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The “Avoidance” Reaction

Preamble I received an email from my travel agent last Monday (March 2) informing me that, because Italy had been raised to a Travel Level 3 by the CDC (strongly advised not to travel there), our vacation to Italy (March 12-22) had to be postponed, else we risked being quarantined upon our return.  In addition, the previous Friday, two corporate meetings in my immediate schedule for the week in the …Read More

Virus’ Total Impact Unknown – But Economic Impacts Are Serious

There were three headlines on Page A6 of the February 6th Wall Street Journal (WSJ): · “Viral Outbreak Squeezes Manufacturers” with the sub-head: “Airbus, Hyundai among multinationals cutting back because of constraints in China;” · Apple Faces Risk In Its Reliance on Chinese Factories;” · Cruise Passengers Quarantined on Board.” We have seen similar headlines since, and will continue to see them while the virus rages. As I write (February …Read More

A Full-Employment Recession: Post-WWII Growth Model Flawed

There were three big interrelated economic events at the end of October. We had the first pass at Q3 GDP, followed by the Fed meeting (another reduction in the Fed Funds Rate), and the week ended with a much stronger than anticipated jobs report. The data continue to imply that the traditionally accepted post-WWII growth model (emphasis on positive aggregate GDP growth) is no longer applicable, and policies based on it …Read More

The Goldilocks Labor Report: “Just Right!”

It isn’t ever a good sign when markets become manic. August was quite volatile with five days out of 22 (23%) where the S&P 500 intra-day market swings exceeded 2%, and three days when the market closed down more than -2.5% from the prior day’s close. (We haven’t seen such price volatility since 2011!) While, so far, September has been less volatile, the market is still susceptible to tweets. For example, news about the …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

5/7/2019 It’s Not the Economy – It’s Buy-Backs

There were three significant economic events since my last column: the GDP report, the Fed meeting, and the unemployment report. GDP The Q1 real GDP growth rate (3.2% annualized) surprised nearly everyone to the upside. And, of course, Wall Street characterized the headline number as proof that the “soft patch” had passed.  Never mind the details.  Of the 3.2% growth, nearly .7 percentage points came from inventory growth. This was …Read More