About Me

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 !!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Monetary Policy

The economic indicators suggest The Fed should keep short term interest rates trending higher.
Economic growth has been solid, capacity utilization continues to grind slowly higher and
business short term credit demand has strengthened substantially over the past 12 - months.
these conditions offer classic support for pushing short rates higher. The labor market has
tightened appreciably, and although there is still excess productive capacity in the system, it is
difficult at best to be confident that its deployment will prove economic. So, bowing to very
intensive criticism, The Fed  has opted to follow a more temperate course in the hopes that
continued US economic growth will not lead to a substantial cyclical acceleration of inflation.

 The economy may experience slower real growth this year compared to 2018, but the addition
of additional production capacity cannot lag to far behind, less an imbalance in favor of economic
demand develops.

The Fed is also planning to operate monetary policy with "ample reserves". This statement implies
that continued quantitative tightening, or the reduction of  the size of Its balance sheet, will likely
proceed far more judiciously than over the past two years. On its face, this statement opens the
door to potentially dramatically higher rates of inflation further out ahead as global excess capacity
is eventually used up. Fed Chair Powell's rather inglorious capitulation to all the forces that wish
to party on leave him with the hope that maybe the inflationary thrust will be the worry of
subsequent Fed leaders.

In the short run, a growing real economy is making full use of available monetary liquidity. In
conditions such as this, it is normally difficult to sustain a powerful upthrust in stocks. Without
a significant slowdown in the pace of economic expansion, large equities players will have to
sell other assets if they wish to sharply bolster commitments to stocks.

What happens if the strong consensus for only continued modest inflation proves faulty and
inflation pressure again perks up? Powell will look like a real turkey as the Fed has to begin to
turn the boat around.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Stock Market -- The Thundering Herd

Going into Christmas, the herd was stampeding downhill. Following the holiday, the herd has
reversed course and is now on a moonshot trajectory (75 degree angle of ascent). The Fed was
brought under assault from many quarters for running too tight a monetary policy as the year
wore down and it relented on interest rate policy. One can argue that chair Powell had no genuine
theoretical premise for the policy of gradually but steadily raising short rates, and the Fed has
ceded control over rate setting to the demands of risk capital for now.

In my last post, I posited that the SPX had reached reasonable levels down at 2350 and I briefly
sketched out a rationale for saying 2650 was an OK fair value estimate for the 2019 - 2020
period. The post-Christmas spike low and moonshot rally is statistically suspect, but lo and
behold, the SPX has been running back up toward the 2650 level. I find this performance to be
astounding and the emotional roller coaster that market players have been on over the past 12 -
14 odd months to be something of a bad joke.

It would be comforting to me at least if investors began to pause in the weeks ahead to review
what they have wrought and to take stock in a calmer assessment of what uncertainties and
opportunities may lie ahead.

SPX Weekly