The FOMC can raise interest rates any time it desires, without prior approval from anyone outside the Fed. Accordingly, the ncreased hype primarily has to be aimed at manipulating the various markets, such as propping the U.S. dollar. Separately, it remains highly unusual, and it is not politic, for the FederalReserve to change monetary policy immediately before a presidential election. – John Williams, Shadowstats.com
The March non-farm employment report originally reported that 215,000 jobs were created (ignore the number of workers who left the labor force). But five months later the BLS released “benchmark” revisions which took that original number down by 150,000. However, the BLS reports a 74,000 upward revision to Government payrolls, which means that non-Government payrolls were down 240,000 in March. So much for the strong jobs recovery…
A report out on August 19th that received no attention in the financial media showed that Class 8 (heavy duty) truck orders fell 20% from June and 58% year over year. This is after hitting a four-year low in June. The big drop was blamed on a high rate of cancellations. This is consistent with regional Fed manufacturing reports out two weeks ago that showed big drops in new orders. Again, the economy is starting contract – in some areas rather quickly. Heavy trucking is one of the “heart monitors” of economic activity.
Another datapoint that you might not have seen because it was not reported in the mainstream financial media: the delinquency rate for CMBS – commercial mortgage-backed securities – rose for the 5th month in a row in July. The rise attributed to “another slew of balloon defaults.” Balloon defaults occur when the mortgagee is unable to make payments on mortgages that are designed with low up-front payments that reset to higher payments at a certain point in the life of the mortgage. This reflects an increasing inability of tenants in office, retail and multi-family real estate to make their monthly payments.
Again, I believe that evidence supporting the view that housing and autos are starting to tank is overwhelming. Last week Zerohedge featured an article with data that showed that prices in NYC’s lower price tiers are starting to fall, following the same path as the high-end market there LINK. I want to reiterate that I’m seeing the exact same occurrence in Denver in the mid/upper-mid price segment. Furthermore, I’m seeing “for sale” and “for rent” signs pile up all over Denver proper and I’m seeing “for sale” signs in suburban areas where, up until July, homes were sold as soon as a broker got the listing. NYC, Denver and some other hot areas in the last bubble began to fall ahead of the rest of the country. I don’t care what the National Association of Realtors claims about the level of existing home inventory, their numbers are highly flawed and the inventory of homes on the market is ballooning – quickly.
I like to describe housing as “chunky,” low liquidity assets. It takes a lot of “energy” to get directional momentum started. Once it starts, it eventually turns into a “runaway freight train.” We saw the upside of this dynamic culminate over the last 6-9 months. But now that freight train is slowly cresting and will soon be headed “downhill.” I don’t think this dynamic can be reversed without extraordinary interventionary measures, even larger than 2008, from the Fed and the Government.
As for autos, I detailed the case that auto sales are heading south in previous blog posts. However, Ford disclosed in its 10-Q filing that charges for credit losses on its loan portfolio increased 34% in the first half of 2016 vs. 2015. GM’s credit loss allowances increased 14% vs. 2015. As credit losses pile up in auto-lender portfolios and in auto loan-backed securities, lenders will begin to constrict their auto sales lending activities. It will be an ugly downward spiral that will send negative shock-waves throughout the entire economy.
I find it highly improbable that the stock market will not continue lower unless the Fed steps in to prevent it. The Fed is playing “good cop/bad cap” with its rate hike theatrics. As John Williams points out, it does not require a formal FOMC meeting for the Fed to raise or lower interest rates. In fact, there’s precedence for inter-FOMC pow wow interest rate changes. This entire Kabuki theater is designed to support the dollar ahead of yet another meeting in which Fed stands still on rates. Honestly, even a quarter point hike could act like dynamite on the financial weapons of mass destruction hidden on and off bank balance sheets. The fraud at Wells Fargo is just the tip of the ice-berg.
The short-sell ideas I present in IRD’s Short Seller’s Journal have worked out of the gate four weeks in a row. The last time SSJ had a streak like this was during the early 2016 sell-off. Although my ideas are meant to be long-term fundamental shorts based on flawed business models and deteriorating business conditions, a couple of those ideas are down over 10% in less than a month. I’m also sharing my strategies with the homebuilders, all of which will be trading under $10 within the next 18-24 months (except maybe NVR.
You can access the Short Seller’s Journal here: SSJ Subscription. This is a weekly report in which I present my view of the markets, supported with economic data and analysis you might not find readily in the alternative media and never in the mainstream media. It’s a monthly recurring subscription you can cancel anytime. Subscribers can access IRD’s Mining Stock Journal for half-price.