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Demographic Trends: The Case Against Negative Interest Rates

Japan has a 2.2% unemployment rate, yet, for 30 years, they have not had any significant economic growth, due to their demographic structure. Today, the developed world has Japan’s 1990s demographic features, with falling fertility rates, rising dependency ratios (retirees/working aged), and, ultimately, declining populations. Under these conditions, aggregate GDP growth will be harder and harder to achieve. QE’s “Wealth Effect” All the central banks of developed economies have adopted the Fed’s …Read More

Look For The Preponderance Of The Evidence, Don’t Rely On One Factor

The headline on my LinkedIn page on Friday (October 4th) read: “Jobless rate reaches half-century low, HP plans to cut up to 9,000 jobs…” Is this good news about jobs, or bad? I’ve learned many times over the years to rely on the preponderance of the evidence, and not on any single indicator. The jobs numbers, themselves indicate that the economy is still expanding. But, the lower level of job creation, along with …Read More

Market Hopes: An Easy Fed; End Of Trade Wars. So Far, Neither One Has Happened.

The “expected” scenario, a resumption of trade talks, is what emerged from the G20 meetings. The best the agreement between Presidents Trump and Xi did was to temporarily reduce the specter of further growth killing tariffs. We still have the existing ones that have significantly slowed world trade, created a “soft patch” in the U.S.’s economy, and contributed to the emerging recessions in Europe and China. Capital spending growth is …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

4/10/2019 Equity Market Appears to be Moving to the Sound of Its Own Drummer

There were several recent market moving reports, including some positive data on U.S. and Chinese manufacturing. But, the biggest news was the seemingly positive March employment data which sent equity markets up, as the initial take on the headline Establishment Survey (ES) data (+196k) fit the narrative that the soft economic patch is now passing and a recession will be avoided. Because it doesn’t fit the narrative, there has been …Read More

5/27/2019 Bonds, Not Stocks, Reflect the State of the Economy

The equity markets have gyrated around tariff and trade news (and Presidential tweets), falling when, at the last minute, the expected trade deal with China fell apart, and then fluctuating around various trade announcements, going up when they looked hopeful, and falling when they did not, including additional tariffs put on by both sides, suspension of European auto tariffs, and a deal to lift steel and aluminum tariffs on our …Read More