It All Went So Quickly

It seems a very long way from here, but it was only December 23rd when the economy was taken as “booming.” That was the day that excited economists under direct confirmation, allegedly, that this time was different. The Commerce Department had reported Q3 GDP up to 5%, raising estimates for business investment and consumer spending….


If Sentiment Were A Currency

The ECB having announced and then implemented at least some kind of QE plan, the entire economist community has adjusted their economic projections upward in uniform, flocking fashion. They haven’t had to make much of an adjustment because they never downgraded economic expectations much to begin with. That is why almost every news story about…


Is The Long Awaited Correction At Hand?

It’s been almost 4 years since the last 10% correction in US stock prices, one of the longest stretches on record. Historically, on average, we get a 10% correction about every 18 months. More severe bear markets, declines of 20% or more, are associated with recessions which are hard to predict and fairly rare. Corrections…


Economy and Stocks

It is often very easy to fixate on the S&P 500 as if it were the only current proxy of the broad universe of stocks. Like the Dow Jones Industrial Average before it, the 500 has attained synonymy with stocks as it is the most widely publicized and recognized value. But just like the DJIA,…


Global Means Global; ‘Dollar’ Means Trouble

In addition, and very much related, to durable and capital goods disappointment, some major bellwether earnings have weighed on jubilation over the “robust” economy. Caterpillar in particular was troubling, but as the lineup of excuses expands, the idea of “decoupling” is now even more pronounced. So, in addition to the energy sector dragging down earnings,…


2014’s ‘Robust’ Jobs Market Produced No Wages, And Now No Spending

For all the hype about jobs and the booming (GDP) economy, the major portion of the retailer calendar around Christmas was a total bust. In many ways it was worse than last year, which emphasizes simply how the business “cycle” as it was understood in textbook economics no longer applies. The US economy, indeed the…


Stock Market ‘Dilemma’: Future Wage Growth Or Slashing Capex?

Turning attention to that last bastion of monetary surety, equities, the oil slump might be the greatest challenge yet to the non-stop stock escalator. Earnings especially for the S&P 500 are being revised lower as energy companies weigh on results. And while there may be a tendency to dismiss energy as its own problem, there…


The Expectations Gap

The stock market had a good week, up all four trading days, despite the continued mixed picture from the economy and earnings. Last week’s economic reports continued the recent pattern of some seemingly strong reports mixed with some pretty obviously weak ones. Retail sales were better than expected but the year over year core growth…


Finally Some Numerator

The official unemployment rate has been moving downward almost exclusively as the labor force shrinks so dramatically in proportion to the population. That wasn’t the intent for the design of the statistic, but the state of economic commentary being what it is has left most observers to draw their own conclusions (I think most unbiased…


Do You Feel Lucky?

Well, 2013 is in the books and it was a stellar year for anyone who had the moxy to ignore all the rules we’ve been taught about investing. Diversification? Didn’t need it last year. All you had to do was buy US stocks, the more speculative the better, and let it ride.  Bonds to reduce…