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Breakfast With Dave 112310

Breakfast With Dave 112310

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Published by: Tikhon Bernstam on Nov 23, 2010
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David A. Rosenberg Chief Economist & Strategist drosenberg@gluskinsheff.

com + 1 416 681 8919

November 23, 2010 Economic Commentary

MARKET MUSINGS & DATA DECIPHERING

Breakfast with Dave
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING Lingering concerns over the Irish debt issue (the Bank of Ireland Plc is off 20% today; and the government has collapsed and an election will likely be held in early 2011) and heightened military tensions between the two Koreas (this was no missile test — bullets were fired for the first time since the war nearly six decades ago) are undercutting the risk-on trade with European bourses down across the board. There were also some heavy losses across Asia, which were taking hold even before any shots were fired (for example, the Hang Seng index was clocked in overnight trading, down 627 points or a 2.7% slide — the sharpest decline in six months — and the Shanghai index slid 1.9% to a six-week low. There is some market chatter about Chinese banks hitting their loan quotas and as such intend to close their credit books). There is also talk that China is going to take more aggressive tightening moves to combat inflation pressures. All 10 groups that make up the MSCI World Index are in the red so far today. The U.S. government’s crusade against the hedge fund industry — three are now under investigation — is serving as added cloud overhanging the financials. The U.S. retailing stocks have been behaving quite well (the SPDR Retail ETF is at a three-year high!) and Black Friday will likely prove to be a key inflection point. However, it is fair to ask just how robust the consumer spending outlook is when Wal-Mart comes out and says it will meet any price by its rivals and TJ Maxx, the very same day, cuts $100 off each iPad? Bonds in the U.S. and core Europe are rallying but not dramatically; sovereign risks are underscored by the back-up in yields today among the peripheral problem countries (the Irish 10-year government bond yield has shot up 11bps to nearly 8%). Today’s NYT appropriately asks for how much longer can politicians expect bond holders to not take a haircut on their risky investments (see In Europe, a Look at Defaults to Stem the Pain — bailouts are clearly no longer the answer in the aftermath of what has occurred in Ireland). The euro, as we know it, has a limited lifeline from here. For all the G20 talk about “currency imbalances”, there is no greater imbalance than imposing a ‘gold standard’ tourniquet on countries facing severe financial strains and recessionary pressures. To quote the venerable Ken Rogoff in today’s NYT — “There is no escaping debt restructuring for Greece and Ireland”. In this light, the greenback, despite U.S. fiscal problems of its own, is quite a bit firmer on a flight-to-liquidity move with the DXY popping back above the 50-day moving average. The Swiss franc, another “defensive” currency, is also firming as I type. IN THIS ISSUE • While you were sleeping: lingering concerns over the Irish debt issue and heightened military tensions between North and South Korea are undercutting the risk-on trade today • Setting the record straight … again: the equity market certainly did turn in a surprisingly vigorous rally in the past few months but it would be a mistake to relate this to any real fundamental improvement in the economic backdrop • Nothing Cavalier in the Cleveland Fed’s price measure: its trimmedmean CPI series, which removes the volatility in consumer prices, is now just 77bps YoY from dipping below zero • More evidence on households cutting back on credit

Please see important disclosures at the end of this document.

Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc. is one of Canada’s pre-eminent wealth management firms. Founded in 1984 and focused primarily on high net worth private clients, we are dedicated to meeting the needs of our clients by delivering strong, risk-adjusted returns together with the highest level of personalized client service. For more information or to subscribe to Gluskin Sheff economic reports, visit www.gluskinsheff.com

