On Wall Street, it's best not to think too hard or to look too closely into the mouths of gift horses. Since making predictions based on actual economic understanding is rare, analysts typically look to provide explanations after the fact. Within the financial services industry, currency traders are perhaps the greatest practitioners of this craft. While they often get the fundamentals completely wrong, it never seems to stop them from offering bizarre theories to explain currency movements.
This week, market watchers around the world are justifiably fixated with the high-stakes, high-drama political developments unfolding in Italy. While a political crisis in the world's 9th largest economy (International Monetary Fund figures, 4/17/18) would normally not be enough to cause an international meltdown, given how thin the global economic ice has become as a result of ever-increasing debt loads, even small disruptions can create systemic problems.
Earlier this year when President Trump began beating the drums loudly, causing fear of a trade war (and assuring us that such a conflict could be easily won), I cautioned that he had no idea the trouble he was courting . Based on his spectacular misunderstanding of the power dynamic built in to international trade, he was also in danger of bringing a knife to a gunfight.
With his announcement last week of broad tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, President Trump launched what could be the first salvo of an all-out global trade war. Seemingly itching for a fight, he gleefully tweeted that "Trade wars are good, and easy to win."
While investors are justifiably focused on what may be the opening crescendo of a long overdue sell-off in stocks, there is not, as of yet, as feverish a discussion of the parallel sell-offs in bonds and the U.S. dollar, which have been underway for at least a year and a half in bonds and 14 months for the dollar.
After supposedly chomping on the bit for years to pass meaningful tax reform, Republicans are now set to blow an historic opportunity. Whatever version of the Bill that emerges from the House and Senate Conference Committee...
In light of the 30-year anniversary of the Black Monday Crash in 1987 (when the Dow lost more than 20% in "one day", we should be reminded that investor anxiety usually increases when markets get to extremes.
In a move that was little noticed outside of the financial world, China announced the creation of an oil futures contract (open to international traders) that will be denominated in Yuan and convertible into gold. This move provides the first official linkage of oil to gold, and more importantly a linkage between the Chinese currency and gold.
The media has taken President Trump to task for all manner of false or exaggerated claims, but surprisingly little has been said about Trump’s most glaring forays into abject hypocrisy.
On August 21st many Americans witnessed the moon cast a historic but short-lived shadow across the United States. One day later, President Trump reversed his previously stated position on the 16 year old Afghan War, thereby eclipsing the possibility that the United States would finally come to its senses and rethink a failed strategy that is likely to fail for years, perhaps decades, to come.