Showing posts with label labor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label labor. Show all posts

Sunday, June 7, 2020

WEEKEND WRAP: Did The BLS Cook The Books On May's Jobs Report?; Despite Stock Euphoria, The Crisis Will Continue

The week was one of consistency on the major indices, with stocks closing higher every day except Thursday, though, of the big four, the Dow was higher every day of the week, culminating in Friday's blow-off rally following the release of May non-farm payroll data from the BLS.

There was a considerable amount of speculation regarding the veracity of the BLS figures, which showed a net gain in May of 2.5 million jobs, the unemployment rate falling to 13.3%, according to the official release.

Most of the nation at least partially shut down during the month, the data provided by the BLS, while good enough for Wall Street's stock enthusiasts, has to be considered at least partially flawed, given that continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose sharply in the most recent week, hitting nearly 21.5 million.

Given that the April non-farm payroll report was a blockbuster all-time record at -20,537,000, revised higher, to -20,687,000, adding in the +2,509,000 would yield 18,178,000 still unemployed at the end of May, a number that does not jibe with the 21,487,000 continuing unemployment claims reported by the US Labor Department.

Also taken into consideration for the discrepancies between the two reports are the differences in reporting schedules and the Labor Department's estimate of more than 42 million initial claims filed over the past 10 weeks. Simply put, a lot of people went back to work in May, but there are still somewhere between 18 and 25 million unemployed. By claiming a record job creation number in its May data, the BLS has likely overstated the case for people returning to work after a brief hiatus due to the lockdowns caused by extreme measures taken to combat COVID-19.

A jump of 2.5 million jobs for the month has to be taken somewhat tongue-in-cheek since these are not new jobs whatsoever. The economy didn't produce 2.5 million new jobs. A better explanation would be that during the month, more people went back to work than were laid off or fired, by about 2.5 million.

Therefore, while the BLS can be accused of massaging their data to produce a positive headline, their methodology and timing remain - as has been the case for a very long time - somewhat suspect. There's still a massive unemployment problem which was manifest by the enormous numbers of protesters that appeared in cities nationwide over the course of the week. Many of these mostly young people were out on the streets during daylight and into the evenings. It would be logical to conclude that the vast majority of them were not holding down full-time jobs.

The protests underscore two things, neither of which have anything remotely to do with the death of George Floyd or police brutality. First, the protests are more about income inequality than anything else. These young people from Generation Z and the last remnants of the Millennials are becoming more and more impatient with the structure of the economy, even though most of them don't recognize that as the overriding factor of their movement.

While the chants of "Black Lives Matter" and "No Justice, No Peace" make for sensationally simple-minded soundbites on the mainstream media's morning and nightly news broadcasts, the root of the frustration is an economy which provides fewer jobs than are needed for fewer hours per week, at low rates of pay while the purchasing power of the dollar continues to decline, especially in some very important areas, those being primarily, housing, education, and health care.

When economists decry that large government deficits will be bourn on the backs of future generations, what we are seeing today is the truth of that dictum as the youthful protesters on the street are the generation now paying for the deficits rung up from the 1970s and '80s. It's a continuing, systemic problem that isn't about to go away. People trying to enter the workforce and engage in meaningful careers are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet. Income has net kept pace with inflation over the past 40-50 years, dating back to when then-President Nixon took the country off permanently off the gold standard in August of 1971.

There are certainly many young people doing fine in their careers. Those with masters degrees or doctorates or well-honed skills make very good money, but at a considerable price. Their cost of eduction can be measured in their student loan debt. Since housing costs have risen to extreme levels with only a slight blip in 2008-09, the affordability of just plain living quarters tests their resolve. Those wishing to start families (a declining number) see health care costs spiraling out of control. And those are the lucky ones with good jobs and dual incomes.

