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2018 Preview and Assessment

Market valuations are high.  Current consumption is being financed by debt.  The housing data is mildly positive, but has been impacted by “rebuild” issues in the wake of natural disasters.  Corporate balance sheets are strong and laden with cash.  The world’s major economies are doing well and central banks are beginning to tighten policy led by the U.S.’s Fed.  Q4 real GDP growth looks to come in above 3% (third …Read More

The Headlines Say Growth…

The headline numbers, for jobs and GDP, and most of the sentiment indexes, would lead one to conclude that the economy was robust and accelerating. Even the Fed agrees, as they upgraded their view of the economy to one now in “solid” growth mode. The reality is that much of the data was distorted by the hurricane rebuild effort, and Q4 data will also be plagued by distortions due to …Read More

“Normal” – It’s the Opposite of What the Media Says

I hear it every day on the business channels or see it in the business media print: “The economy has to get back to normal.”  But normal means different things to different constituencies.  Wall Street and equity investors certainly don’t want to see the stock market behave normally, if indeed, normal means that PE ratios mean revert and that we have periodic 10%-20% corrections.  Everyone, especially the President, would like …Read More

Turning a Sow’s Ear into a Silk Purse

It wasn’t a big surprise that Wall Street advanced the narrative that the havoc wreaked by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is actually a positive for the economy, now aided and abetted by the strangest employment report, perhaps of our lifetimes. (Conveniently ignored is Hurricane Maria, which completely wiped out Puerto Ricco’s economy, Hurricane Nate, and the California Wine Country conflagration.) The Recent Data Let’s begin with the most recent underlying …Read More

Q4: A Look at the Post-Hurricane Economy

As Q3 ended, the economy continued on its tepid growth path.  Unknown is the value of the economic carnage of two hurricanes that hit the mainland and a third that completely devastated Puerto Rico.  The bond and foreign exchange (FX) markets have a sense that all is not well, but, the equity indexes haven’t yet espoused that viewpoint. Meanwhile, at its last convocation in mid-September, the Fed’s Federal Open Market …Read More

Harvey & Irma: Pushing the Economy to the Tipping Point

Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area (and economy), and, while Irma could have been much worse, it still left significant destruction in Florida and the southeast.  What we can say for sure is that the monetary impact of Harvey alone would have been the largest natural disaster in U.S. history, and now we must add on the monetary impact of Irma.  And the hurricane season still has another month and …Read More