Category Archive: 5) Global Macro

Getting Back Up To Speed On Loss Of Speed in US Economy

For much of 2018, the idea of “overseas turmoil” lived up to its name. At least in economic terms. Market-wise, there was a lot domestically to draw anyone’s honest attention. Warnings were everywhere by the end of the year. And that was what has been at issue. Some said Europe and China are on their own, the US is cocooned in a tax cut-fueled boom. Decoupling, only now the other way around.

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Credit Exhaustion Is Global

Europe is awash in credit exhaustion, and so is China. The signs are everywhere: credit exhaustion is global, and that means the global growth story is over: revenues and profits are all sliding as lending dries up and defaults pile up.

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China’s Big Money Gamble

While oil prices rebounded in January 2019 around the world, outside of crude commodities continued to struggle. According to the World Bank’s Pink Sheet, base metal prices fell another 1.8% on average from December. On an annual basis, these commodities as a group are about 16% below where they were in January 2018.

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Retail Sales Landmine

Ignore Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Those are merely an appetizer, an intentional preamble to whet the appetite of hungry consumers looking to splurge. The real action comes in December. People look, some buy, after Thanksgiving, but as anyone counts down the actual twelve days of Christmas and celebrates the eight crazy nights of Hanukkah that’s when the retail industry makes its bank.

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What Happens When More QE Fails to Reverse the Recession?

The smart money is liquidating assets, paying off debt and moving capital into collateral that isn't impaired by debt or speculative valuations. The Federal Reserve's sudden return to "accommodative" dovishness in response to the stock market's swoon telegraphs its intent to fire up QE once the recession kicks into gear.

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Inflation Falls Again, Dot-com-like

US inflation in January 2019 was, according to the CPI, the lowest in years. At just 1.55% year-over-year, the index hadn’t suggested this level since September 2016 right at the outset of what would become Reflation #3. Having hyped expectations over that interim, US policymakers now have to face the repercussions of unwinding the hysteria.

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What Caused the Recession of 2019-2021?

As I discussed in We're Overdue for a Sell-Everything/No-Fed-Rescue Recession, recessions have a proximate cause and a structural cause. The proximate cause is often a spike in energy costs (1973, 1990) or a financial crisis triggered by excesses of speculation and debt (2000 and 2008) or inflation (1980).

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The Corporate Lemmings Who Rushed into Mobile/Social Media Ads Are Running off the Cliff

Given that corporations are run by people, and people are social animals that run in herds, it shouldn't surprise us that corporations follow the herd, too. Take the herd move to forming conglomerates in the go-go late 1960s: corporations suddenly started buying companies in completely different sectors in businesses they knew nothing about, because the herd was forming conglomerates--not because it made any business sense but because it was the...

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China: Harbinger of Global Economic Decline

The latest numbers released by China’s statistics bureau fueled widespread concerns about the outlook of the global economy, as the Asian superpower reported its slowest growth rate since 1990. The figures showed a 6.6% growth for 2018, confirming the view that the growth engine of the world economy is running out of steam.

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We’re Overdue for a Sell-Everything/No-Fed-Rescue Recession

We're way overdue for a sell-everything recession, one that the Fed will only make worse by pursuing its usual policies of lowering interest rates and goosing easy money. As I noted last week, central banks, like generals, always fight the last war--until the war is lost. 

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2019: The Three Trends That Matter

Look no further than Brexit in Britain, the yellow vests in France and the Deplorables in the U.S. for manifestations of a broken social contract and decaying social order. Among the many trends currently in play, Gordon Long and I discuss three that will matter as 2019 progresses: 2019 Themes (56 minutes).

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Brace for Impact

As credit-asset bubbles pop, the dominoes start falling. The economy is far more precarious than the surface boom/bubble suggests. A great many households, enterprises and municipalities are in overloaded boats whose gunwales are just a few inches above the water; the slightest wave will swamp and sink them.

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More Of What Was Behind December, And Not Just December

As more and more data rolls in even in this delayed fashion, the more what happened to end last year makes sense. The Census Bureau updated today its statistics for US trade in November 2018. Heading into the crucial month of December, these new figures suggest a big setback in the global economy that is almost certainly the reason markets became so chaotic.

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Lost In Translation

Since I don’t speak Japanese, I’m left to wonder if there is an intent to embellish the translation. Whoever is responsible for writing in English what is written by the Bank of Japan in Japanese, they are at times surely seeking out attention. However its monetary policy may be described in the original language, for us it has become so very clownish.

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China’s S-Curve of Expansion, Stagnation and Decline

All the policies that worked in the Boost Phase no longer work. Natural and human systems tend to go through stages of expansion, stagnation and decline that follow what's known as the S-Curve. The dynamic isn't difficult to understand: an unfilled ecological niche is suddenly open due to a new adaptation; a bacteria evolves to exploit a new host, etc.

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US Manufacturing Questions

The US economic data begins to trickle in slowly. Today, the reopened Census Bureau reports on orders and shipments to and from US factories dating back to last November. New orders for durable goods rose just 4.5% year-over-year in that month, while shipments gained 4.7%. The 6-month average for new orders was in November pulled down to just 6.6%, the lowest since September 2017 (hurricanes).

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The Coming Global Financial Crisis: Debt Exhaustion

The global economy is way past the point of maximum debt saturation, and so the next stop is debt exhaustion. Just as generals fight the last war, central banks always fight the last financial crisis. The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008-09 was primarily one of liquidity as markets froze up as a result of the collapse of the highly leveraged subprime mortgage sector that had commoditized fraud (hat tip to Manoj S.) via liar loans and...

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Fear Or Reflation Gold?

Gold is on fire, but why is it on fire? When the precious metals’ price falls, Stage 2, we have a pretty good idea what that means (collateral). But when it goes the other way, reflation or fear of deflation? Stage 1 or Stage 3? If it is Stage 1 reflation based on something like the Fed’s turnaround, then we would expect to find US$ markets trading in exactly the same way.

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Bond Curves Right All Along, But It Won’t Matter (Yet)

Men have long dreamed of optimal outcomes. There has to be a better way, a person will say every generation. Freedom is far too messy and unpredictable. Everybody hates the fat tails, unless and until they realize it is outlier outcomes that actually mark progress. The idea was born in the eighties that Economics had become sufficiently advanced that the business cycle was no longer a valid assumption.

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Monthly Macro Monitor – February (VIDEO)

Alhambra Investments CEO Joe Calhoun discusses the latest information about markets, specific categories affecting the economy.

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