Author Archives: Ted Kavadas

June 2018 Duke/CFO Global Business Outlook Survey – Notable Excerpts

On June 13, 2018 the June 2018 Duke/CFO Global Business Outlook was released.  It contains a variety of statistics regarding how CFOs view business and economic conditions.

In this CFO survey press release, I found the following to be the most notable excerpts – although I don’t necessarily agree with them:

The Optimism Index in the U.S. remained at an all-time high of 71 on a 100-point scale this quarter. Optimism fell in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The survey’s CFO Optimism Index is an accurate predictor of future hiring and overall GDP growth.

“This increased U.S. optimism appears to have increased expectations for M&A activity,” Graham said. “More than 70 percent of CFOs expect more mergers and acquisitions to occur over the next year.”

also:

The proportion of firms indicating they are having difficulty hiring and retaining qualified employees remains near a two-decade high, with 41 percent of CFOs calling it a top concern. The typical U.S. firm says it plans to increase employment by a median 3 percent in 2018 and expects wages to increase 4 percent on average.

“The tight labor market continues to put upward pressure on wages,” said Chris Schmidt, senior editor at CFO Research. “Wage inflation is now a top five concern of U.S. CFOs.”

Wage growth should be strongest in the tech, transportation, and service/consulting industries. U.S. companies expect the prices of their products to increase by more than 3 percent over the next year.

The CFO survey contains two Optimism Index charts, with the bottom chart showing U.S. Optimism (with regard to the economy) at 71, as seen below:

Duke CFO Optimism chart

It should be interesting to see how well the CFOs predict business and economic conditions going forward.   I discussed past various aspects of this, and the importance of these predictions, in the July 9, 2010 post titled “The Business Environment”.

(past posts on CEO and CFO surveys can be found under the “CFO and CEO Confidence” tag)

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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 necessarily 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 2775.63 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 7, 2018 update (reflecting data through June 1, 2018) is -1.085.

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 13, 2018 incorporating data from January 8, 1971 through June 8, 2018, on a weekly basis.  The June 8, 2018 value is -.81:

NFCI_6-13-18 -.81

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed June 13, 2018:

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

The ANFCI chart below was last updated on June 13, 2018 incorporating data from January 8,1971 through June 8, 2018, on a weekly basis.  The June 8 value is -.52:

ANFCI_6-13-18 -.52

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed June 13, 2018:

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

_________

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 2780.95 as this post is written

Charts Indicating Economic Weakness – June 2018

U.S. Economic Indicators

Throughout this site there are many discussions of economic indicators.  At this time, the readings of various indicators are especially notable.  This post is the latest in a series of posts indicating U.S. economic weakness or a notably low growth rate.

While many U.S. economic indicators – including GDP – are indicating economic growth, others depict (or imply) various degrees of weak growth or economic contraction.  As seen in the June 2018 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey the consensus (average estimate) among various economists is for 2.9% GDP growth in 2018.  However,  there are other broad-based economic indicators that seem to imply a weaker growth rate.

As well, it should be remembered that GDP figures can be (substantially) revised.

Charts Indicating U.S. Economic Weakness

Below are a small sampling of charts that depict weak growth or contraction, and a brief comment for each:

Total Federal Receipts

“Total Federal Receipts” growth continues to be intermittent in nature since 2015.  As well, the level of growth does not seem congruent to the (recent) levels of economic growth as seen in aggregate measures such as Real GDP.

“Total Federal Receipts” through May had a last value of $217,075 Million.  Shown below is  displayed on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis with value -9.7%, last updated June 12, 2018:

Monthly Treasury Receipts Percent Change From Year Ago

source:  U.S. Department of the Treasury. Fiscal Service, Total Federal Receipts [MTSR133FMS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed June 13, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MTSR133FMS

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Underperformance Of Consumer Staples Stocks

In the March 23, 2017 post (“‘Hidden’ Weakness In Consumer Spending?“) I wrote of various indications that consumer spending may be (substantially) less than what is depicted by various mainstream indicators, including overall retail sales.

One recent development that appears to be a problematical aspect of consumer spending is the performance of the consumer staples stocks.  As one can see in the chart below, there has been a marked relative weakness in these stocks (with the XLP serving as a proxy).  The chart shows a 10-year daily depiction of the XLP (top plot), the S&P500 (middle plot) and XLP:S&P500 ratio (bottom plot.)  While there can be various interpretations and reasons for this underperformance, it does appear to represent a “red flag” especially considering other problematical indications concerning consumer spending:

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

XLP v S&P500 chart

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Unemployment

I have written extensively concerning unemployment, as the current and future unemployment issue is of tremendous importance.

The consensus belief is that employment is robust, citing total nonfarm payroll growth and the current unemployment rate of 3.8%.  However, my analyses continue to indicate that the conclusion that employment is strong is incorrect.  While the unemployment rate indicates that unemployment is (very) low, closer examination indicates that this metric is, for a number of reasons, highly misleading.

My analyses indicate that the underlying dynamics of the unemployment situation remain exceedingly worrisome, especially with regard to the future.  These dynamics are numerous and complex, and greatly lack recognition and understanding, especially as how from an “all-things-considered” standpoint they will evolve in an economic and societal manner.  I have recently written of the current and future U.S. employment situation on the “U.S. Employment Trends” page.

