Maybe we should be reading the tea leaves…

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Q2 GDP just printed and while you can draw some near term conclusions, I’m compelled to push back a bit as I usually do.
Frankly I don’t care about 2.2 v 2.5 v 2.8 right now.  As we know this number could be off 1 anyway.  We saw 2015 rev up, 2016 and Q1 2017 rev down.  Make no mistake, net, this is a bad 2017 report.  The combined total of Q1 and Q2 miss, earnings missed, prices missed.  The other components were a bit of a mixed bag.
I don’t want to get caught up in the weeds though, I’m a bit more focused on the leaves…Tea leaves.  Why?  Starbucks is shuttering all their Teavana stores by Q1 2018.  Why?  Mall traffic or lack thereof.  Why does this matter?  Well, to TEA (sic) it up for you, here’s a refresher you can catch later:
So why do we care about mall traffic, people are just buying on the web right?  I’ve covered this topic before as well, so I’ll keep it short.  All commerce isn’t equal.  E-commerce clearly has a much smaller eco-system and lower margins.  Both equate to a much smaller segment of the population benefitting from an E-tailer’s propriety, versus a brick and mortar shop.  The result is an anchor on prices and thus inflation and wages, and oh yes, an extended period of low growth.

If you don’t believe that, check this out:

Therefore, in the near term, I still see the range intact.  Who knows if the Fed moves.  Maybe we do make a run at 3 before year end as ridiculous as I think that would be.  I have difficulty seeing a break above 2.41 in the near term though.  We have a ton of data next week, so it makes sense to play it close to the vest until then as you never know, perhaps with a slight bias to lower rates.  More importantly, until something big comes along to change things, all I keep seeing is #LowerForLonger.  It’s #InTheLeaves
#WhatRecovery #ThingsAren’tBroken #Hashtag
-Philip Mancuso

It’s 5 O’clock somewhere

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Hey folks, it’s been too long.  I just haven’t felt inspired.  My thought was I’d just do another piece on how the market got it wrong @ 2.40 and calling for 3 by year’s end.  I mean how much of that can you really hear?  Here’s a quick refresher and those new to the blog, please go back and read the previous posts to catch up.   It figures I’d pick a day with no data and where it seems all of Wall Street is likely already sipping on gin and tonics in the Hamptons to post.  At worst, they fired up the helicopters by now, I mean nothing is happening.   My screen hasn’t blinked in what seems like 5 minutes.

Anyway, a slightly positive open reinforces the trend down.  As liquidity evaporates into the Long Island sun, the afternoon could go either way.  I wouldn’t read to much into it.  

Range intact?  Check.  

2.12-2.41 with stops in between.  Check.  

Data not correlating with central banks desire to tighten.  Check.  

For the 9,833,123rd time central banks realize there will be a tantrum if they try to get serious and consequently are forced to reel it back in.  Check.

I see little inspiration to break 2.12, so I’d continue to lock the range (always look out for geopolitical stuff, etc).  Our first run at a new direction comes at the end of next week.  Durables on Thursday (meh), but a pretty important Q2 GDP on Friday.  Here’s my thought:  Central bankers are already hellbent on further tightening.  I can only see this report as surprising them to the downside and thus giving reason for pause.  I mean, what sort of blockbuster would require them to redouble their current tightening efforts.   I’ll post a strategy around mid week around that.  Locks/floats ahead of that event are really predicated on current levels, so it’s not something I’d want to advise on today.

In the meantime, it makes sense to lock whatever July stragglers are left and you you feel froggy, early August closings could float, but I’d begin locking those up if we break 2.20.

-Philip Mancuso

Who cares about rates, you need to change your cell phone plan!

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  1.  Who knew I had a bad cell phone plan.  I was looking to the Fed to set rates, but this was a huge help.  
  2.  The Fed picks now to get hawkish????  What are they seeing that they haven’t in the last 8 years?
  3.  Generally the market doesn’t care, but we’re certainly not as happy as we were at 1:59

So my near term takeaway,  most everything I said in my prior post sticks. Obviously they didn’t hold, thus we’re not seeing 2 by 5:00.  The market is having one of the expected reactions though, which is they are largely ignoring the hawkish tone due to the weakness of the underlying data.  I’d have the same approach to locking, except add a bit more caution.  I don’t think our path has changed, it’s perhaps just gotten a bit steeper and a touch longer.

