Stocks have slipped, precious metals have round-tripped, and the FOMC did nothing to save us but nevertheless the world's analysts and economists came to the rescue of yesterday's negative GDP growth print yammering over a never-ending series of reasons why ignoring the bad parts, it was great. UBS' Art Cashin, as always, cuts through all the spin as he notes, while most of headlines concentrated on the 4th Quarter GDP, it did give us a look at the annual GDP for 2012 at about 1.5% (not the 4% growth that was the Fed's projection, he snarks); and it is that 1.5% growth rate that has a 65-year history of concerning implications...
The Keynesian belief that the government can print/ borrow and spend enough money to trigger self-sustaining prosperity is a nonsensical, magical-thinking Cargo Cult. The following charts show why it will continue to fail, with eventually catastrophic results: the returns on this unprecedented borrow-spend policy are diminishing to near-zero or negative. As long as the interest rate on debt is low, the path of least resistance is to keep borrowing to support politically untouchable fiefdoms, cartels and constituencies. Eventually, the cost of servicing the debt overwhelms the diminishing returns on the debt-based spending.
Yesterday the stock of Italian offshore oil services company Saipem SpA imploded nearly 40% after the company said it expected 2013 net profits to be, oh, just around 50% below current consensus. In other words, merely another case of irrational investor exuberance where actual corporate cash flow is orders of magnitude below where the sellside expected it to be, and so indicative of what happens every time hopium collides with reality (and, tangentially, is the real valuation case for most public stocks were they to report real, not GAAP-massaged earnings). Only in this case there was a lot of hopium, because none other than Bank of America placed some 10 million share of Saipem stock at €30/share just hours ahead of the news release that sent the stock crashing! Nothing like getting a 40% wipeout minutes after naively believing the lies from the most incompetent bank of all time. "This is a disaster for the buyer of the placed shares and it is a disaster for Bank of America Merrill Lynch," one trader said. As Dow Jones reports, "Several traders said Tuesday's buyers, who face huge losses, are likely to push to revoke the deal, and that Bank of America will ask the seller if they had insider knowledge of the imminent news." But borderline criminal incompetence on the side of BofA is nothing new. Where this story gets really surreal is the response of the Italian regulato Consob, which this morning did the only thing it could do: it banned all shorting of the stock.
Our credit-based financial markets and the economy it supports are levered, fragile and increasingly entropic – it is running out of energy and time. When does money run out of time? The countdown begins when investable assets pose too much risk for too little return; when lenders desert credit markets for other alternatives such as cash or real assets.
It appears the Spanish, not to be outdone by the Italians - with their growing BMPS debacle, have found their own epic political SNAFU. For decades, El Pais reports, the ruling Popular Party (PP) leaders were paid regular sums of money aside from their official salaries, via donations from companies (especially construction firms). Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is at the top of the secret files list (kept by former PP Treasurer Barcenas) having started to receive these extra 'kickbacks' in 1997. Of course, the establishment is not responding to any questions on the matter - until exhaustive internal and external audits are undertaken - but this appears to be payback by the former PP Treasurer who was 'busted' earlier in the year (by Rajoy) for keeping millions of Euros in a Swiss bank account. If this wasn't so uncomfortably believable in a Europe that has proved itself capable of gross negligence and untruths, it would make for a great mafia-based movie transcript - unfortunately, it is all too real. Meanwhile, Spanish youth unemployment approaches 60%...
It would appear this morning's spending and income data (and the fact that US equity markets opened down) was enough for a de-correlated explosion in risk-assets in general. Gold has retraced its post-GDP spike (and Silver is close) but with the USD weaker (thanks to risk-lever of all risk-levers EURUSD) Stocks are surging and bonds tracking along as 10Y breaks back above 2.000% once again. A nicely engineered stop-run to ES 1500 and 10Y 2.00% or real money 'rotation' - you decide... The anti-correlation is typically unsustainable - so who will win today? Stocks lower or gold/oil higher?
Remember when the Chicago PMI was revised much lower in December, pushing it from 51.6 to some 48.9, as part of its annual revision. Well, the baffle with BS show must go on. Moments ago the PMI printed at a number that makes a complete mockery of all the regional Fed diffusion indices and the various confidence data, not to mention all other manufacturing data, miraculously soaring from 50.0 to 55.6, the highest print since April, the biggest monthly jump since October 2009 and a 5 sigma beat to expectations of 51.6: the biggest such beat in absolute terms since September 2011.
No commentary necessary, although we will add one word: "unsustainable." We will also add that apparently not one economist could factor the simplest human behavioral response: "hey, lets pay ourselves dividends today to avoid the dividend tax hike tomorrow" into their models, which is why reality smashed the "estimate" by about 6 standard deviations. Ah, economists.
