Category Archives: Economy

3 Trillion Dollars Now at Risk…and More

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Three Trillion dollars gained in the U.S. markets since the Presidential election in November 2016 are now at risk…and more.

With the recent failings of two attempts by the President to implement temporary travel restrictions from several foreign countries via his executive orders, and the failure of Republicans to reach a consensus on passing a bill that would have repealed and replaced ObamaCare, one has to wonder whether Republicans can, in fact, ever reach agreement on any of President Trump’s economic, fiscal, national security, tax and regulation reform, and immigration reform agenda.

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The U.S. Economy, Post-Payrolls & Pre-FOMC

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This week’s Notes From the Rabbit Hole included a little Payrolls/Wages related economic discussion before moving on to the usual coverage of stock markets, commodities, precious metals, bonds, currencies and related indicators and market internals.  With FOMC on tap there will be more data noise directly ahead, but then I expect markets to smooth out into what is looking like a sensible short and intermediate-term plan.

U.S. Economy

Graphic sources:  St. Louis Fed, BLS, TradingEconomics, Macrotrends & Bespoke Premium

So Payrolls came in a little firmer than expected and interestingly, the manufacturing sectors did some solid hiring. This is an area that is sensitive to coming fiscal policy because it is subject to regulations likely to be repealed (especially environmental, a real fundamental underpinning) and high paying jobs repatriation to U.S. shores (a phony baloney fundamental, at least in large part, in my opinion). In this graph we see that manufacturing job losses had been easing into the election, but job gains have ramped up after the election. All of this on anticipated policy changes? (more…)

“Protection Will Lead to Great Prosperity”

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A slightly modified version of the opening segment of this week’s Notes From the Rabbit Hole, NFTRH 431…

After being mostly off the grid on Friday, I listened to the Trump inauguration speech on Saturday morning. While I have lots of thoughts and opinions, I want to focus on an item where I am qualified; namely my former area of expertise as someone who was in essence told by the media over and over again “you don’t exist”, while the consumerist, financialized and globalized economy flourished. By “you” I of course mean me, an owner of a small American manufacturing business. My area of focus from the speech…

“We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon. One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind. The wealth of the middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world. But that is the past and now we are looking only to the future.

We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power. From this day forward a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward it’s going to be ‘America first… America first… America first’! (more…)

Crude Oil About to Hit a Slippery Spot?

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Contributed by Rohit Goel 

Crude Oil prices have been on a wild ride over the last couple of years, dropping from $100+ in late-2014 to $26 in early-2016, then miraculously doubling over the next few months. As the Energy Information Administration (EIA) explains, there are several factors influencing oil markets, such as production, economic growth, geopolitical and economic events, supply disruptions, speculator and money manager positioning etc. In addition, US Dollar also has a significant inverse relationship to oil prices.

However, the major reason for oil’s plunge since late-2014 was Saudi Arabia blocking an OPEC output cut in November 2014, with the intent of pushing oil prices lower, inflicting serious pain on the US shale oil industry (which needs high oil prices to break even) and increasing their own market share – so essentially, increased supply. The best gauge of how this increased supply has caused an imbalance in the global oil market is the EIA inventory report, which is released every Wednesday morning and has a big impact on oil prices. So let’s compare the price of WTI with the EIA inventory, starting in Jan 2013 when the market was in a steady state and remained so for the next year and a half (the period highlighted in yellow denotes the peak summer driving season – more on this later):

(Note from Tim: there appeared at this point a very large table, which I’m going to leave out, since the information is expressed in graph form anyway). (more…)

ISM Manufacturing is Wobbling @ 49.4%

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The weak ISM headline number (PMI) was an excuse for bonds and precious metals to bounce and the US dollar to drop today. It evidently inspired wild eyed casino patrons to unwind recent positions (short gold, long USD for instance) as the great and powerful Fed now has reason to stand down in September. Such is life in the casino; always a story, always a play, always manic, always addicted to short-term news and media inputs.

Before looking at the particulars of ISM, let’s review the Machine Tools sales data that we have not looked at in a while. It is and has been W.E.A.K. for years now, outside of the traditional year end tax mitigation bounce. Data through June (source: EDA):

machine tools

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Semiconductor Sector, Updated

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We have been using the Semis as a one of several economic signposts, and as an investment/trading destination since the Semi Equipment ‘bookings’ category in the Book-to-Bill ratio began to ramp up several months ago. But those who say that Semiconductors are subject to pricing pressures are correct. It is a segment in which people need to be discrete with their investments. NFTRH 410 updated some details about this market leader.

sox vs. ndx

sox vs. spx

Semiconductor Sector

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“Gold Counter Cyclical?”

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The title of this segment is actually the subject line of an email sent by subscriber ‘RK’ on Friday, after the post-Payrolls update that included the following statement that RK questioned. From the update…

“Gold is getting clobbered as it should. Let’s please keep it real, because a lot of gold bugs are not going to. The case for gold, silver and commodities rests on an inflationary phase, which strong jobs and wages would indicate out ahead. But for now, the hit to the precious metals is logical.”

The case for commodities (cyclical) always rested on an inflationary phase, but in noting that the same is true for gold it appears that we have deviated from the preferred case for a strong, longer-term precious gold bull; and indeed we have. The point I have been making as the Semiconductor Equipment cycle went positive a few months ago and gold broke down vs. palladium more recently, is that cyclical forces are at work now. That would not be the preferred fundamental environment for gold or gold miners. (more…)