The EU’s Unemployment Line-Up and a Flight to Safety

Position: Short France (EWQ)

 

1.       European Union Unemployment Rates

 

While unemployment is a lagging indicator, it is nevertheless a formidable metric that can tell quite a story about a country’s “health”.  While country statistical offices may have different measures for calculating employment, we’ve used Eurostat data below to present the high-low divergence that exists across Europe.  As we pointed out in our Q2 Theme call Bearish Enough on Spain?, a high rate of unemployment, especially among persons 18-35, can have significant longer-term TAIL implications on economic growth. Simply said, higher levels of unemployment beget lower levels of consumer spending and tax revenue; pile on government austerity measures, ie cutting spending and levying higher taxes (which we’ve recently seen from  Spain, UK, Italy, and Portugal) and we believe you have a cocktail that will push growth prospects further out on the curve (chart 1).

 

The EU’s Unemployment Line-Up and a Flight to Safety  - M1

 

We’d draw your attention to the Baltic countries in chart 2 below, in particular. Over the trailing 6 months based on most current readings, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia show some of the largest gains in unemployment rates.  While the Baltic economies account for only 0.5% of total European Union’s GDP according to IMF data, investment risk is embedded in the region’s continued leverage to western European mortgages and loans, especially Swedish banks, and is nevertheless not insignificant. Remember that the Baltic countries experienced some of the largest contraction in GDP last year. We have seen sequential improvement in GDP for these countries over the last 3 quarters off bombed out year-over-year levels, which has helped contribute to the outperformance of the underlying equity markets YTD, yet we’d caution that rising unemployment will eat into the region’s potential growth prospects.

 

One country that stands out in chart 2 is Germany. As we’ve noted in our recent work, the decline in German unemployment over the last months is decidedly bullish, however last week we sold our position in Germany due to the drag we expect from the continent’s debt-laden peers.

 

Another key take away from the EU unemployment divergences is that a one-size-fits-all monetary policy is clearly not working in the Eurozone.  This is a longer term structural negative for the Euro.  We believe that there will be increasing conflict between countries within the Eurozone as their economies recover at different rates (or don’t recover at all) as the monetary union continues to weaken due to a lack of political solidarity.

 

The EU’s Unemployment Line-Up and a Flight to Safety  - m2

 

2.       ECB Deposit Levels Ramp to Historical High

 

Although the Europeans in collaboration with the IMF issued their $1 trillion “loan” facility in early May, European capital markets continue to shake day-to-day. Data from the ECB today may confirm investor worries as banks in the Eurozone parked record levels of cash with the ECB. Overnight deposits totaled €320.4 billion yesterday versus €316.4 billion in the previous day (chart 3).

 

As the chart points out, the flight of banks to safety began with Lehman and the financial crisis blowing out in the Fall of 2008 and has continued since then. With Euribor heading to a new YTD high of 0.706% today, it’s clear banks are cautious on the road ahead. Our call remains that Greece is not an anomaly, but rather that the fiscal imbalances of much larger economies such as Spain, France, and Italy are next, followed by the USA in 3-6 months.

 

We’ve positioned ourselves to take advantage of weakness in European markets. We’re currently short France via the etf EWQ and have been short Spain (EWP) in our virtual portfolio this year.

 

The EU’s Unemployment Line-Up and a Flight to Safety  - M3

 

Matthew Hedrick
Analyst

 

 


Did the US Economy Just “Collapse”? "Worst Personal Spending Since 2009"?

This is a brief note written by Hedgeye U.S. Macro analyst Christian Drake on 4/28 dispelling media reporting that “US GDP collapses to 0.7%, the lowest number in three years with the worst personal spending since 2009.”

read more

7 Tweets Summing Up What You Need to Know About Today's GDP Report

"There's a tremendous opportunity to educate people in our profession on how GDP is stated and projected," Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough wrote today. Here's everything you need to know about today's GDP report.

read more

Cartoon of the Day: Crash Test Bear

In the past six months, U.S. stock indices are up between +12% and +18%.

read more

GOLD: A Deep Dive on What’s Next with a Top Commodities Strategist

“If you saved in gold over the past 20 to 25 years rather than any currency anywhere in the world, gold has outperformed all these currencies,” says Stefan Wieler, Vice President of Goldmoney in this edition of Real Conversations.

read more

Exact Sciences Up +24% This Week... What's Next? | $EXAS

We remain long Exact Sciences in the Hedgeye Healthcare Position Monitor.

read more

Inside the Atlanta Fed's Flawed GDP Tracker

"The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNowcast model, while useful at amalgamating investor consensus on one singular GDP estimate for any given quarter, is certainly not the end-all-be-all of forecasting U.S. GDP," writes Hedgeye Senior Macro analyst Darius Dale.

read more

Cartoon of the Day: Acrophobia

"Most people who are making a ton of money right now are focused on growth companies seeing accelerations," Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough wrote in today's Early Look. "That’s what happens in Quad 1."

read more

People's Bank of China Spins China’s Bad-Loan Data

PBoC Deputy Governor Yi says China's non-performing loan problem has “pretty much stabilized." "Yi is spinning. China’s bad-debt problem remains serious," write Benn Steil and Emma Smith, Council on Foreign Relations.

read more

UnderArmour: 'I Am Much More Bearish Than I Was 3 Hours Ago'

“The consumer has a short memory.” Yes, Plank actually said this," writes Hedgeye Retail analyst Brian McGough. "Last time I heard such arrogance was Ron Johnson."

read more

Buffalo Wild Wings: Complacency & Lack of Leadership (by Howard Penney)

"Buffalo Wild Wings has been plagued by complacency and a continued lack of adequate leadership," writes Hedgeye Restaurants analyst Howard Penney.

read more

Todd Jordan on Las Vegas Sands Earnings

"The quarter actually beat lowered expectations. Overall, the mass segment performed well although base mass lagging is a concern," writes Hedgeye Gaming, Lodging & Leisure analyst Todd Jordan on Las Vegas Sands.

read more

An Update on Defense Spending by Lt. Gen Emo Gardner

"Congress' FY17 omnibus appropriation will fully fund the Pentagon's original budget request plus $15B of its $30B supplemental request," writes Hedgeye Potomac Defense Policy analyst Lt. Gen Emerson "Emo" Gardner USMC Ret.

read more