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Greece has been dominating the headlines lately, but the news out of China in the last few days has not been that reassuring either. But just as weak U.S. economic reports are perceived as improving the odds of further Fed support, the soft Chinese data also gets interpreted from that angle. And while one could question the Fed’s capacity to have a meaningful impact on the economy given the existing monetary stance, few doubt the ability and capacity of Chinese authorities ease conditions.
The headlines today will likely be dominated by the trading missteps by J.P. Morgan ( JPM - Analyst Report ) , the entity with the golden touch that could do no wrong, but the European and Chinese concerns will not be far from investors’ minds. The J.P. Morgan story is significant not so much because of because of the amount of losses involved, but because it serves as another reminder of how big, complicated, and opaque these banking entities have become.
If Jamie Dimon, who came out of the banking crisis with his and his firm’s stature enhanced, could not prevent such derivatives linked loss, then these banks are not only too-big-to-fail, but also likely too-big-to-manage. Given this, investors should perhaps not give JPM a pass and are fully justified in staying away from Citigroup ( C - Analyst Report ) and Bank of America ( BAC - Analyst Report ) . Jamie Dimon has been in the forefront of opposition to the new regulatory framework put together under the post-crisis Dodd-Frank legislation. It is unclear if implementation of the Volcker Rule would have prevented the JPM loss, but this episode does highlight the need for greater oversight over the banks’ proprietary trading and risk management practices.
J.P. Morgan, China, and Greece aside, we got a broadly in-line April Producer Price Index (PPI) report this morning, with the ‘headline’ at down 0.2% vs. ‘unchanged’ in March and expectations of an ‘unchanged’ reading. The ‘core’ reading, which strips out the food and energy components, was also in-line with expectations at up 0.2% vs. up 0.3% in March.
We will get the April CPI report on Tuesday next week, but this PPI reading is not showing any signs of pricing pressures in the pipeline. In other economic news on tap, the May University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment survey coming out a little later is expected to have modestly slipped from the April level. But I will be surprised if any of these two reports will have any impact in today’s trading action.
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