Don’t worry everybody. Federal Reserve Chairman "Helicopter Ben" Bernanke says that the U.S. economy is going to be just fine, and that if it does slip up somehow the Federal Reserve is ready to rush in to the rescue. That was essentially Bernanke’s message to an annual gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Friday. Bernanke insisted that even though the Federal Reserve has already cut interest rates to historic lows it still has plenty of tools that could be used to stimulate the U.S. economy if necessary.
Well, considering Bernanke’s track record, the "don’t worry, be happy" mantra is just not going to cut it this time. After all, if Bernanke and his team were such intellectual powerhouses the "surprise" financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 would not have caught them with their pants down. The truth is that just before the "greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression" Bernanke was telling everyone that the economy was just fine. So are we going to let him fool us again?
But Bernanke insists that this time is different. This time the Federal Reserve really has got a handle on things. During his remarks at Jackson Hole, Bernanke said that the Fed will adopt "unconventional measures if it proves necessary, especially if the outlook were to deteriorate significantly."
Could that be a thinly veiled way of saying that Helicopter Ben and his pals will do as much "quantitative easing" as they feel is necessary to keep the economy moving forward?…
As jobs dry up, people are rushing to find some other source of income.
Both statistically and anecdotally, a rush to tap non-wage sources of income is underway. While shopping in an old-line hardware store slated for closure, the clerk assisting us noted as an aside, "I’m 62, so I can retire." He is not alone, as correspondent Craig M. sent in this story describing a leap in Social Security applications: Social Security Applications Almost Double Because of Recession
Applications for Social Security benefits rose almost 50 percent more than expected this year because of the recession, according to the federal retirement program.
“We are seeing a significant increase in both retirement and disability applications as a result of the recession,” said Mark Lassiter, a Social Security spokesman.
The 150,000 extra retirees may add to the financial pressure on the entitlement program. In May, Social Security trustees said expenses would exceed revenue beginning in 2016, one year earlier than their previous forecast.
The Social Security Administration had projected an increase of 315,000 applicants for the 12 months ending Sept. 30 partly because the first baby boomers — those born right after World War II — are starting to retire.
The actual increase was higher. Agency statistics show that 2.57 million people requested benefits, up from the 2.10 million applications received during the previous 12 months. That’s an increase of 465,000, or 47 percent higher than the expected rise.
Another standard source of non-wage income is disability and workers compensation. Social Security is receiving more applications for disability, and at least anecdotally there is some evidence that people about to get laid off are attempting to tap the workers compensation system as a backup source of income, in effect saving their unemployment insurance. Filing a "stress claim" just prior to being laid off freezes the worker’s employment status: they remain employed but are not costing the employer wages.
Eventually, the workers compensation fund paid by employers is depleted and the rates employers pay into the system will rise--but as a stopgap, an injury or stress claim relieves both employer and employee.
This being a litigious society, I suspect there is a rise in employment-related lawsuits. One of our friends who operates a small restaurant was just served with…
Here’s a credit-crisis video retrospective from the Wall Street Journal. It is chapter one of a three part series. Notice the Wall Street meme that subprime borrowers caused the crisis which is patently false. It’s all about dodgy credits and Fannie and Freddie? Total rubbish.
Easy money, as the clip says, is the culprit. And this money went into credit cards, leveraged buy outs, residential housing, student loans, commercial property and on down the line. It’s not about subprime, my friends I like the rest of it, but remember the Wall Street Journal has a certain bias and it is reflected here.
Chapter One: In the first of this three-part series, WSJ reporters explain how the housing bubble inflated and burst, and why easy money led to the collapse of Wall Street’s biggest financial institutions.
This is part two of the End of Wall Street series the Wall Street Journal is producing.
Chapter Two of A WSJ series: What was going through the minds of CEOs, corporate boards, fund managers and mortgage lenders as they created hard-to-understand derivatives Warren Buffett once called "weapons of financial mass destruction."
You have to love how it starts off with Alan Murray saying “There’s plenty of blame to go around. I think in retrospect lots of people who were doing stupid things.” Then the famous NYSE opening bell goes off and they cut to a shot of Alan Greenspan.
I couldn’t help but think about Tim Iacono’s site when I saw this. Watch this video. They really takeoff the gloves here. Regulators and the rating agencies get a severe beat-down. Well-done.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has claimed that Russian president Vladimir Putin is out to conquer the “whole of Europe”. Following Putin’s aggressive annexation of Crimea last year, the international community as a whole has been waiting to see where the Russian leader trains his sights next. Poroshenko’s allegations reflect what much of the current international leadership fears: that the 2014 Crimean conflict is only the beginning of a new geopolitical dynamic.
I wrote a story about poor Clarence who retired in 1979, and even poorer Larry who retired last year. I created these characters to challenge the notion of calculating a real interest rate by subtracting inflation. The idea is that the decline of a currency can be measured by the rate of price increases. This price-centric view leads to the concept of purchasing power—the amount of stuff that a dollar can buy. It’s the flip side of prices. When prices rise, purchasing power falls.
Recall in the story, Clarence retired in 1979. At the time, inflation was running at 14% but he could only get 11% i...
The Financial Times reports September Rate Rise Odds Improve as Lockhart Speaks. Expectations that the Federal Reserve will lift interest rates in September popped on Tuesday after Dennis Lockhart, president of the Atlanta Fed, said there would need to be a "significant deterioration" in economic activity to prevent the central bank from moving after its next monetary policy meeting.
Federal funds futures imply a 48 per cent probability that the Fed will lift rates in September, up from just 38 per cent on Monday, according to data and calculations from Bloomberg.
The same calculations imply that a move will have already taken place by October, while federal funds ...
The left chart looks at the Nasdaq Composite index over the past 20-years.
Currently the index is back at the same price as it was back at the Dot Com highs. With the trend being up (above support and moving averages) the NAS, is attempting a “continuation of trend breakout” at this time. Should the index achieve a breakout above the 2000 levels, it would be viewed as a bullish continuation event.
The right chart looks at Apple over the past 5-years. For the past 6-months, Apple has struggled to get above the $133 level. From a very short-term perspective a short-term support line could be giving way, of a bearish r...
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In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, review our weekly fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings of the ten U.S. business sectors, and then offer up some actionable trading ideas, including a sector rotation strategy using ETFs and an enhanced version using top-ranked stocks from the top-ranked sectors.
Corporate earnings reports have been mixed at best, interspersed with the occasional spectacular report -- primarily from mega-caps like Google (GOOGL), Facebook (FB), or Amazon (AMZN). Some of the bul...
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Baxter Int. (BAX) is splitting off its BioSciences division into a new company called Baxalta. Shares of Baxalta will be given as a tax-free dividend, in the ratio of one to one, to BAX holders on record on June 17, 2015. That means, if you want to receive the Baxalta dividend, you need to buy the stock this week (on or before June 12).
Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself.
Kim Parlee interviews Phil on Money Talk. Be sure to watch the replays if you missed the show live on Wednesday night (it was recorded on Monday). As usual, Phil provides an excellent program packed with macro analysis, important lessons and trading ideas. ~ Ilene
The replay is now available on BNN's website. For the three part series, click on the links below.
Part 1 is here (discussing the macro outlook for the markets)
Part 2 is here. (discussing our main trading strategies)
Part 3 is here. (reviewing our pick of th...
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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