Wednesday, March 22, 2017

U.S. house prices were nearly flat in January, according to FHFA index. Year-over-year increase was 5.7% 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Federal Reserve is playing with fire by lifting rates by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

On the face of it, a 1% rate is risibly low a full eight years into the economic expansion. It is deeply negative in real terms. Savings are being whittled away.
Stephen Hawking points to artificial intelligence as a defining reason for needing stronger forms of globally enforced cooperation.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

QUICK OVERVIEW

  • At its policy meeting on March 15, 2017, the Fed increased the benchmark interest rate, known as the federal funds rate, by 0.25%, or 25 basis points. The rate is now 0.75–1.00%, or 75–100 basis points. 

  • The Producer Price Index for final demand increased 0.3% in February. Final demand prices rose 0.6% in January and 0.2% in December. In February, the final demand services index increased 0.4% and prices for final demand goods moved up 0.3%. 

  • Australian Bureau of Meteorology said that there was an "increased chance" of El NiƱo occurring this year, with six of the eight prediction models suggesting thresholds may be reached by July. 

  • (Economist) The number of American oil rigs has risen to 617 from 386 a year ago. 

  •  One in four Americans believe we are living in the end times.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Baltic Exchange Dry Index (BDI) is up-to-date
Chinese Scientists Genetically Modify Human Embryos


and so it begins..

QUICK OVERVIEW

  • U.S. Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 235,000 in February, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Employment gains occurred in construction, private educational services, manufacturing, health care, and mining. (Thx Obama)

  • The Eurozone base interest rate, namely the interest rate on main refinancing operations, will remain at 0.00 percent, with the marginal lending rate and deposit rate remaining at 0.25 percent and minus 0.40 percent respectively. 
  • Brazil's economy shrank by 3.6% in 2016. This follows a contraction of 3.8% in 2015. Making this the most severe recession on record. But things are now looking up...

  •  “If you're looking to the Congressional Budget Office for accuracy, you're looking in the wrong place." – so declares Sean Spicer. Forestalling a report that isn’t favorable to Republicans, Trump and R’s are actively looking to delegitimize the agency’s credibility. 

  •  Scott Pruitt, head of EPA: Carbon dioxide not a contributor to climate change… 

  •  Snap, Inc. went public and sold stock to “investors” without voting rights. Yup, Snap just issued stock that does not vote. Question: is stock that cannot vote - still stock? (Interesting times indeed!)

  • U.S. Productivity increased 1.3 percent in the non-farm business sector in the fourth quarter of 2016; unit labor costs increased 1.7 percent (seasonally adjusted annual rates). In manufacturing, productivity increased 2.0 percent and unit labor costs increased 2.4 percent. 

  • (Reuters) China's major corn producing regions are urging Beijing to give more financial aid to farmers and accelerate efforts to boost demand for grain as farmers struggle with low prices and nascent steps to get rid of its ageing, bulging stockpiles stumble.

  •  (World Gold council) Indian Gold demand will recover from las year: Last year Indian demand fell to it is lowest level since 2009, rocked by a barrage of policy initiatives and a soaring gold price. But the outlook is better – we expect Indian demand to be between 650-750t in 2017. 

  •  Signs of slowdown grow as Britain gears up to trigger EU divorce. Separate data from market research firm Kantar Worldpanel showed the inflation rate for groceries doubling in the space of a month as prices for food staples including butter, tea and fish all rose.

  • The world has lost more than 1,000 rhinos per year for the past 3 years in South Africa. No end in sight to poaching... 

  • Amazon told USA TODAY that Echo’s design precludes snooping. The Echo keep less than 60 seconds of recorded sound in its storage buffer. As new sound is recorded, the old is erased. So there's no audio record made of what went on in a room where an Echo sits. 
  •  The Economist explains: Why diamond production may be about to peak 
  • According to Swiss Re, low interest rates have cost U.S. Savers about $1 trillion from 2008 to 2015.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

QUICK OVERVIEW

  • Fed's Yellen: Immigration contributes a lot to labor force growth, U.S. economic growth potential looks a bit less than 2%. 
 
  • The EU Parliament wants the European Commission to force the US to either institute full reciprocity on visa policy or face a temporary suspension of visa-free access. 
 
  • The NAR said its pending home sales index, based on contracts signed last month, fell 2.8 percent to 106.4. The NAR reported last week that U.S. existing home sales hit a 10-year high in January as buyers shrugged off higher prices and mortgage rates. Buyers are easily outnumbering sellers in several metro areas, "Most notably in the West, it's not uncommon to see a home come off the market within a month". 
 
  • The White House is seeking to slash the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s budget by 17 percent, imposing big cuts to research and satellite programs, according to a memo obtained by The Washington Post. 
 
  • Today 2/28/17, we have rumors floating around that the Trump admin may raise the ethanol blend cap from 10% to 15% - White house denies, so far. Corn and Soy Oil are therefore a bit more volatile. 
 
  • Fed's Williams: Right now, interest rates are abnormally low. Says Fed needs to get interest rates to normal.. 
 
  • Irish whiskey volumes have grown a staggering 131% in the last 10 years, beating a 13% rise for scotch and 56% for bourbon 
 
  •  Oh great, more military spending, less on environment. Which will probably mean we’ll need more and more military spending ... Trump "intends" to propose a fed budget that dramatically increases defense spending by $54 billion while cutting virtually all other federal agencies by the same amount… 

  •  (Reuters)The head of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission does not expect to review AT&T Inc's (T) planned $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc (TWX), a spokesman for the agency said on Monday. 

  • Trump’s administration is mulling plans to circumvent the World Trade Organization. Incoming administration officials asked the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to find ways to bypass WTO rules on dispute resolution to levy unilateral U.S. sanctions against other countries such as China, sources tell the Financial Times.

  • More than 7,000 people have died in the war on drugs since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office. A politician who has investigated the leader fears for her life and has since been arrested. Her most important witness, a former hitman, is living in hiding in the rainforest.

  • More than 120 retired generals and admirals have signed a letter warning the White House against making significant cuts to diplomacy and development.