New Home Sales
The German elections came and went, with Merkel initially said to have an absolute majority, but in the end being forced to design a Grand Coalition. Still, the punditry has been tripping over each other desperate to make that result (or any other result) positive for Europe , which despite now paving the way for policy continuity, together with the latest round of less than impressive Eurozone PMIs (following the strongest China HSBC PMI in 6 months) failed to inspire appetite for risk in Europe this morning where stocks have traded mixed. What is amusing is that everyone expected, the second Merkel gets reelected things in Europe would start going pump in the night - sure enough, the Italian FTSE-MIB is underperforming in early trade amid reports that Italy's economy minister Saccomanni threatened to step down if the country does not stick to its pledges it made to the European Commission. However to a certain degree, the negative sentiment towards Italy was offset by €4.8bln of coupon payments and €24.1bln of redemptions from Italy which is eligible for reinvestment this week. With a second Greek 2-day strike in one week scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, look for Europe's catalytic event to unclog, now that the German political picture is set, culminating with the 3rd (and 4th) Greek bailouts and probably more: after all Europe now needs a lower EURUSD (recall Adidas' warning), and that usually means a localized crisis.
We would be the first to espouse the view that, in speculative markets, the 'sentimentals' can long trump the fundamentals, but there is a counterpoint to such a projection, not that many wish to countenance it. The dispiriting truth is that some of the steam has already gone out of the US and were this to continue to be the case, given that esteemed institution’s pathological aversion to short-term difficulty, the Fed's "taper" might yet prove an all too short-lived gesture in the direction of a belated restoration of monetary sanity. As the following 3 charts suggest, equity 'sentimental' valuations are at extremes and fundamentals are deteriorating rapidly, making for an uncomfortable rock- and hard-place-straddle for a Fed that faces 4 reasons it has to Taper (sentiment, deficits, technicals, and international resentment).
In the 21st century economy, if you want to stay employed, seek out a field that is ascending rather than declining. Most people understand that technology is fundamentally changing the nature of work and employment. These changes are also having a profound effect on the state of the US economy...
"In the spring, the risks to growth seemed to be fading. The economy was weathering the fiscal shock. Politicians decided to delay battles over the budget and the debt ceiling, passing a continuing resolution to fund the budget through September and postponing the debt ceiling drop-dead date to some time in the fall. Meanwhile, financial markets in Europe had settled down, the European economy showed signs of improvement, and commodity prices were stable. In their June directive the FOMC made it official: “The Committee sees the downside risks to the outlook for the economy and the labor market as having diminished since the fall.” Unfortunately, we seem to be entering another of those periods of elevated risk. Three concerns are emerging."
- Bank of America
No matter how hard the Washington crowd tries to sell an economic recovery, inconvenient and contrary facts keep rearing up to shatter their mythmaking. Few people any longer believe the claims of declining unemployment or low inflation at least based on purchases they make. The fable of a housing recovery is now crumbling. The recession, declared over in June 2009, never ended. Some wonder how bad the recession/depression might have been had government not acted. Others worry that we will find out when the Fed tapers. For lack of a better term, the process the entire country is headed for is “Detroitification.” At this stage, the damage is done and cannot be undone quickly enough to avoid this crisis. Even if there were time, there is no way that politicians would willingly address the problem.
A quiet week to send off August ahead of a deluge of key data next week and as the fateful Septembr 18 FOMC announcement approaches. Still, quite a few macro events to keep track of.
Last week it was the Nasdaq, today it was the Eurex Exchange, which broke down "due to technical issues" shortly after 2 am Eastern and which was offline for over an hour. Further keeping a lid on liquidity and upward momentum is today's UK market holiday which has resulted in a driftless move lower across European stocks, following a red close in the Nikkei225. It only means that the inevitable ramp up in the disconnected from all fundamentals and reality market will have to come only during US trading hours when the NY Fed trading desk steps up its POMO-aided levitation.
Next weeks events placed within the larger context.
Quick, dispassionate overview of the fx market.
