The economy is primarily analyzed using the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employment levels. The GDP is a measure of all the goods and services produced in an economy. Economic growth is when the current and future periods of time are experiencing an expansion in GDP. As businesses increase their sales and are more confident about future activity, they hire more people. The new hires are more confident about their future and spend a portion of their income on business and the cycle continues. The stock market usually leads an economic recovery, because stock investors look to the future. If investors foresee an economic recovery 12 months from now, they will start to accumulate shares in companies that will benefit.
According to research by UC Berkeley, in 2012, the top one percent of income earners in the U.S. earned 22.5% of all the income. The bottom 90%, on the other hand, earned less than 50% of all the income. (Source: Pew Research Center, January 7, 2014.) Income inequality in the U.S. economy is the highest it has been since 1928. The rich are getting richer, and the poor are seeing their share of income decline.
And according to the United States Department of Agriculture, in 2013, 17.5 million households in the U.S. economy were “food insecure.” This means that at some point during the year, they had difficulty putting food on the table for all their family members due to a lack of resources. This number, 17.5 million food insecure households, was unchanged from 2012. (Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, September 2014.)
As I have said many times in these pages, economic growth will occur in the U.S. economy only once the average American Joe sees his standard of living improve. This isn’t happening. In fact, the standard of living is deteriorating despite the Federal Reserve having printed and pumped trillions of new dollars into the financial system.
The problem with income inequality in the U.S. escalated after the Great Recession of 2008. According to the Russell Sage Foundation, at the end of 2013, median family wealth in the U.S. economy was $56,335—a decline of more than 43% from $98,872 in 2007. (Source: “Wealth Levels, Wealth Inequality and the Great Recession,” Russell Sage Foundation, June 2014.)
Dear reader, the fact is the U.S. economy isn’t going through a period of … Read More
On November 30, Switzerland’s citizens will cast a very critical vote.
Through a referendum, they will vote for or against the Swiss National Bank increasing its gold bullion reserves to 20%, the central bank halting the selling of gold, and the storing of gold bullion in the country. (Source: Kitco News, September 30, 2014.)
If the results are in favor of the referendum, it will mean Switzerland’s central bank will be forced to buy a significant amount of gold bullion.
According to the most recent data from the World Gold Council, Switzerland has 1,040 tonnes of gold bullion in its reserves, equal to only 7.8% of its total reserves. (Source: “World Official Gold Holdings,” World Gold Council web site, last accessed October 16, 2014.) To bring its gold bullion holdings to 20% of total reserves, the central bank of Switzerland will have to buy 1,600 more tonnes of gold, or about 60% of all global mine output this year. Will the gold market be able to handle this kind of demand shock? I highly doubt it.
And if the central bank of Switzerland stops selling gold, a significant amount of gold will come off the market.
Finally, the vote on gold being stored in the country is just another example of the increasing appetite for the precious metal. We saw this phenomenon happen in Germany not too long ago when the country asked the U.S. for its gold back (the U.S. was “storing” it), but Germany was told it would have to wait seven years to get it.
The big picture: Since 2009, central banks around the world have bought … Read More
While corporate earnings continue to come in solid, stocks continue to be sold.
It’s not all the time that stocks follow oil prices, but they certainly have this time around and the selling momentum has gained on deflationary pressures from producer prices to declining expectations for global economic growth.
And the selling is happening to companies that beat consensus with their earnings, like J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. (JBHT), which beat Wall Street estimates for sales and earnings in what was a very solid quarter for the trucking company.
For J.B. Hunt, sentiment just wasn’t strong enough to carry the stock materially higher, even in the face of declining prices for diesel fuel, which is a big bonus for that company’s bottom-line.
The autumn sell-off also flies in the face of reduced pressure on the Federal Reserve to begin raising rates as recent data shows a softening of economic activity on a global basis.
If oil was the catalyst and economic data the accelerator, it’s important to remember where stocks have come from. The equity market has been due for a material correction for a number of quarters. It didn’t even need a reason for a correction only because share prices have come so far over the last several years.
The breakdown in oil prices has been truly spectacular and is now seriously affecting the business case for many energy producers.
And the breakdown isn’t just due to increasing domestic production; it’s a breakdown in sentiment based on declining expectations for the global economy.
So stocks have sold off and they may go further, but a five to 10% price … Read More
Now that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 1,035 points (six percent) from its mid-September peak, the question investors are asking is “how far will she go?” For small-cap investors, the drama is greater, as the Russell 2000 Index has fallen 12.5% from its July peak.
Since 2009, every market pullback presented investors with an opportunity to get back into stocks at discounted prices. Even some editors here at Lombardi Publishing Corporation see the recent pullback in stocks as an opportunity.
But what happens if it is different this time? How about if stocks just keep falling?
If you have been a long-term follower of my column, you know I have been adamant about an economic slowdown in the global economy.
And let’s face it: the American stock markets have been addicted to the easy money policies of the Federal Reserve, namely money printing and record-low interest rates. But that is all coming to an end now. The Fed will be out of the money printing business soon and it has warned us on several occasions that interest rates will need to rise.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is now (or should I say, is finally) warning about an economic slowdown in the global economy. In its most recent global growth forecast, the IMF said, “With weaker-than-expected global growth for the first half of 2014 and increased downside risks, the projected pickup in growth may again fail to materialize or fall short of expectation.” The IMF also said the global economy may never see the kind of expansion it experienced prior to the financial crisis. (Source: “IMF says economic … Read More
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