Question of the Day|
Edward Snowden has admitted leaking classified documents that have blown open a snooping program that seems to far exceed the original intent of the Patriot Act.
From "Manuscript Found in Accra" Paulo Coelho
You can cut it with a knife. The anxiety is so thick it's got everyone looking for a near-term correction and individual good news is ignored or swept under a rug. It's true 175,000 jobs for May is a major letdown in the grand scheme of things but it allows for a Goldilocks scenario of (tepid) growth coupled with massive money-printing. The thing is I don't see that money helping Main Street. Wages are stagnant and even minute increases in official inflation readings can feel like big leaps to most Americans.
American households have more money on paper via the stock market and home prices but for millions it's a reminder of a shakeup that saw them sell stocks at much lower levels and lose their homes during the bottoming process. For those Americans all the money printing in the world is just a rumor or outrageous way banks continue to be favored even as regular folks were tossed to the wolves. The public is simply not taking the bait. In the first quarter, mortgage debt decreased $53.0 billion and other liabilities $59.0 billion. People are spending their paychecks at the mall but not taking on massive debt beyond student loans and automobiles.
Coupled with businesses refusing to invest in major projects, and one has to wonder about the futility of printing so much money.
Still, there are enough people convinced once printing goes away that everyone will crawl into a hole and the economy, or at least the stock market, will enter some kind of nuclear winter. I just don't think the average American would bat an eye if the Fed shut it down tomorrow. Most wouldn't even know it happened and many more would know the name of Kim and Kanye's baby. Don't get me wrong, there's anxiety on Main Street too, it's just different than Wall Street's. Regular people are still wondering about jobs, job security, and about when they are going to earn more money.
It's too bad so many voted for higher taxes on the other guy, understanding it would impact their wallets as well. Now we are dealing with a flaccid Main Street recovery while billions of dollars are flowing somewhere, dammed up behind massive walls that will crack and flood the nation one day. It's so sad those folks that haven't benefited from the largess should be punished for it anyway. Yet, despite all the disappointment, anxiety and fear I think you have to own a portfolio of great American companies because highs and lows were born in the very same moment as mankind, and fortunes change along the way. We have to learn to live with it-just as we have learned to live with storms - to coin a phrase.
More than Noise
One of the more remarkable aspects of Rally 2013 has been the ability of the market to ignore the noise from Washington DC. There's no doubt that in the summer of 2011 the debt ceiling debate and inability to get things done hurt the stock market, yet investors have generally favored gridlock on Capitol Hill. Maybe that's the case now.
Yet, with the avalanche of scandals that paint a picture of a nation where no citizen should expect privacy and individuals with unfavorable opinions could be targeted for punishment by the federal government, the situation is more problematic than hammering out a bi-partisan spending plan.
I think one reason the market hasn't recoiled over the news is the impact of these scandals on an agenda that's decidedly not business friendly.
Abe on Course
Japan's economic data came in much better than expected helping to move the Nikkei up more than 5%.
> GDP +4.1% estimate +3.5%
> Current Account surplus 750 billion Yen - estimate 350 billion Yen
The numbers are good but I think it's the promise of lowering corporate tax rates, removing regulations and working to drive incomes 4% higher that are really moving that market, which had been in a freefall. Yes, some call Abe a nationalist but after two decades of slipping into a coma Japan needs the harshest kick in the pants and belief in its own greatness.
American needs the same thing but will not get it.
I see two nice pieces of news for the domestic economy:
* McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) 2.6% global same store sales versus the estimate of 1.7%, driven by the US +2.0%; the street was looking for an increase of 1.0%.
* FedEx (NYSE:FDX) will increase shipping rates next month by 4.5% - pricing power is a magic ingredient for any company and reflects confidence in demand and macro conditions.
* The U.S.'s AA+ credit rating outlook was increased to stable from negative by Standard & Poor's, which cited receding fiscal risks.
There are a couple import investment conferences this week and we think stock-moving news will be made.