It's common sense - everyone knows that interest rates are going to rise (how can they fall any lower?) Inflation will come back (because the Fed said so), economic growth will flourish (because the Fed said so), and longer-term bond yields will surge in a bond-bull-destroying renaissance proving stock market speculators right all along. Except that isn't what history shows us... When a central bank dominates the domestic bond market, all bets are off (whether economically rational or not). When a sovereign simply cannot afford higher interest rates, all bets are off (no matter what your economic textbook says).
What this chart shows is that when it comes to core manufacturing and service trade, that which excludes petroleum, the US trade deficit hit some $49 billion dollars in the month of May, the highest trade deficit ever recorded! In other words, far from doubling US exports, Obama is on pace to make the export segment of the US economy the weakest it has ever been, leading to millions of export-producing jobs gone for ever (but fear not, they will be promptly replaced by part-time jobs). It also means that the collapse in Q1 GDP, much of which was driven by tumbling net exports, will continue as America appear largely unable to pull itself out of its international trade funk, much less doubling its exports.
It doesn't seem logical that the S&P should be positively correlated to oil prices--so it is more likely that both records are correlated to the same thing--inflation. But what to make of the last 18 months, in which we see an almost vertical rise in the stock market without an increase in the oil price? Is an American renaissance in the works, powered by increased American oil production? Or is it due to the much rumored mass purchase of securities by financial institutions, powered by monetary creation? Is it being done to prevent another period of negative correlation, which might foretell another economic crisis?
As individuals, it is entirely acceptable to be "optimistic" about the future. However, "optimism" and "pessimism" are emotional biases that tend to obfuscate the critical thinking required to effectively assess the "risks". The current "hope" that Q1 was simply a "weather related" anomaly is also an emotionally driven skew. The underlying data suggests that while "weather" did play a role in the sluggishness of the economy, it was also just a reflection of the continued "boom bust" cycle that has existed since the end of the financial crisis. The current downturn in real final sales suggests that the underlying strength in the economy remains extremely fragile. More importantly, with final sales below levels normally associated with the onset of recessions, it suggests that the current rebound in activity from the sharp decline in Q1 could be transient.
One can almost smell the CapEx renaissance.... Any minute now.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Empire Fed jumped to 19.28, notably better than the 15.00 expectation and reached highs not seen since June 2010, and up from the 19.01 last month. It doesn't get much better than that - even in the V-shaped recovery off the recession lows: if only sentiment surveys were the same as hard data - the US recovery would never be stronger. Alas, despite all this exuberant cycle high-ness - if only in the eyes of beholders, and certainly not in Q1 US GDP of -2.0%, the number of employees index tumbles from 20.88 to 10.75 and worse still the forward-looking index dropped after 3 months of gains. However, the worst news, comes for those who continue to, incorrectly, predict a CapEx renaissance: The capital expenditures index fell for a second consecutive month, dropping to 11.8, and the lowest since February.
Now that Q2 is not shaping up to be much better than Q1, other, mostly climatic, excuses have arisen: such as El Nino, the California drought, and even suggestions that, gasp, as a result of the Fed's endless meddling in the economy, the terminal growth rate of the world has been permanently lowered to 2% or lower. What is sadder for economists, even formerly respectable ones, is that overnight it was none other than Tyler Cowen who, writing in the New York Times, came up with yet another theory to explain the "continuing slowness of economic growth in high-income economies." In his own words: "An additional explanation of slow growth is now receiving attention, however. It is the persistence and expectation of peace." That's right - blame it on the lack of war!
At 906, the Baltic Dry Index slumped to 12-month lows showing absolutely no signs whatsoever of the Q2 renaissance in global growth that has been heralded by all the highly-paid meteoroconomists. In fact, thanks to increasing fears over China's commodity financing ponzi scheme, this is the worst year for the Baltic Dry on record. Of course, we will hear the echo chamber of 'over-supply' of ships rather than any 'under-demand' of actual aggregate product argument but the circularity of this argument is entirely lost on status quo huggers who viewed rising dry bulk commodity prices as indicative of growth (and built more ships) as opposed to the ponzi-financing scheme it really was... mal-investment writ large once again in a manipulated (and mismanaged) world.
Why unrealistic valuations are a good way to set up a company for difficulties in later stage financing
If there was some hope that in April the trend of the US adding low-quality (as in low-paying) jobs may finally be coming to an end, this came to a quick end in May, when more than half of the 217K jobs added were in the lowest paying sectors. Specifically: Education and health: +63K; Leisure and Hospitality: +39K; Temp Help Services: +14K. These three lowest paying categories amount to 116K, or well over half of the total jobs gains.
Nothing lasts forever: Why the perceptions of North Korea may be different from reality
"Copper is breaking down," warns MacNeil Curry as BofA's technical strategist ignores the hyped hopes of newsletter-peddlers who see Dr. Copper's recent rise as indicative of a Chinese renaissance. As Mike Tyson so philosophically noted, "everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth," and that 1-2 punch just hit Copper square in the jaw as macro data disappoints and the reality of a vicious circle of unwinding a rehypothecated commodity financing ponzi comes to bear. How much of copper's rise was artificially-created by CCFDs is unknown but as Curry notes, "the downtrend is resuming" and we will soon find out.
Today you can’t go 10 minutes without tripping over an investment manager using the phrase “Minsky Moment” as shorthand for some Emperor’s New Clothes event, where all of a sudden we come to our senses and realize that the Emperor is naked, central bankers don’t rule the world, and financial assets have been artificially inflated by monetary policy largesse. Please. That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.
We do not need “monetary policy” any more than we need a paintbrush policy, a baseball bat policy, or an automobile policy. We do not need a monopoly institution to create money for us. Money, like any good, is better produced on the market within the nexus of economic calculation. Money creation by government or its privileged central bank yields us business cycles, monetary debasement, and an increase in the power of government. It is desirable from neither an economic nor a libertarian standpoint. If we are going to utter monetary truths, this one is the most central and subversive of all.
Rinat Akhmetov - Ukraine's richest man with an estimated worth of $11.4 billion - has, as Reuters reports, acquired almost feudal status in the industrial hub of Donetsk in the past 20 years - but the separatist rebellions there have altered the dynamics of power. This is not acceptable to the billionaire and so he has demanded his miners and metalworkers join police on patrol on Mariupol. As pro-Russian rebels declaring independence seized public buildings across the steel and coal belt which is the basis of his colossal fortune, he issued repeated written statements in support of a united Ukraine... but the media-shy 47-year-old, who has a workforce of 300,000 people on his payroll in the Donbass, has to tread carefully around local sensitivities and has avoided specifically condemning the action of the separatists.