Category Archives: Uncategorized

10-Year Treasury Yields – Two Long-Term Charts As Of March 14, 2017

I have written extensively about U.S. interest rates and their importance.  Rising interest rates have substantial ramifications for many aspects of the current-day economy.  My commentaries with regard to interest rates and the bond bubble are largely found under the “bond bubble” tag.   From an intervention perspective commentary is found under the “Intervention” category.

Lately interest rates, including the 10-Year Treasury yield, have been increasing.  An excerpt from the March 13, 2017 Wall Street Journal article titled “U.S. 10-Year Bond Yield Closes at Highest Level Since September 2014”:

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note closed Monday at the highest level in more than two years, deepening its rise this month as investors expect that the Federal Reserve will raise short-term interest rates later this week.

The yield on the 10-year note settled at 2.609%, compared with 2.582% Friday. It toppled the recent peak of 2.6% closed in mid-December and marked the highest close since September 2014. Yields rise as bond prices fall.

As reference, here is a long-term chart of the 10-Year Treasury yield since 1980, depicted on a monthly basis, LOG scale:

(click on charts to enlarge images)(charts courtesy of StockCharts.com; chart creation and annotation by the author)

TNX Monthly LOG since 1980

Here is a long-term chart of the 10-Year Treasury yield since 2008, depicted on a daily basis, LOG scale:

TNX Daily LOG since 2008

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2364.18 as this post is written

Average Hourly Earnings Trends

I have written many blog posts concerning the worrisome trends in income and earnings.

Along these lines, one of the measures showing disconcerting trends is that of hourly earnings.

While the concept of hourly earnings can be defined and measured in a variety of ways, below are a few charts that I believe broadly illustrate problematic trends.

The first chart depicts Average Hourly Earnings Of All Employees: Total Private (FRED series CES0500000003)(current value = $26.09):

(click on chart to enlarge image)(chart last updated 3-10-17)

CES0500000003_3-10-17

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Average Hourly Earnings of All Employees:  Total Private [CES0500000003] ; U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics; accessed March 11, 2017:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/CES0500000003

This next chart depicts this same measure on a “Percentage Change From A Year Ago” basis.   While not totally surprising, I find the decline from 2009 and subsequent trend to be disconcerting:

(click on chart to enlarge image)(chart last updated 3-10-17)

CES0500000003_3-10-17 2.8 percent change from year ago

There are slightly different measures available from a longer-term perspective. Pictured below is another measure, the Average Hourly Earnings of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees – Total Private (FRED series AHETPI)(current value = $21.86):

(click on chart to enlarge image)(chart last updated 3-10-17)

AHETPI_3-10-17 21.86

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Average Hourly Earnings of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees:  Total Private [AHETPI] ; U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics;  accessed March 11, 2017:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/AHETPI

Pictured below is this AHETPI measure on a “Percentage Change From A Year Ago” basis.   While not totally surprising, I find the decline from 2009 and subsequent trend to be disconcerting:

(click on chart to enlarge image)(chart last updated 3-10-17)

AHETPI_3-10-17 2.5 percent change from year ago

I will continue to actively monitor these trends, especially given the post-2009 dynamics.

_________

I post various economic indicators and indices because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this blog are aware, I do not necessarily agree with what they depict or imply.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2372.60 this post is written

Total Household Net Worth As Of 4Q 2016 – Two Long-Term Charts

In the last post (“Total Household Net Worth As A Percent Of GDP 4Q 2016“) I displayed a long-term chart depicting Total Household Net Worth as a percentage of GDP.

For reference purposes, here is Total Household Net Worth from a long-term perspective (from 1945:Q4 through 2016:Q4).  The last value (as of the March 9, 2017 update) is $92.80541 Trillion:

(click on each chart to enlarge image)

TNWBSHNO_3-9-17 92805.41

Also of interest is the same metric presented on a “Percent Change from a Year Ago” basis:

TNWBSHNO_3-9-17 6.3 percent change from year ago

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; accessed March 11, 2017:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/TNWBSHNO

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2372.60 as this post is written

Total Household Net Worth As A Percent Of GDP 4Q 2016

The following chart is from the CalculatedRisk post of March 9, 2017 titled “Fed’s Flow of Funds:  Household Net Worth increased in Q4.” It depicts Total Household Net Worth as a Percent of GDP.  The underlying data is from the Federal Reserve’s Z.1 report, “Financial Accounts of the United States“:

(click on chart to enlarge image)

household net worth as a percentage of GDP

As seen in the above-referenced CalculatedRisk post:

Household net worth was at $92.8 trillion in Q4 2016, up from $90.8 trillion in Q3 2016.