The rest of their generation struggles with all of that at lower pay and onerous debt. Many Millennials and Generation Z youths live four and five to a single home or apartment. Most cannot save anything, much less even dream of owning their own homes. Pity those who have medical conditions. Most cannot afford $300-$600 a month premiums with $5-8,000 deductibles, so they go without. To a lesser degree, the same conditions affect the backend of the Baby Boomers and early Millennials who have lived their lives on the fringes of society.

It's a condition of perpetual decline when roughly half of adult Americans do not have any savings whatsoever, the result of massive, uncontrolled government deficits, fait currency backed by nothing, printed to the hilt causing the purchasing power of the almighty dollar to slide into obscurity. It's not going away. In fact, with the Federal Reserve now in the process of either buying up or backing every stock or bond issued, hoisting their balance sheet by more than three trillion dollars in just the past three months, the US economy has become one of very few haves and very many have-nots, manifesting itself as runaway inflation. Not confined to just the United States, the rest of the world is revolted and revolting. Under current fiscal and monetary policy, the entire planet is rapidly turning into an oversized Venezuela.

Dissatisfaction with the political process is the second tenet of the protesters root causes, dovetailing income inequality and unaffordable living conditions. Federal, state, and local governments are ill-equipped to handle even ordinary stresses. Now that unemployment is on the rise and inflation is taking hold, government resources are stretched beyond their means. When people needed food during the recent lockdowns, government made little effort to step in. Food banks, charities and private citizens stepped up to fill the void. Government is increasingly being viewed with a jaded eye, neither responsive to people's needs nor able to fulfill basic obligations. People are simply tired of paying taxes and getting little to nothing in return. Individual income tax revenues are falling off a cliff while government debt continues to rise at an accelerating pace. Nothing about the current social and political condition is sustainable over anything but the short term, which is why we are seeing one crisis after another, bailout after bailout, emergencies arising on a regular schedule.

The United States and the rest of the world cannot buy or borrow their way out of this situation with policies that only increase debt and the burden to society. President Trump and Wall Street can go giddy over the most recent jobs data, but the underlying problems continue to mount and they're not going away. For all the media hype and government high-fiving in the short term, there's a larger price to be paid down the road. After years of can-kicking of core fiscal and monetary issues, the road is coming to an end. Most people, politicians, and financial planners don't have sufficient knowledge or vision to see where this all leads, preference being given to the present.

The NASDAQ is less than one half of one percent away from breaking to a new all-time high (9838.37).

The S&P 500 is about six percent away from a record close (3393.52).

Stocks are likely to continue climbing to record highs, but a period of stagnation lies just ahead. The bear market which was cut short by the Fed's money-pumping mechanisms and the government's emergency spending bills was the shortest on record, lasting a mere five weeks. Another bear market will be coming, as this one was papered over with currency that has only declining value. Oil prices are back up and by Friday, interest rates on treasuries had exploded. The 10-year note yielded 0.66% on Monday. By Friday, they were at 0.91%. The 30-year yield went from 1.46% to 1.68% over the course of the week. Shorter-dated maturities remained low, steepening the curve.

The final question for economists is this: How can high unemployment and tighter currency (higher rates) co-exist. The answer is very simple. They can't. With business unwilling or unable to expand, few will be hiring. Unemployment will remain elevated until there's a clearing or restructure of debt and businesses see a rosier future.

The Federal Reserve and the federal government has a very big problem on their hands. The pandemic and street uprisings were just the opening chapters of a very long story.

Gold and silver saw gains early in the week, only to be hammered lower on the paper markets.

The latest prices on ebay for one troy once items (shipping - often free - included):
Item: Low / High / Average / Median
1 oz silver coin: 24.95 / 42.50 / 28.47 / 27.75
1 oz silver bar: 24.99 / 45.00 / 29.09 / 27.90
1 oz gold coin: 1,780.00 / 1,882.00 / 1,823.11 / 1,823.69
1 oz gold bar: 1,755.95 / 1,826.92 / 1,792.96 / 1,794.40

Premiums for silver are, on average, ten dollars or more over spot. Gold premiums are $80-100 over spot.

