Category Archive: Global Macro

The Two Charts That Dictate the Future of the Economy

The stock market, bond yields and statistical measures of the economy can be gamed, manipulated and massaged by authorities, but the real economy cannot. This is espcially true for the core drivers of the economy, real (adjusted for inflation) household income and real disposable household income, i.e. the real income remaining after debt service (interest and principal), rent, healthcare co-payments and insurance and other essential living expenses.

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U.S. Consumer Price Index, Oil Prices: Why It Will Continue, Again Continued

Part of “reflation” was always going to be banks making more money in money. These days that is called FICC – Fixed Income, Currency, Commodities. There’s a bunch of activities included in that mix, but it’s mostly derivative trading books forming the backbone of math-as-money money. The better the revenue conditions in FICC, the more likely banks are going to want to do more of it, perhaps to the point of reversing what is just one quarter shy of...

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Commercial Property Market Is Inflated and May Burst Again – McWilliams

Dublin property investors had better hope that Brexit happens soon. They should also hope that it’s not just a ‘hard’ Brexit, but a granite Brexit — a Brexit that’s as hard as possible. They should be betting on the buffoonery of Boris Johnson, down on both knees praying for a massive barney between Davis and Barnier.

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There Is Only One Empire: Finance

There's an entire sub-industry in journalism devoted to the idea that China is poised to replace the U.S. as the "global empire" / hegemon. This notion of global empire being something like a baton that gets passed from nation-state to nation-state is seriously misleading, in my view, for this reason:

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Emerging Markets: Week Ahead Preview

EM FX was mixed on Friday, but largely firmer over the entire week. Top performers were BRL, KRW, and ZAR, while the worst were ARS, MXN, and RUB. FOMC meeting this week poses some potential risks to the global liquidity story that’s supporting EM. Within EM, the low inflation/easy monetary policy narrative should continue with data and events this week.

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Reports on a Quarterly Survey Conducted: Qualifying Shortage (Labor)

There isn’t a day that goes by in 2017 where some study is released or anecdote is published purporting a sinister labor market development. There is a shortage of workers, we are told, often a very big one. The idea is simple enough; the media has been writing for years that the US economy was recovering, and they would very much like to either see one and be proven right (and that recent revived populism is illegitimate), or find an excuse why...

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Emerging Markets: What has Changed

South Korea proposed resuming military and humanitarian exchanges with North Korea. The European Union may sanction Poland over its controversial judicial overhaul. Turkish Prime Minister Yildirim announced a cabinet shuffle after meeting with President Erdogan. Turkey’s worsening relations with Germany will come with economic costs. South African Reserve Bank surprised markets by starting the easing cycle with a 25 bp cut to 7.0%.

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China’s Economy Shorthand the Largest Asset Bubble in Human History

The term “ghost city” is a loaded one, often deployed to skew toward a particular viewpoint. In the context of China’s economy, it has become shorthand for perhaps the largest asset bubble in human history. While that may ultimately be the case, in truth China’s ghost cities aren’t about the past but its future.

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U.S. Industrial Production: Industrial Drag

Completing a busy day of US economic data, Industrial Production was, like retail sales and inflation data, highly disappointing. Prior months were revised slightly lower, leaving IP year-over-year up just 2% in June 2017 (estimates for May were initially 2.2%). Revisions included, the annual growth rate has been stuck around 2% now for three months in a row, suggesting like those other accounts a pause or even possible end to the mini-improvement...

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Retail Sales Conundrum

Retail sales were thoroughly disappointing in June. Whereas other accounts such as imports or durable goods had at least delivered a split decision between adjusted and unadjusted versions, for retail sales both views of them were ugly. Seasonally-adjusted first, spending last month was down for the second straight time. Worse than that, estimated sales were just barely more than in January.

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US S&P 500 Index, Federal Funds Target, Manufacturing Payrolls, US Imports and US Banking Data: All Conundrums Matter

Since we are this week hypocritically obsessing over monetary policy, particularly the federal funds rate end of it, it’s as good a time as any to review the full history of 21st century “conundrum.” Janet Yellen’s Fed has run itself afoul of the bond market, just as Alan Greenspan’s Fed did in the middle 2000’s.

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Global Asset Allocation Update: Not Yet

There is no change to the risk budget this month. For the moderate risk investor, the allocation between risk assets and bonds is unchanged at 50/50. There are no changes to the portfolio this month. Growth and inflation expectations rose somewhat since last month’s update. The change is minor though and within the range of what we’ve seen in recent months.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Attention Shoppers

The majority of the economic reports over the last two weeks have been disappointing, less than the consensus expectations. The minor rebound in activity we’ve been tracking since last summer appears to have stalled. Retail sales continue to disappoint and inventory/sales ratios are once again rising – from already elevated levels.

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Emerging Markets: Preview of the Week Ahead

Emerging Markets FX ended the week on a firm note, helped by softer than expected US data. Indeed, EM FX was up across the board for the entire week and was led by BRL, MXN, and ZAR. The ECB meeting this week will draw some interest, especially after the BOC last week became the second major central bank to hike rates.

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Wholesale: No Acceleration, No Liquidation

In the same way as durable goods orders and US imports, wholesale sales in May 2017 were up somewhat unadjusted but down for the third straight month according the seasonally-adjusted series. As with those other two, the difference is one of timing. In other words, combining the two sets, seasonal and not, we are left to interpret a possible recent slowing in activity.

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China Imports and Exports: The Ghost Recovery

To the naked eye, it represents progress. China has still an enormous rural population doing subsistence level farming. As the nation grows economically, such a way of life is an inherent drag, an anchor on aggregate efficiency Chinese officials would rather not put up with.

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Emerging Markets: What has Changed

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may face trial on corruption charges. Turkey will reportedly pay $2.5 bln for a Russian missile defense system. Nigeria said it was willing to cap its oil production to support OPEC efforts to cut global supply. Former Brazilian President Lula was sentenced to nine and half years in prison on corruption charges. S&P downgraded Chile one notch to A+ with a stable outlook.

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Competing CPI,PPI, Industrial Production and Retail Sales: No Luck China, Either

Former IMF chief economist Ken Rogoff warned today on CNBC that he was concerned about China. Specifically, he worried that country might “export a recession” to the rest of Asia if not the rest of the world. I’m not sure if he has been paying attention or not, but the Chinese economy since 2012 has been doing just that to varying degrees often just shy of that level.

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The Inevitability Of DeGrowth

Debt-dependent consumption in a world in which wages stagnate for the bottom 90% and energy costs increase as demand outstrips supply is a system with only one possible end-point: collapse. Even though we don't know precisely how the future will unfold, we know a few things: Of the 7.5 billion humans on the planet, virtually every individual wants to enjoy a high-energy consumption “middle-class” lifestyle.

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US Federal Funds, Bond Market and WSJ Economic Survey: The Hidden State of Money

Correctly interpreting the bond market is more than just how and when to invest your money in UST’s. Not that it isn’t useful in such a money management capacity, but interest rates starting at the risk-free tell us a lot about what is wholly unseen. There is simply no way to directly observe inside an economy what is taking place at all levels and in all transactions. We try to estimate as best we can in the aggregate, but the real economy works...

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