David Rosenberg

Just Two 'Recession' Indicators

Monday's income and spending (and implicitly 'saving') data provided plenty of fodder at the headline level for any and every opinion. We explained in great detail just how weak the data really was (here and here). But the following two charts suggest that any optimism of organic consumption-led exuberance is completely misplaced. Retail sales of clothing is growing at the slowest pace since 2010; but while major store sales are about to drop negative YoY for the first time in over 3 years, the utter collapse in general merchandise sales is worse that at the peak of the last recession at -5%. It seems tough to see how a nation with an economy built on 70% consumption is not in a recessionary environment. And while this alone is a dismal signal for the discretionary upside of the US economy/consumer; as Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg points out real personal income net of transfer receipts plunged at a stunning 5.8% annual rate in Q1. The other seven times we have seen such a collapse, the economy was either in recession of just coming out of one. But apart from that, everything is fine...

Spot The "Housing Recovery" Disconnect(s)

Confused about the latest disconnect between reality and propaganda, this time affecting the (foreclosure-stuffed) housing "recovery" which has become the only upside that the bulls can point to when demonstrating the effectiveness of QE now that the latest attempt at economic recovery has failed miserably both in the US and globally? Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg is here to clear any confusion.

The Only Chart Required To 'Price' US Stocks

The world remains transfixed in the belief that the Federal Reserve can 'prime' the economic pump one more time via monetizing trillion-dollar deficits ad nauseum, inflate its balance sheet to unprecedented levels, and still successfully exit from this largesse leaving behind a 'better' place for mankind. Judging by crescendo of cognitive dysfunction, the nominal price level of US equities can dismiss current weakness since we just have to wait a little longer (and print a little moar) and the old normal growth will rise phoenix-like from the ashes of our post-debt-super-cycle world. The truth is far simpler - US equity markets are not valued on earnings (LTM, current, or forward); they are not priced off discounted dividends; there is no discounting of macro upturns; or great rotations. Since the crisis began, there is only one thing that matters, as Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg notes from this stunning chart, "the NYSE Market Cap, this cycle, actually went up dollar for dollar with the expansion of the Fed's pregnant balance sheet."

Still Think The Housing Recovery Is Sustainable?

While hope springs eternal that the US housing sector 'record-inventory-compression and foreclosure-stuffed' 'recovery' will become self-sustaining, there are two rather disappointing 'facts' to ruin the 'fiction' that all is well. As Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg notes, not only are mortgage applications for new purchases stalling rather notably from a 'red-hot' +16% YoY in January to a mere +3% in the last week; but an even more critical indicator of housing's health just turned negative after providing hope for the last 14 months. The year-over-year growth in bank-wide real estate credit has turned down again - after first turning positive in February of 2012. So the first (and second) derivative of real-estate credit is now on the down-swing - not the stuff of sustainable housing recoveries.

Sam Zell: "The Stock Market Feels Like The Housing Market Of 2006"

Sam Zell: "This is a very treacherous market," thanks to the giant tsunami of liquidity, "the problems of 2007 haven't been dealt with," and given the poor macro data and earnings, "we are suffering through another irrational exuberance," leaving the entire CNBC audience speechless when he concludes, "the stock market feels like the housing market of 2006." 

When A Great Deflationary Bear Starts Turning Inflationary

Over the past four years one of the dominant "deflationists" has been Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg. And, for the most part, his corresponding thesis - long bonds - has been a correct and lucrative one, if not so much for any inherent deflation in the system but because of the Fed's actual control of the entire bond curve and Bernanke's monetization of the primary deflationary signal the 10 and certainly the 30 Year bond. The endless purchases of these two security classes, coupled with periodic flights to safety into the bond complex have validated his call. Until now.

David Rosenberg Goes In Search Of A Positive Exogenous Shock

... And can't find it: "The reason why the past four years has been so dismal, over and beyond the failure of the labour market to fully recover among other things, is that we have gone through the weakest period in the post-WWII era in terms of growth in the private sector capital stock. We invented the Internet and spent years after spreading its applications and co-mingling the technology with labour so as to bolster multi-factor productivity. But that golden age was 10-15 years ago. Despite some really impressive stuff going on in the biomedical field to be sure,  and what Apple has done in terms of introducing its array of impressive consumer gadgets, growth in the private sector capital stock since 2009 has been the softest on record."

