Posts filed under “Think Tank”

ADP jobs report

ADP said there were 371k private sector jobs shed in July, 21k more than expected but it’s the slowest pace of decline since Oct ’08. As has been seen, small and medium sized businesses led the way. The goods producing sector shed 169k jobs, 99k of which was manufacturing. The service providing sector lost 202k jobs. “Construction employment dropped 64k. This was its 30th consecutive monthly decline, and brings the total decline in construction jobs since the peak in Jan ’07 to 1.483mm. Employment in the financial services sector dropped 26k, the 20th consecutive monthly decline.” Overall, I can’t quantify the impact that seasonal changes had in the auto sector where the typical July plant shutdowns didn’t happen. Friday’s payroll number is expected to drop by 328k. Bottom line, for now the economy has bottomed and will improve in the 2nd half but I repeat that the degree and sustainability of the recovery still comes down to the health of the consumer.

Category: MacroNotes

Sentiment getting very bullish

Unlike the world of consumer products where lower prices bring out the buyers (free money from CF clunker’s as an example), investors get more bullish the more expensive stocks get. The weekly II data said the number of bullish newsletter writers rose to 47.2, up 5 points for the week while bears fell to 25.8…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

Toothless SEC Leaves SOX Full of Holes

Good Evening: After a morning decline, the major U.S. stock market averages rallied back to close higher today (this is a recording). Worries about a drop in personal incomes was overcome by a rise in pending home sales, though, as we’ll see, the former should matter more than the latter. The reflation trade (stocks &…Read More

Category: Markets, Think Tank

Consumer, Where Art Thou?

This week I am in the office for just one day, but I can rely on my friend Dave Rosenberg to give us solid insight on the latest GDP numbers for this week’s Outside the Box. Dave slices and dices to show us what really happened. David was the former Chief Economist at the former Merrill Lynch (ah, Mother Merrill, we barely knew ye.) and is now Chief Economist at Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc., which is one of Canada’s pre-eminent wealth management firms. Founded in 1984, they manage $4.4 billion. David notes that the data gives us a mixed picture.

I am in Maine later this week. It is likely I will be on CNBC, as they will be shooting live from our fishing camp. Also, they plan to do a one hour special with a number of interviews. I will let you know when it airs. A quick note from me: The third quarter is likely to be positive, especially given the success of the “Cash for Clunkers” program which it looks like our Congress is going to pass another round of spending which taxpayers (our kids) will get to pay off, or more likely pay $50 million per years for decades in interest. Sigh. Essentially, we are moving up car sales today which would have been made later, except that if you can get someone else to make your down payment, why not make that purchase today? A very reasonable response on the part of the consumer.

A teaser from Dave’s work below: “Consumer spending came in at -1.2% annualized, twice the decline expected by the consensus. This occurred in the face of gargantuan fiscal stimulus and leaves wondering how this critical 70% chunk of the economy is going to perform as the cash-flow boost from Uncle Sam’s generosity recedes in the second half of the year. Imagine, government transfers to the household sector exploded at a 33% annual rate, while tax payments imploded at a 33% annual rate and the best we can do is a -1.2% annualized decline in consumer spending in real terms and flat in nominal terms? What do we do for an encore? In the absence of the fiscal largesse, it is quite conceivable that consumer spending would have shrunk at a 10% annual rate last quarter!”

Encore, indeed.

John Mauldin, Editor
Outside the Box

Lunch with Dave

by David A. Rosenberg

U.S. GDP Review — Consumer, Where Art Thou?

While the headline real GDP number came in a tad better than expected, at -1.0% QoQ annualized rate, the back data were revised lower and show the recession to be deeper. First quarter of this year, for example, was revised to -6.4% from -5.5% previously. And, it may not be lost on anyone that the four consecutive quarters of economic contraction was unprecedented in the post-WWII era; ditto for the -3.9% year-on-year trend. In other words, while nobody is willing to go out on the limb and call this a depression (the same academics that brought you “The Great Moderation” during that last great albeit leveraged economic expansion are now labeling what we have endured over the past year-and-a-half as “The Great Recession”). This does go down as the worst economic performance both in terms of duration and intensity since “The Great Depression”. While we are past the most pronounced part of the downturn, it may still be premature to call for the end of the recession merely because of the prospect of a positive third-quarter GDP result. After all, we saw GDP advance at a 1.5% annual rate in last year’s second quarter, and if memory serves us correctly, the NBER did not subsequently declare the end of the recession. And even if the recession is ending, as we saw in 2002, that does not guarantee a durable rally in risk assets. Sustainability is the key, and it remains the wild card.