The Fed estimated that the value of household real estate increased to $23.1 trillion in Q4. The value of household real estate is now above the bubble peak in early 2006 – but not adjusted for inflation, and also including new construction.

As I have written in previous posts concerning this Household Net Worth (as a percent of GDP) topic:

As one can see, the first outsized peak was in 2000, and attained after the stock market bull market / stock market bubbles and economic strength.  The second outsized peak was in 2007, right near the peak of the housing bubble as well as near the stock market peak.

also:

I could extensively write about various interpretations that can be made from this chart.  One way this chart can be interpreted is a gauge of “what’s in it for me?” as far as the aggregated wealth citizens are gleaning from economic activity, as measured compared to GDP.

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2372.60 as this post is written

Broad-Based Indicators Of Economic Activity

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) and the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index (ADS Index) are two broad-based economic indicators that I regularly feature in this site.

The short-term and long-term trends of each continue to be notable.

Doug Short, in his blog post of March 6, 2017, titled “The Philly Fed ADS Index Business Conditions Index Update” displays both the CFNAI MA-3 (3-month Moving Average) and ADS Index (91-Day Moving Average) from a variety of perspectives.

Of particular note, two of the charts, shown below, denote where the current levels of each reading is relative to the beginning of past recessionary periods, as depicted by the red dots.

The CFNAI MA-3:

(click on charts to enlarge images)

CFNAI-MA3

The ADS Index, 91-Day MA:

ADS Index

Also shown in the Doug Short’s aforementioned post is a chart of each with a long-term trendline (linear regression) as well as a chart depicting GDP for comparison purposes.

_________

I post various indicators and indices because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this blog are aware, I do not necessarily agree with what they depict or imply.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2377.16 as this post is written

Consumer Confidence Surveys – As Of February 28, 2017

Doug Short had a blog post of February 28, 2017 (“Consumer Confidence Up in February“) in which he presents the latest Conference Board Consumer Confidence and Thomson/Reuters University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index charts.  They are presented below:

(click on charts to enlarge images)

Conference Board Consumer Confidence

University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index

There are a few aspects of the above charts that I find highly noteworthy.  Of course, until the recent sudden upswing, the continued subdued absolute levels of these two surveys was disconcerting.

Also, I find the “behavior” of these readings to be quite disparate as compared to the other post-recession periods, as shown in the charts between the gray shaded areas (the gray areas denote recessions as defined by the NBER.)

While I don’t believe that confidence surveys should be overemphasized, I find these readings to be very problematical, especially in light of a variety of other highly disconcerting measures highlighted throughout this site.

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2367.21 as this post is written

Durable Goods New Orders – Long-Term Charts Through January 2017

Many people place emphasis on Durable Goods New Orders as a prominent economic indicator and/or leading economic indicator.

For reference, below are two charts depicting this measure.

First, from the St. Louis Fed site (FRED), a chart through January 2017, updated on February 27, 2017. This value is $230,354 ($ Millions):

(click on charts to enlarge images)

Durable Goods New Orders

Second, here is the chart depicting this measure on a “Percentage Change from a Year Ago” basis:

Durable Goods New Orders Percent Change From Year Ago

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Manufacturers’ New Orders:  Durable Goods [DGORDER]; U.S. Department of Commerce: Census Bureau; accessed February 27, 2017;

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/DGORDER

_________

I post various indicators and indices because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this blog are aware, I do not necessarily agree with what they depict or imply.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2370.11 as this post is written

Money Supply Charts Through January 2017

For reference purposes, below are two sets of charts depicting growth in the money supply.

The first shows the MZM (Money Zero Maturity), defined in FRED as the following:

M2 less small-denomination time deposits plus institutional money funds.
Money Zero Maturity is calculated by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Here is the “MZM Money Stock” (seasonally adjusted) chart, updated on February 17, 2017 depicting data through January 2017, with a value of $14,626.7 Billion:

MZMSL

Here is the “MZM Money Stock” chart on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis:

MZMSL percent change from year ago

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed Febraury 22, 2017:

https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/MZMSL

The second set shows M2, defined in FRED as the following:

M2 includes a broader set of financial assets held principally by households. M2 consists of M1 plus: (1) savings deposits (which include money market deposit accounts, or MMDAs); (2) small-denomination time deposits (time deposits in amounts of less than $100,000); and (3) balances in retail money market mutual funds (MMMFs). Seasonally adjusted M2 is computed by summing savings deposits, small-denomination time deposits, and retail MMMFs, each seasonally adjusted separately, and adding this result to seasonally adjusted M1.

