Category: Weekly

Could the US economy accelerate higher in 2014

Could the US economy accelerate higher in 2014

I have been saying for some time now that I believe peak growth in this US business cycle was Q3 2013. Nevertheless, I want to explore the possibility that growth will accelerate from here, something that could keep stock prices and other risk asset prices elevated. A few quick thoughts below First, today’s jobless claims number at 304,000 supports the […]

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Secular versus cyclical factors in equity markets

Secular versus cyclical factors in equity markets

Continuing where I left off yesterday, it’s clear that the global economy is growing now. We see growth in the US, Europe, Japan, and in emerging markets. Economic growth is the norm, not the exception. And over the longer term, markets will rise to reflect that growth. That’s what I mean when I say market and economic momentum is up and to the right. Here’s the problem; there are periods of time when economies and markets fall out of bed. And sometimes the upheaval is so great, it turns into a generational divide – a depression and/or secular bear market. I believe there is a good case that we are still both in a depression and a secular bear market and I want to explain how that matters below.

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Four key reasons for capex accelerating

Four key reasons for capex accelerating

Sober Look’s received a number of e-mails regarding the recent post on the possibility that rising CAPEX spending in the US is driving corporations to tap their credit facilities, thus increasing loan growth. Most were highly critical of this line of thinking in their comments, using words such as “bogus”, “propaganda”, “head fake”, “delusional”, etc. But let’s just look at 4 key data points.

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ECB Action: Just a Question of Time?

The Managing Director of the IMF and the chief economist are making no bones about it. More action by the ECB is inevitable. It is “just a question of timing,” says Lagarde and “sooner was better than later”, chimed Blanchard, the chief economist. The market is less sanguine.

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Economic and market themes: 2014-04-11 – Greece

Economic and market themes: 2014-04-11 – Greece

This week’s theme post will be exclusively about Greece because I think the Greek bond deal is emblematic of trends we see in markets and the real economy. And of course, the big news in the past few days is Greece. Its 5-year government bond deal was over six times oversubscribed, even after a 50% increase in the allotment. The […]

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Thoughts on Greek bonds, Asian data and resource gamesmanship

Thoughts on Greek bonds, Asian data and resource gamesmanship

The Greek bond deal that in February I predicted would come to market was deemed a rousing success by the market. Initially Greece had planned a 2 billion euro offering for 5-year money. But there was heavy interest and Greece’s underwriters got bids for 20 billion euros, allowing Greece to increase the deal size to 3 billion. The deal came […]

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Edward Harrison’s Ten Surprises for 2014, Update 1

Edward Harrison’s Ten Surprises for 2014, Update 1

It is about time I updated you on how the ten surprises for 2014 are faring. I actually have 14 but I only get credit on the first ten. The second ten are a bonus round. I am defining my surprises as events to which investors assign 1-in-3 odds of happening but which I believe have a more than 50 […]

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Some thoughts on Ukraine, part 2

Some thoughts on Ukraine, part 2

Yesterday I looked at the Ukraine situation from a decision-tree framing. And my conclusion was that Western influence in Ukraine’s internal politics to aid regime change was a key factor in making the situation in Ukraine and its consequences more unpredictable. I believe markets are fairly complacent given the potential fallout, which could include military confrontation. Today, I want to use a different framing to look at Russian – US animosity over Ukraine. I am going to use the Franco-Prussian War as an analogy to give a sense of likely outcomes.

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On Europe’s move toward QE to prevent deflation

There is a battle within the European Central Bank. Some want to take stronger action. Others do not think it is necessary. It is not just a matter of counting up who is on what side of the issue. It is not simply about majority rules. The ECB seeks consensus. As is well appreciated, there are important political and legal obstacles to buying European sovereign bonds.

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The lower bound of central bank effectiveness

The lower bound of central bank effectiveness

Through the lens of someone looking at economies with rapidly ageing populations we can simply say that this problem arises because there isn’t any consumption to pull forward! Fisher’s interest theory was always valid, it is merely that in the context of a rapidly ageing population the consumption smoothing mechanism breaks for obvious and quite logical reasons. Quite simply, even in ZIRP you are not stealing a sufficient amount of “future” growth to kick-start the recovery because such future growth is not there.

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Some thoughts on Ukraine, part 1

Some thoughts on Ukraine, part 1

It is about time I did a long-form political economy piece because a lot of what is occurring in emerging markets is of that ilk. The political economy dominates the economics of the issues in a way that makes discussing markets and economics very much related to politics. Here I want to concentrate on Ukraine because I believe it has become an important point of conflict for the future geopolitical landscape.

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Ten lessons from Charles Keating on corporatism and control fraud

Ten lessons from Charles Keating on corporatism and control fraud

I knew Charles Keating, the head of Lincoln Savings, in my capacity as a financial regulator and as the subject of his wrath. His fraud schemes and the manner in which they targeted our system’s vulnerabilities in an era before Citizens United made the corruption of politicians by fraudulent CEOs child’s play remain the play book for the world’s most destructive financial frauds. Our failure to learn the ten lessons has caused immense suffering. Keating’s life, and the great harm he caused, will not have been in vain if we step back and use the occasion of his death to reflect on the changes we need to make.

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