Risk Aversion

The economic news out of most of the world points to a continued, if not new, slowdown. Japan is going nowhere, Europe may be shrinking, China is bleeding capital, and the rest of the world is hanging on. The only place there is good news is here in the US where … there was a net slowdown in the number of jobs gained in May. None of this looks good.

For everyone outside the US, it doesn’t. But most of that money from China is coming to the US – or, more accurately, coming back. Why aren’t things looking up?

Global instability doesn’t help anyone, which is why the Fed stopped raising rates. We can’t go it alone anymore, not in this inter-connected world. It spooks everyone to see this much risk. Yet there is still reason to believe that the US, alone, will see a period of higher growth by the end of the year. It’s all about that money coming back – and when it gets put to use.

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Spatters of Dragon Blood

The “Panama Papers” were a delight for conspiracy theorists, who have long contended that the global monetary system is fundamentally corrupt and that world leaders are skimming huge amounts of money off the top of it. They are, of course, correct.

But lost in the salacious details of the story has been the real business of Mossack Fonseca, which is moving money out of China. We’ve covered this story before when the official estimates were that half a trillion left China last year alone. That number, it turns out, was off by at least as much again – and possibly much more.

At least a trillion dollars left China last year through a wide variety of creative means. Mossack Fonseca’s offices in Hong Kong handle a third of their total business, moving money around the globe through over 60k shell companies at an incredible pace. How much? That’s the multi-trillion dollar question.

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Fed Futzes, Fuses Financial Fracas

Janet Yellen – is there anything she can’t do?

In a speech to the Economic Club of New York the most powerful person in the world, elections be damned, called back the need for continuing “ramp up” in the Fed Funds Rate. The stock market rallied as the happy days of last year returned and everyone had reason to believe that free money was on the horizon.

Funny, they don’t cheer like that for Bernie Sanders.

What is going on? Are we not going to raise rates this year after all? Has Yellen started channeling her inner Greenspan by saying as little as possible in the maximum number of words?

No, this is what we have to expect. It’s really all about China, which is to say all about currency conversion, and the much-hyped “dual mandate” of the Fed that’s really a much more complex triple mandate or more. And we all, sadly, have to stay tuned to find out what it really means.

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Scary ol’ Populism

The intersection of politics and business is rarely good for anyone. Too much money corrupts governing and too much governing can get awfully expensive – as can haphazard, capricious, and ego-driven governing.

Which is why the question has to be raised now that a certain person appears to be cruising to the Republican nomination – and his name ain’t Cruz. We have a policy at Barataria of never mentioning his name, something like Voldemort, as he gets enough oxygen for being obnoxious (noxygen?) already.

But is his rise part of the reason why markets have been somewhat panicked? It’s hard to tell, but there is reason to believe that markets in general, as well as faith in the US of A from abroad, are starting to react badly to the rising prospects of the greatest nation ever being run as the largest and most powerful ever set for a reality show.

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Be Careful What You … Measure?

Why should the stock market move in tandem with the price of oil? If you’ve never before heard that it has been you may think that the world really has gone crazy. Of course, you might be right.

But the phenom has been so strong and so enduring, lasting nearly two months now, that it’s more than a bizarre intellectual exercise – there’s a lot of money at stake. So what’s so important about oil going up that it drives the market? And how long will this keep up?

There are a few good theories out there for the first question, none of which make a strong case for when this relationship will break and we’ll go back to “cheap oil is good”. But there may be an even simpler way to look at it which tells us that the current situation can’t hold for very long at all.

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Market Funk

Watching the stock market on a daily basis is a good way to go insane. If you doubt this, all you have to do is read the various explanations for the daily gyrations – which rarely make much sense. Nevermind them. Since the start of 2016 the market’s been in a serious funk, which is to say it’s had a major urge to get down.

The official explanation is “China”. Something about China, at least. We’ve never bought that here at Barataria, focusing instead on the positive news that surrounds us every day. No, we’re not joking. There is indeed positive news and the market reflects this – sort of, at least.

Like good funk, the story of the stock market today comes with a backbeat and a solid bass line. It’s all about how the vagaries of international finance flow through the news and the market with a beat that so infectious ev’rbody has to dance.

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No More Games

With the Superbowl done, the nation settles in to the depths of Winter. This has been a hard time of year for many reason, not just the sudden end of football. The last few years have been harder to take than what the Panther fans are feeling about now.

This year? It may yet be worse, according to prognosticators. Then again, the worst may be over. Let’s update last year’s big stories to see how this year is coming along to see if there’s reason to hope.

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