November 23, 2010 – BREAKFAST WITH DAVE

This renewal of risk aversion has triggered a retreat in the commodity currency countries — the Aussie is down for a third day in a row. As an aside, the Australian government said it is contemplating whether to start restricting foreign investment in its rural land and agricultural food production sector — food security is emerging as major strategy theme, not just for governments but for investors too. The Canadian dollar is gradually moving down towards its fairvalue range of 92-93 cents — still about a nickel to go — although fundamental support should be provided by the country’s fiscal rectitude with Finance Minister Flaherty reiterating his stance that the 2011 budget will focus on spending restraint, deficit reduction and further declines in corporate tax rates. Resource prices are drifting lower from their very lofty levels — oil is down fractionally and copper is heading south for the third day in a row. On the data docket, German GDP posted a nice broad-based 0.7% advance in Q3, and remember, this followed the blowout 2.3% surge in Q2. If we were talking about the old D-mark instead of the euro, we would be talking about the prospect for an impressive currency rally; however, Ireland, Greece and Portugal continue to get in the way (even Spanish 10-year yields have gapped up 10bps so far today and are 220bps above German comparables). For some useful commentary on how important it is to recognize the contagion risks from Greece and Ireland see Portugal New Focus of Europe Debt Fears on page A8 of the WSJ. There is more and more discussion of debt restructurings, and frankly, it is about time. In each case in 2008 and 2009, bondholders got bailed out even as equity was wiped out or close to getting wiped out. But it was the Lehman experience, having bondholders accept a haircut for the risks they took, which has policymakers so fearful about not having bondholders be made whole — these days are numbered. Imagine if German and U.S. taxpayers knew the full extent of just how much these IMF rescue packages are costing them — there would be an outrage. In any event, also have a look at Amid Irish Aid, a New Option on page A11 of the WSJ. Also have a look at the editorial on page A22 — Europe Takes Out the Bazooka. Ireland alone is using up 13% of the Eurozone stabilization fund and the fact that Greek bond spreads are wider now than they were in May suggests that this “bazooka” is not exactly working out as planned. The saga continues and likely warrants a more defensive investing posture than many a Wall Street strategist is currently recommending. Suffice it to say, with equity PM cash ratios down to 3.5%, the Investors Intelligence survey showing the most bullish market sentiment in six months and the VIX index a smidge above 18, what we have on our hands is: (i) widespread complacency, and (ii) a fully invested market as it became clear in the days following the mid-term election and Fed meeting in early November that we had a good dose of performance-chasers piling into equities in particular and risk assets in general with a consensus view that the post Jackson Hole gravy train was going to remain on the tracks through to year-end.

This renewal of risk aversion today has triggered a retreat in the commodity currency countries

The saga continues in the periphery Eurozone, and likely warrants a more defensive investing posture than many a Wall Street strategist is currently recommending

Page 2 of 11

November 23, 2010 – BREAKFAST WITH DAVE

To invoke Bob Farrell’s Rule 9: “When all the experts and forecasts agree, something else is going to happen.” Below we highlight the still-high levels of mortgage delinquency rates as a vivid sign that household financial strains have hardly abated. Both the New York and Cleveland Federal Reserve Banks have just published reports outlining the severity of the deleveraging cycle that is in full swing — banks have seen their outstanding real estate book contract to levels not seen since December 2007. Home prices are taking another leg down as well, though this has received very little media attention. And, it is bound to get worse because CoreLogic just updated its database to show that the complete inventory of unsold homes for sale — including the ‘shadow’ foreclosed stockpile that is not yet listed for sale — has expanded by 200,000 units in the past year to 6.3 million units. That means that the ‘true’ backlog of unsold inventory overhanging the market is close to 23 months’ supply compared with 16 months a year ago. We have been on the consumer frugality theme for the last three years and introduced the deflationary concept of “getting small” as it pertains to household shopping attitudes. Because a flashy QE2-induced rally in equities managed to provide a lift to select high-end retail activity of late, the reality is that many not-high-end American consumers are radically changing their buying habits in this secular post-bubble deleveraging phase. For a terrific read on this theme, look no further than the front page of today’s WSJ — The Just-in-Time Consumer. To wit: “The Great Depression replaced a spendthrift culture with a generation of frugal savers. The recent recession, too, has left in its wake a deeply changed shopper: the Just-in-Time Shopper. For over two decades, Americans bought big, bought more and stocked up, confident that bulk shopping, often on credit, provided the best value for their money. But the long recession — with its high unemployment, plummeting home values and depleted savings accounts — altered the way many people think about the future. Manufacturers and retailers report that people are buying less more frequently, and are determined to keep cash on hand.” American shoppers, at the margin, are frequenting their favourite stores more often but buying less per trip. They are doing this to take advantage of lower prices down the road. So, the bond market has inflation expectations on the brain, but the consumer is not going to pay the higher price — unwilling and unable. This is very supportive for the fixed-income market (more on this below). SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT … AGAIN The equity market certainly did turn in a surprisingly vigorous rally in the past few months but it would be a mistake to relate this to any real fundamental improvement in the economic backdrop. As we will likely see in today’s FOMC minutes, the Fed is yet again going to take a knife to its growth and inflation forecast as it has done with regularity over the past eight months.

