Consumer Prices Rise Most In 13 Years, Up 5% In May
We begin with last week’s surprising report on inflation in May, which saw consumer prices rise the most in 13 years.
Biden Unveils Record Budget & Massive Tax Increases
Late last week President Joe Biden unveiled his first federal budget proposal as president for fiscal year 2022, which begins on October 1.
Inflation Outlook, Consumer Spending Soars, Fed’s Surprise
There was the usual mish-mash of financial news last week, some good and some bad.
US Inflation Blows Past Expectations In April
The US inflation rate soared above all pre-report estimates in April, the Labor Department reported last Wednesday, to its highest level in 12 years.
US Birth & Fertility Rates Hit New Record Lows: Why?
The US Centers For Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that the US birth rate plunged for its sixth consecutive year in 2020. The US fertility rate also hit a new record low. Demographers are puzzled at this potentially troubling trend...
When Will Powell’s Fed Have To Blink On Policy?
It was ever so tempting to devote today’s letter to a discussion of President Biden’s latest massive government spending, which he proposed Wednesday night in his “First Hundred Days” speech before Congress.
Is Inflation Finally Back? Maybe, Maybe Not
Last week the Labor Department released its Consumer Price Index for March, and it was the highest monthly reading in more than eight years.
Biden Infrastructure Plan Will Hurt, Not Help, Economy
President Biden’s massive $2.25 trillion infrastructure bill is on the tracks, rolling toward what many in Washington believe will be speedy passage in the House and Senate.
More Reasons For Economic Optimism Just Ahead
A compelling argument can be made that the 21st century US economy has been a two-decade series of disappointments.
Government Could’ve Issued $20,000 Checks Instead Of Stimulus
The latest surveys show most Americans who are eligible to receive the new $1,400 stimulus checks included in President Biden’s latest $1.9 stimulus plan are in favor of the upcoming government payments.
US Economy Set To Soar - $2T Stimulus Is Bad Idea
Since the Commerce Department reported in late February that 4Q Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose a stronger than expected 4.1%, many mainstream forecasters have been raising their US growth projections for 2021.
Inflation May Finally Jump In 2021
Following the Great Recession and financial crisis in 2008-09, the Federal Reserve responded with unprecedented money creation, which was known as “Quantitative Easing.” Since then, the Fed has created trillions of dollars in new money, which mainstream economists were certain would lead to much higher inflation.
"SPACs" - Probably Best To Just Say NO
One of the most popular investment vehicles in recent years is the Special Purpose Acquisition Companies or “SPACs” as they’re commonly called. While SPACs have been around for years, they’ve increasingly become the investment model of choice for Wall Street firms and fund managers who promote them.
CBO: Economy Back To Pre-COVID Level By Mid-2021
The CBO said its latest forecasts are stronger because the recession in the first half of last year was not as severe as previously reported, and the recovery which began in the second half of 2020 has been stronger than previously estimated.
Overview: 2020 Economy Worst in 74 Years
We’ll touch on several bases today. We start with the latest news from the Commerce Department which just released its initial estimate of 4Q economic growth (or lack thereof). 2020 goes down as the worst economic year since the end of World War II.
Leading Forecaster: Higher Inflation, Market Correction Coming
Earlier this month, one of the leading global economic forecasting groups predicted inflation will rise, potentially significantly, later this year, and the stock market will react very negatively.
Biden’s $2 Trillion Stimulus Plan – Implications For The Economy
This enormous stimulus plan will have numerous effects on the economy, including the likely loss of millions of jobs, which the media doesn’t report, so that’s what we’ll talk about today.
Outlook 2021: Light At The End Of The Tunnel, Maybe
Over the holidays, I spent a lot of time reading forecasts for 2021 from leading economists, big banks, think tanks and other so-called experts. Coming off one of the most volatile economic years in history due to the coronavirus pandemic, I was very interested to see what forecasters were predicting for the New Year.
Never Before, Probably Never Again Milestones of 2020
Each January 1 as we turn the page to a new year, we are inundated with articles which summarize what important things happened in the outgoing year, both good and bad. I tend to avoid writing about such lists because we all know what happened last year.
US Poverty Rate Exploding - Parting Thoughts On 2020
With the COVID-19 pandemic spiking again, and with most federal stimulus programs having expired over the last several months, the US poverty rate is soaring at a rate never seen before. Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty over the last 5 months alone, since the government stimulus programs have largely ended.
Government Low-Balls Inflation, Fed Promises ZIRP For Years
In today’s letter, I’ll share my comments on several topics I find interesting. For starters, do you ever wonder why the official inflation statistics are so low, compared to what we see in the grocery store, what we pay for healthcare and the cost of housing, just to name a few?
Georgia Runoffs To Decide Direction Of The Country
The two Georgia Senate runoff races on January 5 will be among the most important elections in our lifetimes, whether you are a conservative or a liberal. As a result, enormous and unprecedented amounts of outside money are gushing into these runoffs.
Touching On Several National Issues of Interest Today
The media seems focused on President-elect Biden and his Cabinet and inner circle appointments, whether President Trump will leave the White House peaceably, coronavirus developments, the January 5 Senate runoff races in Georgia and which party will control the Senate.