Greg Mannarino expounds upon the jobs number being cooked, market response and his positioning:

At the Close, Friday, June 5, 2020:
Dow: 27,110.98, +829.16 (+3.15%)
NASDAQ: 9,814.08, +198.27 (+2.06%)
S&P 500: 3,193.93, +81.58 (+2.62%)
NYSE: 12,641.44, +354.46 (+2.88%)

For the Week:
Dow: +1727.87 (+6.81%)
NASDAQ: +324.21 (+3.42%)
S&P 500: +149.62 (+4.91%)
NYSE: +838.49 (+7.10%)

Friday, December 13, 2019

Britons Vote In Conservatives As Boris Johnson Rides Populist Landslide To Majority

"We broke the deadlock, we've ended the gridlock, we've smashed the roadblock - we did it!"

Those were the words Britain's Boris Johnson used to describe his his Tory party victory in Thursday's UK general election, as the conservative party was swept into power with a commanding majority in the House of Commons, crushing the liberal Labor party and others.

Johnson's resounding message during the campaign was to "get Brexit done," and it appears the path is now clear, nearly four years after the general population voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. With not all of the districts reporting, the conservatives hold 364 seats to Labor's 202. 325 votes are needed for an outright, one-party majority and the Tories have it.

The size of the majority was of a magnitude not seen since the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher ruled over decade of conservatism. Some of the Labor seats that were lost had been voting for liberals since the 1930s. The sweep and scope of the landslide is historic.

Johnson, party leader and Prime Minister, has been pushing for a resolution to the Brexit problem over the past six months and finally was pushed into a general election, a move that eventually backfired on his opponents and has now paved the way for Britain to regain its independence and restrain or reverse the liberal spending and immigration policies that the country so desperately needs.

This election, viewed on a global basis, is an extraordinary victory for conservatives and working-class populism, mush as Donal Trump's election in 2016 was in the United States. The wave of populism just got another boost, sending the worn-out, fear-ridden policies of the left screaming for cover.

Even as the results were being tabulated Thursday night in Great Britain, voices of the losing liberals were heard using words and phrases such as "devastating," "disastrous," and "dangerous for our country," to describe the stunning victory for the right, with the general public sending a loud mandate to fix what's broken and move on.

No doubt, the liberal politicians will moan and wail, just as they have in the United States, but, in the end, the handwriting is on the wall. People want less government intervention into their lives, less meddling, and more positive, clear-headed solutions.

While many in America will have little understanding of the importance of the British elections, they send a clear message and make the case for Trump in a very distinct way.

Here is Johnson's victory speech:

At the Close, Thursday, December 12, 2019
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,132.05, +220.75 (+0.79%)
NASDAQ: 8,717.32, +63.27 (+0.73%)
S&P 500: 3,168.57, +26.94 (+0.86%)
NYSE Composite: 13,697.41, +117.48 (+0.87%)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Phantom GDP, Deflationary QE and Releasing the Consumer Kraken

Money Daily stopped being a daily post blog in March, 2014. While the name remains the same, the posts are now on an intermittent basis, as conditions warrant, though it is advised to read the archives (from 2006-2014) regularly, even daily, for insights and historical perspective.

OK, this is a little mind exercise for the new year.

Capital consists of money, labor, and resources (land, materials, machinery, buildings, infrastructure).

The Fed has control of just one of these three essential tenets of economy: money.

They make it out of nothing (to be more succinct, they create money from government debt - the Mandrake Mechanism, well-explained by G. Edward Griffin, in his expose of the Federal Reserve, The Creature from Jekyll Island - there are PDFs of this book available, or, buy it from Amazon or eBay, just go look.)

GDP growth is a canard, which the Fed and government can - and do - conspire to adjust according to their whims, wants, needs.

Unless somebody's building something that wasn't there beforehand, or there are more people building things (population growth, which is, after all, potential capital) or being more productive (technology), the only way to increase GDP is through money creation, i.e., inflation, which, in its most strict definition is an increase in the money supply, and, that is the essence of QE.

