Macro Briefing: 20 August 2018

This week’s US-China trade talks face challenges: CNBC
White house rejects Turkey’s offer for releasing pastor: WSJ
US Sec. of State cites possible ceasefire in Afghanistan: Politico
Taiwan president’s US visit angers China: NY Times
China using Iranian tankers to sidestep US sanctions on Iran: Reuters
Eight years of bailouts for Greece officially end today: CNN
Trump administration says conserving oil is no longer economically crucial: PBS
US Leading Economic Index points to solid growth for rest of year: CB
Strong economic activity powered corporate results in Q2: CNBC
Politics shapes views on economy going into mid-term elections: NY Times
US consumer sentiment fell to 11-month low in August: MarketWatch

Book Bits | 18 August 2018

Land of the Fee: Hidden Costs and the Decline of the American Middle Class
By Devin Fergus
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
Politicians, economists, and the media have put forth no shortage of explanations for the mounting problem of wealth inequality – a loss of working class jobs, a rise in finance-driven speculative capitalism, and a surge of tax policy decisions that benefit the ultra-rich, among others. While these arguments focus on the macro problems that contribute to growing inequality, they overlook one innocuous but substantial contributor to the widening divide: the explosion of fees accompanying virtually every transaction that people make. As Devin Fergus shows in Land of the Fee, these perfectly legal fees are buried deep within the verbose agreements between vendors and consumers – agreements that few people fully read or comprehend. The end effect, Fergus argues, is a massive transfer of wealth from the many to the few: large banking corporations, airlines, corporate hotel chains, and other entities of vast wealth.
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QuantStrat TradeR Blog Reviews The Capital Spectator’s R Book

The estimable Ilya Kipnis at QuantStrat TradeR just published a very generous review of my recently published book on R — Quantitative Investment Portfolio Analytics In R: An Introduction To R For Modeling Portfolio Risk and Return. The kind words are all the more gratifying when you consider that Kipnis, an independent consultant, is an authority on R coding as it relates to investment and trading analytics, as his many blog posts over the years demonstrate.

Macro Briefing: 17 August 2018

US Treasury Sec: Turkey faces more sanctions without pastor’s release: Bloomberg
China’s weak currency will be in focus in trade talks with US: CNBC
US Attorney General issues order to accelerate deportations: Reuters
China “training for strikes” on US targets, Pentagon report warns: BBC
Walmart reports best sales growth in a decade: CNN
Is US economic growth peaking? MarketWatch
US housing starts edged up in July but fell vs. year-earlier level: MW
Jobless claims fell last week, near post-recession low: WSJ
Philly Fed Mfg Index slumps in August to lowest level in 21 months: MW

Macro Briefing: 16 August 2018

Senior Chinese officials to visit US for trade talks: Politico
Trump revokes former CIA Director Brennan’s security clearance: The Hill
US retail spending up more than expected in July: LA Times
Growth in US industrial output slowed sharply in July: CNBC
NY Fed Mfg Index posted solid gain for August: NY Fed
Business inflation expectations remain steady at 2.1% for Aug: Atlanta Fed
US builder confidence in Aug fell to lowest level in 2018: HousingWire
Productivity in US jumped to highest level in over 3 years in Q2: MW
Benchmark 10yr Treasury yield trending lower again, dipping to one-month low:

An Analyst Says Asset Allocation “In Serious Decline.” Really?

A Forbes columnist last week warned that asset allocation is falling on hard times. Rob Isbitts, founder and chief investment officer of Sungarden Investment Research, writes that “if you started investing in a typical asset allocation strategy any time since mid-2012, your returns have been progressively worse.” Using a set of BlackRock asset allocation ETFs as evidence, he says the standard asset allocation strategy has “lost its mojo.”
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Macro Briefing: 15 August 2018

A hodgepodge of results for Dems and GOP in Tuesday’s primaries: Politico
Turkey raises tariffs on US imports as banking authorities support lira: Reuters
US warns of more tariffs for Turkey if pastor isn’t freed: Reuters
Democrats and Republicans shunning capitalism: Yahoo Finance
Are US trade tariffs on China part of a grander strategic policy? SCMP
Be wary of using one indicator for factor analysis:
US stock market rise is close to longest bull market on record: LPL
US small business optimism in July edged up to 2nd highest level in 45 years: NFIB
Active management’s death has been greatly exaggerated: Barry Ritholtz
US y-o-y import prices tick up to 6-1/2-year high in July: MarketWatch