American shoppers, at the margin, are frequenting their favourite stores more often but buying less per trip … they are doing so in hopes of seeing prices in the goods they need to buy go down

Page 3 of 11

November 23, 2010 – BREAKFAST WITH DAVE

To be sure, the double-dip has been avoided for now, but what is interesting is that nobody really believed in that scenario back in the summer, nor was any Wall Street research department calling for such even though for a time the risks were rising. The bottom in the equity market rally came, not on a piece of data towards the end of August, but on the back of the comments from Ben Bernanke in Jackson Hole that another round of quantitative easing was coming our way. This is why the rally ended, not on any particular piece of economic data, but right after the FOMC meeting a few weeks ago — a classic case of buying the rumour and then selling the fact. This is how markets often work since so much perception and psychology is involved. For all the talk of economic improvement, the number of data points that were positive since the market bottomed in late August has been exactly equal to the number of negative data points. We can understand the pre-occupation with nonfarm payrolls, but frankly, the bloom comes off the rose when one turns to the Household Survey and sees that full-time employment has declined now for five months in a row. So many pundits focus on the ISM index but don’t stop to think that this is only a diffusion index and while it is indeed above the 50 threshold, the reality is that industrial production has not budged one iota since July. And, while retail sales have held in nicely, the “control” segment that feeds into consumer spending, came in at a mere 0.2% MoM in October, which was slower than the 0.4% print in September. What about the fact that housing starts collapsed 11.7% in October after a dismal 4.2% decline the month before. (Oh, but of course, who doesn’t know that housing is weak? Right.) While the upward revision to Q3 GDP was impressive and broad-based (to 2.5% at an annual rate from 2.0% initially and the 2.4% that was widely expected), the monthly data on GDP reveal a sharp deceleration. For example, over the three months to September (point-to-point as opposed to quarterly averages), real GDP actually slowed to a 1.0% annual rate — down from 1.7% in July, 2.6% in June and 4.6% at the turn of the year. Based on information at hand, it looks a though Q4 real GDP is coming in closer to a 1.7% annual rate, so the moderation in overall economic activity will be more evident this quarter than it was in Q3 (sometimes quarterly averages masks what the true momentum really is). It is not just about the economy — that is our point. In fact, what is normal for Mr. Market to see heading into the second year of a recovery is a 5% growth economy that is accelerating; not a 1-2% growth economy that is rife with downside risks. To be sure, corporate profits have been terrific, but not due to any meaningful increase in top-line pricing power. Fully 96% of the rebound in output since the recession ended has been due to productivity growth — talk about a miracle, especially since there has been no capital deepening now for about a decade. Productivity leads to income growth, but when the U6 unemployment rate is 17% (which means dramatic excess capacity in the jobs market), that income accrues to capital, not to labour.

