Category Archive: 5) Global Macro

Now Capex?

Of all the high frequency data the Personal Savings Rate is probably the least reliable. It is subject to both regular and benchmark revisions that can change the estimates drastically one way or the other. One step up from that statistic is the figures for Construction Spending. The initial monthly estimates don’t survive very long, and lately they have been quite weak in the first run only to be revised sharply higher over subsequent months.

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Toward The Housing Bubble, Or Great Depression?

During the middle 2000’s, one more curious economic extreme presented itself in an otherwise ocean of extremes. Though economists were still thinking about the Great “Moderation”, the trend for the Personal Savings Rate was anything but moderate, indicated a distinct lack of modesty on the part of consumers. In early 2006, the Bureau of Economic Analysis calculated that the rate had been negative for all of 2005. It was the first time in seventy...

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Bitcoin, Sour Grapes and the Institutional Herd

The point is institutional ownership of bitcoin is in the very early stages. If I had a bitcoin for every time some pundit declared bitcoin is a bubble, I'd be a billionaire. There are three problems with opining that bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are bubblicious:

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2017 Is Two-Thirds Done And Still No Payroll Pickup

The payroll report for August 2017 thoroughly disappointed. The monthly change for the headline Establishment Survey was just +156k. The BLS also revised lower the headline estimate in each of the previous two months, estimating for July a gain of only +189k. The 6-month average, which matters more given the noisiness of the statistic, is just +160k or about the same as when the Federal Reserve contemplated starting a third round of QE back in 2012.

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Proving Q2 GDP The Anomaly, Incomes Yet Again Fail To Accelerate

One day after reporting a slightly better number for Q2 GDP, the BEA reports today that there is little reason to suspect it was anything more or lasting. The data for Personal Income and Spending shows that the dominant condition since 2012 remains in effect – “good” quarters, or whatever passes for one these days, are the anomaly. There still is no meaningful rebound in income.

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The Two Parts of Bubbles

What makes a stock bubble is really two parts. Most people might think those two parts are money and mania, but actually money supply plays no direct role. Perceptions about money do, even if mistaken as to what really takes place monetarily from time to time. In fact, for a bubble that would make sense; people are betting in stocks on one monetary view that isn’t real, and therefore prices don’t match what’s really going on.

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Why Wages Have Lost Ground in the 21st Century

One of the enduring mysteries for conventional economists is why wages aren't rising for the bottom 95% even as unemployment is low and hiring remains robust. According to classical economics, the limited supply of available workers combined with strong demand for workers should push wages higher.

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Emerging Markets: What has Changed

India Prime Minister Modi has started a cabinet shuffle. Freeport McMorAn ceded control of the world’s second largest copper mine to the Indonesian government. Central Bank of Russia took over Bank Otkritie, once Russia’s largest private bank. Kenya’s top court nullified last month’s presidential election. Fitch cut Qatar’s rating by one notch to AA- with negative outlook.

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Moscow Rules (for ‘dollars’)

In Ian Fleming’s 1959 spy novel Goldfinger, he makes mention of the Moscow Rules. These were rules-of-thumb for clandestine agents working during the Cold War in the Soviet capital, a notoriously difficult assignment. Among the quips included in the catalog were, “everyone is potentially under opposition control” and “do not harass the opposition.” Fleming’s book added another, “Once is an accident. Twice is coincidence. Three times is an enemy...

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Deja Vu

According to orthodox theory, if interest rates are falling because of term premiums then that equates to stimulus. Term premiums are what economists have invented so as to undertake Fisherian decomposition of interest rates (so that they can try to understand the bond market; as you might guess it doesn’t work any better). It is, they claim, the additional premium a bond investor demands so as to hold a security that much longer (more return to...

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Currency Risk That Isn’t About Exchange Values (Eurodollar University)

This week the Bureau of Economic Analysis will release updated estimates for Q2 GDP as well as Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) and Personal Incomes for July. Accompanying those latter two accounts is the currently preferred inflation standard for the US economy. The PCE Deflator finally hit 2% and in two consecutive months, after revisions, earlier this year.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Don’t Underestimate Gridlock

The economic reports released since the last update were slightly more upbeat than the previous period. The economic surprises have largely been on the positive side but there were some major disappointments as well. The economy has been doing this for several years now, one part of the economy waxing while another wanes and the overall trajectory not much changed. Indeed, the broad Chicago Fed National Activity index probably says it all, coming...

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The 5 Steps to World Domination

You don't need an army to achieve World Domination; all you need is enough cheap credit to buy up everything that generates the highest value and/or income.

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Emerging Market: Preview of the Week Ahead

EM FX ended last week on a strong note, buoyed by perceived dovishness from Yellen at the Jackson Hole symposium. However, US jobs data this Friday could test the market’s convictions. Within EM, data are likely to support our view that EM central banks can retain their largely dovish posture into 2018.

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More Noise Than Signal

A number of people have forwarded this Bloomberg article – Wall Street Banks Warn Downturn Is Coming – to me over the last couple of days. That fact alone is probably a good argument to ignore it but I can’t help but read articles like this if for no other reason than to know what the crowd is thinking.

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United States Durable Goods In July; Rinse, Repeat

The Census Bureau reported today updated estimates for Durable Goods in July 2017. Quite frankly, nothing has changed so minimal commentary is all that is required. The aircraft anomaly from last month faded, leaving total new orders of $229.2 billion (seasonally-adjusted). That is less than in May before the Boeing surge, and less even than estimated order volume in March 2017.

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Did the Economy Just Stumble Off a Cliff?

This is more intuitive than quantitative, but my gut feeling is that the economy just stumbled off a cliff. Neither the cliff edge nor the fatal misstep are visible yet; both remain in the shadows of the intangible foundation of the economy: trust, animal spirits, faith in authorities' management, etc.

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We Need a Social Revolution

In the conventional view, there are two kinds of revolutions: political and technological. Political revolutions may be peaceful or violent, and technological revolutions may transform civilizations gradually or rather abruptly—for example, revolutionary advances in the technology of warfare.

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Questions

Why are profit margins persistently high? With decent earnings this quarter, corporate profits as a % of GDP will approach (maybe exceed) 10% again. That is abnormally high compared to the period 1960 to 2000. Margins actually started to rise in the mid-80s but really accelerated after 2000 and outside of the 2008 crisis have remained high. Why?

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United States: The Fed Tries To Tighten By Rates, But The System Instead Tightens By Repo

The Fed voted for the first federal funds increase in almost a decade on December 15, 2015. It was the official end of ZIRP, and though taking so many additional years to happen, to many it marked the start of recovery. The yield on the 2-year Treasury Note was 98 bps that day.

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