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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

Fed Provides More Liquidity; Phase 1 Trade Deal, But No Corroboration On Jobs Report

Much has happened economically in the past couple of weeks including the Fed’s communication that it does not expect any rate actions in 2020, a Conservative Party sweep in the UK (which pays well in the U.S. for free marketeers), and a supposed “Phase 1” trade pact, although there won’t be a signed document until sometime in January (still time for Lucy to pull the football away – again!). The …Read More

FOMO, Momentum, The Fed, But No Fundamentals

As of this writing, the equity markets are on a three-day losing streak, caused by less optimism on the “trade war” file. And, while there were some positives in recently released economic data, most major economic indicators continue to show business contraction. The equity market has been driven by “the economy is strong” narrative, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), momentum, and the injection of huge amounts of liquidity by the Fed (QE4). Unfortunately, …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continue to imply that the traditionally accepted post-WWII growth model (emphasis on positive aggregate GDP growth) is no longer applicable, and policies based on it …Read More

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