March 24, 2017

Ford Warns "Used Car Prices Will Drop For Years"

Earlier this morning we noted Ford's "CFO Let's Chat" meeting with analysts before which Ford announced weak 1Q adj. EPS guidance of 30c-35c, coming in well below analyst estimates of 47c, which they blamed on higher costs, lower volume & unfavorable exchange rates. 

With the call now concluded, here are a couple of the key takeaways:

First, the bad...

Volumes will start to fall off this year, next year
Used car prices will drop for several years
European profit will fall this year
China sales down sharply in 1Q
India more difficult than expected
All options on table including traditional restructuring

...and the good-ish...

Favorable market factors offsetting higher commodity prices
Inventory levels “in very good shape”
Sedans play diminishing role in U.S. business; SUVs, trucks make up 73% of U.S. business
Not seeing anything to suggest economy will “tip over”

Read the entire article

March 23, 2017

China 'Shadow Banks' Crushed As Liquidity Costs Hit Record High

During the so-called Chinese Banking Liquidity Crisis of 2013, the relative cost of funds for non-bank institutions spiked to 100bps. So, the fact that the 'shadow banking' liquidity premium has exploded to almost 250 points - by far a record - in the last few days should indicate just how stressed Chinese money markets are.

While interbank borrowing rates have climbed across the board, the surge has been unusually steep for non-bank institutions, including securities companies and investment firms. They’re now paying what amounts to a record premium for short-term funds relative to large Chinese banks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The premium is reflected in the gap between China’s seven-day repurchase rate fixing and the weighted average rate, which, by Bloomberg notes, widened to as much as 2.47 percentage points on Wednesday after some small lenders were said to miss payments in the interbank market. Non-bank borrowers tend to have a greater influence on the fixing, while large banks have more sway over the weighted average.

"It’s more expensive and difficult for non-bank financial institutions to get funding in the market," said Becky Liu, Hong Kong-based head of China macro strategy at Standard Chartered Plc. “Bigger lenders who have access to regulatory funding are not lending much of the money out.”

Read the entire article

March 22, 2017

Have We Reached A Turning Point For Stocks? Tuesday Was The Worst Day For The Stock Market In 6 Months

The post-election stock market rally is officially over.  After hovering near record highs for the past couple of weeks, U.S. stocks had their worst day in six months on Tuesday.  For quite some time it has been clear that the momentum of the post-election rally had been exhausted, and a pullback of this nature was widely anticipated.  But even though stocks fell by more than 1 percent during a single trading session for the first time since last September, it is going to take a whole lot more than that to bring stock prices back into balance.  In fact, stocks are so overvalued at this point that it would take a total decline of about 40 to 50 percent before key stock valuation measures return to their long-term averages.

So we are still in a giant stock market bubble.  All Tuesday did was shave about one percent off of that bubble.

Let’s review some of the numbers from the carnage that we witnessed…

-The Dow was down 237.85 points (1.14 percent)

-The S&P 500 was down 1.2 percent on the day

-The Nasdaq was down 1.8 percent at the closing bell

-Financial stocks were down more than 2.5 percent

-Overall, it was the worst day for banking stocks since the Brexit vote

-Bank of America is now down more than 10 percent since Trump’s speech to Congress

-The Russell 2000 (small-cap stocks) dropped about 2 percent

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March 21, 2017

US "Too Big To Fail" Banks Top $1 Trillion - What Happens Next?

For the first time ever, the market cap of America's "Big Four" banks topped $1 trillion having surged 30% since Donald Trump was elected president. While to some this is cause for celebration, we note that the last time a nation's "big four" banks topped $1 trillion in market cap did not end well...

As Bloomberg notes, the four biggest U.S. banks were worth the most on record versus China's "Big Four" this month, as JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Citigroup were worth over $250 billion more than Industrial & Commercial Bank, China Construction Bank, Bank of China, and Agricultural Bank of China combined.

