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Macro (118)

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The Future U.S. Consumer

Back in the 1990's, we as Managers were trained in racial diversity and businesses began their slow and gradual integration for the Hispanic community (Spanish calls center workers, select "5" for Spanish on automated phone services, packaging with alternate language, etc.). The CBO had already made the predictions of the shift in U.S. ethnicity and companies had to prepare. Fast forward 10 or 25 years from now now and just what will be the face of the consumer ahead?  What about job growth, income growth and how many older Americans will fall off of the economic spending gap?

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Russian Stocks - Blood In The Streets

Russia's central bank raised interest rates last Friday from 9.5% to 10.5% in an effort to support the falling currency and battle inflation.  When that did nothing, they shocked markets by raising it again overnight from 10.5% to a whopping 17% in what some are calling an emergency move.  This was their sixth interest rate hike this year to support the…

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According to Ashraf Laidi:  The following sobering analysis on the S&P500 reinforces our expectations that recent record highs in US equity indices will not be revisited before at least six weeks.

A decline of at least 10% is expected to follow.

-        Last week’s 3.6% decline in the S&P500 single-handedly erased all of the prior seven weeks’ consecutive gains.

The last time the S&P500 erased at least three weeks’ of consecutive gains was the week after the October 2007…

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New Households, Student Loans And Apartment REITs

More than half the new households formed in the next six years will be renters rather than homeowners, according to a new report by the Urban Institute. But there aren’t nearly enough rental units to keep up with demand.

The result will be (is) low vacancy rates and higher rents, alongside stagnant incomes. Renter incomes are on average only 70% of homeowner incomes and add to that wide spread student loan debt and you have a good investment I believe will continue to profit (and pass on any interest rate hikes to their tenants).  This is not a short term blip on the radar screen either (see table below).  While everyone on CNBS (sic) will be cheering to buy builders, I will be watching apartment REITs for my IRA account. …

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Energy Contagion - The Big Unknown

Indeed, I've read much concern over this area as oil collapsed so it does merit a warning.  From ZeroHedge:

The S&P 500 Energy sector stocks are down over 12% year-to-date, tumbling over 3% today to fresh 20-month lows. The spread (or risk) of high-yield energy credits surged again today, breaking above 850bps for the first time... The overall high-yield credit market is being dragged wider by this contagion as hedgers try to contain the collapse that is possible. For now,…

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Admin

State Revenue Generation by Company

Came across this interesting map of the largest revenue generating corporation by state and found

it somewhat interesting.  Living in Texas, I'm not surprised to see Exxon as our largest revenue generator (we do have around 30 refineries) but Archer Daniels Midland in Illinois?  I lived there for over 50 years and never knew they were located in Illinois nor met anyone who worked there.  Oklahoma it's Loves travel stops and country stores?  Alrightee then.  I wonder how many tax breaks these companies receive to retain their corporate offices there?  I wonder how many Americans they employ.  Uh oh, I better stop before I get political here.  Enjoy (click on map to…

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Countries Hurt By Lower Crude Oil

As the price of oil extends a free fall that began this summer, countries around the world that rely on oil revenues are bracing for an imminent economic and budget hit.  The drop is widening budget gaps in the Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain that rely heavily on oil to pay government services.

With oil and gas production accounting for some 70% of Russia's government spending, Moscow also faces a big shortfall—after budgeting based on $100-a-barrel oil for 2015. Russia's economic growth was already slowing before the plunge in oil prices. Trade sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe—in response to the…

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Lower Oil Spawns Numerous Opportunities

As many Western economies are seemingly slowing down again, with most of them still struggling with stubbornly high unemployment levels, they will only benefit from the current sharp drop in oil prices which will stimulate the global economy. Moreover, countries now have the opportunity to replenish stocks and protect themselves against future price hikes. Stockpiling begs the question: how long will prices remain relatively low compared to recent years? Will they fall further? $60 would certainly kick start substantial economic activity or will supply be rained back?

In the past, we have seen the US and its Western partners put pressure on OPEC, and the world's only swing producer Saudi Arabia, to increase supply so as to lower prices or maintain price stability. Are we about to see them…

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Are Profit Margins Sustainable: RBC

Stock markets have enjoyed a banner half-decade, forcefully reclaiming the ground lost to the financial crisis, and then some. This vigorous performance has occurred thanks, above all else, to two key enablers: surging earnings and recovering valuations. On the surface, there is nothing especially questionable about either. Earnings naturally rise as economies grow, and valuations recover as risk aversion fades.

However, a closer examination reveals a significant vulnerability within this cozy equation. Corporate earnings growth has been, in a sense, too good – persistently outpacing both revenues and the economy. This has driven profit margins to multi-decade highs.

Worryingly, profit margins have long been assumed to be mean-reverting, arguing that these juicy gains may…

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Zero Growth In 4Q For Germany? Dark Skies For Europe

If Germany is the European leader, one can easily see how this bodes for the rest across the pond as well as DEMAND for goods and services coming out of the U.S.

