The stock market is on a tear. The S&P 500 rose 19.4% in 2017 excluding dividends, and is already up over 4% in 2018. It's not a bubble or a sugar high. Our capitalized profits model, says the broad U.S. stock market, is, and was, undervalued.
Bonds have been in a "bull market" for the past thirty-seven years. Not every quarter, or every month, but bond yields have fallen consistently since Paul Volcker ended the inflation of the 1970s.
One word that could describe Donald Trump's unexpected ascendancy to the presidency is – "revolt." Revolt against the "establishment." Revolt against the "status quo."
The Bible story of the virgin birth is at the center of much of the holiday cheer this time of year. The book of Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus decreed a census should be taken. Mary gave birth after arriving in Bethlehem and placed baby Jesus in a manger because there was "no room for them in the inn."
Last December we wrote "we finally have more than just hope to believe that this year, 2017, is the year the Plow Horse Economy finally gets a spring in its step." We expected real GDP growth to accelerate from 2.0% in 2016 to "about 2.6%" in 2017.
The Federal Reserve did what just about everyone expected earlier today and raised short-term interest rates by 0.25 percentage points. The federal funds rate is now in a range from 1.25 - 1.50% and the Fed is now paying banks 1.50% on their reserve balances.
Models of the economy are pretty useful tools. And simple models are some of the most useful. They help people envision how the world works. They help organize thinking.
The Federal Reserve has a problem. At 4.1%, the jobless rate is already well below the 4.6% it thinks unemployment would/could/should average over the long run. We think the unemployment rate should get to 3.5% by the end of 2019 and wouldn't be shocked if it got that low in 2018, either.
Now that Black Friday has come and gone and Cyber Monday is upon us, you're going to hear a blizzard of numbers and reports about the US consumer. So far, these numbers show blowout on-line sales and a mild decline in foot traffic at brick-and-mortar stores.
We've called it a "Plow Horse" economy, which was our metaphor invented to counter forecasters who said slow growth meant a recession was on its way. A Plow Horse is always slow, but that slowness hides underlying strength – it was never going to slip and fall. Now, the economy is accelerating.