Think the Fed's policy of market intervention is only impacting savers and investors? Think again: courtesy of ZIRP, companies are investing increasingly less in CapEx, and thus long-term growth, and merely focusing on instant bang for the buck projects, like M&A and dividends. Sustainable? You decide.
The ISM Manufacturing Index, which in the aftermath of last week's weak Chicago PMI was whispered to be a miss, came at 53.4, on expectations of 53.0, up from 52.4 in February, once again continuing the narrative of a Schrodinger economic reality. While Production and Employment both rose, New Order declined from 54.9 to 54.5; What is truly suspect is that Prices dropped also from 61.5 to 61.0, putting the validity of this report in question especially following the explosion in the Chicago PMI prices paid. Perhaps HSBC was responsible for that particular report too? In other news, Construction Spending plunged from an unrevised -0.1% (revised to -0.8%) to -1.1% on expectations of a rise to 0.6%, the lowest print since July 2011. All in all, a release pair as expected, affording Bernanke the ability to be easy if need be, although giving stocks enough pump to offset weakness from Europe and Japan, telegraphing that the drop in the market does not need to begin just yet for New QE deliberations.
- Mixed signals from China's factories in March (Reuters)
- EU wants G20 to boost IMF funds after Eurogroup move (Reuters)
- Euro Leaders Seek Global Help After Firewall Boosted (Bloomberg)
- Euro-Region Unemployment Surges to Highest in More Than 14 Years (Bloomberg)
- Big banks prepare to pay back LTRO loans (FT) ... don't hold your breath
- Coty Inc. Proposes to Acquire Avon Products, Inc. for $23.25 Per Share in Cash (PRnewswire)
- Spain Record Home Price Drop Seen With Bank Pressure (Bloomberg)
- Firm dropped by Visa says under 1.5 million card numbers stolen (Reuters)
- Japan Tankan Stagnates With Yen Seen as Threat (Bloomberg)
- Fed to buy $44 billion Treasuries in April, sell $43 billion (Reuters)
They've got to be kidding: abstinence hell is coming to Italy’s technocrat reformers and professional politicians, unless....
Ten days ago, Goldman's Peter Oppenheimer published the "Long Good Buy, The Case For Equities", a big research piece, full of pretty charts and witty bullets, which actively urged the rotation out of bonds and into stocks, yet not only marked the peak of the market so far, but drew ridicule even from the likes of CNBC. More importantly, it has generated a plethora of questions from the muppets (aka Goldman clients) themselves, who are wondering how Goldman can be both uber bullish, and yet still have a 1250 S&P 2012 YE price target, as per the other strategist, David Kostin ("We expect the S&P 500 will trade at 1325 by mid-year (-5.6%) and 1250 in 12 months (-10.9%)."), or said otherwise, just how is it that Goldman is having its cake and eating it too? Below is David Kostin's attempt to justify how the firm can pull a Dennis Gartman (and virtually any other newsletter and book seller - after all what better way to say one was right than to have all bases covered) be both bearish and bullish at the same time.
Two years ago, when introducing then promptly enacting Obamacare, the president stated that healthcare law reform would not cost a penny over $1 trillion ($900 billion to be precise), and that it would not add ‘one dime’ to the debt. It appears that this estimate may have been slightly optimistic… by a factor of 1700%. Because coincident with the recent Supreme Court debacle, in which a constitutional law president may be about to find that his magnum opus law is, in fact, unconstitutional, someone actually read the whole thing cover to cover, instead of merely relying on the CBO’s, pardon Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs’, funding estimates. That someone is Republican Jeff Sessions who after actually running the numbers has uncovered that the true long-term funding gap is a mind-boggling $17 trillion, just a tad more than the original sub $1 trillion forecast. This latest revelation means that total underfunded US welfare liabilities: Medicare, Medicaid and social security now amount to $99 trillion! Add to this total US debt which in 2 months will be $16 trillion, and one can see why Japan, which is about to breach 1 quadrillion in total debt (yen, but who's counting), may want to start looking in the rearview mirror for up and comer competitors. And while Obama may have been taking creative license with a number that is greater than total US GDP, he was most certainly correct when saying that Obamacare would not add a penny to US debt. Because the second the US government comes to market to fund a true total debt/GDP ratio of 750%, it is game over, and the Fed will have its hands full selling Treasury puts every waking nanosecond to have any time left for the daily 3pm stock market ramp.
As Monti said, "The financial aspect of the crisis is over." For the moment. But the problems are worse than ever.
