After being solidly ignored for weeks, suddenly the Scottish independence referendum is all anyone can talk about, manifesting itself in a plunge in the GBPUSD which ha slide over 100 pips in the past 24 hours, adding to the slide over the past week, and is now just above 1.61, the lowest since November 2013. In fact, the collapse of the unionist momentum has managed to push back overnight news from Ukraine, major Russian sanction escalations, Japan GDP as well as global trade data on the back burner. Speaking of global trade, with both China and Germany reporting a record trade surplus overnight, with the US trade deficit declining recently, and with not a single country in the past several month reporting of an increase in imports, one wonders just which planet in the solar system (or beyond) the world, which once again finds itself in a magical global trade surplus position, is exporting to?
It is not hard to find an exemplary chart of the collapse of the Japanese economy - as we have been diligently exposing for the past few years despite Abenomics' promises. Even Japanese government advisors are concerned: "My biggest concern is that most of the emphasis has been on solving the short-to-medium term challenges of overcoming deflation and boosting demand. While I think that emphasis has been the right approach, most Japanese economic problems really revolve around long-term issues: an aging and declining population, a need to increase our potential growth rate, and longer-term fiscal consolidation. Whether or not the government can overcome these challenges is still very much an unknown." These six charts suggest not only does Japan have a long way to go, but the trend is very much not their friend...
If the US equity market's reaction to the worst jobs data of 2014 is anything to go on; Japanese stocks should be a double overnight given the catastrophe that just printed. While the initial prints for the post-tax-hike period were bad enough (record worst levels in most cases), the revsions are even worse. Drum roll please: 1) Trade balance miss, worst in 4 months; 2) GDP -7.1% miss, revised down, worst since Q1 2009; 3) Business Spending/Capex -5.1% miss, revised down, worst since Q2 2009; and 4) Consumer Spending -5.3% miss, revised down, worst on record. But apart from that, as the Japanese leaders noted last week, "the recovery is heading in the right direction."
Today, high inflation seems so remote that many analysts treat it as little more than a theoretical curiosity. They are wrong to do so. No matter how much central banks may wish to present the level of inflation as a mere technocratic decision, it is ultimately a social choice. And some of the very pressures that helped to contain inflation for the past two decades have been retreating. Modern central banking has worked wonders to bring down inflation. Ultimately, however, a central bank's anti-inflation policies can work only within the context of a macroeconomic and political framework that is consistent with price stability. Inflation may be dormant, but it is certainly not dead.
Straight-forward discussion about the investment climate and the week ahead. Light on hyperbole, heavy on analysis.
Just 2 months ago, the illustrious muppet catchers at Goldman Sachs stated that both stocks were 30-45% overvalued but lifted its year-end target in what we subjectively described as 'moronic drivel'. Then, 2 short weeks after that 'upgrade', the same thought-provoking sell-side strategist downgraded stocks on the basis that a 'sell-off in bonds could lead to short-term weakness in stocks'. Now, with the S&P 500 closing at new record highs on the worst employment data of the year, Goldman is at it again - upgrading equities to overweight for the next 3 months, rolling index targets forward, and piling investors into high-yield credit. Welcome to muppetville...
What else is there left to say: "Customer Base: Our customer base includes professional traders, financial institutions, institutional and individual investors, major corporations, manufacturers, producers, governments and central banks."
The Bank Of Japan (BOJ) says it is looking for consumer spending to stay on a recovery path, focusing on the relatively small increase in nominal wages rather than the steep slide in real wages. Goldman believes the BOJ’s view is founded on money illusion; and crucially, expect the positive effects to be clearly outweighed by the negative impact of lower real wages, and on a net basis see consumption falling. Simply put, once people wake up to the illusion of money, its impact will also fade.
- Euro left reeling after ECB's liquidity splurge (Reuters)
- Coalition Emerges to Battle Islamic State Militants (WSJ)
- Ukraine Gas Chief Takes on Gazprom in Race With Winter (BBG)
- Nato leaders fail to agree spending targets (FT)
- JPMorgan Had Exodus of Tech Talent Before Hacker Breach (BBG)
- Mercedes-Benz Sales Rise Despite Weak German Demand (WSJ)
- Secret Network Connects Harvard Money to Payday Loans (BBG)
- ICE looks to crack financial data market (FT)
It has been an odd session: after yesterday's unexpected late day swoon despite the ECB launch of "Private QE", late night trading saw a major reversal in USDJPY trading which soared relentlessly until it rose to fresh 6 year highs, briefly printing at 105.70, a level not seen since October 2008, before giving back all gains in overnight trading. It is unclear if it was this drop, or some capital reallocation from the US into Europe, but for whatever reason while Europe has seen a stable - if fading in recent hours - risk bid, and European bonds once again rising and Irish and Italian yields both dropping to record low yield, US equity futures have slumped and are now trading at the lows of the session ahead of a US nonfarm payroll print which is expected to rise and print for the 7th consecutive time above 200K, at 230K to be precise, up from 209K in July (down from 288K in June). It is unclear if the market is in a good news is bad news mood today, but for now the algos are not taking any chances and have exited risky positions, with the ES at the low end of the range the market has been trading in for the past week centered aroun S&P 2000.
Market reversions, when the occur, are extremely rapid and tend to leave a rather brutal "scar" on investment portfolios. There is clear evidence that economic growth is being impacted by deflationary pressures on a global scale. This suggests that the sustainability of current and projected growth rates of profits is questionable given the magnitude to which leverage has been used to boost margins through share repurchases. Here are three things to consider that may help you question your faith.
Encouraging and supporting asset bubbles is essentially the only force remaining to keep the system intact as we know it.
Borrowing more money at cheaper rates might provide short-term liquidity, but it does nothing to reduce your leverage in the real world. This is why, generally speaking, all Central bank policy is failing to generate growth: Central Banks can’t really do anything to remedy the situation!
Well into the second year of Abenomics, doubts have risen about the effectiveness of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s approach of boosting economic growth and overcoming deflation via “three arrows” of monetary, fiscal, and structural policy. Yet another set of disappointing data recently released for July has reinforced these doubts. As several key turning points approach before year-end, whether Abenomics will succeed or stumble is at the forefront of most traders' minds (whether they understand that or not). In the interest of some context for just how far Japan has fallen, we present 145 years of growth and XX-flation for the Japanese economy... one might argue that 'lost decade' or two is generous...
Zero inflation is like death penalty to debt-laden countries. It has been estimated that Italy would need a primary surplus of ~8% if it wanted to stabilize its debt/GDP at zero inflation, which means just stopping it from moving even higher. Spain would need a primary surplus of 2%+, instead of current negative 1.44%. Which means more austerity and more contractionary policies, to cause more internal devaluation than it is currently the case, more declines in unit labor costs, more salary cuts, more unemployment, less consumer spending, less corporate investments.... Incidentally, we have for European assets and the ECB the same feeling we have for Japan and the BoJ. Abenomics has a high chance of failure, in the long term. Nevertheless, on the road to perdition, chances are that efforts will be stepped up and more bullets shot in an attempt to avert the end game. As stakes are raised, financial assets will be supported and melt-up in bubble territory, doing so at the expenses of a more turbulent end-game in the years ahead.