Tag Archives: economy

Around the Web; Economic Data Fest

Well, we have been thinking that the strength in USD could start to take the top off the party here in the US.  Today’s data, combined with the Semi Equip. book-to-bill data is backing that up.  The caveat is that no one day, week or month should be taken in a vacuum.  But still…

Around the Web

  • Saving Credit (PDF) by one of my personal heroes, Raghuram Rajan, head of the Reserve Bank of India.
  • Updated Thanksgiving week breakdown from QuantEdges.  Just as one little human in the machine, I have noticed over my years in the market that Black Friday almost always seems to be bullish.

 

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Around the Web

  • Crude Oil?  Jeff Saut’s latest note (Nov. 17)

 

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More Good News for Employment

Guest Post by Tom McClellan

UMich Sentiment versus unemployment rate
November 14, 2014

The data on the U.S. unemployment rate have been getting progressively better over recent months, either because of or in spite of the government’s efforts, depending on one’s viewpoint.  And if this week’s chart is to be believed, then the data should continue to get better over the next several months.

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Gold, Inflation Expectations and Economic Confidence

Guest Post by Steve Saville

As a result of what happened during just one of the past twenty decades (the 1970s), most people now believe that a large rise in “price inflation” or inflation expectations is needed to bring about a major rally in the gold price. This impression of gold is so ingrained that it has persisted even though the US$ gold price managed to rise by 560% during 2001-2011 in parallel with only small increases in “price inflation” (based on the CPI) and inflation expectations. The reality is that gold tends to perform very well during periods of declining confidence in the financial system, the economy and/or the official money, regardless of whether the decline in confidence is based on expectations of higher “inflation” or something else entirely.

Inflation expectations are certainly part of the gold story, but only to the extent that they affect the real interest rate. For example, a 2% rise in inflation expectations would only result in a more bullish backdrop for gold if it were accompanied by a rise of less than 2% in the nominal interest rate. For another example, a 1% decline in inflation expectations would not result in a more bearish backdrop for gold if it were accompanied by a decline of more than 1% in the nominal interest rate.

Other parts of the gold story include indicators of economic confidence and financial-market liquidity, such as credit spreads and the yield curve.

That large rises in the gold price are NOT primarily driven by increasing fear of “inflation” is evidenced by the fact that the large multi-year gold rallies of 2001-2006 and 2008-2011 began amidst FALLING inflation expectations. These rallies were set in motion by substantial stock market declines and plummeting confidence in central banks, commercial banks and the economy’s prospects. Even during the 1970s, the period when the gold price famously rocketed upward in parallel with increasing fear of “inflation”, the gold rally was mostly about declining real interest rates and declining confidence in both monetary and fiscal governance. After all, if the official plan to address a “price inflation” problem involves fixing prices and distributing “Whip Inflation Now” buttons, and at the same time the central bank and the government are experimenting with Keynesian demand-boosting strategies, then there’s only one way for economic confidence to go, and that’s down.

Since mid-2013 there have been a few multi-month periods when it appeared as if economic confidence was turning down, but on each occasion the downturn wasn’t sustained. This is due in no small part to the seemingly unstoppable advance in the stock market. In the minds of many people the stock market and the economy are linked, with a rising stock market supposedly being a sign of future economic strength. This line of thinking is misguided, but regardless of whether it is right or wrong the perception is having a substantial effect on the gold market.

For now, the economic confidence engendered to a large extent by the rising stock market is putting irresistible downward pressure on the gold price.

Around the Web

  • Across the Curve channels Buffalo Springfield and sees the commodity Armageddon as bond friendly, to the point where Yellen can take the rate hike for 2015 off the table.  Who’d be surprised about that?
  • Reformed Broker on 9 surprising things the subject of my favorite book on trading/investing/markets said.

 

Economic Snapshot

Excerpted from this week’s Notes From the Rabbit Hole, NFTRH 314:

Note; the post also appears at nftrh.com, which is 90+% ready for prime time!

Our view has been that a stronger US dollar would eventually start to eat away at corporate results, especially in the manufacturing sector and at US based companies with a global customer base. The decline in revenues thus far is something to be watched because where revenues go, earnings eventually follow.

[edit: the segment previous to this one reviewed a contrast between strong earnings and sagging revenues with companies that have reported earnings thus far]

An article by Doug Short published at Business Insider on Friday illustrates how the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) called for a recession in 2011 and was promptly made to eat that call first by Operation Twist and then by balls out QE3. All the while as ZIRP has quietly whirred along in the background for 6 years.

ECRI’s weekly Leading Index is flashing warnings again…

ecri

…while the St. Louis Fed’s Leading Index (incl. ISM data, Treasury spreads and State level housing permits and unemployment data) continues to slog around its 30 year average after the big recovery out of 2009.

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Negative Feedback

Here is some feedback a republished post of mine (Market Summary; Saturday Morning Cartoons) got at a leading gold website from a reader.

“The other support has been the very real economic recovery in the US…”

This is so completely wrong, its scary.

Anyone who makes this claim has absolutely no credibility, and no one should listen to them, and definitely don’t base any investment decisions on their advice or analysis.

The reader cherry picked something positive I wrote about the US economy and left out mitigating information that was right in the same segment…

Deflationary and economic growth troubles across the globe are blamed for the recent strength in the US dollar and to a degree that holds merit.  The other support has been the very real economic recovery in the US (beginning with the Semiconductor sector, which NFTRH 312 looked into in depth last weekend) born of very unreal (i.e. unnatural and unsustainable) policy inputs (ref. the chart in this post showing the S&P 500 tended all the way by supportive policy).

Naturally, it stands to reason that if dollar compromising policy is promoted to keep assets aloft, then a strong dollar is unwelcome because not only would it begin to eat away at exporting sectors like manufacturing, but it would also make assets less expensive.  But that should be a good thing, no?  Declining prices in things like oil, food and services?  Not on the one-way street that is our current system of Inflation onDemand.

By the way, I received an email yesterday from a biiwii reader who has grown tired of the gold websites and “the same old arguments”.  He also notes his boots on the ground information that is very similar to mine with respect to the booming Semiconductor industry.  I am in Massachusetts and he is in California.  These are the hotbeds of the Semiconductor equipment sector.

He notes that his scrap metal vendor (hey, those guys are right there in real time in the manufacturing cycle) “has never seen the kind of rapid growth that he is seeing now” and that rents, traffic and commercial property are booming and that the scrap vendor’s customers (major Semi and machining companies) advise him to keep the bins coming for the next 4 years.  He also notes that this is exactly the kind of talk he heard in 2006, as the last cycle began the process of topping out.

But my point with this post is not to cry over some negative feedback.  It is to sort of shake my head publicly about how some people refuse to open their eyes while digging in to a failed view point no matter how long its failure persists.

I understand that this commenter could be from a depressed region not seeing the boom as opposed to putting his fingers in his ears and going “la la la la la…” every time someone puts forth contrary information to his world view, but here are some facts…

  1. We noted in real time that the Semiconductor equipment industry was ramping up nearly 2 years ago and that its implication would be coming strength in US manufacturing.
  2. A long streak of uninterrupted manufacturing strength followed.
  3. Improvement in employment data followed that.
  4. Every step of the way we have noted that the economy is strong, the stock market was not over valued (until recently) and that it was all built on unsustainable fundamentals (i.e. policy inputs)

I mean, right there in the very same paragraph that the commenter cherry picked was the mitigating discussion about lack of sustainability.  I truly believe that something about human nature makes many people wholly unequipped to deal with financial markets in a rational manner.