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economy (24)

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,…

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Admin

Is The Fed About To Experience A Repeat Of 2016?

In the most recent Summary of Economic Projections, Fed officials penciled in three 25bp rate hikes for 2017. The reality, however, could be very different. We all remember how “four” became “one” in 2016. The median dots are neither a promise nor an official forecast. As 2016 progressed, forecasts associated with a lower path of SEP “dots” evolved as the consensus view of policymakers. Will the same happen this year? I don’t think so; it is hard to see the Fed on pause for another twelve months.

As a starting point, I think it best to assume the US economy is near full-employment. But the US economy was near full-employment at this time last year as well. I think the key difference between then and now is that then the after-effect of the oil price slide and dollar surge placed a drag on the US economy sufficient to ease hiring pressure. At the same time, labor force participation perked up, setting the stage for a flat unemployment rate for most of…

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Admin

Is The Stock Market Rally Over?

As technicians battle over whether our "hated" seven year rally still has legs, I continue to return and ask myself "has anything truly blown up?".  I do personally believe the US Dollar will continue it strength and that will continue to put pressure on commodities, dividend payers and discretionary.  Financials and insurers will push higher.  Can the rest of the boat survive?  Are earnings guidance showing a 'rosey' picture of the future?  Will Trump win?  Too many unknowns for me.  This post, using monthly charts, brings me back to earth.  While I have no need to catch the absolute top, it gives me specific areas which need to be defined.  I remain cautious and yes, have numerous short positions as well as…

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Admin

We’ll start with the obvious: the number one export for many countries here is crude oil or related petroleum products. Middle Eastern countries made up a significant portion of global oil export revenues during 2015 with shipments valued at $325 billion or 41.3% of global crude oil exports.

Saudi Arabia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iran, and Oman were all among the top 15 exporters of crude oil in 2015. Russia and Kazakhstan, countries on the Central Asian part of the map, were also members of that same group.

Regimes in the region found that there were many other corollary benefits from this economic might. Unrest could be stifled by rising wealth, and these countries would also have more influence than they otherwise would in global affairs. Saudi Arabia is a good example in both cases, though a…

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Admin

The Global Economy: April 2016

The global economy has regained some composure, according to asset management firm Schroders. In their view, markets have regained a risk appetite following action by central banks, the normalization of commodity prices, and a lack of materialization for tail risks such as a U.S. recession or a Chinese hard-landing:

While volatility is indeed near its YTD low with the benchmark VIX down 32% since the start of the year, we would point out that this is potentially some calm before the storm.

Here are some upcoming waves, and we’ll see how they break:

Earnings and Buybacks: The blended earnings decline for the S&P 500 so far in 2016 Q1 is -8.9%, according to Factset.…

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Admin

On a Letter from an Expatriate

A friend I haven’t heard from in many years since he left the USA wrote me. He closed the letter in an unusual way, saying:

PS — USA has gone completely bonkers these days? or what the heck is going on over there? would love to pick your mind over a glass of wine. someday!

I’m not intending on writing on politics as a regular habit at Aleph Blog, and most of what I am going to say is economics-related, so please bear with me.  Hopefully this will get it out of my system.

To my friend,

There are a lot of frustrated people in the US.  Though you’ve been gone a long time, you used to know me pretty well; after all, I trained you on economic matters.

Let me give a list of reasons why I think people are frustrated, then explain how that affects their political…

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Admin

Byron Wiens Top 10 Surprises For 2016

Byron R. Wien, Vice Chairman of Multi-Asset Investing at Blackstone, today issued his list of Ten Surprises for 2016. This is the 31st year Byron has given his views on a number of economic, financial market and political surprises for the coming year. Byron defines a “surprise” as an event that the average investor would only assign a one out of three chance of taking place but which Byron believes is “probable,” having a better than 50% likelihood of happening.

Byron started the tradition in 1986 when he was the Chief U.S. Investment Strategist at Morgan Stanley. Byron joined Blackstone in September 2009 as a senior advisor to both the firm and its clients in analyzing economic,…

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Admin

While main stream media does their level best to keep us hugging our equities, they seem to ignore the fact that quantitative easing ran the market up from 2009 and while the economy has come a long way since the bottom, maybe, just maybe, it's strong enough to sustain us, but not equities at elevated levels.

