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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

Where’s The Recession, You Ask? Reprise

The narrative is that the “soft patch”, now so evident in U.S. data, is temporary, related to factors like weather, the government shut-down, and/or trade/tariffs. The Atlanta Fed, where GDP forecasts always seem to come out on the high side, put Q1’s real GDP growth at just +0.3%. And, the N.Y. Fed’s model says +0.9%. In any case, even the most ardent bulls have at least recognized that current data …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

The Fed’s New Bubble

“Most valuation parameters are either the richest ever or among the highest in history. In the past, levels like these were followed by downturns. Thus, a decision to invest today has to rely on the belief that ‘it’s different this time.’ I’m convinced the easy money has been made.” (Howard marks, Oaktree Capital, WSJ, 1/29/18). The legendary investor, Baron Rothschild famously said, “I got wealthy never waiting for the peak.” …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

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