Even before the disappointing US jobs data, we anticipated a downside correction in the dollar after a sharp advance in Q1.
Current policy coming from the Fed seems to be geared to create a never-ending series of booms and busts, with the hope that the busts can be shortened with more debt and easy money. Yet one major driver behind the financial crisis in 2008 was too much debt - much of which led to taxpayer-funded bailouts. In spite of this, the best the Fed can come up with now is to lower interest rates to boost demand to induce households and governments to borrow even more. Interfering with interest rates, however, is by far the most damaging policy. The economy is not a car, and interest rates are not the gas pedal. Interest rates play a critical role in aligning output with society’s demand across time. Fiddling with them only creates an ever-growing misalignment between demand and supply across time requiring an ever larger and more painful adjustment.
When gaming the old score wasn't sufficient to expand the pool of elligible borrowers, creativity was necessary. The result: an entirely new score is born...
With both channel stuffing and subprime out of the window if only for the time being, GM, whose China sales are falling off a cliff, had to come up with some urgent source of end demand. And thanks to recently disclosed data, we now know that "once a Government Motors, always a Government Motors", because just the first quarter of 2015, the average annual increase in sales to Uncle Sam, aka the Government was a whopping 24%, just about 100% higher than GM's headline rate of sales increase!
A look ahead at the major drivers in the days ahead.
Currently, a new form of danger arises. The Keynesian pettifoggers at the Fed have painted themselves into an epochal corner. After 78 months of ZIRP they have no idea about how and why they got here; and now, mired deep in the lunacy of free money, they are clueless about where they are going next. There is not a chance the US economy has decoupled from the rest of the world. The great credit-driven boom was universal and fueled by out of control central banks. Now comes the bust phase, and these same money printing central bankers have no clue what to do about it.
There is no mystery anywhere to be found in the fact that US retail sales don’t follow the jobs trend. Not if you look at what kind of jobs they are, let alone at all the other made up and manipulated numbers that are being thrown around about the US economy. The only mystery is why everyone persists in talking about a recovery. That recovery will never come, simply because all 90% of Americans do is pay for the other 10% to get richer. There are many other factors, but that all by itself makes a recovery a mathematical mirage.
Accused of illegally repossessing cars from active-duty service members, Santander Consumer has agreed to pay $9.35 million to the Justice Department in the largest auto reposession-related settlement in history. A look at the company's subprime auto securitizations speaks volumes not only about the lender, but about the furture course of subprime ABS issuance in the US.
Earlier today we warned readers that based on actual credit card spending data, today's retail sales data would continue the worst trend since Lehman, and sure enough that's what happened: moments ago the Commerce department reported that in February, retail sales missed once again and missed big and across the board, the third big miss in a row, with the headline print coming at -0.6%, far below the 0.3% expected, and in line with the -0.8% drop last month. Putting the headline numbers in context: December -0.9%, January -0.8%, February -0.6%. Excluding the volatile autos and gas, sales dropped once again, sliding -0.2%, below the 0.3% expected - in fact below the lowest estimate - and worse even than last month's downward revised -0.1% decline. And with that the worst run in retail sales since Lehman is now in the record books.
Berkshire Hathaway is getting into the car-retailing business with the purchase of the country's biggest privately-held dealership chain. With auto sales set to stall thanks to subprime jitters, is the Oracle stepping into the wrong business at just the wrong time?
The US economic recovery continues as the number of homeless in New York's shelters rises 50% in three years. De Blasio says New York needs to take "immediate and bold steps" to combat the worsening problem.
For all the talk of a recovery, the recession may have quietly arrived as confirmed first by factory orders and now wholesale trade sales...
To some (mostly those in the 1-10% wealth bucket) the main event today is the iWatch unveiling. To others (mostly those not in the 1-10% wealth bucket) it is the Eurogroup meeting in which the fate of Greece will be discussed and perhaps decided. One thing is certain: virtually nobody will care when the Fed's Mester and Kocherlakota speak later today as the Fed is now - supposedly - set to hike no matter what. Here is what the other main events are for the balance of the week.