Fukushima Radiation Plume Hit Southern and Central California
Gold has been trading in a tight box around $1,660/oz today, as eurozone finance ministers meet in Copenhagen to discuss the scale of the permanent “bailout fund” set for July. Gold has been stuck in range of roughly $1,630/oz to $1,700/oz in recent weeks as risk appetite has returned after the latest European debt “solution” which saw the battered can kicked down the shortening road once again. Nothing has been solved with regard to the European debt crisis, and debt crises in Japan, the UK and the US now loom. The misguided panacea of heaping debt upon debt and shifting debt onto government balance sheets, debt monetisation and currency debasement is leading to continuing currency devaluations internationally. Despite this or maybe because of this - risk appetite returned with a vengeance as evidenced in equities internationally rising to multi-month and multi-year highs and the slight weakness in gold in March. So far in 2012, gold has performed well and is set to end the first quarter in 2012 with gains in all major currencies. Gold is 6.3% higher in US dollars, 3.2% higher in euros, 3.1% higher in pounds, 2.25% higher in Swiss francs and 12% higher in Japanese yen which fell sharply in the quarter.
- Greek PM does not rule out new bailout package (Reuters)
- Euro zone agrees temporary boost to rescue capacity (Reuters)
- Madrid Commits to Reforms Despite Strike (FT)
- China PBOC: To Keep Reasonable Social Financing, Prudent Monetary Policy In 2012 (WSJ)
- Germany Launches Strategy to Counter ECB Largesse (Telegraph)
- Iran Sanctions Fuel 'Junk for Oil' Barter With China, India (Bloomberg)
- BRICS Nations Threaten IMF Funding (FT)
- Bernanke Optimistic on Long-Term Economic Growth (AP)
A bevy of economic data misses overnight, including German and UK retail sales, Japan industrial production, UK consumer confidence, and a European economy which is overheating more than expected (2.6% vs 2.5% exp, although with $10/gas this is hardly surprising), and futures are naturally green. The reason: the broken record that is the European FinMins who are now redirecting attention from the slowly fading LTRO impact to the good old standby EFSFESM, which according to a statement by de Jager has now been agreed on at €800 billion, lower than last week's preliminary expectation for €940 billion in joint firepower. That this is nothing but a headline grabber is as we have noted before, as there is much doublecounting, capital allocation to and by the PIIGS as well as funding already assigned. It will likely take stocks some time before the realization dawns that this is not new capital and liquidity entering the markets, unlike QE on either side of the Atlantic, while the amount is largely inadequate to fill the multi-trillion liquidity shortfall, let alone "solvency" of European sovereigns and banks. So for now enjoy the greenness all around.
- Obama budget defeated 414-0 (Washington Times) yes, the Democrats too...
- German Central Banker: ECB Loans Only Buy Time (AP)
- Baku grants Israel use of its air bases (Jerusalem Times)
- Japan May Understate Deflation, Hampering BOJ, Economist Says (Bloomberg)
- BRICS flay West over IMF reform, monetary policy (Reuters)
- Five Portugal Lenders Downgraded by Moody’s (Bloomberg)
- SEC Registration Captures More Hedge Fund Advisers (Bloomberg)
- EU Nears One-Year Boost in Rescue Fund to $1.3 Trillion (Bloomberg)
- Consumers plot emergency oil release as Saudi decries high prices (Reuters)
- Japan Plans to Draft Stopgap Budget for First Time in 14 Years (Bloomberg)
Yesterday we presented what the balance sheet of the developed, or better known as insolvent, world- recall there was over $21 trillion in excess debt as of 3 years ago, looks like, and the curious to some observation that trillions in liabilities also double up as assets, in what is easily the world's most confounding (to central bankers at least) global circle jerk. After all, one can not inflate liabilities, without also destroying the assets these double count as at the same time. Yet while informative, that chart did not tell us anything we did not already know. However, the next chart we will present today will show a different aspect of the developed world, namely by indicating how the households of the three "richest" economies - Japan, the US and the Euro Area, have invested their money in various financial assets. And while this is merely the asset side of the ledger it shows how distinctly different the approach to capital allocation has been for countries in different stages of growth or ungrowth. What is most notable is the distinct distribution of capital in shares and equities within the three regions: it also shows why a sustained downtick in the US stock market is the deathknell of the modern economic experiment. What is also curious is that the investment of Japanese households into Insurance and Pension reserves, which in turn are then funneled into JGBs, is no larger than the US or European equivalent: it means that the true funding cost of the welfare state is roughly a third of all modern financial assets.