Macro (122)

Admin

Ms. DiMartino Booth, why is the Federal Reserve bad for America?
Because of its intellectual dishonesty. The Fed noticed around 2009 that if they had had a more reliable and realistic inflation gauge on which to set policy, they would have seen the crisis coming. But despite that recognition, they chose to do nothing about it.

Are there more realistic inflation gauges?
Several Federal Reserve Districts have come up with alternative gauges. The underlying inflation gauge from the New York Fed for example also includes asset price inflation. And it runs about one percentage point higher than what the Fed measure is – they prefer the core Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index, the core PCE.

How would monetary policy look like with a more realistic inflation gauge?
Monetary policy would be much different. The Fed would not have been able to maintain a monetary policy as easy as it has done over the last couple of years. Central bankers are hiding behind the core PCE being at 1,6%. The

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Admin

What Yield Curve Inversion Is Telling Us

The US yield curve has (almost) inverted, and this has been making headlines for the last couple of months now. This should come as no surprise, as the yield curve is perhaps the most reliable recession indicator out there. But what does an inverted yield curve tell us about future returns? Our analysis shows that while asset class returns in general are somewhat subdued between the first date on which the yield curve inverts and the start of the recession, the inversion of the yield curve is not followed by extraordinary deviations in returns.

Definition

Before moving over to the results of our analysis, we would like to dwell briefly on the definition of the yield curve, and the combination of maturities in particular. In most empirical research, the yield curve is either defined by the differential between the 10-year and 3-month US Treasury yield (10Y-3M), or the 10-year and 2-year US Treasury yield (10Y-2Y). The reasons for preferring one over the other depends on many things, in

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Admin

Macro And Credit - Buckling

Watching with interest the slowly grind higher in US interest rates with some weakening signs coming from US economic data such as the US trade deficit in goods getting spanked with orders for larger domestic appliances and other durable goods falling by a cool 3.7% from the month before, led by a hard drop in vehicle demand, when it came to choosing our title analogy for this week's conversation we reminded ourselves of "buckling" being a mathematical instability that leads to a failure mode. When a structure is subjected to compressive stress, buckling may occur. Buckling is characterized by a sudden sideways deflection of a structural member. This may occur even though the stresses that develop in the structure are well below those needed to cause failure of the material of which the structure is composed. As an applied load is increased (US interest rate hikes) on a member, such as a column, it will ultimately become large enough to cause the member to become unstable and it is sai

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Admin

All of the World’s Money and Markets

When we talk about the giant size of Apple, the fortune of Warren Buffett, or the massive amount of global debt accumulated – all of these things sound large, but they are actually extremely different in magnitude.

That’s why visualizing things spatially can give us a better perspective on money and markets.

How Much Money Exists?

This infographic was initially created to show how much money exists in its different forms. For example, to highlight how much physical cash there is in comparison to broader measures of money which include saving and checking account deposits.

Interestingly, what is considered “money” depends on who you are asking.

Are the abstractions created by Central Banks really money? What about gold, bitcoins, or other hard assets?

A New Meaning

However, since we first released this infographic in 2015, “All the World’s Money and Markets” has taken on a different meaning to us and many others. It’s a way of simplifying a complex universe of currencies, assets, and ot

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Admin

Will Credit Cause A Slowdown

Saxo Bank thinks a slowdown in credit growth is bad news

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IF THERE is a consensus at the moment, it is that the global economy is finally managing a synchronised recovery. The purchasing managers' index for global manufacturing is at its highest level for six years; copper, the metal often seen as the most sensitive to global conditions, is up by a quarter since May

20170916_woc638_0.png?width=450But Steen Jakobsen of Saxo Bank thinks this strength will not last. His leading indicator is a measure of the change in private sector credit growth. This peaked at the turn of the year and is now heading down sharply. Indeed the change in trend is the most negative since the financial crisis (see chart). Since this indicator leads the economy by 9-12 months, that suggests a significant economic slowdown either late this year or early  in 2018. He says that

This call for a significant slowdown coincides with several facts: the ECB’s QE programme will conclude by end-2017 and will at best be scaled down by €10 billion per

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Admin

The Big Picture

First and foremost let me point out that Ray Dalio, founder of investment firm Bridgewater Associates, has joined Twitter so I encourage you to follow him here.  Secondly I suggest you grab a cup of coffee or maybe the entire pot as he gradually lays out what he sees ahead for the market.  Enjoy!

