Oh yes, we got trouble right here in Frankfurt City! It rhymes with T and starts with G and is spelled Germany. Today (and of no genuine market surprise), the ECB made no adjustments to its current QE and negative rate policy. The press conference was where all the potential market moving “tweets” would take place, but Professor Mario Draghi danced around the very fine questions from the European financial cognoscenti. Draghi was sharp as he insisted that “we need lower interest rates to get higher rates.” Also, when one inquisitor asked if the ECB was ready to DO LESS if inflation reached close to the MAGIC 2% level, President Draghi admitted that we only considered doing more QE (never LESS). Thus, the ECB allowed us a look at the asymmetric BIAS of all central banks. The ECB is far more worried about low growth, low inflation that the main concern is always more. And Draghi’s ultimate fallback position for the construction of counterfactual policy formation is the ongoing deleveraging process in Europe.
We at Notes From Underground have published more than 1,000 posts during the last seven years. I have voiced my displeasure about the annual gathering in Davos for the past five years (last year’s Davos post is below). My battle cry was (ans continues to be): PEPPER SPRAY DAVOS, a response to the heinous police overreaction to the pepper spraying of University of California–Davis students in November 2011. The police POURED pepper spray onto student protesters, a contemptible act of police brutality. I thought if the UC–Davis students were subjected to such a police response for blocking a sidewalk the crony capitalists of global monopolies are surely worthy of such a contemptuous action. The corporate chieftains and their political sycophants, who exchange “insider views” for large speaking fees (and of course a hope to secure a job after leaving political office), have badly damaged the world.
I’m still nursing a New Year’s hangover. It takes a long time for the mind to rid itself of all the news the mainstream media deems fit to read. But as the third rock keeps spinning, markets will keep moving and we will strive to untangle the ball of confusion. After today’s tepid ADP data the market has settled into a consensus for 175,000 nonfarm payrolls. Again, I would love to see a number greater than 250,000 just to test the recent market action. BONDS rallied, currencies rallied against the DOLLAR, precious metals are showing early year strength and commodities have held support levels in the age of TRUMFLATIONARY EXPANSIONARY EXPECTATIONS.
Every step I take, every move I make, I’ll be watching the DOW hit 20,000. As I’ve said before, it is insignificant as we enter 2017, the year of political uncertainty with massive amounts of global debt. The Financial Times published an article today titled, “6.6 Trillion of Debt Issuance, Borrowing Levels Beat 2006 Mark.” The world has been taking advantage of the ultra-low borrowing rates that the ECB, BOJ, BOE and the Fed have so thoughtfully accommodated the global financial system. Corporates and sovereigns have been issuers while pension funds, insurance companies and central banks have been buyers of the poorly valued risk. If U.S. rates actually sustain a rise in yields, the headwinds from bloated balance sheets will hampered the slow-growth global economy. This will be a theme that is far more important than the slow grind of the U.S. legislative process, which will impede the Trump express. The Democrats will fight rearguard actions to prevent Trump’s plans for tax cuts and deregulation from coming to fruition.
This year has been a year of surprises as conventional wisdom-based forecasts have proven to be like oral agreements: not worth the paper on which they are written. The coming year promises to bring more confusion and volatility as the markets are preparing for the U.S. to be a Trumpian utopia of wealth creation. I caution against blindly accepting this narrative for it will not be a U.S.-centric year. Attention will turn to Europe as the political cycle brings elections in the main players. France and Germany are the EU and the rest just the trimmings (so stated Charles De Gaulle). The EU is fraught with problems, so the more uncertainty raises the profile of the ECB President Mario Draghi. Senator Charles Schumer once said to Fed Chair Ben Bernanke, “You are the only game in town.” Well, an ECB with a printing press and no political accountability provides a central bank on steroids. Mario Draghi perceives himself as the savior of the EU project so expect him to be hyperactive in response to any major political changes in France. Greece, Italy and Spain still remain an economic issue so the entire EU financial system will be subject to paroxysms within its debt and equity markets.
The world is fraught with troubling news of assassinations, terrorist atrocities and confrontation between China and the U.S. But in the financial news it is all about the DOW PUSHING 20,000. To quote Mr. Natural: “What does the Dow 20,000 mean? It don’t mean SH*T.” We become enamored with numbers but in real financial terms 20,000 is meaningless on its own. The U.S. equity markets are enthralled with the possibilities that a Trump presidency will present. Three weeks ago Rick Santelli laid it out very well. He noted if trump was successful in reforming the ACA, realizing genuine corporate and personal tax simplification and reform, and rolling back some of the regulations burdening small and medium businesses the Trump administration would be an unmitigated success. If the Dow is the barometer, then Mr.Trump should declare victory and spend the next four years writing his autobiography.
Today I did an interview with Anthony Crudele, a trader’s trader, on Futures Radio. It was a fifteen-minute discussion about the Fed’s actions yesterday. Rather than writing up my thoughts I feel it is better for my readers to turn into listeners. This is an in-depth way to convey my thoughts, and, as with Rick Santelli, when a person of market intelligence asks questions the conversation is at a much higher level. If only Rick Santelli and I had this much time. Oh well, it’ s just a podcast away.
Yes, the day of decision is upon us and everybody is SURE of a 25 basis hike from the FOMC. IF I WAS IN CHARGE–NO, NOT JOSE CANSECO, WHICH WOULD BE MONETARY POLICY ON STEROIDS–I WOULD RAISE RATES 50 BASIS POINTS AND ISSUE A WARNING OF MORE AGGRESSIVE INCREASES TO COME. Alas, I am but ashes and dust. The FED has prepared the market for a certain 25 but here are the things to watch: