Economy

July 4, 2020

A Tribute to America

Independence Day, July 4th, 2020 Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is the United States of America. I was born on July 4, 1776, conceived in freedom and liberty. That freedom has brought millions to my shores to cast their lot with me. It has also given human incentive its widest scope. Now, just 244 years later, I am a diverse, multilingual country that is bound together by a single language, English. The dominant language of the business world, of the Internet world, and the second language for most of the world. Who would have believed that 60% of the world’s […]
July 2, 2020

Not Locking Down

A report from First Trust Advisors, L.P.: A resurgence of new Coronavirus cases around the country has created uncertainty for investors. Stock markets fell last week, not because of the virus, but because investors fear another round of economy-killing, government-mandated lockdowns. We don’t expect that to happen, but when the government is involved, risks are definitely higher. After the peak in early April, the seven-day moving average for new cases bottomed on June 9 at 21,282. Since then, they’ve surged, hitting 39,662 per day in the seven days through yesterday. That’s an 86% increase in only 19 days. (Daily volatility […]
June 25, 2020

Saving and the Shutdown

A report from First Trust Advisors, L.P.: Turning off the global economic light-switch, and then turning it partially back on, has sent shockwaves through economic data that, while anticipated, have been jaw-dropping in both directions. For example, US retail sales plunged a combined 21.8% in March and April, before rising 17.7% in May. Manufacturing production fell 20.0% in March and April, before gaining 3.8% in May. Non-farm payrolls shrank 22.1 million in March and April, followed by a gain of 2.5 million in May. The savings rate surged to 33% in April, the highest rate ever recorded with current metrics. […]
June 18, 2020

The Fed is Committed to Low Rates

The one key takeaway from last week’s Fed meeting is that monetary policymakers are set to keep short-term interest rates near zero for as far as the eye can see. Not forever, but at least until 2023. Keep this in mind in the week ahead, as we get more reports confirming the economic recovery started back in May. The Federal Reserve conveyed that commitment in a few different ways. First, and most important, was the quote from Wednesday’s post-meeting press conference with Fed Chairman Jay Powell that the Fed is not even “thinking about thinking about raising rates.” In other […]
June 12, 2020

Loose and Staying Loose (a report from First Trust Advisors, L.P.)

The most important takeaway from today’s Fed meeting is that policymakers don’t expect to raise short-term interest rates until at least 2023.  The Federal Reserve’s “dot plot” shows where policymakers think short-term interest rates will be at the end of this year, 2021, and 2022 and these show that no members of the rate setting committee – literally, none – think rates will go up this year or in 2021 and that only a small minority thinks they’ll rise in 2022.  Moreover, the median estimate among policymakers is that the unemployment rate will finish 2022 at 5.5%. In the aftermath […]
June 11, 2020

The Recession Is Over (a report from First Trust Advisors, L.P.)

The recession that started in March is the sharpest downturn since the Great Depression. As it turns out, it was also the shortest. Friday’s employment report should leave little doubt that the US economy has already hit bottom and is starting to recover. Every economist brave enough to make a public forecast thought nonfarm payrolls would drop in May and the unemployment rate would continue to rise. Instead, it was the opposite: nonfarm payrolls rose 2.5 million, and the unemployment rate dropped to 13.3%. This doesn’t mean the US is fully recovered, or even close; a full recovery is going […]