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Key Indicators Have Peaked; Markets Hope for Soft Landing

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a private sector company, is the entity responsible for officially labeling recession start and end dates. As a rule of thumb, the financial markets use two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth as the marker. But, that is not the way the NBER sees it. According to their website, the NBER defines a recession as: “a significant decline in economic activity … lasting more than …Read More

In the Face of Hard Data & Market Selloff, the Fed Blinked

The incoming data, both sentiment indexes and the actual hard numbers, continue to show growth deceleration in the U.S. and worldwide.  In post-Fed meeting appearances, the Fed Chair and other FOMC members have walked back their hawkish positions taken in the immediate aftermath of the December 19 (rate hike) meeting.  The oversold markets, having thrown the biggest December tantrum since 1931, responded positively and, at this writing, have recouped about …Read More

December’s Petulant Children: Trump, the Fed, Markets

Surely, this was a December to remember, but due to financial pain, not joy. Prior to December, markets were uneasy, and this showed up in a downward pricing bias and significantly increased volatility. As measured by the intraday swings on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) between high and low [(high-low)/prior close], volatility more than doubled between September (0.67% per day) and October (1.55% per day), as markets became concerned …Read More

Turning a Sow’s Ear into a Silk Purse

It wasn’t a big surprise that Wall Street advanced the narrative that the havoc wreaked by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is actually a positive for the economy, now aided and abetted by the strangest employment report, perhaps of our lifetimes. (Conveniently ignored is Hurricane Maria, which completely wiped out Puerto Ricco’s economy, Hurricane Nate, and the California Wine Country conflagration.) The Recent Data Let’s begin with the most recent underlying …Read More

2017 forecasts when Trump honeymoon ends

In this time of market exuberance and significant increases in almost every sentiment index, it is time to recognize that when reality returns, markets will correct. This coming year is going to begin with more uncertainty than is normally the case: The Trump fiscal agenda is huge, but so are the debt levels; and the Fed has begun a tightening cycle in earnest, with the economy still in first gear. Of …Read More

Are markets too exuberant?

Equity markets hit new highs during the Thanksgiving shortened week. Markets often move in anticipation of changes in policy. This post election market, however, appears to have instantaneously adjusted to what it perceives will be policy outcomes. Such outcomes, however, are by no means guaranteed; some outcomes may take several quarters, others years, if at all. This has been quite a stretch for markets where next month is considered “long-term.” There …Read More