Guest Post: In Search Of The Economic Recovery

The ongoing message from the mainstream media, analysts and most economists is that the economy has turned the corner and we are set for substantially stronger growth in the coming year.  While that sounds great on the surface the economic data has yet to hint at such a robust recovery.  What is worrisome is that CNBC has started using the term "Goldilocks economy" again which is what we were hearing as we approached the peak of the market in early 2008.  As David Rosenberg pointed out in his morning missive: "Maybe, it's just this:  so long as there is a positive sign in front of any economic metric, no matter how microscopic, all is good.  After all, you can't be 'sort of in recession' - it's like being pregnant... either you are or you are not." The bottom line is that ex-artificial stimulus, and other fiscal supports, there is little in the way of an economic recovery currently going on.  In order for the economy to reach "escape velocity" it will be on the back of sharply rising employment and wages which are needed to prime consumer spending.  This is not happening as the the gap between wages and rising cost of living continues to drive the consumer to shore up that shortfall with more debt.  

Where The Consensus Is... Wrong

The equity markets, despite a verey modest drop so far today, continue to hang in despite slowing profits growth. David Rosenberg notes that while many tout the +6% YoY earnings growth, once adjusted for special factors, the growth rate in earnings is a meager 40bps! So, he notes, it appears not to be about earnings but about what investors are willing to pay for the earnings stream and lays out four reasons for the market's 'comfort'. However, while Mr. Market is catching on to the Fed's overt attempt to reflate the economy by reflating asset values, he warns, we have seen in the past how these cycles turn out - and whether you are a trend-follower or contrarian, take note of the overwhelming consensus across almost every asset class right now. Dow Theory advocates have been doing high-fives all year long as the S&P Industrials and Dow Transports make new highs, reinforcing the notion (mirage is more like it) of economic escape velocity, but Rosenberg has more than a few (EIGHT)  'anomalies' that show things are actually stagnating (or contracting) and don't pass his smell test.

16 Reasons Why David Rosenberg's Not Buying Employment Report

"I went through the January data one last time with a fine tooth comb. I fail to see what got everyone so excited, beyond the upward revisions to the back data. That only proves that productivity has been weaker than initially thought. And the income from those upward job revisions has probably already been spent. But as I highlighted yesterday, the broad-term trends are slowing down and doing so discernibly."

Guest Post: The Visible Hand Of The Fed

There has been an burst of exuberance as of late as the market, after four arduous years, got back to its pre-crisis levels.  Much has been attributed to the recent burst of optimism in the financial markets from: better than expected earnings, stronger economic growth ahead, the end of the bond bubble is near, the long term outlook is getting better, valuations are cheap, and the great rotation is here - all of which have egregious holes. However, with the markets fully inflated, we have reached the point that where even a small exogenous shock will likely have an exaggerated effect on the markets.  There are times that investors can safely "buy and hold" investments - this likely isn't one of them.

David Rosenberg On "Fascinating Markets", Or 2011 vs 2012 vs 2013

Unsure what the current blistering start for the S&P 500 means in the new year? Here is David Rosenberg putting the last two years in perspective to the last two weeks. Alas, with fat tails now solely emanating from politicians (as the Fed has guaranteed nothing wrong can ever happen again on the monetary side, until everything goes wrong of course), and politicians being inherently irrational and unpredictable, it is not exactly clear how anyone can factor for what in just one month is sure to be the biggest clash in history between two sides of a Congress that has never been more polarized.

From Myth To Reality With David Rosenberg

  • After the worst post-Christmas market performance since 1937, we had the largest surge to kick off any year in recorded history
  • The myth is that we are now seeing the clouds part to the extent that cash will be put to work. Not so fast It is very likely that much of the market advance has been short-covering and some abatement in selling activity
  • As equities now retest the cycle highs, it would be folly to believe that we will not experience recurring setbacks and heightened volatility along the way
  • The reality is that the tough choices and the tough bargaining have been left to the next Congress and are about to be sworn in
  • The myth is that the economy escaped a bullet here. The reality is that even with the proverbial "cliff" having been avoided, the impact of the legislation is going to extract at least a 11/2 percentage point bite out of GDP growth