Monthly Archives: June 2018

Trends Of S&P500 Earnings Forecasts

S&P500 earnings trends and estimates are a notably important topic, for a variety of reasons, at this point in time.

FactSet publishes a report titled “Earnings Insight” that contains a variety of information including the trends and expectations of S&P500 earnings.

For reference purposes, here are two charts as seen in the “Earnings Insight” (pdf) report of June 15, 2018:

from page 24:

(click on charts to enlarge images)

S&P500 EPS

from page 25:

S&P500 EPS

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I post various economic forecasts because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these forecast surveys.

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2762.84 as this post is written

S&P500 “Bottom Up” EPS Forecasts Years 2018, 2019, And 2020

As many are aware, Thomson Reuters publishes earnings estimates for the S&P500.  (My other posts concerning S&P earnings estimates can be found under the S&P500 Earnings tag)

The following estimates are from Exhibit 24 of the “S&P500 Earnings Scorecard” (pdf) of June 22, 2018, and represent an aggregation of individual S&P500 component “bottom up” analyst forecasts.  For reference, the Year 2014 value is $118.78/share, the Year 2015 value is $117.46, the Year 2016 value is $118.10/share, and the Year 2017 value is $132.00/share:

Year 2018 estimate:

$161.01/share

Year 2019 estimate:

$176.72/share

Year 2020 estimate:

$193.21/share

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I post various economic forecasts because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these forecast surveys.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2749.76 as this post is written

Standard & Poor’s S&P500 EPS Estimates 2018 2019 – June 15, 2018

As many are aware, Standard & Poor’s publishes earnings estimates for the S&P500.  (My posts concerning their estimates can be found under the S&P500 Earnings tag)

For reference purposes, the most current estimates are reflected below, and are as June 15, 2018:

Year 2018 estimates add to the following:

-From a “bottom up” perspective, operating earnings of $157.51/share

-From a “top down” perspective, operating earnings of N/A

-From a “bottom up” perspective, “as reported” earnings of $148.23/share

Year 2019 estimates add to the following:

-From a “bottom up” perspective, operating earnings of $174.67/share

-From a “top down” perspective, operating earnings of N/A

-From a “bottom up” perspective, “as reported” earnings of $164.77

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I post various economic forecasts because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these forecast surveys.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2750.23 as this post is written

Deloitte “CFO Signals” Report Q2 2018 – Notable Aspects

Recently Deloitte released their “CFO Signals” “High-Level Summary” report for the 2nd Quarter of 2018.

As seen in page 2 of the report, there were 172 survey respondents.  As stated:

“Each quarter (since 2Q10), CFO Signals has tracked the thinking and actions of CFOs
representing many of North America’s largest and most influential companies.

All respondents are CFOs from the US, Canada, and Mexico, and the vast majority are from
companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue. For a summary of this quarter’s
response demographics, please see the sidebars and charts on this page. For other information
about participation and methodology, please contact nacfosurvey@deloitte.com.”

from page 3:

Perceptions

How do you regard the current/future status of the North American, European, and Chinese economies? Perceptions of North America improved, with 94% of CFOs rating current conditions as good (up from 90% last quarter and a new survey high), and 52% expecting better conditions in a year (down from 59%). Perceptions of Europe declined to 47% and 36%, respectively (both metrics remain near their survey highs), and China rose to 55% (a new high) and 31%. Page 6.

What is your perception of the capital markets? Seventy-three percent of CFOs say debt financing is attractive (down from 77%). Attractiveness of equity financing decreased for public company CFOs (from 43% to 36%) and increased for private company CFOs (from 35% to 45%). Sixty-three percent of CFOs now say US equities are overvalued—the lowest level in two years. Page 7.

Sentiment

Overall, what risks worry you the most? CFOs express strong external concerns about US politics (especially around trade policy), while concerns about economic risks, which had subsided over the last few quarters, began to rise. They again cite pressure to execute on their growth plans, voicing growing internal concerns about driving initiatives and finding talent. Page 8.

