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Demographic Trends: The Case Against Negative Interest Rates

Japan has a 2.2% unemployment rate, yet, for 30 years, they have not had any significant economic growth, due to their demographic structure. Today, the developed world has Japan’s 1990s demographic features, with falling fertility rates, rising dependency ratios (retirees/working aged), and, ultimately, declining populations. Under these conditions, aggregate GDP growth will be harder and harder to achieve. QE’s “Wealth Effect” All the central banks of developed economies have adopted the Fed’s …Read More

How Will Markets React to Growth Deceleration?

Economic fundamentals were ignored as if they were merely background noise as markets attempted once more in early August to breach their record high levels put in late last January. The common theme in the business media is that, due to great corporate earnings (24%+ in Q2), the equity markets are cheap. Never mind that a good part of that earnings growth was due to one-time tax reduction (in fact, …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

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

Waiting for Market Rationality

Equity markets have yet to recognize the fragility and softness of the underlying economy, although they do appear to be somewhat sensitive to geopolitical issues (North Korea). The incoming data continue to confirm: that the consumer has little spending capacity remaining; that inflation’s roar is nowhere to be found (except, perhaps, in hot dogs); that the detail underlying the headline employment number (209,000) show labor market deterioration; that the equity …Read More