St Louis Fed
The behaviour of financial markets these days is frankly divorced from reality, with value-investing banished. Our dysfunctional markets have become little more than the essential prerequisite, as Louis XIV’s finance minister Colbert might have said, to plucking the goose for the largest amount of feathers with the minimum of hissing.
Over the last few weeks, the markets have seen wild vacillations as stocks plunged and then surged on a massive short-squeeze in the most beaten up sectors of energy and small-mid capitalization companies. While "Ebola" fears filled mainstream headlines the other driver behind the sell-off, and then marked recovery, was a variety of rhetoric surrounding the last vestiges of the current quantitative easing program by the Fed. “You will know that the financial markets have reached peak instability and volatility when Britney Spears rings the opening bell.”
While according to the BLS survey employers have almost never had more open positions, they have also decided to put an abrupt stop to hiring, something which certainly points to a major disconnect in the US labor market. In fact, according to the JOLTS report, its far less tracked "Hirings" number plunged from 4,934K to just 4,640K. This was the lowest number of monthly hiring since January's "Polar Vortex" ground the economy to a halt. What's worse, the 294K plunge in monthly hiring was the biggest monthly drop since June 2010, and was the third biggest monthly plunge in hiring since Lehman!
Google "grocery prices last 12 months" and it's post after post beginning with "Consumer prices rise" or "Rising food prices bite." One person who is happy about this is the New York Times’ Paul Krugman, for instead of being like Europe, that is “clearly in the grip of a deflationary vortex,” America only teeters on the edge of a general price plunge. “And there but for the grace of Bernanke go we,” writes the voice of Grey Lady economics wisdom. However, Mr. Krugman shouldn’t declare defeat to the deflationists just yet. Bankers are learning to say ‘yes’ again, and that means velocity and price increases.
"Germany will flirt with recession by Q4 of this year," warns Saxo Bank's Chief Economist Steen Jakobsen, adding that "the US is in worse shape than most people believe." It's important to underline, he notes, that major US investment houses, and certainly every single sales person we talk to, believe US is about to accelerate in growth not slow down. Jakobsen warns though that Q3 could be ok but the real damage will come in Q4 as the lead-lag factor of geopolitical risk, lack of reforms and excess global supply leads to low inflation. His conclusion, "it’s time to be defensive... very defensive."
?Economics is like a Monet painting. Stand too close and all you see is a bunch of seemingly random paint strokes. Back up a few steps and an image emerges. The painting of bubblenomics started with the Plaza Accord, September 1985, where five nations agreed to manipulate the dominant currencies at the time. Japan enjoyed a 50% devaluation of the US$ vs the yen, artificially enriching its citizens so they could travel the world in busloads with eighty pounds of cameras around their necks. The consequences of that bubble have yet to be corrected. Based on healthy guidelines, the price of real estate is far too expensive today, or, more precisely, the cost of housing is too high but we may need another crisis before the market will wake up to the needed changes. In the meantime, money printing and hype will continue.
Feeling stressed? Worried about the financial markets? Don't be - the Fed has an index for that. The St. Louis Fed 'financial stress index', constructed from 18 weekly data series (6 interest rates, 6 yield spreads, and 5 others) fell to a record low for the 3rd week in a row signaling all-clear... right? Just one thing, in a world entirely disintermediated by central banking largesse, just how relevant are these 'market' indications of financial stress? As Bloomberg warns, the financial stress index has now been below zero for 130 consecutive weeks, the longest period since 2008.
It stands to reason that when the Fed eventually lifts interest rates, we’ll see the usual effects. After a sustained rise in rates, you can safely bet on: Fixed investment and business earnings dropping sharply; GDP growth following investment and earnings lower; Many people losing their jobs; and Risky assets performing poorly. These consequences follow not only from the arithmetic of debt service and present value calculations, but also from the mood swinging psychology of entrepreneurs, lenders and investors. Yet, policy economists claim that interest rates can be “normalized” at no cost. Our conclusion is to reject forecasts calling for the economy to power right through interest rate hikes without stumbling. A more likely scenario is that policy “normalization” leads us directly into the next bust.
