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Hope is Not a Good Investment Strategy

According to the Bespoke Investment Group, every year, Wall Street analysts declare that the stock market will rise, and since 2000, the annual average forecast has been for a 9.5% gain.  The reality is that the market has only risen at a 3.9% rate over this time frame.  The 2008 forecast was for a market increase of 11%; the reality was -38%.  To say that Wall Street promotes the stock …Read More

Will Markets React as the Trump Agenda Becomes Long-Term?

The failure to get health care reform through the House of Representatives highlights the difficulty that this President is having in bringing his legislative agenda to reality; one would think that markets would have a significant negative reaction – but, that has not been the case. For sure, the Trump rally, itself, has stalled (except in the tech sector), as the closing level of the S&P 500 on Thursday, March …Read More

Will the Fed Cause Another Recession?

The Fed raised the Federal Funds Rate by 25 basis points (a quarter of a percentage point) to 1.0%.  This is the anchor rate on the yield curve, and, most other rates respond to it, with shorter rates today responding more than longer rates.  It appears from their communications that they intend to hike rates several more times over the next 12-18 months. While I don’t see a recession over …Read More

Market Melt-Up: Caution – Sentiment in Nosebleed Territory

Since my last column, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) did indeed hit 20,000 and has since gone well beyond.  Most of the post-election run-up initially appeared to have occurred in the November 8th to December 20th period when the index went from 18,333 to 19,975, a rise of 1,642 points (7.9%).  Over the next 44 days, until February 2, the DJIA was flat, actually losing 116 points.  But since …Read More

In the Slow Growth World: Is “Full” Employment No Longer a National Priority?

At the end of January, we learned that the preliminary GDP growth estimate for Q4/16 was 1.9% and that labor costs and wages rose less than expected (despite the fact that the minimum wage rose in 19 states). Given the “animal spirits” so evident in the post-election markets, such data may be a shock to many.  But, if you are a reader of my columns, it shouldn’t have been a …Read More

Is Optimism a Key Ingredient in Economic Growth?

Most of the sentiment measuring surveys posted dramatically higher results after the election on optimism over what a Trump Administration might do for the economy. But, there is a big difference between hope and reality. Beginning in mid-December, the U.S. equity markets shifted into neutral, and have slowly drifted lower, perhaps waiting for the political changeover. The Fed is now in tightening mode. In my experience, the Fed tightens and …Read More