Non-Manufacturing ISM Plunges Below Prediction of All 73 Economists, New Orders Collapse, Prices Firm; Did Rosenberg Capitulate at the Top?
by ilene - May 4th, 2011 2:14 pm
Courtesy of Mish
The April 2011 Non-Manufacturing ISM plunged 4.5 points to 52.8 from 57.3 The drop was below expected range of all 73 economists in a Bloomberg ISM Survey.
The range of economists’ forecasts in the Bloomberg survey was 54.5 to 59 with the median forecast up a tick to 57.4.
Tellingly, new orders collapsed by 11.4 points from 64.1 to 52.7. Employment, one of the weaker measures and up only 8 consecutive months fell to 51.9. One more reasonably bad month and services employment will contract.
Please consider the April 2011 Non-Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®
Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in April for the 17th consecutive month, say the nation’s purchasing and supply executives in the latest Non-Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®.
click on chart for sharper image
The 12 industries reporting growth of new orders in April — listed in order — are: Management of Companies & Support Services; Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Mining; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Wholesale Trade; Information; Health Care & Social Assistance; Public Administration; Construction; Other Services; and Educational Services. The four industries reporting contraction of new orders in April are: Finance & Insurance; Retail Trade; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; and Utilities.
Twelve industries reported increased employment, five industries reported decreased employment, and one industry reported unchanged employment compared to March.
The industries reporting an increase in employment in April — listed in order — are: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Mining; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Management of Companies & Support Services; Other Services; Information; Construction; Accommodation & Food Services; Finance & Insurance; Public Administration; Wholesale Trade; and Transportation & Warehousing. The industries reporting a reduction in employment in April are: Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Educational Services; Health Care & Social Assistance; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; and Utilities.
For the second consecutive month, all 18 non-manufacturing industries reported an increase in prices paid, in the following order: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Mining; Utilities; Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Construction; Wholesale Trade; Accommodation & Food Services; Finance & Insurance; Transportation & Warehousing; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Management of Companies & Support Services; Educational Services; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Retail Trade; Public Administration; Information; Health Care & Social Assistance; and Other Services.
ISM Prices Firm, What About Profits?
by ilene - February 28th, 2011 2:20 am
Stephen Colbert reports on technothriller going on between Wikileaks, Anonymous (a "global hacker nerd brigade") and Aaron Barr. H/t Ron. – Ilene
A corporate hacker tries to take down WikiLeaks by faking documents and blackmailing American journalists.
by ilene - January 27th, 2011 1:57 am
Courtesy of Jesse’s Americain Cafe
It amazes me that the discussion on change centers on ‘improving competitiveness’ when the crisis was caused by a massive financial fraud and political and regulatory failure that goes largely unresolved and unrepaired, sucking the life out of the real economy and spreading corruption of thought and action. Slogans and code words are the substance of the public policy discussion in the US and Europe, and I think with the intent to deceive, a propaganda campaign. The mainstream media in the States is owned by a handful of powerful corporations. But fewer and fewer turn to the mainstream media anymore.
"In addition, any economist will tell you that when the free market fails a black market emerges. The blogs are the black market of information."
David B. Collum, Cornell University
As for competitiveness, the current global trade regime is underpinned with and founded on a fraud, a set of managed currencies pinned to the US dollar and under the control of a banking cartel. There is no real free trade, only an illusion of such, promoted by the rapacity of multinational corporations and their partners in authoritarian governments.
The only real competition I can see is the race to destroy the middle class and reduce the public around the world to the least common denominator of slavery, serfdom, and servitude, with the dollar and the jackboot as their weapons.
From Mark Thoma:
"Eliminating regulation: The idea is that removing unnecessary regulation will improve our ability to innovate, and this will help the economy create new, good jobs. However, it wasn’t lack of innovation or lack of competitiveness that got us into this mess, it was an out of control financial sector.
