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The Economy Slows; The Real “New Normal”

The virus’ resurgence has caused more business disruptions, raising the specter of a renewed economic slowdown.  Spending and income numbers have mainly been negative in Q4, and the much hoped for stimulus relief package is now stuck on the president’s desk. The Economy “Drop in Spending, Higher Claims Cloud Outlook for Growth,” WSJ, 12/24/20, A1. Restaurants: -3.7% November (M/M); -0.6% October Hotels/Motels: -8.7% November (M/M); -4.4% October Movie Theaters: -17.2% …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

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

Q4: A Look at the Post-Hurricane Economy

As Q3 ended, the economy continued on its tepid growth path.  Unknown is the value of the economic carnage of two hurricanes that hit the mainland and a third that completely devastated Puerto Rico.  The bond and foreign exchange (FX) markets have a sense that all is not well, but, the equity indexes haven’t yet espoused that viewpoint. Meanwhile, at its last convocation in mid-September, the Fed’s Federal Open Market …Read More

The Economy from 50,000 Feet

A few friends have expressed the belief that interest rates have nowhere to go but up. This, of course, has been the mantra of the market for the past several years, and, perhaps, my friends have been listening too long to the talking heads on bubblevision. Here’s why it won’t happen: Today’s U.S. economy has many similarities to that of 1990s Japan. These include asset bubbles (equities), high debt burdens …Read More

Deflation’s Persistence Implies Yields Will Be Lower for Longer

Despite what you hear from the TV pundits, the U.S.’s second quarter ended on weakness, and there is little evidence that economic acceleration occurred.  In previous years, slow GDP growth in Q1 was followed by 3%+ in Q2.  Not this time!  The Atlanta Fed GDPNow model, which uses a lot of sentiment indicators, is all the way down to 2.4% for Q2.  I suspect that the Commerce Department’s initial GDP …Read More