If the way to classify the September stock move as "a confounding ramp on disappointing economic news" gets you stumped, here is Rosenberg to provide some insight. Just call is "deflationary growth or something like that." And as for the NBER’s pronouncement of the recession being over, Rosie has a few words for that as well: "this recovery, with its sub 1% pace of real final sales, goes down as the weakest on record."
It’s a real commentary that the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) decision on the historical record mattered more than the actual economic data. The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index is the latest data point in an array of September releases coming in below expected:
Philly Fed index: actual -0.7 versus 0.5 expected
Empire manufacturing index: actual 4.14 versus 8 expected
NAHB: actual 13 versus 14 expected
University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment: actual 66.6 versus 70 expected
It’s early days yet, and these are only surveys, but it would seem as though the economy remains very sluggish as we head towards the third-quarter finish line.
It is truly difficult to come up with an explanation for the breakout, which in turn makes it difficult to ascertain its veracity. If we are seeing a re-assessment or risk or a major asset allocation move, then why did Treasury yields rally 4bps (and led lower by the “real rate”, which is a bond market proxy for “real growth expectations”)?
If it was a pro-growth move, why did copper sell off and the CRB flatten? And where is the volume? Still lacking? So we have a breakout with little or no confirmation. All we can see is that many sentiment measures have swung violently to the upside in recent weeks and the VIX index is all the way back to 21x —- somewhat contrary negative signposts for the bulls.
But the price action is undeniable and the bulls are in fact winning the battle in September, a typically negative seasonal month, after a bloody August. The fact that bonds rallied yesterday is a tad bizarre and perhaps the explanation, if there is one, is that the equity market is enamoured with the cash leaving the corporate balance sheet in favour of dividend payouts and share buybacks and
On Tuesday, the 30-year fixed rate for mortgages plunged to an all-time low of 4.56 per cent. Rates are falling because investors are still moving into risk-free liquid assets, like Treasuries. It’s a sign of panic and the Fed’s lame policy response has done nothing to sooth the public’s fears. The flight-to-safety continues a full two years after Lehman Bros blew up.
Housing demand has fallen off a cliff in spite of the historic low rates. Purchases of new and existing homes are roughly 25 per cent of what they were at peak in 2006. Case/Schiller reported on Monday that June new homes sales were the "worst on record", but the media twisted the story to create the impression that sales were actually improving! Here are a few of Monday’s misleading headlines: "New Home Sales Bounce Back in June"--Los Angeles Times. "Builders Lifted by June New-home Sales", Marketwatch. "New Home Sales Rebound 24 per cent", CNN. "June Sales of New Homes Climb more than Forecast", Bloomberg.
The media’s lies are only adding to the sense of uncertainty. When uncertainty grows, long-term expectations change and investment nosedives. Lying has an adverse effect on consumer confidence and, thus, on demand. This is from Bloomberg:
The Conference Board’s confidence index dropped to a 5-month low of 50.4 from 54.3 in June. According to Bloomberg News:
"Sentiment may be slow to improve until companies start adding to payrolls at a faster rate, and the Federal Reserve projects unemployment will take time to decline. Today’s figures showed income expectations at their lowest point in more than a year, posing a risk for consumer spending that accounts for 70 per cent of the economy.
“Consumers’ faith in the economic recovery is failing,” said guy LeBas, chief fixed-income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Philadelphia, whose forecast of 50.3 for the confidence index was the closest among economists surveyed by Bloomberg. “The job market is slow and volatile, and it’ll be 2013 before we see any semblance of normality in the labor market." (Bloomberg)
Confidence is falling because unemployment is soaring, because the media is lying, and because the Fed’s monetary policy has failed. Notice that Bloomberg does not mention consumer worries over "curbing the deficits". In truth, the public has only a passing interest in the large…
From the beginning of May until late June, stock markets worldwide declined sharply, with losses surpassing 10%. The first weeks of July brought only marginal relief. Ominous voices began to warn that the weakness of stocks was a direct response to the stalling of an economic recovery that has lasted barely a year. Anxiety over debt-laden European countries — most notably Greece — combined with stubbornly high unemployment in the U.S. to create a toxic but fertile mix that allowed concern to blossom into full-bloom fear.
