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Q4: A Look at the Post-Hurricane Economy

As Q3 ended, the economy continued on its tepid growth path.  Unknown is the value of the economic carnage of two hurricanes that hit the mainland and a third that completely devastated Puerto Rico.  The bond and foreign exchange (FX) markets have a sense that all is not well, but, the equity indexes haven’t yet espoused that viewpoint. Meanwhile, at its last convocation in mid-September, the Fed’s Federal Open Market …Read More

Harvey & Irma: Pushing the Economy to the Tipping Point

Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area (and economy), and, while Irma could have been much worse, it still left significant destruction in Florida and the southeast.  What we can say for sure is that the monetary impact of Harvey alone would have been the largest natural disaster in U.S. history, and now we must add on the monetary impact of Irma.  And the hurricane season still has another month and …Read More

The Fed and the Phillips Curve

Deflation is the Order of the Day The Fed was established in December, 1913 after the Panic of 1907 (the latest in a series of financial panics dating back to the middle of the 19th century) put the economy into a severe recession via bank runs and subsequent bank failures.  The Fed’s original purpose was to provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial …Read More

Waiting for Market Rationality

Equity markets have yet to recognize the fragility and softness of the underlying economy, although they do appear to be somewhat sensitive to geopolitical issues (North Korea). The incoming data continue to confirm: that the consumer has little spending capacity remaining; that inflation’s roar is nowhere to be found (except, perhaps, in hot dogs); that the detail underlying the headline employment number (209,000) show labor market deterioration; that the equity …Read More

The Economy from 50,000 Feet

A few friends have expressed the belief that interest rates have nowhere to go but up. This, of course, has been the mantra of the market for the past several years, and, perhaps, my friends have been listening too long to the talking heads on bubblevision. Here’s why it won’t happen: Today’s U.S. economy has many similarities to that of 1990s Japan. These include asset bubbles (equities), high debt burdens …Read More

Deflation’s Persistence Implies Yields Will Be Lower for Longer

Despite what you hear from the TV pundits, the U.S.’s second quarter ended on weakness, and there is little evidence that economic acceleration occurred.  In previous years, slow GDP growth in Q1 was followed by 3%+ in Q2.  Not this time!  The Atlanta Fed GDPNow model, which uses a lot of sentiment indicators, is all the way down to 2.4% for Q2.  I suspect that the Commerce Department’s initial GDP …Read More