Monthly Archives: February 2018

Macro Briefing: 22 February 2018

Trump favors arming teachers to prevent school shootings: Reuters
Air strikes by Syrian regime and Russian allies kill more than 300 since Sun: WaPo
Fed minutes: officials say growth, inflation make case for more rate hikes: The Hill
Fed’s Quarles: US economy in “best shape” since financial crisis: Bloomberg
US existing home sales post biggest year-over-year drop in 3 years in Jan: Reuters
Signs of slower US growth are on the horizon: MainStay Investments
Larry Swedroe: research shows that combining factors can outperform:
Small-biz sentiment indicators are no silver bullet for investors: Barry Ritholtz
Southern Poverty Law Center: hate groups in US are proliferating: Reuters 
Composite PMI: US output in Jan rises at fastest rate since Nov 2015: IHS Markit

Trend Behavior: Comparing US vs. Emerging Markets Stocks

Standard finance theory tells us to select weights for stocks and other asset classes based on market value. By that standard, emerging markets deserve a relatively light touch in portfolios. But this strikes some investors are misguided. As Frontera, a research shop, noted last year, “Emerging Markets Account for 80% of Global GDP Growth But Only 10% of World Equity Market Cap.”
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Macro Briefing: 21 February 2018

Supreme Court rejects challenge to waiting period for gun purchases: Reuters
Shocking new corruption charges leveled at Israel’s Netanyahu: LA Times
Obama’s chief economist: Trump’s economic projections are “absurd”: Vox
Weak sales growth for Wal-Mart rattled investors on Tuesday: USA Today
How will the US safety net for workers fare in the next recession? NY Times
Venezuela launches crypto currency; reports raising $735 million: Reuters
Study projects world’s oceans rising 3 feet by 2300: Nature Communications
Treasury auction sees 3- and 6-mo bills sell at rates unseen since 2008: Bloomberg
2-year Treasury rate continues rising, setting another 10yr high on Tues: 2.25%

There Are (Still) No Shortcuts For Estimating Recession Risk

The St. Louis Fed last week pondered the question: “Is the U.S. Due for a Recession?” In a blog post the bank advised that after a long expansion “there is a concern that, even though the economy looks good right now, the next recession may be lurking just around the corner.” On the short list for possible smoking guns, the post continued, is the low unemployment rate, which is currently at 4.1%, which is near a two-decade low.
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Macro Briefing: 20 February 2018

Iran responds with a warning of its own after Israel PM’s fiery speech: CNN
Will Iran’s “axis of resistance” trigger another war in the Mideast? NY Times
Senate seeks to roll back bank regs put in place after 2008 crash: Politico
Gun-control push finds new traction after Florida shooting: WaPo
Diversification may be challenged this year as a risk-management tool: Bloomberg
The case for global small-cap stocks is strenghtening: Fortune Financial
Ethereum’s co-founder: digital currencies could “drop to near-zero”: MarketWatch
Americans are starting to view the GOP tax plan more favorably: NY Times

Macro Briefing: 19 February 2018

Russia issues warning to US on Syrian conflict: Bloomberg
Will tax cuts help GOP retain control of Congress in elections this fall? Reuters
US consumer sentiment jumps to 2nd highest level in 14 years: MarketWatch
Import prices for US up more than forecast in January: WSJ
Are commodities a worthwhile hedge against inflation? MarketWatch
Markets may be overestimating the risk of higher inflation: Nataxis
US economic growth coupled with a rising deficit is troubling: FiveThirtyEight

Book Bits | 17 February 2018

The Divide: Global Inequality from Conquest to Free Markets
Summary via publisher (W. W. Norton)
By Jason Hickel
Global inequality doesn’t just exist; it has been created. More than four billion people—some 60 percent of humanity—live in debilitating poverty, on less than $5 per day. The standard narrative tells us this crisis is a natural phenomenon, having to do with things like climate and geography and culture. It tells us that all we have to do is give a bit of aid here and there to help poor countries up the development ladder. It insists that if poor countries would only adopt the right institutions and economic policies, they could overcome their disadvantages and join the ranks of the rich world. Anthropologist Jason Hickel argues that this story ignores the broader political forces at play.
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Macro Briefing: 16 February 2018

Global stocks on track for best weekly gain since 2011: Reuters
US industrial production slips in Jan, first slide in 5 months: MarketWatch
US producer prices rise in Jan — another sign of firming inflation: WSJ
Jobless claims in US rise after touching a near-45-year low: Reuters
NY Fed manufacturing index dips modestly in Feb: RTT
Philly Fed index points to firmer growth for manufacturing in Feb: RTT
Builder confidence in US remained high in Feb: HousingWire
History suggests caution for stocks when rates and inflation rise: NY Times
A study of financial advisors’ personal investing habits reveal poor decisions: SSRN
2-year Treasury yield edges up to 2.19%, highest since 2008: