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The Recovery Stalls; Fed Pledges “Lower for Longer;” Equity Markets Pause

With the Fed pledging to keep rates low even when (or if) inflation rises above its 2% target, it is hard to see why long-term Treasury yields (and those of other quality issuers) won’t move toward yields of similar debt in the world’s other industrial economies (i.e., Europe and Japan). The economic lull is now showing up in both the labor market (Initial Claims) and in retail sales, likely because …Read More

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

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

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

The Risk of Recession is Rising; So is Market Risk

Recession: This is the hardest world for any business economist to pen, especially when the equity market is on a tear.  Nevertheless, that is the reality of a slow growth, deflationary world where not much negative must happen to push the 1% growth economy into negative territory.  Post-election, markets initially rose on the hopes of economic stimulus from the Trump administration.  Then, they flattened as prospects for rapid policy changes …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