Federal Reserve officials have signaled they think the economy is robust enough to withstand a round of interest-rate rises starting this year. But the bond market still seems skeptical.

While yields on short-term Treasury notes have started moving higher in anticipation of an interest-rate increase as early as September, yields on longer-term debt have remained stubbornly low. That is a sign that many investors are still doubtful about the health of the economy, and the ability of the Fed to keep raising rates without jeopardizing growth.

On Tuesday, yields on short-term U.S. Treasury notes rose…

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Admin

Saw this and had to share it because clearly, there are enormous masses out there that just are not feeling giddy over the economic "recovery".  Trickle down effect?  Yeah, o.k.   Sure, the stock market is enjoying all time new highs but is the economy truly humming along?  The numbers show obviously not for the majority.  Bribe your kids.  Do whatever it takes.  They'll need it later, even more than they need it today.

From Ritholtz:

The economy is, in a word, “lumpy.” It is strong in some regions, anemic in others. Strength by economic sector varies widely. There are myriad reasons for this: Some parts of the country were much harder hit by the real estate collapse; some sectors naturally rebound more…

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Admin

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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Admin

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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Admin

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

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

Solar Short Worth A Shot

The right shoulder of a possible head-and-shoulders top in CSIQ seems to have formed, rebuffed at the 200d with a dropping 20d SMA (a sign of sellers there).  Risk is defined with a cover alert (I don't use stops) above this weeks high.  (click chart to enlarge)

Based on weak economic conditions both here and abroad, I don't see solar sales taking off anytime soon......without further government subsidies.  Even then consider stagnating wages and new jobs being at the high and low end of the spectrum, I just don't see a catalyst for these names to go higher at this juncture.

They're already ridiculously cheap right now.  Can you get any cheaper than free?

Already heavily shorted, your broker may have to track down shares to short - or buy…

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Admin

Jackson Hole 'Pop' Continues

Markets being forward looking, I believe we're seeing a snap back ahead of this weeks Jackson Hole meeting (Aug 21-23) where policymakers will discuss at length their thinking around the labor markets of major economies, perhaps dropping clues about the path for monetary policy in the months ahead.

The spotlight will be on Janet Yellen, who will speak on Friday in her first appearance at Jackson Hole as Fed chair.

Most will recall Ben Bernanke two years ago that paved the way for an unprecedented $85 billion per month stimulus plan.

While most don't expect anything spectacular out of the Fed…

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Admin

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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Admin

Stock Buybacks; Sustainable Smoke And Mirrors

My simplistic view of the stock market, the one my muddled brain is able to wrap around, is to imagine that of the waterfalls at the Continental Divide at Glacier National Park in Montana.  Numerous rivers, all converging into to one.  Hedge funds, pension funds, investment firms, your own 401k, option flows, you name it.........and share buybacks.

Throughout the recovery, the amount of cash being held on corporate balance sheets was in some instances, astounding, leaving many investors wondering if/when the cash would be deployed. 

Well if you haven't noticed, they have been deploying more and more.  Just imagine the many streams you see in this image to the right.  One is M&A which can be the acquisition of a company to compliment ones existing…

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Admin

Wage Hike Ahead? Small Business Survey Suggests Yes

A view of the the NFIB survey and wage growth gives a hint of what may lie ahead in the wage sector.  Consumer spending dropped $7 in June which surprised many. 

(CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE)

While Americans' spending in June was generally on par or lower than their average May spending, this month's $7 drop is one of the largest recorded by Gallup during this time of year since 2008, when June spending fell by $10. The June 2008 spending average of $104 is still the highest average for that month in Gallup's six-year trend.

Can it be the new jobs being created (majority at the low end) is weighing on consumers pocketbook?  #shocker!  But what about the spending of the wealthy lifting all boats?  You know; that good old trickle down…

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Admin

The Bond Markets Pessimism Is Vindicated

I've been a close observer of the bond market for over 25 years, and it continues to amaze me with its ability to see the future of inflation and real economic growth. 
I've been featuring the above chart for a long time, using it to argue that the market was quite pessimistic about the prospects for economic growth. My theory is that real interest rates ought to track the market's expectations for real growth, and indeed they have. Real growth and growth expectations were very strong in the late 1990s, and real yields on TIPS were very high. Since then, the economy has slowed down and real yields have fallen. 5-yr real yields on TIPS have…

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