One of the biggest mistakes that investors make is falling prey to cognitive biases that obfuscate rising investment risks. Here are 5 counter-points to the main memes in the market currently...
- Here come the gates which we predicted in 2010: SEC Is Set to Approve Money-Fund Rules (WSJ)
- Dick's cuts 400 jobs as golf now less popular (MW)
- Kerry arrives in Israel, pushes for peace (Reuters)
- Pay Penalty Haunts Recession Grads as U.S. Economy Mends (BBG)
- Appeals Courts Issue Conflicting Rulings on Health-Law Subsidies (WSJ)
- Rebel Stronghold Donetsk Holds Breath as Shellfire Mounts (BBG)
- Business executive wins Georgia Republican runoff in U.S. Senate race (Reuters)
- Five held in China food scandal probe, including head of Shanghai Husi Food (Reuters)
- Jobs Hold Sway Over Yellen-Carney as Central Banks Splinter (BBG)
The topic of whether college is worth it (costs vs benefits) has been discussed at length (here, here, and here most recently) but no lesser entity than the San Francisco Fed's PhDs have crunched the numbers and found that in the new normal, median starting wages of recent college graduates have not kept pace with median earnings for all workers. Furthermore, they are not optimistic - "because college grads face wages and hiring conditions that are especially responsive to business cycle conditions, this low earnings growth, together with shifts in the distribution of graduates’ labor market status, suggests continued weakness in the overall economy."
In the Golden Age of the Central Banker it is impossible to distinguish fundamental economic reasons for asset class price movements from politically-driven strategic reasons. When words are used for strategic effect rather than a genuine transmission of information you create a virtual stalking horse. It’s a focus on how something is said as opposed to what is described. It’s a focus on form rather than content, on truthiness rather than truth. It’s why authenticity is as rare as a unicorn in the public world today.
As RioForte joins its parent ESI in bankruptcy, in a strangely honest turn of events from a European leader, Portugal's President Anibal Cavaco Silva warned on Monday that fallout from the financial troubles of the founding family of Banco Espirito Santo (BES) could affect the wider economy. With Portugal's hope-strewn GDP growth expectations at only 0.9% for 2014, they do not have much room for disappointment before the nation (whose yields remain near record lows) double- or triple-dips back into recession. Silva concluded, "We cannot ignore that there will be some impact on the real economy," which is odd given every talking-head has explained it is "contained" and "priced-in."
It is quite clear that Bernanke achieved his goal of inflating asset prices by expanding the Federal Reserve's balance sheet by 371.64% since the end of the financial crisis. However, was he as successful in fulfilling his other objectives? The following charts perform the same cost/benefit analysis on real economic health... Did the Fed's monetary intervention programs keep the economy from sliding into a much deeper recession? Probably. Have the programs been effective in achieving Bernanke's stated goals? Not really.
The escalation of turmoil in the world is yet to play a role for the market, but be warned: everything economic has a delayed reaction of nine to twelve month – whenever there is an action there will be a reaction. If the present state of alertness continues through the summer you can bet on higher energy prices having a serious impact on not only world growth but also on markets. Simply put, Steen Jakobsen concludes, "prepare for less growth, less certainty and more geopolitical risk."
It is no secret that the gist of western thinking has been that sanctions against Russia would pressure its economy enough to force Putin to finally crawl to the negotiating table, tail between his legs, and beg for western forgiveness. Call it the law of unintended consequences striking once again, because while Russia's economy continues to hum along (if only for now, something that can't be said about Ukraine's) and has forced the Kremlin to seek a variety of deals with China to avoid western isolationism, one other country may have been crippled far faster than Russia: Germany.
The actual state of employment in the U.S. is likely far weaker than the economic statistics currently suggest. If this is indeed the case, it creates a potential for policy mistakes that could have negative consequences to both the economy and the financial markets.
It has been over six months since we first highlighted the growing deterioration in the quality of auto loans and mentioned the 's' word (subprime) as indicative that we learned nothing from the financial crisis. Since then, auto loans (and especially subprime in the last few months) have surged to record highs; and most concerning, recently has seen delinquencies and late payments spike. The reason we provide this background is that, thanks to The NY Times, this story is now hitting the mainstream media as subprime-quality car buyers (new and used) realize the burden they have placed on themselves thanks to exorbitantly high interest rates (and a rapidly depreciating 'asset'). As one car 'owner' exclaimed, "buying the car was the worst decision I have ever made."
If one looks past headline figures, things are not really getting better. As shown in Figure 1, real disposable income per capita in the U.S. has increased only modestly since the Great Recession. However, all of this increase is due to Government Transfers, not from an improvement in the real economy.
With U.S. rates higher than those of major foreign markets, investors are provided with an additional reason to look favorably on increased investments in the long end of the U.S. treasury market. Additionally, with nominal growth slowing in response to low saving and higher debt we expect that over the next several years U.S. thirty-year bond yields could decline into the range of 1.7% to 2.3%, which is where the thirty-year yields in the Japanese and German economies, respectively, currently stand.
The Euro is tumbling as Italy slashes economic growth expectations:
*BANK OF ITALY SEES ITALY GDP UP 0.2% THIS YR, 1.3% IN 2015
*BANK OF ITALY SEES DOWNSIDE RISKS FOR ITALY GROWTH EST. THIS YR
The Bank of Italy expected 0.7% growth for 2014 in January and this shift lowers the estimate below consensus. Of course, there's no need to wqory about a triple-dip recession as Italy raised its 2015 estimate from 1.0% to 1.3% - hockey sticks are back...
CEO's use of profanity in public changes with the economy. A Bloomberg review of thousands of conference calls recorded in the past 10 years shows CEO cursing spiked after the recession in 2009 and waned as the recovery strengthened. Here's a review of the four most common words of choice: the infamous F-bomb, the scatalogical S-word, the blasphemous G.D., and the derogatory A.H.
More basic suggestions for those who are seeking shelter from the coming storms of global financial crisis and recession (part 1 here).