Almost Daily Grant's

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Thursday, December 20, 2018

A turn in the tide

James Grant writes:
Thursday’s Wall Street Journal editorial condemning Wednesday’s rate hike ran out under the headline, “Powell to Markets: Take That.” It reminded us of a Journal editorial from Oct. 25, 1929, whose headline we reprint above. 
The stock market had already crashed when William Peter Hamilton, the Coolidge-era editorialist, started typing. He wrote to observe that the Dow Jones Railroad Average had fallen to confirm a prior decline in the Industrials, thus, under Charles Dow’s technical theory, signaling a bear market. 
The final two paragraphs of Hamilton’s comment seem particularly timely reading today. Thus: 
There are people trading in Wall Street and many from all over the country who have never seen a real bear market, as for instance, that which began in October, 1919, and lasted for two years, or that from 1912 to 1914 which predicted the Great War if the world had then been able to interpret the signs. What is more material is that the stock market does forecast the general business of the country. The big bull market was confirmed by six years of prosperity and if the stock market takes the other direction there will be contraction in business later, although on present indications only in moderate volume. 
Some time ago it was said in a Wall Street Journal editorial that if the stock market was compelled to deflate, as politicians seemed so earnestly to wish, they would shortly after experience a deflation elsewhere which would be much less to their liking. 
Hamilton was not forecasting a great depression; nor, certainly, are we. Neither are we equipped to read the tea leaves of stock-price action. What we do mark is that the Powell Fed, professedly “data-dependent,” yesterday chose to continue to tighten in the face of the real-time data of falling share prices, widening credit spreads, a plunging oil price and a flattening yield curve. 
In a CNBC panel discussion following the Powell press conference, a commentator insisted that there had been no “policy error,” adverse market reaction notwithstanding—it was obvious, he said. But if policy errors were obvious at the time they were perpetrated, our policy-makers would never err. 
A decade’s worth of interest-rate suppression has led to an outpouring of new credit. Arguably, given the artificially low borrowing costs in place, much of this debt was mispriced at inception. Perhaps the message of the markets is that Corporate America is dependent on negligible real interest rates only and is ill-equipped to deal with substantially higher ones. If so, 2019 may feature a U-turn in monetary policy and a, perhaps, long overdue reappraisal of the judgment and operating methods of our omnipresent central bank.  

Northern exposure

Is a course reversal underway in the Great White North?  On Monday, The Canadian Real Estate Association reported that existing home sales dropped 12.6% year-over-year in November, while the average home price of C$488,000 represented a 2.9% decline from November 2017.  
The epicenters of the long-running Canadian housing bull market have likewise seen their fortunes turn, as existing home sales in Toronto slumped by 15.2% year-over-year, outpacing the broad decline, while such transactions in Vancouver cratered by 42.3% from a year ago. 
Then, too, the sharp recent decline in energy prices is making an impact on Canada’s economic picture. November CPI showed a 4.8% sequential and 1.3% decline in the energy component, helping to push headline price growth to 1.7% year-over-year, below the 1.8% consensus and down from 2.4% in October. Pain in the Canadian energy patch is severe enough that the energy and trade ministries announced a C$1.5 billion loan package for the oil and gas sector, with a bulk of those funds earmarked for exporters with “working capital needs.” 
While the housing market sputters and the oil industry struggles, Canadians remain in hock. Last Friday, Statistics Canada reported that the ratio of household debt to disposable income rose to 173.8% for the third quarter, up 60 basis points sequentially and near 2017’s record 174.4%. By comparison, that figure stood at 109% in the United States last year and topped out at 144% during the prior cycle in 2007.  
The heavy debt load is taking a toll, as the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy reports that consumer insolvencies jumped 9.2% year-over-year in October, the biggest jump since the 2016 oil-bust aftermath.  Ted Michalos, licensed insolvency trustee at Hoyes, Michalos & Associates, Inc., tells Bloomberg that: “The tide has turned, and the water’s starting to rise. Now it’s just a question of how quickly does it rise.”
Ominous economic developments and inflation downtick aside, Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz stayed on message in a recent interview with CTV news, stating that “The Canadian economy begins the new year in solid shape. Our fundamentals are quite solid.”  
Of the BoC’s 1.75% overnight rate, Poloz indicated that he sees a target range of 2.5% to 3.5%, but gave himself plenty of rhetorical wiggle room: “Getting there, it’s a journey and we expect over time to get there. But it can be interrupted or it can be sped up, depending on how the economic data evolve.”
Talk aside, investors are increasingly certain that the BoC will back off after five rate hikes in the past 18 months, followed by a status quo result at the Dec. 5 meeting. According to interest rate futures data provided by Bloomberg, the odds of a rate hike at the Jan. 9 meeting have collapsed to 2.5%, down from 70% a month ago. 
Whether BoC follows the Fed higher or follows the newly dovish route now expected by the markets, the Canadian dollar looks vulnerable. Continued tightening by Poloz and Co. would add additional strain to an economy whose dual pillars of housing and energy are both under duress, while a more dovish approach would likewise be negative for the Loonie thanks to the widening yield differential with the U.S.  
Canadian dollar/U.S. dollar cross, three-year view.  Source: The Bloomberg
Meanwhile, the accelerated carnage in asset prices after yesterday’s Fed funds-rate hike has led some investors to rethink the recently unthinkable. Futures currently price 1.5% odds of a U.S. rate cut by the Dec. 11, 2019 meeting, up from 0.0% one week ago. 

