More Bad Data for the U.S. Economy

Good day… And a Wonderful Wednesday to you! Well… My first day at the Las Vegas Money Show went well. This place (Mandalay Bay) is so big and spread out; there’s just too much walking for me. My presentation went well, I think; it’s just too difficult to tell anymore for me.

Front and center this morning we have the government telling us that inflation was less than forecast last month. Just who do they think they’re kidding here? I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck! CPI rose 0.2% versus 0.3% forecast, putting the annual rate at 3.9% versus the previous 4.0%… Just doesn’t sit well with you does it? Oh well… We carry on despite the dolts we have to work with!

Another piece of data already out this morning has foreclosures in the United States climbing 65% in April, and bank seizures more than doubling in the same period. RealtyTrac Inc. said this morning that there are more than 243,300 properties, or one in every 519 households, that were in some stage of foreclosure, which happens to be the highest monthly total since they began to keep the data!

Oh, but don’t worry about all of this folks… Fed Chairman Big Ben Bernanke says the worst is over! And before I get away from all this, Freddie Mac, the second largest mortgage finance company, posted a $151 million first quarter loss… And… I would bet they “fudged” the numbers to make them look “this good”!

I shake my head in disgust of the stuff we have to deal with… The lies, the cooked books… UGH!

Alright, I’m back now… I was away for a minute to yell at the walls!

The softer inflation data this morning is allowing the euro (EUR) to gain some ground versus the dollar, as the market puts the Fed warnings of rising inflation and eventual rate hikes in the United States on the back burner.

Yesterday, we saw the euro lose a little ground after Fed Head Janet Yellen was wishing, and hoping and thinking and praying that the economy would be strong enough to raise rates. Oh give me a break! She’s grasping at straws! Yellen stated that she “would be pleased” if the economy was strong enough to raise rates by year-end. That’s all nice and sweet, Ms. Yellen… But did you realize you would move the markets with that “wish upon a star”?

Our friend, Jim Rogers, is back in the news today talking about the dollar rally. Let’s listen in…

“The dollar is going up, which is useful for people who want to sell the dollar down the road. With things the way they are, I would rather buy the Swiss franc and Asian currencies.”

Jim Rogers was also of the thought that carry trades are going to be reduced…

I’m all about this, and agree with our friend… This is the stuff I pound out on the keyboard almost every day. The carry trade is a “risky trade”, and when risk enters the markets in a big way, like I believe it will this year, the carry trade will be unwound, thus benefiting Swiss francs (CHF) and the low yielding Asian currencies.

Last week I told you about the Chinese renminbi (CNY) and how it had stalled at 6.98. There was a report this morning that Central Bank Governor Zhou signaled that slowing exports would see an easing in the pace of renminbi gains. If you recall that talk last week that I gave, this is what I was talking about… Slowing gains in the renminbi, (as if they weren’t slow enough already!)

The Canadian loonie (CAD) is knocking on the door to parity with the dollar again this morning, as it swaps places with the Swiss franc, which was at parity last month but has fallen back.

The Japanese yen (JPY) is getting sold again. This is a back and forth tug-o-war with yen… But in the long run, I still see yen gaining versus the dollar… But we’ve got to get that stupid carry trade off the books first!

One currency that has remained pretty “steady Eddie” during this recent dollar strength is the Brazilian real (BRL)… Of course I just put the “Chuck’s kiss-o-death” on the real… Anyway… I was talking to a customer yesterday here at the show, and listed the positive balance of payment currencies from Norway (NOK), Sweden (SEK), Switzerland, euro, Japan, and Singapore (SGD) as currencies an investor should look to. But added that Brazil and Australia (AUD) have the “things” the world needs, and should keep these currencies underpinned…

Currencies today 5/14/08: A$ .9350, kiwi .7630, C$ .9995, euro 1.5470, sterling 1.9445, Swiss .9485, ISK 79, rand 7.6550, krone 5.07, SEK 6.0150, forint 161.50, zloty 2.1920, koruna 16.15, yen 105, baht 32.40, sing 1.38, HKD 7.8, INR 42.45, China 7, pesos 10.50, BRL 1.6665, dollar index 73.31, Oil $125.37, Silver $16.89, and Gold… $870.20

That’s it for today… The BIG GUYS from Jacksonville were in town and came to my presentation yesterday. That was pretty exciting for yours truly. Since I got sick last summer, I haven’t had much opportunity to be around the Big Guys from Jacksonville (the home office), and just talk to them, etc. So, that was good… We also have two of our NY Operations people here with us at the show… Rachel and Tom are doing great! And Kathy from Jacksonville is also here, so we’ve got plenty of help. I go back to the days when it would just be Chris Gaffney and I all day at the booth… Chris is on his way to Panama this morning… Better him than me, that’s all I can say! I hope you have a Wonderful Wednesday!

Chuck Butler
May 14, 2008