White Tiger

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by: Macronomics

Earnings don't move the overall market; it's the Federal Reserve Board... focus on the central banks, and focus on the movement of liquidity... most people in the market are looking for earnings and conventional measures. It's liquidity that moves markets." - Stanley Druckenmiller

Watching with interest the trade war between the United States and China ratcheting up with Beijing cancelling its plans to send two delegations to Washington, given the season of fall is upon us, when it came to selecting our title analogy, we decided to go for "White Tiger." The White Tiger is one of the four symbols of the Chinese constellations. It is sometimes called the White Tiger of the West and represents the West in terms of direction as well as the autumn season. It has been said that the white tiger only appeared when the emperor ruled with absolute virtue, or if there was peace throughout the world. Obviously for those who remember our June conversation "Prometheus Unbound", we argued the following:

It seems more and more probable that the United States and China cannot escape the Thucydides Trap being the theory proposed by Graham Allison former director of the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and a former U.S. assistant secretary of defense for policy and plans in 2015 who postulates that war between a rising power and an established power is inevitable:
- source Macronomics June 2016

It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable." Thucydides from "The History of the Peloponnesian War"

In similar fashion, more recently maverick hedge fund manager Ray Dalio came to a similar prognosis in his recent musing entitled "A Path to War" on the 19th of September:

The economic/geopolitical cycle of economic conflicts leading to military conflicts both within and between emerging powerful countries and established powerful countries is obvious to anyone who studies history. It's been well-described by historians, though those historians typically have more of a geopolitical perspective and less of an economic/market perspective than I do. In either case, it is well-recognized as classic by historians. The following sentence describes it as I see it in a nutshell:

When 1) within countries there are economic conflicts between the rich/capitalist/political right and the poor/proletariat/political left that lead to conflicts that result in populist, autocratic, nationalistic, and militaristic leaders coming to power, while at the same time, 2) between countries there are conflicts arising among comparably strong economic and military powers, the relationships between economics and politics become especially intertwined-and the probabilities of disruptive conflicts (e.g., wars) become much higher than normal.

In other words economic rivalries within and between countries often lead to fighting in order to establish which entities are most powerful. In these periods, we have war economies, and after them, markets, economies, and geopolitics all experience the hang-over effects. What happens during wars and as a result of wars have huge effects on which currencies, which debts, which equities, and which economies are worth what, and more profoundly, on the whole social-political fabric. At the most big-picture level, the periods of war are followed by periods of peace in which the dominant power/powers get to set the rules because no one can fight them. That continues until the cycle begins again (because of a rival power emerging).

Appreciating this big economic/geopolitical cycle that drives the ascendancies and declines of empires and their reserve currencies requires taking a much longer (250-year) time frame, which I will touch on briefly here and in more detail in a future report.
Typically, though not always, at times of economic rivalry, emotions run high, firebrand populist leaders who prefer antagonistic paths are elected or come to power, and wars occur. However, that is not always the case. History has shown that through time, there are two broad types of relationships, and that what occurs depends on which type of relationship exists. The two types of relationships are:

a) Cooperative-competitive relationships in which the parties take into consideration what's really important to the other and try to give it to them in exchange for what they most want. In this type of win-win relationship, there are often tough negotiations that are done with respect and consideration, like two friendly merchants in a bazaar or two friendly teams on the field.

b) Mutually threatening relationships in which the parties think about how they can harm the other and exchange painful acts in the hope of forcing the other into a position of fear so that they will give in. In this type of lose-lose relationship, they interact through "war" rather than through "negotiation."

Either side can force the second path (threatening war, lose-lose) onto the other side, but it takes both sides to go down the cooperative, win-win path. Both sides will inevitably follow the same approach.

In the back of the minds of all parties, regardless of which path they choose, should be their relative powers. In the first case, each party should realize what the other could force on them and appreciate the quality of the exchange without getting too pushy, while in the second case, the parties should realize that power will be defined by the relative abilities of the parties to endure pain as much as their relative abilities to inflict it. When it isn't clear exactly how much power either side has to reward and punish the other side because there are many untested ways, the first path is the safer way. On the other hand, the second way will certainly make clear-through the hell of war-which party is dominant and which one will have to be submissive. That is why, after wars, there are typically extended periods of peace with the dominant country setting the rules and other countries following them for the time it takes for the cycle to happen all over again." - source Ray Dalio

Because the color white of the Wu Xing theory also represents the west, the white tiger became a mythological guardian of the West on the mythological compass. The White Tiger is as well considered in China as the ruler of the Autumn and the governor of the metallic elementals (hint for you gold bugs out there...) but we ramble again. Will the age of reason disappear with the White Tiger? We wonder.

