The majority of Americans seem OK with just waddling through life, accepting the lies and misinformation blasted from the boob tube and their various iGadgets by their owners, gorging themselves to death on Twinkies and Cheetos, paying 15% interest on their $10,000 rolling credit card balance, and growing ever more dependent on the welfare/warfare state to provide and protect them from accepting personal responsibility for their lives. A minority of critical thinking people have chosen to question everything they see and hear being spewed at us by the propagandist mainstream media. What do 'we, the people' want? As it seems the entitlement “free shit” mentality permeates our culture. The question is whether we will stand idly by, fiddling with our gadgets, tweeting about Honey Boo Boo, or will we regain our sense of duty to the future generations of this country.
Even domestic demand is getting hit, and the Draghi-Bernanke effect has kicked in.
The market appears convinced that it now has nothing to worry about when it comes to the fiscal cliff. After all, if all fails, Bernanke can just step in and fix it again. Oh wait, this is fiscal policy, and the impact of QE3 according to some is 0.75% of GDP. So to offset the 4% drop in GDP as a result of the Fiscal Cliff Bernanke would have to do over 5 more QEs just to kick the can that much longer. Turns out the market has quite a bit to worry about as Goldman's Jan Hatzius explains (and as we showed most recently here). To wit: "our worry about the size of the fiscal cliff has grown, as neither Democrats nor Republicans look inclined to budge on the issue of the expiring upper-income Bush tax cuts. This has increased the risk of at least a short-term hit from a temporary expiration of all of the fiscal cliff provisions, as well as a permanent expiration of the upper-income tax cuts and/or the availability of emergency unemployment benefits." This does not even touch on the just as sensitive topic of the debt ceiling, where if history is any precedent, Boehner will be expected to fold once more, only this time this is very much unlikely to happen. In other words, we are once again on the August 2011 precipice, where everything is priced in, and where politicians will do nothing until the market wakes them from their stupor by doing the only thing it knows how to do when it has to show who is in charge: plunge.
It seemed yesterday's channel-stuffed and hope-ridden car-maker data in the US was seen by some as evidence that we are right back on track. However, ever ready to separate the reality from the fantasy, we offer the following charts, via Barclays' Julian Callow, that vividly illustrate the rapid decline in the pace of auto registrations (the actual end-users that is) over the past year. In particular, Callow notes, the pace of seasonally-adjusted auto registrations in Q3 for the four largest European countries was the weakest in the series history (back to 1995).
- China accuses Bo Xilai of multiple crimes, expels him from communist party (Reuters), China seals Bo's fate ahead of November 8 leadership congress (Reuters)
- "Dozens of phone calls on days, nights and weekends" - How Bernanke Pulled the Fed His Way - Hilsenrath (WSJ)
- Fed won't "enable" irresponsible fiscal policy-Bullard (Reuters)
- PBOC Adviser Says Easing Restrained by Concerns on Homes (Bloomberg)
- Data Point to Euro-Zone Recession (WSJ)
- Fiscal cliff dims business mood (FT)
- FSA to Oversee Libor in Streamlining of Tarnished Rates (Bloomberg)
- Monti Says ECB Conditions, IMF Role Hinder Bond Requests (Bloomberg)
- Japan Heads for GDP Contraction as South Korea Weakens (Bloomberg)
- Moody’s downgrades South Africa (FT)
- Madrid Struggles With Homage to Catalonia (WSJ)
Consumer Prices Soar By Most Since June 2009, Retail Sales Ex-Autos And Gas Expose Lethargic ConsumerSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/14/2012 07:47 -0500
Following yesterday's producer price shock, when PPI soared by the most since June 2009, today's CPI follows suit, with the largest jump in over 2 years, printing up 0.6%, in line with expectations, up from an unchanged print in July. In other words, the food inflation which is already spreading through the economy courtesy of the record drought, is about to be supported by some brand new Fed-generated inflation. Luckily, as yesterday, nobody uses gas or food. And in other news, retail sales posted yet another very disappointing print, when despite a better than expected headline print of 0.9% in August advance retail sales, a number which included gas and auto sales, retail sales excluding these very volatile components, rose by only 0.1%, on expectations of a 0.4% rise, and a downward revision from 0.9% to 0.8%. This was the 5th miss in 6 months, and ugly all around. In other words, the US consumer, revised consumer credit data notwithstanding, is levering up and not generating any real new sales. Expect yet another round of GDP revisions. However, in light of yesterday's Bernanke announcement, it is pretty obvious that no macro economic data for public consumption does the disaster that is the economy in the Fed's eyes, justice, and makes us wonder just how ugly the underlying reality must be. All that said: with inflation spiking, and consumers lethargic, it certainly appears that Bernanke picked the perfect time for more monetary paper dilution.
Perhaps never a more truthful 'lifting-the-veil' paragraph has been written by the squid as the following discussion of just what NEW QE will consist of and what it will achieve; sad that our economy market has come to this.