It seems the crossing of the Maginot 100-day moving average combined with Jackson Hole chatter and the dismal new home sales data has set the precious metals ablaze once again. For the first time since early June, gold has crossed the psychological $1,400 level (up 18.5% from its 6/18 lows). We suspect the still-unprecedented short-interest in COMEX gold futures may well be feeling more heat here (having fallen 40% in the last 5 weeks)...
New Home Sales Crater To Lowest Since October; Biggest Drop Since May 2010; Median Home Price At 6 Month LowSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/23/2013 10:18 -0400
And so the housing "recovery" comes to a screeching halt, which is not surprising as there never was a recovery to begin with. Moments ago cheerleaders of the second housing bubble were shocked to learn that in July a tiny 35K new houses were sold (with just 3K sold in the Northeast, and just 19K in the otherwise strong South), of which 13K houses were not even started. This translated into a puny 394K seasonally adjusted annualized sales, missing expectations of 487K by nearly a record 100K, and in addition the June print was revised much lower from 497K to 455K (which back in July beat expectations of 484K and was trumpeted as the highest print since 2008 - so much for that). Yet one thing that did not change is that the median home sale price decline continued, and in July dropped to $257.2K down from $258.5. And now time to spin this ugly news as great because it means that maybe the Fed will delay the September taper (it won't).
It was a quiet overnight session, in which the Nikkei was catching up to USDJPY weakness from the past two days, while China dipped once more despite the NDRC's chief economist stating China may cut RRR or conduct more reverse repos in H2 to maintain stable credit as loan growth slows down (or in other words things go back to normal). In Europe ECB's Nowotny decided to undo some of Draghi's recent work when he said that "good economic news" removes the need for a rate cut which in turn pushed the EURUSD higher (and European exports lower), even as former Cyprus central bank Orphanides said the Euro crisis may flare up after the German elections. In the UK Q2 GDP came in slightly stronger than expected at 0.7% vs 0.6% Exp. letting the GBP outperform since a need for the BOE to ease, at least in the short run, is becoming less pertinent. In amusing news, Moody’s late yesterday put six largest U.S. banks on review as it considers the effect of evolving bank resolution policies under Dodd-Frank and international regulations. As such GS, JPM, MS and WFC may be cut.
The week ahead will be relatively quiet with few major data releases. The main focus will be on the Flash PMIs in the Eurozone and China as well as the FOMC minutes and Jackson Hole. In the US the relatively new Preliminary PMI has been found useful by our US team in forecasting the ISM. Existing and new home sales are additional data points of interest in the US. The key focus this week will be on central bank action. Minutes from the FOMC and the RBA will be followed by rate decisions in Thailand and Turkey. Finally, on Thursday starts the annual Jackson Hole conference with lots of Fed speakers, including Yellen next weekend. Chairman Bernanke, whose term ends in January, will not attend.
Despite rising gas prices, rising mortgage rates, slowing income growth and the rise of 'low-quality' part-time jobs, 'con'sumer 'con'fidence 'con'tinues to rise to post-recession highs. However, as Citi's FX Technicals group notes, for the 3rd time in the last 17 year period we may be looking at a 4-year-4-month rise in consumer confidence before a turn lower again; and in spite of the Fed's rosy forecasts (and the market's expectations), we should be careful being too quick to believe that the sluggish economic dynamic that has 'dogged us' for the last 6 years is yet fully behind us.
At precisely 4 am Eastern two opposite things happened: the German IFO Business Climate for July printed at a better than expected 106.2 vs 105.9 in June and higher than the 106.1 consensus: news which would have been EURUSD positive. And yet the EUR tumbled. Why? Because at the same time the ECB provided an update to the chart that "keeps Mario Draghi up at night" as we reminded readers yesterday - the ECB's all important credit creation update in the form of the M3, which not only missed expectations (of +3%) but declined from 2.9% to 2.3%. But more importantly, ECB lending to private sector shrank for the 14th consecutive month in June, and slid to a new record low 1.6% in June, down from a 1.1% in May.