In this week's conversation, we would like to look at the gradual path towards recession in the US and how the credit cycle will end.

Synopsis:

  • Macro and Credit - Credit cycles die of "old age."
  • Final chart - Hey Fed, NAIRU this!
  • Macro and Credit - Credit cycles die of "old age."


While many pundits have been focusing on the continuation of the flattening of the yield curve, as we pointed out in our most recent conversation again, credit cycles die because too much debt has been raised. What the most recent Fed quarterly survey Senior Loan Officers Opinion Survey (SLOOs) tells us is that financial conditions remain very benign still. Yet, no one can ignore the hiking path followed by the Fed and that already some parts of the economy such as housing are feeling the heat and the gradual tightening noose of financial conditions.

From a "White Tiger" perspective, a full-blown trade war between China and the United States would push US companies to pass price increases onto the US consumer. Any acceleration in inflation would lead the Fed to be more aggressive with its hiking stance. The rhetoric of Fed members in recent week has become decisively more "hawkish."

First question we are asking ourselves is when does the US consumer gets "maxed out"? We are already seeing credit card usage surging as well as the return of housing equity extraction thanks to the return of HELOC. On this subject we read with interest Wells Fargo Economics Group note from the 18th of September entitled "Consumer outlook in a rising rate environment":

Executive SummaryConventional wisdom has it that rising interest rates are bad for consumer spending because swelling financing costs put a squeeze on a household's capacity for other outlays. What if conventional wisdom is wrong? Our analysis finds that a rising interest rate environment does not immediately snuff out consumer spending growth.

As the current expansion stretches further into its tenth year, the economy is on track to eclipse the expansion of the 1990s as the longest on record. In this report we consider the outlook for consumer spending against this backdrop of a record-setting expansion and consider how long the good times will last. Our base-case scenario, spelled out in this special report, anticipates a modest pick-up in consumer spending, at least in the near term. Eventually, like all good things, the longest economic expansion on record will come to an end and consumer spending will come back down with it. That will likely occur alongside financial conditions that warrant rate cuts by the Fed. The precise timing of these events is tough to get right, but by signaling this drop-off in activity in late 2020, we are essentially saying that while the end of the party is not imminent, no cycle lasts forever.

- Source Bloomberg LP, The Conference Board, University of Michigan and Wells Fargo Securities

As per the below Macrobond chart, the University of Michigan Consumer Confidence turning points tend to coincide with significant S&P 500 12 months return:

- source Macrobond (click to enlarge).

Before we go into more details of Wells Fargo's (NYSE:WFC) note, there are a couple of points we would like to make. Despite decreasing significantly from its peak prior to the Great Recession, household debt still remains quite elevated, stabilizing around 77%. Also back in March in our long conversation "Intermezzo," when it comes to consumer credit, as pointed out by famous French economist Frédéric Bastiat, there is always what you see and what you don't see. We pointed out the following from Deutsche Bank's (NYSE:DB) State of the US Consumer report from the 26th of February entitled "Robust Consumer with Pro-cyclical and Seasonal Tailwinds on the Horizon":

Items to watch

Lower income consumers are more levered than they appear: The aggregate deleveraging post-crisis has largely benefited from mortgage leverage sitting at its lowest level since 2001. However, other consumer leverage (card, student, auto, and personal) continues to grind higher into 2018 and is now at all time highs (~26%). Excluding disposable income for the Top 5% income bracket of US consumers, consumer debt levels are closer to 43% of adjusted disposable income-almost double the reported measure of ~26%. The latest triennial Fed Survey of Consumer Finances highlights this dynamic, with the bottom 40% income households running at ~50% non-mortgage DTI, which is ~10% more than LT averages.

The subprime/low income consumer is stretched: Sluggish wage growth and rising healthcare and rent expenses as a percentage of income (non-debt obligations near 25 year highs) among lower income households have stretched subprime consumers as they look to augment rising expenses with debt.

Banks have met this increased demand by providing deeper credit access to subprime (increased participation, especially for cards), leading to higher leverage and an increased severity risk of loss as delinquencies start to diverge for lower quality consumers. Like DTI, adjusting debt payment burdens to exclude the top 10% income brackets almost doubles the reported Fed figure (9.6% PTI vs. 5.8% reported PTI by the Fed).