The double-dip has been avoided … for now …

… But what is interesting is that nobody really believed in that scenario back in the summer, nor was any Wall Street research department calling for such even though for a time the risks were rising

Page 4 of 11

November 23, 2010 – BREAKFAST WITH DAVE

Compensation per hour is declining and unit labour costs have fallen nearly 2% in the past year, which has been a major underpinning for profit margins, to be sure. How long the productivity miracle can last is anyone’s guess, but the excess slack in the labour market will linger on. What kept the consumer alive through all this was the massive help from Uncle Sam, but that is now coming to an end, which in turn will have some negative impact on domestic demand and revenue growth for the business sector. So, the combination of strong ex-U.S. growth and sustained solid productivity gains are going to be needed more than ever in order for the string of profits-surpassing-expectations to be extended into 2011. So yes, profits have come in just fine despite one of the weakest recoveries on record, but to some extent, much of this has already been priced in. During the summer, there was far too much attention paid to how much the stock market had come off the April highs, and recently, far too much a focus on how far the stock market has bounced off the July-August lows. The bottom line is that for the past year, the S&P 500 has crossed above the 1,200 mark five times and has moved below the 1,100 threshold no fewer than thirteen times. This is a sideways moving market now for over year — a low of 1,022 and a high of 1,225. Sell at the highs, buy at the lows, until there is a decisive break either way. No doubt the equity market never did cheapen up enough for our liking — that day will come — but the total return to date has been a bit better than 7% compared to 11% for the long bond, 12% for the 10-year T-note and 10% for the corporate bond market. Gold is up more than 20% and silver by over 60%. The bond-bullion barbell that we have been espousing for years actually worked again in 2010. NOTHING CAVALIER IN CLEVELAND FED PRICE MEASURE The Cleveland Fed attempts to take the volatility out of the consumer price data, and so in October, its trimmed-mean series came in below 0.049%, so close to zero, and the YoY trend has receded to a record low of 0.77%. So, we are going to end up with something close to 3% real GDP growth for 2010 when all is said and done and that put nary a dent in the near-10% unemployment rate nor did it stop the trend in underlying consumer inflation from practically being cut in half. Now you know why Bernanke is worried. As an aside, while the Treasury market has struggled of late, in part because of the risk-on trade and because of the policy dissension and confusion regarding the Federal Reserve, the chart below is hugely supportive of the long end of the U.S. yield curve.

Yes, profits have come in just fine despite one of the weakest recoveries on record, but to some extent, much of this has already been priced in

Page 5 of 11

November 23, 2010 – BREAKFAST WITH DAVE

CHART 1: CONSUMER INFLATION CLOSE TO DEFLATING
United States: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Trimmed Mean CPI (12-month percent change, seasonally adjusted)
5.25 4.50

3.75

3.00 2.25

1.50

0.75 85 90 95 00 05 10

Shaded region represent periods of U.S. recession Source: Haver Analytics, Gluskin Sheff

MORE EVIDENCE ON HOUSEHOLDS CUTTING BACK ON CREDIT No sooner did we quote some research out of the New York Fed regarding the consumer frugality theme that we saw a similar report drawing similar conclusions out of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland — titled Mortgage Borrowers Deleverage. Yes, Virginia, the deleveraging cycle is not just about banks taking write-downs but also about a secular shift in household attitudes towards debt as we discussed yesterday. The conclusions from the Cleveland Fed: “Consumers have been able to deleverage by reducing both the amount of debt and the term to maturity of their mortgage debt. Loan-to-value ratios have steadily declined since they peaked, falling 680 basis points for existing homes and 520 basis points for new homes. Moreover, consumers have reduced their exposure to mortgage debt by reducing the debt’s term to maturity. In June, 2007, the term to maturity of all loans closed was 29.5 years; however, as of September of the term to maturity of all loans closed was 27.6 years.” And, here are other forms of deleveraging coming from the sharp plunge in cashout refinancing. Home equity is no longer being gutted by the masses.

