Reflecting the Fed's very large QE program dating from late 2012, my new order index for the
US economy rose from lows of around 50 at intervals in mid - 2013 and in Jan. 2014 to a lofty
level of 66 in Aug. this year, before tipping down to a still strong 61 in Sep. Readings above
the 65 level on this diffusion index seldom are much stronger. So, there was a substantial
acceleration of business activity and profit results along this year.
However, since the spring of this year, progressively fewer stocks could match the performance
of the S&P 500 (SPX) and the relative under-performance of less than top tier capitalization
stocks began to nosedive at the end of Aug. right in line with the interim peak in new order
activity in the economy. As we all know, the SPX itself began to slide in mid-Sep. as concern
about an economic slowdown began to take hold. The Treasury bond market has seen a down-
trend in yields since the get-go in 2014, and a progressive reduction in the yield curve this
year indicates that the bond market is expecting economic progress to slow and the inflation rate
to moderate further. 10yr - 2 Mo. Yield Curve
Though not at extremes, the Treasury bonds are overbought and the stock market is now in a
growing oversold position. The US liquidity cycle has passed its peak, and economic growth
should moderate from the Aug. 2014 momentum thrust, but it does not guarantee future
economic progress will be so slow that resource utilization will stagnate or that inflation
pressure will end and deflation pressure begin.
There has to be some time given to determine how the real economy will respond to the
absence of QE. Investor psychology is now more fully defensive and this attitude could
foster further volatility in the markets until players get a handle on how the economy behaves
without its "training wheels" (expired QE).
- Peter Richardson
- Retired chief investment officer and former NYSE firm partner with 50 plus years experience in field as analyst / economist, portfolio manager / trader, and CIO who has superb track record with multi $billion equities and fixed income portfolios. Advanced degrees, CFA. Having done much professional writing as a young guy, I now have a cryptic style. 40 years down on and around The Street confirms: CAVEAT EMPTOR IN SPADES !!!