Socio-economic divide driving credit cycle: While aggregate consumer fundamentals remain robust, subprime consumers are seeing rising delinquencies and losses starting to normalize much faster than other credit tiers: +90-day DQs within subprime cards have rose+300bps Y/Y in 3Q17 vs. only~30bps on average for near prime/prime borrowers. ~45% of Americans would have difficulty paying a surprise medical bill of ~$500 (Kaiser Foundation), while ~50% of US consumers live paycheck to paycheck (FITB). Taken all together, a disconnect between the lower credit tier borrowers and the economic cycle is starting to emerge." - source Deutsche Bank

The issue of course for the stretched US consumer would be if Core PCE inflation continues to pick up slightly faster than core CPI if healthcare service price inflation accelerates while rent inflation gradually slows. This upside risk to healthcare prices and expected further labor market tightening, one could expect core PCE inflation to rise further, not to mention the issue with gas prices at the pump should oil prices continue as well to trend up. Remember that the acceleration of inflation is a dangerous match when it comes to lighting up/bursting asset bubbles.

But let's return to Wells Fargo's take:

A Consumer Spending Framework in the Context of RatesAs we would at any time in the business cycle, we consider the macro drivers of consumer behavior. Consumer sentiment and confidence, by about any measure, are at or near high levels last seen around 2001; which, not coincidentally, was in the late stages of that prior long-lasting expansion (Figures 1 & 2). We also look at the purchasing power in consumers' wallets, be it in the form of personal income, which is at last picking up (albeit in only a modest way) or in access to capital through borrowing, where measures of revolving consumer credit growth indicate a levelling off more recently. Finally, we tally the actual spending numbers reflected in the personal income and spending report and the monthly retail sales numbers, both of which have been on a roll in recent months.

In an effort to better inform a consumer outlook, it is essential to have a framework for thinking about these fundamentals and how households will manage finances at this late stage of the cycle. The trouble with considering this period in the context of what has happened in prior cycles is that for a long stretch in the current cycle, from December 2008 until December 2015, the Federal Reserve maintained a near zero interest rate policy (ZIRP), and at various points during those years was engaged in a broad expansion of the balance sheet through quantitative easing (QE), (Figures 3 & 4).

- source Federal Reserve System and Wells Fargo Securities

The Fed has historically purchased Treasury securities to expand the monetary base, although the monetary policy "medicine" applied during that era, including the purchases of mortgage-backed securities and other assets, had not been tried before, at least not in the United States.

Central bank actions, no doubt, are a factor in the remarkable duration of the current cycle, and on that basis any informed outlook for consumer spending ought to not only consider these macro drivers (like confidence, access to capital and willingness to spend) but to consider them in the context of Fed policy.

To that end, we went back to just before the 1990s expansion began in 1989 and divided the years since into four broad categories based on what the Federal Reserve was doing with monetary policy at the time: (1) lowering the fed funds rate, (2) a "stable" rate environment, (3) raising the fed funds rate and (4) ZIRP with QE.

The date ranges for each of these periods is spelled out in Table 1 below.

Most of the time periods are straightforward, although the one period that might invite critique is that we have characterized the time period from March of 1995 through January 2001 as "stable" (revisit Figure 3).

One could reasonably observe that the fed funds rate actually moved up and down during that nearly six-year stretch. Our argument for calling it "stable" is that this period was essentially from the "mid-cycle" slowdown until the end of that expansion. Admittedly, there were adjustments up and down throughout the period, but from the start of the period to the end, the funds rate finished just 50 basis points higher. Reasonable minds could disagree, but in our view, the idea of thinking of that period as four unique rate cycles would unnecessarily complicate our analysis.

With our various Fed cycle dates established, we looked at our macro drivers for consumer spending through the lens of the Fed policy that was in place at the time. For each interest rate backdrop, we calculated the average levels for various measures of consumer confidence, the average annualized growth rate of personal income, the average net monthly expansion in consumer credit and finally the average annual growth rates of both real personal consumption expenditures and of nominal retail sales.

A key takeaway from our exercise, depicted in Table 2 below, is that measures of consumer fundamentals tend to do best in periods of stable interest rates. Interestingly though, a rising rate environment is almost as good for these same consumer fundamentals.

