The August housing starts number was a disappointment, printing at 750K on expectations of a rise to 767K from last month's 746K, now revised lower to 733K. This would have been a boost to a market trained to expect more QE on any economic weakness, if only all QE in perpetuity, and certainly at leat $85 billion in monthly flow, was not already priced in. As a result, we are slowly getting to the dreaded point where bad news is once again bad news, at which all faith in the Fed as a monetary policy vehicle is lost (since Fiscal policy is now perpetually deadlocked). If there was any good news, it was in the single family starts which printed at 535K in August, a rise of 28K from July, and the highest since April 2010 (when housing had again "bottomed") driven by a surge in new building in the Midwest to 134K, from 111K. Finally housing permits which are nothing but noise, declined but beat expectations modestly. Since permits are a completely meaningless category and are purely used by hedge funds to game the market (they cost a token amount of money to procure, involve no actual work, and are there merely to frame the "housing has bottomed" trope time after time, until disproven), just like Libor, there is no point to observe them.
Those who expected a major response following the surprising, and "preemptive" easing by the Bank of Japan which has now joined the freely CTRL-Ping club of central banks, and went to bed looking for a major pop in risk this morning will be disappointed. The reason is that with every passing day that Spain does not request a bailout, all those who bought Spanish bonds on the assumption that Spain will request a bailout look dumber and dumber (a dynamic we explained nearly two months ago). As a result, the EURUSD has been dragging ever lower, and is now playing with 1.30 support. Providing no additional clarity was Spanish deputy PM Soraya Saenz de Santamaria who said Spain will decide if and when to trigger an ECB bailout once all details have been analyzed. Well the details have been more than analyzed, and Spain has been more than happy to receive the benefits of its bailout, it has yet to trigger the cause. Ironically in a Barclays study,over 78% of investors see Spain requesting a bailout by year end (even though as we explained over the weekend Spain really has to do this ahead of its major cash drawing bond redemption schedule in October when it may well run out of cash). And so, just like the US Fiscal Ceiling, the global markets are expecting some Catchy 22 deus ex machina, where traders can get their cake and politicians can eat it too. Alas, there never is such a thing as a free lunch. And what is making the much needed outcome even less probable is that Spanish bonds this morning are actually trading tighter once again making a bailout less than likely. The Spanish zombie has left its grave and is now romping through the neighborhood unsupervised.
Lot of noon / afternoon official chatter on the wires, but eventually nothing highly conclusive.
And oops… I still have the Blues.
Having had the last 2 weeks propped up by Ben and Jerry, oops, Mario, who delivered the f(l)avours that had been expected throughout the summer, markets will be in need for some concrete impulses to push further.
Spanish bond auction on Thu rather on the mighty side.
Mostly bored today, though...
News may come, and news may go, but the fiscal policy implementation vehicle known as the market, and now controlled by the Political Reserve don't care. For those who do, here is what has happened in the past few hours and what is on deck for the remainder of the week.
Given how many unconventional means have been deployed over the last weeks, I wouldn’t exclude some form of stimulus postpartum depression… With nothing in immediate sight, it’d better hold. Why does my heart feel so bad?
The Fed panicked. It is extraordinary that the Fed would announce an open-ended "we'll print as much as it takes, as long as it takes" policy. Chairman Bernanke is sending a signal to the markets and to government that the economy is bad and getting worse and that the Fed will do its part as everyone expects them to do. This is a clear signal to the markets and the world that the Fed stands for monetary inflation. They don't know what else to do. Here is the fallout.
