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Sources of Uncertainty (Resulting in Market Volatility)

Over the past several months, I have talked a great deal about volatility. The fact is, volatility increases in direct proportion to market uncertainty. So, today’s volatility is just symptomatic of the confusion and uncertainty now prevalent at least in the near-term outlook. The Trade Issue The talking heads on bubblevision would have you believe that the bickering over trade and tariffs, especially between President Trump and China, is the …Read More

A Perspective on Market Volatility

In my last several writings, I emphasized that, after the long tranquil up market in 2017, 2018 markets would display a great deal more volatility. No doubt I was correct on that call. Today’s increased volatility could be symbolic of a healthy correction in an ongoing economic up cycle. It also could be a prelude to something more sinister. Measuring Today’s Volatility Looking back at 2017, there was only one …Read More

The Middle Class Continues to Fall Behind

February’s job growth was significantly stronger (+313,000 Establishment Survey) than market expectations (200,000).  Strangely, though, the unemployment rate (U3) remained at 4.1% (Household Survey) for the fifth straight month.  Why?  Because a significant number of those who had previously stopped looking for work rejoined the labor force, perhaps indicating more labor force slack than the unemployment rate would indicate.  The biggest disappointment, however, was the slowdown in the growth of …Read More

Get used to heightened market volatility

The sentiment surveys indicate that the economy continues to perform well. The underlying data say otherwise. People take their cue from the stock market when it comes to assessing economic health. And, as long as the stock market is near dizzying heights, the sentiment surveys will say the economy is doing well. The hard data  January’s data showed negative retail sales vs. December, negative real weekly income, negative aggregate hours …Read More

The Fed’s new bubble – Part 2

In part I of this two part series, I discussed the possible rush for the exits and market volatility in what I saw as a long overdue correction. The violence of the correction and the extremes of volatility that I worried about have now actually appeared. As I rewrite the introduction of this part II, conventional Wall Street wisdom has now become that the correction and volatility are due to the …Read More

The Fed’s New Bubble

“Most valuation parameters are either the richest ever or among the highest in history. In the past, levels like these were followed by downturns. Thus, a decision to invest today has to rely on the belief that ‘it’s different this time.’ I’m convinced the easy money has been made.” (Howard marks, Oaktree Capital, WSJ, 1/29/18). The legendary investor, Baron Rothschild famously said, “I got wealthy never waiting for the peak.” …Read More