Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Notes From Underground: No Moore. No Kudlow. No MMT

March 31, 2019

In the previous blog post, I suggested that if the FED was afraid of flat yield curves then they OUGHT to CUT overnight rates immediately by 50 basis points in an effort to steepen the curves to a more NORMAL slope. On Friday, in a nod to Notes From Underground, President Trump’s latest Fed nominee Steve Moore and White House advisor Larry Kudlow said that the central bank should slash interest rates by 50 basis points. Unlike my suggestion, the avid supply-siders offered no context for the rate cuts. There was no discussion of yield curves, dollar strength or the problems confronting global growth.

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Notes From Underground: The Jobs Report Was Not Data Dependent

March 10, 2019

Wow! That was a serious miss by the forecasters on job growth as only 20,000 new jobs were added. The huge miss will prove to be an aberration but doesn’t matter at all. As I pointed out in Thursday’s blog — as well as on the PODCAST Peter Boockvar and I recorded with Richard Bonugli from FRA, the ECB’s pivot toward liquidity addition via cheap bank loans has forced the FED into a policy of “watchful waiting.” And Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated that stance in his speech Friday night as he stressed the need for caution in the search for normalization on rates and the balance sheet.

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Notes From Underground: Strange Days Indeed

April 17, 2018

The market has several themes it is trying to digest, which made Tuesday’s price action interesting. Reported earnings have been as strong as whispered and with the Syrian bombing over the weekend, the markets had time to analyze the outcome (and as usual it was treated as a minimal event with no proliferation).

On Sunday night there was an immediate rally as the SPOOS gained 0.5 percent on the open. Strong earnings kept the rally in gear but what’s interesting that the financials failed to hold their initial rallies. This is important because most analysts were predicting significant growth in bank ROES, especially for the large Wall Street banks. Goldman’s FICC revenue increased by more than 20 percent as trading volatility provided an opportunity for one of the few remaining large prop shops remaining on the Street. The Goldman rallied fizzled and finished 2 percent down on the day.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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