The four Chinese banks, the world's most profitable, were worth about the same as the U.S. foursome as recently as June.

However, as the chart above shows, while the American quartet's combined market value closed above $1 trillion for the first time last month, China achieved that goals in June 2015... and it did not end well.

Read the entire article

March 20, 2017

EU Taxpayers Brace As Deepening Banking Crisis Means Euro-TARP Looms

If the ECB scales back stimulus, banks face even greater risk of collapse. But now there’s a new solution

Events are moving so fast in Europe these days, it’s almost impossible to keep up. While much of the attention is being hogged by political developments, including the election in the Netherlands, Reuters published a report warning that the European banking sector may face even higher bad loan risks if the ECB begins to scale back its monetary stimulus programs, something it has already begun, albeit extremely tentatively.

The total stock of non-performing loans (NPL) in the EU is estimated at over €1 trillion, or 5.4% of total loans, a ratio three times higher than in other major regions of the world.

On a country-by-country basis, things look even scarier. Currently 10 (out of 28) EU countries have an NPL ratio above 10% (orders of magnitude higher than what is generally considered safe). And among Eurozone countries, where the ECB’s monetary policies have direct impact, there are these NPL stalwarts:

Ireland: 15.8%
Italy: 16.6%
Portugal: 19.2%
Slovenia: 19.7%
Greece: 46.6%
Cyprus: 49%

Read the entire article

March 17, 2017

"This Is Not The Reaction The Fed Wanted": Goldman Warns Yellen Has Lost Control Of The Market

With stocks soaring briskly around the globe following Yellen's "dovish" hike, and futures set for a sharply higher open with the Nasdaq approaching 6,000, something surprising caught our attention: in a note by Goldman's Jan Hatzius, the chief economist warns that the market is overinterpreting the Fed's statement, and Yellen's presser, and cautions that it was not meant to be the "dovish surprise" the market took it to be.

Specifically, he says that while the FOMC delivered the expected 25bp hike, with only minor changes to its projections. "surprisingly, financial markets took the meeting as a large dovish surprise—the third-largest at an FOMC meeting since 2000 outside the financial crisis, based on the co-movement of different asset prices."

Even more surprisng is that according to Goldman, its financial conditions index, "eased sharply, by the equivalent of almost one full cut in the federal funds rate."

In other words, the Fed's 0.25% rate hike had the same effect as a 0.25% race cut!

The implication from the market's reaction is that at current levels, financial conditions are poised to make a substantial positive contribution to growth in 2017, from a starting point of essentially full employment, inflation close to the target, and a sub-1% funds rate; which in light of concerns about an economic overheating due to Trump's fiscal policies is precisely the opposite of what Yellen wants. Hatzius warns that "the FOMC will lean against this, and will deliver more monetary tightening than discounted in the bond market."

Read the entire article

March 16, 2017

12 Reasons Why The Federal Reserve May Have Just Made The Biggest Economic Mistake Since The Last Financial Crisis

Has the Federal Reserve gone completely insane?  On Wednesday, the Fed raised interest rates for the second time in three months, and it signaled that more rate hikes are coming in the months ahead.  When the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates, it becomes less expensive to borrow money and that tends to stimulate more economic activity.  But when the Federal Reserve raises rates , that makes it more expensive to borrow money and that tends to slow down economic activity.  So why in the world is the Fed raising rates when the U.S. economy is already showing signs of slowing down dramatically?  The following are 12 reasons why the Federal Reserve may have just made the biggest economic mistake since the last financial crisis…

#1 Just hours before the Fed announced this rate hike, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s projection for U.S. GDP growth in the first quarter fell to just 0.9 percent.  If that projection turns out to be accurate, this will be the weakest quarter of economic growth during which rates were hiked in 37 years.

#2 The flow of credit is more critical to our economy than ever before, and higher rates will mean higher interest payments on adjustable rate mortgages, auto loans and credit card debt.  Needless to say, this is going to slow the economy down substantially

The Federal Reserve decision Wednesday to lift its benchmark short-term interest rate by a quarter percentage point is likely to have a domino effect across the economy as it gradually pushes up rates for everything from mortgages and credit card rates to small business loans.