So, why hasn't there been inflation? In addition to the various reasons offered in this article, allow these meager observations:
  • Money is moved off-shore
  • Money is wasted
  • Money goes into non-productive assets (stocks, especially stock buybacks, the most unproductive of all, actually deflationary)
  • but, fewer people are working (unemployment)
  • the amount of land in the US (and the world) is fixed
  • a building burns, becomes dilapidated (impaired asset) or is vacant (lots of homes like that in the US thanks to the banks), becomes less-valued, non-productive, heading towards zero value, and that is deflation on a grand scale.
So, the people who want programs to improve the infrastructure in the US (roads, bridges, power grid, etc.) are correct in assuming that such programs would improve the economy. More jobs, more income, more velocity of money, and, most importantly, better, more efficient, more productive infrastructure, which leads to better manufacturing, agriculture, i.e., a virtuous cycle.

What we have today is a nearly closed-loop of money creation and destruction. Government issues bonds, Fed (or one of their many conduits, or other central banks) buys them with newly-created-out-of-thin-air money. That money goes to banks, which buy stocks or hoard as reserves, adding nothing to the general economy. GDP stagnates. Any little that may trickle out as loans to businesses or mortgages, is actually productive, but the banks, being the arbiters of money and controllers of credit, don't trust the public, and, additionally, have a hard time making a profit at 2, 3, or 4%. The problem for the Fed is the massive oversupply in everything from existing homes to corn to cheap junk from China, to now, oil and gas.

You want inflation, raise interest rates, because the pent-up demand will be filled by banks which can make money at 5, 6, or 7%.

My conclusion is that either the Fed doesn't understand this process (unlikely), or they actually want stagnation and/or disinflation or deflation (very likely). Remember, the dollar was getting weak up until 2009 and beyond, but look what's happened, the dollar is strengthening, and people want more of those dollars (the 10-year yield at 2.15% is magnitudes better than the German bund or the Bank of Japan's 10-year yield.). The Fed, as usual, has been lying through their teeth about everything from the virtues of quantitative easing (QE, i.e., free money) to the strength of the global economy (fact: it's weak.). There's a long history of the Fed saying one thing and knowing that the complete opposite - or nearly so - is actually true. That's how they get everyone to go along with their schemes of booms, busts, inflations, depressions, recessions... they and their crony, member banks, front-running everything.

The past few years have been good years for investing (ask anyone with a 401k or stocks), but it's not going to last. Maybe a few more years, because, once the banks start lending again in earnest, the inflation spigot will be wide open and the Fed knows this.

The Fed knows exactly what it is doing, and they're doing it slowly, as to avoid shocks. Anybody who hasn't been able to prosper (as in paying down debt, cutting expenditures, improving existing infrastructure - remodel your house, add solar panels, buy a better vehicle, increase acreage of productive land, learn new skills or improve existing ones) has missed the boat.

Point in fact: In 2005,6,7,8, I could not get a credit card with less than 22% interest. In 2009, I got a 4% home equity line of credit for roughly 50% of the value of my property (owned free and clear) from a local credit union (thank God for them). That one valued asset (my home) has, along with the meager line of credit, in five years time, allowed me to pay off all my existing credit card debt, buy inventory for my business, buy other assets (mostly silver) then get deals from various banks (yes, the very ones which caused the near-catastrophe of 2008), which now has me in this most unusual predicament: I have 0% credit - some of it guaranteed through June, 2016 - in an amount which far exceeds my original 4% home equity line, much of which I have already paid back.

My trick, if I can pull it off, will be to use the 0% credit as ready cash as part of a down payment on a better property for my home and business. With interest rates so low, it's almost foolish NOT to make this move.