New Retirement Bill Will Be Good News For Seniors
There is new reform legislation making its way through Congress which will significantly affect how many of us save for retirement and specifically how, and how much, we can contribute to our retirement accounts and at what ages. This is the most significant retirement saving reform legislation in years. I’ll break it all down for you below.
Gun Sales Break Records In 2020... But Why?
Gun sales in the US have gone through the roof in 2020, especially since the widespread protests turned violent last spring in many large cities across the US. Over three million more guns have been sold since March than occurred in the same period a year ago.
Two Huge Long-term Headwinds For US Economy
As long-time readers know, I tend to be upbeat about the economy and the stock and bond markets, and that has certainly proven to be the correct position to hold over the last 20-30 years.
Long Forgotten Economic & Market Threat - Inflation
The US inflation rate has hovered around 1.5% over the last decade, well below the Fed’s target rate of 2% most of the time. Such low inflation for such an extended stretch is quite unusual given historical economic relationships, especially with the economy strong and the unemployment rate near historic lows late last year and earlier this year before the pandemic hit.
Thoughts On The Economy & Soaring Bankruptcies
US Economy Suffered Record Losses in First Half 2020. August Jobs Report Came in Much Better Than Expected. Business Bankruptcies Jumped 26% in First Half 2020. Trump Boat Parades Across the Country on Saturday
A Big Change In Fed Monetary Policy? Not Really
The Federal Reserve convenes a major economic symposium in late August each year in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the popular ski resort. Lots of Fed officials, banking big-wigs and other financial market players attend each year, along with a collection of media correspondents who pay thousands of dollars to be there.
Is Our National Debt $26.7 Trillion Or Only $20 Trillion?
Our total national debt today is now $26.7 trillion, the largest ever, as reported by the Treasury Department and tracked by the US Debt Clock. There is no argument over that figure. However, our total national debt is broken down into two components: “Debt Held by the Public” and “Intra-Governmental Debt.”
Gold Is Soaring - Is Big Inflation Next?
There are numerous factors which can cause the price of gold to rise significantly, but I don’t believe inflation fears are the main driver behind gold’s recent surge. I believe it has much more to do with uncertainty and fears surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Brace Yourself For A Negative GDP Report On Thursday
The Commerce Department will release its first estimate of second quarter Gross Domestic Product on Thursday of this week, and it is widely expected to be really bad due to the economic lockdown earlier this year. Most forecasters expect 2Q GDP to be down 30-50%, making it the worst quarterly downturn since the Great Depression.
Gun Sales Skyrocketing, Big Banks Hoarding Cash - Why?
What we’re seeing in our big cities today is unprecedented. No one knows where this violence is headed, how to stop it, or when it will end. We’ve turned a new corner in our country, and I don’t think anyone knows for sure where it will lead us. It is certainly not a good direction.
National Debt Tops $26.5 Trillion, 2020 Deficit Could Hit $6 Trillion
I haven’t written about our national debt in some time, largely because I feel like a broken record no one wants to hear anymore. This year, however, we’ve seen our national debt explode as never before. For that reason, I feel obliged to bring it up once again.
Record June Jobs, But The Recession May Not Be Over
For the second month in a row, the Labor Department reported last week that the economy added a record number of new jobs in June, vastly outpacing forecasters’ pre-report estimates. This far better than expected report is leading many economists to refigure their growth forecasts higher for the second half of this year.
Predictions of Strong Economic Rebound Are Too Optimistic
Today, we’ll take a look at some of the rosy forecasts for second half US economic growth and why I think they could prove to be far too optimistic. Let’s get into the numbers.
Why Stocks Are Surging During COVID Crisis/Recession
I want to begin today by sharing with you the latest question I am getting over and over from colleagues and friends. That question is: How have the stock markets rallied to record or near-record highs in light of the terrible economic news due to the coronavirus crisis?
Are Negative Interest Rates Coming To The US?
There is a growing debate in financial circles over whether the US Federal Reserve should move to a negative interest rate policy in an effort to stimulate the economy during the coronavirus crisis. Even President Trump has said more than once in recent weeks that he favors negative interest rates and considers them a “gift.”
Are We Facing Inflation, Deflation Or Maybe Both?
With government spending clearly out of control and a budget deficit expected to top $4 trillion this year alone, more and more forecasters are warning that inflation is going to soar later this year and next.
Restructuring US Debt With Interest Rates At Record Lows
There is no shortage of negative economic and financial news that has been announced over the last week that I could continue to write about today. But the truth is, I’m tired of being all negative all the time. So today, I want to shift gears and tackle a topic that most Americans probably haven’t thought about, but one that I think we should.
Millions Of US Small Businesses May Never Reopen
While this may not come as a surprise, many US small businesses that are shuttered right now face a financial disaster. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly clear that millions of small businesses may not be able to reopen their doors when the economic lockdown ends.
US Farm Bankruptcies Surged Despite Trump Bailouts
American farmers faced a surge of bankruptcies in 2019, up 20%, despite aid efforts from Washington. The Trump administration allocated a record $28 billion in aid for farmers affected by his trade war with China in the past two years (more on this below), but bankruptcies were recorded at the highest level since 2011, according to a recent study by the American Farm Bureau.
