Feb 8, 2019, by Samuel Potter
Here we go again
Markets are having a rough time of it, after Europe practically gave up on the whole idea of economic momentum for the time being and Tariff Man said he won’t meet Chinese President Xi Jinping before the March 1 expiry of the current truce. Oh, and the trade cease-fire between the U.S. and EU? That’s not looking too good either. Net result: An already dubious rally is facing that familiar existential crisis. Does Jerome Powell have the stock market’s back? Does easy money even work? All we know is it’s a good time to be in bonds.
Agree to disagree
This is going to sound pretty far-fetched, but right now it seems like all the main players of Brexit are on the same page about something: Taking it to the wire. Theresa May is on the road again today, but it seems clear that her best chance of getting her loathed deal passed Parliament is running down the clock. Brexiteers think that’s the best chance of getting a clean break because the deal will get rejected. Remainers and the EU think it’s the best chance of an extension to the process because surely no one would opt for no deal. Except no one can admit any of this, so it’s all very confusing. And instead of getting a few weeks off, certain daily newsletters are locked in Five Things global HQ (level -2, if you hit Lost Property you’ve gone too far), testing this research on the optimum sequence for drinking alcohol. So what are the chances of a no deal, really? Well put it this way: It turns out a secret group at the heart of the British government has been working on a plan dubbed “Project After” to revive the economy in precisely that scenario, according to the Financial Times. Oh and the alcohol thing? It doesn’t matter what order, it all tastes good regardless.
Opportunistic ‘racy photos’ headline
There aren’t any revealing or compromising photos of Five Things, and if there were, we highly doubt anyone would bother to try to extort us. But then, we’re worth considerably less than $135 billion. In a quite sensational story, Amazon.com Inc. CEO and all-round rich guy Jeff Bezos has accused the National Enquirer and its publisher of extortion and blackmail. He’d hired investigators to figure out if an expose on his relationship with a former TV anchor was politically motivated (Bezos and President Trump aren’t on each other’s Christmas card list), and alleged in a blog post that the National Enquirer threatened to publish more details and revealing photos if the executive didn’t stop the probe. His statement online included vivid descriptions of the images. The stunning development threatens to upend a deal American Media Inc. made with federal prosecutors over its illegal aid to the Trump campaign.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index slumped 1.1 percent as markets including Hong Kong returned from the Lunar New Year celebrations. Japan’s Topix tumbled 1.9 percent as the yen fluctuated. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index edged up by less than 0.1 percent at 6:10 a.m. Eastern Time as the market steadied after yesterday’s plunge. S&P 500 futures pointed to a dip at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.65 percent and gold was slightly higher.
‘No Scheduled Event for Today’ is what greets Five Things when we type ‘U.S. eco data’ into Ask Jeeves five minutes before deadline. In the ensuing panic we find that San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly will speak at an economic forecast conference in San Francisco at 1:15 p.m., which gives us something to fill the blank space. Then we remember the Baker Hughes rig count is at 1:00 p.m., and that it’s earnings season, and all is fine. Although there aren’t many corporate heavyweights reporting; Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Hasbro Inc. are about as good as it gets.