 

In a broader view:  What the heck just happened??? Did Yellen just blame cell phone plans for being a drag on prices????

What’s next?  A leak that Wendy’s is considering taking one slice of bacon out of the Baconator as a reason to short pork???  C’mon.  Also, she clearly hasn’t been to the drug store if she thinks prescription drugs are cheaper!!  Hello, EPI pens!!?!?!?!?

I must say that I believe what possibly just happened was a worst case scenario for the economy.  The fed more bearish, announcing a hike and balance sheet activity.  This is 2005/2006 IMHO.  Ignoring the facts, being pig headed.  Staying the course because that’s what you do, that’s what we’ve always done.  This isn’t the old economy though!  This could crush the economy as it did in 2008 if they stay this course IMHO.   Just as I predicted on CNBC 2005, and I loosely quote “the fed is tightening for no reason and they are going to wake up and say oh my God what did we do?”  Now we are potentially looking at a stock and balance sheet bubble that could burst.  We already are talking about a potential yield inversion.  You know when that last happened????  You know that is usually an indicator of a recession right??

This is not good.

In terms of today, we are surging back into the closed it’s looking like 2.12.  That level in itself doesn’t tell me where we are going tomorrow, so it’s a bit of a coin toss.  I go back to earlier, I would stay the course, just with a bit more caution.  #lowerforlonger for sure though.

I have to go now.  I’m headed to the mall to change my phone plan and refill my son’s allergy prescriptions.  Who knew…

-Philip Mancuso

No bull just an outright bull rush

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Nothing funny, no anecdotes, just straight stuff here.

What we are seeing is a strong move down in coupon on the data tanks. It’s unlikely we will see this in all rate sheets today as the fed is looming at 2, but all things equal we would see it in reprices later or tomorrow.  Pulling out to a higher level for a moment, when something like this happens we see lower rates improve exponentially and the belly and upper end move negligibly.  I can’t even rule out higher rates worsening slightly as par rates get adjusted.

Further, make no mistake this is a full on repricing of 2017 as far as I see it.  The Fed doesn’t have a leg to stand on right now.  Consumer crushed, inflation in check, jobs sagging.  If the Fed holds today, we may breach 2 by 5 even if temporarily.  Keep in mind we have been repricing 2017 all the way down here, so at some point there may be some profit taking.  As for the Fed, the key is looking at the projections, which by the way they haven’t gotten right since 1582. OK here’s my Mancuso soap box:

  1.  If we are getting shook here, what happens when the Summer data is typically bad?  Can we bet on that data being good?  That a typically rate friendly period all of the sudden reverses the trend, both on an intra and multi year basis?
  2.  If we’ve been in recovery as many would sell you on, then this data weakening is a sign of a potential move to recession.  This is almost year 10 of the “recovery” right?
  3.  Get ready for the hashtags

#lowerforlonger #whatrecovery #theywerewhowethoughttheywere #ifitwalkslikeaduck #sink-oohmy-o #there’sbeenanawakening #somethingfunnyhappenedonthewayto3% #thingsaren’tbroken #figureslieandliarsfigure

OK, so now a touch of reality.  Rates never go straight down.  More importantly, while my reaction today is a bit over the top, its more about “I told them so” then it is that I think something groundbreaking has happened here. I just get the sense that a bit more of the market is coming around to our way of evaluating the facts.  I would simply stay within the narrative of #lowerforlonger and therefore to hit when it makes sense. Pigs get slaughtered.  I don’t think locks here are a terrible idea, even if the full move hasn’t been realized.

We don’t know what the Fed is going to do today.  At the same time even if they fully unload on us will the bond vigilantes go over the top?  I can’t rule that out.  There are a ton of moving parts here to figure out where we go from here and it could still go either way, but I do feel pretty strong here though.  I think floats have a bit more room. Again, don’t get greedy.  If we hold these levels into the close, I’d take the winner off the table either on the first pull back or 2 neg days in a row if it’s a June/early July closing.

My bottom line for Quarter 2/3:

95% we see 2.00

65% we see 1.80

My bottom line for Quarter 3/4:

30% we see 2.42

50% we see 2.35

0% we see >2.65

-Philip Mancuso

They were who we thought they were…

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It’s been a couple weeks since my last post.  Haven’t had a ton of inspiration from this rangebound market.  There’s a chance here that we might break the range, so I figured I’d write.  As Denny Green said, they were who we thought they were.  Frankly, I was a bit surprised that the May number tanked.  I was looking more to June, but for anyone who has been following my blog, you know this has been in the cards for some time. Where does the Fed go from here?  Boy it’s tough to predict 2 more hikes at this point. And I love how the media brushes that under the carpet.  Now I’m reading maybe September, but we haven’t even had the June meeting!!!  Just a month or so ago seemed to be a fait accompli, right?!?!