The only risk, as far as I can tell, is if my income nosedives (not likely) and I'm unable to service my debt. In that case, I pay the mortgage (and taxes, the government always get theirs, don't they?) first, and let the banks figure out what to do with the defaulted CC debt. Long story short, I could then file for bankruptcy protection, and, even though the CC debt would not be fully discharged, I could get restructured and/or some forebearance/forgiveness and, keep my home, which, in the long run, is all that matters, the REAL, productive, improvable capital.

Seriously, I've been stacking silver, hoarding cash and business inventory for four years, and it's about time to unleash the Kraken!

Banksters beware! You've enabled your own worst nightmare. More adventures in high finance are sure to follow.

Today's advice: Pay attention and stay liquid. Interest rates keep going lower, meaning there's still another two years of embraceable low interest rates to be had.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Biggest Bubble of All Time is About to Be Popped

Money Daily stopped being a daily post blog in March, 2014. While the name remains the same, the posts are now on an intermittent basis, as conditions warrant, though it is advised to read the archives (from 2006-2014) regularly, even daily, for insights and historical perspective.

The handwriting, so to speak, is all over Wall Street. What has been the biggest financial bubble in the history of the world is on the verge of busting, or, what could be better still, slowly deflating.

After the crash of 2008-09, the Federal Reserve, in conjunction with central banks around the globe, injected massive amounts of liquidity into the fiat world currency markets, bolstering everything from junk bonds to consumer credit, but especially equities, otherwise known as stocks.

Since March 9, 2009, the major equity indices in the US - and, to a large degree, around the world - have rebounded on the strength of the Fed's largesse, nothing else. Now that the Fed has begun unwinding QE, the "juice" is being withdrawn. There will be no backstop for equities in the guise of unlimited liquidity from the Fed. The plan - already underway - is to reduce the amount of asset (bond) purchases by the Fed from their high of $85 billion per month, to zero. While it is unlikely the Fed will ever get to zero without reversing course or, at least, slowing the pace of their withdrawal, the March FOMC meeting will mark the third consecutive lowering of the monthly purchase level, timed in accordance with the 10-per-year FOMC schedule.

The Fed first announced in December, 2013 that it would be reducing purchases in January, 2014, and did the same in their first meeting of 2014, in January, lowering their purchase level to $65 billion in February. Since there was no meeting in February, they are expected to announce another $10 billion reduction at the March meeting next week (March 18-19). If they carry through with this expected drop to $55 billion, the market cracks which first occurred in January of this year, may turn into wholesale breaks, sending index levels below their recent lows, highlighted by the January 31 selloff.

With the S&P recovering all of its January and February losses and making new all-time highs earlier this month (the NASDAQ also made new 14-year highs), the Dow Jones Industrials did not, setting up the scenario for a bear market, according to strict Dow Theory.

If the Dow, having fallen short of its most recent high (16,588.25), continues on its path lower, exceeding the interim low of 15,340.69 (Feb. 4), this will confirm that a change in the primary tend has occurred, and a secular bear market is underway. This bear market could last anywhere from five to 20 years, possibly longer, because the recent, primary bull market - the second longest in market history - was built upon a foundation of incredibly easy money, low interest rates and global fiat currencies, unprecedented in financial history.

The fallout could be severe, popping the biggest financial asset bubble of all time, in stocks, affecting everything from individual stocks to your pension, IRA or 401k to muni bonds. In other words, be prepared for the biggest financial collapse of all time, because the last five years have been nothing but pure financial fantasy, and it's all about to come crashing to an end.

There are sure signs that the global economy is shrieking and straining to remain relevant and above water, but after blowing bubbles recently in dotcom stocks (1997-2001) and real estate (2003-2007), the Fed has reflated the economy with trillions of paper dollars, augmented by similarly spurious activities in Europe, China and Japan. The financial bubble created by central banks is of a magnitude much larger - possibly four to six times larger - than the sub-prime-induced housing meltdown, putting the figure of financial assets seriously at risk somewhere between $20 and $40 trillion dollars, an amount so unfathomable that nothing short of pure currency collapses can sufficiently make account.

