Posts filed under “Think Tank”

Go exports Go!, Canada Rocks too!, and a little bit of Ben

The August Trade Deficit unexpectedly narrowed to $30.7b and was $2.3b less than forecasted and down from $31.9b in July. The composition of the reduction in the deficit was good in that exports rose and imports fell. But, imports fell because of a reduction in the amount of crude imported. Imports ex this would have been up as would the overall trade deficit. Exports rose for a 4th straight month to the highest since Dec ’08 and are also of course a key component in determining the pace of US economic growth in terms of helping to soften (can’t completely offset) the impact of reduced US consumer spending. We need to make more of the stuff the rest of the world wants, whatever that might be.

Following yesterday’s much better than expected jobs report in Australia, the other large natural resource country, Canada, did the same. Sept job growth totaled 30.6k, above expectations of +5k and their unemployment rate unexpectedly fell a sharp .3% to 8.4% and the Canadian $ is rising to a fresh one year in response. Overnight, the US$ bounced after Bernanke said “at some point” as the “economic recovery takes hold, we will need to tighten monetary policy to prevent the emergence of an inflation problem down the road.” But, don’t think Ben is ready to turn in his B52 for a helicopter just yet as he said just prior that the Fed’s accommodative policies will likely be warranted for an extended period.” It’s not just a matter of when they raise but also at what pace. Better than expected IP #’s from France and Italy tempered the Euro drop. Chinese stocks exploded higher by 5% as they’re back from holiday.

Category: MacroNotes

Governor Daniel K. Tarullo: In the Wake of the Crisis

Governor Daniel K. Tarullo

At the Phoenix Metropolitan Area Community Leaders’ Luncheon, Phoenix, Arizona, October 8, 2009

In the Wake of the Crisis

I am pleased to be here in Phoenix at the invitation of President Yellen. Having come across the country to speak to you today, I thought I would not confine myself to a single subject, but would instead address a number of areas about which I have been thinking. Lest you fear that means a potpourri of unrelated observations, let me assure you that there is at least some thematic unity in my remarks–namely, the challenges we face in the wake of the financial crisis. So, with your indulgence, let me strike that rather grand theme by covering the current state of the economy, the task of financial regulatory reform, and some broader comments on credit markets.1

The Economic Outlook
Turning first to the economic outlook, let me begin by stating the obvious: After a period in which there seemed to be only two plausible scenarios–very bad and even worse–financial and economic conditions have steadied. A year ago the world financial system was profoundly shaken by the failures of large financial institutions here and abroad. Significant liquidity problems that had been building since early 2007 turned into a full-blown liquidity crisis. The economy deteriorated at a pace that was both rapid and sustained. The period ending in the second quarter of this year was the first time the United States had suffered negative GDP growth in four consecutive quarters since the Great Depression.2

As we closed out the third quarter last week, it was apparent that economic growth was back in positive territory. Financial markets continued to stabilize and, in some respects, improved. Consumer spending was showing signs of firming. Housing-related economic indicators have turned positive. Industrial production rose significantly in the summer, and not just for the auto industry, which was effectively restarting after the disruption caused by the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler. Growth in foreign markets, particularly emerging Asia, has been encouraging.

This turnaround is certainly welcome, but it should not be overstated. Although we can expect positive growth to continue beyond the third quarter, economic activity remains relatively weak. The upturns in industrial production and residential investment, for example, follow startling declines in the first half of the year. Improvement is gradual and beginning from very low levels.

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Category: Think Tank

How Economists Are Missing Another One

Thornton Parker is the author of “What If Boomers Can’t Retire? How to Build Real Security, Not Phantom Wealth” and has worked for the Department of Commerce and the Executive Office of the President. He focuses on retirement plans and investing in stocks to solve the ongoing Social Security problem. He defines phantom wealth as “the returns from corporate stocks that are based on market prices” as opposed to real wealth that is based on “work, earnings, and solid accomplishments, instead of just hopes.”

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Paul Krugman explained, in “How Did Economists Get It So Wrong” (The New York Times Magazine, September 6, 2009) how economists’ oversimplifying assumptions and models led to the present crisis by hiding important realities of the financial system and the real economy.  He also described differences between the “salt water” economists at universities along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and the “fresh water” economists of the Middle West, particularly the University of Chicago.

Today’s crisis grew out of problems on the credit and consumption sides of the economy.  This essay builds on Krugman’s article and explains why problems on the equity and production sides, that few economists, political leaders, or corporate executives seem to understand or are willing to admit, are likely to cause another crisis.

Most salt water economists agree that creating jobs on Main Street is important.  That will require extensive private sector investments, but the term “investment” has several meanings that can hide the different ways that stocks can affect jobs, wealth distribution, and the economy.  The differences stem from three aspects of stock investments; types of investment, investors’ objectives, and stock flows.

Types of stock investments

Stock investments are productive or parasitic.  The line between them can be fuzzy sometimes, but the differences are usually clear.  Productive investments, which are called direct investments when made in other countries, provide capital to start and expand businesses in the real economy.  They pay for the things, knowledge, and services that a company needs to operate.  Young companies that are intended to become large need productive investments that usually come from the founders, their friends and families, and early stage investors such as angels and venture capitalists who take active interests.  Because investments in these young companies involve many risks and are hard to liquidate, the companies depend on stock and rarely borrow very much.  If they are successful, they may raise more productive capital from an initial public offering (IPO) and maybe from secondary offerings.  If they continue to grow and establish a credit record, they may borrow money for productive investments, but equity capital is required for most early stage development.

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Category: Think Tank

Wholesale Inventories weak but signs of hope

Wholesale Inventories in August fell by 1.3%, .3% more than expected and July was revised lower by .2%. Because sales rose 1%, the inventory to sales ratio fell to 1.20 from 1.23 and is at the lowest level since Sept ’08. It’s now well below the high of 1.34 in Jan but also remains well…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

1975 Question: Should Central Banks Be Free to Buy Gold?

Recently declassified memorandum from Fed Chief Arthur Burns to President Gerald Ford: From the Desk of Gerald Ford-Declassified

Category: Commodities, Think Tank

Jobless claims and more from the ECB

Initial Jobless Claims totaled 521k, 19k less than expected, well down from 554k last week which was revised up by 3k. It’s the lowest figure since January. Continuing Claims fell by 72k and were 65k below forecasts. BUT, those receiving Emergency Unemployment Compensation rose by almost 100k to a new record high and those getting…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

Australia Rocks!

On the heels of higher than expected earnings from Alcoa, a much better than expected jobs report in Australia helped to carry Asian stocks higher and Europe followed. Australia unexpectedly created 40.6k jobs vs a forecast of a drop of 10k and the news definitely substantiates the decision earlier in the week by the RBA…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

Cycles

Cycles New Yorker10!12!09

Category: Think Tank

Consumer Credit/Belt tightening continues

Consumer Credit outstanding on a seasonally adjusted basis in August fell by $12b, $2b more than expected but July didn’t fall as much as initially reported by $2.6b. It’s the 10th month in the past 11 that has seen declines. Revolving credit (mostly credit cards) fell by $9.9b and nonrevolving fell by $2.1b, a sharp…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

Value Proposition

Bob Lefsetz is a music industry observer, and publisher of the Lefsetz letter: ~~~ I rented a Hyundai. They pulled up this eggplant colored piece of shit, with the Coke-bottle flairs over the rear wheels, and I winced.  A Hyundai?  Wasn’t there anything else? This was it.  We’d already waited in line for twenty minutes…Read More

Category: Markets, Think Tank