QT Progress report

A $5 billion sequential downtick left the Fed’s portfolio of securities held outright at $3.892 trillion this week, with Treasury securities comprising about 57% of the remaining portfolio.  Compared to the trailing four-week average, today’s figure is down by $13 billion, split evenly between Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities. 
Since the start of QT on Oct. 1, 2017, the Fed’s total balance sheet is down by 8.34%. 

Recap Dec. 20

A 1.5% drop in the S&P 500 left the broad index about 16% off its September high water mark, while the Russell 2000 and Dow Transports fell by a similar percentage. The NYSE FANG+ Index lost 3.5%, and is now negative year-to-date.  
But perhaps the wilder action was in the bond market, where we saw three-month Libor briefly exceed the 10-year Treasury yield this morning, while the 30-year long bond rallied to push the yield as low as 2.96% before a late reversal left yields higher across the curve. Speculative grade corporate debt was hammered, with the iShares iBoxx High Yield Bond ETF falling to its lowest since that 2016 winter of discontent, while the Invesco Senior Loan ETF finished the day at a 1.3% discount to its net asset value, the biggest since at least 2011. 
- Philip Grant

Monday, September 16, 2019

Price gusher

Recap Sept. 16

Friday, September 13, 2019

Everything burns

Recap Sept. 13

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The science of central banking
Investor eyes were trained towards Frankfurt

How now Kowtow

Recap Sept. 12

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Flow rider
According to a recent report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch,

Recap Sept. 11

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Flickering lights

Recap Sept. 10
Yesterday, California utility PG&E Corp. (PCG on the NYSE)

Monday, September 9, 2019

Dueling banjos
From NBC4 New York:

T party
Today, hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. disclosed a $3.2 billion stake in AT&T, Inc. (T on the NYSE)

Recap Sept.9

Friday, September 6, 2019

Vision zero
The office space company intent on “elevating the world’s consciousness” is set to downsize.

Recap Sept. 6

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Let's pretend
During an interview with Bloomberg radio yesterday,

Fan depreciation day
The loan machine comes alive once more.

Recap Sept. 5

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Devalue investor
The arrival of September brings $100 billion in additional tariffs on Chinese goods.

Recap Sept. 3

Friday, August 30, 2019

Too much info
The Real Deal reports today

Pro AM
According to the Financial Times,

Recap Aug. 30

Thursday, August 29, 2019

He said it

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss.

As the world turns
The recent bull stampede in rates,

Recap Aug. 29

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Falling off the bike

Recap Aug. 28

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The final frontier

Recap Aug. 27

Monday, August 26, 2019

Fiat accompli
As the European Central Bank prepares for its policy meeting on Sept. 12,

Recap Aug. 26

Friday, August 23, 2019

Engineering major
3G Capital giveth, 3G Capital taketh away.

Recap Aug. 23

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Silver slugger
According to data from the U.S. Treasury Department

Boom goes the dynamite
A blip on the radar, or something more?

Recap Aug. 22

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Bogey board
The latest dive in interest rates

Recap Aug. 6

Monday, August 5, 2019

Shine a light
The public debut of The We Company,

Recap Aug. 5

Friday, August 2, 2019

I hate when that happens
From Nine News Australia:

Climate change field trip
From the New York Post on Wednesday:

See that my grave is kept clean
This roll-up is not exactly on a roll.

Recap Aug. 2

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Heart of darkness

QT progress report

Recap Aug. 1

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Triple threat
Fed chair Jerome Powell accomplished

General hospital
This morning, General Electric Corp. (GE on the NYSE)

Recap July 31

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Golden years
From the New York Post:

Pay now, grow later
As of last Friday, 44% of the S&P 500 had reported earnings

More where that came from
It’s a done deal.

