Tag Archive: commodities

Forget It, China’s Not Booming

Jeffrey Snider, head of global investment research at Alhambra Investments, says China is in fact not growing rapidly, which sounds disheartening for commodity investors. He reckons a crucial investment metric has weakened, pointing to slower economic expansion.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: A Weak Dollar Stirs A Toxic Stew

We received several employment related reports in the first two weeks of the year. The rate of growth in employment has been slowing for some time – slowly – and these reports continue that trend. The JOLTS report showed a drop in job openings, hires and quits.

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Global Asset Allocation Update

There is no change to the risk budget this month. For the moderate risk investor the allocation to bonds is 50%, risk assets 45% and cash 5%. The extreme overbought condition of the US stock market persists so I will continue to hold a modest amount of cash. There are some minor changes within the portfolios but the overall allocation is unchanged.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Housing Market Accelerates

The economy ended 2017 with current growth just slightly above trend. In general the reports of the last two weeks of the year were pretty good with housing a standout performer going into the new year. We are still trying to get past the impact – positive and negative – from the hurricanes a few months ago though so it is probably prudent to wait for more evidence before making any definitive pronouncements about the economy.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Animal Spirits Haunt The Market

The economic data over the last two weeks continued the better than expected trend. Some of the data was quite good and makes one wonder if maybe, just maybe, we are finally ready to break out of the economic doldrums. Is it possible that all that new normal, secular stagnation stuff was just a lack of animal spirits?

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Who You Gonna Believe?

We’ve had a pretty good run of data recently and with the tax bill passing the Senate one would expect to see markets react positively, to reflect renewed optimism about economic growth. We have improving economic data on pretty much a global basis. It isn’t a boom by any stretch of the imagination but there is no doubt that the rate of change has recently been more positive.

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Global Asset Allocation Update

There is no change to the risk budget this month. For the moderate risk investor the allocation to bonds is 50%, risk assets 45% and cash 5%. The extreme overbought condition of the US stock market did not correct since the last update and so I will continue to hold a modest amount of cash.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: A Whirlwind of Data

The economic data of the last two weeks was generally better than expected, the Citigroup Economic Surprise index near the highs of the year. Still, as I’ve warned repeatedly over the last few years, better than expected should not be confused with good. We go through mini-cycles all the time, the economy ebbing and flowing through the course of a business cycle.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Gridlock & The Status Quo

The good news is that the economy just printed its second consecutive quarter of 3% growth, a feat not accomplished since Q2 and Q3 2014. The bad news is that the growth spurt in 2014 was better, quantitatively and qualitatively. Those two quarters produced gains of 4.6% and 5.2% (annualized) in GDP, much better than the most recent 3.1% and 3% prints of Q2 and Q3 2017.

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Global Asset Allocation Update

The risk budget this month shifts slightly as we add cash to the portfolio. For the moderate risk investor the allocation to bonds is unchanged at 50%, risk assets are reduced to 45% and cash is raised to 5%. The changes this month are modest and may prove temporary but I felt a move to reduce risk was prudent given signs of exuberance – rational, irrational or otherwise.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Yawn

When I wrote the update two weeks ago I said that we might be nearing the point of maximum optimism. Apparently, there is another gear for optimism in this market as stocks have just continued to slowly but surely reach for the sky.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Maximum Optimism?

The economic reports of the last two weeks were generally of a more positive tone. The majority of reports were better than expected although it must be noted that many of those reports were of the sentiment variety, reflecting optimism about the future that may or may not prove warranted. Markets have certainly responded to the dreams of tax reform dancing in investors’ heads with US stock markets providing a steady stream of all time highs, bond...

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: As Good As It Gets

The incoming economic data hasn’t changed its tone all that much in the last several years. The US economy is growing but more slowly than it once did and we hope it does again. It is frustrating for economic bulls and bears, never fully satisfying either. Probably more important is the frustration of the average American, a dissatisfaction with the status quo that permeates the national debate. The housing bubble papered over the annoying lack of...

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Global Asset Allocation Update: Step Away From The Portfolio

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 portfolios this month. The post Fed meeting market reaction was a bit surprising in its intensity. The actions of the Fed were, to my mind anyway, pretty much as expected but apparently the algorithms that move markets today were singing from a different hymnal.

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Harvey’s Muted (Price) Impact On Oil

The impact of Hurricane Harvey on the Gulf energy region is becoming clear. There have been no surprises to date, even though the storm did considerable damage and shuttered or disrupted significant capacity. Most of that related to gasoline, which Americans have been feeling in pump prices.

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COT Report: Black (Crude) and Blue (UST’s)

Over the past month, crude prices have been pinned in a range $50 to the high side and ~$46 at the low. In the futures market, the price of crude is usually set by the money managers (how net long they shift). As discussed before, there have been notable exceptions to this paradigm including some big ones this year.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Waiting For Irma

This update will be a bit shorter than usual. I’m in Miami awaiting Hurricane Irma. As of now, it looks like the eye of the storm will make landfall near Key West and continue west of us with the Naples/Ft. Myers area at risk. Or at least that’s the way it looks right now. I’ve done a lot of these storms though – I lost a house in Andrew in ’92 – and you never know what these things will do. We are secure in a house that survived Andrew with barely...

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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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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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Global Asset Allocation Update: No Upside To Credit

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 other changes to the portfolio though so please read on. As I write this the stock market is in the process of taking a dive (well if 1.4% is a “dive”) and one can’t help but wonder if the long awaited and anticipated correction is finally at hand.

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