Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Week in Charts – Buckle the Heck Up!

No, I’m not being over-dramatic. It is time to buckle the heck up. The resonant disconnect between reality and the pumping that is going on in the media and among supposed “experts” is at an all time historic, never been here before, Economic Mass Psychosis, HIGH.

To Quote John Kenneth Galbraith, “The majority is always wrong.” Right now the majority believe we are exiting the crisis. They are just plain old fashioned WRONG – again.

To prove my point, I’m going to show you the week in charts courtesy of the St. Louis Fed. This week, however, I’m issuing a WARNING. The evidence in these charts points to the beginning of a DEFLATIONARY SPIRAL. The PPI data comes out next week and will be a key piece of evidence in this regard. The results of a deflationary spiral will be UGLY if entered. You will see another round of deleveraging to go with locked credit markets. Equities will get hammered and the real cleansing of the economy will accelerate. This process will be PAINFUL but necessary to end the malinvestment. It will be the phase where more businesses who were hanging on HOPING for recovery will simply run out of cashflow to maintain operations. The same thing is necessary to cleanse a way over-bloated government and military.

The fallout will affect everyone. These charts are HISTORIC, they are NOT indicative of a short recession. As you view these charts, pay attention to the negative trends and look at them from a historic perspective. Many market callers are looking for immediate inflation due to the money pumping. I challenge them to point out inflation anywhere in these charts besides the money aggregates, which, by the way, are not growing at the rate they were. Those who look solely at the money aggregates are not seeing the destruction of credit which is very real and has hobbled the consumer. Never ending growth was a fantasy and is over for the time being, there is simply too much debt/credit in the system.

The pundits of green shoots will say that the economy is getting better and that the leading indicators are pointing to a dramatic recovery. THEY ARE WRONG. They were wrong in 2007 and they are wrong now. The one and only TRUE LEADING ECONOMIC INDICATOR in a debt riddled society is DEBT to INCOME. That ratio has not improved, it is worse than ever, especially at the governmental level.

Since I am talking about inflation and deflation, I think it’s important to reiterate that most people think of inflation as an increase in PRICES and Deflation as a decrease in PRICES. True inflation or deflation is the increase or decrease in the money AND CREDIT SUPPLY. Prices follow but do give an indirect indication of money/credit supply over time when looked at in AGGREGATE. What has fooled so many in the current economy is BAD DATA REPORTING and a SHADOW CREDIT SYSTEM that produced UNREGULATED AND UNTRACKED out-of-control credit (DEBT). To create more growth, the COMBINED credit and money aggregates, whether they are tracked or not, must increase in total. That is not happening, and that is why you see negative growth. FORGET ABOUT GOVERNMENT GROWTH FIGURES, they are so far from reality as to be laughable – they are NOT credible. The same can be said for inflation statistics, but they are pointing to a trend and they are not positive.

All of the charts below are current and have been updated THIS WEEK or are annotated otherwise. Let’s begin with charts of pertinent economic releases and then we will move on and examine the current issue of Monetary Trends...

Consumer Sentiment was released Friday and came in well below estimates at 63.2. The chart below is the only one presented that was not updated, but I show where that current level is. Consumers represent over 70% of the economy. As pointed out previously, people are falling off the back of the unemployment rolls and are not being captured in that data. It’s hard to be optimistic on the economy when you are unemployed. It’s also difficult to pay more and more in terms of price when your income is either gone or under pressure. Low Consumer Sentiment, high levels of debt, and diminished access to credit all comprise the psychological foundation for price deflation:

And how are PRICES behaving? Below is a chart showing BOTH import and export PRICES. The fed does not produce this particular chart, it comes from Econoday. This is a HISTORIC collapse of prices, IMPORT PRICES (watch the scale on the left versus the right) are DOWN 19.3% year over year (yoy)! Think about that, it is HISTORIC. Import prices down nearly 20% in just one year?!! The trend is not turning, it is accelerating downward again. Export prices are down dramatically too, but pale in comparison.

Next is the current chart of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). It has not been this negative in the past 59 years! Do you see PRICE inflation there? Let’s see what the PPI says next week. By the way, why would the CPI number only be down a little more than 2% when import prices are down 10 times as much and export prices are down 4 times as much? Think there’s a disconnect there? There is, and it’s induced by our own government statistics:

So, those are PRICES. Why do prices go down? Remember supply and demand… not enough demand and way too much supply. Let’s take a look at retail sales expressed in yoy percent change… Here you’ll see a collapse of historic proportions in demand:

When demand drops domestically, imports drop. Never before, and likely never again, will you see such a historic plunge of imports. This is no ordinary recession:

At the beginning of this crisis many “experts” said that demand would continue to increase from overseas and that would help offset a slowdown in the U.S., remember? How did that work out?

“Deficits don’t matter,” remember that one too? Well, we were running a trade deficit over $60 billion a month. At the time I warned that it was not sustainable as it could not be financed at that rate forever. Now the balance of trade is swinging rapidly back, but is still way out of balance. The rate of change is also historic any way you want to measure it:

Now let’s turn our attention back inside the U.S.. Here is a chart of inventories expressed in yoy percent change. Falling business inventories are actually a good thing as businesses are reacting to falling demand. Take a look, though, at when this recession actually began versus when inventories began to fall and compare it to the last recession. Is the contraction over? Would you bet on it?

Now let’s turn our attention to what remains of the manufacturing sector. Remember that employment in that sector of our economy is now the same size as it was in 1947 and, quite unfortunately, is a much smaller percentage of the economy (for a complete update on employment, please see Employment Situation in Chart Form – Damn, I knew I should have moved to New York and found a job on Wall Street!).

Capacity Utilization is at an all time low on the following chart and is still pointing straight down:

Non-durable goods manufacturing has plummeted and has not begun to recover significantly:

Durable goods manufacturing is down twice as much in percentage terms and likewise is not recovering significantly:

Now look at the effect on the index of manufacturing hours worked:

And just to be clear about it, manufacturing output is down 15% on a year over year basis, again simply historic:

Okay, so that’s what’s happening in the REAL world of sales, export, imports, and manufacturing. What’s going on in the supply of money and credit?

Well, now that we pay banks for “reserves” (and lend real dollars against worthless toxic assets), bank “excess reserves” (Nate says no such thing in reality) are sky high and up nearly 8,000% on a year over year basis!

The latest report for M2 (week ending August 3rd) showed a DECREASE of approximately $42 billion. Still way up yoy, it is no longer accelerating higher:

Same comments for the more broad money aggregate, MZM:

Last week we saw that consumer credit is actually negative. Credit is MUCH LARGER than REAL MONEY. Yes, those aggregates measure credit that’s been deposited into financial institutions, but they do not measure credit derivatives that allow the banks to leverage debt to the hilt.

Now let’s review the latest issue of Monetary Trends, again courtesy of the St. Louis Fed:

Note on the chart below that M1, M2, and MZM are all higher, but that trend higher has turned recently. Again, keep in mind that credit growth is negative:

On page 5 we find that the adjusted monetary base has been forced sky high, but the recent trend up has stopped. You will also then see FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DEBT has absolutely skyrocketed, and that currency and time deposits are slowing their rates of growth, and that retail money market shares are negative.

