With Greece moving to the, ahem, periphery if only for a few days/hours, this week the US calendar returns to the forefront with Fed Chair Yellen’s semi-annual monetary policy testimony before the Senate Banking Committee tomorrow night and the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, which the market will be paying very close attention to for the reconciliation of how the Fed plans to continue on its rate-hiking path despite rapidly deteriorating US macro data that has started 2015 at the worst pace (in terms of downside surprises) since Lehman.
- Tsipras Tamed as Economists Declare Greece Loses Austerity Fight (BBG)
- Greece readies reform plans to first sign of leftist unrest (Reuters)
- Yellen Faces Congress Amid Direst Threat to Fed Since Dodd-Frank (BBG)
- The war must go on: Kiev says cannot withdraw heavy weapons as attacks persist (Reuters)
- Ukraine fears spread of war after blast in eastern city (Reuters)
- Denmark Dismisses Report It Could Consider Capital Controls (BBG)
- Deadline Nears on Homeland Security Funding Impasse (WSJ)
- Gross Fund Hurt by Oil’s Plunge Amid Bets on Energy Bonds (BBG)
If you thought the Greek tragicomedy is over, you ain't seen nothing yet, because despite the so-called Friday agreement, the immediate next step is for Greece to submit its list of reform measures to the Troika, which will almost certainly result in an immediate revulsion in Germany's finance ministry, and lead to another protracted back and forth between the Troika and Greece, which may once again well end with a Grexit, especially if the Greek liquidity situation, where bash is bleeding from both the banks and the state at a record pace, remains unhalted. It is therefore not surprising that the ongoing decline in the EURUSD since the inking of the agreement, and the fact that the pair briefly dipped below 1.13 this morning - over 100 pips below the euphoric rip on Friday - is a clear indication that the market is starting to realize that absolutely nothing is either fixed, or set in stone.
Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher proclaimed that he and some esteemed colleagues in the business community believe the collapse in oil prices is a net positive for Texas, while "we will lose about 150,000 [oil-based] jobs, but we will pick them up elsewhere since we are a consumer society," and low oil prices is good for everyone... so far he is absolutely wrong!
It would appear the powers that be are getting nervous. Yesterday, Fed Governor Jerome Powell (and Fisher and Plosser) stepped up the central bank’s push against what he termed congressional efforts to extend political influence over monetary policy, calling them "misguided" and "in violent conflict with the facts." Today we have Senator Elizabeth Warren trying to sound supportive of transparency but proclaiming that she opposes Rand Paul's "Audit The Fed" Bill because it promotes "congressional meddling in the Fed’s monetary policy decisions," and has "dangerous implications for financial stability and the health of the global economy."
Who could have seen this coming? Well apparently all but one economist (TD Securties Greene and Mulraine had a -5.0 est) as the -4.4 print is almost a 4 standard deviation miss from extrapolator's and hockey-stickers' dreams. Following December's drop and miss, the Dallas Fed Manufacturing index is now at its lowest since May 2013. All components dropped, apart from inventories as 11% of firms reported layoffs and wage pressures eased.
- Alexis Tsipras: the Syriza leader about to take charge in Greece (Guardian)
- Tsipras to form anti-bailout Greek government after big victory (Reuters)
- Tsipras Forges Anti-Austerity Coalition in EU Challenge (BBG)
- East Coast braces, flights canceled as 'historic' blizzard bears down (Reuters)
- Rebels press Ukraine offensive, Obama promises steps against Russian-backed 'aggression (Reuters)
- Syriza Victory Brings Hope for Immigrants of EU Access (BBG)
- For Saudis, Falling Demand for Oil Is the Biggest Concern (BBG)
- Oil prices fall on market relief over Saudi policy (Reuters)
This morning both the SNB stunner from two weeks ago, and the less than stunning ECB QE announcement from last Thursday are long forgotten, and the only topic on markets' minds is the startling surge of Syriza and its formation of a coalition government with another anti-bailout party - a development that many in Europe never expected could happen, and which has pushed Europe to the bring of the unexpected yet again. And while there is much speculation that this time Europe is much better positioned to "handle a Grexit", the reality is that European bank balance sheets are as bad if not worse than in 2014, 2013, 2012 or any other year for that matter, because none of ther €1+ trillion in NPLs have been addressed and the only thing that has happened is funding bank capital deficiencies with newly printed money. You know what they say about solvency and liquidity.
Our question is this: if indeed the shale boom is now turning to bust, and if indeed the vast majority of jobs created were thanks to the shale revolution (which is about to go in reverse), what happens to the primary source of high-paying jobs: the energy sector? Before you answer, take a look at the following chart, courtesy of the Dallas Fed.
"This is why Putin is Public Enemy Number 1. It’s because he’s blocking the US pivot to Asia, strengthening anti-Washington coalitions, sabotaging US foreign policy objectives in the Middle East, creating institutions that rival the IMF and World Bank, transacting massive energy deals with critical US allies, increasing membership in an integrated, single-market Eurasian Economic Union, and attacking the structural foundation upon which the entire US empire rests, the dollar." Up to now, of course, Russia, Iran and Venezuela have taken the biggest hit from low oil prices; but what the Obama administration should be worried about is the second-order effects that will eventually show up...
Goldman Sachs expects nonfarm payroll job growth of 230k in December, slightly below the consensus forecast of 240k. Labor market indicators continue to point to a strong pace of employment gains, but softened on balance in December. In particular, jobless claims rose modestly and the employment components of service sector business surveys weakened somewhat. With respect to wages, we expect a softer +0.1% gain in average hourly earnings following an unusually large gain in November. On balance, labor market indicators looked somewhat softer in December, but remain consistent with a solid trend rate of employment growth.
The investment climate is being shaped by four forces:
1. De-synchronized business cycle with the US ahead of the pack
2. The prospects of sovereign bond purchases by the ECB, amid political uncertainty sparked by Geece's snap election
3. The continued drop in energy prices is a stimuluative writ large but poses challenges for oil producers and the leveraged eco-system that has been built on the premise of high oil prices forever.
Less drilling will not only lead to a loss of jobs for oil workers, but the services that pop up around drilling sites – restaurants, bars, construction, and more – are feeling the slowdown as well. States like Texas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Louisiana have seen their economies boom over the last few years as oil production surged. But the sector is now deflating, leaving gashes in employment rolls and state budgets. With such extensive dependence on oil for prosperity in these states, the pain will mount if oil prices stay low.
I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that we gold advocates have gone all in. We have made one argument for gold...
The American people are feeling really good right about now. For example, Gallup’s economic confidence index has hit the highest level that we have seen since the last recession. In addition, nearly half of all Americans believe that 2015 will be a better year than 2014 was, and only about 10 percent believe that it will be a worse year. And a lot of people are generally feeling quite good about the people that have been leading our nation. Unfortunately, when things seem to be going well common sense tends to go out the window. Sadly, what we are experiencing right now is so similar to what we witnessed in 2007 and early 2008. The stock market had been on a great run, people were flipping houses like crazy and most people were convinced that the party would never end. But then it did end – very painfully.