Kroger And Walmart Try More Gimmicks To Thwart Amazon; They Will Fail…Again

Over the summer, we argued that the grocery business in the U. S. is, and always has been, a fairly miserable one. From A&P to Grand Union, Dahl’s, etc., bankruptcy courts have been littered with the industry’s failures for decades.
The reason for the persistent failures is fairly simple…razor-thin operating margins that hover around 1-3% leave the entire industry completely incapable of absorbing even the slightest financial shock from things like increasing competition and food deflation.
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Meanwhile, if these retailers have difficultly absorbing even the slightest changes in competition and food inflation, you can only imagine how the efforts of Amazon to slash in-store employee headcounts, a line item which Kroger spends roughly 17% of their revenue on, might impact the fragile industry. Unfortunately, at least for the traditional grocers of the world, a completely automated shopping experience may be closer than they had hoped just a couple of years ago.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 18, 2017.

UK Stagflation Risk As Inflation Hits 3.1% and House Prices Fall

UK Stagflation Risk As Inflation Hits 3.1% and House Prices Fall
– UK inflation hits 3.1%, highest in nearly six years
– UK earnings flat – households are still suffering falling real wages
– Stagflation risk as food and drink prices jumped 4.1% in 12 months
– UK house prices fall two-months in a row, down 0.5% in October
– Real stagflation risk now, inflation high and growth slowing
– Savings continue to be eaten by inflation
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It was just two years ago that Mark Carney was writing his fourth letter to the British Chancellor, explaining why the country was in a deflationary slump. Even then households were feeling the pinch, despite what officials reported.
Since then Brits have become increasingly vindicated as inflation figures have begun to show what they have all known for some time – prices and the cost of living is on the rise.
Now Mark Carney is forced to write a different type of letter to the Chancellor, one where he will have to explain why inflation is above target at 3.1%. The jump to over 3% in the year to November is the fastest paced increase seen in nearly six years.

This post was published at Gold Core on December 13, 2017.

Inflation v Deflation – State Finances

There is a general belief, and that is all it is, that state finances fare better in an inflationary environment than a deflationary one. This perception arises from the transfer of wealth from lenders to the state through a devaluation of the currency, which occurs with monetary inflation, compared with the transfer of wealth from the state to its creditors through deflation. The effect is undoubtedly true, even though it is played down by governments, but it ignores what happens to continuing government obligations and finances. This article looks at this aspect of government finances in the longer term, first on the route to eventual currency collapse which governments create for themselves by ensuring a continuing devaluation of their currencies, and then in a sound money environment with a positive outcome, for which there is good precedent. This is the second article exposing the fallacies of supposed advantages of inflation over deflation, the first being posted here.
Inflationary policies While central bankers have convinced themselves, in defiance of normal human behaviour, that consumption is only stimulated by the prospect of higher prices, there can be little doubt that the unmentioned sub-text is the supposed benefits to borrowers in industry and for government itself. Furthermore, the purpose of gaining control over interest rates from free markets is to reduce the general level of interest rates paid to lenders, further robbing them of the benefits of making their capital available to willing borrowers.

This post was published at GoldMoney on December 07, 2017.

The Venture Capital Bubble Is Imploding! (The Beginning Of The Great Bubble Deflation?)

Following The Great Recession and The Fed’s extraordinary response, there was a lot of money available that we seeking risky assets, such as equities, housing and apartments.
Venture capital, the darling of business schools (that rarely look at the data, but focus on the snake oil-aspect of VC), has been in decline since 2014 after a meteoric rise after 2007.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner by Anthony B Sanders – December 1, 2017.

Goldman: The Last Time This Happened Was Just Months Before The Start Of The Great Depression

Ah Goldman, never change.
One week after Goldman’s chief equity strategist David Kostin predicted a three-year bull market of “rational exuberance“, lifting his 2018 S&P price target from 2,500 to 2,850 rising to 3,100 in 2020, and stating that should the exuberance turn “irrational”, the S&P could rise as high as 5,300 by the end of 2020, another Goldman strategist, Christian Mueller-Glissmann, has decided it may be a good idea to play bad cop and cover all bases.
And so, in a report released on Tuesday “The Balanced Bear – Part 1: Low(er) returns and latent drawdown risk” this now bearish Goldmanite warns that in the medium-term, the two likely scenarios are either i) a “slow pain” deflation scenario of low yields and high valuations “which persist as macro is stable but there are less windfall gains from rising valuations and less carry – as a result, returns are likely to be lower across assets”, or ii) a “fast pain” drawdown scenario in which there is “either a material negative growth or inflation/rate shock, or a combination of both, which drives a drawdown in 60/40 portfolios.”
For those confused, don’t worry – you read it right. While on one hand Goldman is predicting nothing but blue skies for the “medium-term” of the next three years, predicting no recession and double digit equity upside, at the very same time, the very same Goldman is also forecasting either a “slow” or “fast” pain scenario, which while different, share one thing in common (as the name implies): “pain.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 29, 2017.