Abe's honeymoon is over. Following nearly two years of having free reign to crush the Japanese economy with his idiotic monetary and fiscal policies - but, but the Nikkei is up - the market may have finally pulled its head out of its, well, sand, and after last night's abysmal economic data from Japan which saw not only the highest (cost-push) inflation rate since 1982, in everything but wages (hence, zero demand-pull) - after wages dropped for 23 consecutive months, disposable income imploded - but a total collapse in household spending, the USDJPY appears to have finally been dislodged from its rigged resting place just around 102. As a result the 50 pip overnight drop to 101.4 was the biggest drop in over a month. And since the Nikkei is nothing but the USDJPY (same for the S&P), Japan stocks tumbled 1.4%, their biggest drop in weeks, as suddenly the days of the grand Keynesian ninja out of Tokyo appear numbered. Unless Nomura manages to stabilize USDJPY and push it higher, look for the USDJPY to slide back to double digits in the coming weeks.
These Fake Rallies Will End In Tears: "If People Stop Believing In Central Banks, All Hell Will Break Loose"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/24/2014 15:11 -0400
Investors and speculators face some profound challenges today: How to deal with politicized markets, continuously “guided” by central bankers and regulators? In this environment it may ultimately pay to be a speculator rather than an investor. Speculators wait for opportunities to make money on price moves. They do not look for “income” or “yield” but for changes in prices, and some of the more interesting price swings may soon potentially come on the downside. They should know that their capital cannot be employed profitably at all times. They are happy (or should be happy) to sit on cash for a long while, and maybe let even some of the suckers’ rally pass them by. As Sir Michael at CQS said: "Maybe they [the central bankers] can keep control, but if people stop believing in them, all hell will break loose." We couldn't agree more.
What happens when huge, reckless buyers with nearly endless resources cut back after a phenomenal binge? Well, we know what happened in 2008.
One major factor to the slow growth/low inflation in the U.S. is the Wall Street Yield Trade. By incentivizing unproductive use of capital, low interest rate via monetary policy is actually deflationary.
The tidal patterns of this market have become so well-known to even the least observant: push the USDJPY (or other JPY carry pairs) higher starting around 6am Eastern, then ramp it just before US open to launch cross-asset momentum ignition algos in FX which then carry over to spoos and the broader "market." In the meantime, overnight selling of USDJPY allows a reset before ensuing buying during the US daytime session. Rinse. Repeat. Sure enough, just after 6 pm Eastern, the same USDJPY which catalyzed yet another all time high close had been sold off, leading to a 0.85% drop in the Nikkei and US equity futures which are showing an unprecedented ungreen color. Don't worry though: the pattern is too well-known and practiced by now, and we fully expect USDJPY levitation to pick up shortly, which is the only signal ES-algos need, trampling over any kind of newsflow both good and bad, and leading to yet another all time record high which it goes without saying is completely detached from any underlying reality at this point and at any time over the past 5 years.
Having spent the last few years blowing away the importance of the unemployment rate propaganda as participation rates have now become mainstream media discussion points, we were not surprised when the Fed admitted that it uses a "dashboard" of various employment measures (even if the world watches payrolls data as if there life depended upon it). As The Fed's Jim Bullard shows in his latest presentation, there are 13 variables the Fed follows. As the following chart shows, the surge in temporary help services hardly supports the great news that Friday's jobs data appeared to be (given stock market reactions).
Moments ago, St. Louis Fed president Bullard gave one of his signature yellow-backgrounded presentations to the Tennessee Bankers Association Annual Meeting taking place at the favorited by 1%-ers everywhere Breakers hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. The bulk of his presentation is the usual trite platitudes, but he did have some chose comments, such as:
- BULLARD: FED SHOULDN'T BE `INTERVENING' ALL THE TIME IN MARKETS
So just intervene from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm in the US equity market? But what will those who have been screaming about rigged, manipulated, broken US equity markets rail about if the Fed isn't intervening all the time in "markets", and if some semblance of normalcy, even if highly crashy, returns?