Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for March 1, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Fourth Quarter GDP at 2.6% This was almost exactly what the majority of analysts expected. It is a return to the pace that has dominated the economy for the last 20 years; it's certainly a respectable number. The over 3% growth that was notched in the early part of 2018 was somewhat artificial as it owed much of...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 27, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy More Sliding in the Housing Market Housing starts were down by 11.2%, the steepest drop in two years. The majority of the data on housing has been pointing in this direction; however at this stage, it is not coming as any great shock. The price of homes had started to fall in 2018, but that was mostly within the...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 25, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Unemployment Is Low but So Are Wages This is not supposed to happen—at least not according to the rules of economics. The Phillips Curve states that when the rate of joblessness is low, the average wage will rise, which makes a certain amount of sense. The assumption is that business will get into a bidding war ...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 22, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Support for Higher Interest Rates The consensus view at the moment holds there is no reason at all for the Fed to even consider hiking interest rates. That has been the admonition from Trump for several months. Now, the markets have joined in with all their doom and gloom assessments of growth in 2019. Lately, t...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 20, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Hawks Are Not Giving Up The emerging consensus view of the Fed—it is not going to hike rates again this year. We will find out a bit more about their thinking as we peruse the Fed minutes, but the commentary from most of the members has been pretty dovish. The sense is the economy has slowed enough to create con...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 19, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Is Debt Really a Problem? As with most things economic, the answer to this depends to a degree on one's perspective. The fact is that the U.S. national debt is larger than it has ever been. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts it will be 93% of GDP within a decade with annual deficits well over a trill...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 15, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Wasn't Such a Happy Holiday After All It seems that retailers had a far less exciting December than they realized at first. The gangbuster consumer spending that marked November fizzled fast in December—even the usual late season rush by clueless male shoppers was not enough. The retailers had the slowest Decemb...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 13, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Over a Million Job Openings It has been a very long time since there was such a distinct surplus of jobs in the U.S. economy—7.34 million of them. If every single person who is unemployed were to take a job, there would still be a million jobs unfilled. There are many reasons these jobs are going unfilled and ad...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 12, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Arrival of Late Reports This may have been the most colossal and serious impact of the government shutdown—at least as far as I was concerned. The many agencies that produce the reams of economic data used to assess the state of the economy were not grinding out this information for over a month. Now there will ...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 8, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy It's All About Communication Several economists working in the private sector (as opposed to government or academe) were asked to grade the last few Fed chairmen. They turned out to be fairly tough graders. Current Chair Jerome Powell got a B-. The two prior to him (Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen) received B+ gra...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 6, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Productivity Levels Rose at End of 2018 One of the major concerns for the economy has been the level of worker productivity as the unemployment rate fell to record lows. This has been especially worrisome as employers started hiring people who would require a lot of training before being truly productive. The da...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 4, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Fed Changes Its Tune To be honest, the Fed has indicated all along that it would be governed by the numbers and by little else. This has been standard operating procedure for the Federal Reserve since its inception and is a characteristic shared with all the major central banks. Rates will be hiked when there is...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for February 1, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Shutdown and Jobs Data This month's report on the jobs data will be affected to some degree by the government shutdown as some 800,000 employees of the federal government were not being paid and most were eligible for unemployment assistance for all or part of that period. This is a temporary issue (provided the...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 30, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Fed Advocates Patience The problem is that few seem to know what that really means. There are now reasons to both raise rates and to leave them where they are, or even lower them again. After several years of non-existent inflation, there are some solid signs that it has been developing. Wage rates are starting ...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 29, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Implications of a Cooler Housing Market The housing market has not fallen into the deep freeze yet. There seems to be enough demand to keep that from happening. The market has indeed slowed; there is a lot less economic activity than was the case a year or so ago. The higher price of homes, the shaky stock marke...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 25, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy The Jobless Dilemma It has been apparent for years that the shortage of qualified labor has inhibited the U.S. economy and reduced productivity. It has been a subject that gets beaten half to death by pundits from the right and left. Today, there was an interesting opportunity to hear a couple of perspectives. T...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 23, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Home Sales Data Slows Sales of new homes fell by 6.4% in the last month, the slowest month recorded since 2015. This was not a huge shock to the system as there have been a variety of "headwinds" that evoked a lot of comment these last few months. It has been the usual issue of higher prices and higher mortgage ...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 22, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Flagging Consumer Confidence For the last couple of years, the consumer confidence level has been high and, in many respects, higher than would have been expected. The sense has been that consumers pay close attention to only a handful of factors as far as the economy is concerned—jobs, prices and the behavior o...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 18, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Jobless Claim Still Low In the next few weeks, the jobless numbers are going to be very hard to interpret. This may be about the last week that claims can be assessed as an accurate indication of the state of the U.S. workforce. The government shutdown is dumping hundreds of thousands of federal workers into the...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 16, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Small Business and the Shutdown Much of the attention has been focused on the estimated 800,000 people who are federal employees and not being paid. This will certainly have an economic impact in those regions where federal employment is a major part of the community, but an even bigger impact will be felt by th...
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