As in January of 2013 (ahead of an economic up cycle) and Q4 2017-Q1 2018 (ahead of an economic ripple that began in 2018) the Semiconductor sector and in particular its Semi Equipment sub-sector are front and center in forming our analysis about coming events. Excerpted from the January 20th edition of Notes From the Rabbit Hole, NFTRH 535…
Semiconductor Sector – Watch the Early Bird in 2019
This one is special for me. I started my work life many moons ago as a participant with the Semi sector [circa 1983-1993], painfully learning first hand how violent the cyclical turns can be. Dialing ahead a couple decades, in January of 2013 NFTRH began a narrative that saw the then up-turning Semi Equipment bookings (this data is unfortunately no longer published) lead the sector, general manufacturing and eventually the whole raft of components that make up the economy into a cyclical up-turn.
Continue reading Semiconductor Sector (NFTRH 535 Excerpt)
By Anthony B. Sanders
…As $1.1 TRILLION Is Injected Into Markets Via Repos (Curves Kinked)
China’s central bank, the People’s Bank Of China, now has the world’s largest balance sheet topping even the European Central Bank (ECB). Only The Federal Reserve is shrinking its balance sheet … for now.
The PBOC has injected almost $1.1 trillion in the market over the past two days.
Continue reading China’s Central Bank Now Has World’s Largest Balance Sheet…
By Jeffrey Snider
And we come full circle back again. It’s not what they say, it’s what they do. Kansas City Fed CEO Esther George was at least consistent, unlike all the other voting FOMC members. Throughout 2015 and 2016, the rest of them would say the economy was strong but then vote the other way, no “rate hike.” December 2015 was the lone exception (and perfectly fitting).
President George, on the other hand, was almost irredeemably optimistic about the economy and voted that way, too. While the majority held steady, Esther was the one who would dissent against the then Fed Pause. The few times she didn’t was in early 2016 when the US economy approached recession conditions.
You knew it was serious when the hawkest of hawks stopped walking how she talked. In March 2015, George had said:
Continue reading This Isn’t the First ‘Fed Pause’
By Michael Ashton
Below is a summary of my post-CPI tweets.
- A few minutes to CPI. Consensus 0.2%, 2.2% y/y on core, pretty much on the dot. That’s slightly lower on core than last month, which ALMOST rounded to 2.3%, but dropping off a strong Dec ’17. Remember Median is 2.82%, near the highs.
- it will be hard to get a ‘handle surprise’ on core CPI today. But watch Apparel, which has been weirdly weak despite tariff tensions. Used cars/trucks has been strong for a couple months and is due to be back normal, but not to “retrace” as it was too low before.
- In general, look at core goods, which last month went flat after a long time in deflation. And keep an eye on core-ex-shelter, which is near multi-year highs.
- 21% on core, 2.21% y/y. Basically a consensus number.
- Pretty stable last few months of core.
Continue reading Post-CPI Summary
By Anthony B. Sanders
Ford Cutting Thousands Of European Jobs, China Car Sales Plunge 13% YoY, Etc.
Since early November 2018 when the 10-year Tteasury note yield hit 3.24%, both the Treasury yield and 30 year mortgage rate (MBA) have plunged.
Partly to blame is the slowing economies around the globe, particularly in Europe (check out Ford’s announcement of job cuts in Europe: Ford Motor Co. will shed thousands of jobs at its European operations as part of a bid to return the business to profitability with a broad restructuring that could include shuttering factories).
Continue reading Why Interest Rates Are Not Likely To Rise Much In The Near Future
By Jeffrey Snider
After a horrible December and a rough start to the year, as if manna from Heaven the clouds parted and everything seemed good again. Not 2019 this was early February 2015. If there was a birth date for Janet Yellen’s “transitory” canard it surely came within this window. It didn’t matter that currencies had crashed and oil, too, or that central banks had been drawn into the fray in very unexpected ways.
Actually it did, at least with that last one. The world’s default setting remains central bankers. No matter how thoroughly they discredit themselves, in times of trouble people really, really want to believe there exists this technocratic savoir.
They can get it wrong time after time after time, but when things appear most dire it is almost like a defense mechanism this running back to “home” the Yellen’s, Bernanke’s, and Powell’s. The world looks like it is falling apart leading a central bank, any central bank to try something and for a time it appears to work.