Below are the money aggregates again, this time presented in percent change at an annual rate. Note that MZM and M2 are NEGATIVE and that M1 is nearly so:

Next take a look at page 7. Here you will see that everything dealing with credit is in sharp decline. Look closely at the total borrowings chart expressed in Billions! It went from over $400 billion to just over $100 billion, nearly a 75% plunge. Commercial Paper – down nearly 25%! Consumer credit – negative:

Next, please take a hard look at this chart showing actual CPI that I outlined with a vertical red rectangle (vertical plunge) and compare that to the EXPECTATIONS of inflation. You will see that those who have been forecasting inflation are simply WRONG:

Next, take a look at the velocity:

Finally, take a look at Monetary base VELOCITY GROWTH. It is down 75%! Again, this shows that when the system is saturated with debt, you can pump all the money you want into the system, but it goes nowhere. Why? Because current income cannot service current debt much less more future debt, that’s why:

That’s a pretty clear picture to me, one of DEFLATION at work. It is accelerating, not decelerating. That is a HUGE divergence from what’s occurring in the equity markets and from what you hear on television from the supposed experts.

I think we are on the precipice of a self-reinforcing deflationary spiral. The data is historic. The disconnect between the data and perception is historic. The Fed is attempting to do a magic trick by printing their way out of debt – it’s a trick that has NEVER worked throughout the history of mankind and will not work to create real growth now.

Debt is the ball, keep your eye on it and you’ll see through the Fed’s attempted magic trick and slight of hand!

Penn and Teller Explain Sleight of Hand:

1. Palm
2. Ditch
3. Steal
4. Load
5. Simulation
6. Misdirection
7. Switch

Any of that sound familiar?

Steve Miller Band – Abracadabra:

Jobs Observation – The New Way to See the Fair…

A little anecdotal story that caught my eye. The Puyallup Fair is the largest fair in Washington State. Over the past decade the problem this fair has had is that they cannot hire enough workers! Of course it’s just a temporary minimum wage job, but they went from can’t get enough workers to this:
Puyallup Fair says job applicants overwhelming

Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle)

Officials at the Puyallup Fair say 4,000 people came out on Wednesday to sign up for temporary jobs at the event, and many were turned away and asked to come back again. That number of job seekers was 3,500 more than officials had ever experienced on the first day of hiring of the fair.

On Thursday, the first 600 people in line will be given numbers and others will be asked to come back on Friday and Monday.

“Due to the inability to process that many applicants in one day, many of those people who showed up were asked to return tomorrow,” Fair officials said in a statement.

They said they cut off the line at a place where WorkSource Employment Office staffers could process those applicants.

Fair officials said they’re looking to fill 3,000 jobs for the fair set for Sept. 11-27, with wages starting at the state’s minimum wage of $8.55 an hour. Some jobs pay more than that, officials said, depending on duties and skills required.

So, on the first day they received EIGHT TIMES AS MANY APPLICANTS AS NORMAL!

Simon & Garfunkel w/Andy Williams – Are you Going to Scarborough Puyallup Fair:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Martin Armstrong – Cycles & Pattern Projections…

This latest paper of Armstrong sets out to explain the difference between cycles and patterns. You’ll likely need to read it slowly and think about the concepts as he is a little more "out there" intertwining physics and economics with his understanding of manipulation via Goldman and the “club.”

He projects the DOW above 20,000, but not until the down cycle has completed. The meteoric rise following the lows will come with gold rocketing and with the destruction of confidence in the U.S. Government.

Somewhat cryptic, Martin is talking around the fringes and that will require you to piece together useful information – I always pick up a good point of understanding or two from Martin’s papers, but I know most will be left going, “what did he just say?” If one does not expect Martin (or anyone) to tell them exactly where or when the market will be in the future on a particular day, then they will then be able to take his writing and research for what it is.

Clearly his thinking is on the edge… no wonder his work has found a home on this site ;-)

Cycles & Pattern Projections… Two Very Different Types of Analysis:

Once again... 31 months from the October 2007 high equals May of 2010.

*To PRINT, click “more,” then “print.” You can also click "more" then "save document" to open in YOUR .pdf viewer where you can either save or print.

Paul Mylchreest – Thunder Road Report…

This week Paul gives us his take on agriculture and he also weighs in on Treasuries and POMOs. Thanks for the update! I agree that ag has a longer term structural problem with a booming world population; ‘food’ for thought, LOL.

Going country on the thunder this week…

Garth Brooks – The Thunder Rolls

Gerald Celente - The 2nd American Revolution…

One of the few people willing to talk about history and what follows times of economic upheaval. I agree that with his basic premise and have said so all along in that there are “events” that follow economic upheaval. Social disorder and war are the events you hope not to see, but history says are almost unavoidable.

He sounds out there compared to most, but who’s been more correct, the supposed “experts” or him? And while the town hall shout-downs are not revolutionary in themselves, I agree that we’re seeing a different type of discontent. I know I feel it, and I know others I talk to feel it too.

Gerald Celente on Fox Business (8/13/0 - The Next American Revolution (ht Jay):

Consumer Sentiment – Not Fooling the Unemployed!

When 90% of economists are all saying the recession is over, you are guaranteed that they are wrong.

The “consensus” for consumer confidence was 68.5 with a range of 67.2 to 70.0. It came in at 63.2 for August. Congratulations on being 100% wrong! And once again, those who listen to the government and mainstream are led astray.

Here’s Econoday’s release of Consumer Sentiment:
Mixed is the description of the current run of economic data, some good and some bad. Today's Reuters/University of Michigan survey falls under bad. The index fell back nearly 3 points at mid-month to 63.2. Despite improvement in jobs and improvement in manufacturing and improvement in housing, weakness is centered in the current conditions component (64.9 vs. 70.5). Expectations, the leading component, also sank (62.1 vs. 63.2). More and more, the consumer sector looks to be a heavy drag on the recovery -- just look back at yesterday's retail sales report. Stocks and commodities weakened in immediate reaction to today's data.

Mixed data? Sorry, there has been NO, as in ZERO good data. What there has been is manipulated data, but nothing good. Manipulation always disconnects from reality and eventually the people know it.

Oh yeah, and if you listened to the "expert's" consensus, here's what it got you:

Banks and Toxic Loans – “Toast Time…”

Bloomberg is reporting that more than 150 banks have toxic loans that make 5% or more of their loan portfolio. I think that's conservative, and I think that if portfolios were marked to market it would be nothing but terrifying. It's outright scary as it is:

Toxic Loans Topping 5% May Push 150 Banks to Point of No Return

By Ari Levy

Aug. 14 (Bloomberg) -- More than 150 publicly traded U.S. lenders own nonperforming loans that equal 5 percent or more of their holdings, a level that former regulators say can wipe out a bank’s equity and threaten its survival.

The number of banks exceeding the threshold more than doubled in the year through June, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, as real estate and credit-card defaults surged. Almost 300 reported 3 percent or more of their loans were nonperforming, a term for commercial and consumer debt that has stopped collecting interest or will no longer be paid in full.

The biggest banks with nonperforming loans of at least 5 percent include Wisconsin’s Marshall & Ilsley Corp. and Georgia’s Synovus Financial Corp., according to Bloomberg data. Among those exceeding 10 percent, the biggest in the 50 U.S. states was Michigan’s Flagstar Bancorp. All said in second- quarter filings they’re “well-capitalized” by regulatory standards, which means they’re considered financially sound.