Perhaps that is not altogether surprising, considering that the Fed is apt to raise rates when the economy is at full employment and inflation is heating up beyond the Fed's comfort zone. Those factors tend to exist when the economy is doing particularly well or even overheating.

The inverse of that dynamic may explain why the worst rate theme for consumer spending is during periods when the Fed is lowering rates. Personal income and spending as well as nominal retail sales all performed worst during periods when the Fed was cutting rates. Interestingly, the lowering of interest rates does not compel consumers to increase their appetite for credit, at least not immediately. The average net monthly increase in consumer credit came in a distant last during periods when the Fed was actively lowering rates.

2020 Vision

So what sort of Fed policy theme should we consider looking forward? To judge from the Fed's dot plot, a visual rendering of policymakers' own forecasts for the fed funds rate, the FOMC is closing in on its neutral rate for fed funds. With most dots clustered around 3.00 to 3.25% and the current fed funds rate at 2.00%, there are only four or five quarter-point rate hikes left to go in the current cycle, barring some change in forward guidance from the Fed (Figure 5).

Our forecast anticipates two more hikes this year and another three next year. After that it stands to reason we would be in a stable rate environment slightly above the neutral rate until the Fed's understanding of r* changes (favoring another hike) or until conditions warrant a cut. In a separate special report1, we explained our use of an analytical framework we recently developed to inform our view of Fed policy going forward and why we look for the FOMC to raise rates another 125 bps before it cuts rates at the end of 2020.

In forming our outlook for the consumer, we take the findings of our rate-environment study and overlay them with our expectations for Fed policy over the next couple of years. If things play out the way we anticipate, monetary policy is entering an era of transition unlike anything the economy has seen in more than a decade. For a number of factors including the longevity of the cycle, growing fiscal budget imbalances and a potential fallout from the global economy, we indicated in our initial 2020 forecast that by the end of our forecast horizon the Fed would likely begin cutting the fed funds rate.2 A rate-tightening environment is expected to prevail at least through the first part of 2019, which will be followed by a stable rate for another year or so before the Fed begins to signal eventual rate cuts.

For the consumer, this Fed forecast implies a pick-up in the pace of consumer spending in the near term before an eventual slowing the further out we go in the forecast period. Full year PCE growth was 2.5% in 2017. By the time we close the books on the current year, we expect the comparable number for 2018 to pick up to 2.6%, prior to quickening to 2.7% in 2019 and slowing to just 2.2% in 2020 (Figure 6).

- Source: Bloomberg LP, Federal Reserve Board, U.S. Department of Commerce and Wells Fargo Securities

Outlook

Consumers may be better prepared to endure a slowdown than in the past. The saving rate, currently at 6.7%, is rather elevated given the late stage of expansion, while real median household income surpassed its pre-recession peak in 2017. With the unemployment rate currently matching low levels last seen in the late 1960s, there remains little slack in the economy. The labor market is expected to grow increasingly tight, with the unemployment rate trending to as low as 3.3% by 2020. Similarly, inflationary pressures that continue to gradually build over our forecast horizon will put downward pressure on real income gains.

The length of the current expansion is expected to surpass that of the 1990s, taking the title as the longest expansion on record. While monetary policy changes act as signals to markets about the health of the economy and/or concerns about inflation expectations, we must be sensitive to policy movements and their implication for consumer spending. Our initial 2020 forecast expects the Fed to surpass its neutral rate, prior to beginning to cut policy by the end of 2020. With this signal of a slowdown in activity, we are essentially saying that this expansion will eventually draw to a close. The rate cutting environment will act as a last call announcement - and for the consumer sector it serves as a valuable indication for longevity of this expansion." - source Wells Fargo

Whereas we agree with the timing, we disagree with the perceived health of the US consumer, as per the above points illustrated in a previous Deutsche Bank research note. There is more leverage than what can be seen, not only when it comes to the US consumer but as well when it comes to the distorted balance sheets of many US corporates after years of a buy-back binge and a fall in the quality of the overall rating for the Investment Grade category much closer to "junk" than in the previous cycle.