US Birth Rate Falls 4th Straight Year - Should We Worry?
Forget those fears of a global “Population Bomb” and worldwide famine which were made popular several decades ago. While the world’s population is still growing, birth rates in most developed nations are falling, including the United States.
US Expansion To Continue In 2020, No Recession... Unless
With the year-end upon us, we are showered with economic and market forecasts for the New Year, as usual. Most of the forecasters I read expect the US economic expansion to continue next year, although many expect growth to continue to slow somewhat. Some I respect even predict the current unprecedented expansion will continue in 2021, thus further adding to the longest economic recovery ever recorded.
How The "SECURE Act" Will Affect Americans' Retirement
1. Overview – What is the “SECURE Act”? 2. The Retirement Savings Crisis in America 3. One Potentially Serious Knock on the SECURE Act 4. SECURE Act is Currently Tangled Up in the Senate
US Budget Deficit Spikes To $984 Billion In 2019, Up 26%
This is one of those weeks when there is seemingly a lot of news, but much of it – like the ongoing effort to impeach President Trump – is just simply “noise” that is not worthy of discussion herein. As a result, we’ll hopscotch through several topics of interest today that I think are worth talking about.
ISM Manufacturing Index Now In Recession Territory
As regular readers know, I have been very positive about the economy in recent years, unlike many financial writers who have been predicting a recession for the last two years or longer – the so-called “PermaBears.”
Recession Ahead? Oops, US Consumers Didn't Get The Memo
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Left and the mainstream media believe the only way to get President Trump out of office next year is a US recession. They are increasingly stoking fears of a recession next year, and that led to some wild markets last week.
China Needs to be Punished -- The Question Is, How?
I’ve written a lot about our trade war with China in recent weeks. I’ve made clear I’m not a fan of President Trump’s tariffs. Fortunately, the US Trade Representative announced today that most of the new tariffs on China, which were set to go in place on September 1, have been postponed until December 15.
Trump & Democrats Reach Budget Deal, Suspend Debt Ceiling
I wrote most of this E-Letter over the weekend and finished it yesterday morning. In it, I predicted that the ongoing political battle over raising the debt ceiling would continue until the last minute – sometime in September or October – when the government would run out of money and risk a dangerous default on its debt. In recent years, that’s what almost always happened.
Understanding Facebook's Upcoming "LIBRA" Currency
By now I’m sure you have at least heard something about the new “Libra” currency that Facebook plans to roll out in 2020. There are those who welcome the new currency and believe there’s a chance it could rival the US dollar in the future.
America is Not Aging Gracefully-Implications For the Economy
The average American is getting older as Baby Boomers hit retirement age and our national birthrate continues to fall, according to new data from the US Census Bureau. The median American was 38.2years old in 2018, the Census Bureau said, up from 37.2 years in 2010.
Odds For Fed Rate Cut July 31 Just Hit 100% - Unbelievable!
Let me say at the outset, I’ve never seen anything remotely like this in my almost 40 years of following the Fed. Based on Fed Funds futures (CME FedWatch), the odds of a Fed interest rate cut on July 31 have surged to 100%. This is unbelievable based on what the Fed has said since its most recent policy meeting on June 18-19.
Did President Trump Make the Right Decision on Iran?
As you know, President Trump decided last Thursday not to go ahead with plans to bomb multiple Iranian military facilities, in response to Iran’s downing of an expensive US military drone last week. Mr. Trump initially received widespread, bipartisan praise for his last-minute decision not to bomb Iran. Even liberal news outlets praised him initially.
Household Wealth Hit New Record $108.6 Trillion in 1Q
The Federal Reserve reported last Thursday that US household wealth hit a new high of $108.6 trillion in the 1Q. As I reported two weeks ago, we knew the number hit a new high, but we didn’t know exactly how high until last week. As we now know, the increase in household wealth in the 1Q was the largest ever recorded.
Surprise: Trump Orders Tariffs on All Imports From Mexico
Today, we’ll look at last week’s second estimate of 1Q Gross Domestic Product. While the report showed the economy still growing by just over 3%, some of the internals of the report are troubling and suggest the economy will slow significantly just ahead.
Record Household Debt, Yet Balance Sheets Are Strong
Today we’ll look at new Fed data which showed that US household debt hit a new record high in the first quarter, marking the 19th consecutive quarterly increase in debt held by American families. However, that same report noted that household balance sheets improved over the same period. How can that be, you might ask? I’ll explain as we go along.
Understanding the Greenspan, Bernanke, Now Trump "Put"
In talking with clients, colleagues and friends, it occurs to me that a lot of adults (especially investors) have heard terms like the “Greenspan Put” or the “Bernanke Put,” but I also observed that most people don’t really know what they mean.
Australia's Economic Miracle - 28 Years Without a Recession!
If the US economy remains in positive territory this month and next, as looks increasingly likely, this will be the longest economic recovery in America’s history. Expect a lot of celebrations just ahead. While that will be a true milestone, consider that Australia has not had a recession in almost 28 years!
GDP Much Stronger Than Expected in First Quarter
The US economy has a tendency to lag in the 1Q following big holiday spending, but not this year. While there have been widespread predictions that the economy was slowing down and the recovery might be ending, the latest GDP report put all that to rest.
