While it is hoped that the economy can continue to expand on the back of the "service" sector alone, history suggests that "manufacturing" continues to play a much more important dynamic that it is given credit for.
According to the latest data from the DEA, death from prescription drugs (7.2 per 100,000) is twice as common as gun homicides. So, for all those concerned parents who think little Johnny is likely to get gunned down on the street would be better advised to keep tabs on their prescription painkillers, as Johnny is far more likely to die from popping those than from any gun in your house or in the hands of a school mate.
Whatever the efforts of that expansive corps of intelligence analysts (and the vast intelligence edifice behind it), when anything happens in the Greater Middle East, you can essentially assume that the official American reaction, military and political, will be “surprise” and that policymakers will be left “scrambling” in a quagmire of ignorance to rescue American policy from the unexpected. The evidence, after all, is largely in. In these years, for what now must be approaching three-quarters of a trillion dollars, the national security state and the military seem to have created an un-intelligence system. Welcome to the fog of everything.
"The strong stock market rally during the last few days has pushed the S&P 500 near its highest closing level since the correction began in late August. This has boosted optimism that the recent selloff may be ending. While this could certainly prove to be the case, we remain less sanguine that the vulnerabilities, which initially produced this correction, have yet to be resolved. Ultimately, we expect a more fearful investment culture suggesting a final capitulation and more importantly, a lower stock market valuation level able to withstand a less hospitable recovery as the economy nears full employment."
With the Federal Reserve still hinting at raising interest rates, but trapped by weak economic growth, will the next big move by the Fed be another form of monetary accommodation instead? Or, are the underlying dynamics of the economy and market really strong enough to shake off the recent weakness and continue its bullish ascent?
No, we're not kidding. We can solve the immigration and refugee crises without more wars, without rounding people up like animals, and while boosting the GDP. It’s not hard. All you have to do is stop thinking inside the same old status quo. Here’s the plan...
Through the 20th century, the people of the West built up a very high compliance inertia. They complied with the demands of authority and taught their children to do the same, until it became automatic. People obeyed simply because they had obeyed in the past. Authority quickly became addicted to this situation, basing their plans on receiving every benefit of the doubt. Automatic obedience, however, is a brittle thing. Economies of scale are failing, the money cartel has been exposed, government schools have lost respect, mass media is fading away, and the game continues because the populace is distracted and afraid. And that will not last forever. The ‘walls’ of reflexive compliance are growing thinner. Any serious break may ruin the structure.
In the current deluge of wannabe leaders clamoring for attention and trying to convince us that they are the boss who should be applying rules to us, it strikes me that all of them are looking backward and none are looking forward. So, since none of this crowd is going to venture anywhere outside of their hermetically sealed status quo, we’d like to offer an example of something a real leader might say...
This is the question that astute investors are forced to ask themselves these days. No reasonable person believes that a system of ever-expanding debt can resolve painlessly. It simply cannot happen... not, at least, until 2+2 stops equaling four. But the international money system, while deeply interconnected, can implode in sections. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that it will crash as a single unit. So, if you have significant moneys to invest, you end up coming back to our question: Who will be the last to crash?
Since the beginning of this year the markets have primarily treaded water. The primary support for the bulls has been continued acknowledgement by the Fed on an inability to remove accommodative policy by raising interest rates. (Which should make you question what happens the first time they do.) The bears have been feasting on weak economic data and deteriorating fundamentals.
It’s over. Except for a short moment or a wild and self-exhausting governmental mandate (both of which are doubtful), there will never again be enough “good jobs” to go around. That model is gone and we need to root it out of our imaginations.
The recent peak in profits, combined with substantially elevated P/E ratios, is likely suggesting that forward return expectations should be revised sharply lower.
With the Federal Reserve now indicating that they are "really serious" about raising interest rates, there have come numerous articles and analysis discussing the impact on asset prices. The general thesis, based on averages of historical tendencies, suggests there are still at least three years left to the current business cycle. However, at current levels, the window between a rate hike and recession has likely closed rather markedly.
The reality is, like dominoes, that once one of these issues becomes a problem, the rest become a problem as well. Central Banks have had the ability to deal with one-off events up to this point by directing monetary policy tools to bail out Greece, boost stock prices to boost confidence or suppress interest rates to support growth. However, it is the contagion of issues that renders such tools ineffective in staving off the tide of the next financial crisis. One thing is for sure, this time is "different than the last" in terms of the catalyst that sparks the next great mean reverting event, but the outcome will be the same as it always has been.
The economic data has continued to disappoint on virtually all fronts, earnings are weak and markets are grossly extended. Yet, investors are more bullish than ever...