Sunday, February 23, 2014

Falling Retail Sales and Falling Inflation

The series for Real Retail Sales shows a visible drop in the rate of growth, the kind that can be associated with a peaking business cycle, while Core CPI is resuming its downward trend, something that could suggest longer term structural weakness or just that the business cycle peak is farther away into the future.

Since the QE does not end until September given a $10bn tapering pace, the stock market seems to have enough time to complete another bull leg with 1900 - 1950 or even 2000 as possible target.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Weakness becomes visible

The big plunge in the New Orders Index comes as a a surprise, but weakness was expected.

The NFP report confirmed the slowdown with a visible fall in the number of average weekly hours worked for January. This is a leading indicator, so if it does not bounce back soon enough, the headline NFP number should continue to be on the weaker side.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

GDP, Durable Goods and the Correction

Good Q4 GDP report with the consumption of Durable Goods still at respectable levels of growth but slowing down. In fact the annual rate of growth for December is significantly lower than the quarterly average. The behavior during the previous expansion suggests rates of growth will slowdown further.

Meanwhile, the stock market seems to have started an intermediate term correction (7-10%). The tapering is finally weighing in. Longer term support is at 1700 SPX:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Retail Sales, CPI and the Taper

Real retail sales kept growing at a good pace in Q4, while the available data on Durable Goods (October and November) suggests a slight slowdown but still a healthy pace. No wonder y/y growth in GDP is accelerating.

Meanwhile the slowdown in Core CPI has stopped but no clear turn to the upside is visible yet.

With economic activity still strong and CPI seemingly stabilizing, the Fed can still find excuses to continue tapering.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Employment - further slowdown expected

Further slowdown expected for the pace of growth in employment.

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Orders Index- strong but peaking

I have written already about the fact that the New Orders Index (component of the ISM PMI) is at peak levels but this time I wanted to show it another way, plotted as a quarterly 3-month average against the GDP. I am planning to show similar charts for other important economic indicators in the future.The red bar in the chart is based on an estimate for Q4 GDP.

So, it is peaking but this does not mean much for the economic expansion. Even lower levels still represent growth.

On the other hand, peaking also means strong and the stock market and the dollar will anticipate the continuation of tapering. This means a larger correction for the S&P500 soon.

Monday, December 9, 2013

To Taper or Not to Taper

I think it's time for an ACH (click for an introduction to ACH) on the much discussed tapering issue, more so, as it looks likely to be announced at the December 17-18 meeting (by tapering I also mean the communication that precedes the actual slowdown in QE).

So the hypotheses are:

H1 - the Fed will taper at the December meeting;
H2 - the Fed will not taper at the December meeting.

Here is a matrix with a score measuringmy judgement on how much each piece of evidence invalidates each hypothesis.

                             Evidence                                                       H1                     H2
E1 - the economic indicators have been strong lately
and the Fed wanted to start tapering in September                       +                      -0.75

E2 - the latest GDP report has been strong but only
due to rising inventory                                                                -0.25                    +

E3 - the Fed has not started to communicate its
possible tapering intentions yet                                                   -0.75                   +

E4 - a slowdown in Q4 is expected                                             -0.25                    +

E5 - Bernanke could take upon himself the responsibility
to announce the taper                                                                    +                   -0.5

E6 - the December meeting is followed by a press
conference, a good opportunity to start tapering                              +                   -0.75

E7 - the stock market has risen and the bond market
was flat after the strong NFP report, which could                            +                    -0.5
encourage the officials to start tapering sooner

E9 - inflation is still trending lower                                                -0.5                    +

E10 - the 7% unemployment threshold, which
has been mentioned by Bernanke early 2013, has                           +                     -0.5
been reached        
                                                            Total                              -1.75               -3.00


H1 is less invalidated, so it wins. The mechanical conclusion of the analysis is that the Fed will start at least communicating the taper at the next meeting.

What should be seen if, indeed, the Fed were to taper? I would guess that some early signaling by Fed officials (today there are three such speeches) but also the markets could anticipate such a decision somehow - the markets were not taken by surprise in September when tapering was postponed even if everybody was ready for it to happen.

Lastly, the conclusion of this analysis is not to be taken for granted. This framework is more of a way to put arguments in order and to see the pivotal ones. Expressing conviction in probabilities is much better. In this case, I would say there is a 60% chance for the Fed to start at least communicating the tapering.