Category Archive: 5.) The United States

If You’ve Lost The ISM…

These transition periods are often just this sort of whirlwind. One day the economy looks awful, the next impervious to any downside. Today, it has been the latter with the BLS providing the warm comfort of headline payrolls. For now, it won’t matter how hollow.

Read More »

Living In The Present

It’s that time of year again, time to cast the runes, consult the iChing, shake the Magic Eight Ball and read the tea leaves. What will happen in 2019? Will it be as bad as 2018 when positive returns were hard to come by, as rare as affordable health care or Miami Dolphin playoff games? Will China’s economy succumb to the pressure of US tariffs and make a deal?

Read More »

Could Stocks Rally Even as Parts of the Economy Are Recessionary?

It's not yet clear that the stock market swoon is predictive or merely a panic attack triggered by a loss of meds. We contrarians can't help it: when the herd is bullish, we start looking for a reversal. When the herd turns bearish, we also start looking for a reversal.

Read More »

Nothing To See Here, It’s Just Everything

The politics of oil are complicated, to say the least. There’s any number of important players, from OPEC to North American shale to sanctions. Relating to that last one, the US government has sought to impose serious restrictions upon the Iranian regime. Choking off a major piece of that country’s revenue, and source for dollars, has been a stated US goal.

Read More »

The Crisis of 2025

This is the predictable path because it's the only one that's politically expedient and doesn't cause much financial pain until it's too late to stave off collapse. While many fear a war between the nuclear powers or the breakdown of civil order, I tend to think the Crisis of 2023-26 is more likely to be financial in nature.

Read More »

A Couple of Thoughts on 2019

The story of the 21st century is debt is soaring while earned income is stagnating for the bottom 95%. Best wishes to all my readers and correspondents for a safe, healthy and productive 2019. Thank you, longstanding supporters, for renewing your financial support at the new year without any pathetic begging on my part. (The pathetic begging will commence shortly.)

Read More »

Chart of the Week: The Dreaded Full Frown

I’m going to break my personal convention and use the bulk of the colors in the eurodollar futures spectrum, not just the single EDM’s (June) contained within each. The current front month is January 2019, and its quoted price as I write this is 97.2475. The EDH (March) 2019 contract trades at 97.29 currently and it will drop off the board on March 18.

Read More »

The Crisis of Capital

The undeniable reality of the 21st century economy is that capital has gained while labor has stagnated. While various critics quibbled about his methodology, Thomas Piketty's core finding--that capital expanded faster than GDP and wages/salaries (i.e. earned income from labor)--is visible in these charts.

Read More »

Wasting the Middle: Obsessing Over Exits

What was the difference between Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers? Well, for one thing Lehman’s failure wasn’t a singular event. In the heady days of September 2008, authorities working for any number of initialism agencies were busy trying to put out fires seemingly everywhere. Lehman had to compete with an AIG as well as a Wachovia, already preceded by a Fannie and a Freddie.

Read More »

The net result is capital is impaired in eras of uncertainty.

The net result is capital is impaired in eras of uncertainty. As we look ahead to 2019, what can we be certain of? Maybe your list is long, but mine has only one item: certainty is fraying. Confidence in financial policies intended to eliminate recessions is fraying, confidence in political processes that are supposed to actually solve problems rather than make them worse is fraying, confidence in the objectivity of the corporate media is fraying,...

Read More »

Just In Time For The Circus

Just in time to follow closely upon yesterday’s European circus, IHS Markit piles on with more of the same forward-looking indications looking forward the wrong way. Mario Draghi says the ECB is ending QE, good for him. The central bank will do this despite balanced risks rebalancing in a different place. The more bad news and numbers stack up the more “they” say it’s nothing just transitory roughness.

Read More »

Powell: Still Strong; Markets: AYFKM

The official statement that accompanies each every FOMC policy action is by nature bland and sterile. Still, despite the sparseness of printed words those that are included can say a lot. Here’s its essence for what just wrapped up in December 2018: The Committee judges that some further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds rate will be consistent with sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions,...

Read More »

Why Everything That Needs to Be Fixed Remains Permanently Broken

Just in case you missed what's going on in France: the status quo in Europe is doomed. The status quo has a simple fix for every crisis and systemic problem: 1. create currency out of thin air. 2. give it to super-wealthy banks, financiers and corporations to boost their wealth and income.

Read More »

Industrial Fading

It is time to start paying attention to PMI’s again, some of them. There are those like the ISM’s Manufacturing Index which remains off in a world of its own. The version of the goods economy suggested by this one index is very different than almost every other. It skyrocketed in late summer last year way out of line (highest in more than a decade) with any other economic account.

Read More »

The Relevant Word Is ‘Decline’

The English language headline for China’s National Bureau of Statistics’ press release on November 2018’s Big 3 was, National Economy Maintained Stable and Sound Momentum of Development in November. For those who, as noted yesterday, are wishing China’s economy bad news so as to lead to the supposed good news of a coordinated “stimulus” response this was itself a bad news/good news situation.

Read More »

“Yellow Vests” and the Downward Mobility of the Middle Class

Capital garners the gains, and labor's share continues eroding. That's the story of the 21st century. The middle class, virtually by definition, is not prepared for downward mobility. A systemic, semi-permanent decline in the standard of living isn't part of the implicit social contract that's been internalized by the middle class virtually everywhere:living standards are only supposed to rise.

Read More »

Sometimes Bad News Is Just Right

There is some hope among those viewing bad news as good news. In China, where alarms are currently sounding the loudest, next week begins the plenary session for the State Council and its working groups. For several days, Communist authorities will weigh all the relevant factors, as they see them, and will then come up with the broad strokes for economic policy in the coming year (2019).

Read More »

US Banks Haven’t Behaved Like This Since 2009

If there is one thing Ben Bernanke got right, it was this. In 2009 during the worst of the worst monetary crisis in four generations, the Federal Reserve’s Chairman was asked in front of Congress if we all should be worried about zombies. Senator Bob Corker wasn’t talking about the literal undead, rather a scenario much like Japan where the financial system entered a period of sustained agony – leading to the same in the real economy, one lost...

Read More »

Are We in a Recession Already?

The value of declaring the entire nation in or out of recession is limited. Recessions are typically only visible to statisticians long after the fact, but they are often visible in real time on the ground: business volume drops, people stop buying houses and vehicles, restaurants that were jammed are suddenly sepulchral and so on. There are well-known canaries in the coal mine in terms of indicators.

Read More »

Monthly Macro Monitor – December 2018 (VIDEO)

Economic thoughts and analysis from Alhambra Investments CEO Joe Calhoun.

Read More »