Category Archive: 5) Global Macro

America 2018: Dicier by the Day

Scrape all this putrid excrescence off and we're left with a non-fantasy reality: everything is getting dicier by the day. If we look beneath the cheery chatter of the financial media and the tiresomely repetitive Russian collusion narrative (that's unraveling as the Ministry of Propaganda's machinations are exposed), we find that America in 2018 is dicier by the day.

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How Systems Collapse

This is how systems collapse: faith in the visible surface of abundance reigns supreme, and the fragility of the buffers goes unnoticed. I often discuss systems and systemic collapse, and I've drawn up a little diagram to illustrate a key dynamic in systemic collapse. The key concepts here are stability and buffers. Though complex systems are never static, but they can be stable: that is, they ebb and flow within relatively stable boundaries...

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What Happened Monday?

Italian politics dominated Monday's activity. Initially, the euro reacted positively in Asia to news that the Italian President had blocked the proposed finance minister. A technocrat government would be appointed to prepare for new elections.

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Emerging Markets: What Changed

President Trump canceled the planned summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Malaysia’s new Finance Minister Lim was sworn in along with 13 other cabinet ministers. Philippine central bank cut reserve ratios for commercial banks by one percentage point to 18% effective June 1. The United Arab Emirates opened up its economy to more foreign investment.

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The Currency of PMI’s

Markit Economics released the flash results from several of its key surveys. Included is manufacturing in Japan (lower), as well as composites (manufacturing plus services) for the United States and Europe. Within the EU, Markit offers details for France and Germany.

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Globally Synchronized Asynchronous Growth

Industrial Production in the United States rose 3.5% year-over-year in April 2018, down slightly from a revised 3.7% rise in March. Since accelerating to 3.4% growth back in November 2017, US industry has failed to experience much beyond that clear hurricane-related boost. IP for prior months, particularly February and March 2018, were revised significantly lower.

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Sustainability Boils Down to Scale

Only small scale systems can sustainably impose "skin in the game"-- consequences, accountability and oversight. Several conversations I had at the recent Peak Prosperity conference in Sonoma, CA sparked an insight into why societies and economies thrive or fail: It All Boils Down to Scale. In a conversation with a Peak Prosperity member who goes by MemeMonkey, MemeMonkey pointed out that social / economic organizations that function well at small...

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Anchoring Globally Synchronized Growth, Or We Gave Up Long Ago?

January was the last month in which China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) specifically mentioned Fixed Asset Investment (FAI) of state holding enterprises (or SOE’s). For the month of December 2017, the NBS reported accumulated growth (meaning for all of 2017) in this channel of 10.1%. Through FAI of SOE’s, Chinese authorities in early 2016 had panicked themselves into unleashing considerable “stimulus.”

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The Next Recession Will Be Devastatingly Non-Linear

The acceleration of non-linear consequences will surprise the brainwashed, loving-their-servitude mainstream media. Linear correlations are intuitive: if GDP declines 2% in the next recession, and employment declines 2%, we get it: the scale and size of the decline aligns. In a linear correlation, we'd expect sales to drop by about 2%, businesses closing their doors to increase by about 2%, profits to notch down by about 2%, lending contracts by...

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Emerging Markets: Week Ahead Preview

EM FX ended Friday on a weak note and extended the slide. For the week as a whole, the best EM performers were PHP, TWD, and SGD while the worst were ARS, ZAR, and TRY. With US rates continuing to move higher, we believe selling pressures on EM FX will remain in play this week. Our recently updated EM Vulnerability Table supports our view that divergences within EM will remain.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Growth Expectations Break Out?

There are a lot of reasons why interest rates may have risen recently. The federal government is expected to post a larger deficit this year – and in future years – due to the tax cuts. Further exacerbating those concerns is the ongoing shrinkage of the Fed’s balance sheet. Increased supply and potentially decreased demand is not a recipe for higher prices. In addition, there is some fear that the ongoing trade disputes may impact foreign demand...

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Emerging Markets: What Changed

Bank Indonesia started a tightening cycle with a 25 bp hike to 4.5%. Jailed Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was released by new Prime Minister Mahathir. Malaysia scrapped the controversial 6% goods and services tax (GST). Violent protests shook Israel as the relocated US embassy opened in Jerusalem.

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And Now For Something Completely Different

Back in February, Japan’s Cabinet Office reported that Real GDP in Japan had grown in Q4 2017 for the eighth consecutive quarter. It was the longest streak of non-negative GDP since the 1980’s. Predictably, this was hailed as some significant achievement, a true masterstroke of courage and perseverance. It was taken as a sign that Abenomics and QQE was finally working (never mind the four years).

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Tax Cuts And (Less) Spending

After being rumored and talked about for over a year, at the end of last year the tax cuts were finally delivered. The idea had captured much market attention during that often anxious period of political flirtation. Prices would rise or fall by turn based on whether or not it seemed a realistic possibility.

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U.S. Healthcare Isn’t Broken–It’s Fixed

If you want to understand why the U.S. healthcare system is bankrupt, financially, morally and politically, then start with this representative anecdote from a U.S. physician. I received this report from correspondent J.F. on the topic of direct advertising of pharmaceutical products to the public (patients).

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Global Asset Allocation Update

The risk budget changes this month as I add back the 5% cash raised in late October. For the moderate risk investor, the allocation to bonds is still 50% while the risk side now rises to 50% as well. I raised the cash back in late October due to the extreme overbought nature of the stock market and frankly it was a mistake. Stocks went from overbought to more overbought and I missed the rally to all time highs in January.

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All The World’s A (Imagined) Labor Shortage

Last year’s infatuation with globally synchronized growth was at least understandable. From a certain, narrow point of view, Europe’s economy had accelerated. So, too, it seemed later in the year for the US economy. The Bank of Japan was actually talking about ending QQE with inflation in sight, and the PBOC was purportedly tightening as China’s economy appeared to many ready for its rebound.

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Market Complacency / Euphoria

Fortunately for Bulls, none of this matters. A relatively reliable measure of complacency/euphoria in the stock market just hit levels last seen in late January, just before stocks reversed in a massive meltdown, surprising all the complacent/euphoric Bulls. The measure is the put-call ratio in equities. Since this time is different, and the market is guaranteed to roar to new all-time highs, we can ignore this (of course).

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Emerging Markets: Preview of the Week Ahead

EM FX ended Friday on a week note and capped of another generally negative week. Worst performers last week were ARS, BRL, and TRY while the best were ZAR, RUB, and KRW. We remain negative on EM FX and look for losses to continue. US retail sales data Tuesday pose further downside risks to EM FX.

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How Safe Are We? Our Blindness to Systemic Dangers

How do we explain our obsession with relatively low risk dangers and our collective blindness to manufactured/marketed scourges that kill tens of thousands of people annually? If you've bought a new vehicle recently, you may have noticed some "safety features" that strike many as Nanny State over-reach. You can't change radio stations, for example, if the vehicle is in reverse.

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