"The form of any return to QE is less clear. The issue is not so much whether the Fed buys Treasuries or agency mortgage-backed securities; we are pretty sure that any new program would be primarily focused on agency MBS purchases. These should have a somewhat bigger per-dollar effect on private-sector demand and are probably less controversial with the public than Treasury purchases. They can be framed as help for homebuyers to achieve the American Dream, which sounds better than help for the government to run large budget deficits."
The Little Investor Is About to Get Hosed Again by Ben and the Boyz ...
Have you heard the news? Auto sales are booming. Total sales for the month of August were 1,285,202 vehicles, according to Autodata Corp, the highest monthly sales figure for any August since 2007, when 1.47 million autos were sold in the United States. Year to date auto sales have totaled 9.7 million and are on track to reach 14.5 million. Between 2006 and 2007, auto sales ranged between 16 million and 18 million. They crashed below 10 million in 2009. The Keynesians running our government have pulled out all the stops to restart this engine of consumer spending. First they wasted $3 billion of taxpayer funds on the Cash for Clunkers debacle. Almost 700,000 perfectly good cars were destroyed in order to keep union workers happy. This Keynesian brain fart distorted the used car market for two years, raising prices for cars needed by the working poor. After that miserable failure, they realized the true secret to selling vehicles is to give them away to anyone that can scratch an X on a loan document, with 0% interest for 60 months, financed by Federal government controlled banking interests. Add in some massive channel stuffing and presto!!! – You’ve got an auto sales boom.... This is America, land of the delusional and home of the vain. The appearance of success is more important than actual success.
Here Come The Praises For The "Stronger Than Expected" Retail Sales From Bank of America And GoldmanSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/14/2012 08:59 -0500
Instead of actually doing the work to figure out what is going on behind the headlines, both Goldman (which also hiked its Q3 forecast GDP to 2.3% as a result) and Bank of America rushed to come to market with their congratulatory notes praising the "far stronger than expected" retail sales number. And as a result clients of these two banks will be promptly skewered as happens now virtually all the time on belief that the "rebound" in the economy is real instead of an ARIMA driven seasonal adjustment abortion.
The ear-piercing screech of the German export machinery as it down-shifts....
- What's wrong with this headline: Obama authorizes secret support for Syrian rebels (Reuters)
- Hilsenrath promptly dusts off ashes of sheer propaganda failure, tries again: Fed Gives Stronger Signals of Action (WSJ)
- Fed Hints at Fresh Action on Economy (FT)
- Fed Poised to Step Up Stimulus Unless Economy Strengthens (Bloomberg)
- IMF Chief Lagarde Praises Greece, Spain for Efforts (Bloomberg) - efforts to beg as loud as possible?
- US sanctions against bank 'target' China (China Daily)
- Trimming China's Financial Hedges (WSJ)
- ganda central bank cuts key lending rate to 17 pct (Reuters)
- Greece Agrees €11.5bn Spending Cuts (FT) - Agrees? Or does what a good debt slave is told to do
- Germany Retains Stable AAA Outlook at S&P After Moody’s Cut (Bloomberg)
- Spain’s Bond Auction Beats Target as Borrowing Costs Rise (Bloomberg)
- Hilsenrath: Heat Rises on Central Banks (WSJ)
- Some at Fed Are Urging Pre-Emptive Stimulus (NYT)
- Obama Warns of Headwinds in Europe; Urges European Leaders to Take Decisive Action on Euro (WSJ) - also needs reelection
- ECB thinks the unthinkable, action likely weeks away (Reuters)
- Games Turn London Into ‘Ghost Town.’ (FT)
- Greek Leaders Seek to Defer Austerity Cuts (FT)
- Hong Kong Builders Unload Properties to Raise Cash for Land Rush (Bloomberg)
- North India Crippled by Power Cuts (FT)
- Euro-Area Unemployment Rate Reaches Record 11.2% on Crisis (Bloomberg)
- Italy's Monti sees hope of end to euro crisis (Reuters)
Our earlier discussion of the rapid slowdown in Asia trade volumes and the anecdotal evidence of growthiness issues across many industries brings up the seemingly dichotomous relationship between top-down 'data' such as GDP or PMI and bottom-up sector-level activity. As BofAML points out, there has been a significant improvement in data collection in this activity data which enables 'outsiders' to cross-check macro data and potentially obtain leading information. As markets have become skeptical of China's macro data, so the effort to search for alternative measures such as power output, container throughput, and rail transport seems worthwhile. Though not perfect by any means, the higher frequency data mapping flowchart below and a comprehension of the upstream vs downstream activity flows seems to go a long way towards building a credible view on the real state of the Chinese economy - for better or for worse.
While bad news may be good news for the market hoping that it will spur more stimulative measures from the Fed to boost asset prices - for Main Street America bad news is just bad news. More importantly, the decline in consumer confidence continues to perpetuate the virtual economic spiral. As the consumer retrenches the decline in aggregate end demand puts businesses on the defensive who in turn reduces employment. The reduction in employment, and further stagnation of wages, puts the consumer further onto the defensive leading to more declines in demand. It is a difficult cycle to break.