“At a 3 percent level, I’d be concerned that there’s some underlying issue, and if they’re at 5 percent, chances are regulators have them classified as being in unsafe and unsound condition,” said Walter Mix, former commissioner of the California Department of Financial Institutions, and now a managing director of consulting firm LECG in Los Angeles. He wasn’t commenting on any specific banks.

Missed payments by consumers, builders and small businesses pushed 72 lenders into failure this year, the most since 1992. More collapses may lie ahead as the recession causes increased defaults and swells the confidential U.S. list of “problem banks,” which stood at 305 in the first quarter.

Cash Drain

Nonperforming loans can eat into a company’s earnings and deplete cash, leaving banks below the minimum capital levels required by regulators. Three lenders with nonaccruing ratios of at least 6.2 percent as of March were closed last week. Chicago- based Corus Bankshares Inc., Austin-based Guaranty Financial Group Inc. and Colonial BancGroup Inc. in Montgomery, Alabama, each with ratios of at least 6.5 percent, said in the past month that they expect to be shut.

“This is a fairly widespread issue for the larger community banks and some regional banks across the country,” said Mix of LECG, where William Isaac, former head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., is chairman of the global financial services unit.

Ratios above 5 percent don’t always lead to failures because banks keep capital cushions and set aside reserves to absorb bad loans. Banks with higher ratios of equity to total assets can better withstand such losses, said Jim Barth, a former chief economist at the Office of Thrift Supervision. Marshall & Ilsley and Synovus said they’ve been getting bad loans off their books by selling them.


Bloomberg’s list was compiled by screening U.S. banks for nonperforming loans of 5 percent or more, and then ranked by assets. The list excluded U.S. territories and lenders that have already failed. Also left out were the 19 lenders that underwent the Treasury’s stress tests in May; they were deemed “too big to fail” and told by regulators that government capital was available to keep them in business.

Excluding the stress-test list, banks with nonperformers above 5 percent had combined deposits of $193 billion, according to Bloomberg data.

About 2.6 percent of the $7.74 trillion in bank loans outstanding in the U.S. at the end of March were nonaccruing, the highest in 17 years, according to the most recent data from the FDIC. Nonaccrual loans peaked at 3.27 percent in the second quarter of 1991, during the savings and loan crisis, and averaged 1.54 percent over the past 25 years.

‘Off the Charts’

“These numbers are off the charts,” said Blake Howells, an analyst at Becker Capital Management in Portland, Oregon, referring to the nonperforming loan levels at companies he follows. Banks are losing the “ability to try and earn their way through the cycle,” said Howells, who previously spent 13 years at Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp.

Corus, with more than two-thirds of its loans nonperforming, has the highest rate among publicly traded banks. The company said last month that it’s “critically undercapitalized” after five consecutive quarterly losses tied to defaults on condominium construction loans. Randy Curtis, Corus’s interim chief executive officer, didn’t respond to calls for comment.

Marshall & Ilsley, Wisconsin’s biggest bank, reduced its nonperforming loans last month to 5.01 percent from 5.18 percent after selling $297 million in soured loans, mostly residential mortgages in Arizona, the Milwaukee-based company said Aug. 10.
Deadline for Nonperformers

The bank has “been very aggressive in identifying and tackling credit challenges,” Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith said in an Aug. 12 interview. Smith said 26 percent of loans classified as nonperforming are overdue by less than the industry’s typical standard of 90 days. With those excluded, the ratio would be around 3.7 percent, he said.

Synovus, plagued by defaulting construction loans in the Atlanta area, said nonperforming loans rose to 5.4 percent in the second quarter from 5.2 percent the previous period. Disposals of nonperforming assets reached $404 million in the quarter ended in June, the Columbus, Georgia-based company said.

Synovus is selling troubled loans and will continue its “aggressive stance on disposing of nonperforming assets” as long as the level is elevated, spokesman Greg Hudgison said in an e-mailed statement.

Michigan Home

Flagstar is based in Troy, Michigan, the state with the nation’s highest unemployment rate. Flagstar has $16.4 billion in assets and reported last month that 11.2 percent of its loans were nonperforming; about two-thirds were home mortgages. Flagstar CFO Paul Borja didn’t return repeated calls for comment.

The bank’s allowance for loan losses was 5.4 percent of total loans at the end of the second quarter, compared with 3.3 percent at Synovus and 2.8 percent at Marshall & Ilsley, according to company filings. All three reported at least three straight quarterly deficits.

The FDIC doesn’t comment on lenders that are open and operating and doesn’t disclose which banks are on its problem list. The agency will probably impose an emergency fee on the more than 8,200 banks it insures in the fourth quarter to replenish the insurance fund, the second special assessment this year, Chairman Sheila Bair said last week. The FDIC attempts to sell deposits and assets of seized banks to healthier firms to avoid eroding the fund, said agency spokesman David Barr.

Capital Levels

To determine which banks are most troubled, regulators compare the ratio of nonperforming loans to the percentage of equity a firm has relative to its assets, said Barth, the former OTS economist. A company with 5 percent nonperforming loans and equity of 8 percent is better positioned than one with the same amount of troubled loans and equity of 4 percent, he said.

Flagstar’s equity-to-assets ratio in the second quarter was 5.4 percent, Synovus’s was 8.9 percent and Marshall & Ilsley, which raised $552 million through a stock sale in June, was at 11 percent, according to the banks.

The three lenders that failed last week -- Florida’s First State Bank and Community National Bank and Oregon’s Community First Bank -- all had nonperforming loans above 6 percent and equity ratios below 4.5 percent.

“The nonperforming ratio, in and of itself, should be a great concern,” said Barth, a professor of finance at Auburn University in Alabama and senior finance fellow at the Milken Institute in Santa Monica, California. “It becomes even more troublesome when it goes above 3 percent and the equity-to-asset ratio is quite low.”

Toast Time

While 5 percent can be “fatal” for home lenders, commercial real estate lenders may be able to withstand higher rates, said William K. Black, former lawyer at the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco and the OTS. Commercial loans carry higher interest rates because they’re riskier, he said.

“At the 5 percent range, you’re probably hurting,” said Black, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “Once it gets around 10 percent, you’re likely toast.”

Most are already toast. The FDIC is toast. The Federal Government of the United States is toast.

The FDIC collects money from the banks in exchange for “insurance.” The only problem is that this “insurance company” does not have ANY RESERVES WHATSOEVER. Sure, they have a very little amount of money left ON PAPER, but none in reality. You see, the FDIC’s money is not placed into a trust fund, it is placed in the general fund and SPENT. In return, the Fed offers the FDIC a ledger entry… an I.O.U. Of course we all know that the Fed is good for it right? Sure, they have the power of taxation and the power of the press.

Of course readers here know that we have reached the limits of both. The FDIC is functionally bankrupt themselves, the only way this music continues to play is on the back of printed money. When the music stops, I hope you have a chair.

Morning Update/ Market Thread 8/14

Good Morning,

Equity futures are flat to down this morning:

Bond futures are up slightly and the dollar is down slightly.