Savings Rate Soars To Highest Since May 2009 On December Surge In Comp And Dividends Ahead Of Fiscal CliffSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/31/2013 09:55 -0400
One look at the headline December data and one would get the impression that millions of Americans had started dealing meth out of some New Mexico RV, as personal income exploded by the most in 8 years, soaring some 2.6% in December to $13.936 billion. And since the surge in income, which was expected to rise some 0.8%, was hardly matched by a comparable boost to spending which missed expectations of 0.3%, rising just 0.2% - somewhat paradoxical considering the biggest boost to the otherwise negative Q4 GDP print was precisely this: spending and consumption, meant that the personal saving rate (which is merely a function of income less spending) soared to 6.5% or the highest since May 2009 - superficially an indication that consumers are hunkering down in expectation of something very bad.
While the popular meme is that jobless claims have been indicating an albeit modestly growing economy, it would appear that facts simply do not reflect that reality. Jobless claims surged this week, missing expectations by the most since Sandy as seasonal affectations are in the rear-view mirror. For 13 months, we have meandered around a flat-line initial claims number in the 365k range - and we remain there. What is most troubling about this total catastrophe that occurred in Emergency Unemployment Compensation. After last week's record-breaking plunge of over 350k, this week saw a surge of over 418k added to the EUC rolls - the biggest 2-week jump in two months. The noise in this data remains impressive and yet it is the correlated macro data that appears to be at the heart of so many people's belief in the equity market's strength...
Germany and France have a long and illustrious history of "competing" with each other, sometimes peacefully, sometime not. More importantly, the two countries are, incorrectly, considered to represent the stability "core" of the Eurozone. And perhaps that is somewhat true in the context of all the other peripheral European nations, where things are so bad we have run out of adjectives to describe the plight of the people and the economic collapse. Yet, at least according to two metrics: jobs and cars - when it comes to the endless Germany vs France match there is no contest.
- Risky Student Debt Is Starting to Sour (WSJ)
- Political scandal in Spain as PP secret accounts revealed (El Pais)
- New York Times claims Chinese hackers hijacked its systems (NYT)
- Spain's Rajoy, ruling party deny secret payment scheme (Reuters)
- Iran crude oil exports rise to highest since EU sanctions (Reuters)
- BlackBerry 10’s Debut Fizzles as U.S. Buyers Left Waiting (BBG)
- Costs drag Deutsche Bank to €2.2bn loss (FT)
- And the gaming of RWA continues - Deutsche Bank Beats Capital Goal as Jain Shrugs Off Loss (BBG)
- More fun out of London - Barclays, RBS May Pay Billions Over Improper Derivatives Sales (BBG)
- Hagel to face grilling by Senate panel on Mideast, budget (Reuters)
Anyone who spends any amount of time on the internet has seen them. They are the moonbats, the wingnuts, the whackjobs, the Conspiratorialists. They are America’s new Lunatic Fringe, and their numbers are growing. To the uninitiated this all seems rather humorous, albeit slightly unsettling. It would be both wrong and unwise just to slough it off as the ramblings of the insane. The reason such beliefs are gaining favor is because many Americans have lost faith and lost trust in the government and in America’s elected leadership. Given what has happened over the last decade, this is not only understandable, it is even, in an odd way, reasonable. A continual drift to the fringe can be expected because of the many very real things that make the foolish things suddenly more believable. The American people are well aware they have been lied to by the leadership. They know that a lobbyist has an infinitely greater chance of getting his way than an entire nation of voters. When trust is gone, everything becomes an affront, a conspiracy, a power grab by the elite.
"History is replete with examples of societies whose downfalls were related to or caused by the destruction of money. The end of this phase of global financial history will likely erupt suddenly. It will take almost everyone by surprise, and then it may grind a great deal of capital and societal cohesion into dust and pain. We wish more global leaders understood the value of sound economic policy, the necessity of sound money, and the difference between governmental actions that enable growth and economic stability and those that risk abject ruin. Unfortunately, it appears that few leaders do."
- Paul Singer, Elliott Management
Remember all those soaring German confidence indices that said ignore the negative GDP print and focus on a future so bright, ze Germans've got to wear Zeiss? Appears the confidence may have been a tad massaged upwards because following a spate of weak corporate results out of Europe's growth dynamo, the German HDE retail association said Christmas sales for November and December were down some 0.7% from the prior year. Specifically German retail sales plunged -1.7% from November on expectations of a modest -0.1% decline, while on a year over year basis December imploded a whopping -4.7% vs expectations of -1.5%. Did the Germans blame the weather of lack of government spending, or maybe say to only focus on the positive aspects of the report (if any)? No. They were not girlie men about it. In now traditional news, Greek retail sales in November followed suit and plunged just a tad more than in Germany imploding by some -16.8% in November. Remember: once they hit 0 they can only go up. But the biggest news certainly was Germany, whose economy continues to deteriorate and is probably what spurred Buba president Jens Weidmann to say that ongoing bailouts could threaten the strongest members.