Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Notes From Underground: The Unemployment Number is Wall Street’s Version of Picasso’s `The Dream’

March 11, 2018

It was the best that Wall Street could dream of: It was a huge headline nonfarm payroll number with a large number of workers jumping into the labor market, which kept the unemployment rate at 4.1% and wage growth at a very tepid pace. Average hourly earnings were 0.1%, which is nirvana for the wealth managers: solid economic growth with stagnant wages. This may certainly be a one-off month as NFP could return to its average or wages begin to rise by at least 0.3% every month. Rick Santelli and Ed Lazear made the case that the increase in the labor participation rate was a great outcome as long time unemployed are gaining confidence in the genuine strength of the economy. The return of the long-term unemployed will show the real amount of slack in the economy, reflecting even more downward pressure on wages. If the slack is greater than the FOMC has previously believed, then the FED may well slow its rate increases. People returning to the labor force is a positive but it may be another kink in the Fed’s models.


Notes From Underground: Feeding the Ducks When They Quack

January 9, 2018

Since the unemployment data, I have tried to write an appropriate blog but “all my words came back to me in shades of mediocrity” so I refrained from adding to the stream of vapid commentary that fills the Internet. But let’s proceed as the markets provided movement based on some sense of heightened inflation expectations. There is certainly money flowing into commodity based investments as OIL, COPPER, GOLD, and a litany of other natural resources have become a repository for money concerned with investments other than crypto currencies. The U.S. employment data was well within the range of expectations. The important average hourly earnings and the average work week were close to the consensus forecasts. The Canadian data beat estimates for the second consecutive month. The consensus was for an unemployment rate of 6% and addition of 2,000 jobs. The actual data was 5.7% unemployed and almost 80,000 new jobs, with two-thirds being part-time.


Notes From Underground: Is Macron a Moron?

September 12, 2017

On September 7, I had the pleasure of chatting with Richard Bonugli of the Financial Repression Authority, covering topics previously discussed on Notes From Underground. The podcast allows for a much deeper analysis of topics covered here (and usually over a shorter span). Enjoy the conversation, and, as usual, please follow-up with questions so we can all benefit from the intelligence of Notes From Underground readers.


Notes From Underground: I Knew I Would Return

August 2, 2017

Last week’s FOMC meeting proved BORING and left me speechless … but not thoughtless. The only phrase of significance was the use of “RELATIVELY SOON” in placing some forward guidance to the beginning of quantitative tightening (h/t Boockvar). We have no idea what “relatively soon” means but I continue to ask: WHY WAIT? Yes, it may be because the FED is nervous about the potential of DEBT CEILING caused by a Congress filled with know-nothings and do-nothings clogging the day-to-day financing of government operations.


Notes From Underground: Warren Knocks Out Mnuchin

May 18, 2017

In Thursday’s testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took a beating from Senator Elizabeth Warren over the issue of Glass-Steagall. There are many policy issues in which I disagree with Senator Warren but when it comes to Wall Street regulation, she is one of the most knowledgeable people in the Senate and far beyond those walls. During the Great Financial Crisis she appeared regularly on CNBC and Bloomberg television networks. While merely a Harvard law professor, she offered great insights and understood the depths of the problems that caused the crisis. If Jamie Dimon had not blocked her appointment as head of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (a wild conjecture on my part), she would not be a U.S. Senator. After president Obama caved in to Wall Street pressure, Warren ran for the Senate in Massachusetts in 2012, defeating Scott Brown.


Notes From Underground: The Politics of the IMF and French Election

April 19, 2017

First, I am reposting part of the January 29 post as a reminder to pay attention to the narrative of Trump rolling back to the concept of Pax Americana. As the Trump administration begins to reveal its ambitions, there is a great deal of conversation about Trump becoming more presidential and that the “grown ups” are taking charge of policy. The demotion of Stephen Bannon ignited a discussion about the Wall Street crowd (Mnuchin, Ross, Cohn, Kushner) becoming aligned with the “Deep State.” The concept of the deep state is really the power of the entrenched bureaucracy as the primary source within the beltway.


Notes From Underground: After the FOMC, Do Payrolls Mean Anything?

February 2, 2017

This week has presented us with THREE central bank meetings. The results of the BOJ, FED and BOE meetings were no change to the current policies. So, with inflation on the rise and equity markets close to all-time highs for the U.S. and multi-year highs for Europe, the overseers of credit feel no need to tighten monetary conditions. Chair Yellen and her fellow decision makers are evidently comfortable that the wheels of legislation grind slowly and will wait until there is some evidence of fiscal stimulus and tax reform before applying the brakes to a possibly overstimulated economy. The BOJ was cautious ahead of Prime Minister Abe’s meeting with President Trump. To understand the domestic politics of Abe’s possible bilateral deal with the U.S. I am linking to an article from the Asian edition of the Wall Street Journal by Tobias Harris (my progeny).


Notes From Underground: Putting Perspective To Our Narrative

January 24, 2017

Let’s be clear about the unfolding political and economic landscape: It is the desire of the Trumpians and the anti-Trumps to control the political dialogue. The media is putting President trump and his appointees under a microscope, which is what the press should always be doing. (My apolitical belief for the fourth estate is that a free press should be responsible in pursuit of the “facts,” but if they have a bias it should be “to afflict the comforted and comfort the afflicted.”) In my opinion, during the past 20 years the U.S. press has devolved into a sycophantic mob as everything becomes about access to those with the greatest celebrity status, which usually means wealthy. The financial media especially bows to the rich because if you are a billionaire your views go unchallenged for fear of being shunned as it  undermines the concept of, “if you’re rich, they think you really know.”


Notes From Underground: Setting the Tone For the New Year

December 27, 2016

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.


Notes From Underground: It’s Good News Week (Hedgehoppers Anonymous)

December 20, 2016

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.