Compared to three months ago, how do you feel about the financial prospects for your company? The net optimism index fell from last quarter’s survey-high +54 to +39 (still quite strong). Forty-eight percent of CFOs express rising optimism (down from 59%), and 9% express declining optimism. Page 9.

Expectations

What is your company’s business focus for the next year? CFOs indicate a survey-high bias toward revenue growth over cost reduction (67% vs. 17%) and a somewhat lower bias toward investing cash over returning it (56% vs. 18%).

The bias toward new offerings over current ones grew this quarter (40% vs. 35%), and the bias toward current geographies over new ones increased slightly (59% vs. 16%). Page 10.

Compared to the past 12 months, how do you expect your key operating metrics to change over the next 12 months? Revenue growth expectations rose from 5.9% to 6.3% (the highest level in nearly four years). Earnings growth rose from 9.8% to 10.3% (a three-year high). Capital investment slid from 11.0% to 10.4% (still among its six-year highs). Domestic hiring rose from 3.1% to 3.2% (a new high). Technology and Retail/Wholesale showed substantial improvement. Page 11.

from page 9:

Sentiment

Optimism regarding own-companies’ prospects

After hitting a new high last quarter, net optimism declined this quarter, but remains relatively strong—despite substantial weakness in Mexico and Healthcare/Pharma.

Net optimism hit a survey-high +50 in 1Q17, then another new high last quarter at +54. This quarter’s net optimism declined to +39— significantly down, but still quite strong by historical standards. Forty-eight percent of CFOs expressed rising optimism (down from 59%), and 9% cited declining optimism (up from 6%).

Net optimism for the US declined from +55 last quarter to +42 this quarter. Canada declined from +47 to +33, while optimism in Mexico fell sharply from +38 to zero.

Sentiment was particularly strong in Services and Technology—both of which came in above +50. Retail/Wholesale and Manufacturing both declined sharply from last quarter’s highs (both were above +60). Healthcare/Pharma declined sharply to -33.

Please see the full report for charts specific to individual industries and countries.

from page 11:

Expectations

Growth in key metrics, year-over-year

After hitting multi-year highs last quarter, key growth metrics continued to climb this quarter. Capital spending remained strong in the US, but weakened in Canada and Mexico. Technology, and Retail/Wholesale showed substantial improvement.

Revenue growth rose from 5.9% to 6.3%, its highest level in nearly four years. The US rose to a two-year high. Canada rose above its two-year average, and Mexico rose to a three-year high. Technology leads; Services and Manufacturing trail.

Earnings growth rose from 9.8% to 10.3%, its highest level in three years. The US declined slightly, but remains near its three-year high. Canada rose to its highest level in nearly four years, while Mexico rose to its five-year high. Technology* leads; Healthcare/Pharma trails.

Capital investment declined from 11.0% to 10.4%, but remains at one of the highest levels in the last six years. The US remained near its five-year high. Canada declined and is below its two-year average; Mexico declined sharply to near its two-year average. Manufacturing and Retail/Wholesale are again highest; Healthcare/Pharma and Technology are lowest.

Domestic personnel growth rose from 3.1% to 3.2%, a new survey high. The US remained at last quarter’s high; Canada rose to its second-highest level in five years; Mexico rose to its second highest level in three years. Technology and Retail/Wholesale lead; T/M/E* trails.

Please see the full report for charts specific to individual industries and countries.

* Please note that, due to a very small sample size,

T/M/E was not used as an industry comparison point.

Among the various charts and graphics in the report are graphics depicting trends in “Own Company Optimism” on page 9 and “Economic Optimism” found on page 6.

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I post various business and economic surveys because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these surveys.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2767.32 as this post is written

Chicago Fed National Financial Conditions Index (NFCI)

The St. Louis Fed’s Financial Stress Index (STLFSI) is one index that is supposed to measure stress in the financial system.  Its reading as of the June 14, 2018 update (reflecting data through June 8, 2018) is -1.151.