Overall the timing for the end of the credit cycle could indeed be in the region of 2020. This is as well Ray Dalio's most recent view and also Christopher R. Cole, CFA from Artemis Capital Management as per his July 2018 letter entitled "What is water?":

"When you are a fish swimming in a pond with less and less water, you had best pay attention to the currents. The last decade we've seen central banks supply liquidity, providing an artificial bid underneath markets. Now water is being drained from the pond as the Fed, ECB, and Bank of Japan shrink their balance sheets and raise interest rates. Despite this trend, U.S. equities will very likely escape 2018 without a crisis or volatility regime shift because of the one-time wave of corporate liquidity unleashed by tax reform. Expect a crisis to occur between 2019 and 2021 when a drought caused by dust storms of debt refinancing, quantitative tightening, and poor demographics causes liquidity to evaporate." - Source Christopher R. Cole, CFA from Artemis Capital Management

The whole note written by Christopher R. Cole is worth a read particularly on the subject of passive management and liquidity. His quote from above resonates as well with our opening quote from maverick investor Stanley Druckenmiller.

As well in his note, Christopher R. Cole indicates when he thinks we will most likely have another crisis on our hands:

When does this all end? If or when the collective consciousness stops believing growth can be created by money and debt expansion the entire medium will fall apart, otherwise it is totally real… and will continue to be real.

A crisis-level drought in liquidity is coming between 2019 to 2022 marked by a perfect dust storm of unprecedented debt supply, quantitative tightening, and demographic outflows.

Quantitative easing has caused the natural relationship between corporate debt expansion and default rates to break down. U.S. debt is at an all-time high of $14 trillion (45% of GDP) and high yield default rates are near all-time lows at 3.3% (MarketWatch, 13d). This is not sustainable. Years of cheap money has led scores of investors to buy debt at levels that do not reflect credit risk. The poster child is the 2017 issuance of 100-year Argentina bonds (USD denominated) that were oversubscribed 3.6x with a 7.9% yield. It is hard to find a decade where Argentina has not defaulted, much less a century. That medium of bond market demand has already begun to show signs of cracking." - Source Christopher R. Cole, CFA from Artemis Capital Management

Fiduciary duty anyone? Credit cycles tend to die of old age and too much debt. We have entered the season of the White Tiger we think. Only a few innings left.

On the current evolution of the credit cycle we read with interest Bank of America Merrill Lynch's take in their High Yield Strategy note from the 21st of September entitled "The Evolution of the Credit Cycle:

The Evolution of the Credit Cycle

As we continue to study the state of the current credit cycle, the accumulated evidence sides with the argument that it has more room to develop, as long as few more years. Previous cycles have lasted anywhere between 6-8 years, on average, and this observation would make it an unusual development to see the current cycle extend for much longer. However, we also note that more broadly, this economic cycle has been an unusual one in many respects, including how long it took the US GDP to return to trend growth rates, the unemployment to decline, and the inflation to recover. And if those major macroeconomic variables took an unusually long time to return to normal levels, then why should we expect the credit cycle to be an average one?

Away from this argument, we also continue to believe that the commodity episode in 2015-2016 represented a partial cycle in and of itself. Among the most conclusive pieces of evidence in support of this view, we present the charts in Figure 3 for debt growth and Figure 4 for capex.

In both cases, we highlight cyclical turns, as defined by catalyst events as the starting points and subsequent observed peaks in trailing 12mo HY issuer default rates as ending points.

Both graphs suggest that previous cyclical turns have occurred at similar points on each respective line, had similar impact on each measure, and had left them at similar levels after defaults receded. Both graphs also suggest that a cyclical turn at current levels and given their recent trends would be inconsistent with historical experiences going into previous default cycles.

And yet, inconsistent does not imply impossible, particularly in light of trade tariffs that are being threatened and imposed by the Trump Administration. It remains our view that at the end, these policies are unlikely to survive the test of time, however it is difficult to say how much time it would take to prove them wrong and how much damage they could do in the meantime.

The exact timing of cyclical turns is an inherently uncertain exercise and we do not claim to possess superior skills to do so. Instead, our approach relies on using all available data and analytical tools to help us make a judgment on a relatively short next-12mo time horizon, and continue doing so as time progresses and new data becomes available. As such, we made a call that this cycle was unlikely to turn at this point last year. With all the evidence we accumulated since then, we believe this view still holds today.

Our default model continues to suggest low likelihood of a meaningful spike in defaults over the next year, based on its latest inputs. It currently projects a 3.25% issuer weighted rate during this time period, marginally lower than the actual realized 3.41% rate as calculated by Moody's (Figure 5). A 3.25% issuer default rate would be consistent with 2.0% par-weighted rate.

How it ends?

