Almost everybody is going to lose and there aren’t many places to hide. This is deeply unpleasant but you can blame the central planners. I’ve written about my own investing, e.g. gold and silver, equities in terms of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, etc. In this Thunder Road Report (below) and going forward, I will discuss this middle class theme and highlight positions I have in individual stocks, etc. The only good thing that can come out of this is a rise in awareness. It’s just awful.
In Ohio today, President Obama will announce the latest World Trade Organization suit against China, this time addressing "unfairly" imposed duties on U.S. auto exports. The Administration will argue that these duties violate international trade rules. Whether or not China will reply that buying US 10 year paper at 1.6% is also unfair remains to be seen. But at least someone is happy. As reported earlier, ADP reported just 4,000 manufacturing jobs were added in the US in the last month: these are the same people who are supposed to be doubling US exports in Obama's latest 5 year plan. Good luck. Anyway, here is the take of the Alliance for American Manufacturing to this simplistic attempt to trade union for long-term stability with America's largest trading partner.
Given the rather weak near-term and long-term outlook for US coal demand, it’s not surprising that within such a capital-intensive business, a number of smaller coal producers were hit recently with bankruptcy rumors. Indeed, even large cap names like Arch Coal have seen an escalation of concern over debt levels. Accordingly, many have concluded that coal -- in an era of solar, wind, and natural gas -- has finally displaced itself due to its problematic extraction, distant transportation, and overall costs. Is coal finally going away as an energy source?
Not a chance.
Indeed, everything currently unfolding for coal in the United States is precisely what is not unfolding for coal globally. Prices to import natural gas to most countries via LNG remain sky-high, easily protecting coal’s cost advantage. And the demand for coal in the developing world remains gargantuan. Accordingly, just as with oil, lower US demand simply frees up supply to elsewhere in the world. The global coal juggernaut rolls onward.
The business cycle ought to be thought of as a series of discrete phases, each one quite distinct from the other, rather than as a smooth and uninterrupted process through time. This is how Goldman Sachs describes what is a compelling view of the dynamics of macro acceleration-and-deceleration and expansion-and-contraction and how these separate phases of their so-called 'swirlogram' can be mapped into asset class performance. This means that unlike traditional business cycle momentum jockeys and the extrapolating 'rulers' of the world, trade positioning should depend not only on the current state of the cycle but also on the near-term phase transition. As the cycle turns, so do assets; economic acceleration serves as an early indicator of looming shifts. Hence, vigilance in monitoring the business cycle with an eye towards identifying cyclical turning points is instrumental to a disciplined investment process. These lessons are timely too. Back in March, the business cycle peaked. The GLI shifted from the Expansion phase to the Slowdown phase; growth remained positive but acceleration turned negative. More ominously, April GLI growth was quite modest, with downward revisions to the last few months of data too. If the current downbeat data trajectory is extended, current GLI readings may prove to be overly optimistic. And should acceleration remains negative (which today's Philly Fed will drive), there is not much of a growth buffer to prevent the cycle from slipping into the Contraction phase, where the message for asset markets is clear and sobering.
- Game Changer: China Starts Drilling It Own Rig Wells (China Daily)
- Cisco says customers delay tech purchases (FT)
- Greeks May Hold $510 Billion Trump Card in Renegotiation (Bloomberg)
- Liquid heroin addicts heart Chairsatan: Bernanke Gets 75% Approval From Investors in Global Poll (Bloomberg)
- How a Radical Greek Rescue Plan Fell Short (WSJ)
- Spain takes 45% stake in Bankia (FT)
- Facebook admits to mobile weakness (WSJ)
- FDIC Would Seize Parent, Allow Units to Operate While Mess Is Cleaned Up (WSJ) - Good luck
- AT&T Fast Network a Work in Progress in Race With Verizon (BBG)
- Pointed Spat Over World Trade Spire (WSJ)