Category Archive: The United States

Bi-Weekly Economic Review

This will be a fairly quick update as I just posted a Mid-Year Review yesterday that covers a lot of the same ground. There were, as you’ll see below, some fairly positive reports since the last update but the markets are not responding to the better data. Markets seem to be more focused on the trade wars and the potential fallout. I would also note that at least some of the recent strength in the data is related to the tariffs.

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Mid-Year Global Markets Update

Volatility returned to markets with a vengeance in the first half of this year. 2018 started off as an extension of last year when volatility was almost wholly absent. Stocks roared out of the starting gate, up almost every day until January 26th. And then – whoosh. What took nearly a month to gain took just 6 trading days to give back and then some.

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Our Institutions Are Failing

Our institutional failure reminds me of the phantom legions of Rome's final days. The mainstream media and its well-paid army of "authorities" / pundits would have us believe the decline in our collective trust in our institutions is the result of fake news, i.e. false narratives and data presented as factual.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review – (VIDEO)

Economic thoughts and analysis from Alhambra Investments CEO Joe Calhoun.

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Buybacks Get All The Macro Hate, But What About Dividends?

When it comes to the stock market and the corporate cash flow condition, our attention is usually drawn to stock repurchases. With good reason. These controversial uses of scarce internal funds are traditionally argued along the lines of management teams identifying and correcting undervalued shares. History shows, conclusively, that hasn’t really been true.

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Will AI “Change the World” Or Simply Boost Profits?

The real battle isn't between a cartoonish vision or a dystopian nightmare--it's between decentralized ownership and control of these technologies and centralized ownership and control. The hype about artificial intelligence (AI) and its cousins Big Data and Machine Learning is ubiquitous, and largely unexamined. AI is going to change the world by freeing humankind from most of its labors, etc. etc. etc.

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We Are All Hostages of Corporate Profits

We're in the endgame of financialization and globalization, and it won't be pretty for all the hostages of corporate profits. Though you won't read about it in the mainstream corporate media, the nation is now hostage to outsized corporate profits. The economy and society at large are now totally dependent on soaring corporate profits and the speculative bubbles they fuel, and this renders us all hostages: Make a move to limit corporate profits or...

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The USA Is Now a 3rd World Nation

I know it hurts, but the reality is painfully obvious: the USA is now a 3rd World nation. Dividing the Earth's nations into 1st, 2nd and 3rd world has fallen out of favor;apparently it offended sensibilities. It has been replaced by the politically correct developed and developing nations, a terminology which suggests all developing nations are on the pathway to developed-nation status.

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The Gathering Storm

July 4th is an appropriate day to borrow Winston Churchill's the gathering storm to describe the existential crisis that will envelope America within the next decade. There is no single cause of the gathering storm; in complex systems, dynamics feed back into one another, and the sum of destabilizing disorder is greater than a simple sum of its parts.

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US Vs China – Is It ‘Art Of The Deal’ Or Economic Warfare?

While monetary tightening remains the main risk for global stock markets, the threat of a trade war continues to dominate the headlines...

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Revisiting The Revised Revisions

I missed durable goods last month for scheduling reasons, which was a shame given that May is the month each year for benchmark revisions to the series. Since new estimates under the latest revisions were released today, it seems an appropriate time to revisit the topic of data bias, and why that matters. What happens with durable goods (or any data for that matter, the process is largely the same) is that the Census Bureau conducts smaller surveys...

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Make Capital Cheap and Labor Costly, and Guess What Happens?

Employment expands in the Protected cartel-dominated sectors, and declines in every sector exposed to globalization, domestic competition and cheap capital. If you want to understand why the global economy is failing the many while enriching the few, start with the basics: capital, labor and resources. What happens when central banks drop interest rates to near-zero? Capital becomes dirt-cheap.

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Dear High School Graduates: the Status Quo “Solutions” Enrich the Few at Your Expense

You deserve a realistic account of the economy you're joining. Dear high school graduates: please glance at these charts before buying into the conventional life-course being promoted by the status quo. Here's the summary: the status quo is pressuring you to accept its "solutions": borrow mega-bucks to attend college, then buy a decaying bungalow or hastily constructed stucco box for $800,000 in a "desirable" city, pay sky-high income and property...

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review (VIDEO)

Information and opinions about the economy and markets from Alhambra Investments CEO Joe Calhoun.

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Gresham’s Law and Bitcoin

Rather suddenly, the state issued fiat currency bolivar lost 99% of its purchasing power. Gresham's law holds that "bad money drives out good money," meaning that given a choice of currencies (broadly speaking, "money" that serves as a store of value and a means of exchange), people use depreciating "bad" to buy goods and services and hoard "good" money that is appreciating or holding its value.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review

Is the rate hiking cycle almost done? Not the question on everyone’s minds right now so a good time to ask it, I think. A couple of items caught my attention recently that made me at least think about the possibility.  There has been for some time now a large short position held by speculators in the futures market for Treasuries.

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Global Asset Allocation Update

The risk budget is unchanged this month. For the moderate risk investor the allocation to bonds and risk assets is evenly split. There are changes this month within the asset classes. How far are we from the end of this cycle? When will the next recession arrive and more importantly when will stocks and other markets start to anticipate a slowdown?

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There Isn’t Supposed To Be The Two Directions of IP

US Industrial Production dipped in May 2018. It was the first monthly drop since January. Year-over-year, IP was up just 3.5% from May 2017, down from 3.6% in each of prior three months. The reason for the soft spot was that American industry is being pulled in different directions by the two most important sectors: crude oil and autos.

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Here We Go Again: Our Double-Bubble Economy

The bubbles in assets are supported by the invisible bubble in greed, euphoria and credulity. Well, folks, here we go again: we have a double-bubble economy in housing and stocks, and a third difficult-to-chart bubble in greed, euphoria and credulity.

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Recent Concerning Consumer Credit Trends Carry On Into April

US consumers continue to recover from their debt splurge at the end of last year. Combined with still weaker income growth, the Federal Reserve estimates that aggregate revolving credit balances grew only marginally for the fourth straight month in April 2018. To put it in perspective, the total for revolving credit (seasonally adjusted) is up a mere $2.2 billion for all four months of this year combined, compared to +$5.2 billion in December 2017...

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