The CPI data for July came in flat from june – 0.0%. However, the year over year figure was -2.1%, the largest decline since 1950 and Econoday doesn’t even mention it:
In July, consumer price inflation eased on lower gasoline prices while the core slowed on a rare dip in shelter costs. The headline CPI was flat in July after surging 0.7 percent the month before. The July pace was below the market forecast for a 0.1 percent rise. Helping to soften the July number was a decline in energy costs which dropped 0.4 percent after a 7.4 percent hike the month before. Meanwhile food price inflation fell 0.3 percent. Core CPI inflation slowed to a 0.1 percent uptick in July after rising 0.2 percent in June. The consensus projection was for a 0.2 percent increase in for the core.

Soft inflation is giving the Fed room to keep its balance sheet expansion high. But the weak CPI is indicative of a sluggish economy. Markets were little changed on the news.

Worst decline in 59 years. This CPI data combined with yesterday’s release of export and import prices (historic drop) shows that we are clearly on the edge of a deflationary spiral. Next week’s PPI number may be confirmatory. If Shepherd’s model confirms a deflationary spiral, it will mean very serious consequences for the stock market.

Let’s face it – this rally is WAY overdone and is counter to the economic data that’s present. The psychology is completely lopsided; we now have “90% of economists believing the recession is over.” That is pretty much all you need to know as that is an almost perfect indication that they are wrong. Again, once everyone is convinced that the market is going higher, then they all have their money in and it cannot go higher because there’s no more money left to push it! The other psychology indicators and breadth indicators have been showing this rally is overdone for quite some time.

I cannot get over yesterday’s reported 19.3% fall in export prices. It is time to be very, very careful if you are long, the end of this rally is getting very near. This type of historic disconnect is simply going to lead to a historic decline, it’s coming. Bernanke was under pressure to end QE and now he has done so publicly (I think he’s still doing it behind the scenes). With prices spiraling down, this will surely end the hot money madness that’s been occurring. This will occur despite the intervention that’s occurring, the intervention can only be successful in a low volume environment. Once a deflationary spiral has begun, all efforts to intervene will fail as the intervention will simply be overwhelmed with selling and deleveraging pressure.

Yesterday’s action produced a bunch of clear air hammers, most noticeably in the XLF. Watch the open, if we get beneath the hammers and stay there it would be quite bearish. This rally is going to come unglued soon, the data can be spun forever, but reality cannot.

This week is also a Fibonacci turn week. Yesterday’s close was a new high in the SPX and thus the turn has not occurred yet. I do think that manipulation is the reason we’re seeing so many patterns and turn dates fail recently. It’s not natural, but again, I simply know that those efforts will not only fail in the long run, but they make the problems worse and will only make the subsequent decline that much larger. Cash for Clunkers, give me a break! BTW, did you see that now Bob Toll is asking for a housing Cash for Clunkers? Distortions on top of distortions, and the greedy, THE TRUE ANTI-AMERICANS are there to rob the people every step of the way. They cause price distortions galore, but note that they are NOT creating price inflation despite their best efforts. All they do is put the consumer into a debt and price stranglehold!

Ted Nugent – Stranglehold:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Morning update/ Market Thread 8/13

Good Morning,

Futures are up slightly before the bell, I’m on my mini machine so producing a decent chart isn’t going to happen this morning. I’ll be back to my office later this morning.

The action in yesterday’s market did not look or feel natural to me at all. Flat futures and then a relentless pump right at the open that left behind gaps as it went? That was not mom and pop, nor was it wholesome and generic institutional buying. Think of it what you will, it seems to me that we have players who are out of control, and I believe the biggest of those to be our own manipulative government. Sad and not the way supposedly free markets are supposed to work.

This morning we learn that retail sales are still falling:
Retail sales in July were unexpectedly down and sharply disappointing. Overall retail sales slipped 0.1 percent in June, following a revised 0.8 percent boost the month before. The July decline came in well below the consensus forecast for a 0.8 percent advance. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales dropped 0.6 percent, following a revised 0.5 percent rise in June. The market had projected a 0.1 percent uptick for the latest month. Weakness was led by gasoline sales which declined 2.1 percent in July, following a 6.3 percent jump the prior month. Excluding motor vehicles and gasoline, retail sales fell 0.4 percent, following a 0.1 percent dip the prior month. Weakness was widespread in the components but there is some speculation that a shift in tax free days for back to school cut into July sales and will boost August numbers. Also, the auto sales numbers were not as strong as indicated by unit sales data and could be price related. Nonetheless, the July data are disappointing.

Outside of gasoline and motor vehicles, sales were generally negative. Declines were notable for building materials & garden equipment, down 2.1 percent, and sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores, down 1.9 percent. Gains were seen in health & personal care stores, up 0.7 percent; clothing, up 0.6 percent; and in food services & drinking places, up 0.4 percent.

Overall retail sales on a year-ago basis in July were down 8.3 percent, slipping further from down 8.9 percent in June. Excluding motor vehicles, the year-on-year rate fell to down 8.5 percent in July from down 7.8 percent the previous month.

The July decline in retail sales will lower economists' forecasts for third quarter GDP and will likely lead some to hedge their claim that the recession is over. A key factor in deciding when the recession ends is business sales-which includes retail sales. But today's numbers are complex when taking into account how auto sales are estimated (small sample of dealers) and that lower prices impacted at least two key components (autos and gasoline). Personal spending in the personal income report will address these issues and should get heightened attention later this month. While the July dip in sales was disappointing, it likely will not be as bad in the personal income report-especially in inflation-adjusted terms.

Always has to be a reason why it’s not as bad as it seems. Whatever Econopray.

Jobless claims rose for the week, “unexpectedly,” of course:
The rate of layoffs is heavy but steady as first-time jobless claims were little changed in the Aug. 8 week, at 558,000 vs. 554,000 in the prior week. The numbers, in a plus, are a little bit below the four-week average, which is at 565,000. Continuing claims fell steeply, down 141,000 for data in the Aug. 1 week to 6.202 million. But the decline is hard to read, reflecting either new hirings and/or the expiration of benefits. The economy may be in recovery or at least is steady but the outlook for the jobs market, and how far it lags, is a serious concern for the economic outlook and for policy makers.

In a VERY significant development, import and export prices fell hard with yoy import prices down a stunning 19.3% in July, an INCREASE from 17.4% in June. Export price declines accelerated from -6.4% to -8.1%. Not good. This is price deflation on a massive scale and is now in the range of deflationary spirals. PPI data comes out next week, that will be important, as trumped up as it is, to confirm that possibility.
Import prices fell 0.7 percent in July reflecting a 2.8 percent month-to-month drop in the price of petroleum imports. But excluding petroleum, import prices are still lower, down 0.2 percent to extend a string of roughly breakeven readings that point to flat non-energy price pressures. But the year-on-year rate for non-petroleum import prices, at minus 7.3 percent, does show how much the recession has hurt pricing power.

Export prices fell 0.3 percent in the month reflecting a 4.9 percent decline in agricultural export prices. Excluding agriculture, export prices firmed 0.2 percent reflecting steady conditions across most components.

Quantitative easing has made for plenty of angst over the outlook for inflation reflected in the high price of gold and increases in commodity prices. Concern over deflation may not be over and this report does show monthly headline declines, but growing strength in many economies, including perhaps this economy, will likely make such concern fade. This report is benign, pointing to little trouble for tomorrow's report on consumer prices and next week's report on producer prices.

