Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for June 26, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyDurable Goods Orders Down Again For the third time in four months, the level of durable goods orders has fallen. That is yet another sign of overall weakness in the manufacturing sector. There was a very weak Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) number reported earlier and there have been significant reversals in oth...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for June 24, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyExisting Home Sales Up in May Given the slump in new home sales, there had been fears existing home sales would also be down. The sector has been an important driver and indicator for the greater economy and there have been signs of a slowdown. This month, the news was a little better with sales up by 2.5%. The e...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for June 21, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyReduction in Jobless Claims There continues to be good news on the employment front despite the occasional bump in the data. Last week, there was a slight increase in the number of first-time jobless claims, but this week, the number fell slightly. The end result is a stable level of employment. The challenge as ...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for June 19, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyMore Distress in Housing Market The level of housing starts fell in May by 0.9%—a not unexpected development, but certainly not a welcome one. The decline has been fairly steady this year and signals the overall housing market has continued to weaken. Several factors are at work. One of the most salient has been ...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for June 17, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyOptions Not Available The presumption behind a tariff imposition is that companies have options. The economic motivation behind a tariff or any kind of trade restriction is that its existence will push companies and consumers to do their purchasing elsewhere. The tariff is supposed to help a domestic producer com...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for June 14, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyNo Bang for the Buck Tariffs are a tool that many nations have used over the years, and some with great success. The primary rationale for the imposition of this tax on consumption is to offset an imbalance of some kind. Another nation is exporting its output to the U.S. because it can provide that good cheaper t...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for June 12, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyLittle Change in Inflation Threat The latest Producer Price Index shows a very modest hike of 0.1%, essentially indicating there is no increase in underlying inflation to worry about for the time being. This has been one of the more baffling aspects of the economy of late as there really should have been some pal...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for June 10, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyChanges in Business Motivation For decades, the motivation for business was fairly simple. The ideal location for an operation was one where costs would be minimized. This meant locating where wage rates would be lower, taxes would be minimal and raw materials would be accessible and cheap. If there was cheap ene...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for June 7, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyAnemic Job Totals As was widely expected, the job data was weaker this month as there were only 75,000 jobs. This is more anemic than had been anticipated (the estimate had been gains of around 150,000 to 180,000). The slowdown in hiring is not a big shock given the manufacturing sector has been slowing for month...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for June 5, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyTrade and Interest Rates The Federal Reserve had been pretty adamant about its interest rate policy until the last few months. The logic was sound enough. The economy has been performing quite well and that is generally the precursor to a bout of inflation. For the last several decades, the Phillips curve has bee...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for June 3, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyHigh Inflation Is Bad—So Is Low Inflation There is no doubt high inflation is a major economic problem. One of the core missions of the central bank is keeping a lid on these price hikes. In many ways, the high prices are more dangerous to an economy than is recession. Inflation that is too low is an issue as wel...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for May 31, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyMore Tariff Threats The imposition of tariffs has become the go-to strategy for the Trump administration—regardless of the issue. Distress over the trade deficit with China results in a set of stiff tariffs, irritation with European policy begets tariff threats and now the ongoing concern over immigration has Tru...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for May 29, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyConsumer Confidence Rebounds Earlier in the year, consumers looked worried about what was coming up and this was affecting their mood. Both the Conference Board and the University of Michigan surveys indicated a slump as consumers worried about trade wars, potential inflation threats and an end to job growth. The...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for May 24, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyMore Positioning? If there was any doubt that the trade war with China is really all about politics and posturing, the latest offers from the White House should dispel it. A few days ago, the Trump position on Huawei—the mammoth telecom company in China—was that it constituted a grave and imminent threat to natio...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for May 22, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyDebt Ceiling Blues Again Given that neither political party seems to have any interest at all in reducing the size of the debt and/or deficit, it should come as no shock to realize that the U.S. is once again running into the issue of the debt ceiling. The government will be unable to pay its bills by mid-summer ...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for May 20, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyStruggling Millennials By almost every measure, the Millennial generation is in the worst shape of any demographic cohort as they start to enter early middle age. They have less wealth, less property, fewer children, less longevity and seniority in their jobs and have less set aside for retirement. They have been...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for May 15, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyHow Much Damage Really? At the risk of sounding like an economist—it all depends. Tariffs are meant to change behavior (one of the basic missions of a tax). In this case, the aim is twofold. One desired outcome is a change in the way China does business; but there is more. There is also a desire to change the hab...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for May 13, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyReally Time to Understand What a Tariff Really Is We all know what a tax is. It is the only certain thing other than death, or so we are told. We also know that the powers that be go out of their way to figure out new ways to describe that eventuality—it is a "fee" or "revenue enhancement" or a "tariff." It is in...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for May 8, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyConsumers in the Cross Hairs There is no guarantee Trump will follow through with his tariff threats, but the actions can't be ruled out either. If the 25% tariff is imposed on this $40 billion worth of goods from China, the most immediately affected will be the U.S. consumer. The tariffs imposed in the past have...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for May 6, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyTrump Throws Wrench into China Trade Talks For the last few weeks, it has appeared there was real progress being made in terms of U.S.-China trade talks. Even those who have been negotiating for the U.S. have been sounding optimistic. It seemed there were still some tough last-minute details to be worked out, but...
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