The $76 Trillion Bond Market Is Forecasting Inflation. Are You Ready?

This year, (2017) was the year that the financial system moved from fearing deflation to expecting inflation.
You can see this in the breakout in inflation expectations. From 2013 until mid-2016, the financial system’s expectations of future inflation were in a downtrend. Mid-2016 this changed as expectations began to rise, breaking this downtrend in early 2017.
They’ve since continued to rally. Bouncing off support.

This post was published at GoldSeek on 27 November 2017.

Fake Market Narratives Are Masking The Roots Of The Next Crisis

During the second half of an interview with MacroVoices host Erik Townsend, Fasanara Capital fund manager Francesco Filia explained how the trillions of dollars in post-crisis asset purchases by central banks have bred a dangerous trend-following mentality that ultimately undermines the stability of markets and leaves stocks and bonds vulnerable to a vicious reversal.
Passive, trend following funds – which account for the bulk of daily flows across financial markets – have only helped exacerbate the situation. But what’s worse is market strategists’ refusal to acknowledge how these flows, which create destabilizing feedback loops, tend to drive trading. Instead, sell-side ‘experts’ employ flimsy fake narratives ex post to explain trading activity. These narratives are often accepted without question or criticism by financial reporters at CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg…the list goes on.
While it’s much easier for strategists and traders to latch on to the narrative of the day during interviews and conversations with clients, Filia posits that both professional and retail investors are ignoring these fundamental trends at their own peril.
There was a moment in the market a couple of years ago where, whenever we saw bad data, the market was rallying, because they were expecting more monetary printing and more interventionism from the side of central banks.
A little bit later, when rates were falling because of deflation, the narrative was chasing yields. So the narrative was not that there is deflation, therefore there will be a recession, therefore there will be a deflationary bust. The narrative was that there will be a deflationary boom. So the narrative was chase yields. So go into bonds even if the yields are low (whenever there is some yields left), go into equity to get some yield, and so make equities more expensive.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 26, 2017.

Operation Twist By Another Name and Method?

The TIP/IEF ‘inflation gauge’ is still motoring upward after breaking above the SMA 200. If this turns the 200 up along with the MA 50 it could indicate a mini hysteria about inflation.
The problem lately has been that the longest duration bonds have been relatively strong, putting a cap on yields and inflationary signaling, if not indicating deflationary pressure. TIP/TLT has not nearly kept up as 30yr yields have been a big drag over the last couple of weeks (this could still turn out to be a bottoming pattern though).
Of course the Tin Foil Hat wearer in me wonders where some of this pressure might be coming from. Political and monetary authorities who have an interest in keeping long-term rates capped, maybe? Macro Tourist checks in with some details (last part of the article) about potential political shenanigans in the long-term Treasury bond market.

This post was published at GoldSeek on 20 November 2017.

Manhattan Retail: The New Rust Belt

Via Global Macro Monitor,
Bleecker Street, said Faith Hope Consolo, the chairwoman of the retail group for the real estate firm Douglas Elliman, ‘had a real European panache. People associated it with something special, something different.’ Ms. Consolo, who has negotiated several deals on the street, added: ‘We had visitors from all over that said, ‘We’ve got to get to Bleecker Street.’ It became a must-see, a must-go.’
Early on, Ms. Consolo said, rents on the street were around $75 per square foot. By the mid-to-late 2000s, they had risen to $300. Those rates were unaffordable for many shop owners like Mr. Nusraty, who was forced out in 2008 when, he said, his lease was up and his monthly rent skyrocketed to $45,000, from $7,000.
– NY Times
Retail is not just being Amazoned in Manhattan, retailers are being priced out of business by exorbitant rents.
Note to commercial landlords: Lower your rents! But, God forbid, that would be deflationary!

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.