(As this post is being composed (March 13, 2014, 1:10 pm EDT), the Dow Jones Industrial average has broken through its 50-day-moving average, down 194 points on the day.)

Beyond just charts and the scary finances of the central banks, China is the linchpin by which the financial dam may be breached. For the past two to three months, data out of the world's second-largest economy has been trending lower, especially in the areas of industrial production and exporting. In fact, China actually released data that showed it suffered a current account deficit, with imports exceeding exports, a very frightening development for one of the world's few export economies and a major trading partner with the US and Europe.

What the China data underscores is the overall weakness in US and European (developed) markets. The fraud of financialization has finally produced a result incompatible with the ponzi-scheme-like mantra of the central bankers. Consumers have been and are strapped for cash, a result of over-exuberant government spending, massive income disparity between the rich and poor and stagnant or declining wages in the middle of a labor shortfall crisis.

There are signs everywhere that the global economy is about to be brought back to reality, including, but by no means limited to, recent poor US unemployment data, a false housing recovery (inundated with cash buyers, flippers and speculation), inability of the government to prosecute bankers and financial operatives for mortgage and other frauds, declining adherence to the constitution and the trampling of civil rights, bogus car sales data with channel stuffing rampant, blaming the weather for poor economic results (seriously, the holiday shopping season was a complete bust), and overvaluation of speculative IPOs, tech stocks and other momentum stocks, enterprise valuations of stocks in the billions of dollars, based on nothing but pure speculation.

Nothing will stop the wreckage that the Fed and global central banks working in collusion have set in motion. The numbers are ghastly and overwhelming and the warnings have been written about for years. The time to prepare was yesterday, though there is still time, but thought processes must change. Status and wealth should not be measured by the size of one's McMansion, the price of one's car or the depth of one's stock portfolio. True wealth consists of something along these lines: a fully-paid-for home on five or more acres of land, two-thirds of it arable, food and water storage to last at least a year, a horde of cash, gold and/or silver, absolutely ZERO DEBT, and the ability and weaponry to defend it all.

Ask yourself, who among you can make claim to that, because that is real wealth, not the paper promises from Wall Street or Washington.

It's coming. And it may be approaching even faster than anyone wants to consider (think Ukraine).

Good luck.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

According to Wall Street, Humans are Fodder

As I was watching CNBC just minutes ago, as reporter Mary Thompson ticked off details of American Express' (AXP) 4th quarter earnings report, a chart beside her showed the sock gaining in after hour trading just as she announced that the firm would initiate a restructuring involving 5400 job cuts.

The image of the stock going up while people were about to lose their jobs brought home (once again, because this is not the first time) the tragic nature of Wall Street and their glorified love of profits at any cost, even human cost.

Living through the past four years of abject financial repression, first, by banks, then by government, now, by multi-national corporations, the level of moral bankruptcy by the very people who should be exemplars of good behavior is appalling and completely unacceptable.

When people lose jobs and stocks increase in value, it displays not only a shallow disregard for humanity, but almost a depraved indifference to human suffering. Handing out pink slips at corporations has become a routine carried out by more underlings, those "investor types" never having to face a wife or husband who has lost a job when prospects for finding another are so slim.

Of course, from a purely financial perspective, cutting labor costs is wise, but, in the end, elimination of productive labor is wanton, greedy, selfish and eventually self-defeating.

To the corporations and to government, people (mostly working people) are expendable, fodder, chattel, just random numbers to add or eliminate from spreadsheets, profit and loss statements and earnings reports. Rewarding corporations for shedding employees is so distasteful on the surface that one wonders just what parallel universe it is in which those of the rentier class reside.

For every dollar they make in profits, another human being is degraded, shunned, discarded, and, what the investors fail to realize is that without the fruits of human labor - and their spending - the corporations would have no customers. None. Zero. They would be bankrupt and cease to exist and this is exactly the path we have embarked upon though the insanity of centrally-planned money and interest rate policy, banking without rules, corporations with enormous advantages over all competitors and a world reduced to ones and zeroes in a computational fantasy land.