80% of Americans Got a Tax Cut, But Don't Know It
With the run-up to the 2020 elections already underway, President Donald Trump’s tax cuts have triggered the biggest partisan rift in two decades and could play a big part in whether or not he is re-elected.
The Government's Enormous, Ongoing Private Land Grab
We all know the federal government owns a lot of land around the country. You know – national parks, protected forests, tribal reservations, fish and wildlife refuges, rivers, historical battlefields and other sensitive areas. But I’ll bet you don’t know just how much of America the federal government owns. I sure didn’t, until last month.
Economic Growth Near 3%, Fed's Next Move?
The Commerce Department reported late last week that 4Q Gross Domestic Product rose only 2.2% (annual rate), down from its initial estimate of 2.6%. For all of 2018, GDP rose by 2.9% versus only 2.2% in 2017 and 1.6% in 2016.
Global Economy Weakest Since 2008, Signs of a Bottom?
Global economic growth contracted sharply in the second half of last year, from above a 4% pace in the first half to 2-2.5%. While still positive, momentum eased across all of the world’s major economies, including the US. The question is, will this global slowdown continue?
Trade Deficit Hits New High, Trump Tariffs Are Bad
The US trade deficit soared to a new record high in 2018 according to the latest Commerce Department report out last week. President Trump has promised that his trade tariffs on China and other trading partners would reduce the trade deficit. They have only made it worse.
Millions of Americans Getting Buried in Debt, Literally
Long-time clients and readers know I like to write about topics that interest me, and this week is no exception. I debated whether to write about today’s topic since it deals with death and debt. However, as you’ll read, almost three out of four Americans die with outstanding debt, and the average debt balance upon death may surprise you.
Americans' Approval of Economy at 18-Year High
A new Gallup poll released over the weekend showed 57% of Americans believe the US economy is either “excellent” or “good,”the highest reading in 18 years. That’s up from only 49% in January when the government was partially shut down and just following the stock market meltdown in December.
National Debt Tops $22 Trillion, Nobody Seems To Care
The national debt surpassed $22 trillion for the first time on Monday, February 11, a milestone that experts warned is further proof the country is on an unsustainable financial path that could jeopardize the economic security of every American.
China Trade Deal Should Be About Theft, Not Trade
Chinese negotiators recently offered to buy enough American products to reduce the huge bilateral trade deficit to zero by 2024. Yet US negotiators rejected that offer to end the dispute.
Regions' 2019 Economic Outlook: Slower But Solid
Today, I’m going to introduce you to an economist I have read for years. His name is Richard F. Moody. He is the Chief Economist at Regions Financial Corporation (Regions Bank) headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. Regions is the largest bank in the South with almost 1,500 branches spread across the southeastern US and the Midwest.
Fed Will 'Wait & Watch' Before Raising Interest Rates
Fed Chair Jerome Powell used the “patient” word again last week. He also added new words that the Fed can “wait and watch” before raising rates again. And he added another new word, that whenever interest rate increases resume, they will be “gradual.” The stock markets loved it!
Surprising Jobs Report Suggests Economy Remains Strong
The economy and the stock markets got some really good news last Friday. The Labor Department reported that a surprising 312,000 new jobs were created in December. That was nearly twice the pre-report estimate of 176,000. And there was plenty of other good news in the jobs report...
What's Wrong With The Stock Markets?
The US economy is booming with GDP growth of 4.2% and 3.5% (annual rates) in the 2Q and 3Q. Consumer confidence has soared over the last decade to near the highest level ever recorded. Corporate profits have exploded this year, thanks in part to Trump’s tax cuts. The unemployment rate has plunged to the lowest in decades at 3.7%.
Why The Bears Are So Negative On The Economy
This year, I have maintained a consistent positive view on the US economy and equity markets, this despite the fact that economies and stock markets have faltered in much of the rest of the world. My view has essentially been that the US economy is strong enough to decouple from the global economy.
Fed Chairman Blinks: Fewer Rate Hikes Possible
In a speech last Wednesday, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell surprised the world with a reversal of his hawkish rhetoric regarding additional interest rate hikes. While another quarter-point rate hike is expected on December 19, most Fed-watchers now expect only one or two rate hikes in 2019. Stocks rallied strongly on the news.
Record Household Debt, Student Loan Delinquencies Spike
The total debt shouldered by American households hit another record high, rising to $13.5 trillion in the third quarter. It was the largest quarterly jump since 2016. Meanwhile, the percentage of student loans in delinquency unexpectedly jumped to 9.1% in the third quarter, the highest level since the end of the Great Recession.
Stock Markets Turn Much More Volatile & Weak
Stock prices around the world are in a tailspin which may get worse before it gets better. As of the end of last week, 11 out of 23 major global stock markets were down the requisite 20% or more from their highs to qualify as bear markets. This is very troubling.
US "Debt Held by the Public" vs. Total National Debt
Today’s discussion is one I write about every few years because millions of Americans don’t understand that they are being misled by the government and the media about the true size of our national debt.
