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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

At Recession’s Onset, There is No Bell, Bugle, or National Anthem

From my reading of the business media, there are few business economists who believe, like I do, that the probability of a recession in the next 12 months is greater than 50%.  A recession is generally viewed as two consecutive quarters of negative real GDP growth. Looking forward, a recession isn’t inevitable, as there have been ‘soft landings’ in the post-World War II era.  Nevertheless, from my lens, there doesn’t …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

Strong employment, higher inflation means slightly higher interest rates

For some, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report that 271,000 net new jobs were created in October was a surprise. But readers of my reports should not have been surprised. For at least the last year, I have commented on the underlying strength of the consumer, the service sector, housing, and the labor markets. And in the latest employment report, we have finally witnessed the first recognition that wages, too, are …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

Rising wages: Is Wal-Mart a precursor?

Originally published on Reno Gazette Journal’s website, http://www.rgj.com/story/money/business/2015/03/06/rising-wages-wal-mart-precursor/24537471/ For the past 18 months, the labor markets have been telling us to be bullish on the U.S. economy as the healing in that market precipitated economic strength. Those who could read those signals had a significant time advantage in the markets, as those signs emerged months ahead of the now-official view of the Fed that the labor markets are healing. In …Read More