The new double AA credit status assigned by S&P has put the U.S. in the same category as China. But one consolation for the United States is that the country's high socio-economic resilience has placed the U.S. at a more favorable investment risk position than major emerging economies like China and India.
The dust has far from settled on the Washington stalemate over setting a new debt limit. As Thomas Sowell pointed out, so logically, were an increase in the debt ceiling only “routine”, held up by pesky Congressional Tea Partiers, as the spenders charged, then what would be the purpose of having a ceiling at all? But while an indecorous debate encapsulated the larger ideological divide, America rapidly moves on, remorselessly, to threatening politico-economic issues cascading in from Europe and Asia as well as at home.
I am beginning to feel a bit like one of the French unfortunates stumbling through the fog in the Ardennes, circa 1914. Except that, instead of Germans full of deadly intent coming at me in the gloomy forest, it is a flock of black swans. As it was for the French in the Ardennes, the number of problems – then Germans, now black swans – is becoming overwhelming. Consider just a little of what we as investors, and as individuals looking forward to retirement in accommodations more commodious than a shipping box, must contend with...
There are a cluster of problems involving Fukushima ...
Relevant news (better late than...)
Volatility continued across European equities in early trade supported by a short-selling ban imposed by countries including France, Italy, Spain and Belgium. However, prices came under pressure following news that Chancellor Merkel may not be able to keep her promise of getting changes to the EFSF before end-September, together with lower than expected GDP data from France. As the session progressed, appetite for risk emerged as the dominant theme as equities moved higher, led by financials, whereas the Eurozone 10-year government bond yield spreads tightened across the board, with aggressive narrowing witnessed in the French/German spread. This was supported by market talk of the ECB buying in the Italian and Spanish government debts, with the 10-year yield in Italy falling below 5% and France below the 3% level. Elsewhere, CHF weakened across the board partly on the back of market talk that the SNB was conducting currency swap operations via small Swiss corporate banks. Also, a weakening USD-Index supported EUR/USD and GBP/USD, whereas the latter received further boost following an upward revision to the UK's construction output data, which is said to add 0.1% to country's Q2 GDP. The release of Project Merlin data showing an enhanced lending by UK banks in Q2 as compared to Q1 helped the GBP currency further. Moving into the North American open, markets look ahead to key economic data from the US in the form of retail sales, business inventories, and University of Michigan confidence report. Fed's Dudley and President Obama are also scheduled to speak later in the session.
The European equity market remained volatile during the session, with some stability seen in French banks in early trade after Societe Generale's CEO rejected yesterday's market talk that the co. is in trouble, and as the French/German 10-year government bond yield spread retraced all of its widening yesterday. However, as the session progressed, apprehension revisited on the back of market talk that BNP Paribas may incur a loss of further USD 713mln on Greece, together with a three-month hike seen in the ECB's overnight deposit facility yesterday, which highlighted banks reluctance to lend. This resulted in a renewed sell-off in French and Italian bank shares, and financials became the worst performing sector in Europe. In other news, the Eurozone 10-year government bond yield spreads narrowed helped by a PBOC adviser saying that China is willing to keep buying European debt, together with market talk of the ECB buying in the Italian and Spanish government bonds. Elsewhere, CHF weakened across the board in early trade on the back of market talk of the SNB conducting currency swaps in the market. Also, USD/JPY recovered somewhat, after an earlier approach towards its all time low of 76.24, however there was no official confirmation of a BoJ intervention. Moving into the North American open, markets look ahead to key economic data from the US in the form of jobless claims and trade balance, together with housing and trade balance figures from Canada. In fixed income, 5-year TIPS refunding announcement, allied with USD 16bln 30-year Note auction are also scheduled for later in the session.
Bild Zeitung, is Germany’s biggest- selling newspaper, is the best-selling newspaper outside Japan and has the sixth-largest circulation worldwide. Bild encouraged German people to invest in gold as the global debt crisis continues to deteriorate and cause turmoil in global markets. “While the companies listed on stock exchanges have lost over the past 14 days, about $8 trillion dollars in value, the price of gold climbed to a record high.” “While money can be printed, gold reserves are limited. To date some 150,000 tonnes of gold have been mined.” Gold “is better than cash,” the newspaper said. “While any amount of money can be printed, gold is limited,” making it “one of the safest investments in crisis times.” The article is interesting as gold has remained taboo is much of the non specialist European press and media and was only briefly covered in recent days due to the deepening crisis and succession of new record nominal highs. German demand for gold has been very robust in recent years and the Germans experience of the Weimar hyperinflation means that they are very aware of the risks posed by today’s excessive money printing and global currency debasement.