When observing the trends in the housing market, one has two choices: i) listen to the bulls who keep repeating that "housing has bottomed", a common refrain which has been repeated every single year for the past four, or ii) look at the facts. We touched briefly on the facts earlier today when we presented the latest housing starts data:construction of single family residences remains 46 percent below the long-term trend; the more volatile multifamily houses is 15 percent below trend and demand for new homes 47 percent below. This is indicative of reluctance by households to make long-term investments due to fear of another downturn in housing prices. Bloomberg summarizes this succinctly: "This historically weak demand for new homes is inhibiting the recovery of demand for construction workers as well, about 2.3 million of whom remain without work." But the best visual representation of the housing "non-bottom" comes courtesy of the following chart of homes in negative or near-negative equity, which via Bloomberg Brief, is soared in Q4, and is now back to Q1 2010 level at over 13.5 million. What this means is that the foreclosure backlog and the shadow inventory of houses on the market could be as large as 13.5 million in the future, which translates into one simple word: supply.
Organic growth is slow and painful (Boo!), central bank money fast, cheap and with few strings attached (Yes!)…And anyway, QE and other supports have already been priced in… Can’t change the programme.
As has now become the norm, last week's initial claims was revised higher (because no algos care about what the real number was with a one week delay) from 361K to 366K (see chart below of cumulative impact when incorporating the next week revision), even as this week saw a modest miss at 366K on expectations of 365K. This "modest" 1K miss will be revised to a 4K miss next week. And while continuing claims also missed expectations by 5K, printing at 3,305K, it was the cliff of extended benefits that continues to bite, with another 64K people no longer collecting Uncle Sam's 99 week free dole in the week ended July 28. This brings the last two weeks' total to nearly 200K: unless this handout was replaced by disability payments, the hit to GDP will be material.
European equities opened higher, risk appetite boosted following overnight comments from Chinese Premier Wen that easing inflation in China left more room for monetary stimulus. However, summer thin volumes saw these gains pared, with particular underperformance in the FTSE 100, which currently trades in negative territory, despite stronger than expected UK retail sales for July. European CPI data for July was in line with market expectations, with no reaction seen across the asset classes following the release. Elsewhere, reports that Spain is to accelerate the bank bailout and is about to receive an emergency disbursement from the EUR 100bln bailout failed to support domestic bond market; the Spanish 2-year spread with respect to the German equivalent trading 6bps wider, though the Spanish 10-year spread is tighter on the day by 3.2bps and the 10-year yield is lower on the day, currently at 6.852%. The Spanish IBEX is outperforming on the back of this news, led by Bankia and Banco Santander.
No exactly fireworks, but anything that isn’t totally bad these days is good to have.
Good news, but then not so good news?! So, no QE, after all?
How does the current 'recovery', which according to the NBER officially began in June 2009, compare to those of the past? The Council on Foreign Relations updates its recovery chartbook and succinctly notes that "the current recovery remains an outlier among post-war recoveries along several dimensions." Consumers remain reluctant to take on new debt and the stock of debt is lower than it was when the recovery officially began. The global economic slowdown is beginning to manifest itself in world trade. After staging the strongest recovery of the post–World War II era (thanks to the depth of the plunge), growth in world trade has begun to decelerate.
Not much life. Nor conviction.
Barely a pulse.
Can you feel it?
Last week was a scratch in terms of events, if not in terms of multiple expansion, as 2012 forward EPS continued contraction even as the market continued rising and is on the verge of taking out 2012 highs - surely an immediate catalyst for the New QE it is pricing in. This week promises to be just as boring with few events on the global docket as Europe continues to bask in mid-August vacation, and prepare for the September event crunch. Via DB, In Europe, apart from GDP tomorrow we will also get inflation data from the UK, Spain and France as well as the German ZEW survey. Greece will also auction EU3.125bn in 12-week T-bills to help repay a EU3.2bn bond due 20 August held by the ECB. Elsewhere will get Spanish trade balance and euroland inflation data on Thursday, German PPI and the Euroland trade balance on Friday. In the US we will get PPI, retail sales and business inventories tomorrow. On Wednesday we get US CPI, industrial production, NY Fed manufacturing, and the NAHB housing index. Building permits/Housing starts and Philly Fed survey are the highlights for Thursday before the preliminary UofM consumer sentiment survey on Friday.