Category Archive: Global Macro

A Radical Critique of Universal Basic Income

This critique reveals the unintended consequences of UBI. Readers have been asking me what I thought of Universal Basic Income (UBI) as the solution to the systemic problem of jobs being replaced by automation.To answer this question, I realized I had to start by taking a fresh look at work and its role in human life and society. And since UBI is fundamentally a distribution of money, I also needed to take a fresh look at our system of money.

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Less Retail Jobs, More Amazon Robots: Get Used To It

When it comes to job creation in the United States, President Trump will be displeased to hear the latest findings from Quartz: 170,000 fewer retail jobs in 2017 - and 75,000 more Amazon robots. In November, we explained that while everyone likes to point the finger at Amazon, America’s retail apocalypse can’t be tied to just one catalyst (see: A Look At America’s Retail Apocalypse In Charts), however, fierce competition in the industry has induced...

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Emerging Markets: Preview of the Week Ahead

EM FX closed on a firm note, though most currencies were down for the entire week. TRY and ZAR outperformed, but we do not think that will be sustained. FOMC meeting this week will provide some event risk for EM.

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Giant Sucking Sound Sucks (Far) More Than US Industry Now

There are two possibilities with regard to stubbornly weak US imports in 2017. The first is the more obvious, meaning that the domestic goods economy despite its upturn last year isn’t actually doing anything positive other than no longer being in contraction. The second would be tremendously helpful given the circumstances of American labor in the whole 21st century so far. In other words, perhaps US consumers really are buying at a healthy pace,...

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Reduced Trade Terms Salute The Flattened Curve

The Census Bureau reported earlier today that US imports of foreign goods jumped 9.9% year-over-year in October. That is the second largest increase since February 2012, just less than the 12% import growth recorded for January earlier this year.

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Emerging Markets: What Changed

China eased curbs on coal use for heating in the northern provinces to cope with colder weather. Poland announced a cabinet shuffle. Poland’s lower house approved the controversial judicial reform bill. President Trump announced that the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Brazil COPOM was more dovish than expected after cutting rates 50 bp to 7.0%. Chile central bank cut its 2017 and 2018 inflation forecasts and shifted to a more dovish...

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Who You Gonna Believe?

We’ve had a pretty good run of data recently and with the tax bill passing the Senate one would expect to see markets react positively, to reflect renewed optimism about economic growth. We have improving economic data on pretty much a global basis. It isn’t a boom by any stretch of the imagination but there is no doubt that the rate of change has recently been more positive.

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The Cost Basis of our Economy is Spiraling Out of Control

What will it take to radically reduce the cost basis of our economy? If we had to choose one "big picture" reason why the vast majority of households are losing ground, it would either be the stagnation of income or the spiraling out of control cost basis of our economy, that is, the essential foundational expenses of households, government and enterprise.

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Emerging Markets: Preview of the Week Ahead

EM FX ended the week on a mixed note. US jobs data may refocus market attention on Fed tightening. Most EM inflation readings this week are expected to show easing price pressures, supporting a dovish EM central bank outlook. The major exceptions are Mexico and Turkey, whose central banks may be forced to tighten policy in the coming weeks.

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Stock Market 2018: The Tao vs. Central Banks

The central banks claim omnipotent financial powers, and their comeuppance is overdue. will be the first to admit that invoking the woo-woo of the Tao as the reason to expect a reversal of the stock market in 2018 smacks of Bearish desperation. With everything coming up roses in much of the global economy, there is precious little foundation for calling a tumultuous end to the global Bull Market other than variations of nothing lasts forever.

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Global Asset Allocation Update

There is no change to the risk budget this month. For the moderate risk investor the allocation to bonds is 50%, risk assets 45% and cash 5%. The extreme overbought condition of the US stock market did not correct since the last update and so I will continue to hold a modest amount of cash.

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Emerging Markets: What Changed

Bank of Korea hiked rates by 25 bp to 1.50%, the first hike in six years. Egypt central bank lifted the last remaining currency controls. S&P cut South Africa’s foreign currency rating one notch to BB with stable outlook. Turkey President Erdogan was implicated in an alleged plot to help Iran evade US sanctions. Moody’s upgraded Argentina one notch to B2 with stable outlook.

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Fading Black Friday

Black Friday was once the king of all shopping. A retailer could make its year up on that one day, often by gimmicking its way to insane single-day volume. Those days, however, are certainly over. Though the day after Thanksgiving still means a great deal, as the annual flood of viral consumer brawl videos demonstrate, it’s just not what it once was.

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Emerging Market Preview: Week Ahead

EM FX ended the holiday-shortened week on a soft note. While most were up on the entire week, notable laggards were TRY, CLP, and ZAR. All three currencies underperformed due to rising political risks, and we suspect that will continue. We believe MXN and BRL are likely to rejoin the laggards in the coming days.

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Addictions: Social Media & Mobile Phones Fall From Grace

Identifying social media and mobile phones as addictive is only the first step in a much more complex investigation. For everyone who remembers the Early Days of social media and mobile phones, it's been quite a ride from My Space and awkward texting on tiny screens to the current alarm over the addictive nature of social media and mobile telephony.

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Durable Goods Only About Halfway To Real Reflation

Durable goods were boosted for a second month by the after-effects of Harvey and Irma. New orders excluding those from transportation industries rose 8.5% year-over-year in October 2017, a slight acceleration from the 6.5% average of the four previous months. Shipments of durable goods (ex transportation) also rose by 8% last month.

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Beware the Marginal Buyer, Borrower and Renter

When times are good, the impact of the marginal buyer, borrower and renter on the market is often overlooked. By "marginal" I mean buyers, borrowers and renters who have to stretch their finances to the maximum to afford the purchase, loan or rent.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: A Whirlwind of Data

The economic data of the last two weeks was generally better than expected, the Citigroup Economic Surprise index near the highs of the year. Still, as I’ve warned repeatedly over the last few years, better than expected should not be confused with good. We go through mini-cycles all the time, the economy ebbing and flowing through the course of a business cycle.

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Want Widespread Prosperity? Radically Lower Costs

As long as this is business as usual, it's impossible to slash costs and boost widespread prosperity. It's easy to go down the wormhole of complexity when it comes to figuring out why our economy is stagnating for the bottom 80% of households. But it's actually not that complicated: the primary driver of stagnation, decline of small business start-ups, etc. is costs are skyrocketing to the point of unaffordability.

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Emerging Market Preview: Week Ahead

EM FX ended the week firm, and capped off a good week overall. Best performers last week for ZAR and KRW, while the worst were TRY and IDR. Until we get higher US rates, the dollar may remain under modest pressure. This would help EM maintain some traction, though we remain cautious.

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