Consumers with credit card debt, adjustable-rate mortgages and home equity lines of credit are the most likely to be affected by a rate hike, says Greg McBride, chief analyst at Bankrate.com. He says it’s the cumulative effect that’s important, especially since the Fed already raised rates in December 2015 and December 2016.

Read the entire article

March 15, 2017

New Oil Price War Looms As The OPEC Deal Falls Short

Last November, OPEC orchestrated an impressive feat: corralling all (or nearly all) of its members to sign on to relatively aggressive production cut deal, and then actually convincing everyone to follow through on those reductions beginning in January. OPEC’s estimated 94 percent compliance rate defied the cartel’s own history of cheating and mistrust, and OPEC has taken around 1 million barrels of oil production per day off the market.

They were initially rewarded for this. Oil prices rallied more than 20 percent in the month after the deal was announced and investors and analysts have been mostly bullish on crude prices ever since. But the cuts were not all that they seemed to be for two reasons: OPEC cut from record highs and countries exempted from the deal ramped up oil production in the fourth quarter of 2016, offsetting much of the reductions.

Member countries (excluding Indonesia, which is no longer a member) produced about 32.5 million barrels per day (mb/d) in August. That was the last month before the September Algiers accord, which was basically an agreement to agree to cuts at a later date.

By January, after nearly 90 percent of the 1.2 mb/d of cuts were implemented – or reductions of about 1.1 mb/d – the group still produced a relatively high 32.14 mb/d.

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March 14, 2017

How The Federal Reserve Is Setting Up Trump For A Recession, A Housing Crisis And A Stock Market Crash

Most Americans do not understand this, but the truth is that the Federal Reserve has far more power over the U.S. economy than anyone else does, and that includes Donald Trump.  Politicians tend to get the credit or the blame for how the economy is performing, but in reality it is an unelected, unaccountable panel of central bankers that is running the show, and until something is done about the Fed our long-term economic problems will never be fixed.  For an extended analysis of this point, please see this article.  In this piece, I am going to explain why the Federal Reserve is currently setting the stage for a recession, a new housing crisis and a stock market crash, and if those things happen unfortunately it will be Donald Trump that will primarily get the blame.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is expected to hike interest rates, and there is even the possibility that they will call for an acceleration of future rate hikes

Economists generally believe the central bank’s median estimate will continue to call for three quarter-point rate increases both this year and in 2018. But there’s some risk that gets pushed to four as inflation nears the Fed’s annual 2% target and business confidence keeps juicing markets in anticipation of President Trump’s plan to cut taxes and regulations.

During the Obama years, the Federal Reserve pushed interest rates all the way to the floor, and this artificially boosted the economy.  In a recent article, Gail Tverberg explained how this works…

Read the entire article

March 13, 2017

$21,714 For Every Man, Woman And Child In The World – This Global Debt Bomb Is Ready To Explode

According to the International Monetary Fund, global debt has grown to a staggering grand total of 152 trillion dollars.  Other estimates put that figure closer to 200 trillion dollars, but for the purposes of this article let’s use the more conservative number.  If you take 152 trillion dollars and divide it by the seven billion people living on the planet, you get $21,714, which would be the share of that debt for every man, woman and child in the world if it was divided up equally.

So if you have a family of four, your family’s share of the global debt load would be $86,856.

Very few families could write a check for that amount today, and we also must remember that we live in some of the wealthiest areas on the globe.  Considering the fact that more than 3 billion people around the world live on two dollars a day or less, the truth is that about half the planet would not be capable of contributing toward the repayment of our 152 trillion dollar debt at all.  So they should probably be excluded from these calculations entirely, and that would mean that your family’s share of the debt would ultimately be far, far higher.

