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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

2018 Preview and Assessment

Market valuations are high.  Current consumption is being financed by debt.  The housing data is mildly positive, but has been impacted by “rebuild” issues in the wake of natural disasters.  Corporate balance sheets are strong and laden with cash.  The world’s major economies are doing well and central banks are beginning to tighten policy led by the U.S.’s Fed.  Q4 real GDP growth looks to come in above 3% (third …Read More

Fed Likely to Put Economy at Risk

Market volatility finally showed up in the popular indexes (DJIA, S&P 500, NASDAQ).  These were down two weeks in a row as of November 17 on rising volume (never a good sign when markets are falling), and they are no higher than they were a month earlier (October 20).  The VIX, a measure of market volatility, rose to 13.13 on November 15, from a near record low of 9.14 earlier …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

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

“Normal,” It’s Not What You Think!

Most readers remember the pre-recession days of 4% GDP growth, interest rates at levels where savers had return choices worth pursuing (e.g., the 10 year T-Note at 4%), and workers could count on annual real wage growth.  Today, many refer to this as “normal,” and there is a desire, if not a movement, to return the economy back to such a state. You can see this in the political arena.  …Read More