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The New Mercantilism Rates Race to the Bottom Currencies Depreciate

During the recent period of world growth, where nearly every country’s exports were rising, there was little incentive for governments to manipulate economic policies to foster even more economic growth. Getting back to “normal” seemed to be the universally adopted mantra, and that implied rising rates and tighter monetary policies. However, today, when world trade is contracting (some of which may be due to “trade wars,” but much of which is due …Read More

What Investors Believe: Central Banks Have Their Backs

In a world of fragile economic growth where the odds of recession have been on the rise, investors are now convinced that central banks (CBs), led by the Fed, have their backs, as they see the CBs as “buyers of last resort.” Note that the Fed, whose legislative mandates are low unemployment and stable prices, has morphed into the role of equity market savior beginning in the Greenspan era and rolling …Read More

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

How Will Markets React to Growth Deceleration?

Economic fundamentals were ignored as if they were merely background noise as markets attempted once more in early August to breach their record high levels put in late last January. The common theme in the business media is that, due to great corporate earnings (24%+ in Q2), the equity markets are cheap. Never mind that a good part of that earnings growth was due to one-time tax reduction (in fact, …Read More

The Italian Job Shouldn’t Have Been Such a Shock

The good news is that it looks like manufacturing got a bit stronger entering Q2, and consumer spending was slightly better, too. So, Q2’s U.S. GDP may actually be a tad stronger than Q1’s. But, the good news stops there, as the rest of the world, especially Europe, appears to have hit a wall, a barrier that has displayed itself for the last couple of months, but, till now, was …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