Page 6 of 11

November 23, 2010 – BREAKFAST WITH DAVE

CHART 2: HOME EQUITY IS NO LONGER BEING GUTTED
United States: Home Equity Withdrawal: Mortgages Less Estimated Debt on Residential Investment (US$ billion, seasonally adjusted at an annual rate)
750 500

250

0 -250

-500

-750 90 95 00 05 10

Source: Haver Analytics, Gluskin Sheff

CHART 3: CASH-OUT REFINANCING HAS RUN DRY
United States: Freddie Mac Cash-Out Refinancing Activity: Total Home Equity Cashed Out (US$ billion)
100

80

60

40

20

0 95
Source: Haver Analytics, Gluskin Sheff

00

05

10

Page 7 of 11

November 23, 2010 – BREAKFAST WITH DAVE

CHART 4: CASH-OUT AS A SHARE OF REFINANCING
United States: Freddie Mac Cash-Out Refinancing Activity: Cash-Outs as a percent of Aggregate Refinancing Originations (percent)
37.5

30.0

22.5

15.0

7.5

0.0 95
Source: Haver Analytics, Gluskin Sheff

00

05

10

The charge-off rate by the banks on residential mortgages has come off the peaks too. However, doesn’t this chart suggest there is more to go? CHART 5: YES, CHARGE-OFF RATES ON RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGES ARE OFF ITS PEAK… BUT DON’T YOU THINK THERE IS MORE TO GO?
United States: Loan Charge-Off Rate: Residential Real Estate Loans (percent, seasonally adjusted at an annual rate)
3.0 2.5

2.0

1.5

1.0

0.5

0.0 95
Source: Haver Analytics, Gluskin Sheff

00

05

10

Page 8 of 11

November 23, 2010 – BREAKFAST WITH DAVE

CHART 6: LOAN-TO-PRICE RATIO NOW NEAR HISTORIC LOWS
United States: Non-Jumbo Fixed Rate 30-Year Home Mortgage Loans: Loan-to-Price Ratio (percent)
86 84

82

80 78

76

74 90 95 00 05 10

Source: Haver Analytics, Gluskin Sheff

Page 9 of 11

November 23, 2010 – BREAKFAST WITH DAVE

Gluskin Sheff at a Glance
Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc. is one of Canada’s pre-eminent wealth management firms. Founded in 1984 and focused primarily on high net worth private clients, we are dedicated to the prudent stewardship of our clients’ wealth through the delivery of strong, risk-adjusted investment returns together with the highest level of personalized client service.
OVERVIEW
As of September 30, 2010, the Firm managed assets of $5.8 billion.

INVESTMENT STRATEGY & TEAM

date) would have grown to $9.1 million on September 30, 2010 versus $5.9 million for the S&P/TSX Total Return Index over the same period.
2

We have strong and stable portfolio management, research and client service teams. Aside from recent additions, our Gluskin Sheff became a publicly traded Portfolio Managers have been with the corporation on the Toronto Stock Firm for a minimum of ten years and we Exchange (symbol: GS) in May 2006 and have attracted “best in class” talent at all remains 49% owned by its senior levels. Our performance results are those management and employees. We have of the team in place. public company accountability and We have a strong history of insightful governance with a private company bottom-up security selection based on commitment to innovation and service. fundamental analysis. Our investment interests are directly aligned with those of our clients, as For long equities, we look for companies Gluskin Sheff’s management and with a history of long-term growth and employees are collectively the largest stability, a proven track record, client of the Firm’s investment portfolios. shareholder-minded management and a share price below our estimate of intrinsic We offer a diverse platform of investment value. We look for the opposite in strategies (Canadian and U.S. equities, equities that we sell short. Alternative and Fixed Income) and investment styles (Value, Growth and For corporate bonds, we look for issuers 1 Income). with a margin of safety for the payment of interest and principal, and yields which The minimum investment required to are attractive relative to the assessed establish a client relationship with the credit risks involved. Firm is $3 million. We assemble concentrated portfolios — our top ten holdings typically represent between 25% to 45% of a portfolio. In this PERFORMANCE way, clients benefit from the ideas in $1 million invested in our Canadian which we have the highest conviction. Equity Portfolio in 1991 (its inception Our success has often been linked to our long history of investing in under-followed and under-appreciated small and mid cap companies both in Canada and the U.S.

Our investment interests are directly aligned with those of our clients, as Gluskin Sheff’s management and employees are collectively the largest client of the Firm’s investment portfolios.

$1 million invested in our Canadian Equity Portfolio in 1991 (its inception date) would have grown to $9.1 million2 on September 30, 2010 versus $5.9 million for the S&P/TSX Total Return Index over the same period.

