If we have to summarize what drove the action last week, we will say it was the speculation over an upcoming (perhaps in June) Growth Pact in the Euro-zone. That was all. That did the trick. There is really nothing, absolutely nothing concrete. And no, we donâ€™t think the market is speculating on a soon-to-come Quantitative Easing Version 3. But from pure intuition, it would seem that the market sees these conditions as necessary to take the any Pact seriously: a) Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, would have to back such pact in a way that would guarantee some sort of deficit monetization, and b) Hollande should win Franceâ€™s presidential ballotage, next weekend.
Indeed, most news were bearish last week and yet, every single asset class seemed to end on a bullish note. From the Euro zone, we saw a deceiving bond auction by Italy. We also learned that the unemployment rate in Spain (the official rate) averages between 20% and 30%, depending on which region one measures it, and that the United Kingdom is already in a double dip. This only resulted in a stronger Euro and stronger Euro stocks for the week.
Last week too, Moodyâ€™s downgraded Ontarioâ€™s credit rating to Aa2 with a stable outlook from Aa1 with a negative outlook. How did the market react? The Canadian dollar finished the week stronger. Then came the activity data release for the United States: Jobless claims, housing data, inflation dataâ€¦all of them were worse than expected and yetâ€¦.stocks rallied, with the S&P500 reaching again the 1,400pts. And we could say the same about oil and goldâ€¦
The lesson here is that a market that will not fall on bearish news is a bullish market. Even if it is a manipulated market, which brings us back to gold. Below is the daily chart (source: Kitco.com) for April 25th, 2012. It shows how upon the start of Bernankeâ€™s press conference an algorithm sold whatever it could precisely at one point in time. Everybody saw it coming. We saw it coming, after what had happened on February 29th, or with the Euro peg announcement by the Swiss National Bank, in 2011. And this time, whoever was behind the move, lost money. We can only hope these moves stop or expect that newer, smarter moves will follow. We think the latter are more likely than the former:
Somehow, the idea of a â€œGrowth Pactâ€ reminds us of the New Deal and Ludwig Von Misesâ€™ comment on the same. Von Mises wisely said:â€œâ€¦The comparatively greater prosperity of the United States is an outcome of the fact that the New Deal did not come in 1900 or 1910, but only in 1933â€¦â€. His words, in light of this Growth Pact speculation, sound to us wiser than everâ€¦
We want to leave with this thought: As we have repeated, since the start of the Long-Term Refinancing Operations by the European Central Bank, the savings rate of the world (yes, now is the global savings rate) keeps slowly drifting lower either because of the manipulation of interest rates by central banks, or the fact that income is falling, as in the case of the European Union and the UK, or because of simple financial repression, as in the case of the debt swap between Greece and the European Central Bank, which left holders of sovereign debt suddenly subordinated. This simple observation leads us to think that this crisis will continue to unfold like a painful agony, and that we have many, indeed many more years of it to come.