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Category: Think Tank

Gold, has been around for 5000 years

That barbaric 5000 year old metal, gold, is just $30+ from $1000 and just a few dollars more from its all time record high. I’m not familiar with any other asset that is this close to its record high and not coincidentally coincides with the dollar index being near its record low. Gold is now…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

Pending Home Sales

June Pending Home Sales showed no negative impact to the rise in mortgage rates and responded instead to lower prices and tax incentives as it rose 3.6% m/o/m, well above estimates of a gain of .7%. It is a measure of contract signings and a precursor to Existing Home Sales (closings). The two areas with…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

Personal Income and Spending

June Personal Income fell 1.3%, .3% more than expected but comes after the sharp 1.3% gain in May that was driven by one time transfer payments. Excluding the impact from the ARRA stimulus act, Income fell .1% vs almost flat in May. Personal Spending rose .4%, .1% more than the consensus but the prior month…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

Party like its 1998

A breather in European stocks, as better than expected earnings from UBS and BMW was met by selling, is weighing on the futures as they digest the 1000 level, back to where it was in Feb 1998 when it got there for the first time. In 1998, Saving Private Ryan was the #1 grossing movie,…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

Reflation = S&P 1000; What’s Next?

Good Evening: U.S. stocks once again surged ahead on Monday, leaving the widely watched S&P 500 above 1000 for the first time since last autumn’s precipitous fall. Leading the way were the economically sensitive materials, energy, and industrial names, which themselves were the beneficiaries of a strong tailwind in the commodity pits. As soon as…Read More

Category: Markets, Think Tank


David R. Kotok co-founded Cumberland Advisors in 1973 and has been its Chief Investment Officer since inception. He holds a B.S. in Economics from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, an M.S. in Organizational Dynamics from The School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Masters in Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Kotok’s articles and financial market commentary have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, and other publications. He is a frequent contributor to CNBC programs. Mr. Kotok is also a member of the National Business Economics Issues Council (NBEIC), the National Association for Business Economics (NABE), the Philadelphia Council for Business Economics (PCBE), and the Philadelphia Financial Economists Group (PFEG).


August 2, 2009

Genesis 1:31 says “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.“ A few millennia later, we find that the world’s most popular book can be applied metaphorically to the US House of Representatives, as it labors in the creation of clunker-nomics.

The first billion voted by the Congress for the $4500 clunker rebate program was exhausted in 6 days. Practicing for deity status, the House beheld and determined “it was very good.” They immediately passed a $2 billion addition. That bill now goes to the Senate, which will pass something similar, and then to a conference committee to resolve some differences about rules. We expect additional funding will be forthcoming quickly. Congress loves to spend and Americans love to receive.

In the spirit of Genesis, Adam and Eve American, otherwise affectionately known as John and Jane Doe, recognize a good deal when they see one. They had an old clunker worth a few hundred. Suddenly they can exchange it for $4500 if they buy the new one now. The rest they can finance at very low interest rates, thanks to the Federal Reserve and the Treasury for extending TARP and other funds so that lenders can offer them liberal terms. They seized the moment – who can blame them?

This will boost short-term activity in the US. Neil Soss of Credit Suisse estimates, “Our math suggests that vehicle sales could spike in July, perhaps to a run rate near 12.5 million units (at a seasonally adjusted annual rate) from the 9.6mn average of Q2.” He adds that “in response to cash-for-clunkers … the personal savings rate will drop sharply in the next months, even as the longer run trend is still headed higher.” That will ramp up auto production in the 3rd quarter. Neil concludes, “As a consequence, we are revising up our Q3 real GDP forecast to 2.0% (from 1.3%) and our Q4 forecast to 2.5% (from 2.0%).
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Category: Bailouts, Economy, Think Tank