Posted by Larry Doyle on March 16th, 2010 3:32 PM |
Is the White House now in charge of both fiscal and monetary policy?
The Federal Reserve just released its March statement confirming no change in its monetary policy and little change in economic outlook. A brief overview of the Fed’s statement includes the following:
>> Maintains the Fed Funds range at 0-.25% for an extended period.
>> The quantitative easing program used to purchase $1.25 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and $125 billion in federal agency debt is nearing completion at the end of this month. The Fed will monitor economic conditions and employ policy tools as necessary to promote economic recovery and price stability.
>> Economic activity is generally improving. The overall pace of economic recovery is moderate. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on March 16th, 2010 11:43 AM |
Is the White House reading Sense on Cents?
While I ask that question in a self-effacing fashion, I will allow others to pass muster as to whether my commentary deserves attention in Washington. Why do I ask that question now though? I wrote this morning, “What Happened to Focus on Jobs?”:
The ‘talking points’ utilized by those in Washington project that our economy and markets are experiencing cyclical unemployment. I firmly believe they are wrong. Our economy and markets are experiencing structural unemployment.
Now it appears as if the White House ‘talking points’ have changed. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on October 30th, 2009 9:10 AM |
What is the real economy doing? While yesterday’s GDP printed a surprisingly strong 3.5%, are we to take that on face value? If we care to most effectively navigate the economic landscape, we should dig a little deeper.
A full 2.2% of the 3.5% rise was directly correlated to Uncle Sam’s support of the auto and residential construction sectors of the economy. Another .6% of the GDP was directly correlated to federal spending. Obviously, the Uncle Sam economy implies a large presence by that jolly old man. However, all that money Sam is pumping is nothing more than borrowing from future generations and pulling demand forward.
What would the economy have done on its own without the government support? Let’s listen to Christina Romer. Recall that Ms. Romer referenced last week that this quarter would provide the peak impact of benefits accruing from Uncle Sam’s economic stimulus. What does she say about this GDP report? The Wall Street Journal references Ms. Romer in writing, Economy Snaps Long Slump:
Without stimulus programs such as “cash for clunkers” and a first-time homebuyer’s credit, “real GDP would have risen little, if at all, this past quarter,” Christina Romer, president of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement.
Why does Ms. Romer provide that sobering view of the economy? Very simply, if the American consumer represents 70% of the economy, then we should largely focus on that consumer. What did we learn about the consumer over the last quarter?
The Financial Times’ John Auther informs us in writing, Short View: GDP Grows, but Pain Remains:
Household disposable incomes actually fell during the quarter, by 3.4 per cent, but consumer spending rose, also by 3.4 per cent. This is not a pattern that can be sustained for long, and it is inconsistent with the need for US families to pay down their debts.
What does that disparity between income and spending represent? An unsustainable economic path. What else does it mean? The U.S. economy just had “Christmas in July.”
Did you get anything in your stocking?
Posted by Larry Doyle on October 24th, 2009 7:32 AM |
Did the market merely take a breather this week or is the ‘little engine that could’ getting tired? Are we distinguishing the winners from the laggards? Are the cracks in our economic foundation repairing or are some just too large to hold back the flow of red ink, i.e. embedded losses? Perhaps we are experiencing all of the above as we continue our journey along the new and varied trails of our economy. Let’s review the major economic statistics for the week, along with the month to date returns across a wide array of market segments.
I thank you for reading my work, and now let’s collectively ‘navigate the economic landscape,’ the mission of Sense on Cents. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
I largely discount positive news on the housing front as I view them largely manipulated by Uncle Sam while delinquencies, defaults, and foreclosures move ever higher. This may be an oversight on my part, but so be it.
Aside from that, I believe the most meaningful news this week was the GDP report from the UK. Please see my Friday morning commentary highlighting how the UK remains mired in recession.
Let’s move along to market performance. The figures I provide are the weekly close and the month-to-date returns on a percentage basis:
$/Yen: 92.08 versus 89.68, +2.7%
Euro/Dollar: 1.500 versus 1.4635, +2.5%
U.S. Dollar Index: 75.44 versus 76.72, -1.7%
Commentary: the overall U.S. Dollar Index declined marginally this week. The dollar has improved versus the Japanese yen, but remains decidedly weak versus the Euro. The U.S. Dollar Index did break below 75.00 at one point early Friday. The correlation between the U.S. Dollar Index and the equity markets remains quite high. Both markets ended the week close to unchanged. Have too many people bought equities and commodities while having sold the U.S. greenback? I have been asking that question for the last month so no reason to stop now. The biggest impact of the weak dollar is seen in the commodity markets and long term interest rates. Commodities continue to trade with a firm tone while interest rates move higher.
I reiterate my comment from previous weeks: while I think Washington is not disappointed in a relatively weak dollar, although they should be (“Dollar Devaluation Is a Dangerous Game”), other countries are not overly keen about further dollar weakness. Why? A weak dollar puts those countries in a marginally less competitive position in international trade. On this topic, please read “Brazil Wants A ‘Real’ity Check.”
Oil: $79.65/barrel versus $70.39, +13.1% REMAINS VERY FIRM
Gold: $1055/oz. versus $1008.2, +4.6%
DJ-UBS Commodity Index: 137.32 versus 127.683, +7.5%
Commentary: I repeat from last week, unless you grow your own crops or have your own source of energy, you should expect to get increasingly squeezed as prices at the supermarket and gas station are likely to head higher. While Washington will not address this development, these price moves are directly correlated with Washington’s weak dollar policy. The banks and others able to borrow cheap money for trading and investing benefit from the weak dollar. American consumers and savers get stuck with the bill.
The Baltic Dry Index once again moved higher and got back above the 3000 level. Is the improvement in the non-Japan Asian economic bloc for real? Certainly the economies in Europe and North American remain decidedly challenged.
I continue to believe these commodity tea leaves are an indication of inflationary expectations in these ‘inputs,’ while we encounter deflationary pressures in wages and real estate. (more…)