Voter Turnout to Be Record High in Midterms – Implications
Voter turnout for the November 6 midterm elections is widely expected to be at or near a record high. Emotions are high on both sides of the political aisle for this election, and pollsters are predicting a huge turnout by Republicans, Democrats and Independents.
Stock Market Correction, Or New Bear Market Unfolding?
On Wednesday, October 3, the Dow Jones Industrial Average soared to yet another new all-time record high just above 26,950 but then retreated to close well below the record high that day. The Dow then traded sharply lower on the following Thursday and Friday, dragging equity markets around the world lower with it.
New NAFTA - Global Trade Breakthrough or Just So-So?
Trump administration negotiators reached a major agreement with Canada on trade over the last weekend of September. The breakthrough, which came on the heels of an earlier deal with Mexico, vindicates President Trump’s tough approach to reforming trade and will mark a fundamental turning point for American jobs and global power.
Congress Spends Big To Avoid Government Shutdown
Congress quietly passed a new bill expanding federal spending by an additional $854 billion last week before they left Washington. It hardly made any news at all. Sadly, that $854 billion only funds the government through early December.
Tariffs On China Mean Higher Prices For US Consumers
Not long after I started studying economics in graduate school in 1975, I concluded that government-imposed tariffs on imported goods are almost always a bad idea. Ditto for trade wars. In general, the government has no business influencing the prices US manufacturers and others pay for the goods they import from abroad.
Did "Mark-To-Market" Rules Cause The Financial Crisis?
Last Saturday, September 15, 2018, marked the 10th anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, which set off the worst US financial crisis since the Great Depression. It was the largest bankruptcy filing in US history, with Lehman holding over $600 billion in assets.
Fed: Don’t Prematurely End the Economic Boom
In light of last Friday’s better than expected jobs report for August, the odds are near 100% that the Fed will hike short-term interest rates by another 25 basis points at its next policy meeting near the end of this month.
The Middle Class is Exploding Around the World
If you listen to the media, you probably think the “middle class” is declining rapidly, not just here but around the world. It’s true, the middle class is declining in America, but not for the reasons the media would have us believe. It’s actually a good thing, and I’ll explain why as we go along today.
This Bull Market in Stocks is Longest in US History
The current bull market in US stocks began on March 9, 2009 and tomorrow it will become the longest bull market in America’s history. The S&P 500 Index has advanced over 320% since its low in 2009. And most forecasters believe the market has further to run.
Public Companies Disappearing - Investors Lose Opportunities
Most investors are not aware of this but the number of publicly-traded companies listed on US stock exchanges has plunged almost 50% since the peak in 1996. This phenomenon is not limited to the United States.
Republicans Outspend Democrats On Earmarks, Set Record
Republicans claim to be fiscal conservatives but they're governing like out-of-control swamp creatures. Not only has the federal budget gone up every year the Republicans have been in control, new data show they will outspend Democrats on so-called “earmarks” this year and will set a new record. It's time for a permanent ban on wasteful pork-barrel earmarks.
Inverted Yield Curve & New Recession - Probably Not
The “yield curve” has been a popular topic of discussion this year. The yield curve is the spread between interest rates at various maturities, typically among Treasury securities.
Many Americans Not Benefitting From Strong Economy
The US economy continues to gain momentum. More and more forecasters are predicting GDP growth of 4% or better for the second half of this year. Yet while the economy is strengthening, many Americans are not fully benefitting from the improvement. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the reasons why.
National Debt No Problem - We Owe It To Ourselves - WRONG!
Our national debt has swelled to a record $21.16 trillion as of this writing. That includes debt held by the public ($15.4 trillion) and intra-governmental debt ($5.7 trillion). At $21+ trillion, our national debt is well above 100% of our Gross Domestic Product of $19.97 trillion.
Social Security & Medicare Annual Reports: What You Need to Know
Once each year, the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds are required to provide a detailed status report to Congress, including financial projections well into the future. The latest reports were provided to Congress last week. There was good news and bad news, as usual.
U.S. Moves Back To #1 In Global Competitiveness Ranking
A surprising new report from a respected independent research group in Switzerland concluded that the United States has regained its position as the #1 nation in its global competitiveness ranking. This accomplishment was not expected and has not been widely reported in the mainstream media – no surprise there.
US Birthrate At 30-Year Low, Fertility Rate At Record Low
The government reported earlier this month that the US birthrate fell to the lowest level since 1987 last year, despite an increase in the number of child-bearing age women in the population since then. The government also reported that the “fertility rate” – the number of births per 1,000 women – fell to the lowest level in almost a century in 2017.
Why Trade Deficits Are Not Necessarily a Bad Thing
Today, I want to disagree with a widely-held view by the mainstream media and President Trump that trade deficits are always a bad thing. I also want to disagree with the idea that trade deficits with the US mean that our trading partners are taking advantage of us.
US National Debt Spiraling Out of Control, New Record
The Treasury Department announced last week that the government borrowed a record $488 billion in the January-March quarter. The Treasury said that actual borrowing in the 1Q exceeded the old record of $483 billion set in the first quarter of 2010 – the period when the country was struggling to pull out of a deep recession and prop-up the financial system following the 2008 financial crisis.
