Category Archive: 5) Global Macro

Low Rates As Chaos, Not ‘Stimulus’

Basic recession economics says that when you end up with too much of some commodity, too much inventory that you can’t otherwise sell, you have to cut the price in order to move it. Discounting is a feature of those times. What about a monetary panic? This might sound weird, but same thing.

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Is this the Beginning of a Recession?

As I sit here Monday evening with the Dow having closed down 2000 points and the 10-year Treasury yield around 0.5%, the title of this update seems utterly ridiculous. With the new coronavirus still spreading and a collapse in oil prices threatening the entire shale oil industry, recession is now the expected outcome. Most observers seem to question only the potential length and depth of the coming downturn.

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Dollar Firm as Global Financial Markets Calm

Global financial markets are finally seeing a measure of calm return; local Chinese media is sounding more confident that the situation is now under control. The White House will announce fiscal measures today; five states hold primaries and one holds a caucus with 352 total pledged delegates up for grabs.

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What the Fed Can Do: Print and Buy, Buy, Buy

Everyone with a pension fund or 401K invested in stocks better hope the Fed becomes the buyer of last resort, and soon. Much has been written about what the Federal Reserve cannot do: it can't stop the Covid-19 pandemic or reverse the economic damage unleashed by the pandemic.

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Drivers for the Week Ahead

Risk-off sentiment continues to build as the coronavirus spreads. Fed easing expectations continue to intensify; February inflation readings for the US will be reported this week. The ECB meets Thursday and markets are split; the stronger euro is doing the eurozone economy no favors. The UK has a heavy data release schedule Wednesday; UK government also releases its budget that day.

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Like Repo, The Labor Lie

The Federal Reserve has been trying to propagate two big lies about the economy. Actually, it’s three but the third is really a combination of the first two. To start with, monetary authorities have been claiming that growing liquidity problems were the result of either “too many” Treasuries (haven’t heard that one in a while) or the combination of otherwise benign technical factors.

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The Gathering Storm: Could Covid-19 Overwhelm Us in the Months Ahead?

Either the science is wrong and the complacent will be proven correct, or the science is correct and the complacent will be wrong. The present disconnect between the science of Covid-19 and the status quo's complacency is truly crazy-making, as we face a binary situation: either the science is correct and all the complacent are wrong, or the science is false and all the complacent are correct that the virus is no big deal and nothing to fret about.

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Take Your Pick of PMI’s Today, But It’s Not Really An Either/Or

Take your pick, apparently. On the one hand, IHS Markit confirmed its flash estimate for the US economy during February. Late last month the group had reported a sobering guess for current conditions. According to its surveys of both manufacturers and service sector companies, the system stumbled badly last month, the composite PMI tumbling to 49.6 from 53.3 in January.

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The Greenspan Moon Cult

Taking another look at what I wrote about repo and the latest developments yesterday, it may be worthwhile to spend some additional time on the “why” as it pertains to so much determined official blindness, an unshakeable devotion to otherwise easily explained lunar events.

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Updated Democratic Primary Timeline

Super Tuesday has come and gone. Bloomberg has suspended his campaign after an extremely poor showing, and Warren is expected to follow suit soon. Here is our updated take on the likely Democratic candidate.

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A Day For Rate Cuts

Well, that wasn’t he had in mind. The whole point of a rate cut, any rate cut let alone an emergency fifty, is to signal especially the stock market that the Fed is in the business of…something. The public has been led, by and large, to assume that something good happens when the Fed Chair shows up on TV.

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Did Covid-19 Just Pop All the Global Financial Bubbles?

Once confidence and certainty are lost, the willingness to expand debt and leverage collapses. Even though the first-order effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are still impossible to predict, it's already possible to ask: did the pandemic pop all the global financial bubbles? The reason we can ask this question is the entire bull mania of the 21st century has been based on a permanently high rate of expansion of leverage and debt.

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Drivers for the Week Ahead

The dollar has softened as Fed easing expectations have picked up. Late Friday, Chair Powell issued an unscheduled statement saying the Fed is monitoring the virus and will act as appropriate. This is a big data week for the US; the Fed releases its Beige Book report Wednesday. Super Tuesday comes this week; Bank of Canada meets Wednesday.

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The Limits of Force: A Bayonet in the Back Will Not Restore China’s Economy

Force cannot restore legitimacy, trust or confidence, nor can it magically erase the consequences of a still-unfolding national trauma. The Chinese authorities threatening to punish workers who refuse to return to work are getting a lesson in the limits of force in an unprecedented national trauma: a bayonet in the back will not restore the legitimacy and confidence that have been lost.

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Could the Covid-19 Pandemic Collapse the U.S. Healthcare System?

Disregard these second-order effects at your own peril. A great many systems that are assumed to be robust are actually fragile. Exhibit #1 is the global financial system, of course, but Exhibit #2 may well be the healthcare system globally and in the U.S.

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Dollar Mixed as Coronavirus News Stream Deteriorates

The virus news stream continues to deteriorate. Lower US yields and growing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in the US are taking a toll on the greenback. OPEC officials are trying to work out another supply cut; The outlook for Turkey is going from bad to worse. Simply put, there is nothing the Fed can do to address the economic impact of supply chain disruptions and social distancing.

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No, The Fed Will Not “Save the Market”–Here’s Why

The greater the excesses, speculative euphoria and moral hazard, the greater the reversal. A very convenient conviction is rising in the panicked financial netherworld that the Federal Reserve and its fellow dark lords will "save the market" from COVID-19 collapse. They won't. I already explained why in The Fed Has Created a Monster Bubble It Can No Longer Control (February 16, 2020) but it bears repeating.

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Economy: Curved Again

Earlier today, Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI) confirmed the country’s economy is in recession. Updating its estimate for Q4 GDP, year-over-year output declined by 0.5% rather than -0.3% as first thought. On a quarterly basis, GDP was down for the second consecutive quarter which mainstream convention treats as a technical recession.

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Schaetze To That

When Mario Draghi sat down for his scheduled press conference on April 4, 2012, it was a key moment and he knew it. The ECB had finished up the second of its “massive” LTRO auctions only weeks before. Draghi was still relatively new to the job, having taken over for Jean-Claude Trichet the prior November amidst substantial turmoil.

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Seven Big-Picture Considerations for Covid-19

Below is a non-exhaustive list of medium- and long-term implications from the Covid-19. We discuss the yuan, China’s competitiveness, its position in the global production chains, the impact on the Phase One trade deal, and rising financial stability risks. Globally, the virus will bring about a new wave of fiscal spending and revive the discussions about the limits of monetary policy.

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