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Fed Drives S&P 500 To Record Levels, Economic Fundamentals Still Soft

Holiday sales look flat. While online sales were up, sales at traditional retailers were lackluster. Penney’s, Kohl’s, L Brands, Macy’s, Urban Outfitters, Bed Bath & Beyond, all reported lower sales vs. a year ago. Meanwhile, in what looks to be a “frugality” or “trade down” movement on the part of the consumer, same store sales at Walmart, Costco, and Target rose. The Wall Street Journal reported that nearly 40% of exchange listed companies lost money in …Read More

Investor Prospects For 2020 And The Wall Street Casino

This is the time of year when I am supposed to make predictions for markets for 2020, or, at least give an outlook. This has become quite difficult to do in recent times as markets no longer appear to be driven by corporate fundamentals or macroeconomics. Rather, markets have been moved by: 1) passive investment flows; 2) corporate stock buy-backs; 3) TINA (There Is No Alternative), especially for baby boomers looking for …Read More

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

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

Fallout From Fed Dovishness

The rate setting committee of the Fed met on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 19 and 20. What the Market Saw and Heard From their formal statement and press conference, the equity market saw and heard only what it wanted, at least at first, and equity markets rose on Thursday, March 21st (Dow Jones +217): No rate hikes in 2019, and possibly only one in 2020 (and that one would occur because …Read More

Where’s The Recession, You Ask? Reprise

The narrative is that the “soft patch”, now so evident in U.S. data, is temporary, related to factors like weather, the government shut-down, and/or trade/tariffs. The Atlanta Fed, where GDP forecasts always seem to come out on the high side, put Q1’s real GDP growth at just +0.3%. And, the N.Y. Fed’s model says +0.9%. In any case, even the most ardent bulls have at least recognized that current data …Read More