This note was originally published at 8am on May 23, 2014 for Hedgeye subscribers.
“If I had learned education, I would not have had time to learn anything else.”
If you want to be humbled in this good life, study economic #history. The more I read, the less I realize I know. Given that our economy is centrally planned by people who have no financial incentive to un-learn failed policies and re-learn from the past, that often scares me.
Then I’ll go back to a book, read some more, and find that light of American progress. While it may be dimming, it’s always there. We don’t put two feet on the floor for our families and firms every morning thinking about what government can do for us.
I think about what we can build to change a failed status quo. That’s not easy. I don’t want it to be. My education provides me with the context of its frailty. If I wasn’t paid to read and write to you every day, I wouldn’t be so optimistic that there’s a much better way.
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
New ideas scare a certain type of people; especially people whose failed ideas you are challenging. “So”, let’s do that this morning and challenge 3 of the most widely held academic economic dogmas of America’s 21st century:
1. Money Printing (Dollar Devaluation and Debt Monetization)
2. The American Dream (everyone has to own one, right? #Housing)
3. Yield Chasing (you have to invest in bubbles, or you don’t get paid)
Fair Enough. You can go back to school and write a Ph.D. disproving each of these and I’ll see you in the 22nd century. In the meantime, you’ll have to use A) common sense and B) real-time market data:
1. Fed’s Balance Sheet (Money Printing) update – up +$929 beeelion dollars year-over-year to $4.3 TRILLION and now the NY Fed’s Bill Dudley (formerly of The Goldman Sachs, who helped bail out the banks) is saying $1.7 TRILLION of that (MBS –Mortgage Backed Securities) never has to be sold, unwound, etc. I’m still digging through the Constitution to find who made him god.
2. US #HousingSlowdown (The American Dream) update – post whatever the “weather bounce” was supposed to give us (oh, and rates falling, fast), both supply and demand numbers released for April Housing were not good yesterday.
A) Housing Demand – existing home sales released by the NAR (National Assoc. of Realtors) were down -6.8% year-over-year in April (vs. -7.5% y/y in March) and the Northeast (which was really supposed to have the weather bounce) saw existing home sales down -6.3% in April vs. -4.8% in March.
B) Housing Supply - #drumroll… saw its biggest sequential (month-over-month) ramp, ever. Yes, by our proprietary calculations, ever is a very long time. In percentage terms, existing homes inventory ramped +16.8% in April versus March. I’ll circle back on this colossal failure of the government trying to reflate a bubble that already blew up once at the end of this note.
3. Fixed Income vs. Equity Fund Flows (#YieldChasing) update – since the un-elected and unprecedented ideology that “rates on savings have to be 0% forever” has many unintended consequences, let’s just focus on the most obvious one – forcing investors to chase a yield (a rate of return to live on) greater than the risk free rate (of 0%).
A) Fixed Income Fund flows accelerated to +$3.9B in weekly INFLOW (versus the YTD weekly avg of $2.1B)
B) Equity Fund flows saw their 3rd wk of OUTFLOW in 2014 at -$1.0B (versus the YTD weekly avg INFLOW of +$3.1B)
“So”, in hash tag-less English that an “educated” person can’t obfuscate with big words:
1. Money Printing – the Policy To Inflate (but not calling it that) causes US consumption growth (71% of the economy) to slow
2. Yield Chasing – i.e. buying bonds and anything that looks like a bond (selling growth stocks) takes hold as the economy slows
3. The American Dream – yeah, baby!
Oh, yeah, baby!
Damn those free-market American Capitalists (Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller, etc.) of the 19th century and/or anything that looks like them – and go lever yourself up and buy an unproductive asset (a house). Then sit on it, and rotate, until the Fed bubbles its price up.
Janet Yellen is having a bird right now because The American Dream that she and her boy Barney (Frank) drew up just isn’t working. As interest rates fall and the redo of the housing bubble takes hold… newsflash: first time buyers can’t afford to buy a house.
First time buyers of US homes represented 29% of demand in April. That’s down from 30% in March and testing 10 year lows. Rents, meanwhile, are hitting all-time highs in America. I know – that’s not inflationary. It’s not the American progress they planned for either.
Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:
UST 10yr Yield 2.45-2.61%
WTI Oil 102.45-104.36
Best of luck out there today and enjoy your long weekend,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer