The best silver lining Goldman Sachs found when faced with the total and utter collapse in their global leading indicator swirlogram was - (probably) stabilizing. The only improving factor across all their global economic components was the US initial jobless claims (and that has been a farce wrapped in a debacle for 2 months of 'glitches'). Having led global industrial production for a few months, it seems the indicator is crashing back to reality as the summer's hopefulness is exsanguinated from hard and soft data around the world.
Just as it is easy being a weatherman in San Diego ("the weather will be... nice. Back to you"), so the same inductive analysis can be applied to another week of stocks in Bernanke's centrally planned market: "stocks will be... up." Sure enough, as we enter October's last week where the key events will be the conclusion of the S&P earnings season and the October FOMC announcement (not much prop bets on a surprise tapering announcement this time), overnight futures have experienced the latest off the gates, JPY momentum ignition driven melt up.
As much as we loathe saying "we told you so" - especially when it relates to highlighting the fallacious bullshit of one James Cramer - the truth is that just 3 weeks ago we pointed out the fact that the Baltic Dry Index was being heralded as proof of China's (and therefore the world's great recovery) was a mistake. At the time, we noted the temporary nature of the move and now forward markets indicated it was not sustainable; and of course, were met with a chorus of deniers. Well, following a 4.4% decline today, the Baltic Dry Index has now plunged over 20% from its recent peak (and the more crucial Capesize container rates even more) as underlying demand simply cannot keep pace with the massive (overbuilt) ship glut that remains. Added to this is the apparent 'tightening' stance by the PBOC that we have been noting and we suspect, as we warned, the 2011 deja vus will be clear.
The reason why the Chinese Shanghai Composite again can't catch a bid (and why the Baltic Dry is sliding and will continue sliding from recent highs) is the same as the main event yesterday: the concerns that while the Fed punchbowl is and will continue to be filled beyond the point of overflowing, China - where inflation has once again taken a turn for the worse as it did this summer when after much repo pain the PBOC killed it early on in order to not repeat the scary episode of 2011 - may be actively engaging in monetary tightening. And like yesterday, when the PBOC refrained from adding liquidity via reverse repos, so today for a third straight auction the Chinese Central Bank refused to inject short-term funding into the system. The immediate result: China’s one-month Shibor rose 59 bps, most since June 25, to 5.4000%; three-month Shibor rose to 4.6876% from 4.6843% yesterday, while the key 7-Day Repo Rises 63 Bps to 4.68% hitting 5% prior, which was the biggest jump since July.
Are we on the verge of another major economic downturn? In recent weeks, most of the focus has been on our politicians in Washington, but there are lots of other reasons to be deeply alarmed about the economy as well. Economic confidence is down, retail sales figures are disappointing, job cuts are up, and American consumers are deeply struggling. Even if our politicians do everything right, there would still be a significant chance that we could be heading into tough economic times in the coming months. Our economy is being fundamentally transformed, and the pace of our decline is picking up speed. The following are 22 reasons to be concerned about the U.S. economy as we head into the holiday season...
Everything looked so good in August. Goldman's global leading indicator (GLI) "swirlogram" had recovered quickly from a 'growth scare' in Q1 and was holding firmly in "expansion" territory. Then reality hit as new-orders-less-inventories worsened, various manufacturing surveys rolled over, industrial metals gave up gains, and Korean exports provided no help. Among the few factors holding up the index from already plunging levels was the Baltic Dry Index (which has collapsed now in the last few days) and Consumer Confidence (which appears to also be rolling over). September's plunge into "slowdown" for the GLI is the biggest drop in 8 months.
While the recent surge in the Baltic Dry Index was headlined as 'proof' that the global recovery was 'on', China is back, and every retiree should BTFATH, we recently noted, all was not at all it seems on the surface of this data. Fast forward a few days and we have had 2 China PMI misses (notably disappointing relative to their Flash prints) and now the Baltic Dry has plunged by its most in 11 months over the last 4 days. Of course, we've seen these kind of ramps and dumps before in the Baltic Dry - though it is odd that we don't hear the cheerleaders as the price collapses.