Big picture, the near term looks good and the longer term looks scary. That is because:

  1. The economy is now at or near its best, and we see no major economic risks on the horizon for the next year or two,
  2. There are significant long-term problems (e.g., high debt and non-debt obligations, limited abilities by central banks to stimulate, etc.) that are likely to create a squeeze,
  3. Social and political conflicts are near their worst for the last number of decades, and
  4. Conflicts get worse when economies worsen.

So while we have no near-term economic worries for the economy as a whole, we worry about what these conflicts will become like when the economy has its next downturn.

The next few pages g

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Admin

Most economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected Federal Reserve officials to begin winding down their $4.5 trillion portfolio of bonds and other assets this year.

Nearly 70% of business and academic economists polled in recent days expected the Fed will begin allowing the portfolio, also called the balance sheet, to shrink by allowing securities to mature without reinvesting the proceeds at some point in 2017. Of the economists who expected a shift in the Fed’s balance sheet strategy this year, the majority predicted the process would begin in December.

In last month’s survey, just 22.2% of economists expected the Fed to begin shrinking its portfolio this year. Fewer than a quarter of economists in the latest poll expected the Fed to wait until the first quarter of next year to start to whittle down its portfolio, compared to a third last month.

In recent weeks, Fed officials have said they are discussing plans to start gradually reducing the large bondholdings the central

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Admin

Stan Druckenmiller recently elucidated: “Earnings don’t move the overall market; it’s the Federal Reserve Board… focus on the central banks and focus on the movement of liquidity… most people in the market are looking for earnings and conventional measures. It’s liquidity that moves markets.”

Even with the bond market’s muted response to the Federal Reserve’s plan to begin winding down its almost $4.3 trillion portfolio of mortgage and Treasury securities, there are plenty of reasons why the calm probably won’t last.

Out of style for almost a decade, volatility may be on its way back if you take a closer look at the mechanics of the Treasury and mortgage markets. Despite the Fed’s mantra of seeking to carry out its policy shift in a “gradual and predictable manner,” analysts say the effects of ending the reinvestment of the proceeds from maturing securities will still be felt.

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This is the “most highly anticipated event in central-bank history,” said Walter Schmidt, senior vice p

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Admin

Autonomous Cars And Second Order Consequences

Grab a cup of coffee, sit back and absorb this piece which I believe, will blow your mind.  I had read a good deal on self-driving cars and the implications of what lies ahead but this piece by Ben Evans has completely re-written my belief of what life will be in ten years.  Wowsa!   I know what I'll be dreaming about tonight. *lol*  Enjoy-

There are two foundational technology changes rolling through the car industry at the moment; electric and autonomy. Electric is happening right now, largely as a consequence of falling battery prices, while autonomy, or at least full autonomy, is a bit further off - perhaps 5-10 years, depending on how fast some pretty hard computer science problems get solved. Both of these will cycle into essentially the entire global stock of (today) around 1.1bn cars over a period of decades, subject to all sorts of variables, and both of them completely remake the car industry and its suppliers, as well as parts of the tech industry. 

Both electric and a

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Admin

I found this interesting (the rise) however I have my own reservations because of the possible change in rates and inflation in 2017.  When inflation rises, interest rates also normally rise to maintain real rates within an appropriate range. PE ratios need to decline to reflect the increase in the earnings discount rate. Another way to look at it is that equities then face more competition for money from fixed income instruments. The cost of equities must therefore decline to keep or attract investors.  Then there is the Rule of 20 to consider.  Rule of 20 equals P/E + long term interest rates (average of 10 and 30 yr bond rates).  If at or below 20 minus inflation -- the market is a buy.  If above 20 minus inflation -- the market is a sell. Today we're at just about 20.  I think I'll keep my cautious side up.  Keep moving up my alerts and stick to only brief swings.  Something tells me it's going to be an interesting year.  All focus on the Fed and inflation.  

