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.
Two days ago we highlighted a new study from the St. Louis Fed where someone had the very prudent idea to strip out loans in deferment and forbearance from the denominator of the student debt delinquency rate equation so everyone could get a better idea of what the real numbers look like.
The thing is, you can’t be delinquent when you aren’t required to make payments, so if you divide the number of delinquent student loans by the total amount of outstanding debt including loans in deferment and forbearance, you are comparing apples to oranges. Only around ...
Speaking of seeming backward, the economic data has continued to disappoint on virtually all fronts, earnings are weak and markets are grossly extended. Yet, investors are more bullish than ever as noted yesterday:
"While investors may be looking for returns, they are 'extraordinarily optimistic about their investment prospects in both the short and long term,' says Natixis. Respondents say they need 10.1 percent return on their investments, and 81 percent of them feel their expectations are realistic.
Fifty-four percent expect their returns this year to be better than 2014.
When it comes to investing in the stock market, do you feel leadership can be important. If so, you might want to pay attention to price action from a key global stock index. China has been in the news for hot stock market performance that past couple of months. When it comes to the past couple of years, Germany has been stronger than China and the S&P 500. In the past two years the DAX index has gained 18% more than the S&P 500, which is a 60% greater return.
The chart below looks at conditions in the DAX at this time and what message is coming from this index.
US futures began tanking around 6 AM ET, about the same the major European indexes started rolling over. Renewed anxieties of a Grexit (Greek eurozone exit) and a massive outage of Bloomberg terminals no doubt played a role. The EURO STOXX 50 subsequently posted a -2.07% for the day. The S&P 500 opened lower and had dropped a full percent fifteen minutes later. The index then traded sideways until post-lunch swoon took it to its -1.55% mid-afternoon intraday low. A modest late afternoon recovery trimmed the closing loss to -1.13%. The index is down 0.99% for the week.
Today the yield on the 10-year Note closed at 1.87%, down three bps from the previous close and nine bps from last week's close.
Here is a 15-minute chart of the past five sessions.
As we get into the heart of earnings season and anticipate the GDP report for Q1, the investor spotlight has been taken off the Federal Reserve and timing of its first interest rate hike, at least temporarily. Even though Q1 economic growth will undoubtedly look weak, the future remains bright for the U.S economy – even though many multinationals will struggle with top-line growth due to the strong dollar – and any near-term selloff resulting from weak economic or earnings news should be bought yet again in expectation of better results for the balance of the year. High sector correlations remain a concern, reflectin...
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As noted earlier, with equities now a barren wasteland of volume (and liquidity), the last remaining HFT master (of whale order frontrunning)has been forced to go to those asset classes where organic flow is still abundant such as FX, courtesy of central banks engaged in global currency wars. However, HFTs rea...
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...
In my last post (Part 1 of this article), I looked at alternative ETFs that could be used as hedges against the corrections that we have seen during that long 2 year bull run. Looking at the results, it seems that for short (less than a month) corrections, a VIX ETF like VXX could actually be a viable candidate to hedge or speculate on the way down. Another alternative ETF was TMF, a long Treasuries ETF which banks on the fact that when markets go down, money tends to pack into treasuries viewed as safe instruments. In some cases, TMF even outperformed the usual hedging instruments like leveraged ETFs. There could of course be other factors at play since some of 2014 corrections were related to geopolitical events which are certain...
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PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
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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