Macro Briefing: 27 February 2018

IEA: US to overtake Russia as world’s largest oil producer in 2019: Reuters
Gun control efforts face headwinds in Senate: Politico
What to watch for in today’s testimony by Fed Chair Powell: MarketWatch
Global stocks rise to 3-week highs ahead of Fed chief’s debut in Congress: Reuters
St Louis Fed President is”concerned that [rate hikes go] too far too fast”: Reuters
Fed’s Quarles: “I am fairly optimistic about… the economy”: CNBC
US economy expanded at a slightly softer pace in January: Chicago Fed
IRS forces Coinbase, a cryptocurrency broker, to report records: Digital Trends
Dallas Fed: mfg business activity at highest level since 2005: San Antonio Exp News
New home sales in US fell to a 5-month low in Dec: CNBC

Macro Briefing: 26 February 2018

China lays groundwork for Xi Jinping to hold presidency indefinitely: WaPo
Mexico’s president cancels White House visit after call with Trump: LA Times
Treasury yields dip ahead of new Fed chief’s first congressional testimony: MW
Peter Navarro, a trade skeptic in the White House, is promoted: NY Times
Buffett: patience is required in a world of high-priced equities: Bloomberg
Firmer pricing for transport costs point to another inflation factor: Reuters
Data breaches reach an all-time high in 2017: Thales
US flu season is the worst since 2009-2010: FiveThirtyEight
Is factor allocation superior to conventional asset allocation? Alpha Architect
Relative strength in junk bonds may be positive sign for stocks: FMD Capital
Bridgewater’s short on European equities goes into overdrive: Barron’s
US financial stress level ticks lower for first time in five weeks: St. Louis Fed

Book Bits | 24 February 2018

It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear
By Gregg Easterbrook
Summary via publisher (Public Affairs)
Is civilization teetering on the edge of a cliff? Or are we just climbing higher than ever? Most people who read the news would tell you that 2017 is one of the worst years in recent memory. We’re facing a series of deeply troubling, even existential problems: fascism, terrorism, environmental collapse, racial and economic inequality, and more. Yet this narrative misses something important: by almost every meaningful measure, the modern world is better than it ever has been. In the United States, disease, crime, discrimination, and most forms of pollution are in long-term decline, while longevity and education keep rising and economic indicators are better than in any past generation. Worldwide, malnutrition and extreme poverty are at historic lows, and the risk of dying by war or violence is the lowest in human history. It’s not a coincidence that we’re confused–our perspectives on the world are blurred by the rise of social media, the machinations of politicians, and our own biases.
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Tech Sector Momentum Still Dominates After Market Turbulence

The surge in market volatility earlier this month took a toll far and wide, but tech’s leadership endures, based on a set of sector ETFs. A fund that holds a diversified mix of technology shares is trading below its recent highs, but the sector has largely bounced back from the early February correction and continues to dominate in the year-over-year column vs. the rest of the field.
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Macro Briefing: 23 February 2018

US set to impose more sanctions on N. Korea: Reuters
Blackrock says it will talk with gunmakers about Florida shooting: Reuters
FCC officially publishes regs that will repeal net neutrality rules in April: Engadget
US jobless claims last week fell to 2nd lowest level since the recession: MW 
Leading Economic Index for US rose in Jan, signaling “robust” growth: Conf. Board
US inflation trend probably ticked up in Feb, according to alt-data estimate: WSJ
Private data suggests China’s economic growth is slowing: Asia Times
Avg college endowment fund lagged stock/bond mix over last decade: NY Times
S&P 500 forward earnings estimates surging in 2018: Yardeni Research

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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