During the past week (

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Admin

The Winners And Losers Of A Cashless Society

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Courtesy of: The Money Project

 

There is a global push by lawmakers to eliminate the use of physical cash around the world. This movement is often referred to as “The War on Cash”, and there are three major players involved:

1. The Initiators
Who?
Governments, central banks.
Why?
The elimination of cash will make it easier to track all types of transactions – including those made by criminals.

2. The Enemy
Who?
Criminals, terrorists
Why?
Large denominations of bank notes make illegal transactions easier to perform, and increase anonymity.

3. The Crossfire
Who?
Citizens
Why?
The coercive elimination of physical cash will have potential repercussions on the economy and social liberties.

Is Cash Still King?

Cash has always been king – but starting in the late 1990s, the convenience of new technologies have helped make non-cash transactions to become more viable:

  • Online banking
  • Smartphones
  • Payment technologies
  • Encryption

By 2015, there were 426 billion cashless transactions worldwide

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Admin

Trump Comes Out On China And Russia

BN-RQ265_TRUMPW_GR_20170113205623.jpg?width=400President-elect Donald Trump suggested he would be open to lifting sanctions on Russia and wasn’t committed to a longstanding agreement with China over Taiwan—two signs that he would use any available leverage to realign the U.S.’s relationship with its two biggest global strategic rivals.

In an hourlong interview, Mr. Trump said that, “at least for a period of time,” he would keep intact sanctions against Russia imposed by the Obama administration in late December in response to Moscow’s alleged cyberattacks to influence November’s election. But he suggested he might do away with those penalties if Russia proved helpful in battling terrorists and reaching other goals important to the U.S.

“If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?” he said.

He also said he wouldn’t commit to America’s agreement with China that Taiwan wasn’t to be recognized diplomatically, a policy known as “One China,” until he

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Admin

27UP-Trade-master768.jpg?width=400The constant flow of goods from Asia to the United States was briefly interrupted last month after Hanjin, the South Korean shipping line, filed for bankruptcy, stranding several dozen of its cargo ships on the high seas.

It was a moment that made literal the stagnation of globalization.

The growth of trade among nations is among the most consequential and controversial economic developments of recent decades. Yet despite the noisy debates, which have reached new heights during this presidential campaign, it is a little-noticed fact that trade is no longer rising. The volume of global trade was flat in the first quarter of 2016, then fell by 0.8 percent in the second quarter, according to statisticians in the Netherlands, which happens to keep the best data.

The United States is no exception to the broader trend. The total value of American imports and exports fell by more than $200 billion last year. Through the first nine months of 2016, trade fell by an additional $470 billion.

It i

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Admin

1291312?profile=originalAs U.K.-based banks wait to see what life will be like after Brexit, one word -- passporting -- will speak volumes. If Prime Minister Theresa May can maintain the passporting rights of City of London banks, the U.K. stands to retain its status as a hub of global finance. If not, hope isn’t lost, but the alternative to passporting requires an arduous approval process and provides no secure basis for long-term planning.

1. What is passporting, anyway?

Passporting refers to the right of companies authorized in one country of the European Economic Area -- currently comprising the 28 EU states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway -- to sell their products and services throughout the bloc, accessing a $19 trillion integrated economy with more than 500 million citizens. There is not one financial passport, but rather a series of sector-specific agreements covering everything from banking to insurance and asset management. It’s why global firms such as Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley

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Admin

Tactically Cautious On Global Equities

A December Fed rate hike, uncertainty regarding the U.S. presidential elections, weak earnings growth, diminished buyback activity and concerns about European banks pose near-term risks to global equities.  Comments in italics are mine.

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The summer rally has left equity valuations looking stretched. The median U.S. stock now trades at a higher P/E ratio than even at the 2000 peak. The Shiller P/E ratio stands at 27, but would be 37 if profit margins over the preceding ten years had been what they were in the 1990s. The fact that interest rates are low gives stocks some support, but with the Fed likely to hike rates in December, that tailwind will begin to fade.