That’s all I have this morning, it seems to me that perhaps too many people are expecting this overdone rally to end and so far it hasn’t, with a little help from our “friends.”

Have a Good Day,


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Talib and Roubini…

Talib wisely took the red pill. He is correct, especially in regards to Bernanke. Unfortunately, Roubini, is choking down the blue one.

They both simply need to get out their calculators, add up all the debts and tell me where the money is going to come from. SIMPLE. The actions being taken MAKE THE PROBLEMS WORSE, dramatically so. It would appear that Roubini has gone over to the dark Keynesian side of deficit spending being “necessary” to avoid a depression. No, Nouriel, we will have a depression BECAUSE of all the deficit spending.

I would politely suggest that Roubini spend a little more time with his calculator and a little less time rubbing elbows at lavish parties.

Morning Update/ Market Thread 8/12

Good Morning,

Equity futures fell overnight along with Asian markets (Shenghai down 5%), but then recovered in the morning hours and are now about flat:

The dollar is down slightly and bonds are up slightly.

MBA Purchase Applications rose 1.1%, but the refinance index fell 7.2%...
MBA's purchase index rose 1.1 percent in the Aug. 7 week for the third straight small gain in a row (levels not provided). The refinance index fell 7.2 percent reflecting a 21 basis point jump in the 30-year fixed rate, at 5.38 percent in the week.

The International Trade figures showed a widening trade deficit with a small rise in exports and imports. Here’s Econoday’s report:
The U.S. trade deficit in June expanded moderately but largely due to higher oil prices and a larger oil deficit. But there is good news in the detail for U.S. manufacturers. The overall U.S. trade gap widened to $27.0 billion from a revised $26.0 billion deficit the previous month. The June shortfall was less than the market forecast for a $28.5 billion deficit. Exports advanced 2.0 percent while imports rebounded 2.3 percent.

The widening in the trade shortfall was due to a wider petroleum deficit which expanded to $17.2 billion from $13.3 billion in May. In contrast, the goods excluding petroleum gap shrank significantly to $20.0 billion from $22.6 billion in May.

Behind the boost in the petroleum gap were both higher oil prices and more barrels imported. Crude oil prices jumped to $59.17 per barrel from $51.21 the month before. The number of barrels that were imported in June rebounded 7.1 percent.

So which producers in the U.S. were happiest about the latest trade numbers? By end-use categories, the June advance in exports was led by industrial supplies (up $1.2 billion) and by capital goods ex autos (up $0.4 billion). Also posting gains were foods, feeds & beverages exports. Automotive was in the positive category but essentially was flat. Consumer goods exports edged down marginally.

Outside of oil, the import numbers show weak domestic demand. Imports were almost entirely boosted by the industrial supplies category which jumped $3.9 billion and includes oil imports. The foods, feeds & beverages component and automotive imports rose incrementally. Businesses are not adding to stockroom shelves-at least not from imports. Consumer goods imports dropped a sizeable $1.7 billion and capital goods imports were down but basically flat.

Year-on-year, overall exports slipped to minus 22.2 percent from minus 21.2 percent in May while imports were little changed in June at down 31.1 percent from minus 31.2 percent the previous month.

The best part of today's report was the rebound in exports-which is sweet music to manufacturers' ears. Also, today's trade number will help soften the second quarter decline in GDP. The negative news is that the lower imports indicate weak domestic demand. But overall, equities should like the trade report but company earnings have center stage.

Oh yeah, sweet music… LOL, knuckleheads. Did you note the year over year acceleration in falling exports? Uh huh. THAT would correspond with the recent relapse in the Baltic index which has accelerated sharply downwards since the time of this data.

And look at those charts. Imports down 31.1% and staying there! Exports down 22.2% and accelerating downward? That’s simply an amazing collapse, one that I would expect to rebound as being down yoy 30%+ is not sustainable for long as you would mathematically get close to zero pretty darn quickly. The truth is that number could go all the way back to zero right now and that would mean a year over year leveling off. It hasn’t leveled off on a year over year basis, and the fall off in exports is accelerating, not slowing. Ignore the month to month numbers, they are almost meaningless.

This is one of those numbers where it coming back to neutral is a necessity in the long run but painful in the short run. Our deficits DO MATTER and must be financed. There’s a reason that trade has collapsed and that has proven the keynsian knuckleheads incorrect as anyone with an ounce of common sense would know.

The big news today, of course, will be the FOMC announcement at 2:15 Eastern time. There, we will lean how Bernanke will manipulate the markets going forward… or not. What a game, one that our nation would be a lot better off not playing. Just remember that what Bernanke says and what he does are two different things. The numbers still do not add up for me. I know we now have a lot of smart people looking at auctions but what I’m telling you is that there are false bids from the primary dealers and there are surrogates of the PD’s who are providing false demand for our debt with the Fed’s printed backing. This is a house of cards that is highly likely to come crashing down around Bernake’s head at some point – Ponzi finance ALWAYS eventually does.

I won’t play the analyst game of what he will or should say and how the markets will or should react. That’s losing sight of the big picture. The big picture is that the Fed is manipulating the flow of capital and they are manipulating investor’s expectations. Your government has no right and no business doing so. There’s no doubt that the Fed is under pressure from the Chinese to knock off devaluing their dollar assets, thus I would simply expect the Fed to talk up how they are maintaining their BS strong dollar policy, but behind the scenes they will be covertly destroying it. If they do truly stop the nonsense then the dollar would instantly gain tremendously. Risky trade in here due to their manipulation that’s not worth the risk to anyone’s capital in my opinion.

Here's a chart showing China's purchases late last year into early this year. Remember that capital flow data is not released in a timely fashion. This chart was not made by me, the original source is unknown, but I'll confirm that the TIC data supports the trend (I'll find the source if I can and will post it in the comments below):

I’ll make a brief comment about their comments afterwards.

Here’s a chart of the SPX and the rising wedge. Note that we threw over, met heavy resistance and are now back inside. It’s going to be interesting going forward from here.

The 60 minute stochastic is oversold, and thus a bounce is possible, but the 10 minute is overbought, so there may be some back and forth. Can’t you feel the crescendo? Pretty soon there’s going to be an eruption!

Eddie Van Halen - Eruption

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bob Prechter - "Quite Sure" Next Wave Down Will Be Bigger and March Lows Will Break

Pretcher (Elliott Wave International) has made both bad calls and good ones, his latest being a great one. All I’ll say is that once you view this video YOU’VE BEEN WARNED (ht Point):

Bob Prechter "Quite Sure" Next Wave Down Will Be Bigger and March Lows Will Break

In late February, Robert Prechter of Elliott Wave International said "cover your shorts," and predicted a sharp rally that would take the S&P into the 1000 to 1100 range.

With that prediction having come to pass, Prechter is now saying investors should "step aside" from long positions, and speculators should "start looking at the short side."

"The big question is whether the rally is over," Prechter says, suggesting "countertrend moves can be tricky" to predict. But the veteran market watcher is "quite sure the next wave down is going to be larger than what we've already experienced," and take major averages well below their March 2009 lows.

Yes, the late 2007-early 2009 market debacle was just a warm-up to what Prechter believes will be the bear market's main attraction. In this regard, he says the current cycle will echo past post-bubble periods such as America in the 1930s and England in the 1720s, after the bursting of the South Sea bubble.