On The Economy, Wages, Interest Rates & The Yield Curve
1. GDP Growth Slowed in 1Q, But Beat Expectations 2. US Businesses Raise Pay at Fastest Pace in 11 Years 3. Fed Meeting Today, Tomorrow – No Rate Hike Expected 4. What You Should Know About the Flattening Yield Curve 5. The Most Interesting Political Article I Read Recently
How Washington Will Spend Your Taxes in 2018
Today we’re going to look at how Washington spends our tax dollars. Specifically, we’ll look at a new report which shows how the federal government spends the income tax paid by the average family – and how they spend even more than what’s collected to create massive budget deficits year after year after year.
Why US Healthcare Costs Are Highest in the World
While the final figures are not out yet, it is widely estimated that Americans spent well over $3.5 trillion (17% of GDP) on healthcare last year, and that figure is estimated to rise to $5.7 trillion (20% of GDP) by 2026, if not sooner.
China & Japan Are Reducing US Dollar Holdings - Why?
We’ll touch on several bases today which should make for an interesting E-Letter. We start with the fact that China and Japan are reducing their holdings of US Treasury debt. As the two foreign countries holding the largest amount of our debt by far, should we be concerned? Maybe yes, maybe no.
Tariffs Hurt All Americans, Tax Cuts Gain Popularity
The White House announced late last week that President Trump will enact new protectionist tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on aluminum. This move set off fears of a new trade war as foreign trading partners most affected by the new tariffs are expected to retaliate with new tariffs of their own that will hurt US industries.
The Fallacy of America's "Crumbling Infrastructure"
President Trump wants to spend $1.5 trillion rebuilding America’s infrastructure – roads, bridges, airports, railroads, ports, water systems and whatnot – over the next decade.
Our Scary Return To Trillion-Dollar Budget Deficits
With Congress’ passage of an additional $368 billion in federal spending over the next two years on February 9, our government budget deficits could approach, and perhaps exceed, $1 trillion annually for the next several years. That’s very scary!
The Worst Week In A Decade For US Stocks
Last week’s carnage in the US stock markets was one of the worst meltdowns I have witnessed in my 40+ years in the investment business. Most US stock indexes plunged over 10% in value from Friday, February 2 to the lows on Friday, February 9 – complete with two days where the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost over 1,000 points in one session.
The US Economy Disappointed In The Fourth Quarter
The most significant economic news of late was last Friday’s disappointing report on 4Q Gross Domestic Product which came in at only 2.6% (annual rate) versus the pre-report consensus of 3.0%.
Savings Rate Lowest In A Decade, Credit Card Balances Soar
Over the last several months, I have written often about how the US economy has strengthened significantly since the disappointing 1Q of last year. This time last year, most forecasters felt the economy would do well to grow by 2% in 2017.
Stocks Definitely Overvalued - Government Shutdown Looms
I don’t make market predictions very often. Normally, I leave those decisions to the professional money managers we recommend at Halbert Wealth Management. However, some recent developments have made me very concerned that the US equity markets are at high risk for a serious downward correction just ahead.
Will Our Strong Economy Spike Inflation in 2018?
As you know, a lot of predictions are made this time of year – about the economy, the markets, interest rates, inflation, etc. Some forecasters are predicting that 2018 will finally be the year when inflation takes off and returns to higher levels. However, some of these same prognosticators have been saying the same thing for the last several years.
China Not To Overtake US Economy Until 2032
Our stable of investment strategies at HWM has never been more diversified than it is today. In the last few years, we have significantly expanded the scope of the investments we recommend, including several successful strategies that do not involve stocks or bonds.
The Economy: Holiday Spending Strongest in Years
There’s so much to talk about in this week before Christmas it’s hard to know where to start. The economy continues to gain momentum. Last week, the Atlanta Fed revised its GDPNow forecast from 2.9% to 3.2% for the 4Q.
Lots of Good News in the November Jobs Report
The Fed Open Market Committee (FOMC), which sets interest rate policy, is meeting today and tomorrow. It is widely expected that the FOMC will hike its Fed Funds rate by another quarter-point when it releases its policy statement. In fact, the only surprise will be if it doesn’t.
Thoughts on GOP Tax Cuts & China's Faltering Economy
I veer from our usual roster of topics this week to bring you an update on China and its prospects for continued hot economic growth, or lack thereof. China is the second largest economy on the planet, behind the US, and many (if not most) Americans believe that it won’t be too long before China overtakes the US as the largest economy in the world.
Household Debt Rises to New Record of $13 Trillion
A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last week found that US household debt hit another record high in the 3Q of almost $13 trillion. The largest increases came in student loans, auto debt and credit cards. I’ll share the details with you just below.
Can the US Economy Sustain 3% Growth? The Answer is Yes
The US economy just turned in its second consecutive quarter of 3% growth in Gross Domestic Product, to the surprise of most forecasters and the mainstream media. This despite the negative effects of two major hurricanes hitting the southern US late this summer.
Why We Need New Leadership at the Federal Reserve
President Trump is finalizing his decision on who will head-up the Federal Reserve when current Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s term is up in February. He also needs to appoint another person to fill the now vacant Fed Vice Chairman spot due to the resignation of Stanley Fischer earlier this month.
