On Economy

     

 

 

One Great Big Difference

On a beautiful midsummer day, roughly six months ago, two distinguished men, of distinguished stature, crossed paths under precarious circumstances.  They are very much alike, these two distinguished men.

 

Let’s confuse him…  [PT]

 

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Almost Predictable

One of the more enticing things about financial markets is not that they’re predictable.  Or that they’re not predictable.  It’s that they’re almost predictable… or at least they seem they should be.

 

For a long time people believed – and from what we read and hear, many still do – that economic cycles move in easily predictable, regular time periods. All you had to do was create a chart of the up and down waves of your favorite cycle model and extrapolate it into the future, and presto, your prediction was ready to be sold. But it turns out it is not that simple. The chart above was published by the “Inflation Survival Letter” in the late 1970s and purported to show the future trend of the so-called Kondratiev Wave, a cycle invented by Soviet economist Nikolai Kondratiev (who was eventually deported to the GULAG and killed by the Stalin regime, after a fellow American economics professor denounced him to the communists in Moscow as a “counter-revolutionary”). Interestingly, their forecast of the trend in wholesale prices turned out to be correct, but everything else they predicted in this context was incorrect. According to the K-Wave theory, the year 2000 was supposed to have been the trough of a major economic depression, with extremely high unemployment, a plunging stock market and all the other symptoms associated with a giant bust. In reality, the year 2000 was the peak of a major boom, with unemployment almost reaching a record low and stock prices soaring to unprecedented valuations. There was a time when the seeming elegance and simplicity of models like Kondratiev’s had our attention as well. There are ways of rationalizing such models. For instance, one could argue that it takes a few generations to “forget the lessons of a depression” and end the risk aversion and penchant for saving it inculcates in the public. There are certainly kernels of truth in this, but the fact remains that the future is unknowable. Kondratiev e.g. didn’t know that the communist empire would crumble in 1990 and that half the world would join the hampered market economy of the nominally capitalist West. This was undoubtedly one of the factors helping to extend the economic boom well into the 1990s (precisely because it kept prices low, which in turn enabled central banks to implement loose monetary policies). [PT]

 

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Unexpected Inflection Points

High inflection points in life, like high inflection points in the stock market, are both humbling and instructive.  One moment you think you’ve got the world by the tail.  The next moment the rug’s yanked right out from under you.

 

The yanked rug… [PT]

 

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The Recline and Flail of Western Civilization and Other 2019 Predictions

 

“I think it’s a tremendous opportunity to buy.  Really a great opportunity to buy.” – President Donald Trump, Christmas Day 2018

 

Darts in a Blizzard

Today, as we prepare to close out the old, we offer a vast array of tidings.  We  bring words of doom and despair.  We bring words of contemplation and reflection.  And we also bring words of hope and sunshine.

 

Famous stock market investment adviser Field Marshal D. Trump [PT]

 

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A Year of Turmoil

Dear Readers,

The team at Acting Man wishes you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays and all the best for the new year!

Hopefully our missives helped you navigate the treacherous waters of the financial markets this year. As our low posting frequency attests to, we unfortunately continued to be incapacitated by our poor health. Nevertheless, we did our best to chronicle the growing cracks in the bubble edifice.

 

Evidently the Bad Santa got hold of the markets this year.

 

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Offering Peace and Joy

Heading into the final weekend before Christmas we’ll take a brief hiatus from the economy and markets. We do so, however, with intent and purpose. Our principal objective is to offer peace and joy as you go about your merry way.

 

Unfortunately, Santa isn’t coming this year. Right after losing his behind in cryptos, he went all in with everything he had left on FANG stocks, margined up to his eyebrows. He trusted his well-worn ability to deliver the traditional “Santa Claus rally”, but was waylaid by the dollar-dissolving vampire bat Ptenochirus Iagori Powelli  hiding in a snowdrift. He needs some time off to forget. [PT]

 

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Stars in the Night Sky

The U.S. stock market’s recent zigs and zags have provoked much squawking and screeching.  Wall Street pros, private money managers, and Millennial index fund enthusiasts all find themselves on the wrong side of the market’s swift movements.  Even the best and brightest can’t escape President Trump’s tweet precipitated short squeezes.

 

The Donald mercilessly hits the shorts with a well-timed tweet. But as it turns out, this market is in a really bad mood at the moment. [PT]

 

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Numbers from Bizarro-World

The past few months have been really challenging for anyone invested in gold or silver; for me personally as well. Despite serious warning signs in the economy, staggering debt levels and a multitude of significant geopolitical threats at play, the rally in risk assets seemed to continue unabated.

 

Bizarro-World intrudes into our reality, courtesy of central banks. [PT]

 

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Mud Volcanoes

There are numerous explanations for just what in the heck is going on with the economy.  Some are good.  Many are bad.  Today we’ll do our part to bring clarity to disorder…

 

Two data series it is worth paying attention to at the moment: the unemployment rate (U3) and initial claims. As the chart at the top shows, when the former makes a low it is time to worry about the economy. Low points in the U3 UE rate slightly lead the beginning of recessions. Claims on the other hand are near coincident indicators of the stock market, this is to say, lows in initial claims tend to happen within a time period of four to six weeks surrounding major stock market peaks (in most cases they lead slightly, but small lags have occasionally occurred as well). Note: neither indicator confirms an imminent turning point as of yet – initial claims would e.g. have to rise to around 300k in order to do so. The same is true of other major recession indicators, their most recent readings do not yet confirm that the business cycle is about to turn down. However, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that indicates such a downturn may soon be confirmed, including recent market moves (i.e., deteriorating stock prices and rising credit spreads). [PT]

 

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Yosemite Sam Gets Worried About Federal Debt

In a talk which garnered little attention, one of the Deep State’s prime operatives, National Security Advisor John Bolton, cautioned of the enormous and escalating US debt.

 

Deep State operative John Bolton, a.k.a. Yosemite Sam [PT]

Photo credit: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

 

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How to Blow $9 Billion

The life cycle of capital follows a wide-ranging succession. It is imagined, produced, consumed, and destroyed. How exactly this all takes place involves varying and infinite undulations.

 

The Stroh Brewery in Detroit. The company provided an example of how wealth that has been accumulated over generations can be completely destroyed due to just a handful of really bad decisions. [PT]

 

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Political Correctness Indoctrination

[ed note: we are posting this belatedly as it was originally supposed to be published on Thanksgiving Day. Unfortunately your editor was out of commission… but MN Gordon’s article is still worth reading. – PT] 

Ordinary ideals of Americana range as far and wide as the North American continent.  The valued conviction of one American vastly differs from that of another.  For example, someone from the Mid-Atlantic may have little connection with someone from the Midwest.  Their connection with Cascadia may be even less.

 

Socrates thinking at students and tourists in front of the Academy of Athens [PT]

 

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