Nielsen

Is Central Planning About To Cost The Jobs Of Your Favorite CNBC Anchors?

Something funny happened when last August CNBC hired access journalist extraordinaire Andrew Sorkin to spiff up its 6-9 am block also known as Squawk Box: nothing. At least, nothing from a secular viewership basis, because while the block saw a brief pick up in viewership driven by the concurrent (first of many) US debt ceiling crisis and rating downgrade, it has been a downhill slide ever since. In fact, as the chart below shows, the Nielsen rating for the show's core 25-54 demo just slid to multi-year lows. And as NY Daily News, the seemingly ceaseless slide has forced CNBC to start panicking: "CNBC insiders tell us executives at the cable business channel are “freaking out” because viewership levels are down essentially across-the-board, particularly with its marquee shows, “Squawk Box” and “Closing Bell." “Their biggest attractions have become their biggest losers,” says one TV industry insider familiar with the cable channel’s numbers. According to Nielsen ratings obtained by Gatecrasher, from April 2011 to April 2012, “Squawk Box” is down 16 percent in total viewers and 29 percent in the important 25-54 demographic bracket that advertisers buy." Yet is it really fair to blame the slide of the morning block's show on just one man?

Presenting The Source Of The "US-Europe Decoupling" Confusion

Over the past several months, starting with the great US stock market surge back in October 2011 which was not paralleled by virtually any other index in the world (and especially not Spain which recently breached its March 2009 low), there has been a great deal of speculation that just because the US stock market was doing "better", that the US economy has by implication "decoupled" from Europe. Well, as yesterday's GDP number showed in Q1 the economy ended up rising at a pace that was quite disappointing, but more importantly, which even Goldman admits is due for a substantial slow down in the coming months. And ironically, in the past 6 months it was not the Fed, but the ECB, that injected over $1.3 trillion in the banking system. One would think that this epic "flow" of liquidity from the central bank would result in a surge in the only metric that matters to 'Austrians', namely the expansion in money (or in this case the widest metric officially tracked on an apples to apples basis - M2). One would be very wrong. Because as the chart below shows, while US M2 has soared from the 2009 troughs, money "movement" in Europe has barely budged at all.

Frontrunning: March 19

  • There is no Spanish siesta for the eurozone (FT)
  • Greece over halfway to recovery, says PM (FT) - inspired comedy...
  • Sarkozy Trims Gap With Rival, Polls Show (WSJ) - Diebold speaks again
  • IMF’s Zhu Sees ‘Soft-Landing’ Even as Property Slides: Economy (Bloomberg)
  • Obama Uses Lincoln to Needle Republicans Battling in Illinois (Bloomberg)
  • Three shot dead outside Jewish school in France (Reuters)
  • Osborne Seeks to End 50% Tax Spat With Pledge to Aid U.K. Poor (Bloomberg)
  • Monti to Meet Labor Unions Amid Warning of Continued Euro Crisis (Bloomberg)

Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: March 7

Markets appear to be tentatively recovering some of yesterday’s heavy losses, recording modest gains so far this morning. Comments made overnight by the German finance minister as well as senior officials from the Greek finance ministry may have mercifully given market participants some hope as they are confident the Greek PSI deal will be completed by the deadline tomorrow evening. The DAX index has underperformed the other European equity indices in recent trade following the release of some disappointing factory orders data for January, with markets expecting an expansion of 0.6%, however the reading came in at -2.7%, moving DAX stock futures into negative territory. WTI crude and Brent have also retraced some of their losses made earlier in the week following a drawdown in US gasoline inventories reported last night as well as a generally weak USD index in the FX markets today. Markets are awaiting US ADP employment change later in the session, as well as the weekly DOE oil inventories casting further light on the US energy stocks.

