The main event of the week will be Yellen's long awaited speech at the Jackson Hole 3-day symposium taking place August 21-23. The theme of this year's symposium is entitled "Re-Evaluating Labour Market Dynamics" and Yellen is expected to deliver her keynote address on Friday morning US time. Consensus is that she will likely highlight that the alternative measures of labour market slack in evaluating the ongoing significant under-utilisation of labour resources (eg, duration of employment, quit rate in JOLTS data) have yet to normalise relative to 2002-2007 levels. Any sound bite that touches on the debate of cyclical versus structural drivers of labour force participation will also be closely followed. Unlike some of the previous Jackson Hole symposiums, this is probably not one that will serve as a precursor of any monetary policy changes but the tone of Yellen's speech may still have a market impact and set the mood for busier times ahead in September.
News of the Ukrainian destruction of part of a Russian military convoy sent European stocks (and bond yields) plunging. German DAX futures lost all the gains from the US close last Friday as 2Y bonds closed at -1bps and 10Y bunds at a record low 96bps. European equity indices all lost significant ground on the news today but generally held on to some gains on the week. Peripheral bond spreads pressed wider today but ended the week lower (Spain -5bps, Portugal -25bps). High yield spreads jumped over 20bps on the news. Europe's VIX soared over 20 today (from 16 earlier).
The record-breaking outflows in high-yield bonds are not the only indication that the U.S. economy could be on the verge of very hard times. Retail sales are extremely disappointing, mortgage applications are at a 14 year low and growing geopolitical storms around the world have investors spooked. For a long time now, we have been enjoying a period of relative economic stability even though our underlying economic fundamentals continue to get even worse. Unfortunately, there are now a bunch of signs that this period of relative stability is about to end. The following are 14 reasons why the U.S. economy's bubble of false prosperity may be about to burst...
Global crises wreak havoc on all levels of existence, not to the mention the great cost to human lives. If we are to learn from history, however, it seems as though we might have to nevertheless brace ourselves for yet another one in the near future, as it marks the end of one saeculum and the start of a new economic paradigm aligned more positively with proper balances of trade, debt, and policies. The US is trying to postpone the crisis by printing money, however this is creating currency wars with nearly all major central banks in the world. As history has shown us time and again, causing this delay through money printing will only aggravate the problem, not only not preventing the inevitable, but indeed making the transition more painful and costly.
This is especially the case in Ukraine where the currency has lost more than half of its value versus gold (see chart above and below). Gold in Ukraine Hrvynia is up 70% since the start of 2014. People who own gold in Ukraine would laugh at you, if you said that gold is not a safe haven. As would people in many countries in South America, the Middle East and Africa.
If a trader knew nothing about the growth, the debt, the inflation, the exporters vs. importers, the serial defaulters, currency manipulators, hot-money or conversely deflation fighters; simply grouping the nations of the world on whether they were 'friend' or 'foe' to the US would provide an odd highly correlated value perspective on the interest rates paid on 1yr and 10yr sovereign debt... It appears your status with the central bank cabal was more important than your ability to repay the loaned money?
On September 9th, 1965, US Navy pilot James Stockdale was shot down over North Vietnam and seized by a mob. He would spend the next seven years in Hoa Lo Prison, the infamous “Hanoi Hilton”. When asked who didn't make it out? "Oh, that’s easy...The optimists." The lesson, he explains, is a valuable one for investors today: "you must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end - which you can never afford to lose - with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."
Physical gold is migrating to the East (Russia, China) and, with it, power and influence. We see it with China and Russia progressively imposing their will, building consensus with a great many countries that wish to end American domination made possible by their capacity (privilege) of issuing the world reserve currency. The saying, “He who holds the (physical) gold makes the rules”, is truer than ever. The announcement of the creation of the BRICs development bank is just the first cornerstone in the new international monetary edifice. All we have to wait for is the first official announcement from the East of a new means of settlement of commercial trade based on one or more tangible assets, with gold. Afterwards, logically, an announcement of the convertibility of certain currencies into gold, or even the creation of a new currency that would be convertible to gold, should be made.
Gold Breaks Out As Tensions In Middle East, With Russia Intensify - Technicals and Fundamentals PositiveSubmitted by GoldCore on 08/08/2014 17:06 -0400
Gold is nearly 2% higher this week and its technical position has further improved (see key charts). On Wednesday, gold broke out of bullish descending wedge chart pattern that has formed in recent months. Another buy signal for gold came when gold rose above the 20 EMA and 50 EMA (exponential moving averages). Also positive is the fact that the price momentum oscillator (PMO) has turned up, indicating that a positive momentum shift has occurred.
GDP-weighted average sovereign risk for European nations has risen 14% in the last 2 weeks - the most since Nov 2012. European peripheral bond spreads finally started to 'adjust' for real risk this week with a dramatic 30-40bps decompression from the early week's tights to the closing wides. Portugal was worst (+23bps on the week) followed by Italy and Spain. Stocks were hammered - EuroStoxx 600 2-week drop is the biggest since May 2012 and Germany's DAX 2-week drop is largest since Nov 2011.
Update: And here it is - Draghi just said Russian sanctions could add to the "downside risk." Translation: all Putin's fault
With inflation tumbling, credit creation imploding, core European nations' economies floundering and the periphery re-collapsing, ECB's Draghi decided rates were negative enough and expressed no change in the statement which leaves just the press conference to jawbone the EUR lower, Bund yields even more negative, and explain why Portugal was a one-off... or admit OMT was make-believe.
At 2.43%, 10Y Treasury yields are back at June 2013 levels with the entire complex pressing low-yields of the day (down 5-6bps on the week). The USD is strengthening (now up 0.45% on the week) to new 11-month highs. Equity markets are reeling in US and Europe. All major US indices are now down almost 1% from last week's payrolls data, and the Dow and Russell 2000 remain notably red year-to-date. In Europe, it's getting ugly fast, the broad European stock market is now down for 2014 with the periphery suffering the most. For 2014, Portugal is worst but Germany's DAX is -3.5% YTD. European bonds are also hurting with Italy, Portugal, and Spain spreads up 12-22bps, with German 2Y yields at 1bps - their lowest in 13 months. Gold is up on the week, jumping above $1300 this morning as copper slides.
Greek 10Y yields, up 6 days in a row, have surged in the last few days to 2-month highs (bond price lows). The significant shift in sentiment appears related to two main factors. First, The Independent reports that Europe is considering pulling Troika (its economic oversight committee) - which has been likened to German Nazi occupation - out of Greece, forcing local politicians to come up with their own reforms by the start of 2015 (which clearly the market is not believing). Perhaps even more concerning is Goldman Sachs shift to neutral on European peripheral bonds, warning that "at current spread levels we think there is not enough of a buffer for investors to take credit risk in intermediate and long-dated peripheral sovereign bonds." Time for some more 'whatever it takes' we think.
- Second Ebola patient to arrive in U.S. on Tuesday (Reuters)
- Ebola Drug Made From Tobacco Plant Saves U.S. Aid Workers (BBG)
- Egypt plans to dig new Suez Canal costing $4 billion (Reuters)
- Apple Buybacks Pay Most Ever as CEOs Spend $211 Billion (BBG)
- DeMark Says Sell China Stocks Now After World’s Best Gain (BBG)
- Investors Stung by Losses After Exiting Struggling Property Fund in China (WSJ)
- B.A. in BTFD: MIT May Consider Granting Degrees in Less Than Four Years (BBG)
- Too late, money's already been spent: GPIF Needs Overhaul Before Asset Changes, Shiozaki Says (BBG)
- Oh look, another "truce": Israel withdraws troops, 72-hour Gaza truce begins (Reuters)
Another day, another case of unprecedented muppet brutality, or, as Cramer would say: "Bear Espirito Stearns is fine"...