Last month we laid out the reasons why France was On The Brink Of A Secondary Depression - in short, due to a deadly collision of French politics with Frankensteinian monetary union. Unfortunately, subsequent data confirms the bleak trajectory. Even Francois Hollande is beginning to wake up to just how destructive and anti-business the French agenda is. France will enter a recession at a time when spending and debt levels are quite high and Hollande’s recent attempts to assist entrepreneurs are too little, too late. France has been slower to cut taxes than other EU members and a secondary depression will push the French budget deficit to new dangerous heights as the government's 'forecast' of the primary balance is farcical. Even if borrowing costs remain low, debt ratios will still explode. Knowing this, why then are French rates so low? The usual explanations (purchases by the Swiss National Bank and Mrs. Watanabe buying) have some merit, but other factors may also be at play. In any case, in a bond market, one should look at two things: the return ON capital and the return OF capital. The return ON capital is pitiful and the return OF capital is far from certain. Sell the financials in Europe - and in France especially. Really, the euro is on its last legs. France is in play.
On the third year anniversary of the flash crash, and in a week in which earnings season unwinds and in which there is very little macro news, the bulk of the newsflow happened overnight, starting with a drop in the Chinese Service PMI, which tumbled from 54.3 to 51.1, the lowest in two years, then we got Australian retail sales which dropped -0.1% on expectations of 0.4% gain, indicating that the Chinese slowdown is dragging down the entire Asia-Pac region further. Afterwards, we got a barrage of European non-manufacturing PMI data starting with Spain, at 44.4, down from 45.3, the lowest since December (although one wonder if Spain has finally opened a branch of the BLS, reporting that unemployment actually dipped by 46.1k, on expectations of just a 2k decline, and down from 5k the prior month: how curious the timing of the "end of austerity" and the immediate "improvement" in the economy), then Italy Service PMI printing at 47.0, up from 45.5, on expectations of a 45.8 print, the highest since August 2011, French Services PMI rising modestly from 44.1 to 44.3, Germany's up from 49.2 to 49.6, on expectations of an unchanged print, all of which leading to a combined Eurozone PMI at 47.0, up from 46.6, and beating expectations of a 46.6 print.
Financial markets operate on a number of implied assumptions about growth, policy direction and other factors. Experience tells us that these assumptions often turn out to be erroneous. A modern economy is an incredibly complex entity that involves millions of transactions every day. The notion that this vast and largely self-governing system can be controlled through tools such as government spending and/or an increase in the quantity of money is - to say the least - bizarre. A flood is rarely a cure-all solution to a drought; it just creates new problems for an already suffering population. From 2002 to 2007, we witnessed a massive attempt by central banks to manipulate interest rates and currency exchange rates. The consequences of this action came due in 2008-2009. Criminal psychologists have long known that villains frequently return to the scene of their crime—in the case of western policymakers, they seem to be looking to finish off a caper that went badly wrong at the first attempt. The end result for the broader community is unlikely to be pretty.
The next Great Depression is already happening - it just hasn't reached the United States yet. Things in Europe just continue to get worse and worse, and yet most people in the United States still don't get it. We have been warning that the next major wave of the ongoing economic collapse would begin in Europe, and that is exactly what is happening. In fact, both Greece and Spain already have levels of unemployment that are greater than anything the U.S. experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Pay close attention to what is happening over there, because it is coming here too. A full-blown economic depression is raging across southern Europe and it is rapidly spreading into northern Europe. Eventually it will spread to the rest of the globe as well. The U.S. economy has become a miserable junkie that is completely and totally addicted to reckless money printing and gigantic mountains of debt. If we stop printing money and going into unprecedented amounts of debt we are finished. If we continue printing money and going into unprecedented amounts of debt we are finished. Either way, this is all going to end very, very badly.
The Baltic States are unique in Europe in that they went through an austerity crash program a while ago already (beginning right after the 2008 crisis) and have in the meantime recovered strongly. Der Spiegel has an interesting interview with Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite, in which she explains her views on the topic. It can obviously be done successfully. And while we are aware that every case is unique - the problems are not the same in every country, and due to cultural norms and traditions, it may be easier to enact reform in certain countries than others; it seems that no matter how many times Paul Krugman insists that no Baltic nation can possibly be held up as an example, the fact remains that they have imposed fiscal austerity and implemented wide-ranging reform measures and have succeeded.
Macro perspective of this week's events. Hint: the ECB meeting may be the most interesting.
It took about one week from R&R's excel error until the first European country rebelled against "austerity" (which it never implemented in the first place, but that's a different story). Moments ago Spain officially said to hell with Germany's austerity, and announced it would delay achieving Europe's deficit target by two years, pushing it back by 2 years to 2016. Oh, and it slashed growth forecasts confirming what everyone else had known: it's economy is a total disaster, and the country can finally stop pretending there is any hope for "growth" in the near, mid or long-term future.
- SPAIN REVISES DOWN 2013 GROWTH FORECAST TO -1.3 PCT OF GDP VS -0.5 PCT PREVIOUSLY
- SEES DEFICITS OF 6.3% vs. 4.5% EU 2013 TARGET, 5.5% vs. 2.8% EU 2014, TARGET; 4.1% vs. 1.9% EU 2015 TARGET
- SPAIN TO DELAY DEFICIT REDUCTION 2 YEARS AS UNEMPLOYMENT RISES.
- SPAIN REVISES DOWN DEFICIT FORECAST TO 6.3 PCT OF GDP IN 2013
- SPAIN DELAYS REACHING EU BUDGET DEFICIT TARGET 2 YEARS TIL 2016
- SPAIN SEES UNEMPLOYMENT AT 27.1% IN 2013, 26.7% IN 2014
Luckily, this is not a surprise: the collapse in the Spanish economy is just as bad as had been expected, so this should be good for 10-20 points this morning in the Stalingrad & Poorski 500 stock index.