Credit Suisse The Sequel: "Probability Of The Largest Disorderly Default Loss In History On March 20 Has Increased"

A week ago we presented an excerpt from Credit Suisse's most excellent piece "The Flaw" - merely the latest in one of the best overviews of the neverending Greek soap opera by William Porter. Yet every soap opera eventually ends. Although when it comes to Nielsen ratings, the denouement is usually a whimper. In the case of Greece, it will be anything but. Yet listening to the daily cacafony of din from Europe's leaders, who are likely more clueless than the average reader as to what is really going on, one may be left with the impression that there is a simple solution to the problem, and Greece may be "saved... in hours." It can't. In fact, as of today, Porter's s conclusion is: "we are left with a sense that the probability of delivering the largest default loss in history in a disorderly way on or before 20 March has increased relative to doing so in an orderly way."

Global Economic 'Mojo' Still Lacking

As of Q3 2011, the citizens of less than 20% of the countries involved in Nielsen's Global Consumer Confidence, Concerns, and Spending Intentions Survey were on average confident in their future economic confidence. Not surprisingly, Nic Colas of ConvergEx points out, six were in Asia, the least confident were in Eastern and Peripheral European nations, and furthermore overall global consumer confidence remains 9.3% below 2H 2006 (and 6.4% below Q4 2010) readings as the global economy still has a long way to get its 'mojo' back. Colas points to the fact that 'confidence is an essential lubricant of any capitalist-based system' and one of the key challenges that worst hit Europe (and other regions and nations) face is capital markets that are assessing the long shadow of the Financial Crisis of 2007-2008 and the ongoing European sovereign debt crisis impact on the world's Consumer Confidence.

Preliminary Thoughts On The European Downgrade From Goldman And Morgan Stanley

It has been a busy weekend for Wall Street, which has been doing all it can to spin the S&P downgrade in the best favorable light, although judging by the initial EURUSD and EURJPY reaction, so far not succeeding. Below we present a quick report written by Goldman's Lasse Nielsen on why in Goldman's view the downgrade's "impact is likely to be limited" and also the quick notes from an impromptu call MS organized for institutional clients (which had just two questions in the Q&A section, of which only one was answered - it appears virtually noboby believes that global moral hazard will allow anyone to fail at this point, so why bother even going out of bed).

NAHB Index Drops To 3 Month Low, Misses Expectations, Creeps Along Generational Bottom

No surprise in the only economic indicator of the day: The September National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index declined from 15 to 14, missing expectations of an unchanged print, and at a 3 month low, although as the chart below shows, it is really just humming along the generational bottom with no threat of increasing any time in the near future. As the report demonstrates, sentiment was worse in 3 out of 4 regions, in Northeast at 15 vs August’s 17, in the West at 12 vs 15, and in the South at 15 vs 17; in Midwest 11 vs 10. That said, we are confident this will surge shortly, as soon as the President announces details of his plan to tax millionaires, which assuming we have hyperinflation shortly (remember: that debt won't inflate itself) means pretty much everyone.

Shadow ECB Council Pushes For Rate Cut And Monetary Easing

According to the Handelsblatt, while the majority of the members of the ECB's shadow council - an unofficial panel, independent of the ECB/Eurosystem, and comprising fifteen prominent European economists drawn from academia, financial institutions, consultancies, companies and research institute - supported an unchanged policy the bias is increasingly shifting to one of easing. This comes on the heels of Trichet's idiotic decision, just like in 2008, to start hiking rates in several months ago (ridiculed extensively on these pages and elsewhere) which not only ended up costing Europe its common currency much faster than had it merely kicked the can down the road, but could very well be the last bad decision by the ECB: should Greece be kicked out of the Eurozone as a result of this decision, the ECB is over. It is therefore not surprising that not only is the shadow council scrambling to undo 5 months of bad decision making by the ECB, but the bankers on the council, particularly RBS, PIMCO, RBS (RIP by the way), Barclays and Tudor and HSBC are either expressing an easing bias or outright pushing for a 50 bps cut. Alas, this is too little too late. And the irony is that once the Fed proceeds with QE3, and commodities surge again, the ECB will really be helpless as the continent's core redlines even as the Periphery remains terminally insolvent (ignoring for a minute the inflationary elephant in the room that is China). So will Trichet disgrace his already discredited central banker career by pushing a rate cut before he is swept out of the corner office by Mario Draghi, or will the former Goldmanite Italian become the most hated man in Germany soon, after he proceeds to ease, even as Germany still experiences Chinese inflationary re-exports. The answer will be all too clear in just a few months.

