Category Archive: 5) Global Macro

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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Now that Housing Bubble #2 Is Bursting…How Low Will It Go?

There are two generalities that can be applied to all asset bubbles: 1. Bubbles inflate for longer and reach higher levels than most pre-bubble analysts expected. 2. All bubbles burst, despite mantra-like claims that "this time it's different".

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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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Homeless Encampments and Luxury Apartments: Our Long Strange Boom

It's been a long, strange economic boom since the nadir of the Global Financial Meltdown in 2009. A 10-year long boom that saw the S&P 500 rise from 666 in early 2009 to 2,780 and GDP rise by 43% has been slightly more uneven for most participants.

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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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Credit Exhaustion Is Global

Europe is awash in credit exhaustion, and so is China. The signs are everywhere: credit exhaustion is global, and that means the global growth story is over: revenues and profits are all sliding as lending dries up and defaults pile up.

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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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What Happens When More QE Fails to Reverse the Recession?

The smart money is liquidating assets, paying off debt and moving capital into collateral that isn't impaired by debt or speculative valuations. The Federal Reserve's sudden return to "accommodative" dovishness in response to the stock market's swoon telegraphs its intent to fire up QE once the recession kicks into gear.

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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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What Caused the Recession of 2019-2021?

As I discussed in We're Overdue for a Sell-Everything/No-Fed-Rescue Recession, recessions have a proximate cause and a structural cause. The proximate cause is often a spike in energy costs (1973, 1990) or a financial crisis triggered by excesses of speculation and debt (2000 and 2008) or inflation (1980).

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The Corporate Lemmings Who Rushed into Mobile/Social Media Ads Are Running off the Cliff

Given that corporations are run by people, and people are social animals that run in herds, it shouldn't surprise us that corporations follow the herd, too. Take the herd move to forming conglomerates in the go-go late 1960s: corporations suddenly started buying companies in completely different sectors in businesses they knew nothing about, because the herd was forming conglomerates--not because it made any business sense but because it was the...

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China: Harbinger of Global Economic Decline

The latest numbers released by China’s statistics bureau fueled widespread concerns about the outlook of the global economy, as the Asian superpower reported its slowest growth rate since 1990. The figures showed a 6.6% growth for 2018, confirming the view that the growth engine of the world economy is running out of steam.

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We’re Overdue for a Sell-Everything/No-Fed-Rescue Recession

We're way overdue for a sell-everything recession, one that the Fed will only make worse by pursuing its usual policies of lowering interest rates and goosing easy money. As I noted last week, central banks, like generals, always fight the last war--until the war is lost. 

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2019: The Three Trends That Matter

Look no further than Brexit in Britain, the yellow vests in France and the Deplorables in the U.S. for manifestations of a broken social contract and decaying social order. Among the many trends currently in play, Gordon Long and I discuss three that will matter as 2019 progresses: 2019 Themes (56 minutes).

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Brace for Impact

As credit-asset bubbles pop, the dominoes start falling. The economy is far more precarious than the surface boom/bubble suggests. A great many households, enterprises and municipalities are in overloaded boats whose gunwales are just a few inches above the water; the slightest wave will swamp and sink them.

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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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