The most common refrain was that stocks are weak because global economic activity is sagging. A July 12 report by investment bank Credit Suisse was titled Are the Markets Forecasting Recession? With no more stimulus spending on the horizon in the U.S., Europeans on austerity budgets and consumer sentiment best characterized as surly, the sell-off in stocks was explained as a simple response to an economy on the ropes.
It’s a good story and a logical one. But it distorts reality. Stocks are no longer mirrors of national economies; they are not — as is so commonly said — magical forecasting mechanisms. They are small slices of ownership in specific companies, and today, those companies have less connection to any one national economy than ever before.
As a result, stocks are not proxies for the U.S. economy, or that of the European Union or China, and markets are deeply unreliable gauges of anything but the underlying strength of the companies they represent and the schizophrenic mind-set of the traders who buy and sell the shares. There has always been a question about just how much of a forecasting mechanism markets are. Hence the saying that stocks have…
Double-dip risks in the U.S. have risen substantially in the past two months. While the “back end” of the economy is still performing well, as we saw in the May industrial production report, this lags the cycle. The “front end” leads the cycle and by that we mean the key guts of final sales — the consumer and housing.
We have already endured two soft retail sales reports in a row and now the weekly chain-store data for June are pointing to sub-par activity. The housing sector is going back into the tank – there is no question about it. Bank credit is back in freefall. The recovery in consumer sentiment leaves it at levels that in the past were consistent with outright recessions. Last year’s improvement in initial jobless claims not only stalled out completely, but at over 470k is consistent with stagnant to negative jobs growth. And exports, which had been a lynchpin in the past year, will feel the double-whammy from the strength in the U.S. dollar and the spreading problems overseas.
Spanish banks cannot get funding and another Chinese bank regulator has warned in the past 24 hours of the growing risks from the country’s credit excesses. A disorderly unwinding of China’s credit and property bubble may well be the principal global macro risk for the remainder of the year. Indeed, perhaps the equity market finally realized yesterday that allowing China more control to defuse an internal property and credit bubble may well be a classic case of “be careful of what you wish for.”
The Bond Cycle and Deflation
I was at an event recently where I was able to see two legends among others – Louise Yamada and Gary Shilling. Louise made the point that while secular phases in the stock market generally last between 12 and 16 years, interest rate cycles tend to be much longer – anywhere from 22 to 37 years; and she has a chart back to 1790 to prove the point! So while all we ever hear is that this secular bull market in bonds is getting long in the tooth, having started in late 1981, it may not yet be over. After all, the deleveraging part of this cycle
U.S. consumer sentiment dipped in early March, according to media reports on Friday of the Reuters/University of Michigan index.
Amid signs that the labor market is approaching a trough but remains frail, the consumer sentiment index declined to 72.5 in March from 73.6 in February. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had been expecting the sentiment index to hit 74 in March.
Yet, Still Shopping
Retail sales showed strength in February. Per the AP:.
For February, sales rose 0.3 percent, the Commerce Department said Friday. That surpassed expectations that sales would decline 0.2 percent.
The overall gain was held back by a 2 percent decline in auto sales, reflecting in part the recall problems at Toyota. Excluding autos, sales rose 0.8 percent. That was far better than the 0.1 percent increase excluding autos that economists had forecast.
If you’re going to stay home (unemployed), perhaps that is cause for the new flat panel TV or laptop?
Calculated Risk does point out that while the trend is improved, the overall level is actual less than what was reported just one month ago:
January was revised down sharply. Jan was originally reported at $355.8 billion, an increase of 0.5% from December.
February was reported at $355.5 billion – a decline without the revision to January.
In other words, reports got ahead of themselves (no surprise), but the actual trend remains moving in an upward trajectory even though things quite frankly suck for the average consumer.
Nothing mind blowing to report this morning. In fact, more of the same – weak consumers, signs of deflation and “better than expected” earnings. Consumer sentiment came in essentially flat this morning at 65.7. This was a slight drop from the last reading, but nothing significant.
