Reflecting on yesterday's monetary-policy-hope-driven rally, UBS' Art Cashin prefers to focus on Richard Fisher's very frank (and succinct) speech on the limits of monetary policy and the importance of fiscal policy. Urging everyone to read it, and send it to your Congressman and Senators, he reminds us that Fisher is the only Fed policymaker to have been a banker and a money manager, and in the words of Richard Fisher, he worries that: "there is a growing sense that we are unwittingly, or worse, deliberately, monetizing the wayward ways of Congress."
Despite closed US stock markets today, FaceBook stock still managed to decline, while Europe dipped yet once again on all the same fears: Greece, Spain, bank runs, contagion, etc. Shortly Europe will reopen, this time to be followed by the US stock market as well. While in turn will direct market participants' attention to a shortened week full of economic data, which as Goldman says, will likely shape the direction of markets for the near future. US payrolls and global PMI/ISM numbers are expected to show a mixed picture with some additional weakness already fully anticipated outside the US. On the other hand, consensus does expect a moderate improvement in most US numbers in the upcoming week, including labour market data and business surveys. As a reminder, should the Fed wish to ease policy at its regular June meeting, this Friday's NFP print will be the last chance for an aggressive data-driven push for more QE. As such to Zero Hedge it is far more likely that we will see a big disappointment in this week's consensus NFP print of +150,000. Otherwise the Fed and other central banks will have to scramble with an impromptu multi-trillion coordinated intervention a la November 30, 2011 as things in Europe spiral out of control over the next several weeks. Either way, risk volatility is most likely to spike in the coming days.
When Mr. Market ultimately becomes disenchanted with the fiscal excesses of the sovereign deadbeats, he can express his ire most energetically. When the current bond bubble here in the US ultimately bursts, as it must, it's going to be a bloodbath. Of course, there is much, much more at stake to coming to the correct answer on the recovery, or lack thereof, than that. For instance, poor economies make for poor reelection odds for political incumbents. And when it comes to maintaining a civil society, the lack of jobs inherent in poor economies often leads to a breakdown in civility. On that note, overall unemployment in Spain is now running at depression levels of almost 25%, and youth unemployment at close to 50%. How long do you think it will be before the citizens of this prominent member of the PIIGS will refuse being led to the slaughter and start taking out their anger on the swine (governmental and private) seen as bearing some responsibility for the malaise? Meanwhile, back here in the United States, the commander-in-chief is striding around the deck of the ship of state trying to look like the right man for the job in the upcoming election, despite the gaping hole of unemployment just under the economic water line. His future prospects are very much entangled with this question of recovery.
So, what's it going to be? Recovery… no recovery… or worse, maybe even a crash?
Fraud ... What Fraud?
"We're on the road to economic stagnation" is how the Dallas fed describes the status quo as Too-Big-To-Fail (TBTF) is forcing the US economy to suffer from the perpetuation of perverse incentives. We want to get back on the path to prosperity and they note that there are some things monetary policy can't fix (well we know that already) but in this case they demand an end to the TBTF paradigm now. In an excellent presentation of the costs and benefits of ending TBTF (defined rather tongue-in-cheekily: The unwillingness of a government entity to abruptly close an insolvent company and force its creditors to sustain sizable losses due to the company’s size, complexity, interconnectedness and general significance within the financial system), the ignorance of the process of creative destruction is critical as they note that a sick (or failed) bank cannot lend: "Undercapitalized banks gum up the working of the interdependent moving parts of the monetary policy engine". Dismissing the Dodd-Frank Act as a distraction that doesn't buttress market discipline, they summarize their guiding principles as: End banking oligopoly power; punish failure quickly; and change the do-or-die (M.A.D.) decision-making paradigm; ending with the threat promise suggestion that Restructuring isn't so radical, firms do it all the time.
While the Dallas Fed Manufacturing Index tends to be a little less of a headline-maker than many of its macro-data peers, today's dismal report is worth paying attention to. The index turned negative for the first time this year, dropped to its lowest level in 7 months and missed expectations by the largest amount in 10 months. The drop from +10.8 to -3.4 is also the largest sequential drop in 11 months. Only the inventories sub-index rose (hardly a bright spot) as Production, Number of Employees, New Orders, and Capacity Utilization all plunged and the average workweek fell for the first time in months. The US decoupling myth continues to come apart at the seams and the likelihood of more easing (extreme or not) seems to be rising by the day - because that has worked so well in the past.
It is funny to hear the talking heads preface virtually every bullish statement with "the US economic data is getting better." It's funny because it's wrong. We have been tracking economic data based on our universe of indicators and as of today we have seen a miss rate of about 80%. And now, Deutsche Bank has joined us in keeping track of economic beats and misses, with their own universe of 31 economic indicators. The results are shown below and the verdict is in: the US economy has officially turned the corner... lower, now that the seasonally adjusted boost from a record warm winter fades and becomes an actual drag (not to mention the fading of the $2 trillion in central bank liquidity).
