That’s it! I’ve had it! Enough!
Let’s dispense with the absurd, ludicrous, vacuous debate about “imminent” Fed tightening. The financial airwaves and print are full of this idiotic expectation that the Fed will reduce liquidity soon. Allow me to be clear: THE FED WILL NOT REDUCE LIQUIDITY AT THIS TIME.
The Fed cannot reduce liquidity because the economic environment is tenuous at best and tragic at worst. If you don’t want to take my word for this assessment, reading the FOMC minutes from December would be a good start to your education. You will note that the private session comments from the Fed do not correlate with the public Fed statements made during the same period. Perhaps this misdirection by the Fed is the cause of all the financial media drivel about possible Fed tightening. Whatever the case, I’ve listed four stories below that should, along with the FOMC’s own emissions, put to rest the useless notion of Fed tightening.
Stock Market Investing: Expect Q4 earnings, released over the next few weeks, to be lackluster (Alcoa’s announcement today is the first example of disappointment). Subdued EPS results along with continued employment, consumer credit and real estate woes will succeed in limiting the Fed’s ability to change policy. This sad realization will send the US$ lower, commodity prices higher and perhaps extend the equity market rally for a bit longer.
Maintain a close watch on the Treasury market. The recent selloff in bonds/increase in rates has been problematic as mortgage rates have climbed. It would be in the best interest of government for a little volatility and weakness to hit the equity markets and drive the fear trade into treasuries effectively bringing down rates.
Miller Tabak on Payroll Figures:
Beyond Friday’s lackluster headline payroll figures, the “real” unemployment rate (or U6) rose to 17.3% and the average hourly work week remained near record lows at 33.2. In addition, the average duration of unemployment rose to 29.1 weeks as the ranks of the long-term (or “permanently”) unemployed continue to swell. Furthermore, the household survey showed a decline of 589,000 employed persons to the lowest level since 2003, according to Miller Tabak.
In sum, fewer people are working, more Americans are dropping out of the labor pool and those who are working are working fewer hours: Average hourly earnings up just 2.2% vs. a year ago in December, lowest rate since 2004 and vs. an average gain of 3.3% over the prior decade, according to Miller Tabak.
“Net-net, we are not in your typical WWII recovery and major headwinds still remain,” writes Miller Tabak equity strategist Peter Boockvar.
Consumer Credit in U.S. Drops Record $17.5 Billion
By Vincent Del Giudice
Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) — Consumer credit in the U.S. dropped a record $17.5 billion in November as unemployment close to a 26- year high discouraged borrowing and banks limited access to loans.
A labor market that’s shed 7.2 million jobs since the recession started in December 2007 is restraining consumer spending that accounts for about 70 percent of the economy. Fed policy makers have said tighter bank lending standards and reductions in credit lines are hampering the recovery.
“Double-digit unemployment is eroding consumer confidence and the uncertainty is prompting consumers to pay down their credit card debts,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York. “We have not seen such a wholesale reduction in consumer credit since the last time we had double-digit unemployment rate following the early ‘80s recessions.” READ MORE…
America slides deeper into depression as Wall Street revels: December was the worst month for US unemployment since the Great Recession began. By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
…The Fed’s own Monetary Multiplier crashed to an all-time low of 0.809 in mid-December. Commercial paper has shrunk by $280bn ($175bn) in since October. Bank credit has been racing down a hair-raising black run since June. It has dropped from $10.844 trillion to $9.013 trillion since November 25. The MZM money supply is contracting at a 3pc annual rate. Broad M3 money is contracting at over 5pc….
… This has not stopped an army of commentators is trying to bounce the Fed into early rate rises. They accuse Ben Bernanke of repeating the error of 2004 when the Fed waited too long. Sometimes you just want to scream. In 2004 there was no housing collapse, unemployment was 5.5pc, banks were in rude good health, and the Fed Multiplier was 1.73. READ MORE…
Delinquency rate rises for mortgages – WSJ
WSJ reports more than 6% of commercial-mortgage borrowers in the U.S. have fallen behind in their payments, a sign of potential troubles ahead as nearly $40 billion of commercial-mortgage-backed bonds come due this year. The percentage of loans 30 days or more delinquent rose to 6.07% in December from 5.65% a month earlier, according to data provider Trepp. That is the highest delinquency rate since the advent of commercial-mortgage-backed securities.
By year end, delinquency rates on loans for hotels, shopping malls and other commercial properties could rise to between 9% and 14%, according to Jefferies analysts, as high unemployment levels and a depressed housing market inhibit consumer spending. As retailers, hoteliers, restaurateurs and other businesses find it difficult to keep up with their rent payments or to meet rent increases written into their leases, their landlords will find it just as hard to keep up with their mortgages. “As cash flow declines materialize … loans that are current will face pressure,” said Aaron Bryson, an analyst with Barclays Capital.
Follow up on our China post…
China overtakes US as world’s largest auto market – AFP
AFP reports China’s auto sales surged past those in the United States in 2009 to make the Asian nation the world’s biggest car market, industry data showed, but analysts warned sales would slow this year. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said more than 13.64 million units were sold last year, marking an increase of 46.15% from the 9.4 million units sold in 2008, Xinhua news agency reported. Auto output for 2009 increased 48.3% to 13.79 million units, Xinhua said. Calls to CAAM to confirm the figures went unanswered… Analysts welcomed the news, but warned that China car sales could hit the brakes this year. “We are still optimistic about the outlook for this year but it will be quite difficult to achieve the growth rates of 2009,” John Zeng, a Shanghai-based analyst at IHS Global Insight, told AFP. “This year will see a high single-digits growth rate of nine to 10 percent.”
Rosenthal Capital Management runs the Fortune’s Favorite Family of Funds, including Fortune’s Favor I, Fortune’s Favor Precious Metals and Fortune’s Favor Offshore. For more information visit www.rosenthalcapital.com