MMT: Monetizing Muppet Trades. This one made good money!
By reviewing the earnings transcripts from the companies of the S&P 500, Goldman Sachs notes 4 key themes emerge from the maelstrom of double-speak, bravado, and actual data (GAAP or non-GAAP). Without question the US Dollar strength is a drag on multinationals and CEOs are resolute in that (despite mainstream media prognostications that 'king dollar' is "unequivocally good") but what CEOs and CFOs seems just as resolutely positive about is that while macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainties still exist in Asia and Europe, they expect solid US economic growth in 2015. It appears - given the data - they will be disappointed.
For the past few years (here from 2012 to most recently here) we have vociferously argued that the state of the US labor force is anything but healthy (and anything but cyclical) as the structural aging of America (where work is punished, college is free, and retirement long forgotten) drags at The American Dream. Even Goldman Sachs' Jan Hatzius - now desperate for a less positive spin to employment, in hopes of keeping The Fed dovish-er longer-er, has admitted that because of discouragement, disability, and schooling, coupled with a slowdown in the rise of the retired population will slow the pace of decline of the unemployment rate.
West Coast Ports Shut Down For Holiday Weekend: Supply Chain Halt Threatens Havoc On Reeling EconomySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/14/2015 19:02 -0400
the latest news out of the West Coast is not good for anyone hoping for a quick resolution to the congestion problem. According to Reuters, after the clogged ports briefly reopened on Friday after a daylong closure, "shippers planned to re-impose a partial shutdown through the holiday weekend barring a settlement in stalled labor talks with the dockworkers union."
In an effort to to disentangle demand from supply shifts, Goldman explores the drivers of the sharp drop in oil prices since last summer. They find that the vast majority of the decline in oil prices until November 2014 was driven by perceptions of improved supply. The continued sell-off in December and January was driven by perceptions of both improving supply and slowing demand. The latest rebound in oil--which started in late January--appears to be driven by a mix of demand and supply. However, Goldman concludes the new equilibrium price of oil will likely be much lower than over the past decade.
With WTI back under $50 once again (the mainstream media's new Maginot Line for oil complex stability - just like $80, $70, and $60 was), it appears more investors are waking up to the reality of an over-supplied, under-demanded global energy market. The 'squeeze bounce manipulation' that we saw over the last week - very reminiscent of the bounce seen mid-collapse in 2008/9, was predicated on falling rig counts (and capex). However, Goldman pours freezing cold fracking water all over that thesis as they explain that the decline in the US rig count remains well short of the level required to achieve a sufficient slowdown in US oil production growth to balance the global market. Simply put, they conclude, lower oil prices will be required over the coming quarters to see the US production growth slowdown materialize with risk to their already low price forecast to the downside.
Are we on the verge of a major worldwide economic downturn? Well, if recent warnings from prominent bankers all over the world are to be believed, that may be precisely what we are facing in the months ahead.
"Enjoy the party, but dance near the door."
... And all of this takes place in broad daylight, in front of the entire American population, which is too bored, too lazy, and far too distracted by collecting the government handout equivalent of plastic beads, spending on 99 cent apps and watching the Grammys to care.
- Greek Risk Draws Global Concern on Lehman Echo Warnings (BBG)
- Merkel to urge caution in U.S. as pressure builds to arm Ukraine forces (Reuters)
- West Races to Defuse Ukraine Crisis (WSJ)
- German-French Push Yields Ukraine Summit Plan With Putin (BBG)
- Swiss Leaks lifts the veil on a secretive banking system (ICIJ)
- Italy Lenders Seen Cleansing Books Amid Bad-Bank Plans (BBG)
- G-20 Finance Chiefs Face Tough Test in Istanbul (WSJ)
- Demand for OPEC Crude Will Rise This Year, Says Group (WSJ)... or rather prays
- U.S. Banks Say Soaring Dollar Puts Them at Disadvantage (WSJ)
Quarterly earnings fell (yes fell) 2% from Q4 2013 to Q4 2014 on an operating EPS basis, and as Goldman Sachs notes, was only saved from a much more disastrous fate by Apple. However, don't worry about the mother's milk of markets... From now on, everything looks awesome as the hockey-stick extrapolators project EPS growth to resume in its escape velocity gung-ho, higher interest rates are good way by year-end...
...but it's different this time.
And just like that, instead of praising the January jobs report, Goldman's Jan Hatzius is far more interested in pounding the table on its one scariest chart...
- RadioShack files for bankruptcy; Sprint to take over some stores (Reuters)
- Kansas To Issue Bonds and Invest Proceeds to Boost Pension Returns (WSJ)
- Merkel to Make Last Push With Putin as Pessimism Prevails (BBG)
- Islamic State in Syria seen under strain but far from collapse (Reuters)
- Texas Swagger Fades Fast as Oil Town Squeezed Hard by OPEC (BBG)
- SEC probes Blackberry options trading ahead of Reuters report about Samsung talks (Reuters)
- Spanish Bonds Underperform Italy’s as Podemos Gains Popularity (BBG)
- Steelworkers Union Rejects Offer From Refiners (WSJ)
- Brazil January Inflation at Fastest Pace in Nearly 12 Years (BBG)
With S&P facing billion-dollar fines for defying the narrative, Goldman Sachs just dared to go even further against the US government by suggesting that the new oil order may be a blessing in disguise for Russia's oil industry. Simply put, the impact of the lower oil price and sanctions on the Russian economy increase the importance of oil industry tax reform, which could provide stimulus for upstream investments and commercialisation of the country’s vast oil reserves. An acceleration of upstream/downstream tax rebalancing could incentivise the development of substantial new basins in Russia, leading to a production capacity increase and a reduction in refining volumes to levels necessary to supply the domestic market. As a result, in Goldman's view, Russian crude exports would increase, improving the country’s current account, government revenues would grow, and upstream would attract material incremental investments.