Category Archive: 5) Global Macro

It Was And Still Is The Wrong Horse To Bet

The payroll report disappointed again, though it was deficient in ways other than are commonly described. The monthly change is never a solid indication, good or bad, as the BLS’ statistical processes can only get it down to a 90% confidence interval, and a wide one at that. It means that any particular month by itself specifies very little, except under certain circumstances.

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Emerging Markets Preview for the Week Ahead

EM FX ended the week on a soft note, as the weaker than expected US jobs data was unable to derail the dollar’s rally. For the week, the worst performers were ZAR (-3%), TRY (-2.5%), and RUB (-2%). CZK bucked the trend, rising after the CNB exited the cap. This week, higher inflation readings in the US could draw market focus back to Fed tightening, which would be negative for EM.

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US Jobs: Who Carries The Burden of Proof?

The idea that interest rates have nowhere to go but up is very much like saying the bond market has it all wrong. That is one reason why the rhetoric has been ratcheted that much higher of late, particularly since the Fed “raised rates” for a third time in March. Such “hawkishness” by convention should not go so unnoticed, and yet yields and curves are once more paying little attention to Janet Yellen.

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Emerging Markets: What has Changed

Reserve Bank of India surprised markets with the start of the tightening cycle. The Czech National Bank (CNB) ended the EUR/CZK floor. Israeli central bank said it won’t hike rates until Q2 2018. Both S&P and Fitch cut South Africa’s rating one notch to sub-investment grade BB+. Moody's put South Africa’s Baa2 rating on review for a downgrade.

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Ultra-Loose Terminology, Not Policy

As world “leaders” gathered in Davos in January 2016, they did so among financial turmoil that was creating more economic havoc than at any time since the Great “Recession.” Having seen especially US QE as the equivalent of money printing, their focus was drawn elsewhere to at least attempt an explanation for the contradiction.

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We Need To Define The ‘Shadows’, And All Parts of Them; or, ‘Rising Dollar’ Kills Another Recovery Narrative

JP Morgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon caused a stir yesterday with his 45-page annual letter to shareholders. The phrase that gained him so much widespread attention was, “there is something wrong with the US.” Dimon mentioned secular stagnation and correctly surmised it was the right idea if for the wrong reasons. He then gave his own which included a litany of globalist agenda items, including not enough access to mortgages.

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February US Trade Disappoints

The oversized base effects of oil prices could not in February 2017 push up overall US imports. The United States purchased, according to the Census Bureau, 71% more crude oil from global markets this February than in February 2016. In raw dollar terms, it was an increase of $7.3 billion year-over-year. Total imports, however, only gained $8.4 billion, meaning that nearly all the improvement was due to nothing more than the price of global oil.

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Systemic Depression Is A Clear Choice

Looking back on late 2015, it is perfectly clear that policymakers had no idea what was going on. It’s always easy, of course, to reflect on such things with the benefit of hindsight, but even contemporarily it was somewhat shocking how complacent they had become as a global group.

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Incomes Always Deviate Negative

Personal Income growth in February 2017 was more mixed than it had been of recent months. Nominal Disposable Per Capita Income increased 3.73% year-over-year, while in real terms Per Capita Income was up 1.57%. For the former, that was among the better monthly results over the past year, while the latter was near the worst.

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Consensus Inflation (Again)

Why did Mario Draghi appeal to NIRP in June 2014? After all, expectations at the time were for a strengthening recovery not just in Europe but all over the world. There were some concerns lingering over currency “irregularities” in 2013 but primarily related to EM’s and not the EU which had emerged from re-recession. The consensus at that time was full recovery not additional “stimulus.” From Bloomberg in January 2014:

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When the “Solutions” Become the Problems

Those benefiting from these destructive "solutions" may think the system can go on forever, but it cannot go on when every "solution" becomes a self-reinforcing problem that amplifies all the other systemic problems.

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Emerging Market: Preview for the Week Ahead

EM FX was mixed last week. The rebound in oil helped some, such as COP, RUB, and MXN. On the other hand, idiosyncratic political risks weighed on South Africa. This week could pose a challenge to EM, with lots of Fed speakers, FOMC minutes, and US jobs data.

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The Power of Oil

For the first time in 57 months, a span of nearly five years, the Fed’s preferred metric for US consumer price inflation reached the central bank’s explicit 2% target level. The PCE Deflator index was 2.12% higher in February 2017 than February 2016. Though rhetoric surrounding this result is often heated, the actual indicated inflation is decidedly not despite breaking above for once.

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Do the Roots of Rising Inequality Go All the Way Back to the 1980s?

Unless we change the fundamental structure of the economy so that actually producing goods and services and hiring people is more profitable than playing financial games with phantom assets, the end-game of financialization is financial collapse. I presented this chart of rising wealth inequality a number of times over the past year. Do you notice something peculiar about the inflection points in the 1980s?

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Ending The Fed’s Drug Problem

Gross Domestic Product was revised slightly higher for Q4 2016, which is to say it wasn’t meaningfully different. At 2.05842%, real GDP projects output growing for one quarter close to its projected potential, a less than desirable result. It is fashionable of late to discuss 2% or 2.1% as if these are good numbers consistent with a healthy economy.

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Emerging Markets: What has Changed

Former Korean President Park was arrested. Hungary’s central bank was more dovish than expected. South African President Zuma finally fired Finance Minister Gordhan. Brazil’s meat industry may have seen the worst of the scandal. Banco de Mexico slowed the pace of tightening.

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India: The next Pakistan?

India’s Rapid Degradation. This is Part XI of a series of articles (the most recent of which is linked here) in which I have provided regular updates on what started as the demonetization of 86% of India’s currency. The story of demonetization and the ensuing developments were merely a vehicle for me to explore Indian institutions, culture and society.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review

The Fed did, as expected, hike rates at their last meeting. And interestingly, interest rates have done nothing but fall since that day. As I predicted in the last BWER, Greenspan’s conundrum is making a comeback. The Fed can do whatever it wants with Fed funds – heck, barely anyone is using it anyway – but they can’t control what the market does with long term rates.

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Forget ObamaCare, RyanCare, and any Future ReformCare-the Healthcare System Is Completely Broken

It's time to start planning for what we'll do when the current healthcare system implodes. As with many other complex, opaque systems in the U.S., only those toiling in the murky depths of the healthcare system know just how broken the entire system is.

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Emerging Markets: Week Ahead Preview

EM FX ended the week on a firm note. Indeed, virtually all of EM was up against the dollar last week, led by ZAR and MXN. BRL and PHP were the laggards. It remains to be seen how markets react to the failure to pass the health care reform in the US. Will Trump move on the tax reform? Can the Republicans proceed with its agenda in light of the fissures within the party?

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