By now everyone knows that when all else fails with propaganda data manipulation, the US government goes right to Plan B: the X-12-ARIMA seasonal adjustment program (full 257 instruction manual here). It most certainly did that in June. The chart below shows the June difference between Seasonally Adjusted and Non-Seasonally Adjusted headline data: a positive number means that contrary to the empirical seasonal adjustment data of the past 15 years, NSA was lower than SA, implying an abnormal boost to seasonal adjustments to make June appear far, far better than the actual NSA data implies. Well, try to find which June of the past 15 is an outlier...
Everyone wants to know what day everything will change. Despite all the chaos in Portugal, Greece, Spain, and France; none of this will matter until after this drop-dead date. Nothing is going to be allowed to upset the bratwurst cart and we mean nothing. If more money is needed it will be spent. If favors need to be called the phone will be in use. But in the day following, however...
Once again, as always happens with a very substantial delay, two themes that have been covered extensively on these pages in the past much to the ridicule of the mainstream media, namely that while the US may have "No Manufacturing Jobs But More Waiters And Bartenders Than Ever" and that Obamacare has finally struck as "Part-Time Jobs Surge To All Time High; Full-Time Jobs Plunge By 240,000" are now begrudgingly covered and in fact, endorsed, by the very same MSM. Enter the Wall Street Journal which blends the two themes well known to our readers, and writes that "More Restaurants Replace Full-Timers, Concerned About Insurance." To wit: "Ken Adams has been turning to more part-time workers at his 10 Subway sandwich shops in Michigan to avoid possibly incurring higher health-care costs under the new federal insurance law. He added approximately 25 part-time workers in May and June as he reduced some employees' hours and replaced other workers who left. The move showed how efforts by some restaurant owners and other businesses to remake their workforces because of the Affordable Care Act may be turning the country's labor market into a more part-time workforce." In other words, the already worst paying jobs in the US are getting even more of the shaft, downgraded from full time to part time status. Precisely the New "part-time worker society" that we predicted would happen back in 2010...
- An actual Bloomberg headline: Granny’s Gold Bars Are Key to Vietnam Push to Boost Dong (BBG)
- Gay delivers further body blow to troubled sport (Reuters)
- China Wealth Eludes Foreigners as Stocks Earn 1% in 20 Years (BBG)
- Bernanke Boom Signaled by Yield Surge as Market Recalculates (BBG)
- Portugal's Parties Set Deadline for Pact (WSJ)
- Corporate Spending Set to Surge in U.S. (BBG)... or not at all based on the actual corporate data
- Legal Fears Slowed Aid to Syrian Rebels (WSJ)
- A mega-camp adds to the Boy Scouts’ troubles (Reuters)
- GSK accused of being ‘ringleader’ in China probe (FT)
- 19 Hospitalized in US-Ukraine Army Exercise - Ministry (RIA)
- Egypt Islamists march as senior U.S. official visits (Reuters)
- German spies made use of U.S. surveillance data (Reuters)
Risk assets are not quite (yet) back to the ‘melt-up' of May but equity markets are trading in a confident mood after Bernanke caused sentiment to flip from glass ‘half empty' to ‘half full'. China Q2 GDP data did not derail price action as equity futures anticipate a positive start of the week. The semi-annual testimony of the Fed Chairman is typically a seminal event on the market calendar but do we dare say that the one coming up this week is a non-event following last week's message on policy accommodation? The VIX index dropped 7 points over the last three weeks of which 2 points alone came last Thursday and Friday as stocks roared to new highs and shrugged off the candid observation on the Chinese economy by finance minister Lou Jiwei. If a 6.5% growth rate is tolerable in the future, there is little doubt that commodities and the AUD have further to fall. Chinese GDP slowed from 7.7% to 7.5% according to data released overnight and prospects for the second half don't look much brighter after evidence of slowing credit growth. Data on Friday showed declines of narrow money from 11.3% yoy to 9.1% in May, with broad money growth slowing to 14% yoy. Non-bank credit and new foreign currency bank lending also weakened.
"I am so old that I can remember when most of the people promoting race hate were white;" Thomas Sowell begins in this poignant essay amid the protests across the nation this evening. Apparently other Americans also recognize that the sources of racism are different today from what they were in the past. According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 31 percent of blacks think that most blacks are racists, while 24 percent of blacks think that most whites are racist. The time is long overdue to stop looking for progress through racial or ethnic leaders. Such leaders have too many incentives to promote polarizing attitudes and actions that are counterproductive for minorities and disastrous for the country.
Despite the Schrodinger PMIs that the nation continues to pump-out in less and less transparent nature, and the leadership's seeming desire to use the early years to 'soft-land' the bubble-economy created by their predecessors, it seems the most recent trade data (disappointment) was more an indication of reality (along with the recent jawboning) than the hopes of so many talking-heads in the West. GDP met lowered expectations of 7.5% YoY (but is down from last month's and lowest since Sep12), Industrial Production missed expectations for the 4th month in a row (8.9% vs 9.1% YoY expectations) at its lowest since April 2009, and Retail Sales beat expectations by the most in 9 months! Of course, the 'goldilocks' will be seen as instantly indicative of either 'all is well with global growth so don't sweat it' or of a need for an avalanche of stimulus to save the world, but as we noted here, China is way past the point of worrying about a few percentage points of GDP. AUD popped higher before the data and leaked back on the goldilocks reality; S&P futures testing spike highs from Friday; and gold pressing higher to $1295.
When it comes to economic data, in China whatever the Politburo's Goalseek.xls model says is what goes, and credibility - especially in the context of a historic CNY1 trillion deleveraging - is irrelevant. But one reason why today's GDP print is even more irrelevant than ever, is becuase as Xia Bin, an economist with the State Council's Development Research Center and government advisor, said "Arguments about whether China will grow at 7% or 7.5% are "pointless" because the economy is already in a financial crisis which may only worsen if the government doesn't address the country's crippling debt problem."
US equities closed the week at new all-time highs - and yay-verily the world of long-only asset-gethering talking heads celebrated this as in some way confirming their long-held 'belief' that the US is the cleanest dirty shirt and where-else are you going to invest (you dummy!!). Of course, reality is far different - as Seth Klarman noted, if it's all so great then why did Bernanke need to stick-save us again this week? The bottom-line from the top-down is that the US is in fact the 2nd worst performing macro-economy of the year of the majors (2nd only to China) compared to expectations. What the following charts indicate though, is an interesting divergence between macro-reality and market-perception that is evident among the nations of the world that print money to save themselves... and those that are not (yet)...
"The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities. We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin."
In the US, our regulators have publicly embraced a "too big to prosecute" doctrine. We are restraining, underfunding and dismantling regulatory oversight in the interests of short-term stability for the status quo. Which as a criminologist, Black knows with certainty creates an environment where bad actors will act in their self-interest with assumed (and likely real, at this point) impunity... And so there is no more destructive asset against trust than elite fraud.
Many of us have worked with or for individuals who have confidence in wild disproportion to their actual talent. They bubble endlessly with exaggerated claims of their skills and achievements, and congratulate themselves publicly for even the most trivial of accomplishments. It’s as if by broadcasting the certainty of their own superiority, they can somehow possibly mask their own often lackluster record of performance and dearth of talent. Yet of course, it works quite well! The specter of watching mediocre self-promoters brashly stomping their unremarkable way to the top of some pecking order, org chart, or political office is overfamiliar to most all of us...