The more important news this morning is the personal income and outlays. Personal incomes were flat for the month and fell 2.4% year over year. Consumer spending was up 0.2% for the month and 1.1% year over year. It’s nice to see that people are making less and spending more. All joking aside, the boost in spending was due almost entirely to cash for clunkers which we all know is about the most fiscally irresponsible program this government has ever put together. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, this program has the potential to be highly destructive. Taking out a loan from China to finance a program that encourages consumers to take out a loan to purchase a depreciating asset they likely don’t need….The effect on retail sales should be large, but the government just wants to see the near-term boost in GDP.
The market is rising on good earnings news, however (at least it was when I started writing). Intel raised their guidance, Dell posted horrible (though “better than expected”) numbers and Tiffany’s and J. Crew both posted terrible, but “better than expected” quarters. The analysts are still playing catch-up here and that alone is enough to give the market a reason to jump.
Marion Post Wolcott Works Progress Administration worker’s children, South Charleston, WV 1938
In the end, what should have been avoided all along, was. The refugees who were treated like subhumans for days in Hungary, and who in the end refused to be subjected to that treatment any longer and started walking to the Austrian border, are being taken as we speak to that border, on buses provided by the government in Budapest.
Meanwhile, we have all been subjected to the words and ideas of Victor Orban, the loose cannon who rules Hungary. The media largely portray the sudden change from refugees stuck on trains in Budapest train station and locations just outside of the city, to the buses that will take them to Austria and presumab...
With Labor Day upon us, newspapers across the US will be printing op-eds calling for a mandated “living wage” and higher wages in general. In many cases, advocates for a living wage argue for outright mandates on wages; that is, a minimum wage set as an arbitrary level determined by policymakers to be at a level that makes housing, food, and health care “affordable.”
Behind this effort is a philosophical claim that employers are morally obligated to pay “a living wage” to employees, so they can afford necessi...
Students of economic history often marvel at some of the phenomena and oddities of past eras such as feudalism, giant stone currency, tulip bubbles and the gold standard. Perhaps in the future inflation will be added to the list of quaint, incomprehensible quirks banished to the history books.
That, at least, seems to be the conclusion of many investors and economists. Aside from a motley group of stubborn doomsayers — who have loudly and wrongly predicted the outbreak of hyperinflation since the financial crisis — the feeling in markets is that inflation is not just an inconsequential dange...
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The dark veil around China is creating a little too much uncertainty for investors, with the usual fear mongers piling on and sending the vast buy-the-dip crowd running for the sidelines until the smoke clears. Furthermore, Sabrient’s fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings have been flashing near-term defensive signals. The end result is a long overdue capitulation event that has left no market segment unscathed in its mass carnage. The historically long technical consolidation finally came to the point of having to break one way or the other, and it decided to break hard to the downside, actually testing the lows from last ...
With the VIX index jumping 120 percent on a weekly basis, the most in its history, and with the index measuring volatility or "fear" up near 47 percent on the day, one might think professional investors might be concerned. While the sell off did surprise some, certain hedge fund managers have started to dip their toes in the water to buy stocks they have on their accumulation list, while other algorithmic strategies are actually prospering in this volatile but generally consistently trending market.
Stock market sell off surprises some while others were prepared and are hedged prospering
Naysyers are warning that the recent plunge in Bitcoin prices - from almost $318 at its peak during the Greek crisis, to $221 yesterday - is due to growing power struggle over the future of the cryptocurrency that is dividing its lead developers. On Saturday, a rival version of the current software was released by two bitcoin big guns. As Reuters reports, Bitcoin XT would increase the block size to 8 megabytes enabling more transactions to be processed every second. Those who oppose Bitcoin XT say the bigger block size jeopardizes the vision of a decentralized payments system that bitcoin is built on with some believing ...
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Baxter Int. (BAX) is splitting off its BioSciences division into a new company called Baxalta. Shares of Baxalta will be given as a tax-free dividend, in the ratio of one to one, to BAX holders on record on June 17, 2015. That means, if you want to receive the Baxalta dividend, you need to buy the stock this week (on or before June 12).
Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself.
Kim Parlee interviews Phil on Money Talk. Be sure to watch the replays if you missed the show live on Wednesday night (it was recorded on Monday). As usual, Phil provides an excellent program packed with macro analysis, important lessons and trading ideas. ~ Ilene
The replay is now available on BNN's website. For the three part series, click on the links below.
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Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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