The President talked about eliminating unnecessary regulation, but far too little was said about the need to implement new regulations where they are needed. In addition, by focusing so much on helping business, the president risks sending the message that what is good for business is necessarily good for the nation. (Risk? As the risk of sounding snarky, that is the reason for the season. It was the corporate FIRE sector that caused the financial crisis in the first place. – Jesse)
Businesses need the right environment to thrive, but we must not lose sight of the fact that it’s the skills of the people that work at businesses that matters most. Our ultimate goal is the best possible life for
by ilene - September 28th, 2010 1:32 pm
Insightful article by Pragcap, explaining why discouragement is the devil’s favorite tool and a very insidious enemy to us. – Ilene
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
Most economists ignore the behavioral side of finance. They tend to stick to their models, equations and textbooks. This is, in large part, what makes economics such a frustrating endeavor for so many people. They tend to ignore the simple fact that there is an unquantifiable variable in the equation – human emotion. And no matter how much we evolve and advance technologically this variable will always be the most important piece of the puzzle.
Over the last few years I have argued that much of what the
“Once upon a time it was announced that the devil was going out of business and would sell all his equipment to those who were willing to pay the price.
On the big day of the sale, all his tools were attractively displayed. There were Envy, Jealousy, Hatred, Malice, Deceit, Sensuality, Pride, Idolatry, and other implements of evil display. Each of the tools was marked with its own price tag.
Over in the corner by itself was a harmless looking, wedge-shaped tool very much worn, but still it bore a higher price than any of the others. Someone asked the devil what it was, and he answered, “That is Discouragement.” The next question came quickly, “And why is it priced so high even though it is plain to see that it is worn more than these others?”
Because replied the devil, “It is more useful to me than all these others. I can pry open and get into a man’s heart with that when I cannot get near him with any other tool. Once I get inside, I can use him in whatever way suits me best. It is worn well because I use
by ilene - September 16th, 2010 12:22 am
Courtesy of Edward Harrison of Credit Writedowns
The Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey which concluded last week showed a high level of concern amongst top financial officers in major organizations worldwide. Of note are the CFOs ideas regarding employment and credit where they are less upbeat than I expected. Their views that credit markets remain tight and that employment growth will remain subdued dovetail with some of the comments we have heard from small businesses in the U.S.
Here is what the press release said.
Optimism about the U.S. economy has fallen back to recession levels among chief financial officers (CFOs), who foresee minimal increases in expected hiring, weak consumer demand and heightened economic uncertainty.
Credit is still tight for small firms and many firms continue to hoard cash. Without improvement in the economy, CFOs say earnings growth and capital spending will falter within six to 12 months.
These are some of the findings of the most recent Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey. The survey, which concluded Sept. 10, asked 937 CFOs from a broad range of global public and private companies about their expectations for the economy. (See end of release for survey methodology.) The research has been conducted for 58 consecutive quarters. Presented results are for U.S. firms unless otherwise noted.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
– CFO optimism about the U.S. economy has fallen to 49 on a zero-to-100 scale, well below the rating of 58 from the last quarter. Pessimists outnumber optimists four-to-one. European CFOs’ optimism rate is 58; Asian CFOs’ rate is 70.
– Half of CFOs say they will cling tightly to cash due to economic uncertainty and as a liquidity buffer. The other half will spend some cash reserves in the next year, primarily for investment, to pay down debt and to make acquisitions.
– Earnings are expected to rise 12 percent and capital spending almost 7 percent in the next 12 months. However, nearly half of CFOs say unless the overall economy improves, there is only a six-month window during which they can maintain this level of growth.
– U.S. CFOs expect to increase domestic full-time employment by 0.7 percent in the next year. Nearly one-fourth of all recent hires have been contract and temporary employees.
– Credit markets remain tight, especially for small companies. Most CFOs believe financial reform will add costs and restrictions that will dampen lending.
by ilene - September 11th, 2010 11:37 pm
Courtesy of John Mauldin at Thoughts from the Frontline
The Last Half
But It’s More Than the Deficit
Not Everyone Can Run a Surplus
Pity the Greeks
The Competitive Currency Devaluation Raceway
Amsterdam, Malta, Zurich, Mallorca, Denmark, and London
There are a number of economic forces in play in today’s world, not all of them working in the same direction, which makes choosing policies particularly difficult. Today we finish what we started last week, the last half of the last chapter I have to write to get a rough draft of my forthcoming book, The End Game. (Right now, though, it appears this will actually be the third chapter.) We will start with a few paragraphs to help you remember where we were (or you can go to www.investorsinsight.com to read the first part of the chapter).
