Quotable Quotes and Notable Notes -- July 8, 2012July 8, 2012 @ 9:10 PM EST
We are pretty jaded here but the commentary this week on economic data even surpassed our high standards of cynicism.
About 90% of the analysis we saw regarding U.S. and global economic data, and especially the jobs report, focused on its potential impact for prompting further Quantitative Easing, here and abroad, with few mentions of the impact of recessionary trends on people’s lives.
But silly us, why should we expect anything else?
It was actually a fairly quiet news week by recent standards, with European drama a bit off the table and the holiday-shortened trading week. The markets put in a slightly down week after the euphoria of last week’s European Summit, with the S&P off -0.5%, the Dow down -0.8%, and the Nasdaq Comp around the flatline at +0.08%. The earnings season kicks off this week and might be a welcome “diversion”, back to the actual business of stock fundamentals perhaps.
So what were they saying this week?
“The Worst Possible Jobs Report Number” --Business Insider quoting Robert Sinn, and repeated by many elsewhere, as the jobs number was “Not good (bad) enough for more easing and not good enough to be a positive.”
And the markets clearly agreed Friday, up until a late day mini-comeback based on Fed-watcher Jon Hilsenrath’s of the WSJ saying, “The disappointing jobs report increases the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will launch a new bond-buying program to boost economic growth, though it doesn't ensure such a move. Mr. Bernanke could lay down his own markers when he testifies before the Senate and House July 17 and 18 to present the Fed's outlook for growth, unemployment and monetary policy. The Fed's next policy meeting is July 31 and August 1.”
Conservative commentator Larry Kudlow and guests were all over the Obama Administration’s response to the jobs report on his Saturday radio show, ripping what they called the “cut and paste” Obama response as he adds each month’s new numbers to the “total of 4.4 million jobs created by his administration.” They, however, called it a “41-month losing streak” and were particularly critical of economic adviser Alan Krueger’s “repetitive excuse-making statement” that, "There are no quick fixes to the problems we face that were more than a decade in the making.” (They were basically asking when does Obama “own the economy”, which doesn’t seem that unfair to us).
“U.S. new auto sales in June raced past expectations on lower gas prices and still-generous incentives, and are on track to score their best year since 2007.” -Reuters, on the +22% June sales report. Japanese brands generally led the pack compared to last year’s weak showing.
“Retail sales fizzle. Are consumers tapped out?” --CNNMoney, on the weak retail sales figures, up only +0.1%, the worst showing since August 2009. Some high-end retailers performed well and some off-price discounters, but the mid-range stores and traditional discounters were weaker than expected.
“Who wrote this sh_t?” --The Honorable Mayor Bloomberg of NYC, who apparently did not like the scripted corny remarks written for him as he kicked off Coney Island’s famed hot dog eating contest.
“We are not yet in recession territory.” --Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, “Recessions are usually accompanied by ISM readings in the low-40s. And the construction news is improving, while consumers are being helped by tumbling gasoline prices.” Gault was responding to the ISM reading of 49.7, down from 53.5 in May, under the important 50 level and the worst reading since 2009.
“Denmark passed the torch on Sunday to the Republic of Cyprus which assumes its first Presidency of the Council of the EU, in an undeniably difficult time for Europe.” --eCyprus.com and other wire reports. It has been reported that Cyprus has not only been seeking an EU bailout but also loans from China and Russia. (Some commentators had quite the chuckle over this one, with the more charitable saying, “Cyprus has the unenviable tag of being the first country to hold the six-month rotating presidency while negotiating European Union emergency aid.”)
“Rumors of a mythological miniature Apple tablet--smaller than the iPad but larger than the iPhone--have been circulating for a while now, but if reports are to be believed, the myth will become a reality by the end of the year.” --Chicago Tribune on what several sources are calling an October launch of a tablet smaller than 8 inches. This comes on the heels of the launch of Google’s Nexus 7 mini-tablet which has been getting decent reviews, although the operating system and apps likely don’t compare for Apple loyalists. However, Wired said, “If you’ve been on the fence about Android, or tablets in general, this is the tablet you’ve been waiting for.”
“Microsoft’s Bad Buy” --Fox Business News, reporting on MSFT’s ” taking a $6.2 billion non-cash charge to account for its disappointing 2007 acquisition of Internet advertising firm aQuantive.” Microsoft said in a statement, “while the Online Services Division business has been improving, the company’s expectations for future growth and profitability are lower than previous estimates.”
“Katie Holmes -- Getting PEANUTS From Prenup in Tom Cruise Divorce” --entertainment and gossip website TMZ, saying that “the prenup Katie signed is long, tight and stacked in Tom's favor.”
“On Thursday, the ECB took its benchmark rate down to a record low of 0.75 percent and its deposit rate to zero. JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Goldman Sachs (GS), and Blackrock responded not by lapping up supposedly free investor cash—but by closing their European money market funds to new investments.” --Bloomberg BusinessWeek, writing about the hard to believe scenario where, as they write, “With global interest rates at or near record lows—some are outright negative—money funds have been struggling to skim a living wage (and pay the Keurig bill) from what used to be the business of investing client cash assets.”
"It made us look like crooks and fools. ” --CNBC, reporting on responses by senior Barclays’ executives “who were furious about their scandal too” .
“Hedge funds fail to wow in first half. ” --Reuters, on the 1st half performance of many hedge funds. “Some of the industry's biggest names are reporting only small gains and trailing the benchmark U.S. stock index by a wide margin.” One manager commented that many funds “are over-managing their positions” and getting whipsawed in a choppy and volatile market. Much-watched manager David Einhorn’s flagship fund was up +3.7% in the first half, but Mr. Einhorn at least managed to finish third at the World Series of Poker $1 million buy-in tournament, the best showing by an “amateur”. He won over $4 million with plans to donate to charity.
“These 100 degree temperatures are sucking the life out of everything.” –Illinois Farm Bureau spokesman, on the heat wave affecting much of the nation this summer and adverse effect on crops. Futures on several crops are expected to keep up a furious