Weekly Bull/Bear Recap: Jan. 28-Feb. 1, 2013

Tyler Durden's picture

From Rodrigo Serrano of Rational Capitalist Speculator,

This objective report concisely summarizes important macro events over the past week.  It is not geared to push an agenda.  Impartiality is necessary to avoid costly psychological traps, which all investors are prone to, such as confirmation, conservatism, and endowment biases.

 

Bull

U.S. Economic Activity is beginning to reaccelerate:

+  The global economy is set to reaccelerate in the coming months according to JP Morgan’s Global Manufacturing PMI, led by a reacceleration in China (due to domestic demand) and firming U.S. activity.  Improvement in these countries is spilling over into Europe…

+  …Germany’s Markit Manufacturing PMI is now just a smidgen below 50, which delineates between contraction and expansion, at 49.8 (an 11-month high).  Furthermore, Consumer climate, reported by the Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (Gfk) group, reveals an improving state of confidence.  Perhaps this is due to a recovering job market.  Meanwhile, while still contracting, the majority of country-specific PMIs (Spain, Italy, Hungary, and Czech Republic) indicate the worse is over of the region’s recession.  The improvement in the global economy can also be seen in Brazil, where the unemployment rate has fallen to a record low.

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(Source: Markit Economics

 

Bear

- Investors have piled into bullish bets (but earnings have flatlined since Q2 2011), economists all agree that the economy is poised to expand, the VIX is at 2007 levels before the crisis struck, and the bears are capitulating.  All are signs of extreme complacency in the face of festering bearish macro trends……  

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(Weekly Readings —— Solid Line = 32-week average)

- …..and why are investors giddy?  Because stocks keep on rising.  But smart investors know to use REAL, not Nominal gains to correctly value wealth.  “Zimbabwe’s stock market was the best performer this decade — but your entire portfolio now buys you 3 eggs.” — Kyle Bass

- The U.S. Economy is extremely vulnerable and is on the cusp of recession: 

  • Bull are doused with a bucket of cold water as 4th quarter U.S. GDPprints negative for the first time since Q2 2009.  The negative print is a crystal clear indication of how weak and vulnerable this recovery is.  Curtailing government expenditures, higher taxes, and rising gas prices as the summer approaches will be too much for the economy to bear.
  • U.S. Consumer confidence, as per the Conference Board Consumer Confidence survey, plunges again in January, erasing all of 2012’s gains.  Furthermore, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index falls for the fourth straight week.  Weekly sales metrics, such as Goldman ICSCand Redbook, reveal weakening consumption trends.  This ongoing trend casts a cloud over the direction of consumer spending as worries over reduced incomes due to the expiring 2-yr payroll tax holiday ferment.
  • The Household Survey, embedded beneath the widely touted headline jobs number this morning, has not confirmed the improving job market for the third successive month.  
  • The FOMC meeting reveals that Fed officials are worried about a stalling economy (confirmed by Q4 numbers) as well as creeping disinflation.  Monetary policy is powerless to arrest continued sluggish in the economy; worse, as investors appreciate the negative impact of reduced consumer incomes, there will be a crisis of confidence.  ”Don’t Fight the Fed” will be a maxim of the past.  

- Europe’s troubles lurk in the background, receiving very little press.  The budget scandal in Spain is quietly picking steam and Retail Sales in the country fell for the 30th consecutive month in December.  Spanish 10-yr borrowing costs advance roughly 5% this week.  Looking at a 3-month view, we now see a higher high.  Meanwhile, car sales throughout the periphery remain in a distinguishable downtrend and retail sales throughout the region signal consumer retrenchment.  Moreover, Italian Consumer Confidence slumps to a 17-yr low and Business Confidence unexpectedly falls.

- If China has really bottomed and is on the brink of a sustainable recovery, try telling that to the Australians.  Straya’s mining-based economy is signaling a red flag for global recovery enthusiasts.