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The Italian Job Shouldn’t Have Been Such a Shock

The good news is that it looks like manufacturing got a bit stronger entering Q2, and consumer spending was slightly better, too. So, Q2’s U.S. GDP may actually be a tad stronger than Q1’s. But, the good news stops there, as the rest of the world, especially Europe, appears to have hit a wall, a barrier that has displayed itself for the last couple of months, but, till now, was …Read More

Before Political Correctness, We Called This “Stagflation”

“Those that cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana 1863-1952). This time, indeed, could be different. It certainly is in the realm of possibility. But, the odds are against it. One doesn’t get up on a particular morning and find an entry in the calendar on our smartphone, like “Cinco de Mayo” or “Mother’s Day,” that says “Start Day: National Recession.” In fact, the National Bureau …Read More

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