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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

Does 2.3 percent economic growth justify Dow 20,000?

A survey of 53 economists by Blue Chip Economic Indicators forecast 2.3 percent economic growth for 2017, up from an estimated 1.6 percent in 2016. While better, 2.3 percent is still low by post-World War II standards. Consensus found that inflation would tick up to 2.4 percent, industrial production would begin to grow again (+1.6 percent) after stagnating in 2016, business investment (+2.7 percent) would finally be positive (after several …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