Posts Tagged ‘federal reserve’
According to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, next year, the government is expected to incur a budget deficit of $469 billion and then another budget deficit of $536 billion in 2016. (Source: Congressional Budget Office web site, last accessed July 21, 2014.) From there, the budget deficit is expected to increase as far as the projections go.
Yes, the government’s own estimates are that our country will run a budget deficit every year for as long as the government’s forecasts go.
That’s quite unbelievable. We live in a country where the government (and politicians) feel it is okay to continue being “negative” every year, indefinitely. It’s like I’ve written many times: if our government were a business, it would have gone bankrupt long ago. But the government, through its non-owned agency, the Federal Reserve, has the luxury of printing paper money to fund its budget deficit and debt. If a business did that—printed money to pay its bills—that would be illegal.
Today, the U.S. national debt stands at $17.6 trillion with about $7.0 trillion of that incurred under the Obama Administration. (Is it any wonder a CNN/ORC International poll said this morning that 35% of Americans say they want President Obama impeached with about two-thirds saying he should be removed from office?)
But what happens to the budget deficit once interest rates start going up? We’ve already heard from the Federal Reserve that interest rates will be sharply higher at the end of 2015 and 2016 than they are now.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of the Treasury was able to borrow money (issued long-term bonds) at an interest … Read More
Let’s start with the U.S. housing market. Has the recovery for it ended or just stalled?
My answer comes in one sentence: While it’s always a matter of location, only the high-end housing market is doing well, while the general market is weak.
I can see it in the mortgage numbers. People just aren’t taking loans to buy homes in the U.S. economy. In fact, mortgage applications are tumbling.
In the second quarter of 2014, Bank of America Corporation (NYSE/BAC) funded $13.7 billion in residential home loans and home equity loans—down 49% from a year earlier, when it funded $26.8 billion in similar loans. (Source: Bank of America Corporation, July 16, 2014.)
JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE/JPM) originated $16.8 billion in mortgages in the second quarter (ended June 30, 2014)—down 66% from a year ago. (Source: JPMorgan Chase & Co., July 15, 2014.)
And Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE/WFC) also reported a massive decline in mortgage originations. In the second quarter of 2014, it originated $47.0 billion in new mortgages—down 62% from the second quarter of 2013. (Source: Wells Fargo & Company, July 11, 2014.)
So even though interest rates continue at a record low, people are not borrowing to buy homes in the U.S. economy.
But it’s not just the housing market that is weak. The entire U.S. economy is soft…masked by an artificial stock market rally and skewed “official” government statistics that don’t give us a true picture of the unemployment situation or inflation.
We’ve all heard by now that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ/MSFT) is planning job cuts of almost 20,000. (Source: USA Today, July 15, 2014.) … Read More
The tally as of this morning:
The stock market is up 2.4% so far in 2014 as measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, while gold bullion is up 8.1% for the year.
“As an investor, do I get into gold or stocks at this point in the year?”
Well, if you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you know I’m not a fan of stocks right now. I simply believe the stock market has become a Federal Reserve–induced bubble.
And while there has been a lot written about price manipulation in the gold market, and while mighty Goldman Sachs still says the metal is headed lower in price, investors should look at gold bullion right now…that’s both old gold investors (so they can average down their cost) and new gold investors taking their first position.
Here are my reasons why…
In 2013, the Indian central bank and government imposed tariffs and restrictions on the importation of gold bullion into India, as they believed the demand for gold bullion in the country was hurting its national accounts. In the first quarter of this year, India started to ease its gold importation restrictions, and bang, last month, gold bullion imports into the country increased by 65% over June of last year. (Source: Bloomberg, July 16, 2014.) Demand for gold bullion in China, which I’ve documented in these pages, is also very strong.
Inflation, what gold bullion acts as a hedge against, is starting to gain momentum. The Producer Price Index (which tracks changes in the prices producers pay) increased by 0.4% in June from the previous month; that’s an annualized … Read More
The numbers are still coming in pretty good this earnings season and corporate outlooks are holding up well for the year.
Stocks have been trading off of Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen’s monetary policy report to Congress, and less so on earnings.
This market is tired and you can see it in the trading action of individual stocks that beat the Street with their earnings. Most market reaction is pretty mute.
One that wasn’t, however, was Intel Corporation (INTC). The company’s second quarter really got institutional investors fired up. The stock was $26.00 a share mid-May; now it’s close to $34.00, which is a very big move for this company.
Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) doesn’t report until next week, but the company’s shares moved commensurately with Intel’s.
Earnings strength from these older technology benchmarks is really good news for both the stock market and the economy in general. It means that the enterprise market is spending money again, and that’s exactly what the technology industry needs.
Even Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO) got a boost from Intel’s earnings results. This stock has been trying to break out of a long price consolidation. It hasn’t really done anything on the stock market since its bubble burst in 2000.
I actually view Microsoft as an attractive company for equity portfolios looking for higher-quality stocks.
The position is very fairly priced and offers a current dividend yield of just less than three percent. And management has a multifaceted business plan focused on growth in personal computers (PCs), the cloud, and devices.
But the best potential with a company like Microsoft is its prospects for … Read More
I’ve been writing in these pages for most of 2014 on how the stock market has become one huge bubble. On my short list:
The economy is weak. The U.S. experienced negative growth in the first quarter of 2014. If the same thing happens in the second quarter (we’ll soon know), we will be in a recession again. Revenue growth at big companies is almost non-existent.
Insiders at public companies are selling stocks (in the companies they work for) at a record pace.
The amount of money investors have borrowed to buy stocks is at a record high (a negative for the stock market).
The VIX “Fear” index, which measures the amount of fear investors have about stocks declining, is near a record low (another negative for the stock market).
Bullishness among stock advisors, as measured by Investors Intelligence, is near a record high (again, a negative for the stock market).
The Federal Reserve has issued its economic outlook, and it says interest rates will be much higher at the end of 2015 than they are today and that they will continue moving upward in 2016.
The Federal Reserve has said it will be out of the money printing business by the end of this year. (Who will buy all those T-bills the U.S. government has to issue to keep in business?)
And yesterday, in an unprecedented statement, Janet Yellen, during her usual semi-annual testimony to Congress, said the valuations of tech stocks are “high relative to historical norms.”
How many warnings can you give investors?
Well, the warnings don’t seem to matter. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has … Read More
There are two important charts I want my readers to see this morning.
The first is a chart that is an indirect measure of demand in the global economy. Right now, the Baltic Dry Index (BDI) sits at its lowest level of the year. Since the beginning of 2014, the BDI has fallen 60%.
The BDI measures the cost of moving major raw materials by sea in the global economy. The thinking is that the lower the cost to move goods by ship, the lesser the amount of goods to move (a strict demand/supply price situation).
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
What’s happening with the steep drop in the BDI can be seen in a corresponding slowdown in the global economy.
Germany, the fourth-biggest economy in the world, saw its industrial production decline by 1.8% in May after falling 0.3% in April. (Source: Destatis, July 7, 2014.)
Great Britain, the sixth-biggest market in the global economy, saw its production decline 0.7% in May, while its manufacturing decreased 1.3%. (Source: Office for National Statistics, July 8, 2014.)
France, the fifth-biggest economy, reports no gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the country in the first quarter of 2014. (Source: MarketWatch, July 8, 2014.)
In 2014, the Chinese economy will grow at its slowest pace in years. In Japan, the Bank of Japan (its equivalent to our Federal Reserve) has announced it will start buying exchange-traded funds (in specific, the Nikkei 400 ETF) to “boost the impact of (its) unprecedented easing.” (Source: “Bank of Japan Seen Buying Nikkei 400 ETF,” Financial Post, July 10, 2014.) Yes, the central bank of Japan is buying … Read More
What led to the 2008/2009 stock market and real estate crash and subsequent Great Recession can be attributed to one factor: the sharp rise in interest rates that preceded that period.
In May of 2004, the federal funds rate, the bellwether rate upon which all interest rates in the U.S. are based, was one percent. The Federal Reserve, sensing the economy was getting overheated, started raising interest rates quickly. Three years later, by May 2007, the federal funds rate was 5.3%.
Any way you look at it, the 430% rise in interest rates over a three-year period killed stocks, real estate, and the economy.
My studies show the Federal Reserve has historically taken things too far when setting its monetary policy. It raised interest rates far too quickly in the 2004–2007 period. And I believe it dropped rates far too fast since 2009 and has kept them low (if you call zero “low”) for far too long.
In the same way investors suffered in 2008–2009 as the Fed moved to quickly raise rates, I believe we will soon suffer as the Fed is forced to quickly raise interest rates once more while the economy overheats.