Recap July 30

Monday, July 29, 2019

You can't do that to our pledges!

Buyer beware
The London Stock Exchange Group plc. today confirmed reports

Auditing Potemkin village

Recap July 29

Friday, July 26, 2019

What does he know about safety?

Financing secured

Easy come easy go
From the Rio Times:

For whom the bell tolls
This afternoon, T-Mobile U.S., Inc won approval

Recap July 26

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Keep digging
Today, the European Central Bank held a stand-pat meeting,

Yellow light
As we close out month 121 of the longest economic expansion on record,

QT Progress report

Recap July 25

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Chapter two: The next chapter

Recap July 23

Monday, July 22, 2019

Technical analysis
From the Daily Beast:

Hello Neumann
With the stock market near all-time highs and money losing IPOs seemingly coming to market daily,

Modern monetary medicine
Let the bloodletting commence.

Recap July 22

Friday, July 19, 2019

What we have here is a failure to communicate
Following yesterday’s remarks from New York Fed president John Williams,

Talking his book
BlackRock, Inc. (BLK on the NYSE) reported second quarter results this morning,

Recap July 19

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Fake cruise

He said he said she said

Three's a crowd
Business is booming for a titan of private equity.

QT Progress report

Recap July 18

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Wire
Yesterday, California governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1054,

Recap July 17

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Float upstream
Yesterday, China reported that

Recap July 16

Monday, July 15, 2019

Get your shinebox
A friend checks in from the Long Island Expressway:

Swamp things
A trio of corporate situations unfolding in Washington, D.C.

Recap July 15

Friday, July 12, 2019

Bears on vacation
From June 29 at the Omni Hotel Mount Washington,

From Bloomberg Opinion today:

Merger, she wrote
A pair of notable deal-related

Stag party
A whiff of stagflation in the heavy summer air?

Recap July 12

Thursday, July 11, 2019

We're gonna need a bigger boat
Mexican finance minister Carlos Urzúa resigned

QT progress report

Recap July 11

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Detergent needed
Canada’s housing market continues to bifurcate.

Recap July 9

Monday, July 8, 2019

Hong Kong rumbles
Massive protests

Prosperity gospel
On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Erdogan announced he fired

Recap July 8

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Justice league
Two down, one to go?

Car man
Auto executive Lee Iacocca,

Three musketeers
Yesterday was a busy one for the future of central banking,

Recap July 3

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Real deal
On Friday, online luxury consignment retailer The RealReal, Inc. (REAL on the Nasdaq)

Recap July 2

Monday, July 1, 2019

Expansion team
Today, the post-2009 streak of economic growth rolls into a record 121st month,

Color me repressed
Over the weekend, Agustín Carstens,

Recap July 1

Friday, June 28, 2019

Fill 'er up
Oil prices continue their recovery from last fall’s swoon,

Recap June 28

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Time for a survey of recent happenings in leveraged loans.

QT progress report

Recap June 27

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Dance of the living dead

Recap June 25

Monday, June 24, 2019

Gig inequality
The New Republic,

Trump friends China
Whack-a-mole in the Middle Kingdom.

Recap June 24

Friday, June 21, 2019

Tricky Dix
Let's hit redial.

Recap June 21

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Chickens counted
Another step forward for the never-ending merger saga.

QT progress report

Recap June 20

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Wax on wax off
Cognitive dissonance reigns supreme,

Recap June 19

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

So much winning
“The cultural level of a nation is mirrored by its rate of interest: the higher a people’s intelligence and moral strength, the lower the rate of interest.”

Recap June 18

Monday, June 17, 2019

That was then
How the turntables have turned.

Everyone's a critic
A shocker this morning:

Recap June 17

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Liquidity shortage

Recovery room
Yesterday, the U.S. Treasury reported that Uncle Sam’s

QT Progress report

Recap June 13

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Inspector Gadget
Will the taxpayer say no más?

Recap June 11

Monday, June 10, 2019

Alberta king

Recap June 10

Friday, June 7, 2019

Step Brothers 2
Alternative lodging by the Bay

Right place wrong time
Yesterday, Fitch Ratings downgraded Petróleos Mexicanos (A.K.A. Pemex)

Recap June 7

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Grand central
Following today's press conference

QT progress report

Recap June 6

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The world is yours
Received in the Grant’s inbox today,

The blind side
Forbes reports this afternoon that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers

Lobby horse
The Department of Defense’s forthcoming $10 billion cloud computing award,

Recap June 5

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Minority report
Many unhappy returns.

