Last week's ECB press conference was notable for how hawkish it was relative to expectations. Which has TMM wondering if this is actually a glimpse of a deeper policy that would go a long way toward explaining the ECB’s inactivity. That is that the ECB recognizes that one of the key misalignments in the Euro area is productivity-adjusted labor cost differentials. Even after the recent crisis, Germany labor costs remain very competitive vs those of other Eurozone countries. As long as that persists, Germany will have a high trade balance and negative capital balance with its EU neighbours. In other words, German capital will continue to finance Germany exports.
Now, within a currency union, the smoothest way to normalise this gap is over time via differing inflation levels within the EU over time. In particular, if German labor cost inflation exceeds that for rest of EU for sufficient time, real labor cost differentials will shrink. To us, this appears to be the path the ECB is taking.
If this is the case then it is worth noting that since Germany is much smaller than half of the EU, this policy stance by definition would mean very low inflation in EU ex-Germany, and as a result low inflation prints for the Eurozone as a whole. In other words, the ECB WANTS low inflation prints for the Eurozone as a whole because it signifies that the labor cost differentials are narrowing. The ECB’s implicit acceptance of a long period of below target inflation (via its staff forecasts) is reflective of that. As a result, as long as inflation expectations remain anchored, TMM thinks the ECB is likely to continue its current policy of non-action. Whether inflation expectations will remain anchored, however, is a whole other story altogether. But the lack of action was the removal of one risk support.
US: The ISM print last week was obviously the big shocker, but TMM thinks that it overstated the drop, just as the previous prints near 57 probably overstated the real improvement. Weather remains a large factor clouding many recent data point and TMM thinks it will be some time before that is cleared up. On the bright side, barring a more severe mid-cycle slowdown, there isn’t a great deal of room for the ISM print to fall further from here. But it was the NFP that was the main headline. There was something in there for everyone. Poor headline for the bears and yet stunning households for the bulls. As usual the one that is touted most is the one that supports the following price action. As stocks shot up it was classed "Boomshakalaka"!
Momentum - This week has started though with a dramatic fade in momentum. The rate of rally in US markets into their close had us looking for a reasonable follow through in Asia, but overall it was pretty unimpressive and we were interested to see USD/TRY, USD/ZAR and gold all moving higher. The gold component particularly noticeable. So whilst we remain fundamental bulls for equities and EM the speed of the return of TRY and ZAR moves, as HF bullies give them another beating, combined with the rapid decline in DM equity market momentum has us trimming our longs and playing a turn down for the next couple of days giving us another dip to buy on, but whilst folks love to correlate everything (usually wrongly) in market slides we won't stand in the way today.
TMM also have a friendly bet that if mrkets do indeed start falling today the NFP corpse will be rewrapped in its "bad news" clothes and wheeled out as evidence.
Talking about dips to buy on, here is our favorite chart du jour. -
How exciting for all those lucky bitcoiners! Yet another dip to buy on! We've said it before. Railroads of the late 19C. The ideas are good but that doesn't mean you will make money owning the first iteration. One aside, with gold rallying and bitcoin dumping could we be seeing the "log cabin" switch taking place where large swathes of Montana are switching out of surefire Bitcoin back to surefire Gold? Of course not, but someone is bound to seriously suggest it (buy shares in gold coin retailers in mountainous States).
Oh and finally we just have to give credit to the genius "Gigawipf" who gave us the floppy disc orchestral version of Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" which we make today's "playing out" music.