Trump Packing Federal Courts With Conservative Judges
While the mainstream media remains obsessed with President Trump’s tweets and other controversial statements, the Commander-in-Chief is quietly packing the federal courts with conservative, originalist judges who are not only very smart but also relatively young.
Cutting The Corporate Tax Rate Would Benefit Everyone
In my September 7 Blog (be sure to subscribe at garydhalbert.com), I argued that the sky-high US corporate income tax has been a big reason why worker wages have been stagnant for over a decade.
U.S. Debt Tops $20 Trillion - Stocks Soar To Record Highs
We touch on several bases in today’s letter that are not entirely related. We begin with the 800-pound gorilla in the room – the fact that the US national debt topped $20 trillion last week.
War With North Korea Could Spark New Bear Market
The United States is increasingly being provoked toward a war with North Korea by its seemingly insane young leader Kim Jong-un. Not only has Jong-un acquired nuclear bomb capabilities much faster than US intelligence sources had estimated for years, he has also recently developed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching US soil.
America's Middle Class is Making a Strong Comeback
For most of this year, I’ve had a sense that the American middle class is increasingly growing, and that wages/incomes are increasing more than the Labor Department reports. I have been saving articles upon articles on this subject and was planning to extract the highlights and summarize them for you in the next week or two in these pages.
Fed in a Real Quandary - No Good Policy Options Now
The Fed remains committed to raising short-term interest rates at least one more time this year, most likely at the September policy meeting as I will discuss below. The Fed also wants to start reducing its massive $4.5 trillion balance sheet this year, but doing so in the past has almost always led to a recession.
Imagine A World Without Cash - A "Cashless Society"
On July 12, credit card giant VISA announced that it will soon offer selected retailers $10,000 to stop accepting cash. No one seemed to pay much attention. The announcement received relatively little coverage in the press. Should it have? Yes!
More & More Americans Having to Work Past Age 70
Nearly one-fifth (19%) of Americans age 70 to 74 were still in the workforce as of the end of June, according to the latest jobs report from the Labor Department on July 7. Some are working because they are healthy and enjoy their work. Most, however, are still working because they haven’t saved nearly enough for retirement.
Federal Spending to Top a Record $4 Trillion in FY2017
Both the Congressional Budget Office and the White House Office of Management and Budget announced last week that federal spending will top $4 trillion for the first time ever in fiscal 2017, which began on October 1, 2016 and ends on September 30.
Record Six Million Unfilled Jobs in US-What's the Problem?
The US Department of Labor told us in June that there were apprx. 6.0 million open (unfilled) jobs in America, a record high. The Labor Department also told us that there are apprx. 6.8 million unemployed Americans who are actively looking for work.
One-Third of Millennials Are Living With Parents
As the father of two Millennials (ages 27 and 25), I pay a great deal of attention to articles and studies on this largest generation of 75.4 million Americans. Given the sheer size of this generation and its vast effect on the economy for decades to come, we should all be paying attention to trends within this massive group.
Fed Plans To Trim Its Massive $4.5 Trillion Balance Sheet
Most investors understand the implications of the Fed raising (or lowering) interest rates. After lowering short-term interest rates to near zero in late 2008, and keeping them there for eight years, the Fed is now committed to “normalizing” short-term rates by raising the key Fed Funds rate multiple times over the next couple of years.
Odds Rise For "Inverted Yield Curve" & New Recession
The Fed policy committee will almost certainly raise the key Fed Funds rate by another 0.25% tomorrow. Minutes from the early May Fed meeting indicate that the Fed sees the 1Q economic weakness as temporary, and the odds for a rate hike tomorrow are above 90%.
Debt Ceiling Deadline Moved Up to August From November
Given all the unusual factors attached to the current need to increase the debt ceiling, and the very unhealthy political climate, I could see a lot of turbulence in the markets just ahead. In a worst-case scenario, a debt ceiling crisis could even result in a new recession.
Household Debt Hits New Record High, Stocks Stumble
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported last week that US household debt reached a new all-time high in the 1Q of this year. The new report also included some troubling internal metrics, not only on the overall household debt levels but also with regard to the level of delinquencies.
Economists Expect Big Jump In 2Q GDP - We'll See
For reasons that are not yet clear to me, a growing number of economists and forecasters are predicting a big jump in the economy in the current April-June quarter.
The Fed/Central Banks' $13 Trillion Gorilla in the Room
The US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan alone have over $13 trillion in quantitative easing assets on their balance sheets. The Fed recently hinted that it would like to start reducing its QE assets this year if possible.
44% of US Households Don't Pay Any Federal Income Tax
Income Tax Day came and went last week without a great deal of fanfare. Most Americans who owed income tax to the government for 2016 either filed their tax returns and paid their bill to Uncle Sam last week, or filed for an extension and paid their estimated tax, as many do each year. Nothing new there.
Big Retailers Closing Stores At Record Pace In 2017 - Why?
Big Box retailers and many other popular chain stores – including Sears, JC Penney, Macy’s, Payless, Sports Authority, American Eagle, Radio Shack and many others – are closing their stores at a record pace so far this year.
