Risk assets are not quite (yet) back to the ‘melt-up' of May but equity markets are trading in a confident mood after Bernanke caused sentiment to flip from glass ‘half empty' to ‘half full'. China Q2 GDP data did not derail price action as equity futures anticipate a positive start of the week. The semi-annual testimony of the Fed Chairman is typically a seminal event on the market calendar but do we dare say that the one coming up this week is a non-event following last week's message on policy accommodation? The VIX index dropped 7 points over the last three weeks of which 2 points alone came last Thursday and Friday as stocks roared to new highs and shrugged off the candid observation on the Chinese economy by finance minister Lou Jiwei. If a 6.5% growth rate is tolerable in the future, there is little doubt that commodities and the AUD have further to fall. Chinese GDP slowed from 7.7% to 7.5% according to data released overnight and prospects for the second half don't look much brighter after evidence of slowing credit growth. Data on Friday showed declines of narrow money from 11.3% yoy to 9.1% in May, with broad money growth slowing to 14% yoy. Non-bank credit and new foreign currency bank lending also weakened.
Much has ben written lately about the fact that the Federal Reserve is beginning to realize that they are caught in a "liquidity trap." However, what exactly is a "liquidity trap?" And perhaps more importantly how did we end up in it - and how do we get out?
"If you think it is going to rise, you may as well double your return," is the risk-schmisk perspective one Japanese strategist notes, that appears to permeate every aspect of investing nowadays. If ever the herding recency-bias-based mentality was evident it is Japanese ETFs (which as everywhere in the world have become the primary liquidity driver - along with futures - of the underlying stocks on every exchange in the world). The double-levered Nikkei 225 ETF in Japan has seen trading activity rise an incredible 1158% year-to-date (while the broad Topix index has only seen a more 'normal' 17% rise in the same period). While institutional volume still dominates, individual investors (enamored of the crack-up boom in equities this year) have piled in like never before with 28% of Japan's trading volume now retail. This won't end well.
It looks as if China’s days of double-digit economic growth are well and truly over (at least, for the moment). Data that will be released next week (second quarter figures) will show a quarter-on-quarter slowdown that is setting in now for China’s gross domestic product. The figures will be issued on Monda
No, last week’s jobs report was not “strong”. It was just another edition of the “born again” jobs scam that has been fueling the illusion of recovery during the entire post-crisis Bernanke Bubble. In short, the US economy is failing and the welfare state safety net is exploding. And that means that the true headwind in front of the allegedly “cheap” stock market is an insuperable fiscal crisis that will bring steadily higher taxes, lower spending and a gale-force of permanent anti-Keynesian austerity in the GDP accounts. And for that reason, the Fed’s strategy of printing money until the jobs market has returned to effective “full employment” is completely lunatic. The bottom-line is that Bernanke is printing money so that Uncle Sam can keep massively borrowing, and thereby fund a simulacrum of job growth in the HES Complex. Call it the Bed Pan Economy. When it finally crashes, Ben Bernanke will be more reviled than Herbert Hoover. And deservedly so.
The family is one of the fundamental building blocks of society. If you do not have strong families, you are not going to have a strong society. Unfortunately, the state of the family in America continues to deteriorate...
The only story this morning remains Bernanke's after hours speech, which solidly trumped the FOMC minutes in market impact, and which, in addition to ramping US equity futures to just about new all time highs, sent the EURUSD soaring by almost the same amount (+300 pips) as the actual QE1 announcement on March 18, 2009. Such is the power of verbal currency warfare, when Bernanke hasn't acutally done anything and merely hinted the Fed is as confused as ever about what to do. Of course, as Commerzbank notes this morning, the U.S. economy would have to lose a lot of momentum for the Fed to cancel tapering, and the central bank would only expand the purchase program if the economy collapses, but none of that matters to the "wealth effect" for the 1% where economic destruction simply means more wealth.
When you get into too much debt, really bad things start to happen. Sadly, that is exactly what is happening to Italy right now. Harsh austerity measures are causing the Italian economy to slow down even more than it was previously. And yet even with all of the (supposed) austerity measures, the Italian government just continues to rack up even more debt. This is the exact same path that we watched Greece go down. But if Italy collapses economically, it is going to be a far bigger deal than what happened in Greece. Italy is the ninth largest economy on the entire planet.