Of course global debt repayment will never actually be apportioned by family.  The reason why I am sharing this example is to show you that it is literally impossible for all of this debt to ever be repaid.

We are living during the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and our financial engineers have got to keep figuring out ways to keep it growing much faster than global GDP because if it ever stops growing it will burst and destroy the entire global financial system.

Bill Gross, one of the most highly respected financial minds on the entire planet, recently observed that “our highly levered financial system is like a truckload of nitro glycerin on a bumpy road”.

Read the entire article

March 10, 2017

"It Can Only Disappoint" - What Wall Street Expects From Friday's Payrolls Report

Following Wednesday's blowout ADP report, which printed some 40K jobs higher than the highest estimate, the only possibility for tomorrow's nonfarm payroll report, the last major economic data point before the Fed's March 15th rate hike announcement, is to disappoint, especially in terms of wages (which in light of the recent downward revision of Q1 GDP by the Atlanta Fed to 1.2% is not out of the question). That possibility, however, is slim to none if one looks at Wall Street's forecasts, where virtually every sellside analyst boosted their NFP estimate in the hours after the ADP number. Still, with the market pricing in a 100% chance of a rate hike, only a very disappointing - think less than 100K - report will derail the Fed from hiking for the second time in three meetings.

Here are some of the more notable forecasts for tomorrow's number::

Westpac 170K
Bank of America 185K
BNP 185K
Barclays 200K
Deutsche Bank 200K
Goldman Sachs 215K
Nomura 235K
Morgan Stanley 250K

Putting it all together, here is what Wall Street expects from the February payrolls report due out at 8:30am ET tomorrow morning:

Change in Nonfarm Payrolls: Exp. 193K (Prey. 227K, Dec. 157K)
Unemployment Rate Exp. 4.70% (Prey. 4.80%, Dec. 4.70%)
Average Hourly Earnings M/M Exp. 0.30% (Prey. 0.10%, Dec. 0.20%)

Consensus calls for an increase of 193K jobs in February, with the unemployment rate falling to 4.7% from 4.8%. Much of the focus could be on average hourly earnings for signs of inflationary pressure. Last month, average hourly earnings disappointed with Y/Y wage growth slowing to 2.5% from 2.9%. This month, average hourly earnings are expected to pick up to 2.7% Y/Y with monthly growth of 0.3%.

Read the entire article

March 9, 2017

Crude Plunges Below $49, Dragging Markets Lower; All Eyes On Draghi

While traders will be focused on the ECB, and Mario Draghi, early Thursday, it is unlikely that the European central bank will announce anything overly dramatic (see preview in a subsequent post), and instead the attention will be on the ECB's inflation forecast for hints of when the ECB may accelerate tapering after its December 2016 QE cut, as Draghi scrambles to catch up with commodity inflation, if not so much core CPI, which has remained subdued.

However, a more pressing development as US traders get to their desks today, will be the ongoing collapse in WTI, which after crashing 5.5% yesterday, has plunged as much as 3% this morning, sliding not only below $50 for the first time since December 1, but also dropped under $49, and was trading $48.90 at last check, as a near record number of net long spec positions suddenly rush to unwind their exposure.

After resisting oil's gravitational drag earlier, S&P futures snapped, and were trading lower by 0.2% at 2,357. Should the drop persist, this would be the longest losing streak for the index in five weeks.

Elsewhere, European and Asian stocks fell, ahead of the European Central Bank’s meeting while the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index headed for its best back-to-back weeks since December, rising after yesterday's blockbuster ADP report and expectations that tomorrow's NFP will not derail the Fed's March reta hike, the euro and yen dropped. Speaking of the ADP report, RBC chief economist Tom Porcellisaid the report was so strong it meant the payrolls report on Friday would have to be unbelievably dire to deter the Fed from hiking next week.

"There is almost no number that would stop them," said Porcelli. "It would take an extreme event for the Fed to take a pass at this point."