The 2000 market peak market a "major trend change" for the market from a very long-term cycle perspective, and the downside is going to continue to be painful well into the next decade, Prechter says. "The extreme overvaluation, the manic buying and bubbles in the late 1990s [and] mid-2000s are for the history books - they're very large," he says.
"The bear market is going to have balance that out with some sort of significant retrenchment."

A Threat to Small Banks? No, Really?

While the Congressional Oversight Panel is seeing problems (finally) with small banks, they are still ignoring the gigantic problems at the large banks. All these balance sheet problems are going to fester until BOTH the DEBT and DERIVATIVES are cleared out of balance sheets. BOTH the BIG and SMALL banks that are infested will not survive such a cleaning. THAT’s the problem, only no one wants to acknowledge, much less handle, the truth.

The ostrich with his head buried in the sand will not be able to stop a freight train barreling down upon him (ht David)…

Overseers warn: Losses could pose threat to small banks

Congressional Oversight Panel says small banks may need to raise $21 billion

By Ronald D. Orol, MarketWatch

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The largest U.S. financial institutions are better able to handle a worst-case scenario for potential losses in their whole-loan portfolios than smaller public banks, which could face serious trouble, according to a report released by a bank-bailout oversight panel Tuesday.

According to a report from the Congressional Oversight Panel, which is charged with overseeing the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, the 18 largest financial institutions with over $600 million in assets would "be able to deal with" whole-loan portfolio losses projected in an analysis the group completed.

However, the report's analysis of troubled whole loans -- based on a model developed by SNL Financial -- suggests they pose a threat to smaller public banks, those with $600 million to $100 billion in assets. The report also takes issue with the Treasury department's decision to delay indefinitely a program to buy toxic whole loans from banks.

Whole loans refer to individual residential or commercial mortgages, as opposed to packaged mortgage securities, which have received much of the attention during the financial crisis.

"We are trying to highlight the issue of smaller banks because we believe it has been ignored and until toxic whole loans are taken off their books, we won't see them lending again in the way we need them to," said COP chairwoman Elizabeth Warren. "The reason it is so important to think about smaller financial institutions is because they do disproportionately more of the lending to small businesses."

According to the report, smaller banks in the $600 million to $100 billion group will need to raise significantly more capital based on pessimistic assumptions the COP considered, as the estimated losses will outstrip the projected revenue and reserves.

"The capital shortfall for those relatively smaller banks is primarily due to the lack of reserves, which on average account for only 25% of the expected loan losses."

The report said that, based on a less pessimistic scenario, smaller public banks would need to raise between $12 billion to $14 billion in capital to offset their losses. However, it added that based on a more stressful scenario, these institutions would need to raise $21 billion in capital to offset their losses.

The model employed assumptions that were 20% more negative than stress-test assumptions employed by the Federal Reserve Board in an analysis it made earlier this year to examine how large financial institutions would handle a potential downturn in the economy.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the lone Republican member sitting on the COP, said he dissented on the August report, arguing that it employed assumptions that are excessively pessimistic. This was particularly so, he said, when it came to a model it employed examining the capitalization of smaller banks.

"As with any econometric model, input assumptions drive the output results and it is far from clear that future economic conditions will be 20% more negative than the 'more adverse' standard adopted by the Fed for the stress-tests," said Hensarling, R-Texas.

The panel took issue with a Public Private Investment Partnership program being rolled by the Treasury Department. The PPIP program is preparing to buy toxic mortgage securities from financial institutions, but the Treasury has delayed indefinitely a program to buy whole loans from financial institutions. COP's Warren said she knows of "no plans" at Treasury to employ the program to buy toxic whole loans.

Dissenting view

Hensarling added that he is worried that the report's effort to value toxic assets will "jumpstart" the price discovery process for the securities "without understanding the costly consequences."

Hensarling argued that the policy recommendations in the report are outside the scope of the panel's authority, contending that members should focus their endeavors in other areas

“…outside the scope of…”

Heck, he might as well just say that you can’t and don’t want to deal with any REAL problem. Instead we will have “stress-tests” and pressure and extort the FASB into allowing mark to fantasy accounting.

What a joke this episode has become. Congress has no power and can't even see what the Treasury and Fed are doing any better than I can follow the money (or lack thereof) behind the unemployment trust fund.

Here's reality. Politics and central bankers in the current version of America are nothing but a sad and sick joke.
South Florida a hot spot for 'underwater' borrowers

Almost half of single-family mortgage holders owe more than houses are worth

Nearly half of the single-family mortgage holders in South Florida owe more than their houses are worth, a worrisome reminder of the region's 3 1/2-year housing slump.

In Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, 47 percent of the 837,177 single-family home mortgages are "underwater," according to a second-quarter report released today by, a real estate company that compiles data from public property records.

That's up from 44 percent in the first quarter of 2009. Zillow did not release a percentage for the second quarter of last year.

Nationwide, 23 percent of single-family homeowners with a mortgage had so-called negative equity during April, May and June. Many borrowers who owe more than the houses are worth put little or no money down and paid near-record prices in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

"As a homeowner, how do you deal with that?" said Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, an industry newsletter. "It can burn you up. For a lot of people, there's no way out any time soon."

How do you deal with it? I guess you just close your eyes and “hope.” Don’t worry, the central bankers will be right there to help.

Van Halen – You Really Got Me Now:

MIKE WHITNEY – “It's a Planned Demolition”

This is probably the best article I’ve read in a while. Way to go, Mike.

It’s lengthy, but is easy to understand and spells out exactly what is going on. I suggest everyone pass this along, it’s worth it.

There is No Recession - It's a Planned Demolition


Credit is not flowing. In fact, credit is contracting. When credit contracts in a consumer-driven economy, bad things happen. Business investment drops, unemployment soars, earnings plunge, and GDP shrinks. The Fed has spent more than a trillion dollars trying to get consumers to start borrowing again, but without success. The country's credit engines are slowing to a crawl.

Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has increased excess reserves in the banking system by $800 billion, but lending is still slow. The banks are hoarding capital in order to deal with the losses from toxic assets, non performing loans, and a $3.5 trillion commercial real estate bubble that's following housing into the toilet. That's why the rate of bank failures is accelerating. 2010 will be even worse; the list is growing. It's a bloodbath.

The standards for conventional loans have gotten tougher while the pool of qualified credit-worthy borrowers has shrunk. That means less credit flowing into the system. The shadow banking system has been hobbled by the freeze in securitization and only provides a trifling portion of the credit needed to grow the economy. Bernanke's initiatives haven't made a bit of difference. Credit continues to shrivel.

The S&P 500 is up 50 percent from its March lows. The financials, retail, materials and industrials are leading the pack. It's a "Green Shoots" bear market rally fueled by the Fed's Quantitative Easing (QE) which is forcing liquidity into the financial system and lifting equities. The same thing happened during the Great Depression. Stocks surged after 1929. Then the prevailing trend took hold and dragged the Dow down 89 per cent from its earlier highs. The S&P's March lows will be tested before the recession is over. Systemwide deleveraging is ongoing. The economy is resetting at a lower rate of activity.

No one is fooled by the fireworks on Wall Street. Consumer confidence is still falling. Everyone knows things are bad. Everyone knows the mainstream press is lying. The restaurants and malls are empty, the homeless shelters are bulging, and even the big-box stores have stopped hiring. The only "green shoots" are on Wall Street where everyone gets a handout from Uncle Sugar.

