Posts Tagged ‘Europe’
I’m blessed to be able to travel to Europe once or twice a year. I use the trips as an opportunity to see how the economies are faring over there. And I can tell you this first-hand: the economic situation in Europe is much worse than what we’re hearing from the mainstream media in the U.S. economy.
Here’s just one small story that paints the picture…
A couple of weeks back, while in Venice for four days, I walked into my favorite ice cream store for my daily fix of Italian ice cream. I’m chatty wherever I travel, as I want to get the locals talking so I learn what’s going on.
After engaging the store’s only employee in conversation (I’m fluent in Italian), the young man, who was between 25 and 30 years old and educated, told me how happy he was to have his job as an ice cream scooper at this particular location of a well-known chain of Italian ice cream stores. “Jobs in Italy are very hard to come by,” he told me.
But what he said next really got me thinking…
The ice cream scooper said he travels 65 kilometers (that’s about 40 miles) each way to and from work each day. He takes the train. Total travel time is four hours a day; two hours in the morning to get to work, and two hours at night to get home from work. Yes, four hours a day to travel to a job scooping ice cream for tourists.
When I asked him about getting a job closer to the town he lives in, he … Read More
What the heck is with this stock market? The ability of the stock market to hold and avert a major correction over the past two weeks and then follow this with an upward move on the charts is a surprise—at least in my view it is, as it clearly shows the bullish bias controlling this stock market.
The NASDAQ and Russell 2000 are at new recent highs as the desire for growth by investors continues, which has largely been the story this year.
The S&P 500 is within striking range of its September record high.
The focus on the debt ceiling is important but also way overdone, in my opinion, given that we are in the midst of the third-quarter earnings season and, well, it has been subpar early on.
Yes, it’s still early in the earnings season, but I expect more subpar results. Of course, what I expect doesn’t matter—momentum and speculation are what drive this stock market.
So far, about six percent of S&P 500 companies have reported, and a dismal 55% of these companies have beaten estimates. That’s just not good. The results are also well below the historical average at just over 60%, and to make matters worse, the results were compared to estimates that were already lowered by Wall Street. Revenue growth is also lackluster, as I expected, which is not what we should be seeing with an upward-trending stock market.
While I avidly follow the actions of central banks to see where the gold bullion prices may be headed next, when I look at them today, their actions are speaking louder than words.
Central banks have pretty much stopped selling gold bullion, which is very important. In 1999, a number of central banks in Europe formed an alliance and agreed that they would not sell more than 400 tonnes of gold bullion per year. The agreement was called the Central Bank Gold Agreement (CBGA). In 2004, the CBGA was renewed again; this time the limit was 500 tonnes. Once again, it was renewed for another five years in 2009, and the limit is back to the sale of no more than 400 tonnes of gold bullion per year.
The chart below shows how much gold bullion the central banks in Europe sold in each period of the CBGA. (Source: World Gold Council web site, last accessed October 11, 2013.)
Sales in Tonnes
* Sales are until 2013.
Notice anything different? The central banks in Europe have put the brakes on their sales of gold bullion. In fact, from September 27, 2012 to September 26, 2013, these central banks only sold 5.1 tonnes of gold bullion! This is hands down the lowest amount sold since the agreement started in 1999.
When it comes to stocks, if owners of a stock aren’t selling and there’s a significant number of buyers who want to buy, the price of the stock usually goes up as the simple rule of economics … Read More
Companies in key stock indices have started to report their corporate earnings for the third quarter of this year. Not surprising, they are weak and show signs of stress.
According to FactSet, up until October 4, 90 companies in key stock indices like the S&P 500 issued negative guidance about their third-quarter corporate earnings per share. This is the highest number of companies posting negative guidance since the research company started to track earnings guidance back in 2006. (Source: “Earnings Insight,” FactSet, October 4, 2013.)
The corporate earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 is expected to be about three percent in the third quarter, and just like the last quarter, once again, a significant portion of the boost in earnings will come from the financial sector. If you take the financial sector’s corporate earnings out of the equation, earnings growth rates drop down to about 1.7%. Take away all the stock buyback programs public companies have conducted this year, and the earnings growth picture gets really ugly.
I think the smart money is sensing companies are struggling to grow, so they are starting to pull money out of the market.
According to the Investment Company Institute, for the week ended September 25, the long-term U.S. stock mutual funds had a net outflow of $3.8 billion in capital. Similarly, for the week ended October 2, the net outflow continued and increased to $4.12 billion. (Source: Investment Company Institute, October 9, 2013.)
Key stock indices like the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the NASDAQ have shed some gains recently; they are much lower than their all-time highs posted just … Read More
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