Lackluster earnings growth remains another concern. S&P 500 and economy-wide profit margins have rolled over. Granted, the collapse in profits in the energy sector has been the major culprit, and this headwind should wane if oil prices edge higher over the next 12 months, as we expect. Nevertheless, faster wage growth and a f

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Admin

Credit Spreads And Earnings Estimates. Random Thoughts

This week’s EVA brings the second edition of our new Random Thoughts format. The goal with this approach is to cover several key, but often unrelated, topics in a quick overview fashion.

In this issue, we are looking at, once again, the powerful financial force known as credit spreads.   Fortunately, they are not indicating financial stress at this time. We are also examining the supposed truism that this is one of the most detested bull markets of all time. Then, we wrap up with a look at the Fed’s and Wall Street’s forecasting track record (hint:  both make a dart-board look good!).

As always, your feedback is welcomed and appreciated.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

When the spread isn’t the thing. One of the themes this newsletter has emphasized most heavily this year has been the importance of the spread—or difference—between government and corporate bond yields. As we have repeatedly cited, when that gap is widening in a pronounced way bad things tend to happen both to the economy and financial

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Admin

Don't Be Fooled The Bond Rally Continues

1291344?profile=RESIZE_480x480We’ve been bulls on 30-year Treasury bonds since 1981 when we stated, “We’re entering the bond rally of a lifetime.” It’s still under way, in our opinion. Their yields back then were 15.2%, but our forecast called for huge declines in inflation and, with it, a gigantic fall in bond yields to our then-target of 3%.

The Cause of Inflation

We’ve argued that the root of inflation is excess demand, and historically it’s caused by huge government spending on top of a fully-employed economy.  That happens during wars, and so inflation and wars always go together, going back to the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War of 1846, the Civil War, the Spanish American War of 1898, World Wars I and II and the Korean War.  In the late 1960s and 1970s, huge government spending, and the associated double-digit inflation (Chart 1), resulted from the Vietnam War on top's LBJ’s War on Poverty.

By the late 1970s, however, the frustrations over military stalemat

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Admin

Bonds Are 'Housing' All Over Again

As German bond yields breach unthinkable levels, BK was struck by a chart from Deutsche Bank – it is a chart of German yields since 1807.

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Take a moment to reflect on this chart – in over 200 years, German bond yields have never been lower. This period of time includes such notable and notorious events as:

  • US Civil War
  • The British Railway Mania Bubble
  • The Panic of 1873 and The Long Global Depression
  • Industrial Revolution
  • Thomas Edison’s Invention of Electric Light
  • Invention of the Automobile
  • Stock Market Panic of 1907
  • World War I
  • 1929 Stock Market Crash
  • The Depression of the 1930’s
  • World War II
  • Japan’s Real Estate Bubble and Crash
  • The Dot-Com Bubble
  • 1987 US Stock Market Crash
  • 1997 Asian Currency Crisis
  • 1998 Russian Default and Long Term Capital Management Bailout
  • 9/11
  • The US Housing Bubble and 2008 Great Financial Crisis

During each of these spectacular and horrific events, German bond yields managed to stay in a range of roughly 4-10% with the occasional spike up or down. However du

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Admin

Seven Ways To Trade The Brexit Vote

Next week will be a historical one for both the United Kingdom and the global economy. On June 23rd the British people will decide whether to leave or stay in the European Union. Polls have been mixed over the last couple months, but the latest out show momentum for leaving, which is scaring the markets.

Loss of British sovereignty is the fundamental reason for leaving the EU, as many supporters want to take back control of U.K. borders in order to curb immigration. Those that wish to stay in the EU say there are severe short-term economic consequences that would make trade difficult and slow the economy. Even President Obama recently said that if there is a Brexit, the U.K. would go to the “back of the queue” in American trade deals.

While debate and speculation is running rampant, markets are watching the British Pound closely. Last week U.S. indices tracked and moved with the Pound tick for tick, showing that traders are very concerned about the upcoming vote.

So how can you profit

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