Category Archive: 5.) Alhambra Investments

Meanwhile, Over In Asia

While Western markets breathed a sigh of relief that US GDP didn’t confirm the global slowdown, not yet, what was taking place over in Asia went in the other direction. There has been a sense, a wish perhaps, that if the global economy truly did hit a rough spot it would be limited to just the last three months of 2018. Hopefully Mario Draghi is on to something.

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No Surprise, Hysteria Wasn’t a Sound Basis For Interpretation

What gets them into trouble is how they just can’t help themselves. Go back one year, to early 2018. Last February it was all-but-assured (in mainstream coverage) that the US economy was going to take off. The bond market, meaning UST’s, was about to be massacred because the overheating boom would force a double shot down its throat.

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The Fate of Real Estate

For years, realtors have been waiting for more housing inventory. It had become an article of faith, what was restraining a full-blown recovery was the lack of units available. The level of resales like construction was up, but still way, way less than it was now fourteen years past the prior peak despite sufficient population growth to have absorbed the previous bubble’s overbuilding.

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Sinking Shippers Signal Global Goods Troubles

It infects every boardroom across the world. Big business requires decent forecasting, yet time and again it seems they are deprived of what they desperately need. Instead, even after this last decade, the world’s largest companies continue to be surprised by weakness that is far more prevalent than strength.

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FOMC Minutes: The New Narrative Takes Shape

Nothing the Fed did today, or has done up to today, has changed the curves. Eurodollar futures and UST’s, they are both still inverted. The former sharply inverted. The only thing that has changed since early January is the narrative – and not in a charitable way. It is treated as a positive when it is a pretty visible signal about deteriorating circumstances.

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Something Different About This One

In Japan, they call it “powerful monetary easing.” In practice, it is anything but. QQE with all its added letters is so authoritative that it is knocked sideways by the smallest of economic and financial breezes. If it truly worked the way it was supposed to, the Bank of Japan or any central bank would only need it for the shortest of timeframes.

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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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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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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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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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LIBOR Was Expected To Drop. It Dropped. What Might This Mean?

Everyone hates LIBOR, until it does something interesting. It used to be the most boring interest rate in the world. When it was that, it was also the most important. Though it followed along federal funds this was only because of the arb between onshore (NYC) and offshore (mainly London, sometimes Caymans) conducted by banks between themselves and their subs (whichever was located where).

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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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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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It’s Not That There Might Be One, It’s That There Might Be Another One

It was a tense exchange. When even politicians can sense that there’s trouble brewing, there really is trouble brewing. Typically the last to figure these things out, if parliamentarians are up in arms it already isn’t good, to put it mildly. Well, not quite the last to know, there are always central bankers faithfully pulling up the rear of recognizing disappointing reality.

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Monthly Macro Monitor – January 2019

A Return To Normalcy. In the first two years after a newly elected President takes office he enacts a major tax cut that primarily benefits the wealthy and significantly raises tariffs on imports. His foreign policy is erratic but generally pulls the country back from foreign commitments. He also works to reduce immigration and roll back regulations enacted by his predecessor.

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China’s Eurodollar Story Reaches Its Final Chapters

Imagine yourself as a rural Chinese farmer. Even the term “farmer” makes it sound better than it really is. This is a life out of the 19th century, subsistence at best the daily struggle just to survive. Flourishing is a dream.

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