Indeed, he noted the ADP surprise meant there was a real chance payrolls could beat expectations, perhaps by a lot. "On the face of it, ADP is consistent with private payrolls of about 340,000," he said. The current median forecast is for a rise of 190,000.

Read the entire article

March 8, 2017

The Next Domino To Fall: Commercial Real Estate

Unless the Federal Reserve intends to buy up every dead and dying mall in America, this is one crisis that the Fed can't bail out with a few digital keystrokes.

Just as generals prepare to fight the last war, central banks prepare to battle the last financial crisis--which in the present context means a big-bank liquidity meltdown like the one that nearly toppled thr global financial system in 2008-09.

Planning to win the next war by assuming it will be a copy of the last confict is an excellent strategy for losing the next war. The same holds true for the next financial crisis: reckoning that it will be a repeat of 2008 is an excellent way to be caught completely off-guard.

Crises may rhyme, but they don't repeat. The next Global Financial Meltdown won't start in subprime mortgages--that sector has been wiped out, written down, or passed on to the poor tax-donkey taxpayers.

The next crisis also won't arise on money-center banks, either. Central banks have figured out how to bail out the banks, and have rebuilt the bank balance sheets by stripping hundreds of billions of dollars in interest from savers.

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March 7, 2017

A Third Of All U.S. Shopping Malls Are Projected To Close As ‘Space Available’ Signs Go Up All Over America

If you didn’t know better, you might be tempted to think that “Space Available” was the hottest new retail chain in the entire country.  As you will see below, it is being projected that about a third of all shopping malls in the United States will soon close, and we just recently learned that the number of “distressed retailers” is the highest that it has been since the last recession.  Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can possibly believe that the U.S. economy is in “good shape” after looking at the retail industry.  In my recent article about the ongoing “retail apocalypse“, I discussed the fact that Sears, J.C. Penney and Macy’s have all announced that they are closing dozens of stores in 2017, and you can find a pretty comprehensive list of 19 U.S. retailers that are “on the brink of bankruptcy” right here.  Needless to say, quite a bloodbath is going on out there right now.

But I didn’t realize how truly horrific things were for the retail industry until I came across an article about mall closings on Time Magazine’s website

About one-third of malls in the U.S. will shut their doors in the coming years, retail analyst Jan Kniffen told CNBC Thursday. His prediction comes in the wake of Macy’s reporting its worst consecutive same-store sales decline since the financial crisis.

Macy’s and its fellow retailers in American malls are challenged by an oversupply of retail space as customers migrate toward online shopping, as well as fast fashion retailers like H&M and off-price stores such as T.J. Maxx. As a result, about 400 of the country’s 1,100 enclosed malls will fail in the upcoming years. Of those that remain, he predicts that about 250 will thrive and the rest will continue to struggle.

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March 6, 2017

Citi's Matt King: "We Think You Should Sell"

In a surprisingly bearish report, Citi's Matt King has issued a new, long-awaited note in which he asks rhetorically "what’s a manager supposed to do when by early March your asset class has already exceeded your expectation for full-year returns? Take profit and take the rest of the year off, of course! And if it carries on rallying, go outright short!" And yet, he adds, "somehow nobody seems to want to." The reason for that, according to King is that as we showed demonstrated last week using JPM and BofA data, "the rally owes more to inflows and short covering than to institutional investor exuberance. And part is that the economic data do seem genuinely to be improving."

Nonetheless, King's assessment of the current environment is downbeat and to the point: "sell we think you should, not only in € credit (as we advised a couple of weeks ago) but also more broadly."

He then lays out seven reasons "not to trust your inner Trump", which are as follows:

1. The Fed may stop the inflow party

The Citi strategist begins by noting that "perhaps the best reason to remain long is that institutional investors seem not to be." He adds that the vast majority of the FI investors we have seen in recent weeks still believe in secular stagnation, and further notes that "to judge from our survey, overall positions have been creeping longer, but this is due overwhelmingly to positions among $ investors: those in € and £ credit have actually been falling (Figure 1)."

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