But first, I recorded two Conversations yesterday, with the CEOs of two biotech firms that are working on some of the most exciting new technologies I have come across. I found them very informative, and we will post them as soon as we get them transcribed.
For new readers, Conversations with John Mauldin is my one subscription service. While this letter will always be free, we have created a way for you to "listen in" on my conversations (or read the transcripts) with some of my friends, many of whom you will recognize and some whom you will want to know after you hear our conversations. Basically, I call one or two friends every now and then; and just as we do at dinner or at meetings, we talk about the issues of the day, back and forth, with give and take and friendly debate. I think you will find it enlightening and thought-provoking and a real contribution to your education as an investor. Plus, we throw in a series I do with Pat Cox of Breakthrough Technology Alert, where we interview some of the leading up-and-coming biotech companies; and I also do a Conversation with George Friedman of Stratfor 3-4 times a year. Quite a lot for the low price.
by ilene - September 7th, 2010 11:24 am
Courtesy of Joshua M Brown, The Reformed Broker
I had an interesting conversation with a pal the other day about the potential for continued and exacerbated deflation.
For some background, my friend is the opposite of me in his spending proclivities – his consumer footprint is probably twice the size of mine. He’s got two parking garage spots in Manhattan, one by his apartment and the other by his office, both of which cost him $300-something a month. You can extrapolate from there to get a sense of what kind of bills this kid is seeing each month.
Anyway, he’s in the commercial real estate brokerage biz which is basically Ground Zero for the deflationary spiral right now. In the absence of businesses expanding and forming, prices per square foot are plummeting pretty much up and down NYC and around the clock. No one’s bringing in new employees so taking more space is literally the furthest thing from their minds. In a city that recently had eleventy-five hedge funds starting up each weekday that were willing pay whatever you quoted them for space, even the most sought-after buildings now sit at fractions of full capacity. What’s worse, there is no burgeoning industry waiting in the wings to take up all the recently vacated hedgie offices – there are only so many law firms and bankruptcy specialists after all!
My friend the broker may be profligate, but he is also realistic and sees that, because of capacity slack, this could continue for quite some time. His question is, short of moving to Tahiti with an easel and paint brushes, what can we do to counter the deleterious effects of this deflationary miasma?
My answer? Not having lived through any periods of sustained deflation in my own lifetime (born in ’77), I gave him the only answer I could, one based on common sense. I told him to Get Small.
Reducing the expenditure footprint allows you to preserve both cash and cash flow, two of the most valuable commodities of all when prices and returns on investment are falling all around us. Many will be forced to puke up properties, investments, businesses and crown jewel assets in a deflationary environment – but kings are made on the other side. The kings would be the counter-cyclically prepared, the guy showing up to the estate sale with an unencumbered bankroll.
by ilene - September 4th, 2010 7:18 pm
Courtesy of John Mauldin at Thoughts From The Frontline
The Last Chapter
Let’s Look at the Rules
Six Impossible Things
Killing the Goose
Home and Then Europe
This week you will get a kind of preview as this week’s letter. I am desperately trying to finish the first draft of my book and am one chapter away from having that draft. I have promised my editor (Debra Englander) that she would see a rough draft next week, and the final version will be delivered on the last day of September. More on that process for those interested at the end of the letter. But this week’s letter will be part of what will probably be the 4th or 5th chapter, where we look at the rules of economics.
There is just so little writing time left that I have to focus on that book for a little bit. I am writing this book with co-author Jonathan Tepper of Variant Perception (who is based in London), a young and very gifted Rhodes scholar with a talent for economic analysis and writing. We each write the first draft of a chapter and then go back and forth until the chapter has been much improved. Alas, gentle reader, you will only get my first draft. You will have to wait for the book to get the new, improved version. But this is the last one I have to write. And Jonathan has done all his initial chapters. We are on the home stretch.
