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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

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continue to imply that the traditionally accepted post-WWII growth model (emphasis on positive aggregate GDP growth) is no longer applicable, and policies based on it …Read More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

What Investors Believe: Central Banks Have Their Backs

In a world of fragile economic growth where the odds of recession have been on the rise, investors are now convinced that central banks (CBs), led by the Fed, have their backs, as they see the CBs as “buyers of last resort.” Note that the Fed, whose legislative mandates are low unemployment and stable prices, has morphed into the role of equity market savior beginning in the Greenspan era and rolling …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