$1 million usd invested in our U.S. Equity Portfolio in 1986 (its inception date) would have grown to $11.8 million 2 usd on September 30, 2010 versus $9.6 million usd for the S&P 500 Total Return Index over the same period.
Notes:

PORTFOLIO CONSTRUCTION
In terms of asset mix and portfolio construction, we offer a unique marriage between our bottom-up security-specific fundamental analysis and our top-down macroeconomic view.
For further information, please contact questions@gluskinsheff.com

Unless otherwise noted, all values are in Canadian dollars. 1. Not all investment strategies are available to non-Canadian investors. Please contact Gluskin Sheff for information specific to your situation. 2. Returns are based on the composite of segregated Canadian Value and U.S. Equity portfolios, as applicable, and are presented net of fees and expenses.

Page 10 of 11

November 23, 2010 – BREAKFAST WITH DAVE

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES
Copyright 2010 Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc. (“Gluskin Sheff”). All rights reserved. This report is prepared for the use of Gluskin Sheff clients and subscribers to this report and may not be redistributed, retransmitted or disclosed, in whole or in part, or in any form or manner, without the express written consent of Gluskin Sheff. Gluskin Sheff reports are distributed simultaneously to internal and client websites and other portals by Gluskin Sheff and are not publicly available materials. Any unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited. Gluskin Sheff may own, buy, or sell, on behalf of its clients, securities of issuers that may be discussed in or impacted by this report. As a result, readers should be aware that Gluskin Sheff may have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this report. This report should not be regarded by recipients as a substitute for the exercise of their own judgment and readers are encouraged to seek independent, third-party research on any companies covered in or impacted by this report. Individuals identified as economists do not function as research analysts under U.S. law and reports prepared by them are not research reports under applicable U.S. rules and regulations. Macroeconomic analysis is considered investment research for purposes of distribution in the U.K. under the rules of the Financial Services Authority. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed constitutes an offer or an invitation to make an offer, to buy or sell any securities or other financial instrument or any derivative related to such securities or instruments (e.g., options, futures, warrants, and contracts for differences). This report is not intended to provide personal investment advice and it does not take into account the specific investment objectives, financial situation and the particular needs of any specific person. Investors should seek financial advice regarding the appropriateness of investing in financial instruments and implementing investment strategies discussed or recommended in this report and should understand that statements regarding future prospects may not be realized. Any decision to purchase or subscribe for securities in any offering must be based solely on existing public information on such security or the information in the prospectus or other offering document issued in connection with such offering, and not on this report. Securities and other financial instruments discussed in this report, or recommended by Gluskin Sheff, are not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and are not deposits or other obligations of any insured depository institution. Investments in general and, derivatives, in particular, involve numerous risks, including, among others, market risk, counterparty default risk and liquidity risk. No security, financial instrument or derivative is suitable for all investors. In some cases, securities and other financial instruments may be difficult to value or sell and reliable information about the value or risks related to the security or financial instrument may be difficult to obtain. Investors should note that income from such securities and other financial instruments, if any, may fluctuate and that price or value of such securities and instruments may rise or fall and, in some cases, investors may lose their entire principal investment. Past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance. Levels and basis for taxation may change. Foreign currency rates of exchange may adversely affect the value, price or income of any security or financial instrument mentioned in this report. 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Facts and views presented in this material that relate to any such proceedings have not been reviewed by, discussed with, and may not reflect information known to, professionals in other business areas of Gluskin Sheff in connection with the legal proceedings or matters relevant to such proceedings. Any information relating to the tax status of financial instruments discussed herein is not intended to provide tax advice or to be used by anyone to provide tax advice. Investors are urged to seek tax advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax professional. The information herein (other than disclosure information relating to Gluskin Sheff and its affiliates) was obtained from various sources and Gluskin Sheff does not guarantee its accuracy. This report may contain links to third-party websites. Gluskin Sheff is not responsible for the content of any third-party website or any linked content contained in a third-party website. 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