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.
Otherwise… No titbits…
Nada. Rien. Nichts. Nothing.
It has been a tempestuous week where good is bad, worse is better, but European news is to be sold. Here is your one stop summary of all the notable bullish and bearish events in the past seven days.
Middle East situation not really in the prices, as the tension in Syria is growing to new heights.
IMF annual review of EZ policies pitches a lot of already pitched ideas (QE, etc etc). No news
Nothing crisp from Ben – outside comments that “Europe is not close to having a long term solution”… Thanks for the thumb up!
Appropriately coming just after today's Housing Starts data, which captured MSM headlines will blast was "the highest since 2008" is the following chart from this morning's Bloomberg Brief, which shows precisely the reason why "housing has bottomed" - and it has nothing to do with organic demand rising. No, it has everything with excess inventory once again starting to pile up, which means that the imbalance in the supply and demand curves is purely a function of shadow inventory being stocked away, and that there is once again no true clearing price.
Housing starts, permits, units under construction and completions all continue to crawl slowly along the bottom. The noise was as follows: June starts came in at 760K on expectations of a 745K print, up from a revised 711K in May; Permits were 755K on expectations of 765K, and down from a revised 784K. In other words, largely a wash. Within start, single unit housing has barely budged upward, with the only strength focused on multi-family units on hopes that the rental market will pick up. Of course, by building much more rental units, the only thing that will happen is a flood of supply on the margin which sends rents lower yet again. Finally, keep in mind that both starts and permits only indicate one aspect of the lifecycle of new homes: the final one, and the one that few speak about, completions, came at 622K: as the second chart below shows, there is absolutely no rebound in this category which actually shows what is coming to market.