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Is Optimism a Key Ingredient in Economic Growth?

Most of the sentiment measuring surveys posted dramatically higher results after the election on optimism over what a Trump Administration might do for the economy. But, there is a big difference between hope and reality. Beginning in mid-December, the U.S. equity markets shifted into neutral, and have slowly drifted lower, perhaps waiting for the political changeover. The Fed is now in tightening mode. In my experience, the Fed tightens and …Read More

Does 2.3 percent economic growth justify Dow 20,000?

A survey of 53 economists by Blue Chip Economic Indicators forecast 2.3 percent economic growth for 2017, up from an estimated 1.6 percent in 2016. While better, 2.3 percent is still low by post-World War II standards. Consensus found that inflation would tick up to 2.4 percent, industrial production would begin to grow again (+1.6 percent) after stagnating in 2016, business investment (+2.7 percent) would finally be positive (after several …Read More

Are markets too exuberant?

Equity markets hit new highs during the Thanksgiving shortened week. Markets often move in anticipation of changes in policy. This post election market, however, appears to have instantaneously adjusted to what it perceives will be policy outcomes. Such outcomes, however, are by no means guaranteed; some outcomes may take several quarters, others years, if at all. This has been quite a stretch for markets where next month is considered “long-term.” There …Read More

What ‘lower for longer’ means to yield-hungry investors

You’ve heard the expression, “We live in interesting times.” Substitute the words “uncertain,” “experimental,” or simply “scary” for “interesting,” and you will capture the feeling of many investors, especially those who have already retired or are approaching it. As I write, the media tells me that, by almost any standard measure, equity valuations are too high. For example, trailing PE ratios are 20x, 5 points above the historical mean. To …Read More

CPI Says “Deflation,” But U.S. Households Face Inflation

Angst exists in the capital markets over the “deflation” issue. Basically, the markets are worried about a lack of demand which forces prices down, causes consumers to wait longer for the prices to fall further before they purchase, and ends up in a downward price spiral which leads to recession or worse. I’ve read plenty of this lately. This is simply not the case. Oil prices are a result of …Read More

Are equity prices too high?

It really must be confusing for the ordinary investor as the media continues to emphasize negative economic news. The current story line continues to be a sluggish economy, where GDP growth was 0.2 percent in the first quarter and likely to be revised to negative growth, while even Europe, long stuck with growth-killing socialism, grew at a 1.6 percent annual rate over the same time period. Are U.S. equity prices …Read More