Of course, there are a variety of other measures and indices that are supposed to measure financial stress and other related issues, both from the Federal Reserve as well as from private sources.

Two other indices that I regularly monitor include the Chicago Fed National Financial Conditions Index (NFCI) as well as the Chicago Fed Adjusted National Financial Conditions Index (ANFCI).

Here are summary descriptions of each, as seen in FRED:

The National Financial Conditions Index (NFCI) measures risk, liquidity and leverage in money markets and debt and equity markets as well as in the traditional and “shadow” banking systems. Positive values of the NFCI indicate financial conditions that are tighter than average, while negative values indicate financial conditions that are looser than average.

The adjusted NFCI (ANFCI). This index isolates a component of financial conditions uncorrelated with economic conditions to provide an update on how financial conditions compare with current economic conditions.

For further information, please visit the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s web site:

http://www.chicagofed.org/webpages/publications/nfci/index.cfm

Below are the most recently updated charts of the NFCI and ANFCI, respectively.

The NFCI chart below was last updated on June 20, 2018 incorporating data from January 8, 1971 through June 15, 2018, on a weekly basis.  The June 15, 2018 value is -.81:

NFCI_6-20-18

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed June 20, 2018:

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

The ANFCI chart below was last updated on June 20, 2018 incorporating data from January 8,1971 through June 15, 2018, on a weekly basis.  The June 15 value is -.52:

ANFCI_6-20-18

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed June 20, 2018:

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

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I post various indicators and indices because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site 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 2770.88 as this post is written

Risk Of Future Upheaval In The U.S. Financial System

As seen in various surveys, market commentary, speeches, and risk indicators the nearly universal consensus among investors, government officials, and other observers is that the U.S. economy is (very) strong and the level of risk in the U.S. economy and financial system is (very) low.  Furthermore, this consensus viewpoint is that future prospects of substantial economic weakness and/or future upheaval in the stock market and other financial markets remains very low.

There are various indications – many of which have been discussed on this site – that this very widely-held consensus is substantially incorrect.  The level and manner of financial and economic activity continues to be accompanied by many highly problematical financial conditions, some of which have grown in severity.

From an “all things considered” standpoint, I continue to believe the overall level of risk is at a fantastic level, one that is far greater than that experienced at any time in the history of the United States.

These highly problematical conditions will lead to future upheaval.  The resolution of these problematical conditions will determine the ongoing viability of the financial system and economy as well as the accompanying quality of living.

As I have previously written in “The U.S. Economic Situation” updates:

My analyses continues to indicate that the growing level of financial danger will lead to the next stock market crash that will also involve (as seen in 2008) various other markets as well.  Key attributes of this next crash is its outsized magnitude (when viewed from an ultra-long term historical perspective) and the resulting economic impact.  This next financial crash is of tremendous concern, as my analyses indicate it will lead to a Super Depression – i.e. an economy characterized by deeply embedded, highly complex, and difficult-to-solve problems.

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2770.72 as this post is written

“Taylor Rule” Chart – June 13, 2018 Update

On January 9, 2017 I wrote a post (“Low Interest Rates And The Formation Of Asset Bubbles“) that mentioned the “Taylor Rule.”  As discussed in that post – and for other reasons – the level of the Fed Funds rate – and whether its level is appropriate – has vast importance and far-reaching consequences with regard to many aspects of the economy and financial system.

For reference, below is an updated chart depicting the “Taylor Rule” prescription and the actual Fed Funds rate, provided by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, updated as of June 13, 2018:

Taylor Rule chart

For additional reference, below is a long-term chart showing, among other measures, the Real Fed Funds rate.  This chart is from the Doug Short site post of June 19, 2018 titled “Treasury Yields – A Long-Term Perspective.”  Of particular note is the post-2000 persistently negative Real Fed Funds rate, which is shown in red:

Real Fed Funds Rate chart

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2762.59 as this post is written

Markets During Periods Of Federal Reserve Intervention – June 15, 2018 Update

In the August 9, 2011 post (“QE3 – Various Thoughts“) I posted a chart that depicted the movements of the S&P500, 10-Year Treasury Yield and the Fed Funds rate spanning the periods of various Federal Reserve interventions since 2007.

