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.
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.
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.