It’s all very simple. The U.S. unemployment rate is getting close to six percent. The real inflation rate is close to five percent per annum, and the stock market is way overheated. The Fed will have no choice but to cool what looks like an overheated economy. But the Fed won’t be able to do it with a quarter-point increase in interest rates here and there. It will need to raise rates by at least … Read More
Stocks are going to gyrate around second-quarter earnings, but that’s exactly what this market needs—the corporate bottom line and expectations for the rest of the year.
With so many stocks trading at their all-time record-highs, I view investment risk in equities as being high at this time.
This is actually a tough environment in which to be an investor looking for new positions. There’s not a lot of value around and good businesses have already been bid.
It’s been years now since the stock market was first in need of a material price correction, and the next one will probably come out of nowhere.
It could be a shock from the Federal Reserve, but the central bank has been extremely delicate in how it effects and communicates monetary policy. More likely, stocks will be vulnerable to an unforeseen shock like a geopolitical event or a big derivative trade gone bad.
The risks are out there and stocks are long overdue for a reckoning.
With this in mind, I’m still a fan of the market’s existing winners, especially dividend-paying blue chips. In the absence of a shock, I think they’ll just keep pushing new highs going right into 2015.
3M Company (MMM) is an enterprise worth following and owning as a long-term, income-seeking investor.
The company’s earnings are material and offer good market intelligence, even if you aren’t interested in owning the stock.
The position has tripled in value on the stock market since the beginning of 2009, while also paying some great dividends.
The stock is still strong in the current environment, and the company represents exactly the kind of … Read More
Dear reader, if you’ve learned one thing from reading these issues of Profit Confidential, I hope it is this: Don’t buy into the hype created by the rising stock market and the media that the U.S. economy is improving. The economic growth promised by the Federal Reserve and the politicians five years ago is still missing.
The majority of Americans are facing serious financial troubles. Their jobs don’t pay them well or enough. Those who are looking for better jobs can’t find them. Their salaries aren’t increasing, but inflation sure is rising. Many Americans can’t even afford to live in their homes!
And young Americans are in just as bad shape as retired Americans…
According to research by the University of Arizona, half of graduates, after they are out of college for two years, are relying on their parents or other family members for financial support. As per the study, graduates are postponing many of life’s goals, such as marriage, having children, or buying homes, because they can’t afford them. (Source: CNN Money, June 10, 2014.)
In times of economic growth, you have college graduates finding jobs easily. This isn’t happening. In fact, student debt in this country sits at $1.2 trillion, 85% of it guaranteed by the government and 11.5% of it 90-days-plus delinquent or in default. (Source: “$1 Trillion Student Loan Problems Keeps Getting Worse,” Forbes, February 21, 2014.)
But it’s not only college graduates in the U.S. economy who are suffering…
According to the “How Housing Matters Survey” by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Hart Research Associates, 52% of Americans have … Read More
We are hearing more and more about interest rates getting ready to rise. The Federal Reserve itself has said it expects the federal funds rate to increase to 1.5% by the end of next year and to 2.25% by the end of 2016.
Before the Fed came out with its forecast, I was writing about how the Fed will have no choice but to raise interest rates because inflation is rising too quickly.
And I have been reading what clueless reporters and analysts are writing about how gold bullion prices don’t perform well in a high interest rates environment. I want to set the record straight for my readers.
Shattering the myth about the high interest rates, today’s rates are still very low compared to the historical average. In the chart below, you will see the changes in the Federal Reserve’s federal funds rate since 1980.
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
Over the past five years, the benchmark interest rate set by the Federal Reserve has all but collapsed to zero. Moving rates to 2.25% by 2016 will have a significant impact on the economy. But at 2.25%, over the long-term, it’s still a very low rate. Prior to the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, the federal funds rate stood above five percent.
Bringing it back to gold bullion, if you are old like me and remember the early 1980s when interests were very high, you will also remember gold bullion was trading at a then-record high of more than $800.00 an ounce, or about $2,500 in 2014 dollars.
The higher interest rates went then, the higher gold bullion went. … Read More
Everything in the stock market experiences its own cycle of enthusiasm among investors. And this is especially well illustrated among speculative issues.
There was a time only a few years ago when some of the hottest speculative stocks were in solar energy. Now this small equity universe is still trying to rebuild itself.
And in more recent history, 3D-printing companies experienced incredible capital gains, only to experience incredible capital losses in what is a commonality among the market’s most speculative stocks.
At the end of the day, high-flying positions are still real businesses that have to deal with managing their own business conditions and hype among institutional investors.
As an investor, you have to consider both realities—the growth an underlying business is experiencing and the enthusiasm the marketplace has for such an enterprise or sector.