And what a fantasy world it is. Money is created out of thin air, shoveled directly to 10 or 12 money center banks and put to work hiking up prices of stocks. Yes, Virginia, the rich do get richer and the poor poorer, but it is the middle class, like those 5400 American Express employees who are about to lose their jobs who suffer the worst.

Loss of income, self-esteem and personal worth are immeasurable and difficult to replace. The unemployment statistics cited by the government, and ignored by Wall Street, paint a very bleak picture of America in the 21st century. While we are the most technologically-advanced nation in the history of the world, nearly half the population is either collecting some form of government assistance or is about to.

Our business and political leaders have led us down a primrose path to destruction, one upon which they profit every step of the way, but, if there is any justice in the world left, it is the hope that when all the employees are laid off, when all the factories and store fronts and job sites are empty, idle and wasted, that the market will crash, taking down the entire apparatus of Wall Street, the oligarchs and politicians and bankers with it.

Maybe then, finally, people will understand human beings are not fodder, that labor, as defined by none other than Adam Smith, the great economist upon which all of economics is based, is the basis of all wealth, of all money, of all that can be achieved.

Maybe. But it will take a catastrophe - or maybe a hundred thousand catastrophes - for the knowledge to find a home.

Dow 13,471.22, +80.71(0.60%)
NASDAQ 3,121.76, +15.95(0.51%)
S&P 500 1,472.12, +11.10(0.76%)
NYSE Composite 8,713.75, +77.66(0.90%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,753,614,375
NYSE Volume 4,318,613,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4102-2323
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 458-15
WTI crude oil: 94.00, +0.90
Gold: 1,678.00, +22.50
Silver: 30.92, +0.669

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Boxed-in Fed Takes Baby Steps on QE2

To help support the economic recovery in a context of price stability, the Committee will keep constant the Federal Reserve's holdings of securities at their current level by reinvesting principal payments from agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in longer-term Treasury securities.1 The Committee will continue to roll over the Federal Reserve's holdings of Treasury securities as they mature.

Besides keeping interest rates at ZERO, that's the only important message from today's FOMC rate decision. Essentially, the Fed will continue to purchase Treasuries, as they have been, surreptitiously, for the past three to four months and above board, prior to that. They will roll over some of their mortgage (toxic) debt into shorter-dated and (supposedly) more stable Treasuries.

Nothing to see here. The Fed is essentially boxed-in, has been for some time and we are now Japan.

Stocks made an immediate jump - the Dow gained back 100 points - after the announcement, but it's nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to meaningless story. The Fed can't do anything to improve the economy substantially except print and roll over debt.

Dow 10,644.25, -54.50 (0.51%)
NASDAQ 2,277.17, -28.52 (1.24%)
S&P 500 1,121.06, -6.73 (0.60%)
NYSE Composite 7,139.75, -48.55 (0.68%)

Declining issues smacked down advancers, 4829-1662, and new highs remained ahead of new lows, 342-118. Volume, the real story of the week, and the weak, remained at suppressed, almost laughable levels. More than ever it seems that the same stocks are just changing hands amongst the same people, with the Wall Street firms skimming at the margins.

NASDAQ Volume 1,906,714,625
NYSE Volume 4,524,408,000

Since the dollar was appreciably higher against the Euro and most other currencies, oil slipped, losing $1.23, to $80.25. Gold fell $4.50, to $1,196.20; silver dropped 8 cents, to $18.15, though both were marginally higher after the FOMC announcement.

The price/volume action in stocks is demonstrating a clearly-defined topping pattern, as mentioned yesterday. With no catalyst to move the economy forward, expectations for another corrective period are likely to be proven correct.

One other important note was a 0.9% drop in productivity in the 2nd quarter, along with a paltry gain of 0.2% in unit labor costs, more signs of a slowing economy and deflationary environment.