Well, there’s 10 minutes of our life we’re not getting back. This morning, out of begrudging necessity rather than desire, we read the latest statement on monetary policy from the Federal Reserve.
We were no wiser after reading it. But after consulting the opinions of those who make a living out of deciphering the Federal Reserve, it appears the big takeaway was that the Fed thinks growth is now ‘modest’ instead of ‘moderate’.
Talk about controversial.
The Wall Street Journal tells us this is the first time in three years the Fed has cranked out the adjective ‘modest’ to describe the economy. Apparently, modest is not as positive a word as moderate, so the subtle change tells us the Fed is a little more circumspect about raising interest rates, or tapering, or whatever…
As pathetic as all this sounds, language is one of the main tools in the Fed’s kitbag now that interest rates are zero and QE is running at $85 billion per month. Language helps to shape expectations, and expectations make monetary conditions tighter or looser. Sad but true…
As far as we’re concerned, here’s the main point of the Federal Reserves statement:
‘The Committee is prepared to increase or reduce the pace of its purchases to maintain appropriate policy accommodation as the outlook for the labor market or inflation changes.’
In other words, it all depends. No wonder US stocks ended the day unchanged.
Gold, which is particularly sensitive to Federal Reserve comments, had a rollercoaster ride as speculators in the futures market did their best to move the price around. But volumes were light so we wouldn’t read too much into today’s action.
It appears as though the speculators are firmly focused on Friday’s payroll report. You should see some real market action then.
Speaking of gold, today’s Australian reports that ANZ, in its attempt to ingratiate itself towards the Asian market, will this month open its first gold vault in Singapore, near Changi Airport.
ANZ is taking advantage of the global trend towards wealth protection and storage of physical gold. The recent price correction hasn’t impacted this trend in the slightest. In fact, it’s accelerated it. And Singapore (and ANZ) wants a slice of the action.
According to the Australian, Eddie Listorti, ANZ’s co-head of fixed income, currencies and commodities, reckons, ‘Singapore really does want to be a serious financial hub and gold is, including paper, an $US88bn-a-day (globally traded) market.’
The Australian continues:
‘ANZ is a major player in gold, handling about 15 per cent of the globe’s production through an exclusive distribution agreement with the Perth Mint.
‘ANZ sells the bullion solely to central banks, sovereign wealth funds and other banks.
‘Gold is the only physical commodity ANZ trades, other than a small amount of silver.’
Earlier, we heard that second quarter GDP growth in the US came in at 1.7%, which was better than expected. But that came at the expense of a revision to first quarter growth, down to 1.1% from earlier estimate of 1.8%.
In short, not bad, but not great. The US is keeping its head above water. That’s about the best you can say.
Elsewhere, being the first of the month, manufacturing data is out for a number of countries. In Australia, the news isn’t good. After some positive signs in June, the manufacturing index for July slumped back to 42. Anything below 50 indicates contraction.
So if you were expecting a weaker Australian dollar to reignite the manufacturing sector, you’re going to be disappointed. Australia has some structural cost issues that just makes us uncompetitive on the global manufacturing stage. We need a much cheaper dollar to remedy that, in addition to structural reforms that take years to pay off.
‘As an expat living in Aus for over 15yrs (from US originally) I can truly say I’m dumbfounded by the property zealots. I am a finance broker and financial planner and work with several property spruiking companies providing finance for clients. One thing I’ve learned from these people is that ‘Australian property doubles every 7-10 years’ (getting queasy), we have a land shortage (very queasy now) and that of course we have a shortage of housing (I just vomited).
‘And here I thought it took hard work, perseverance and a sound plan to build wealth. Apparently all I need to do is go buy 4-6 investment properties and retire (just threw again). It all makes me sick!
‘I can say that I am very concerned at how eager people are (STILL) to leverage themselves to the hilt. It terrifies me as I think that when the Australian market corrects it will be vicious and many people will lose a tremendous amount of wealth.
‘Hi Greg – a very quick observation on my local housing market – Terrigal NSW Central Coast. Properties are selling within days of being listed. A local agent ( who I believe to be knowledgeable and reasonably trustworthy) told me that the 2 drivers are low interest rates and a shortage of housing stock on the market. Hope this adds to the picture of what is happening.
‘Government, ATO and RBA policy supporting property market through rates, legislation and tax policy. Can see why some people positive when the big boys are backing you
‘The following two very recent sales on the Gold Coast pretty much sum up the current state of the real estate market here in Queensland.
‘A 21 million dollar home (cost to build) selling for 5.3 million on the Sovereign Islands and a 10 million dollar home on Isle of Capri selling for 4 million!
‘We built our home in 2005, in an excellent area, close to all shops, amenities, schools, transport, and when it was finished it had an official valuation of $650,000. Just recently we also got a valuation from RP data and the value of the home now was only valued at between $450,000 – $550,000.
‘Also, another example is : approx. 6 months ago here on the Gold Coast, at the higher end of the market, 2 x luxury beachfront homes that were purchased for $12 million dollars each only a few short years ago, (by the same person I believe) were recently sold for less than $4 million each, a loss of $16 million dollars in total!
‘I have held similar views to yourself regarding the outlook of property for the last five years, and have backed it with action, by not purchasing a residential property. However unfortunately I have to bite the bullet and buy one as recently I got married and the wife would like us to live in a home.
‘It seems the current market is on the upward trend, from the auctions and open inspections that I have visited, I have noticed in Sydney.
‘Many buyers in the areas, next to the train lines are from China , who really aren’t to fussed on the price given they wish to diversify their wealth from the communist regime.
‘Generally those under 32 are priced out the market who wish to live in a house within 20km’s of the market, unless they want to pay a mortgage for the next 15 -20 years minimum.
‘My parents and their friends in the 80’s and early 90’s generally paid off the mortgage within 5years, given prices relative to income where much lower.
‘The government is not concerned about its citizens, given it is happy to collect stamp duties and taxes on high prices being generated by foreigners.
–‘The media is very keen to spike the property industry and place pressure on the RBA to reduce rates to raise the market.
‘I am 58, in business for myself and meet lots of people my age who say that they would not put 10 cents of their SMSF in the stock market as it is " a racket which is rigged against you". They have been burned once too often, and will now only buy real assets, not paper that can all too easily become worthless. Based on the outlook for the health of the economy I would have been a believer in the theory that property prices should go down, but if enough people consider property to be the least ugly pig, that will support prices.
‘For many years I have been a housing bear, however at age 40 I have thrown in the towel and joined the masses, first of all my age is a factor, secondary even if prices went down 30 percent it is unlikely that banks will be lending, so I couldn’t take advantage of the low prices then thirdly with a 25 percent deposit I will be paying an extra 40 dollars a week to have a house twice the size than the one I currently rent with no increases in payments for 3 years, the downside is I am an extra 10 minutes out. My biggest gripe is buying a house shouldn’t be a potentially catastrophic life changing gamble, I just want to raise a family! Politicians, banks and the media have a lot to answer for.
for The Daily Reckoning Australia
From the Archives…
Has the Chinese Economy Hit the Great Wall?
26-07-13 – Bill Bonner
Crisis, Capital Controls, and Accidents of Birth
25-07-13 – Doug Casey
Australia’s Mysterious Natural Gas Shortage
24-07-13 – Nick Hubble
Bernanke’s QE Train Wreck That’s Heading Our Way
23-07-13 – Vern Gowdie
The Misallocated Savings of the Chinese Banking System
22-07-13 – Dan Denning