Twelve months ago, 3D Systems Corporation (DDD) was trading at $44.00 a share. Then it appreciated to a high of $97.28, before spending most of this year retreating to the $50.00-per-share level.
It’s only recently that the position broke the $55.00-per-share barrier, still sporting a forward price-to-earnings ratio of approximately 46.
Fervor for speculative stocks definitely diminished at the beginning of this year, and it’s part of the cycle that equities perpetually experience.
At the beginning of 2013, the breakout was in large-cap blue chips. Institutional investors had just started buying these stocks, and they led the broader market higher.
Then the NASDAQ Composite began to improve and actually took the lead for a while. But even with the Federal Reserve onside, it didn’t take too long for big investors to just book some profits. … Read More
Oracle Corporation (ORCL) announced a quarterly revenue gain of three percent, but Wall Street was looking for more and the company’s share price retreated on its earnings results.
If it weren’t for the Federal Reserve, we probably would be in a correction, if not a consolidation, which has been the broader market’s go-to trend when it should have retreated further.
It’s such a mixed bag out there both in terms of economic news and corporate reporting.
While I think dividend-paying blue chips have the advantage going into the second-quarter earnings season, if the Federal Reserve wasn’t so extremely sensitive to Wall Street, this market would probably be a lot lower.
Even the Fed’s recent language is assuaging. If this market had to operate on its own (with free market interest rates and liquidity), things would be a lot different.
But this isn’t the environment we live in. Economic history clearly supports the scenario that it doesn’t pay to fight the Fed and that Wall Street will move mountains when it has Fed certainty.
Lots of investors bemoan the quarterly earnings cycle or game, but I don’t. I want to know a public company’s up-to-date financial results as frequently as possible.
While earnings are managed, over time, a business can’t manufacture success unless it’s a fraud (which, sadly, does happen).
Big companies have the operational leverage and the cash to keep boosting their earnings per share. Oracle’s latest financial results were uninspiring, and while recognizing that this is a very mature business with growing competition in the cloud, the position advanced a material 10 points since last June—this seems so overdone…. Read More
Well surprise, surprise, surprise.
Gold bullion rallied just under $50.00 an ounce yesterday…and nobody expected it. (Okay, maybe just me. In a single day yesterday, my portfolio went up by twice the amount the stock market has risen in all of 2014.)
Going through all the major financial web sites, I read story after story yesterday on why gold was rising so fast. They were all wrong; just reporters grabbing at straws, trying to explain something they know very little about.
As I started writing in these pages in 2014, inflation is becoming a real problem in America. Years ago, I started writing about how all this money the Federal Reserve is creating out of thin air would become inflationary. That’s exactly what is starting to happen now.
Why is the Fed starting to pull back on its money printing operation with the goal of being out of the money printing business by the end of this year? Why is the Fed telling us that after keeping interest rates near zero for years, by the end of next year, the federal funds rate will move up to 1.13% and by the end of the following year, it will move to 2.5%?
In my opinion, we are being told this because the powers that be see inflation in the cards, and they are working on trying to curb rapid inflation before it happens. And if there is something gold thrives on, it is inflation.
Even the manipulated government statistics are now pointing to inflation.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports prices in the U.S. economy increased by 0.4% in May after … Read More
It’s a difficult environment in which to be constructing new equity portfolios right now, mostly due to the very simple reason that the stock market is at an all-time record high and it’s likely that monetary policy will change soon.
But there is still a great deal of interest in equity securities and in a lot of cases, individuals require the income that they provide.
There are a lot of really good investment funds and money managers in the marketplace; but for those who wish to build and manage their own stock market portfolios, you want to approach the process methodically and with a great deal of care.
As a stockbroker, I learned a long time ago that financial products are typically sold not bought. Don’t let anyone sell you anything in this market—stocks are at all-time highs.
If you’re looking to the stock market to create a portfolio of companies, just remember that there is no rush to do so. Because of the financial crisis and subsequent recession, policy has been about the re-inflation of assets (mostly financial), and the stock market’s been going up based on the certainty that the Federal Reserve will be extremely accommodative.
Right or wrong, institutional investors used that certainty to buy equity securities.
Traders might like to buy high in order to sell higher, but momentum trading isn’t investing and as an investor, it’s tough buying stocks at their highs.
But the current environment is a good one in which to identify good businesses that can become core positions in a portfolio over time.
In terms of creating a new, risk-averse stock market … Read More
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