US Economy

  • 24 May
    As Credit Growth Slows, The First Recession Bell Tolls

    As Credit Growth Slows, The First Recession Bell Tolls

    • The economy can only grow as fast as productivity in the long term.
    • U.S. real GDP growth has been around 2% in the last 8 years while productivity growth has lingered at 0.5%.
    • Therefore, 75% of economic growth is under the influence of credit. Credit expansion is slowing down and turning negative.

    Introduction

    What do you do when your neighbor, that you know makes the same amount of money as you do, buys a Porsche, puts a big pool in their garden, remodels and refurnishes their house, and throws big parties to brag about it? More →

  • 10 May
    The Trouble The Market Refuses To See

    The Trouble The Market Refuses To See

    • GDP growth is at three year lows, car sales have dropped 11%, and the biggest sector contributing to new employment is about to go into oversupply.
    • The FED is in a stalemate situation. It should raise interest rates and deleverage, but it’s already too late as the economy, government, and population is hooked on low interest rates.

    Introduction

    The market’s behavior reminds me of the three wise monkeys. One doesn’t see, the other doesn’t speak, and the third doesn’t hear. The VIX index, a measure of market expectations of near-term volatility conveyed by S&P 500 stock index option prices, indicates that investors expect stability and didn’t even react to the bad news coming from the automotive industry, jobs, and a very important bankruptcy. More →

  • 21 Apr
    Are We Already In A New Bear Market?

    Are We Already In A New Bear Market?

    • The biggest investor of them all just said that he will start cashing out. Hopefully, this won’t lead to a bear market, but it will certainly put the brakes on further growth.
    • Economic signals are mixed, the outlook is uncertain and as much as the low unemployment rate is positive, historically, that isn’t a good sign for the future.
    • As always, we’ll discuss what to do in this environment.

    Introduction

    It seems that the S&P 500 peaked on March 1, 2017. More →

  • 19 Apr
    The Next Bear Market Is Coming. Here’s Where It Will Start.

    The Next Bear Market Is Coming. Here’s Where It Will Start.

    • $2 billion a day flows into Vanguard to be mindlessly invested in the market through index funds.
    • When the only reason people invest is because staying on the sidelines means getting sore while others get rich, it usually spells trouble ahead.
    • When the investors plowing $2 billion per day understand what are they buying at extreme valuations, the next bear market will arrive and it will be terrible as the buying reverses to selling.

    Introduction

    A recent The New York Times article described how Vanguard, the $4.2 trillion mutual fund, is the fastest growing fund due to the attractiveness of passive investment vehicles and the average 0.12% fee the fund charges. The low fee is something I applaud as I strongly believe fees in the financial world should be minimal or performance related where nothing is paid if the manager doesn’t deliver. More →

  • 13 Apr
    Why You Should Consider Defined Benefit Pension Plans Before Investing

    Why You Should Consider Defined Benefit Pension Plans Before Investing

    • By adjusting a few percentage points on expected returns and discount rates, unfunded amounts become huge.
    • It’s essential to check the possible future pension obligations of your investments as they can easily cost you your returns. I’ll show a possible impact on General Electric.
    • If you have a defined benefit plan of any kind, don’t take it for granted. The only certain retirement income is the one you provide by yourself.

    Introduction

    A good way to see what’s going on in the pension fund industry is to analyze the 50 largest defined pension plans of the S&P 500 through Goldman Sachs’s 2016 Pension Review. More →

  • 12 Apr
    How To Prepare For Anything The Economy Throws At You

    How To Prepare For Anything The Economy Throws At You

    • All stocks will rise with a rising tide, therefore it’s wise to buy those stocks that won’t fall off a cliff in a recession.
    • The usual suspects—like consumer staples, utilities, and healthcare—are good ideas, but not at any price.
    • Bonds are close to becoming a win win situation.

    Introduction

    Yesterday we analyzed the FED’s latest meeting minutes, and saw how when the FED applies historical probability calculations to their own estimations, the result is that anything can happen.

    The FED itself stated that, in the next few years, economic growth could be anywhere between -0.5% and 4%, unemployment between 2% and 7%, and inflation between 1% and 3% with a 70% confidence interval. A 70% confidence interval means that there is a 30% chance economic indicators end up outside the above mentioned ranges. More →

  • 28 Mar
    Triggering The Next Recession – The Automotive Industry

    Triggering The Next Recession – The Automotive Industry

    • The automotive industry makes up 2.5% of GDP, but its discretionary nature is what makes it important.
    • Car loan delinquencies are rising, sales are starting to get stretched from a credit perspective, and higher interest rates won’t help.
    • There is no risk of a financial crisis arising from the automotive industry, but it’s very likely that the industry will lead the economy into a healthy recession.

    Introduction

    In a recent article, I elaborated on the difference between having a static or a dynamic view of the markets and how not thinking ahead can be very dangerous. I used the total amount of car loans outstanding to point out how things have changed in the past, i.e. car sales increased due to low interest rates, and how things will change in the future, i.e. interest rates will increase and lower car sales. More →

  • 20 Mar
    Is This The Beginning Of The End For The Era Of Financial Engineering?

    Is This The Beginning Of The End For The Era Of Financial Engineering?

    • Most developed world economies can’t continue to grow without financial engineering.
    • However, inflation forced tightening will eventually have a significant impact on credit.
    • This will only lead to more accommodation and toward an eventual crash, so be prepared.

    Introduction

    Each significant historical bear market has an initial trigger. Weak home and car sales killed the 2003 – 2007 bull market, while the realization that stock valuations had gone too far initiated the bear market in March 2000.

    But what will trigger the next bear market? Well, there’s a great possibility that it will be monetary tightening. Perhaps it won’t be the latest quarter percentage point rate increase, but it will probably be one of the next rate hikes. More →

  • 08 Mar
    Inflation Has Arrived – Here’s What That Could Mean For Markets

    Inflation Has Arrived – Here’s What That Could Mean For Markets

    • After 7 years of enjoying interest rates close to zero, the party is over.
    • There are several scenarios that can develop, but the long-term outcome is clear.
    • In the short term, higher interest rates should increase demand for the dollar and U.S. assets, so we could see a higher S&P 500 in combination with higher interest rates.

    Introduction

    For the past year I have been writing about how things are bound to change when inflation finally arrives. Well, inflation has arrived and it’s quickly going higher which means that we’ll have to start talking in nominal and real returns, the FED will be forced to take action no matter the economic environment, and it will have significant repercussions on the economy and markets.

    Usually when I’ve written about inflation, it was about something that will happen somewhere in the future. Now that inflation is finally here, I’ll discuss what will happen in the short term. More →

  • 24 Feb
    Goldman Sachs Is Probably Right But Is It Worth The Risk?

    Goldman Sachs Is Probably Right But Is It Worth The Risk?

    • Goldman Sachs recommends being overweight U.S. equities because of expected loose fiscal policies and because, as they have stated, valuations don’t matter.
    • Goldman expects a 3% yearly return on a moderate risk portfolio.
    • I’ll touch on what the average Goldman client is risking for their 3% yearly return.

    Introduction

    Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) recently released its 2017 market outlook. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the outlook is positive. It’s in their interest for stocks and the economy to continue to thrive as GS makes its money from IPO commissions, asset management fees, etc.

    Despite the conflict of interest, their positive outlook will most probably be correct at the end of 2017, but there is something more important than being right or wrong on a yearly forecast.

    Today we’ll discuss Goldman’s view and analyze the possible impacts on our portfolios. More →

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