Today's debt hearings
An analysis of the leveraged loan market

Recap June 4

Monday, June 3, 2019

Bar none

Dots plotted

Recap June 3

Friday, May 31, 2019

Hail Mary

This is what happens Larry

Trading sardines?
What selloff?

Recap May 31

Thursday, May 30, 2019

With a side of fries
Yesterday, the Department of Energy

Down in the bottom
Credit-centric consumer business models are in focus today,

QT Progress report

Recap May 30

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

ETF phone home
Time to batten down the hatches?

Recap May 28

Friday, May 24, 2019

This is no joke.

Damage control
Big doings in the Middle Kingdom.

House of cards
Bloomberg asserts today that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s

Dem bones
Yesterday, French retailer Rallye S.A.,

Recap May 24

Thursday, May 23, 2019

He said it
Sports talk radio mainstay and overall renaissance man Mike Francesa

Fake schmooze
Today, Facebook, Inc. (FB on the Nasdaq) said

Yield yodel

QT Progress report

Recap May 23

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

In the shop
The auto industry caught a break last week,

Recap May 22

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Peanut allergy
The Gauls are on the rampage

Recap May 21

Monday, May 20, 2019

Concession stand
One down, two to go?

Track changes
Morningstar reports today

Recap May 20

Friday, May 17, 2019

The sound of silence
An emailed invitation from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York:

Fruit flies
Chinese fruit prices have been on the march,

Influx capacitor
Yesterday, VanEck Securities Corp. rolled out

Recap May 17

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Looney tunes
From CNN:

Post no bills
An update on Post Holdings, Inc., the cereal and processed food maker

QT Progress report

Recap May 16

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Can you hear me now?
Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Sprint Corp. (S on the NYSE)

Recap May 14

Monday, May 13, 2019

Cut rate
The latest escalation of the U.S./China

Swing LO
This morning, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) unveiled

Recap May 13

Friday, May 10, 2019

Bank teller
From Reuters:

Mr. Erdogan's wild ride

Thursday, May 9, 2019

To infinity, and beyond
A slide from SoftBank

He said it
Art Cashin,

Suffer for your art
Retail magnate Yusaku Maezawa, founder of Zozo, Inc.

QT Progress report

Recap May 9

Monday, May 6, 2019

Drivers' side
From the Associated Press:

Service industry
The Toronto Real Estate Board released its monthly report for April today,

Recap May 6

Friday, May 3, 2019

Ticker tailor
Speaking on CNBC today,

If you build it
From last weekend's edition of the London Sunday Times:

The buck stops over there
In a Wednesday speech in London, European Central Bank

Recap May 3

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Downhill from here
On Tuesday, Mexico’s state-owned oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex)

QT progress report

Recap May 2

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Cross check
This morning, McDonald’s Corp. (MCD on the NYSE)

Recap April 30

Monday, April 29, 2019

Come on in, the water's warm

Owe negative
The Chinese economy continues to muddle along,

Recap April 29

Friday, April 26, 2019

'gram reaper
Trouble in paradise, 2019 style.

Augean stable
Yesterday, New York attorney general’s office announced

Rubber duck
This morning, Uber Technologies, Inc.

Recap April 26

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Modern monetary practice
At the end of today’s policy communique, the Bank of Japan

Sincerely yours
Things are once again heating up in emerging markets,

QT Progress report

Recap April 25

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Beast of burden
This morning, AT&T, Inc. (T on the NYSE) reported

Recap April 24

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

So, they'll have two?
An afternoon headline from The Wall Street Journal:

Cyprus hill

Kicked in the 'coin
Timing is everything.

Recap April 23

Monday, April 22, 2019

Meet the new boss
This morning, The Kraft Heinz Co.

Sold to you
China’s Shanghai Composite fell by nearly 2% today,

Recap April 22

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Born on the bayou, Inc.’s Web Services (AWS) unit

QT progress report

Recap April 18

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Sick Burn
Revenge of the Squares?

Indication of interest
Today, Bank of America Corp. (BAC on the NYSE)

Recap April 16

Monday, April 15, 2019

I really think so
Last Thursday, European Central Bank

Strangers things
A new frontier in innovation: Annoyance-as-a-service.

Down the rabbit hole
In a recent research note,

From hunger
Analytics firm TDn2K reports

Recap April 15

Friday, April 12, 2019

A TAM too far

Faulty transmission

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A permanently low plateau
“As I say, we wish they hadn't raised,”

Tip of the iceberg
From Caixin

Field of dreams
The Saudi Arabian Oil Co. (Aramco) made history

QT Progress report

Recap April 11

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

I'm your huckleberry
“U.S. hedge funds from time to time have appeared in this country over the last 10 years,

Recap April 10

Monday, April 8, 2019

Discount double check
The passive price war goes stealth.