Bernanke has pulled out all the stops. He's lowered interest rates to zero, backstopped the entire financial system with $13 trillion, propped up insolvent financial institutions and monetized $1 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and US sovereign debt. Nothing has worked. Wages are falling, banks are cutting lines of credit, retirement savings have been slashed in half, and home equity losses continue to mount. Living standards can no longer be bandaged together with VISA or Diners Club cards. Household spending has to fit within one's salary. That's why retail, travel, home improvement, luxury items and hotels are all down double-digits. The money has dried up.

According to Bloomberg:

"Borrowing by U.S. consumers dropped in June for the fifth straight month as the unemployment rate rose, getting loans remained difficult and households put off major purchases. Consumer credit fell $10.3 billion, or 4.92 percent at an annual rate, to $2.5 trillion, according to a Federal Reserve report released today in Washington. Credit dropped by $5.38 billion in May, more than previously estimated. The series of declines is the longest since 1991.

“A jobless rate near the highest in 26 years, stagnant wages and falling home values mean consumer spending... will take time to recover even as the recession eases. Incomes fell the most in four years in June as one-time transfer payments from the Obama administration’s stimulus plan dried up, and unemployment is forecast to exceed 10 percent next year before retreating."
What a mess. The Fed has assumed near-dictatorial powers to fight a monster of its own making, and achieved nothing. The real economy is still dead in the water. Bernanke is not getting any traction from his zero-percent interest rates. His monetization program (QE) is just scaring off foreign creditors. On Friday, Marketwatch reported:
"The Federal Reserve will probably allow its $300 billion Treasury-buying program to end over the next six weeks as signs of a housing recovery prompt the central bank to unwind one its most aggressive and unusual interventions into financial markets, big bond dealers say."
Right. Does anyone believe the housing market is recovering? In the first 6 months of 2009, there have already been 1.9 million foreclosures.

The Fed is abandoning the printing presses (presumably) because China told Geithner to stop printing money or they'd sell their US Treasuries. It's a wake-up call to Bernanke that the power is shifting from Washington to Beijing.

That puts Bernanke in a pickle. If he stops printing; interest rates will skyrocket, stocks will crash and housing prices will tumble. But if he continues, China will dump their Treasurys and there will be a run on the dollar. What to do? Either way, the malaise in the credit markets will persist and personal consumption will continue to sputter.

The basic problem is that consumers are buried beneath a mountain of debt and have no choice except to curtail their spending and begin to save. Currently, the the ratio of debt to personal disposable income, is 128 per cent, just a tad below its all-time high of 133 per cent in 2007. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco's "Economic Letter: US Household Deleveraging and Future Consumption Growth":
"The combination of higher debt and lower saving enabled personal consumption expenditures to grow faster than disposable income, providing a significant boost to U.S. economic growth over the period. In the long run, however, consumption cannot grow faster than income because there is an upper limit to how much debt households can service, based on their incomes. For many U.S. households, current debt levels appear too high, as evidenced by the sharp rise in delinquencies and foreclosures in recent years. To achieve a sustainable level of debt relative to income, households may need to undergo a prolonged period of deleveraging, whereby debt is reduced and saving is increased.

“Going forward, it seems probable that many U.S. households will reduce their debt. If accomplished through increased saving, the deleveraging process could result in a substantial and prolonged slowdown in consumer spending relative to pre-recession growth rates." ("U.S. Household Deleveraging and Future Consumption Growth, by Reuven Glick and Kevin J. Lansing, FRBSF Economic Letter")
A careful reading of the FRBSF's Economic Letter shows why the economy will not bounce back. It's mathematically impossible. We've reached peak credit; consumers have to deleverage and patch their balance sheets. Household wealth has slipped $14 trillion since the crisis began. Home equity has dropped to 41 per cent (a new low) and joblessness is on the rise. By 2011, Deutsche Bank AG predicts that 48 per cent of all homeowners with a mortgage will be underwater. As the equity position of home owners deteriorates, banks will further tighten credit and foreclosures will mushroom.

The executive board of the IMF does not share Wall Street's rosy view of the future, which is why it issued a memo that stated:
"Directors observed that the crisis will have important implications for the role of the United States in the global economy. The U.S. consumer is unlikely to play the role of global “buyer of last resort”— other regions will need to play an increased role in supporting global growth."
The United States will not be the emerge as the center of global demand following the recession. Those days are over. The world is changing and the US role is getting smaller. As US markets become less attractive to foreign exporters, the dollar will lose its position as the world's reserve currency. As goes the dollar, so goes the empire. Want some advice: Learn Mandarin.

Sagging Employment: A "recoveryless" recovery

July's employment numbers came in better than expected (negative 247,000) lowering total unemployment from 9.5 per cent to 9.4 per cent. That's good. Things are getting worse at a slower pace. But what's striking about the BLS report is that there's no jobs surge in any sector of the economy. No signs of life. Outsourcing and offshoring are ongoing, and downsizing the path to profitability. That's why revenues are down while profits are up. Businesses everywhere are anticipating weaker demand. The jobs report is a one-off event; a lull in the storm before the layoffs resume.

Unemployment is rising, wages are falling and credit is contracting. All the money is flowing upwards to the gangsters at the top. Here's an excerpt from a recent Don Monkerud article that sums it all up:
"During eight years of the Bush Administration, the 400 richest Americans, who now own more than the bottom 150 million Americans, increased their net worth by $700 billion. In 2005, the top one per cent claimed 22 per cent of the national income, while the top ten per cent took half of the total income, the largest share since 1928.

“Over 40 per cent of GNP comes from Fortune 500 companies. According to the World Institute for Development Economics Research, the 500 largest conglomerates in the U.S. "control over two-thirds of the business resources, employ two-thirds of the industrial workers, account for 60 per cent of the sales, and collect over 70 per cent of the profits."
... In 1955, IRS records indicated the 400 richest people in the country were worth an average $12.6 million, adjusted for inflation. In 2006, the 400 richest increased their average to $263 million, representing an epochal shift of wealth upward in the U.S." ("Wealth Inequality destroys US Ideals" Don Monkerud,

Working people are not being crushed by accident, but according to plan. It is the way the system is designed to work. Bernanke knows that sustained demand requires higher wages and a vital middle class. But Bernanke works for the banks, which is why the Fed's monetary policies reflect the goals of the investor class. Bubblenomics is not the way to a strong/sustainable economy, but it is an effective tool for shifting wealth from one class to another. The Fed's job is to facilitate that objective, which is why the economy is headed for the rocks.

The financial meltdown is the logical outcome of the Fed's monetary policies. That's why it's a mistake to call the current slump a "recession". It's not. It's a planned demolition.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at

Chart and Data Potpourri - Temporarily Exiting the Twilight Zone...

Perusing all my usual destinations, I run across a mix of articles – here’s a short take on what’s caught my eye… Not to worry if you live in the Twilight Zone, this temporary glimpse of reality will do no long term damage, you will be free to return to whichever mixed metaphor reality you choose... Take the RED pill!

Of course every bear wants to know when this GS orchestrated trumped up rally will finally end…

When will Now be Then?

