This morning we are seeing a slew of consumer confidence figures coming out around the globe which are lower but largely in line with expectations. The Euro zone debt crisis is continuing to weigh heavily on the markets, and a leading economic index in China had its smallest gain in nearly 5 months, signaling that the Chinese economy may be slowing down.
Later this morning we are expecting consumer confidence figures here in the US as well as housing price figures. These are expected to come in lower as well, as the removal of the home buying tax credit has caused demand to wane.
Overnight in New Zealand, building permits were lower, and the Japanese jobless rate increased to 5.2%, higher than expected.
This has all contributed to lower equities markets, with US stocks and commodities set to open lower as well. As a result, we are in risk-aversion mode this morning. Keep an eye out for the 10AM numbers, as they may be the stock market’s only chance to recover.
Aussie (AUD): The Aussie is lower as risk aversion is reducing demand for carry trades due to global slowdown concerns, particularly from China. In addition, the market is looking for the new PM to move quickly on the proposed mining tax, which is seen as “anti-business” and bad for the economy.
Kiwi (NZD): In addition to risk aversion, the Kiwi is lower as building permits declined 9.6%, the second decline in 3 months. The Chinese leading index decline is also affecting NZ, as a number of exports go to China as well.
Loonie (CAD): The Loonie is also lower on a classic risk-aversion day, as oil prices retreat on fears of a global slowdown. Tomorrow will bring the Canadian GDP figures which will show how solid recovery is north of the border.
Euro (EUR): The Euro is lower this morning, though higher against the commodity currencies. Fears of the debt crisis have resurfaced, and bank stress tests are to include bank exposure to sovereign debt risk. This is sure to uncover a land mine or two, and the market is fearful of the size and the scope. However, business confidence came in higher than expected as a lower valued Euro should encourage exports.
Pound (GBP): The Pound is lower as well on risk aversion, though it is still above 1.50 vs. USD. Mortgage approvals came in slightly lower than expected, but expect the Pound to fare better than the Euro as GDP figures are due out tomorrow.
Dollar (USD): The Dollar is catching a bid from risk-aversion and is higher against all but the Yen. Consumer confidence figures are due out at 10AM EST and they may be the stock market’s last hope for a turn-around today if the numbers are better than expected. Home price figures came in slightly better than expected, most likely due to the tax credit. Today looks ugly for stocks, which should mean continued dollar strength.
Yen (JPY): The Yen is higher as the rapid unwind of carry trades is driving demand for the Japanese currency despite the fact that industrial production and household spending fell. In addition, unemployment ticked higher to 5.2% vs. an expectation of 5% in a sign that recovery is clearly slowing down.
Well, we knew it was only a matter of time before this global charade was exposed as unsustainable and now the market is starting to realize that it may be time to pay the piper. Obama’s pleas at the G-20 fell on deaf ears, and governments outside of the US have decided that it’s better to cut bait than to try to continue to fish.
In other words, countries are trying to cut their losses and get back to economic health. The only way to do this by taking the “medicine” of financial austerity and debt reduction. This is going to be one heck of a hangover, as now the party may be finally over.
However, all is not lost and I am not trying to be a doomsday forecaster. There are definitely pockets of strength in our economy, including corporate America. All of the lay-offs of the past have allowed corporations to increase profitability, and many are trading at low multiples.
However, it is definitely time for people to wake up. The eventual fallout and backlash against our big-spending government will only bring about better policy in the future. Government, no matter what type of social engineering they try, CAN NOT control economic cycles. The longer they try to pro-long an unnatural order, the worse the pain will be.
Usually the “summer slowdown” takes effect, though this time it may be different. I expect there to be heightened volatility as the world navigates the treacherous waters of the global economy. Expect there to be highs and lows, as well as gains and set-backs.
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