The Baltic Dry Index fell 3.2% today, and 4% in the last 2 days, the most in 3 months; and Capesize (the more frequently cited containers for iron-ore) plunged 6.8% to $38,023 (from highs of $42,211 a day just 2 days ago). Despite the mainstream media's seeming obsession with these indicators (when they rise only - not when they fall), illuustrated recently by Jim Cramer's diatribe on why the Baltic Dry's spike means that all is well in the world again, as Bloomberg notes, the biggest rally in freight costs since 2009 is temporary because there's still huge ship glut. Brazil’s iron-ore producers accelerated exports of the commodity in July and August, compensating for shipments that slumped to a two-year low in June, but the expansion in cargoes won't continue to grow at this pace.
Warren Buffett's recent investments in something as mundane as rail appear to have found big fans in an unexpected place: the Kremlin.
Lumber is limit down once again. It has been falling now for two months in a very 'non-housing-recovery'-like manner. Of course, when Lumber prices are rising, everything is bullish and it merely serves to confirm the exuberance and bias to optimism that we should all have. However, just like the Baltic Dry Index, when it's falling it is a bullish sign that the market is over-supplied in anticipation of good things to come. With Lumber's two-month lead over stocks signaling the equity market may well be a little ahead of itself, it seems the supply-demand balance is off in the construction materials business (which one is off - supply or demand) but have no fear, just as with the Baltic Dry, it will come back if we just keep hoping. Or did the actions of a central-bank inspire confidence once again in the 'wrong' industry and spark another mal-investment boom?
It would appear that between the historical revisions of over-optimistic initial prints in macro data in the last few months and the reality of the weakness in Europe; the global economy is in Slowdown. Goldman's Swirlogram has now seen its Global Leading Indicator in the 'slowdown' phase for two months as momentum fades rapidly and seven of the ten major factors in the index declining with Global (Aggregate) PMI, and Global New Orders-less-Inventories worsening. Quite comically, the three factors providing some positivity are the Baltic Dry Index (which we are told is irrelevant when it drops), Japanese Inventory/Sales (which improved but remains at depression-era levels), and US initial jobless claims (which have become a farce statistically from what we can tell). Of course, none of this macro reality matters for now - until it does that is.
While the sell-side has been vociferous about the fact that earnings are troughing, that consensus growth expectations are not miraculous, that equities are discounting that awesome reality; it appears Goldman Sachs' 'Swirlogram" - which we initially discussed here - is pointing to what we have been seeing for months - a slowdown in their global leading indicator dead-ahead.
We now live in an entirely fabricated fiscal environment. Every aspect of it is filtered, muddled, molded, and manipulated before our eyes ever get to study the stats. The metaphor may be overused, but our economic system has become an absolute “matrix”. All that we see and hear has been homogenized and all truth has been sterilized away. There is nothing to investigate anymore. It is like awaking in the middle of a vast and hallucinatory live action theater production, complete with performers, props, and sound effects, all designed to confuse us and do us harm. In the end, trying to make sense of the illusion is a waste of time. All we can do is look for the exits…
• Introduction – Gold’s Gains In All Fiat Currencies in 2012
• Much of Gold’s Gains in 2012 On 11% Price Gain in January 2012
• Japanese Yen Shows How Gold Protects From FX Devaluations
• Food Inflation Risk As Wheat and Soybeans Surge in Price
• Currency Wars and Competitive Currency Devaluations
• Gold Remains Historically and Academically Proven Safe Haven
• Conclusion – Gold in 2013
Presenting Dave Collum's now ubiquitous and all-encompassing annual review of markets and much, much more. From Baptists, Bankers, and Bootleggers to Capitalism, Corporate Debt, Government Corruption, and the Constitution, Dave provides a one-stop-shop summary of everything relevant this year (and how it will affect next year and beyond).