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On a Recession Watch

For the first time since the industrial revolution, the U.S. faces two significant growth issues: 1) a declining labor force; and 2) a job skills mismatch.  The declining labor force is demographic in nature and is occurring in every industrial economy; likely a function of the long-term success of capitalism.   The skills mismatch is a function of technological change that is so rapid that the skills of the existing labor …Read More

“Normal,” It’s Not What You Think!

Most readers remember the pre-recession days of 4% GDP growth, interest rates at levels where savers had return choices worth pursuing (e.g., the 10 year T-Note at 4%), and workers could count on annual real wage growth.  Today, many refer to this as “normal,” and there is a desire, if not a movement, to return the economy back to such a state. You can see this in the political arena.  …Read More

Will the Fed Cause Another Recession?

The Fed raised the Federal Funds Rate by 25 basis points (a quarter of a percentage point) to 1.0%.  This is the anchor rate on the yield curve, and, most other rates respond to it, with shorter rates today responding more than longer rates.  It appears from their communications that they intend to hike rates several more times over the next 12-18 months. While I don’t see a recession over …Read More

Market Melt-Up: Caution – Sentiment in Nosebleed Territory

Since my last column, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) did indeed hit 20,000 and has since gone well beyond.  Most of the post-election run-up initially appeared to have occurred in the November 8th to December 20th period when the index went from 18,333 to 19,975, a rise of 1,642 points (7.9%).  Over the next 44 days, until February 2, the DJIA was flat, actually losing 116 points.  But since …Read More

In the Slow Growth World: Is “Full” Employment No Longer a National Priority?

At the end of January, we learned that the preliminary GDP growth estimate for Q4/16 was 1.9% and that labor costs and wages rose less than expected (despite the fact that the minimum wage rose in 19 states). Given the “animal spirits” so evident in the post-election markets, such data may be a shock to many.  But, if you are a reader of my columns, it shouldn’t have been a …Read More

Investors, prepare for slower growth

From an investor’s standpoint, this has surely been a summer of discontent.  All markets appear to be too high, there is no yield to be found, and there appears to be no place to hide, at least inside current investment standards as set forth by Wall Street.  While the conventional wisdom looks at cash as “trash” because it generates no return, in today’s world where there is more deflation than …Read More