Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

Notes From Underground: The Sins of Wages

July 17, 2018

Tuesday was the first round of the Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s semi-annual testimony to Congress. The Senate Banking Committee questioned Powell about recent Fed decisions and looked for some guidance as to how the FOMC viewed the current state of the domestic and global economy. There were many questions about the impact on the economy from the Trump tariffs, which the Fed chairman adroitly evaded and put the onus on Congress, where it rightly belongs.

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Notes From Underground: The Summer Doldrums

July 10, 2018

There are storms brewing but for the moment markets are stuck in the Doldrums waiting for the winds to increase in velocity. The issues confronting the market are all too familiar as NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND has been categorizing for the previous months.

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Notes From Underground: Are We Reliving 1930?

June 25, 2018

Upon taking some time to reflect on the current state of the global macro world it seems that the most relevant are the years between 1928 and 1933. This was when the U.S. Congress was debating the famed Smoot-Hawley tariffs while the Treasury was reining in spending, and the FED was tightening liquidity and credit. While we don’t have a restricted Treasury (quite the opposite, actually), the Fed seems intent on raising rates to curtail the impact from an ill-advised fiscal stimulus at a time of 3.8% unemployment.

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Notes From Underground: But National Security IS Trade Policy

June 7, 2018

Tonight I am LINKING to the March 1 post about the White House discussed invoking Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. In an effort to justify the idea of placing tariffs on U.S. allies to curb steel and aluminum imports, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross noted that a strong steel sector is essential for U.S. national security. Section 232 is so broad that it is organic and can used to justify any action the U.S. deems necessary in regards to trade. In a CNBC interview on Thursday, Ross cited Section 232 again and wrapped it into the tariff discussion by maintaining that we must be strong economically to be strong militarily. Later in the interview he pressed that there can be no military security without economic strength.

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Notes From Underground: The Importance of Being Lighthizer

May 24, 2018

The plot thickens as the media is filled with one leak after another in regards to tariffs or threats to embark on a road to perfidy by invoking section 232 of the 1962 Trade Act: Using the broad cover of national security to justify increased import duties on autos. [In a hat tip to A. Limey] It is time to acknowledge that the “brain” of President Trump’s trade team is Robert Lighthizer.

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Notes From Underground: Come On Wall Street Don’t Be Slow, This Is War a Go-Go-Go

May 8, 2018

*NOTE: THERE IS NO POLITICAL VIEW IN THIS BLOG (AND SPECIFICALLY IN THIS POST) I ascribe to the wisdom of Deng Xiaoping. To paraphrase: Quality analysis doesn’t care if the “cat is black or white,” only if it catches mice.

Come on Wall Street, don’t be slow
Why man, this is war a-go-go
There’s plenty good money to be made
By supplying the army with the tools of its trade
But just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb
[Fill in the target of choice] 
                      — Country Joe, “I Feel Like I’M Fixin’ to Die Rag”

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Notes From Underground: New FRA Podcast

April 22, 2018

On April 19, the FRA’s Richard Bonugli moderated a discussion between the highly regarded Cal Professor Barry Eichengreen and yours truly. The discussion centered around the issue of China and the Trump administration’s trade policy. The podcast was a result of a piece Eichengreen published at Project Syndicate that I cited in a recent blog post. It was a great honor to partake in a direct discussion with the professor as I have read his work on the global political economy for many years. I advise googling his earlier work on analyzing gold role in the Great Depression and many of his other articles on the EU and the EURO.

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Notes From Underground: Flattening Curves — All Action and No Talk

April 11, 2018

In the political realm, the concern about tariffs has been lessened as Chinese President Xi took the high road with some silky conversation. It is not in the Chinese interest to raise the level of shouting/tweeting, nor to allow the YUAN to depreciate. The last blog post weighed the harm China would do to itself if the YUAN were to depreciate for it would then have to face the acrimony of many nations it is trying to placate. From a TECHNICAL perspective, it appears that the YUAN is going to test three-year lows between 6.11/6.20 to the dollar. As the Chinese tensions eased, the world now turns its eyes to Syria.

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Notes From Underground: No Chinese Devaluation or Massive Liquidation of U.S. Treasuries

April 9, 2018

There are many questions swirling around what possible responses President XI can bring forward to counteract the heightened rhetoric from the Trump administration on imposing tariffs on Chinese goods exported to the U.S. Many news agencies have carried stories about the Chinese responding to Trump tariffs by entering into a policy of depreciating the Chinese yuan, which is currently trading at 6.3075 against the DOLLAR.

This is an interesting view but it would force China to act against the G-20 accord of not manipulating one’s currency. The XI-led government is looking for international support in its effort to combat a trade war so alienating the international economic community would be detrimental to the Chinese interest of global support. The narrative some analysts are spinning is to recall China’s 2 percent devaluation of its currency in August 2015, which sent global currency and markets into a frenzy, especially as stocks were reeling from deflationary fears.

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Notes From Underground: Does AnyOne Really Care About Jobs Friday?

April 5, 2018

The first Friday in April brings a key data point: the unemployment report. Of course, what most people are concerned about are THE AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS. The consensus is for AHE to increase by 0.3%, which is much better than February’s tepid increase of 0.1% rise. The focus on AHE has rendered the NFP growth a distant concern, especially as the participation rate suggests unemployed are returning to the job market. This calls into question how the FED model measures genuine SLACK in the jobs market. For the U.S., the unemployment rate is expected to be 4.0% with a net gain of 190,000 workers in the nonfarm payrolls.

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