And In The Category For Biggest Conspiracy Theory We Have....

Two and a half years after consistently and methodically exposing one conspiracy after another (and by the way, once it is proven to be a fact, it is no longer a conspiracy), we were stunned to find that the biggest conspiracy theory is none other than... Zero Hedge. "Zero Hedge, for example, is one that lots of hedge funds look at, lots of money managers look at, and the guy that runs it has their ear. Now I'm not saying that he is not doing his own proprietary work, but, people like to plant stories in there. [cue ominous silence]." TA DUN DUN. Gee - one does learn something new every day. Also, to anyone who still doesn't get it, please send your dodecatuple secret "plant" stories to plant@zerohedge[.]com along with your non-refundable payment made in physical gold Zimbabwean dollars, to be delivered to our paper street headquarters. We certainly would prefer it if the drop man is Bank of America's James Mahoney.

Frontrunning: July 22

  • Debt talks begin critical phase (Reuters)
  • Obama and Boehner Advance Toward Deal to Cut Deficit  (WSJ)
  • Democrats Balk at Potential U.S. Debt-Limit Deal (Bloomberg)
  • Debt Ceiling Uncertainty Puts States at Risk (NYT)
  • Chinese manufacturing set to contract (FT)
  • Questions on Holdings at the Fed (WSJ)
  • China Banking Regulator Steps Up Risk Controls on Local Government Loans (Bloomberg)
  • IEA calls halt to emergency oil release (FT)
  • EU leaders agree €109bn Greek bail-out (FT)
  • EU May Accept Greek Default as Crisis Fight Intensifies (Bloomberg)
  • The Lesser Depression (Krugman)
  • Barnier seeks to soothe UK over banks (FT)

Debt Ceiling Talks Collapse

5 weeks ahead of the day when the debt ceiling "extend and pretend" plan ends, talks have broken down, and in order to hike Congressional Nielsen ratings, this time seemingly terminally. From Reuters: "U.S. Deficit-reduction talks led by Vice President Joe Biden have reached an "impasse," House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor said on Thursday, adding that he will not participate in the meeting of the bipartisan group that had been scheduled for later in the day. Cantor, a Republican, said the group has identified trillions of dollars in spending cuts, but had been unable to resolve a disagreement over tax increases Democrats sought. A Senate Democratic aide said the two sides "need to continue talking", and were continuing to talk. But an aide to Senator Jon Kyl, a Republican member of the Biden group, declined to comment on whether the senator would attend Thursday's scheduled meeting."

NAHB Builder Confidence Plunges To September 2010 Levels

And another index drops to levels last seen just as QE2 was unwinding. Per the NAHB: "After holding at a low but steady level for the past six months, builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes declined three points in June to a reading of 13 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today. The last time the index was this low was in September of 2010. "Builders are being squeezed by the continuing weakness in existing-home prices – against which they must compete -- as well as rising material costs," said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen, a home builder from Reno, Nev. "In addition to the ongoing impacts of distressed property sales on home prices, appraisal values and consumer confidence, rising costs for materials such as roofing, copper, wallboard, vinyl siding and other components have made it extremely difficult to construct a new home and sell it at a price that covers the costs....Builder confidence has waned even further as economic growth has stalled, foreclosures have continued to hit the market and the cost of building a home has risen," agreed NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "Meanwhile, potential new-home buyers are being constrained by difficulty selling their existing homes, stringent lending requirements, and general uncertainty about the economy. Economic growth must pick up in order for housing to gain the momentum it needs to get back on track." Yet fear not: Wall Street's econometric lemmings say the economy will surge in the second half on more hope and change. It is unclear what besides hope and change will cause this miraculous surge, although Operation Twist 2, which now seems guaranteed, appears to be the best guess.