For reference purposes, here is an updated chart (through June 15, 2018) from the Doug Short site post of June 15 (“Treasury Snapshot:  10-Year Remains at 2.93%“):

The S&P500 during Federal Reserve intervention

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2779.66 as this post is written

S&P500 Price Projections – Livingston Survey June 2018

The June 2018 Livingston Survey published on June 15, 2018 contains, among its various forecasts, a S&P500 forecast.  It shows the following price forecast for the dates shown:

Jun. 29, 2018   2720.0

Dec. 31, 2018  2824.0

Jun. 28, 2019   2850.0

Dec. 31, 2019  2880.3

These figures represent the median value across the forecasters on the survey’s panel.

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I post various economic forecasts because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these forecast surveys.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2772.79 as this post is written

Jerome Powell’s June 13, 2018 Press Conference – Notable Aspects

On Wednesday, June 13, 2018 Jerome Powell gave his scheduled June 2018 FOMC Press Conference. (link of video and related materials)

Below are Jerome Powell’s comments I found most notable – although I don’t necessarily agree with them – in the order they appear in the transcript.  These comments are excerpted from the “Transcript of Chairman Powell’s Press Conference“ (preliminary)(pdf) of June 13, 2018, with the accompanying “FOMC Statement” and “Economic Projections of Federal Reserve Board Members and Federal Reserve Bank Presidents, June 2018“ (pdf).

From Jerome Powell’s opening comments:

Good afternoon and thank you for being here. I know that a number of you will want to talk about the details of our announcement today, and I am happy to do that in a few minutes. But because monetary policy affects everyone, I want to start with a plain-English summary of how the economy is doing, what my colleagues and I at the Federal Reserve are trying to do, and why. The main takeaway is that the economy is doing very well.

Most people who want to find jobs are finding them, and unemployment and inflation are low. Interest rates have been low for some years while the economy has been recovering from the financial crisis. For the past few years, we have been gradually raising interest rates, and along the way, we have tried to explain the reasoning behind our decisions. In particular, we think that gradually returning interest rates to a more normal level as the economy strengthens is the best way the Fed can help sustain an environment in which American households and businesses can thrive. Today, we have taken another step in that process by raising our target range for the federal funds rate by a quarter of a percentage point.

also:

After many years of running below our 2 percent longer-run objective, inflation has recently moved close to that level. Indeed, overall consumer prices, as measured by the price index for personal consumption expenditures, increased 2 percent over the 12 months ending in April. The core PCE index, which excludes the prices of energy and food and tends to be a better indicator of future inflation, rose 1.8 percent over the same period. As we had expected, inflation moved up as the unusually low readings from last March dropped out of the calculation. The recent inflation data have been encouraging, but after many years of inflation below our objective, we do not want to declare victory. We want to ensure that inflation remains near our symmetric 2 percent longer-run goal on a sustained basis. As we note in our Statement of Longer-Run Goals and Monetary Policy Strategy, the Committee would be concerned if inflation were running persistently above or below our 2 percent objective. Of course, many factors affect inflation, some temporary and others more lasting, and at any given time inflation may be above or below 2 percent. For example, the recent rise in oil prices will likely push inflation somewhat above 2 percent in coming months. But that transitory development should have little if any consequence for inflation over the next few years. The median of participants’ projections for inflation runs at 2.1 percent through 2020. Relative to the March projections, the median inflation projection is a little higher this year and next.

Jerome Powell’s responses as indicated to the various questions:

STEVE LIESMAN. Steve Liesman, CNBC. Mr. Chairman, you said there’s a difference of opinion among economists. But looking at the longer-run GDP growth rates for the members of the Committee, there’s not a whole lot of differences. It’s one 8 to 2, or one 7 to 2, 1, depending upon how you count it. Is that showing us that not a single member of the Committee, including yourself, Mr. Chairman, agrees with economists over at the White House that they can achieve long-run sustained growth rates above or at 3 percent or higher? Do you believe in that?