Continue reading You Know it’s Coming
By Doug Noland
“Goldilocks with a capital ‘J’,” exclaimed an enthusiastic Bloomberg Television analyst. The Dow was up 747 points in Friday trading (more than erasing Thursday’s 660-point drubbing) on the back of a stellar jobs report and market-soothing comments from Fed Chairman “Jay” Powell.
December non-farm payrolls surged 312,000. The strongest job gains since February blew away both estimates (184k) and November job creation (revised up 21k to 176k). Manufacturing jobs jumped 32,000 (3-month gain 88k), the biggest increase since December 2017’s 39,000. Average Hourly Earnings rose a stronger-than-expected 0.4% for the month (high since August), pushing y-o-y gains to 3.2%, near the high going back to April 2009.
Just 90 minutes following the jobs report, Chairman Powell joined Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke for a panel discussion at an American Economic Association meeting in Atlanta. Powell’s comments were not expected to be policy focused (his post-FOMC press conference only two weeks ago). But the Fed Chairman immediately pulled out some prepared comments, perhaps crafted over the previous 24 hours (of rapidly deteriorating global market conditions).
Continue reading Global Markets’ Plumbing Problem
By Michael Ashton
As economists  we do two sorts of things. We do quantitative work, and we tell stories.
One of the problems with economics is that we aren’t particularly regimented about how we convert data into stories and about how we look at stories to decide how to interrogate the data. So what tends to happen is that we have a phenomenon and then we look at what story we like and decide if that’s a reasonable way to explain the data…without asking if there isn’t a more reasonable way to explain the data, or at least another way that’s equally consistent with the data. I’m not saying that everyone does this, just that it’s disturbingly common especially among people being paid to be storytellers and for whom a good story is really important.
So for example, there is a well -known phenomenon that inflation tends to accelerate after the Fed begins raising interest rates. Purporting to explain this phenomenon, here is a popular story that the Fed is just really smart, so they’re ahead of inflation, and when they seeing it moving up just a little bit they can jump on it real quick and get ahead of it and so inflation goes up…but the apparent causality is there because we just knew it was going to go up and acted before the observation of the higher inflation happened. This is basically Keynesian theory combined with “brilliant person” theory.
Continue reading Spinning Economic Stories
By Jeffrey Snider
Recency bias is one thing. Back in late 2006/early 2007 when the eurodollar futures curve inverted, for example, it was a textbook case of mass delusion. All the schoolbooks and Economics classes had said that it couldn’t happen; not that it wasn’t likely, it wasn’t even a possibility. A full-scale financial meltdown was at the time literally inconceivable in orthodox thinking. A global panic, some sort of unserious joke.
Because of that hardened attitude, what followed was an almost perverse emotional response from those who believed in this. Central banks couldn’t possibly let things go so astray. Yet, the more everything was ripped apart the more fervently they held to the same belief. Bernanke said subprime was contained and only a very few responded with “how would he know?”
If there are rationalizations that hold up asset bubbles, these rationalizations put them to shame.
Again, it was recency bias in 2008 so what is everyone’s excuse in 2018? No one can make the case that bad things don’t happen because since 2007 bad things keep happening. There’s now a mappable regularity to it.
Continue reading Mispriced Delusion
By Doug Noland
“Money” challenged – and often confounded – economic thinkers for centuries. It functions both as a “medium of exchange” and “unit of account.” Simple enough. Too often the focus has been how to use money to stimulate economic activity and achieve political gains. From my perspective, money’s importance rests with its fundamental roles as a “Store of Value” and as the bedrock of financial systems. Unsound money has been a root cause of a lot of turmoil throughout history – including the monetary fiasco that collapsed in 2008. Yet concerns for the soundness of contemporary “money” these days are viewed as hopelessly archaic.
My thinking on contemporary “money” has been adapted from a much earlier focus on money’s “preciousness.” Traditionally, money was precious either because it was made of or backed by gold/precious metals. It retained preciousness only so long as its quantity remained carefully contained. Throughout history, the value of “paper money” has invariably moved inversely to the quantity issued – fits and starts, enthusiasm and revulsion and, too often, a path to worthlessness.
Continue reading Thoughts on Liquidity
By Charlie Bilello
It’s official: the Bear Market of 2018. Like many of the previous Bears, it’s been an elevator down, with a 20% decline in just 3 months.
The question many are asking: is this decline just a decline or is it signaling an oncoming recession?
Looking back at history, the answer is far from clear. This is now the 21st Bear Market since 1929. Of the previous 20, only 11 were associated with a recession (55% of the time).
Continue reading Bear Markets and Recessions