- Global stocks rebound after Fed move (FT)
- Bernanke’s Interest-Rate Timeframe Draws Most Negative Votes in 18 Years (Bloomberg)
- Pass the Granade: BofA Sells Part of Mortgage Portfolio to Fannie Mae (WSJ)
- France Asserts Plans to Keep Triple-A (WSJ)
- S&P balks at SEC proposal to reveal rating errors (Reuters)
- Senate’s Baucus In Deficit Super Committee Trio (Reuters)
- SNB’s Franc Dilemma May Force Intervention Even After $36 Billion Losses (Bloomberg)
- Kan Moves Step Closer to Resignation After Japan agrees on Budget Funding (Bloomberg)
- Cracks in China Housing Push (WSJ)
- Australian Consumer Confidence Slumps to Lowest Since 2009 on Market Slump (Bloomberg)
- No exposure at all: none. Commerzbank Profit Drops 93% on Greek Debt (Bloomberg)
Back in May, when the market was once again trading purely on hopium and everyone's head was in the sand of denial, (or worse), Jeremy Grantham released his second quarter letter which was so bearish, it literally moved the market lower briefly (at which point visions of Ben Bernanke pushing CTRL-P repeatedly restored the levitation). Anyone who took his advice then, about 15% higher, to get out, has saved substantial capital: "whether [the market] will reach 1500 or not, the environment has simply become too risky to justify prudent investors hanging around, hoping to get lucky. So now is not the time to float along with the Fed, but to fight it." Well, to anyone hoping that the latest letter from the GMO manager has anything more optimistic after an epic rout in the past week, we have bad news: "as for global equities, they range from unattractive (August 2) to very unattractive. The S&P 500, for example, is worth no more than 950 on our estimates. In general, risk avoidance looks like a good idea. Cash – despite its manipulated low rate, deliberately designed to make us reach for risk – should be seen as a safe haven replete with important optionality: dry powder to take advantage of possible opportunities." Grantham adds that it is recommended to "keep your head down" for the last two months of a President's third year, and to also "keep it down for the foreseeable future."He adds that GMO is modestly underweight equities in asset-allocation accounts, partly due to "desperately unattractive" yields on fixed income. As for those who pray to the altar of St. Ben, he says that "the main long-term risk is that after two massive bubbles and two equally massive resurrection programs, the Fed may be out of ammunition. Should more building blocks fall (government bond downgrade and further market declines have missed my deadline) and a serious global double-dip develop, then the pattern of market behavior this time may be more historically typical." In other words, and in keeping with his previous letter, the time to continue fighting the Fed is now more than ever.
Relevant news by www.thetrader.se
In a Bloomberg TV interview following today's quixotic "QE3/non-QE3 announcement, which is Operation Twist 2, but not LSAP, and ushers in economic recession, even as it sends risk assets soaring, and somehow pushes the 2 Year a whopping 20 bps tighter so buy,buy, buy" and is really very much ado about nothing, the always outspoken Marc Faber had some very choice words about life, the universe and especially the residents of the Marriner Eccles building. While there still appears to be some confusions as to whether today's Fed decision to peg rates at zero for 2 years is QE3 or not, Faber believes that the decision to not enact more Large Scale Asset Purchases is "the right thing" although when it comes to the market, it "is more likely to move still lower. We are very oversold. We can have a rebound like we did today, maybe we'll have a rebound next week or so, but in general I think we will test the July lows of last year, the S&P at 1,010. After that, probably we'll get probably a QE3 announcement." Naturally, Faber does not think gold is in a bubble, and as to what one can do with gold, his response is that "you give your girlfriend copper rings and I give them gold rings and I keep them longer." Indeed, no bubble there. Last but not least is his suggestion what the Fed should do: "The best [the Fed] could do for markets would be to collectively resign." Precisely, which is why it will never happen.
The Fed just basically announced “recession” and has consequently lowered rates REAL TIME and even set parameters for negative rates. There was some empirical analysis PRIOR to S&P downgrade which suggested historical tendency (not tendency forecasts) of rates to be 50 bps to 70 bps lower after an industrial sovereign downgrade like Japan, Canada, Australia and others. We were surprised at all the news conferences harping on the political save egg on face conclusions of lower rates yesterday. Many, not all, were looking for it. We are humble given volatility as no one has the answers...The equity response is positive as the Fed is FORCING grandmas and anyone who relies on a fixed income into alternative higher yielding asset classes. Dividend paying stocks look delicious. Convertibles, OMG, as you get a higher yielding fixed income instrument with a free equity option? EQUITIES and other perpetual assets that are being discounted by these rates. Pension funds use the lower rates to discount valuations.