According to Reuters Ifo economist Klaus Wohlrabe said on Monday he expected zero growth in the fourth quarter in Germany and that there were almost no bright spots for German industry at present.  "Things have not gone well for German industry and there are no bright spots for industry," he said. (click chart to enlarge)

Business sentiment darkened in October for a sixth month running, according to…

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Admin

Take A Moment To Review

Let’s take a moment and put the market’s current trading action into perspective. Earlier this year bullish sentiment reached levels not seen in years or even decades depending upon data source. Market volatility had also fallen to levels not seen in years as the market was steadily making new all-times highs. S&P 500 actually went 63 trading days without a 1% percent daily move higher or lower. A feat last accomplished in 1995. And it has been more than three years without a 10% or greater S&P 500 correction. This is four times the average duration of time between corrections. Not to mention the market shrugged off tensions in Ukraine, Ebola in West Africa, the rise of ISIS in the Middle East, slowing global growth concerns and the Fed slowly easing up on stimulus. Honestly the market had gotten ahead of itself and was in need of a cool-off period. More likely than not, that is what it is doing.

Yes, weak economic data out of Asia and Europe is a concern as…

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Admin

Five Reasons To Fear Deflation

The deflation scare is back, as Jon Hilsenrath and Brian Blackstone report on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. It’s worth taking a moment to contemplate why deflation is such a bad thing. After all, falling prices sound appealing to consumers, especially compared with the alternative of higher prices.

So why worry?

Here are five…

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Admin

Time To Get Back In Russia?

As the old saying goes, 'buy' when stocks are hated and there's blood in the streets but for the Russian market, one might want to sit on their hands before buying the Russian ETF RSX until Mr. Putin becomes more "market friendly".

It would seem Putin’s dream of making Russia one of the world’s five biggest economies by 2020 is now in ruins, according to…

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Admin

China On Margin; Oh My

China traders on margin accounts is a thought both wildly exciting, yet utterly terrifying at the same time.  Even more so in the wake of $10 billion in fraudulent currency trades discovered just last week. 

Chinese markets have had a long standing reputation as being nothing more than unmonitored casinos plagued with corruption and insider trading.  What could possibly go wrong?

According to the WSJ, the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock…

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Admin

If The Scots Divorce, It Could Easily Bode For More

Polls released this week showed for the first time that a majority – an extremely small majority, but a majority nonetheless – of Scots favor independence, although other polls suggest the no camp remains in the lead. A poll is not the election, which will be held Sept. 18, but it is still a warning that something extraordinary might happen very soon. The political union between Scotland and England might be abolished after 300 years. The implications of this are enormous and generally ignored.

Obviously, this raises a host of question about how such a divorce might take place, whether the expected time frame – divorce by 2016 – will be adhered to, and how state property might be divided. It also raises the question of Scottish foreign policy. Will Scotland remain in NATO? Will it have membership…

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Admin

A.I. Globalization And The Future Of Managers

Economic growth has traditionally been fueled by two things: higher productivity and more workers. But productivity growth has been disappointing in recent years, and, more important, the population is beginning to age: the United Nations predicts that, for the world as a whole, the number of people employed will increase by just 0.03% a year over the next 50 years compared with 1.8% in the past 50.

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Admin

The U.S. posted a record cross-border investment outflow in June as China and Japan reduced their holdings of Treasuries and private investors abroad sold bonds and notes.

The total net outflow of long-term U.S. securities and short-term funds such as bank transfers was $153.5 billion, after an inflow of $33.1 billion the previous month, the Treasury Department said in a report today. The June figure, and $40.8 billion in net selling of Treasury bonds and notes by private investors in June, were the largest on record, the Treasury said.

“Right at the beginning of June, you had a very strong sell-off of Treasuries and that’s what frightened a lot of private investors,” Gennadiy Goldberg, U.S. strategist at TD Securities USA LLC in New York, said by phone. “As yields stayed lower in subsequent months, some of the…

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Admin
The last few decades a shift took place and Loan Officers have been paid minimal base salaries with commission; obviously an incentive to originate and reap better pay if/when their loans closed. You weeded out the dredges with ease. In this day and age, I would not be too surprised to see an expansion in "internship" positions across the nation. 'We will train you as you go. Prove yourself and then maybe we'll pay you.' Smart for business (rarely are interns paid any compensation) but very sad for the entry level worker.

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S&P on Income Inequality, Education, Jobs and Taxes

The topic of income inequality and its effects has been the subject of countless analysis stretching back generations and crossing geopolitical boundaries. Despite the tendency to speak about this issue in moral terms, the central questions are economic ones: Would the U.S. economy be better off with a narrower income gap? And, if an unequal distribution of income hinders growth, which solutions could do more harm than good, and which could make the economic pie bigger for all?

Given the decades--indeed, centuries--of debate on this subject, it comes as no surprise that the answers are complex. A degree of inequality is to be expected in any market economy. It can keep the economy functioning effectively, incentivizing investment and expansion--but too much inequality can undermine growth.

Higher levels of income inequality increase political pressures, discouraging trade, investment, and hiring. Keynes first showed that income inequality can lead affluent households…

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