In our last year's outlook on the prospects of this credit cycle, we listed three key risks to its longevity: (1) inflation spike; (2) trade contraction; and (3) sector distress. We think all three remain valid and potent sources of known risks going forward as well. In our judgment, the spike in inflation remains a lower probability risk, followed by trade contraction, somewhat higher on our scale of likely developments, and still inside of a tail risk zone.

A contraction in one of the key industry sectors is a higher probability outcome, in our opinion, albeit not an imminent one. Previously, we published our thoughts on capital allocation trends across various sectors, and identified healthcare as the most overextended sector in terms of the amount of capital raised in recent years.

A higher capital formation could lead to higher capex, higher production capacity, higher supply, lower prices, and an eventual need to remove excess capacity. The latter stage often goes hand in hand with a need to eliminate excess debt that was used to finance excess capex.

Other sectors that we found to be overextended on this scale include autos, utilities, and food producers, although these three are relatively small compared to healthcare.

And at the end of this conversation on risks, we think it is also important to remind ourselves that previous cycles have ended with a surprise event, a "black swan" of sorts, which, by definition, was unexpected by the consensus and meaningful in its impact. We do not see any particular reasons as to why the next one would break out of this mold." - source Bank of America Merrill Lynch

From our "White Tiger" perspective, an inflation spike is something very much on our radar, hence our close attention to market gyrations in oil prices and geopolitical risk, the famous known unknowns which have been building up recently in a world which has decisively moved from cooperation to non-cooperation.

As we have stated above, many pundits are focusing on the flattening of the yield curve, from an employment and non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment (NAIRU), Monetary policy conducted typically involves allowing just enough unemployment in the economy to prevent inflation rising above a given target figure, we think the Fed will once again be behind the curve as per our final chart.

  • Final chart - Hey Fed, NAIRU this!


In our previous conversation we discussed the great work of American economist Irving Fisher, in relation to NAIRU, the concept arose in the wake of the popularity of the Phillips curve which summarized the observed negative correlation between the rate of unemployment and the rate of inflation (measured as annual nominal wage growth of employees) for a number of industrialised countries with more or less mixed economies. This correlation (previously seen for the U.S. by Irving Fisher) persuaded some analysts that it was impossible for governments simultaneously to target both arbitrarily low unemployment and price stability, and that, therefore, it was government's role to seek a point on the trade-off between unemployment and inflation which matched a domestic social consensus, the famous dual mandate of the Fed. We won't go into more details about our fondness of the Phillips curve, it's a subject we have discussed on this very blog on many occasions. Our final chart comes from Deutsche Bank's US Economic Perspectives note from the 20th of September entitled "How the Powell Fed can make history" and shows that the Fed has never succeeded in returning unemployment to NAIRU from below without a recession ensuing:

"With unemployment now noticeably below standard measures of its natural level of full employment and likely to tighten further and with wage and price inflation returning to desired levels and likely to continue upward, the Fed has a delicate task on its hands. It needs to begin to close the gap between growth of aggregate demand and aggregate supply in the economy - in other words, to slow and eventually reverse the tightening of the labor market before it risks pushing up inflation and inflation expectations excessively. The question is whether it can do so without pushing the economy into recession and causing unemployment to surge upward, overshooting its natural rate.

Many in the market already see the storm clouds of recession gathering in the distance, a narrative that has found an ally in the flattening yield curve. Talk of a downturn by 2020 is increasingly in vogue and for good reason: a soft landing in unemployment from below NAIRU has never been achieved before. In the modern history of US national economic statistics since the late 1940s, every time the unemployment rate has overshot to the downside, policy firming by the Fed has helped drive the economy into recession (Figure 1).

We think the Powell Fed can make history by achieving the unprecedented outcome of a soft landing from below sans recession." - source Deutsche Bank

Contrary to the elements put forward in this very interesting note, we think that once again this time isn't different. On a final note, we thought we had run out of arguments against the cult of the Phillips curve as per our conversation "The Dead Parrot Sketch" back in August 2017, we did read additional arguments against the Phillips curve cult in Saad Filali's take on Seeking Alpha in his article "There Is No Inflation: Too Much Supply, Not Enough Unions," which we found of great interest. It has been said that the white tiger only appeared when the emperor ruled with absolute virtue, it could be said that the white tiger only appeared when the BIS ruled with absolute virtue as per their very interesting most recent quarterly survey, but we digress...

"Liquidity is oxygen for a financial system." - Ruth Porat

Stay tuned!