As we bid farewell to the dog days of summer, here are some issues that will set the agenda for the month ahead:
1. Friday’s employment data made the picture murkier for the FOMC meeting later this month. The nonfarm payrolls were on the weak side, and, as Art Cashin correctly pointed out on CNBC, the bigger issue was a drop in the hours of the work week, which when measured in terms of jobs gained/loss resulted in a loss of 300,000 jobs. The FED jaw flappers keep orally pushing for a rate hike on September 21 but this jobs report clouds the issue.
The talking heads report ad nauseam that several Fed members believe a rate hike possible but as I wrote last week, if the fed funds rate is not raised the critical component of the FOMC release will be the outcome of the vote. If Stanley Fischer doesn’t vote for a RATE HIKE then HE SHOULD RESIGN FROM THE FOMC. It is that simple for if Chair Yellen prevails in achieving another 9-1 vote then it is without question Yellen’s FOMC and all other ivory tower mouthpieces should remain silent. The Federal Reserve Board is under mounting criticism due the inconsistency of its members’ public pronouncements. The FED‘s credibility is being called into question, a potentially disastrous situation in a FIAT CURRENCY SYSTEM.
2. The G-20 meeting presented great selfies and photo-ops but little else. THIS MEETING REFLECTED THE STRAINS IN THE GLOBAL ORDER WHICH HAVE BEEN “PAPERED OVER” BY THE CENTRAL BANKS. Japan set the tone of the meeting by releasing a paper to the G-20 warning the world and especially Europe about the negative fallout from an acrimonious end to the BREXIT negotiations. Japanese corporations have massive investments in British capital projects and if British exports are to be penalized then Japan threatened to remove production and jobs from the U.K. and other European centers. I THINK THE JAPANESE WANTED TO SEND A MESSAGE TO ALL THE PARTIES IN THE BREXIT DISCUSSION, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, THIS WAS JAPANESE OFFICIALS RETALIATING FOR BEING SINGLED OUT AS A CURRENCY MANIPULATOR AT THE PREVIOUS G-20 MEETING. Japan prevented the Chinese from making them the focal point … yet again.
Before the release of the G-20 Communique, the U.S. and China held a bi-lateral meeting and one of the main issues discussed between Presidents Obama and XI was foreign currency movements. A fact sheet released after the meeting said, “China and U.S. Agree to Refrain From Competitive Currency Devaluations.” It may be a major political victory for the Chinese if the U.S. Treasury was deemed to be a serial currency manipulator in a similar vein of the PBOC. And this would be a serious blow to U.S. prestige. The actual language of the final communique was generic and sanitized: “We affirm our previous exchange rate commitments, including that we will refrain from competitive devaluations and we will not target our exchange rates for competitive purposes.” This is nonsense of the first order for as many critics of the Fed and ECB have argued over the previous six years: QE POLICY is a domestic monetary program with a weakened currency as a desired outcome. The G-20 reference is mere political posturing for the domestic constituency.
3. The Reserve Bank of Australia and the ECB have scheduled meetings this week. Tonight at 11:30 CDT the RBA will announce its interest rate intentions. The consensus is for no change from its current 1.5% overnight cash rate. The Aussie dollar is very weak against the Kiwi dollar, its main trading partner, so I’m in agreement with consensus. The important point is that it’s Governor Stevens’s last meeting and what he says about the Chinese economy should be of interest. THURSDAY will be an important day as Mario Draghi will hold a press conference following the ECB’s meeting. President Draghi has been very quiet of late and has allowed his underlings to speak about policy. Draghi didn’t even attend the Jackson Hole Conference. The European economy is sputtering. Italy is facing a November referendum. And, more importantly, German Chancellor Merkel’s CDU party suffered a miserable election result on Sunday with the anti-Euro AfD party garnering the largest increase in support.
The media paints the AfD success as a response to an anti-immigrant agenda. There may be an element of fact in that but the German middle class is raising its voice against the FINANCIAL REPRESSION foisted upon German savers as a product of ECB policies. If President Draghi is threatened by German domestic politics look for an increase in the ECB QE program to 90/100 billion euros a month from 80 billion in an effort to build the ECB balance sheet, weakening the euro and simultaneously pushing borrowing costs lower. Draghi is a man in a hurry as the political winds turn against the ECB. The problem for Draghi is that the massive QE programs promoted by Bernanke and the BOJ have failed to have the desired effects. Bloated balance sheets for the sake of bailing out debt-stressed nations provide political fodder for the anti-euro political tide rising across the EU. Mario Draghi has grabbed unlimited power for the ECB, BUT FOR HOW LONG? Yes, our work has just begun.