Thursday, February 18, 2016

Having read the news…On February 18, 2016

Having read the news…
I’d love to turn…you…off?

The morning news does not make a ‘good read.’ The FOMC minutes released yesterday show a seriously conflicted Fed that seems to have lost its way. The more that the Fed protests that is not on a pre-set course, the more it looks like it is, based on reports it releases to the public.

With the Fed lacking a serious backbone, the OECD has injected a sense of urgency into the mix. It is not clear that this is aimed at the Fed or at the US but other countries are acting or preparing to act. The U.S. (i.e. FED) alone has dug its heels in and refused to even give a clear signal that will leave its tightening path- and has more clearly declined to step up any stimulus- However let me ass that the use of fiscal policy is dead almost everywhere outside of China (genuflect, I said ‘China’).

The Fed’s die has been cast even as the Fed argues that it remains open minded. And this is a Fed that wants to pride itself on transparency. no No NO. This is the same old Fed. It is shrouded by the use of obscure language and wedded to issuing a new policy statement each month, but one that reads more or less like the one issued before it. And it wants to have its wiggle room on language but also to speak clearly and wants to have its cake and eat it too, while extolling the metis of a high protein diet.

The Fed’s choice in the ‘minutes’ to rely more on labor market data because GDP is often revised sets up a straw man that ignores other reports perhaps best summarized by the weak MFG ISM and the weakening Non-MFG ISM.  Whatever the reality behind the Fed’s bizarre choices, there seems to be a few voices of reason at the Fed but we have heard few of them in public recently. As for Janet Yellen we seem to have progressed from having strong Fed chairman like Volcker and Greenspan to a consensus builder in Bernanke to one who is afraid to speak anything other than what the committee already has decided. Janet Yellen may be our first Japanese Chair as she acts as though she has no power and has been coopted by the opinions of the committee. Her statements about negative rate prospects were classic Yellen: one day saying that the committee had considered and rejected that course at one point and the next day saying that she was not taking anything off the table. Now that’s leadership! At least it is what passes for it from Ms. Yellen. Policy by committee is one of the worst possible.  Committees need strong leadership. I, increasingly, get the sense that this one does not have it.     

The News

OECD…Governments in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere should take “urgent” and “collective” steps to raise their investment spending and deliver a fresh boost to flagging economic growth, said the OECD.

ECB view- The euro zone's modest economic recovery was progressing but risks are on the rise and there were also signs that low energy prices could feed into the price of other goods and services, the European Central Bank said on Thursday.

Wal-Mart- Wal-Mart cut its sales forecast for the current year because of the stronger dollar and store closures, as it reported core sales growth in its U.S. business that was softer than expected for the holiday quarter. 

Nestle… Shares in Nestlé dropped more than 4% after the Swiss food giant reported its slowest sales increase in six years and held back from buying more of its shareholders’ stock.

Like to watch?... Swiss watch exports continued to decline at the beginning of the year, figures from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry showed Thursday. Watch exports fell notably by 7.9 percent year-over-year in value terms in January to CHF 1.5 billion. All main price segments recorded significant decreases.

Bridgewater’s founder offers this… Ray Dalio, founder of the world's largest hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, says the next big monetary and fiscal move should include an airdrop of money from helicopters to stimulate the U.S. economy.

No comments: