August 2014 - Forecasts & Trends

Forecasts & Trends is much more than just investment blog posts. You need to know the "big picture;" you need to have a "world view," especially in the post-911 world; and you need more information than ever before to be successful in meeting your financial goals. Gary intends to help you do just that.

Forecasts & Trends

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  • Fed’s Getting Anxious About Interest Rate "Liftoff"

    While I have been a Fed watcher for over 30 years, rarely have I seen as much media angst over the central bank’s next move as we are seeing today. We all know that the Fed is going to raise short-term interest rates at some point. We expect the Fed to “normalize” interest rates slowly in measured steps over the next few years. The main question is, when does this process begin?

    The other question is, what effect will the eventual interest rate increases have on the stock and bond markets and the economy? While the Fed has made it clear that it intends to end its “quantitative easing” (QE) policy by late October, and that it will start to raise rates sometime next year, stocks and bonds have been on an upward tear all year. Stocks are at record highs, and bond prices have risen when most forecasters expected them to go down.

    When Janet Yellen took over as Fed Chair earlier this year, she suggested that the Fed would not begin to raise short-term rates until at least six months after QE ends. Most analysts assumed that meant no interest rate hike until at least April or May of next year, or even later. However, the minutes from the July 29-30 Fed policy meeting released last week suggested that several FOMC members think a rate hike should occur sooner.

    This revelation (dare we call it that) set off quite the buzz among financial writers over the last week. The concern is that if the Fed raises interest rates too early, that could choke off the feeble economic recovery. Yet while some financial analysts sounded alarm bells over the possibility that the Fed’s interest rate hike might happen sooner than expected, the markets seemingly could care less. That’s part of what we’ll talk about today.

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  • Three Interesting Articles I Read Last Week

    I’m taking most of this week off to hang out with the kids before they head back to college this weekend. So today we’ll look at a few of the most interesting articles I’ve read over the last week. I hope you enjoy them. I have some comments of my own at the end of each article.

    We will start with an article on Saturday from Larry Kudlow, a CNBC senior contributor and host of The Larry Kudlow Show on radio. Larry is one of my favorite economic and financial writers because he knows how to cut right to the chase and pulls no punches. In the following article, Larry offers his no-nonsense plan to get the economy back on track – and I fully agree with him.

    Following that, I have a very good article on the state of the European economy, and the news is not good. Europe may be headed in the direction of Japan. Our last article focuses on President Obama’s use of Executive Orders when Congress fails to cooperate and, specifically, his latest threat to grant a path to citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants by EO.

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  • The Border Crisis: Why Is It Happening & Why Now?

    The recent surge of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children to the United States from Central America has sparked an intense and emotional debate over the crisis on the US-Mexico border. Unlike illegal immigrants from Mexico that can be deported within 48 hours, illegals from “non-contiguous” countries must be provided a deportment hearing in a court of law.

    As a result, these illegals must be detained and housed (and educated if they are minors) until they have their day in court. Our government is quietly shipping these illegal immigrants to cities across America, often with no advance notice to the local communities. Why is this happening?

    Many Republicans say that the crisis is largely due to lenient US immigration policies that have led these illegal immigrants to believe that if they can get here, they can stay here. Many Democrats believe that these people are fleeing rampant violence in their home countries and that we should help them – along with a path to citizenship.

    Yet there are many more questions than there are answers. Is our government directly responsible for this humanitarian crisis? How do these families in poverty in Central America scrape together thousands of dollars to pay the “coyotes” and send their young children into potentially grave danger? Why is this flood of immigrants and children happening now?

    Finally, could the border crisis be a prelude to a National ID Card? Maybe it’s a preposterous question, but it needs to be asked. I will ask it today and explain why we need to be aware of this possibility. This should make for an interesting letter, whether you agree or not.

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  • Consumer Confidence Hits 7-Year High - Really?

    Today we’ll look at several key economic reports over the last week or so. Most have been better than expected. The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index surged to the highest level in seven years in July. However, a couple of other reports we’ll look at below paint a very different picture.

    The advance report on 2Q GDP came in well above pre-report estimates. Last Friday’s unemployment report for July was disappointing, but at least new jobs were over 200,000 for the sixth consecutive month. The Fed’s favorite inflation indicator (PCE) climbed to the highest level since 2011 last month. And the ISM manufacturing index surged to a three-year high in July. We’ll analyze all of these reports as we go along today.

    Finally, a recording of our latest WEBINAR with YCG Investments is now available on our website. You’ll definitely want to hear Brian Yacktman and his team discuss their very successful “value investing” strategy.

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