What is happening to you America? Once upon a time, the United States was a place where free enterprise thrived and the greatest cities that the world had ever seen sprouted up from coast to coast. Good jobs were plentiful and a manufacturing boom helped fuel the rise of the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the planet. Cities such as Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Baltimore were all teeming with economic activity and the rest of the globe looked on our economic miracle with a mixture of wonder and envy. But now look at us. Our once proud cities are being transformed into poverty-stricken hellholes. We are in the midst of a long-term economic collapse that is eating away at us like cancer, and things are going to get a lot worse than this. So if you still live in a prosperous area of the country, don't laugh at what is happening to others. What is happening to them will be coming to your area soon enough.
It is one thing for the market to no longer pay attention to economic fundamentals or newsflow (with the exception of newsflow generated by fake tweets of course), but when the mainstream media turns full retard and comes up with headlines such as this: "German Ifo Confidence Declines After Winter Chilled Recovery" to spin the key overnight event, the German IFO Business climate (which dropped from 106.2 to 104.4, missing expectations of 106.2 of course) one just has to laugh. In the artcile we read that "German business confidence fell for a second month in April after winter weather hindered the recovery in Europe’s largest economy... “We still expect there to have been a good rebound in the first quarter, although there is a big question mark about the weather,” said Anatoli Annenkov, senior economist at Societe Generale SA in London." We wonder how long Bloomberg looked for some junior idiot who agreed to be memorialized for posterity with the preceding moronic soundbite because this really is beyond ridiculous (and no, it's not snow in the winter that is causing yet another "swoon" in indicators like the IFO, the ZEW and all other metrics as we patiently explained yesterday so even a 5 year old caveman financial reported would get it).
If there was any debate about the global economic contraction, driven largely due to pundits confusing manipulated stock market levitation with this anachronistic thing called the "economy" and fundamentals for the fourth year in a row, all doubts were removed after this morning's manufacturing PMI data out of China, which as reported previously was a big disappointment (sending the Composite firmly into the red for the year down 2.57% to 2184.5) only to be followed by just as disappointing manufacturing and services PMI data out of Germany, which tumbled from 49 and 50.9 to 47.9 and 49.2, respectively, missing estimates of 49.and 51. The composite German PMI tumbled to a 6-month low of 48.8 as a result, meaning the European economic deterioration is just getting started, and at the worst possible time for Merkel several months ahead of her reelection campaign. The end result was a miss in the blended Eurozone Mfg PMI, which dropped from 46.8 to 46.5, even as the less relevant Services component eaked out a small gain from 46.4 to 46.6, on the back of a dead cat bounce in French economic indicators. Bottom line: a contraction in both European manufacturing and services for the 15th consecutive month. Some "recovery."
There have been several recent developments that have flown in the face of both neo-liberalism and ordo-liberalism and thrown investors off balance. Discuss.
Fitch has just downgraded the UK from AAA to AA+ - now lower than France's.
- *FITCH REVISED DOWN U.K.'S ECONOMIC GROWTH IN 2013 TO 0.8%
- *FITCH REVISED DOWN U.K.'S ECONOMIC GROWTH IN 2014 TO 1.8%
- *FITCH CITES WEAKER ECONOMIC, FISCAL OUTLOOK ON U.K.
Fitch doesn't see the UK economy reaching 2007 highs until 2014 - so there's hope?
In the six months since the IMF last provided its economic forecasts, the situation in Spain has gone from bad (but sustainable) to worse (and unsustainable). Their current forecasts show no 'peak' in debt-to-gdp ratios at least as far as 2018 with the budget deficit primarily to blame. As Bloomberg Briefs notes, general government primary borrowing, a measure that excludes the cost of paying interest on government debt, was revised up to 7.9% of GDP from 4.5% for 2012. The inability to narrow the budget deficit, surprise surprise, appears partially due to lower real GDP growth forecasts and even then a recent study has found that World Economic Outlook real GDP growth forecasts showed a tendency to systematically exceed outcomes. This phenomenon was particularly prevalent in countries with an IMF-supported program. The IMF warns Spain "will need to undertake unprecedented fiscal efforts to bring their debt ratios to traditional norms," as most countries have never experienced debt levels similar to current ones; and seemed to think a debt restructuring is more likely and will "entail substantial and long-lasting economic and social costs."
- Apple reportedly stops placing Mac component orders (DigiTimes)
- Apple Ordered to Remove Obscene Content From China Store (BBG)
- Texas Ammonia-Plant Blast Kills as Many as 15 People (Reuters)
- Boston Probe Said Focused on Person Dropping Bag at Site (BBG)
- The Chinese cold trade war comes come to roost: US becomes Japan’s top export market (FT)
- Berlusconi, Bersani back Marini in presidential vote (Ansa)
- German parliament backs Cyprus bailout (Reuters)
- China Vows Wider Yuan Movement (WSJ)
- Morgan Stanley Sees Core Earnings Weaken (WSJ)
- Gold Miners Lose $169 Billion as Price Slump Adds ETF Pain (BBG)
- G-20 Draft Affirms Pledge to Avoid Competitive Devaluations (BBG)
- IMF warns on risks of excessive easing (FT)
- The battle for the Swiss soul (Reuters)
Switzerland is the place that has traditionally stood above all the rest in its reputation for financial stability. Why? Because the currency was well-managed, the banking system was sound, and the country had a long tradition of treating capital well. Over the last few years, however, these advantages have collapsed. Just a small handful of countries inspire confidence in the marketplace. And the most popular seems to be Australia. Now, there’s really no such thing as a “good” fiat currency. But given such fundamentals, it’s easy to see why Australia is replacing Switzerland as a global safe haven.