In what is already expected to be an ugly quarter for corporate earnings, Alcoa kicked off 1Q earnings season with a bang last night. The aluminum producer missed revenue estimates, earnings fell by 92% and reduced guidance for the year.
What do you believe in? Do you still believe that ECB President Mario Draghi’s policy to do “whatever it takes” to burn the currency can and will spur Eurozone growth and inflation?
As we present in our Q2 2016 Macro Theme of #BeliefSystem (click here for the replay – slides and video – of our second theme starting on page 37 and minute 25:14), not only do Eurozone fundamentals continue to materially slow (witness the progression of slowing data over the last 12 months in the charts of Eurozone Retail Sales, Industrial Production, Exports, Consumer and Business Confidence, and Inflation), but the region is experiencing the perfect storm given the combination of:
Negative interest rate policy (NIRF) + Quantitative (and Qualitative) Easing + Talking Down of Forward Guidance.
According to our Big Bang Theory that we originally discussed ahead of the ECB’s March 10th 2016 interest rate meeting, we’ve underlined our view that after 600 rate cuts globally, there’s a new regime of investors that has given up on the belief that central bankers can artificially produce stimulus and weaken their currency for economic benefit. This policy hasn’t worked in Japan, and it isn’t going to work in the Eurozone.
Not only were we right with our call that more ECB “easing” would equate to EUR/USD strength (versus a bearish consensus view), but we’ve continued to be right forecasting growth and inflation levels below consensus.
Specifically, we’ve signaled through our GIP (growth, inflation, policy) model that the Eurozone would return to Quad 4 (equating to growth slowing as inflation decelerates). In the second chart below, we show our forward GDP estimates over the next four quarters, declining to +0.2% in Q4 2016. #ouch!
If the deterioration of growth fundamentals and consumer and business confidence weren’t enough, the ECB’s negative interest rate policy is artificially pushing down bond yields, making it harder for banks to lend (while pilfering savers), and the equity market has taken it on the chin – the EuroStoxx 600 has crashed, down -20% Y/Y.
Schäuble Speaks – In related news, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble blew the horn this weekend echoing our sentiment on the negative impact of the ECB’s quantitative and qualitative policy. Specifically he suggested that the ECB’s loose monetary policy is partly to blame for the rise of the populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party in Germany, and argued:
“I said to [ECB President] Mario Draghi…be very proud: you can attribute 50% of the results of a party that seems to be new and successful in Germany to the design of this policy. There is a growing understanding that excessive liquidity has become more a cause than a solution to the problem.”
We'll continue to bang the boards with our call that the #BeliefSystem in the Eurozone is broken -- that neither Draghi nor other central banker can bend economic gravity. This time is in fact not different, and as the Eurozone experiences the drag from an aging population (see chart directly below), the prospect of a buoyant and sustained economic recovery appears even further out of reach.
In a recent excerpt from The Macro Show, Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough responds to a subscriber’s question about the latest permabull narrative that a weaker dollar will lead to “widespread earnings beats.”
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Below is a brief excerpt from our Potomac Research Group colleague and Chief Political Strategist JT Taylor's Morning Bullets sent to institutional clients each morning. For more information on how you can access our institutional research please email email@example.com.
President Obama has been working full time to use executive powers to cement his legacy on many fronts, and now his latest gambit is to protect Hillary Clinton's flank. Within a week, the president has defended Clinton's qualifications for the presidency and has shown support for the Democratic frontrunner through her FBI investigations. Normally, a sitting president would not get involved in the primary, but Obama can't afford to let an opportunity like this pass. For the most part, a Clinton presidency will be closer to an Obama a "third" term, while a Sanders presidency has the potential to be problematic for the Democratic party.
After narrowly losing the Iowa caucuses in early February to Ted Cruz, Trump vowed to get his ground game in order - and we're still waiting for that to happen. At the CO Republican convention, Trump's hastily assembled team unintentionally instructed Trump supporters to vote for Cruz delegates helping him sweep the state. States where Trump lost delegate ground to Cruz include IN, GA, LA, ND, SD and TN, and the election of anti-Trump delegates in these places mean that Trump is all but certain to lose support if there is a second ballot in Cleveland.
