Drama Over Yet?

The stock market has rallied for two days, with the S&P500 back at 1987 from its low of 1869. It’s still down 6.8% from its peak of 2130, set in May, (and nearly matched just a month ago) and down 3.5% for the year. It’s almost like the crash never happened, right?

Well, no. But there is a lot of good news for the underlying economy, some of which came in this week. The really good news is still out into next year, which is essentially forever to this market. We have to get over an interest rate hike, which will definitely come this year no matter what you read elsewhere, and a lot of jitters.

Continue reading

About That Rate Increase …

The stock market ended down for a sixth day in a row, with the S&P500 at 1869. It’s right at the low from last October of 1862, meaning that we either find support here or look out below. To date, it’s off 12.2% from its 2130 peak.

The bloodletting has one thought on everyone’s mind, at least the one thing other than “When does it stop?” The question of the day is “Does this kill the Fed’s desire to raise interest rates?”

The market was betting against a rise before, and it’s more convinced than ever that a rise in the Fed Funds Rate is not coming. But there should be a rise for one very strange reason – it may actually lower interest rates and stimulate the economy. Seriously. We’re still in Bizarro Economic territory and this could be the moment we finally get out of it.

Continue reading

For What It’s Worth

For an election that’s more than a year out, this one sure is making a lot of noise. And, like most noise in an election, it’s about 90% (cowpuckey). But if you listen closely, there may be something very big happening just beneath the surface. It’s not very loud yet, but it may reverberate into some beautiful music.

The sound that you may not hear is the progressive left getting its act together.

With the fans of Sen Sanders going after Sec Clinton – and getting a little bit in return – it’s hard to see how this band is going to come together. But after Clinton’s confrontation with Black Lives Matter (BLM) something wonderful has happened – people seem to be listening. If we all start doing more listening and a little less “speaking up”, as the left is wont to do, this may yet come together.

Continue reading

Stock Panic?

“This is no time to panic. There’ll be plenty of time to panic later.”
– Author unknown (but I was sure it was Groucho Marx)

The stock market took a beating today, with the S&P 500 off 2.1%. This came for a lot of reasons but mostly because of a global selloff sparked largely by the ongoing meltdown in China. The question on everyone’s mind has to be, “How bad will it get?”

The short answer is that it can only get worse from here for a lot of reasons. Very few of them matter in the long haul, but who actually believes that the stock market is paying attention to anything beyond next quarter?

Continue reading

Women’s Equality Day

The long list of calls settled itself into the monotone of routine.  “Hi, my name is Erik, and I’m calling for Jim Scheibel, your DFL candidate for Mayor of Saint Paul.”  The 1989 election was going to be close, so Get Out The Vote (GOTV) calling to loyal Democrats was important.  But just as I let the script propel my calls with their own momentum the soft gravely tone on the other end split the evening open.

“Oh, dear, you don’t have to remind me to vote.  I’ve been voting ever since they let us.”

We’ve been “letting” women vote for 95 years, ever since Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment on August 26th, 1920 by just one vote.  The anniversary of this landmark event, “Women’s Equality Day”, is a good time to reflect on how young and precarious this precious foundation of democracy is for half the population.
Continue reading

Density Gradient

Cities are coming back across the US for many reasons. The unsafe, dirty urban core of legend is being replaced by funky, hip neighborhoods with character and charm. Life in the city can be good, now that the perma-haze of pollution has been tamed. Transit helps make life more relaxing and even cheaper. Young people in particular find revitalized cities to be affordable and great places to meet their mate and then raise kids.

The movement owes a lot to New Urbanism, junking the old industrial model for cities as centers for jobs and emphasizing attractive, functional places to live. We’ve learned a lot. But if there is one flaw in this model it’s the constant emphasis on higher and higher density. There’s always a place for high density in the urban world, of course, but it doesn’t work everywhere.

A better way to look at what makes cities great is a model based on the density gradient – a gradual increase towards the core that is economically and aesthetically sustainable.

Continue reading

Summer of Discontent

The news is full of Donald Trump and his lead in the crowded Republican field. Off to the side a bit, Sen Bernie Sanders is drawing huge crowds and capturing the imaginations of many supporters – and a few polls, too. With more than a year to go the Presidential election is going wildly off script as insurgent candidates are leading the insider choices, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.

Will this keep up for the next year or more?

A smart person would say that nothing is predictable as the electorate is obviously very volatile right now. Good thing I’m not smart. Despite the teevee noise and the large crowds it is very early and what we might call “mainstream” voters – people with jobs, families, et cetera – are not engaged yet. They will probably put a stop to the circuses and at least change the tone before it’s all over. But that doesn’t mean the election will quite go back on script.

Continue reading