10 reasons to be cautious on economy
I will say this: As much as I press WH officials to take a victory lap on the economy, they want no part of that — especially not with unemployment at these high levels and the evolving EU debt crisis. David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff gives some more reasons for caution:
1. Markets were unimpressed with the size of the just-announced $145 billion rescue package or the ability of Greece to meet the terms. A bailout of all Club Med countries would, according to estimates I’ve seen, approach $800 billion. This is bigger than LEH.
2. China raised reserve ratio requirements 50bps for the third time this year (to 17%). A decisive slowing in China and the U.S.A. is a crimp in the near-term commodity price outlook.
3. Australia just unveiled a massive new mining tax. This is weighing on material stocks overnight.
4. Possible criminal probe on Goldman weighing massively on the stock price; financials being re-rated by rising spectre of financial re-regulation. Shades of Sarbanes-Oxley. There has never been a financial crisis that was not met afterwards with regulatory reform — it’s how the SEC was created in the first place.
5. ECRI leading economic index just slipped to a 38-week low. With the restocking phase complete and fiscal stimulus waning, prospects of a second half slowdown loom large. Buy the recovery story when ISM is at 30 and policy stimulus in full swing (13 months ago); fade it when ISM approaches 60 and stimulus subsides. Market Vane sentiment is pushing towards 60% too — yikes! Too much priced in. As for the macro scene, the U.S. economy is barely growing at all, net of all the federal stimulus (+0.7% SAAR in Q1). And net of housing impacts, neither is Canada … should set us up for a fascinating second-half.
6. Attempted terrorist attack in Times Square a reminder that geopolitical risks have not gone away.
7. Treasury yields have collapsed nearly 35bps from the nearby highs and are not consistent with the recent move by equities to price in peak earnings in 2011. Junk bonds trading back to par for the first time in three years.
8. The U.S. implicit GDP price deflator receded to its slowest rate in 60 years in Q1 (+0.4% from +2% a year ago) in a sign that this profits recovery is still being underpinned by cost cuts, tax relief and accounting shifts than by anything exciting on the pricing front.
9. The latest Case-Shiller house price index confirmed that we are into a renewed leg down in home prices. Financials, retailers and homebuilders are not priced for this outcome.
10. Initial jobless claims, around 450k, are not consistent with sustained employment growth, notwithstanding what nonfarm payrolls tell us this Friday. A new peak in the unemployment rate and a new trough in home prices stand as the most pronounced downside surprises for the second half of the year