Mixed Messages In Treasury Market For Rate Outlook

Judging by futures prices, the market’s expecting that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates again at next month’s monetary policy meeting. That’s also the implied outlook in the 2-year yield (considered to be the most-sensitive spot on the yield curve for rate expectations), which is close to a post-recession high. But the Treasury market’s softer inflation forecasts still leave room for debate about what comes next.
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Book Bits | 13 May 2017

Cents and Sensibility: What Economics Can Learn from the Humanities
By Gary Saul Morson and Morton Schapiro
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
Economists often act as if their methods explain all human behavior. But in Cents and Sensibility, an eminent literary critic and a leading economist make the case that the humanities, especially the study of literature, offer economists ways to make their models more realistic, their predictions more accurate, and their policies more effective and just. Gary Saul Morson and Morton Schapiro trace the connection between Adam Smith’s great classic, The Wealth of Nations, and his less celebrated book on The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and contend that a few decades later Jane Austen invented her groundbreaking method of novelistic narration in order to give life to the empathy that Smith believed essential to humanity.

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Stock Market Volatility and Recessions: A Primer

The unusually low level of stock market volatility has drawn widespread attention recently as the crowd tries to decipher what it means for equity investing and the economy. One of the interpretations is that low vol is a sign that recession risk is low. That’s true, at least at the moment. But the historical connection between market volatility and the business cycle is too unstable for drawing general lessons about recession risk. In other words, it’s dangerous to assume from volatility alone that the near-term outlook for the US economy is rosy. The opposite is true too: a spike in vol by itself doesn’t always signal a new recession.
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Cleaning Out The Factor Zoo

The explosion of financial research in recent years has uncovered an expanding assortment of alpha-generating possibilities that presumably offer a shortcut for enhancing returns over and above a market index. But as a growing list of studies reminds, you can drive a bus through the gap between the reported laundry list of factors and those that pass the smell test.
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Book Bits | 6 May 2017

Can We Avoid Another Financial Crisis?
By Steve Keen
Review via NakedCapitalism
At first glance this book seems too small-sized at 147 pages. But like a well-made atom-bomb, it is compactly designed for maximum reverberation to blow up its intended target.
Explaining why today’s debt residue has turned the United States, Britain and southern Europe into zombie economies, Steve Keen shows how ignoring debt is the blind spot of neoliberal economics – basically the old neoclassical just-pretend view of the world. Its glib mathiness is a gloss for its unscientific “don’t worry about debt” message. Blame for today’s U.S., British and southern European inability to achieve economic recovery thus rests on the economic mainstream and its refusal to recognize that debt matters.
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US Payrolls Rebound In April, But 1-Year Trend Still Looks Wobbly

The pace of job creation picked up sharply in April, the Labor Department reports. The solid increase suggests that the weak gain in March, which was revised down, was an anomaly. That’s an encouraging sign, and for the moment it revives the view that the US labor market is still expanding at a healthy if unspectacular rate. Nonetheless, the latest numbers also reaffirm that the year-over-year comparison is still signaling a decelerating trend, which has been playing out over the past two years.
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