Two quick quick anecdotes about the new (ab)normal.
Grab your popcorn as The Socialist Singularity comes to be... We are sure Steve Liesman will ask his 'economics reporter' questions while cow-towing to his glorious leader's position on job-destroying 'minimum wage' increases, unpatriotic (though legal) inversions, Fed-driven inequality, and the massive and unprecedented divergence between "bubble" markets and the minions that make it up... always remember "debt-is-good" but "hope-is-better."
In what could be the most unpatriotic report ever, Fidelity reports that average IRA contributions for tax year 2013 reached $4,150 - an all-time high. That's great news, right? Not if you ask Janet Yellen as Fidelity notes younger investors, those in their 20s, 30s and 40s, are adopting the strongest savings behaviors as Americans are "saving more, paying off debt, and spending less." This is not acceptable in the new normal, don't they know "debt is the bridge between hard work and play?"
"There is a debt problem in America..." warns Lynette Khalfani-Coz (askthemoneycoach.com) in this brief CNBC interview, expanding in the huge debt loads from mortgaging cars to student debt that Americans soak up every day in ever greater amounts. And then Steve Liesman rolls in "debt is always pointed out as a negative thing, when in fact debt is the great bridge between working hard and playing hard in this country." Then Liesman really hangs himself, "this country has been built on consumer debt," he proudly states (as if it was some badge of honor) adding carefully that "too much of it is negative thing." - well Mr Liesman... one look at the current debt load might suggest that American consumers built that 'bridge to playing-hard' just a little too far. As Khalfani-Cox admirably retorts, "excessive debt levels are simply unsustainable... It is not the job of the consumer to play the role of financial hercules... why should we have to prop up the US economy?"
Despite consensus at 1.2% growth QoQ, the "weather" destroyed the fragile stimulus-led economy of the US which managed only a de minimus +0.1% QoQ growth (the lowest since Q1 2011). However, as Steve Liesman noted on the heels of Mark Zandi's comments "basically ignore this number" - ok then. Spending on Services, however, surged by the most since 2000 - heralded as great news by some talking heads - but is merely a reflection of the surge in healthcare and heating costs (imagine if it had not been cold and if Obamacare hadn't saved us). As a reminder - this is the growth that is occurring as QE has run its course, as stimulus ends, and as escape velocity nears... if the "weather" can do this much damage to the US economy, should stocks really be trading at the multiple of exuberant future hope that they are?
Well that didn't take long... Friday morning's post-payrolls record all-time high in the S&P 500 (because, as Steve Liesman said, "he can't find any reason to be bearish about jobs data") has rapidly collapsed to being negative year-to-date (and worst start to a year since 2009's crash). Only the Transports remain green in 2014, with the Dow, Nasdaq (worst start to a year since 2008), and Russell all coincidentally gathered around a 2% negative return YTD.
At the young age of 22 Henry Hazlitt figured out the future involves too many factors for anyone to predict, not to mention just knowing what the relevant factors are. Jim Grant admitted it took him 40 years in the business to finally realize he couldn’t understand the future, noting, however, unfortunately the folks working at the Eccles Building have not come to this realization. The PhDs believe they can depreciate the currency at the proper rate to cause everyone gainful employment and live happily ever after. Hazlitt also has a fan in Rich Santelli who notes that if government makes loans, that private lenders won’t make, to entities that can’t pay back, economic signals get destroyed, and chaos ensues. Chaos, indeed...
Remember when we said in January 2011 that Dealers merely game the daily POMO reverse auction to generate abnormal - and now confirmed criminal - profits on the back of the central bank, i.e. taxpayer? Guess what - we were right. Again.
December and January saw dismal job gains based on the NFP data... but as we now know, thanks to Zandi and Liesman, that we should ignore it because it's all about the weather. So, confused, we looked at the number of employed people who are "not working due to weather" (thank you for the convenient series BLS) to gauge the significance of the impact... it appears, from the chart below, that more people were out of work due to weather in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012...?
"I got up this early to talk, not to listen," Jim Grant berates Fed-apologist Steve Liesman as the two go head-to-head over the fallacy that QE has been a success. "The Fed can change how things look, it cannot change what things are," is the single-sentence summation of the mirage that the Fed's "dangerous monetary manipulation" has created...
Yesterday, we pointed out that according to the latest Bloomberg survey of economists, roughly 70% of respondents now believe that a taper is coming in either December or January, further accentuated by the recent flipflopping of Fed "bellwether" James Bullard who after holding out for a much delayed reduction in the Fed's monthly flow, admitted that the "probability of a taper had risen ". Today, some additional thoughts on what now seems the consensus from Credit Suisse: "With the labor market looking to be on a more sustained recovery trend following a late summer set-back we think tapering is now virtually inevitable with the decision between a Dec or Jan taper a virtual toss-up that may come down to Fed perceptions of market liquidity in the latter part of December." And just to add fuel to the flame here comes CNBC's own staff "Fed expert" Steve Liesman with "get ready, here it comes: A December taper."
"We have to be careful of these kind of exponentially rising markets," chides Marc Faber, adding that he "sees no value in stocks." Fearful of shorting, however, because "the bubble in all asset prices" can keep going due to the printing of money by world central banks, Faber explains to a blind Steve Liesman the difference between valuations and bubbles (as we noted here), warning that "future return expectations from stocks are now very low."
Following his "can we get some mexican music to go along with that" Ted Cruz comments, the always "apolitical" Steve Liesman - who honed his 'economic' teeth while on a mission to communist Russia - has issued an apology. Explaining his remarks were not meant to be "offensive in any way," Liesman suggested perhaps country-western would be a better choice next time...
You know it's getting troubling when everyone's favorite hopium-providing financial-advisor-pitchfest channel is unable to find a silver-lining upon which to place your BTHFATH 401(k) bets. Steve Liesman unveiled the CNBC All-American Economic Survey and it was not pretty. In a nutshell, optimism is plunging and pessimism is surging as 61% are downbeat on the current state of the economy and pessimistic for the economic future.
UPDATE: As opposed to CNBC's earlier premature note, the 10Y Treasury cash bond just broke above 3.00% for the first time in 26 months as China gets going...
We are assured by the great and good of the status quo that when 10Y rates burst through the 3.00% barrier (its highest in 26 months) it will not hinder the housing recovery (as affordability plunges), slow equity buybacks (via increased cost of capital), or crush bank earnings (via AFS losses and NIM compression as the curve flattens). Bond yields are rising as a 'positive' sign for the economy... must be right? But wasn't it Steve Liesman just 2 weeks ago, amid his "best nailing it on CNBC in years", that proclaimed 10Y would hit 2.65% before 3.00%? As we warned 3 weeks ago, a move to 3.0% will create more meaningful outflows from retail and ETFs and 3.5% is the trigger for a "disorderly rotation," from risk to cash.