But first, my partners at Altegris Investments have written a White Paper entitled "The New Normal: Implications for Hedge Fund Investing." It is a very instructive read. If you are in the US and have already signed up for my Accredited Investor letter, you should already have been sent a link or a copy. If not, and you are an accredited investor (basically net worth of $1.5 million or more) and would like to see the paper, or are interested in learning more about how hedge funds, commodity funds, and other absolute-return strategies might fit into your investment portfolio, I suggest you click on www.accreditedinvestor.ws and fill out the form, and a professional will get back to you. And if you live outside the US and are interested, I have partners around the world who can work with…
by ilene - August 21st, 2010 6:45 pm
Courtesy of John Mauldin at Thoughts From The Frontline
This week I spoke to a small group of businessmen/entrepreneurs about the current economic environment, and after my presentation one asked me whether I didn’t have any good news for them, with a kind of gallows humor laugh. And I tried. But upon reflection there is more I could have said, so this week’s letter will be what I should have said to be a little more encouraging.
The group was a Vistage group in which my daughter Tiffani participates. This is an organization of 12 businesspeople (in this case all CEOs of small businesses) who meet once a month to share and learn about better business practices, accountability, planning, and all the aspects of running a business. Every person I have ever met who has been involved in Vistage has had good things to say about it. I have watched it help Tiffani a lot. She truly runs our business now, allowing me to read and write and travel and speak. I am a very lucky man and proud Dad.
I have particularly watched my partners at Altegris really truly transform their business model through their involvement with Vistage. First the CEO, Jon Sundt, joined, and now the partners have all joined Vistage groups focusing on their roles in the business. Sundt was always a good businessman, but the level of professionalism of his whole company has gone up a notch. It is a pleasure to watch them grow, and they give Vistage a large measure of the credit for their success. In fact, when I went to the Vistage web site to get the link, I saw a brief video of Sundt talking about his experience. (http://www.vistage.com/) I am proud to be their partner.
If you have a business and could use some help and professional mentoring, you should look into finding a Vistage group that works for you. They match businesspeople in different industries but with roughly same size businesses. In tough times you need all the help you can get.
I talked to them about the current economic environment and what I saw coming down the road. Long-time readers know that I think we are in for an extended period of slow growth, high and sticky unemployment,…
by ilene - August 18th, 2010 11:37 pm
Courtesy of Yves Smith at Naked Capitalistm
A fund manager who will go unnamed mentioned to me that he is putting clients into bank stocks because they are trading at or below book value.
Now of course, individual stocks can and do always outperform the outlook for their sector, so there are no doubt particular banks whose stocks are cheap right now. But there are good reasons to question the notion that banks in general, and money center banks in particular, are a bargain.
First and perhaps most fundamental is the notion that bank equity is a readily-measured number, and that book value is therefore a useful metric. In general, even in companies in make-and-sell businesses, balance sheet items are subject to artful reporting. Notice, for instance, how every four or five years most big public companies take a writeoff that they classify as extraordinary, and equity shills dutifully exclude it from their calculation. In most cases, the writeoff is an admission that past earnings were overstated, but seldom is anyone bothered by what this says about the integrity of that company’s accounting or the acumen of its management.
Bank earnings, even under the best circumstances, involve a great deal of artwork, and most of all in the very big banks with large dealer operations. As Steve Waldman pointed out,
Bank capital cannot be measured. Think about that until you really get it. “Large complex financial institutions” report leverage ratios and “tier one” capital and all kinds of aromatic stuff. But those numbers are meaningless. For any large complex financial institution levered at the House-proposed limit of 15×, a reasonable confidence interval surrounding its estimate of bank capital would be greater than 100% of the reported value. In English, we cannot distinguish “well capitalized” from insolvent banks, even in good times, and regardless of their formal statements.
Lehman is a case-in-point. On September 10, 2008, Lehman reported 11% “tier one” capital and very