Tag Archives: south china sea

Evaluating Data and US Military Intervention

The Economy: The numbers released this week underscore the difficulty in evaluating the economy. Consumer confidence is at all-time highs; as is bullish sentiment. Auto Sales disappointed. ADP Jobs report on Wednesday were blow-out; far above expectations. Yet the very similar NonFarm Payrolls were far below expectations on Friday. Oil has rallied, dipped and rallied back on each OPEC announcement. Fed Minutes were released and showed a more hawkish stance towards raising interest rates. They also contained a comment that stocks may be overvalued. The nuclear option on Gorsuch was exercised without causing a ripple. This is the conundrum of soft versus hard data. Soft data is about how you feel or what you think. Hard data is information that has some basis in statistics. With the manipulation of statistics you now have to frame hard data in terms of what might be fake news. For example, are any numbers provided by the Chinese Communist Party real? For better or worse, they certainly drive the markets. For the U.S. the consensus is that the Trump rally is intact regardless of the healthcare fail, the headwinds of tax reform, a looming trade war with China and as of today, a possible hot war with Syria/Russia. We continue to hear that regardless of the macro picture, bank lending standards remain tight.

Food for Thought: The relentless upward bias of the stock market stumbled Wednesday when the Fed Minutes were released. Two comments were taken as bearish for stocks. First, further interest rate hikes are coming in 2017. Second, the statement that stocks may be overvalued was viewed as a warning. Together, these comments stopped the rally and caused the largest reversal in 15-months. Markets closed down dramatically. But like so many other issues that should have paused this bull market, the reversal was forgotten overnight. Stocks had a positive day as the prospect of a Syrian war and the adage, “buy on the sound of cannons, sell on the sound of trumpets” was heard. Last week Tillerson indicated that Syria was best left to the Syrians. Today, Trump bombed ‘em. U.S. military intervention in Syria. Perhaps it’s the Art of The Deal, but it seems that there’s a lot of U.S. saber rattling going on. We have U.S. troops in Poland, on the Russian border, for the first time in history. We’ve turned-up the anti-Russian volume on Ukraine. We’re threatening North Korea with unilateral action. We’re flashing the sabers at China over the South China Sea. Perhaps the Central Banker stock market, which has morphed into the Trump Bump market will evolve into the global war market. To Infinity and Beyond.

Music of the Week: Billy Idol’s “Charmed Life”

Sell The Rip

The Economy: Contrary to the gloom and doom that has dominated the mainstream media recently, most economic indicators continue to show a U.S. economy that is expanding. Industrial Production rose more than expected. Capacity rose more than expected. Producer prices rose more than expected. But weakness was seen in housing starts. With the stock market in the tank and many portfolios bleeding, the Devil-May-Care exuberance of the past few years has left the zeitgeist. Mark Twain’s concern about the return of his capital instead of the return on his capital, is in full bloom. Yes Mabel, the stock market can go down despite the arcane mutterings of central bankers. While trillions in QE failed to validate the wealth effect, the global stock market selloff has gotten the full attention of the hoi polloi. The danger will always be that the media drumbeat of stock market doom will scare the U.S. consumer into hibernation, thereby creating an actual recession where one didn’t exit.

Food for Thought: The stock market rally of the past few days has been a welcome break from the kamikaze dive we’ve experienced since mid-December. This is the time for caution. We’ve urged you to have an exit strategy. Now is the time to implement that strategy. The recent strength in the stock market may be a bounce before we head lower. Selling into this rally and raising cash is the prudent move.