Permanently high plateau 2.0

Cheez whiz

Recap April 8

Friday, April 5, 2019

Nevertheless, he persisted
Today, the Nikkei Asian Review reports that Nomura Holdings, Inc.

Recap April 5

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Off to sea once more
The May 30, 2014 issue of Grant’s featured a bullish analysis

QT progress report

Recap April 4

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

They mostly come at night, mostly
It’s alive! Just after midnight eastern time,

I'm a hog for you baby
It’s been a tough road for the U.S. farming industry,

Recap April 2

Monday, April 1, 2019

Motley Crew
Asset prices are off to the races,

Recap April 1

Friday, March 29, 2019

Blocked number
It’s crunch time for the proposed all-stock merger between Sprint Corp. (S on the NYSE) and T-Mobile U.S., Inc. (TMUS on the Nasdaq).

Recap March 29

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Prognosis negative
Today, the Financial Times reports that Deutsche Bank A.G.

QT progress report

Recap March 28

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Play ball!
A historical quirk in tomorrow’s Opening Day schedule.

Back to the well
This morning, the Turkish offshore lira borrowing rate briefly touched 1,350%

Recap March 27

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

TRY hard
On Friday, the Turkish lira plummeted by more than 6% against the dollar.

Depends where you sit
The hotly anticipated public debut of Lyft, Inc. is drawing a wide range of reactions.

Recap March 26

Monday, March 25, 2019

Platform heels
The Financial Times’ Alphaville blog relays today that a piece of cyclical history is now available on eBay:

Turf wars
Earlier today, former Fed chair turned

Private investigations
On Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed suit against private

Recap March 25

Friday, March 22, 2019

Still the smartest guys in the room
From The Wall Street Journal:

Salt in the wound
It’s been a smooth ride for third world debtors,

Recap March 22

Thursday, March 21, 2019

You're un-fired
Yesterday’s Fed meeting featured a dovish trifecta.

Canada goosed
Things are no great shakes in the Great White North.

QT Progress report

Recap March 21

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

From Reuters:

Our man in Rio
“Waste places” no more?

Recap March 19

Monday, March 18, 2019

If you build it they will come?
From The Wall Street Journal:

Racing to a red light
This morning, Lyft, Inc. took another step

Recap March 18

Friday, March 15, 2019

There's one for you, 19 for me
On Tuesday evening, beauty products company Coty, Inc. (COTY on the NYSE)

Patch work
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries struck a vigilant

Recap March 15

Thursday, March 14, 2019

All politics are local
From the New York Post:

Tethered to what again?
A report today from Frances Coppola of Forbes identifies a subtle,

QT Progress report

Recap March 14

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Patent pending
A new chapter in financial innovation.

Arc of the covenant
An analysis from S&P’s LCD unit yesterday calculated

Recap March 13

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Confusion reigns down Mexico way.

Recap March 12

Monday, March 11, 2019

To everything there is a season

Bag of chips
This morning, Nvidia Corp. (NVDA on the Nasdaq) announced it will buy

Recap March 11

Friday, March 8, 2019

Blues brothers, 2019 edition
Set your DVR’s. From The Hill:

China check

Choose your own adventure

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Bottoms up
This morning, the European Central Bank cut its guesstimate

Product 19
A paper today from the Brookings Institution

Les Miz'
Yesterday, Japan’s Mizuho Financial Group, Inc. surprised investors

QT Progress report

Recap March 7

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Deep freeze
Yesterday, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver

Recap March 5

Monday, March 4, 2019

Head for the mountains
On Thursday, global beer behemoth Anheuser-Busch InBev S.A.

Recap March 4

Friday, March 1, 2019

Property tax
Everything must go.

Cooking with gas
On Wednesday,

Recap March 1

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Hundred Dollar General
From CNBC:

Trudge report
“Eurozone slowdown helps keep Draghi’s dissenters in line,” declares a headline in today’s Financial Times

QT Progress report

Recap Feb. 28

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The moment of truth draws closer for Sprint Corp. (S on the NYSE) and

Recap Feb. 27

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Tip your waitress
A trio of Sonic Corp. restaurants in central Ohio closed abruptly

Climate change
It’s not just U.S. equities that have enjoyed a blistering start to 2019.

Recap Feb. 26

Monday, February 25, 2019

Musical chairs
This morning, Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX on the TSX)

Recap Feb. 25