CHAIRMAN POWELL. You know, first of all, that’s a — that’s a reasonable range, I think, of — it’s not that we’re all on the same number. But there are a range of views about potential growth. And there’s so much uncertainty around this. You know, we don’t — the thing about fiscal policy is, you don’t have thousands of incidents to, you know, to — you don’t have big data, in a way. You have very small data. You’ve got only a few instances here, so you have a lot of uncertainty around what the effects will be. They could be large. We hope they’re large. But I think our approach is going to be to watch and see and hope that in fact, we do get significant effects to, you know, to potential growth out of the tax bill and we’re just going to have to see. I think we’re looking at a reasonable range of estimates and we’re putting every — different participants are putting different estimates in and we’re going to be waiting and seeing.

also:

MARTIN CRUTSINGER. Marty Crutsinger, Associated Press. At this meeting, you hiked your — the funds rate, you changed the dot plot to move from 3 to 4 for this year, and you took out a sentence that you’d been using for years about how long rates might stay low. But you say that none of this signals a change in policy views. But shouldn’t we see from this combination of things that the Fed is moving to tighter policy?

CHAIRMAN POWELL. I think what you should see is that the economy is continuing to make progress. The economy has strengthened so much since I joined the Fed, you know, in 2012 and even over the last couple of years. The economy is in a very different place. We — unemployment was 10 percent at the height of the crisis. It’s 3.8 percent now and moving lower. So, really what you — the decision you see today is another sign that the U.S. economy is in great shape. Growth is strong, labor markets are strong, inflation is close to target, and that’s what you’re seeing. For many years, as I mentioned, many years, we had interest rates held low to support economic activity. And it’s been clear that as we’ve gotten closer to our statutory goals, we should normalize policy, and that’s really what we’ve been consistently doing for some years now.

HEATHER LONG. Heather Long from the Washington Post. Can you give us an update on what the FOMC thinks about wages? Are we finally going to see that wage growth pick up this year? I know you’re forecasting a little bit more inflation, but is that going to translate through to wage growth?

CHAIRMAN POWELL. You know, wages have been gradually moving up. Earlier in the recovery, they were — there are many different wage measures, of course, but — so just — but just the generalized wages were running roughly around 2 percent and they’ve moved gradually up into between 2 to 3 percent, as the labor market has become stronger and stronger. I think it’s fair to say that some of us — and I certainly would have expected wages to react more to the very significant reduction in unemployment that we’ve had, as I mentioned, from 10 percent to 3.8 percent. Part of that can be explained by low productivity, which is something we’ve talked about at the Committee and elsewhere. But nonetheless, I think we had anticipated and many people have anticipated that wages — that in a world where we’re hearing lots and lots about labor shortages — everywhere we go now, we hear about labor shortages, but where is the wage reaction? So, it’s a bit of a puzzle. I wouldn’t say it’s a mystery, but it’s a bit of a puzzle. And frankly, I do think there’s a lot to like about low unemployment. And one of the things is, you will see pretty much people who want to get jobs — not everybody — but people who want to get jobs, many of them will be able to get jobs. You will see wages go up. You’ll see people at the — sort of the margins of the labor force having an opportunity to get back in work. They benefit from that. Society benefits from that. So, there are a lot of things to really like, including higher wages, as you asked. Our role though, is also to, you know, to make sure that that maximum employment happens in a context of price stability and financial stability, which is why we’re gradually raising rates.

also:

VICTORIA GUIDA. I have a couple of regulatory questions. First of all, on the counter cyclical capital buffer, I was wondering, what are the chances that the Fed is going to need to use that in the next year or two? And then my second question is, there’s been a lot of talk lately in Congress about the ability for banks to serve marijuana businesses, and I was wondering if you think that banks should be able to serve those businesses in states where marijuana is legal?