Have you wondered what really drives consumer confidence? The answer is simple. Jobs. If consumers are to be confident about their future, they need to feel secure in the present and future employment. The chart shows (gold bar) the confidence gap, which is the difference between the present situation index and the future expectations index. The red and blue lines are the number of individuals surveyed who feel that jobs are currently hard to get or plentiful. When confidence is high, so are the number of people who feel that jobs are plentiful. This is generally because they are currently employed and feel like they could get another job if they wanted one. The opposite is true today. This gap between jobs being hard to get and plentiful has closed slightly in the last couple of years; however, we are a long way from getting back to levels that are more normally associated with recoveries.
The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Outlook just came with its largest miss of expectations in 9 months - and biggest drop in 7 months.. A 10.8 print vs expectations of 17.0 dropped the index back to its lowest since December and keeps the 'good is good but bad is better' dream alive we assume and markets are entirely unfazed. The 'hope' sub-index printed higher which accounts for some of the reaction but we note that New Orders went negative, Average Workweek plummeted to its lowest in at least six months (and the number of employees also fell), and Prices Paid jumped but Prices Received dropped for the first time in three months (more margin pressure). This makes 14 of the last 16 macro data prints in the US a miss - but Ben is here to save us from considering the harsh reality of our quagmire.
Dallas Fed Confirms that Big, Insolvent Banks Are Killing Our Economy ... and Democracy
For today's definitive example of peak cognitive dissonance and self-delusion among those who determine the monetary fate of the world no less, look no further than the Dallas Fed's Dick Fisher, who just said the following according to Reuters:
- No one presently believes that the Fed is going to proceed with QE3
Funny considering earlier, we got this from Goldman's Bill Dudley:
- No decision yet on QE3, New York Fed's Dudley says
And that is why central planning always fails. Because a room of these terminally confused people sits down and determines the fate of the world based on their naive academic interpretation of what they perceive is reality.
Confused why every asset class is up again today (yes, even gold), despite the pundit interpretation by the media of the FOMC statement that the Fed has halted more easing? Simple - as we said yesterday, there is $3.6 trillion more in QE coming. But while we are too humble to take credit for moving something as idiotic as the market, the fact that just today, none other than Goldman Sachs' Jan Hatzius came out, roughly at the same time as its call to buy Russell 2000, and said that the Fed would announce THE NEW QETM, as soon as next month, and as late as June. Furthermore, as Goldman has previously explained, sterilization of QE makes absolutely no difference on risk asset behavior, and it is a certainty that the $500-$750 billion in new money (well on its way to fulfilling our expectation of a total $3.6 trillion in more easing to come), in the form of UST and MBS purchases, will blow out all assets across all classes, while impaling the dollar. Which in turn explains all of today's action - dollar down, everything else (including bonds, which Goldman said yesterday to sell which we correctly, at least for now, said was the bottom in rates) up. Finally, as we said, yesterday, "In conclusion we wish to say - thank you Chairman for the firesale in physical precious metals." Because when the market finally understands what is happening, despite all the relentless smoke and mirrors whose only goal is to avoid a surge in crude like a few weeks ago ahead of the presidential election, gold will be far, far higher. Yet for some truly high humor, here is the justification for why the Fed will need to do more QE, even though Goldman itself has been expounding on the improving economy: "The improvement might not last." In other words, unless the "economic improvement" is guaranteed in perpetuity, the Fed will always ease. Thank you central planning - because of you we no longer have to worry about either mean reversion or a business cycle.
For all this talk and hype, QE 3 is nowhere to be found. And it won’t be showing up anytime soon unless a full-scale Crisis hits. The reason for this is that the political landscape in the US has changed dramatically with the Fed becoming more and more politically toxic. As a result of this, the Fed (with few exceptions) has begun to shift into damage control mode.
Dallas Fed's Fisher "Perplexed" By Wall Street "Fetish" With QE3 And Disgusted With The Addiction To "Monetary Morphine"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/05/2012 13:36 -0500
And now for some pure irony, we have a member of the Fed, granted a gold bug, but a Fed member nonetheless, one of the same people who not only enacted ZIRP, but encourage easy money every time there is a downtick in the market, complaining about, get this, Wall Street's "continued preoccupation, bordering upon fetish" with QE3. The irony continues: "Trillions of dollars are lying fallow, not being employed in the real economy. Yet financial market operators keep looking and hoping for more. Why? I think it may be because they have become hooked on the monetary morphine we provided when we performed massive reconstructive surgery, rescuing the economy from the Financial Panic of 2008–09, and then kept the medication in the financial bloodstream to ensure recovery....I believe adding to the accommodative doses we have applied rather than beginning to wean the patient might be the equivalent of medical malpractice." So let's get this straight: these academic titans, who for one reason or another, are given free rein to determine the fate of the once free world with their secret decisions every two or three months, are completely unaware of classical conditioning, discovered by Pavlov nearly 90 years ago, also known as a salivation response. The same Fed is shocked, shocked, that every time the market dips, the red light goes off, and the "balls to the wall" crowd scream for more, more, more free money. Really Fisher? Really? Oh, and let us guess what happens the next time the S&P slides into the tripple digits: will the Fed a) do nothing, thereby letting the market slide to its fair value in the 400 point range, or b) print. Our money, in the form of hard yellow metal, is on the latter, just like we predicted, correctly, back in March 2009 in " Bailoutspotting (Or The Search For The Great Financial Methadone Clinic" that nothing will ever change vis-a-vis the great market junkie until it all comes crashing down.