Another day of fraught wonderment ahead of us. What does it all mean? China economic data increasingly suggests there is a serious problem, (that’s still a few points below crisis – but recent experience suggests the politics of mobs can turn ugly with surprising speed!). On the other hand, yesterday’s US auctions went swimmingly well – so we can all relax about the taper? Er.. no. And while Spain gets a cheeky 15-yr bond issue completed (driven on the back of a large single order we strongly suspect), the Italians then get downgraded because of the weakening economy, deteriorating competitiveness and 1.9% negative growth outlook... “You can’t make this stuff up,”
"If central banks keep tacking and trimming as they edge away from accommodation, it may come to pass that none of their statements will carry much credibility. They could then lose control of long rates or, at best, stability in long rates might call for ever greater market intervention on their part. The end-result would be to render monetary measures largely useless as instruments of policy because central banks, with their controls jammed open, could never be sure of effecting any intended plan. Mr Bernanke and his co-thinkers may soon discover that, in taking a different line in coping with the current depression from that followed in the 1930s, they have fallen unsuspectingly into a trap from which escape will be painful."
With a ridiculous monetarist experiment that is doomed to fail, currently raging in Japan, where girl bands plaud the masculinity of deranged FX and stock traders, it is easy to forget that some two years ago the country suffered the worst nuclear disaster in history. And what is worse, the delayed consequences, all of them tragic, will stay with Japan for the years and decades to come. We got a very sad reminder of the true Japanese tragedy (because deflation is only "horrible" if you live outside your means) earlier when we read that Masao Yoshida, the plant manager who led the fight to bring Japan’s Fukushima atomic station under control during the 2011 nuclear disaster, has died from esophageal cancer. He was 58. He died on July 9 at a hospital in Tokyo, according to a statement from Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant.
- MSM discovers that soaring dollar hurts corporate profits: P&G to Apple Hurt by Strong Dollar Keep S&P 500 Profits in Check (BBG)
- China Posts Surprise Drop in Exports (WSJ) - lol: "surprise"
- Plan Reins In Biggest Banks (WSJ)
- European Commission Seeks Authority to Wind Down Banks (WSJ) - and Germany just says 9
- U.S. Banks Seen Freezing Payouts as Harsher Leverage Rules Loom (BBG)
- Brussels sets up clash with Berlin over banks (FT)
- EU to Toughen Creditor-Loss Rules at Failing Banks From August (BBG) - or September, or October, but definitely November... 2023
- China's crude, iron ore imports falter as demand cools (Reuters)
- Obama pushes economic case for immigration as House eyes next steps (Reuters)
- China, the single biggest contributor to global growth over the past decade, slowing markedly.
- World trade now flirting with recession.
- OECD industrial production in negative territory YoY.
- Southern Europe showing renewed signs of political tensions as unemployment continues its relentless march higher and tax receipts continue to collapse.
- Short-term interest rates almost everywhere around the world that are unable to go any lower, even as real rates start to creep higher.
- Valuations on most equity markets that are nowhere near distressed (except perhaps for the BRICS?).
- A World MSCI that has now just dipped below its six month moving average.
- A diffusion index of global equity markets that is flashing dark amber.
- Margins in the US at record highs and likely to come under pressure, if only because of the rising dollar.
The U.S. economy weakened appreciably in the first quarter of 2013. But what if this weakness persists into the second quarter just completed, and worsens still in the second half of this year? Q1 GDP, as reported on June 26th, was revised lower to just 1.8%. And various indications suggest that Q2 could come in slightly lower still, at 1.6%. Might the U.S. economy be guiding to a long-term GDP of 1.5%? That’s the rate identified by such observers as Jeremy Grantham – the rate at which we combine aging demographics, lower fertility rates, high resource costs, and the burdensome legacy of debt. After a four-year reflationary rally in just about everything, and now with an emerging interest rate shock, the second half of 2013 appears to have more downside risk than upside. Have global stock markets started to discount this possibility?
If you’ve wondered what the next recession might bring in the way of U.S. corporate earnings, you don’t have long to wait for an answer. Analysts expect the 30 companies of the Dow Jones Industrial Average to post a meager 0.7% top line growth for the upcoming Q2 2013 reporting season. If recent history – think all the way back to Q1 2013 – is any guide, that means we’ll actually see a decline in revenues for the just completed quarter once all the numbers are out. And with Q1 posting an average negative 0.6% top line comparison to last year, that will constitute a “Revenue recession” for these large and generally well-managed multinationals. If that makes you question why U.S. stocks are still up 15% on the year, look to both corporate profits (still at record highs) and the anticipation for a better second half. Hope may not be a strategy, as the old saying goes, but it certainly moves markets.