Let’s begin with China. Exports CRASHING, down 23% year over year in July. YET, Industrial Production rocketing up 10.8%. Oh yeah, that’s a picture of pure health. Their market is clearly re-entering bubble fantasy land yet I see market callers, some of who I almost began to respect, pumping, pumping, pumping returns in China and Brazil. That is a story that will not end well for those buying in now – what a disconnect from reality.

And then there's Russia... Russia GDP Shrank 10.9% Last Quarter as Slump Deepens . Gee, where are their central bankers to pressure their government to massage their numbers? It's hard to live in the Twilight Zone with numbers like that.

Confirming the crashing exports, the Baltic Dry Index which reached bubble heights, CRASHED, then rallied, and is now CRASHING again, losing 20% of its value in just 5 days.

Here’s a chart showing the past 3 years of the BDI with the SPX in black behind it.

Here’s the BDI versus the SPX over the past 9 months showing the current DIVERGENCE between the BDI and the SPX:

The rebound in the BDI was quite the reflexive bounce. The numbers sound big as it rallied in the giant percentage category. But really – look at it. It was clearly a bubble… the bubble popped… there was a reflexive bounce… and then reality sets in again. Look for this show coming soon to an equity near you!

And Sentiment trader posted a chart showing NYSE up issues the highest they’ve been since 1991. As the caption reads, “Redefining what OVERBOUGHT means.”

Econompic Data produced a chart showing Federal Receipts versus Federal Outlays. SIMPLE. THIS IS THE REAL DEAL FOLKS!!! FOOT STOMP!!! For those WHO DO NOT GET IT, please, PLEASE study this chart REAL HARD. Think about it. Think about the math. Think about the debt. Let me know when the light bulb comes on - perhaps people will see a sign.

How about the fact their credit has been yanked?

Doug Short ( who produces the “Four Bad Bears” chart as seen below…

...Produced a new chart he’s calling “The Road to Recovery?” What he did was simply align the reflexive bottoms of the four bad bears. Interesting for sure:

Did all the stimulus simply make us take longer to get to the same point as during the Great Depression? I think so, but let’s see how it tracks over time. My take is that all the stimulus, debt hiding, number massaging, manipulation, lies and deceit will make the inevitable fall that much worse. Sure, call me a pessimist – I call it reality, would you like to come in?

Doug also produced this chart showing the DOW rally in ‘29/’30 compared to the current rally:

And this chart that he produced shows what Doug calls the REAL four bad bears. Here all the indices are adjusted to “real” dollars and the chart begins in the year 2,000 for the S&P 500. This chart is actually somewhat bullish in that it bolsters the case that we made a giant ABC correction from the 2,000 top. For a myriad of reasons, that is not what I believe to be the case and not the way McHugh counts it either.

And the most bullish chart I have seen also comes from Doug. Here he aligned the S&P with unemployment and noted the peak turns in unemployment correspond with a lag to the turn in equities. This is what has the bulls deluded. The question you have to ask yourself, of course, is did unemployment really peak? Of course for that to happen, the real economy must be producing jobs. Is that happening for REAL? I say no, sorry. The numbers are massaged beyond belief, real hiring has not begun, and that’s all part of the Economic Mass Psychosis brought to you by the central banks who control both your government and the media.

Oh, I know what you bulls are thinking… which is the dream and which is reality?

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming…

Morning Update/ Market Thread 8/11

Good Morning,

Futures are down this morning, here’s the overnight action:

The dollar is flat, bonds are up.

Goldman’s ICSC store sales were unchanged on a week to week basis and they claim they are UP .4% yoy after being down .7% last week. WORTHLESS DATA. I am going to stop reporting this data as it’s just so disconnected from reality as to be laughable. Sales up year over year? Nice try.

Now, for some more out-of-whack and not very believable data, Productivity and Labor Costs were released this morning for the second quarter of ’09. I believe this data is VERY skewed due to the sharp decline in workers and that has produced some unbelievable numbers… like Productivity that rose 6.4% in the quarter. Believable? Well, it’s possible that fewer workers were able to get previously produced or partially produced inventory through the pipeline, but it doesn’t sound sustainable to me. That or the numbers are being manipulated so much in terms of output/ PRODUCTION (THAT’S GDP), that this number was just skewed. Again, this number does NOT pass Nate’s common sense test.

Meanwhile they report that Labor Costs fell by a whopping 5.8% in Q2. Now that’s more believable and would line up with layoffs. This, once again, is data that does not paint a picture of inflation, it is deflation when labor costs fall or crash – and 5.8%, if close to reality at all, is very close to the type of number you would see during a deflationary spiral.

Here’s Econoday’s take with chart:
Productivity and labor costs in the second quarter showed sharp improvement in the second quarter-suggesting a favorable profits picture for many companies despite the recession. Second quarter productivity posted a sharp gain of 6.4 percent annualized, following a revised 0.3 percent rise in the first quarter. The second quarter boost came in above the consensus forecast for a 5.5 percent increase. Although layoffs are hurting the consumer sector, businesses are seeing their costs improve. Unit labor costs fell an annualized 5.8 percent after dropping a revised 2.7 percent in the first quarter. The market had expected a 2.8 percent decline for the latest quarter.

The jump in productivity and drop in unit labor costs were due to hours worked falling much faster than output. Hours worked plunged an annualized 7.6 percent while output edged down 1.7 percent.

Year-on-year, productivity rose 1.8 percent in the second quarter, following a 1.0 percent gain the previous quarter. Year-ago unit labor costs slipped to down 0.6 percent from up 0.5 percent for the first quarter.

It is typical during recession that productivity rise and unit labor costs dip as companies cut their labor force. And if the mix is right, profits go up-as is likely the case for many corporations. For others, losses simply are not as severe. But equities should like today's numbers as productivity was stronger than expected while costs declined more than forecast.

Bull. These numbers are frightening. They are NOT healthy and will NOT lead to higher profits overall.

The tax and spend, create money from thin air, never ending stimulus, thank god for government, crowd does not get what is happening. The bubbles ARE THEIR DOING, as are the subsequent crashes, as are the other events that tend to follow times of economic upheaval. They don’t understand that if you outsource all your productivity, then you will all be left to perform services on one another and there will be no productivity and no capital generation here at home, it will all happen overseas.

So, this is all a part of the great leveling of the playing field across the world. American's wages and their lifestyles are going to fall while those of the people in China, India, Brazil, and other overseas locations are going to rise. This is a good thing if you are a Central Banker – more credit to be created around the world. Of course if you are an auto or other real worker in the United Stasis, well, welcome to the unemployment line. Remember old Ross Perot’s famous and prophetic line?

“That sucking sound you’ll hear is American jobs going overseas…”

John Mellencamp - Rain On The Scarecrow:

Yesterday’s decline was weak and on low volume. The 30 minute stochastic is now oversold, the 10 is overbought and the 60 is close to oversold. McHugh is expecting one more wave up prior to rolling over for a top of 1 up of c up of B up. I’m neutral and just watching, waiting for a queue.

The 1,000 area of the SPX has been providing support. A break back beneath would be bearish if prices got beneath and stayed there, bullish if they stay above in the short term. Everywhere I read people are now so conditioned to this buy the dips manipulated fluff money rally that I have to believe a lasting top is getting near. We’ll see.

Have a good day,