CHAIRMAN POWELL. So, the counter cyclical capital buffer gives us the ability to raise capital requirements on the largest institutions, when financial stability vulnerabilities are meaningfully above normal, that’s the language that we’ve used. And that’s certainly a possibility. I wouldn’t say that — I wouldn’t look at today’s financial stability landscape and say that risks are meaningfully above normal. I would say that they’re roughly at normal. You have — you know, households are well — you know, are in good shape. They’re — they’ve pay down their debt, incomes are rising, people have jobs. So, households are not really a concern. And banks are highly capitalized, so that’s not really a concern. We see — there’s some concern with asset prices in a couple of pockets. But overall, if you if you bake it all in, I think we see generally financial vulnerabilities as moderate. Could that change, you asked, over a couple of years? Yeah, they could. You also asked about marijuana businesses. So, this is a very difficult area because we have state law — many state laws permit the use of marijuana and federal law still doesn’t. So, it puts, you know, federally chartered banks in a very difficult situation. I think it would be great if that could be clarified. We don’t have, you know — it puts the supervisor in a very, very difficult position. And, of course, this isn’t — our mandate has nothing to do with marijuana, so we don’t really — we just would love to see it clarified, I think.

also:

STEVEN BECKNER. Steve Beckner, Mr. Chairman, freelance journalist reporting for NPR. About financial conditions, which worries you more, warnings that rising short-term rates are bringing the yield curve closer to inversion, or the fact that long rates have risen very slowly and in fact are nearly 20 basis points below their recent high? How do you account for the fact that long rates have been so slow to rise? And what does it say about the inflation outlook as well?

CHAIRMAN POWELL. So, let me — let me briefly mention the yield curve. I mean, I — the yield curve is something that people are talking about a lot, including FOMC participants. And I — they have a range of views. It’s something we’re going to continue to be talking about, it’s — but it’s only one of many things, of course, that we talk about. I think that that discussion is really about what is appropriate policy, and how do we think about policy as we approach the neutral rate. How do we understand what the neutral rate is? How do we know where it is? And what are the consequences of being above or below it? That’s really what — when people are talking about the slope of the yield curve, that’s really what they’re talking about. We know why – we know why the yield curve is flattening, it’s because we’re raising the federal funds rate. It makes all the sense in the world that the short end would come up. I think you asked the harder question is, what’s happening with long rates. And there are many things that move long rates around. Of course, there’s an embedded expectation of the path of short rates. There’s the term premium, which has been very low, by historical standards, and so arguments are made that a flatter yield curve has less of a signal embedded in it. In addition, I think what you saw most recently that you referred to, Steve, was just risk-on risk-off. In a risk-off environment, people want to own U.S Treasuries and you see, you know, Treasury prices go up, rates go down quite a lot. So — but I think ultimately, you know, what we’re — what we really care about is what’s the appropriate stance of policy. And there’s a — there may be a signal in that long-term rate about what is the neutral rate and I think that’s why people are paying attention to the yield curve.

NANCY MARSHALL-GENZER. Nancy Marshall-Genzer with Marketplace. Companies are buying back their shares at a record rate. Corporate debt is up. Consumer debt is rising. Are we in a credit bubble? Is that something that you’re worried about?

CHAIRMAN POWELL. So, if you look at households, you do not see excess credit growth. You don’t see high levels of credit going out, so not so much households. And that really was where the problems were before the financial crisis was, particularly in — among household borrowing, and particularly around mortgages. With — if you take banks, then of course, their leverage is significantly lower, or to say it differently, their capital is significantly higher. If you ask about non-financial corporates, that’s really where leverage is at levels that are high relative to history. But defaults are low, interest rates are low, you know, so it’s something — that’s something we’re watching very carefully. But again, I don’t think we see it as — I think there are a range of views on that, but we are watching non-financial corporates. Households are in good shape though, and that is — that is so important because that’s where — you know, that’s where we got into trouble before. And that’s — it’s often around property and particularly housing, where you see real problems emerge. We don’t really see that now, so we take some solace from that.

 

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2772.86 as this post is written