These mistakes may seem trivial, but they are adding up, and this disorganization could cost Trump a delegate majority heading into Cleveland. The road ahead hardly looks brighter - Trump's campaign emailed WA supporters to encourage them to register as delegates two days after the deadline. We think the arrival of his new top strategist and Washington political veteran, Paul Manafort, will help recalibrate the campaign - Trump has been mostly quiet for the last few days, and avoided all Sunday show appearances for the first time in five months. Good first step...
While Donald Trump maneuvers to amass enough pledged delegates to secure a majority, many pundits are resigned to predicting an open convention. The delegate math supports their predictions, however, those same pundits often ignore a major factor - that at least some of the unbound delegates will also vote for Trump on the first ballot. Many of the people running to be one of the 54 unbound PA delegates have pledged to vote according to the results of their district, while other delegates could easily be swayed to back Trump if he goes to Cleveland just shy of 1,237. Let's not forget that this is the man that wrote The Art of The Deal.
Takeaway: We will be hosting a call with a top DC policy firm today at 2 pm to outline the new Treasury framework and its potential impact on M&A.
About our speaker Jeff Shapiro:
Jeff Shapiro joined Peck Madigan Jones following six years as Chief of Staff to Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE), a member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. He brings more than a decade of political and public policy experience to the firm, having previously served on Capitol Hill for Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), who was a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
In his time on Capitol Hill, Jeff gained a reputation as a skilled political professional among Members and colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Jeff’s command of the legislative process, operational dynamics and inner workings of congressional offices was recognized by House Leadership, who tasked him with transitioning into office several Members of Congress following special elections.
CALL DETAILS - Tuesday, April 12th at 2 pm EST
Related Tickers: GS, JPM, MS, LAZ, GHL, EVR, MC, PFE, AGN.
Please let us know of questions,
Jonathan Casteleyn, CFA, CMT
Takeaway: As lackluster growth confounds stimulus-addicted economists & policymakers, markets signal breakdown in the central planning #BeliefSystem.
In case you missed it, the IMF cut its 2016 global growth outlook again today, to 3.2% versus 3.6% put forth in October (see the revisions in the chart below). The IMF's policy prescription? More central bank monetary accommodation.
But hang on a sec. How effective can additional stimulus actually be?
After 600 rate cuts globally, $8 trillion in negative yielding bonds & years of central bank easy money, global growth has continually surprised IMF economists to the downside. Furthermore, we continue to highlight that central bankers are increasingly pushing on a string as equity and currency markets in Europe and Japan move in direct opposition to the ECB and BOJ's easy-money intent.
Here's analysis on Japan from Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough in a note sent to subscribers this morning:
"The yen finally stops going parabolic (down -0.3% vs USD) on these poor Japanese central planners who are now calling for an “end to one-sided speculative moves”, lol. Nikkei gets relief on that obviously, +1.1% and still -24% since #TheCycle peak in July."
Here's the long-looking chart of Japan's TOPIX (-16% year-to-date) and USDJPY (-9.6% ytd) inclusive of today's modest bounce:
"No relief for the Euro’s ramp ($1.14 vs USD) for European Equity bulls who not only have to deal with the reality of an economic slow-down from #TheCycle (2015) peak, but crashing banks and equity indices; Italy leading lossers (again) this morning taking the MIB Index crash to -27% since July."
Here's the chart of the Euro Stoxx 600 (-9.2% year-to-date) and EURUSD (+4.7% ytd):
The final holdout in the fast evaporating central planning belief system is the Fed. As we head into 2Q16, the U.S. faces its toughest GDP comp of the cycle, not to mention the ongoing industrial and corporate profit recessions. Make no mistake Yellen & Co. can't arrest economic gravity forever.
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