A theme which frequently pops up in current financial and economic commentary is that of the burgeoning levels of outstanding debt under which all too many nations are said to groan. Typically, reference will be made to the percentage of GDP which this mountain of obligations entails, usually by way of putting it into a context which is deliberately slanted to be alarming. But how valid is this comparison? Continue reading
Though the connexion is not always explicitly drawn, one obvious corollary of the perceived current shortfall in corporate investment spending is to be found in the lacklustre nature of the gains being recorded in something called ‘productivity’.
This latter deficiency is often said to have ‘puzzled’ the Good and Great who presume to be able to influence such matters for the better, but one can readily identify factors which implicate the policies of those same would-be helmsmen of the economy, themselves, in the discouragement they offer for capital formation and by the incentives they afford for less than ideal practices among businesses, consumers, and governments, alike.
For a downloadable PDF version of this article, please click: 17-10-27 Easy Money
There are signs that not only is money beginning to circulate more rapidly through cash registers everywhere, but that Corporate America is beginning to make good some of its recent, much-cited lack of physical investment and, conversely, is starting to eschew some of its contemporary over-indulgence in financial engineering.
It may be early days to be jumping to overly grand conclusions, but the last few quarters’ trend nonetheless bears watching. Continue reading
Does it make sense to plot multi-decade asset prices on a linear scale? How reliable are macro ‘profit’ estimates? Why is the curve flattening and what will a reduction in Central Bank reserve balances mean for assets?
Some readers may be interested in putting a voice – and even a face – to the author. Below are links to three recent audio-visual publications in which I discuss US & Chinese macro as well as the interrelations between the three great asset classes of stocks, bonds, an commodities. Following on is a wider sampling of my views. Continue reading
Birmingham statistician and financial forecaster Arthur H. Gibson’s so-called ‘paradox’ came about from his detailed empirical findings that the level of bond yields (as measured by the price of British Consols) tended to follow – with a lag of around a year – the price of wholesale commodities (a measure he adopted, as he himself explained, as a proxy for what he thought was the real crux of the issue, the cost of consumable necessities for which no comparable data existed). Argument has abounded as to the phenomenon’s true explanation, ever since.
As world stock markets have continued to climb to cyclical – if not all-time – highs, it has become almost the norm for industry Talking Heads to season their smatterings of media insight with a brief, talismanic expression of scepticism, uttered partly to appease the ever-jealous God of the Markets but mainly so as to be on record as ‘having foreseen the crash’ as and when one eventually occurs.
At the end of last month, the Mighty Oz’s and Grand Panjandrums of central banking descended upon the rural splendours of Wyoming in order to engage in a very public display of navel gazing and to enact a ritual, group reinforcement of confirmation bias.
There, we heard much nonsense talked about low – even negative -‘natural interest rates’ and of the seeming impossibility of triggering an alchemically meaningful dose of price inflation with which to restore the balance of the humours in the global economy.
It was most timely, then, for the ever-mischievous BIS to publish a paper first presented last year by Charles Goodhart & Manoj Pradhan which challenged much of the received wisdom of our monetary overlords and which broadly affirmed arguments I, too, have long been offering against their approach.
Please click the link to read more:-
Certain schools of thought – among them the so-called ‘Market Monetarists’, as well as George Selgin’s Fractional Free Bankers – believe – in line with the thinking of the later Hayek – that the Fed would be better off effecting policy with regard to the maintenance of a steady rate of growth of nominal GDP.
Consciously or otherwise, we would argue that this is largely what it has done, over the years, and that this insight helps us tie together developments in the PMI, in business income streams, and in the Fed funds rate.
Please click the link for the details
In her recent set-piece testimony before Congress, Janet Yellen made clear that she is determined to repeat the sort of ‘gradualism’ in raising rates that proved so disastrous after the Tech bust. In other words, that she will not so much boil the frog slowly as encourage him to go out and make a further raft of foredoomed, highly-leveraged investment decisions before he realises he’s been cooked.