Government Shutdown Looming? Not Anytime Soon
Over the next couple of weeks, the mainstream media is likely to deluge us with warnings that the government could shut down at the end of this month. According to the Treasury Department, that’s just not true.
Private Sector Productivity Fell In 2016 - Worst Since 2009
One key measure of US economic productivity actually declined in 2016 for the first time since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009. The amount of goods and services produced, versus the total inputs of labor and capital to produce them, declined slightly last year for the first time in seven years.
The Fate Of The Federal Reserve Is Now Up For Grabs
The mainstream media is intently focused on the fate of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Judge Gorsuch is imminently qualified to serve on the Supreme Court and, if confirmed, he would fill the seat of the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.
Decades-Long "Income Gap" Is Finally Reversing
The mainstream media loves to talk about the so-called “income gap” – the fact that incomes have been rising faster for the rich than the poor in America for decades. Yet new independent reports find that this trend has reversed in recent years.
America Continues To Lead the World in Wealth by a Longshot
Today, we’ll take a look at some very interesting data released by the World Bank last month, which shows that the United States still dominates the global economy by a wide margin. The US produces almost one-fourth of all global GDP, and has been at that level or higher for over two generations. This is remarkable.
Can Trump's Economic Plan Jump-Start GDP Growth?
President Trump promises that his economic plan, if enacted, will result in 3-4% annual GDP growth. Yet I get the feeling most Americans don’t understand Trump’s economic plan. Maybe that’s because the mainstream media has criticized it at every turn, even though similar plans have jump-started the economy in the past – think Ronald Reagan.
US Economic Freedom Index Plunged Over Last Eight Years
We touch on several bases today. We begin with the Heritage Foundation’s annual Economic Freedom Index, which plunged during the eight years of the Obama presidency. From there, we look at some recent economic data which is quite encouraging overall.
CBO: Jobless Rate To Fall & Wages To Rise Through 2018
A new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts that the US unemployment rate will continue to fall through 2018. The same study predicts that growth in hourly wages will increase significantly this year and next. I’ll give you the details on this uplifting report as we go along today.
Emerging Nations Facing a Looming US Dollar Crisis
Over the last eight years, with US interest rates at rock bottom thanks to the Fed, the rest of the world has borrowed a huge amount of dollars – about $4 trillion according to the Bank for International Settlements. During that same time, the US dollar has soared against a basket of foreign currencies.
Is China Dumping U.S. Dollars? Answer: Yes And No
China is selling US Treasuries at a record pace to support its currency, the Chinese yuan (also known as the renminbi), and to stem the flow of money leaving the country.
Small Business Optimism Soars to Highest Level Since 2004
Small businesses and entrepreneurs have had a rough time of it for these past eight years. New startups and entrepreneurial activity have pretty much been stagnant, weighed down by heavy regulation, high taxes and an economy that’s just been stumbling along.
Economy Ends 2016 Strongly, Liberals Gaining On Conservatives
When the Commerce Department reported on December 22 that 3Q Gross Domestic Product increased at an annual rate of 3.5%, many of us in the forecasting business wondered if that figure might be too optimistic. We also wondered whether the economy could sustain a 3+% growth rate in the 4Q.
Most Americans Retire Too Early Despite Low Savings
We all know that there is a savings crisis in America. According to the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), the median savings balance of near-retirement households is only around $12,000, while the median saving balance for all working-age households is only around $3,000.
Surprise: Fed Calls On Government To Spend More Money
1. 3Q Gross Domestic Product Rises More Than Expected 2. Fed Seems to Admit That ZIRP Didn’t Work as Expected 3. President Trump Willing to Increase Domestic Spending 4. Time for the Fed to “Normalize” Monetary Policy 5. “Handing Down Your Legacy” Still Available For Free
Worker Productivity Growth Hits New Low - What Can Be Done?
President Obama is spending his last days in office trying to shore-up his “legacy.” He emphasizes that he inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression and most analysts would agree that is true for the most part.
Consumer Confidence Highest Since Before Great Recession
To coin an old phrase, the country has “gone ape” in the wake of Donald Trump’s surprise election as the 45th President of the United States. The stock markets have skyrocketed to new record highs day after day. Consumer confidence has soared to the highest level since 2008.
End Of TPP Brings New Opportunities For China & U.S.
President-elect Donald Trump promises that one of his very first actions when in office will be to withdraw the United States from the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was finalized earlier this year but must still be ratified by all of the participating nations.
Global Bonds In Worst Selloff In 13 Years - How Come?
Bond investors have had a rough ride in November. The Barclays Global Aggregate Bond Index plunged by 5% during the last two weeks just before and after the election...
Economy Is Weaker Than It Seems & Scary Facts On National Debt
Before I get into today’s topics, I think I speak for most Americans when I say that we are relieved that this election will finally be over late tonight or early tomorrow. This has been the ugliest and most embarrassing election in most of our lifetimes.
The Economy: Growth Has Been Weak But Long-Lasting
Forecasters who were predicting a surge in the economy in the second half of this year have revised those estimates much lower in recent weeks. It now looks like the economy may not achieve even 2% growth this year.
So Much For That Big Economic Surge In The Second Half
A few months ago, there was broad optimism that the US economy would shift into a higher gear in the second half of this year.