For some months now, we have been warning of the stresses building in China’s credit structure and warning that, if unaddressed, they would lead to pain in asset markets and potentially to weakness out in the real economy. Here, we lay out the arguments in detail.
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.
One of the truisms of the current market is that volatility – both historical and implied – is historically low, but just how extreme is it? How does this manifest itself in the bond, as opposed to the stock, market? What does it tell us about the risks we may be running by maintaining naked exposures?
Please follow the link to find a brief, but instructive overview of this most burning of issues:-
Are equities ‘overpriced’ and if so, by how much? What about bonds or that largely forgotten asset-class, commodities? How do the three of them inter-relate and can we take advantage of such behaviour in order to build a better, more macro-resilient portfolio?
We take a detailed look, here, in the presentation found by clicking on the link:
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 …
A little over 10 years ago, a hitherto obscure German institution called IKB – majority-owned by an arm of the German government – suddenly made headlines around the world.
On the last day of July 2007, a company which ironically had its origins in a foredoomed effort to ‘stimulate’ the German economy in the aftermath of the Weimar Republic’s disastrous by financing small businesses, but also by partaking of the contemporary, pre-Depression boom in real estate, revealed that, once again, it had been seduced by the lure of a property bubble. [A version of this article appeared as part of the inaugural edition of ETF Stream] 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.
‘Dollar makes worst start to the year since 1985,’ screamed the headlines a few weeks ago in a classic click-bait attempt to get people to read about what they already should know by using a somewhat artificial statistic – after all, since when did the world revolve around what happened specifically between Dec 31st and July 31st?