Here is the “M2 Money Stock” (seasonally adjusted) chart, updated on February 16, 2017, depicting data through January 2017, with a value of $13,270.1 Billion:

M2SL

Here is the “M2 Money Stock” chart on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis:

M2SL percent change from year ago

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed February 22, 2017:

https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/M2SL

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2365.38 as this post is written

Walmart’s Q4 2017 Results – Comments

I found various notable items in Walmart’s Q4 2017 management call transcript (pdf) dated February 21, 2017.  (as well, there is Walmart’s press release of the Q4 results and related presentation materials)

I view Walmart’s results and comments as particularly noteworthy given their retail prominence and focus on low prices.  I have previously commented on their quarterly management call comments; these previous posts are found under the “paycheck to paycheck” tag.

Here are various excerpts that I find most notable:

comments from Doug McMillon, President and CEO, page 2:

Good morning everyone. As you saw in our earnings materials this morning, we delivered a very solid quarter and it’s great to see continued momentum in the business. Total revenue grew 3.0 percent in the quarter and increased 3.1 percent for the year, both in constant currency. Comp sales growth of 1.8 percent in the Walmart U.S. business this quarter was better than expected, and I’m particularly pleased with the traffic in our stores. U.S. GMV grew 36 percent in the quarter, so we’re headed in the right direction with this important part of our business, too.

comments from Brett Biggs, EVP & CFO, page 7:

We saw strong growth this quarter in the Walmart U.S. eCommerce business with GMV and sales growth of 36 percent and 29 percent, respectively. Our integrated offering means customers are shopping with us through multiple channels. In fact, over the holidays, Pickup Today, which is available in Walmart U.S. stores, grew by 27 percent over last year.

comments from Brett Biggs, EVP & CFO, page 8:

We accomplished this while also returning a substantial amount of cash to shareholders. In fact, over the past year, we returned $14.5 billion to shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchase. As of the end of the fiscal year, we had used approximately $10.8 billion of the current $20 billion share repurchase authorization. Additionally, today we announced an increase in our annual dividend from $2.00 per share to $2.04 per share in fiscal 2018. We’ve now increased our dividend for 44 consecutive years. We’re proud of our track record of returning significant cash to shareholders, while investing in future growth.

comments from Brett Biggs, EVP & CFO, page 9:

Gross margin decreased 8 basis points in the quarter. Savings from procuring merchandise as well as lower logistics costs benefitted the margin rate, but were more than offset by the continued execution of our price investment strategy and the timing of post-Holiday markdowns. We’re entering the new year in a very solid inventory position. For the year, Walmart U.S. gross margin increased 24 basis points. As a reminder, both fourth quarter and full-year comparisons included a $56 million impact last year related to store closures.

 

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2351.16 as this post is written

February 7, 2017 Gallup Poll Results On Economic Confidence – Notable Excerpts

On February 7, 2017 Gallup released the poll results titled “U.S. Economic Confidence Index Hit New High in January.”

Notable excerpts include:

Americans’ confidence in the U.S. economy remained strong in January. Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index averaged +11, the highest monthly average in Gallup’s nine-year trend. However, the index has been slightly lower so far in February.

also:

Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: how Americans rate current economic conditions and whether they feel the economy is improving or getting worse. The index has a theoretical maximum of +100 if all Americans were to say the economy is doing well and improving, and a theoretical minimum of -100 if all Americans were to say the economy is doing poorly and getting worse.

In January, 31% of Americans rated the economy as “excellent” or “good,” while 21% said it was “poor,” resulting in a current conditions score of +10 — marking the highest monthly reading for this component since 2008.

The economic outlook component also reached a new high score of +11 in January. This score was the result of 52% of Americans saying economic conditions in the country were “getting better,” while 41% said they were “getting worse.”

Here is an accompanying chart of the two components of the Gallup Economic Confidence Index, discussed above:

Gallup U.S. Economic Confidence Index Components - Monthly Averages

Here is an accompanying chart of the Gallup Economic Confidence Index:

Gallup U.S. Economic Confidence Index - Monthly Averages

 

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2292.38 as this post is written