I guess I wasn’t so crazy calling for a test of 2% in April.  At the end of the day, all my talk about a new range and the truth is we are still stuck in my biggest range of them all and that’s #lowerforlonger.  I hate to sound like a broken record all the time, but haven’t we heard this song before??

#lowerforlonger #homeontherange #whatcomesaroundgoesaround #whatrecovery? #itain’tbroke #haveyoufeltit? #afunnythinghappenedonthewayto3%

-Philip Mancuso

If it walks like a duck is it a bull?

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When can we start calling some bull on this recovery?  First we had a “jobless recovery”. Now I’m calling for a consumer-less recovery.  We are clearly in a growth-less recovery. So how is this exactly a recovery?

We’ve been sitting on 2.42 support for a few days now and the consumer is doing its collective best to propel us off that support and back towards the lower end of the range.  A positive Monday opening would certainly confirm that much.  A close below 2.37 is necessary, 2.35 is great, 2.32 is fantastic for the projects of a solid bounce.  

If I get out of the micro view for a second, I’d like to go back to my 1/27 post, which is linked here for your reading pleasure.

https://themancusowatch.com/2017/01/27/it-was-at-this-moment-that-the-fed-realized-they-screwed-up/

As I indicated on that day, I’m putting a ton of stock in the consumer this year.  Given the “less recovery” I outlined above, at what point do we call bull on this recovery altogether and get back to the realization that things aren’t broke, they are just different.  The Fed’s inability to read this phenomena has done nothing but create huge Fed induced spikes in rates followed by an almost immediate sustained drop in rates.  This great for traders and vol seekers who are on the right side of it, but not the economy, which is what the Fed’s decisions are intended to best serve.   

Another shameless plug, here’s a link to that post:

https://themancusowatch.com/2017/03/10/things-arent-broken-they-are-just-different/

What does all this mean?  I’ve been calling for a 70/30 lower rates.  I’m still there.  I’m skeptical about the next 30-60 days as this period tends to be generally bond unfriendly. Particularly with the help of a May jobs number that we get in early June.  Brexit helped us last year, but I’m not sure we’ll get that help this year from and unexpected event.  I’d lock/float the range/ranges I’ve laid out in previous posts.  

For today, I’d lock anything that you are breathing a sigh of relief on.  As for the others, it makes sense to give it another day and play it day by day thereafter.  We’re at a pivot here, there’s another about 50 bps beyond that.  Therefore I’m roughly 65% lock here and 85% lock at that next gap down in yield.  To hold out the Mid-April low in yields should be reserved for late June closings or beyond.  #BullsAndBears

In the end, maybe the economy is just a bit of an ugly duckling that we have to learn to love. Hey, ugly ducks need love too…  

#LowerForLonger #WhatRecovery #IfItWalksLikeADuck #UglyDucksNeedLoveToo

-Philip Mancuso

Sink-0 de my-o

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How do we interpret today’s NFP?  

Do we get excited about the headline or remain skeptical over the negative revisions. Personally I see the avalanche of data from the past week as bond friendly in the aggregate.  Mostly misses and the Fed was not hawkish.  I concede the ISM services and labor cost numbers stand out a bit, but today’s big revision to March wages should take the edge off the former and weak GDP and slow retail sales do similarly for the latter. Not to mention, a Puerto Rico BK doesn’t exactly give me warm and fuzzies either.  I don’t want to overstate the significance of that, but if nothing else, it’s the first time a US State or territory has taken those drastic financial steps.

So I guess the rate question is:  Oh my, are we sinking?   The bottom line is my float/lock assumptions remain intact.  There’s still plenty of time left on the day, but my sense is we’ll end it slightly positive.  I would further argue that we need to break 2.32 fairly early next week to back into that lower range mode.  

I don’t always celebrate cinco de mayo, but when I do it’s with lower rates.  Stay originating my friends.  

#Sink-oDeMy-o #HomeOnTheRange #LowerForLonger #StayOriginatingMyFriend