While there are many charts that can be shown, one that depicts a worrisome trend is the  Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate for those with a Bachelor’s Degree and Higher, 25 years and over.  Among disconcerting aspects of this measure is the long-term (most notably the post-2009) trend, especially given this demographic segment.

The current value as of the June 1, 2018 update (reflecting data through the May employment report) is 74.1%:

Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate: Bachelor's Degree and Higher, 25 years and over

source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate: Bachelor’s Degree and Higher, 25 years and over [LNS11327662], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed June 11, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS11327662

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Loan Demand And Related Measures

As seen in previous updates, various aspects of lending growth and related measures have shown a marked slowing in the growth rate.  Here is a measure, Net Percentage of Domestic Banks Reporting Stronger Demand for Commercial and Industrial Loans from Large and Middle-Market Firms, that shows a decline:

Net Percentage of Domestic Banks Reporting Stronger Demand for Commercial and Industrial Loans from Large and Middle-Market Firms

source:  Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Net Percentage of Domestic Banks Reporting Stronger Demand for Commercial and Industrial Loans from Large and Middle-Market Firms [DRSDCILM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;  accessed June 11, 2018:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DRSDCILM

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Wages And Earnings

The level and growth rates of wages and household earnings continues to be (highly) problematical.  I have extensively discussed these worrisome trends in income and earnings.

As seen in many measures the problem is chronic (i.e long-term) in nature.

Shown below is a chart depicting the 12-month percent change in real average hourly and weekly earnings for private sector employees from January 2008 – April 2018.  As seen in the chart, growth in this measure over the time period depicted has been intermittent, volatile, and, especially since 2017, weak:

 12-month percent change in real average hourly and weekly earnings

source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Real average hourly earnings up 0.2 percent for all private employees from April 2017 to April 2018 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2018/real-average-hourly-earnings-up-0-point-2-percent-for-all-private-employees-april-2017-to-april-2018.htm(visited June 11, 2018).

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Other Indicators

As mentioned previously, many other indicators discussed on this site indicate economic weakness or economic contraction, if not outright (gravely) problematical economic conditions.

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2786.85 as this post is written

NFIB Small Business Optimism – May 2018

The May NFIB Small Business Optimism report was released today, June 12, 2018. The headline of the Economic Trends report is “Small Business Optimism Soars, Continuing Historic Run, Hitting Several Records in May.”

The Index of Small Business Optimism increased in May by 3 points to 107.8.

Here are some excerpts that I find particularly notable (but don’t necessarily agree with):

The Small Business Optimism Index increased in May to the second highest level in the NFIB survey’s 45-year history. The index rose to 107.8, a three-point gain, with small businesses reporting high numbers in several key areas including compensation, profits, and sales trends.

also:

The May report hit several records:

• Compensation increases hit a 45-year high at a record net 35 percent.
• Positive earnings trends reached a survey high at a net three percent.
• Positive sales trends are at the highest level since 1995.
• Expansion plans are the most robust in survey history.

also:

Access to credit continues as a non-issue with 37 percent of owners reporting all credit needs were satisfied and 43 percent saying they were not interested in a loan, down seven points from last month and the lowest reading since 2007. Only one percent reported that financing was their top business problem. Owners planning to build inventories rose three points to a net four percent, the nineteenth positive reading in the past 20 months.

As reported in NFIB’s May jobs report, 23 percent of owners cited the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their Single Most Important Business Problem, followed by taxes at 17 percent and regulations at 13 percent. Fifty-eight percent reported hiring or trying to hire, up one point from last month but 83 percent of those reported few or no qualified workers.

Here is a chart of the NFIB Small Business Optimism chart, as seen in the June 12 Doug Short post titled “NFIB Small Business Survey:  ‘Small Business Optimism Soars…’“:

NFIB Small Business Optimism

Further details regarding small business conditions can be seen in the full May 2018 NFIB Small Business Economic Trends (pdf) report.

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2782.60 as this post is written

Deflation Probabilities – June 8, 2018 Update

While I do not agree with the current readings of the measure – I think the measure dramatically understates the probability of deflation, as measured by the CPI – the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta maintains an interesting data series titled “Deflation Probabilities.”

As stated on the site:

Using estimates derived from Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) markets, described in a technical appendix, this weekly report provides two measures of the probability of consumer price index (CPI) deflation through 2022.

A chart shows the trends of the probabilities.  As one can see in the chart, the readings are volatile.

As for the current weekly reading, the June 8, 2018 update states the following:

The 2018–23 deflation probability was 4 percent on June 7, down from 5 percent on May 30. The 2017–22 deflation probability was also 4 percent on June 7, unchanged from May 30. These deflation probabilities, measuring the likelihoods of net declines in the consumer price index over the five-year periods starting in early 2017 and early 2018, are estimated from prices of the five-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) issued in April 2017 and April 2018 and the 10-year TIPS issued in July 2012 and July 2013.

_________

I post various economic 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 2779.03 as this post is written

Long-Term Charts Of The ECRI WLI & ECRI WLI, Gr. – June 8, 2018 Update

As I stated in my July 12, 2010 post (“ECRI WLI Growth History“):

For a variety of reasons, I am not as enamored with ECRI’s WLI and WLI Growth measures as many are.

However, I do think the measures are important and deserve close monitoring and scrutiny.

Below are three long-term charts, from Doug Short’s ECRI update post of June 8, 2018 titled “ECRI Weekly Leading Index.”  These charts are on a weekly basis through the June 8, 2018 release, indicating data through June 1, 2018.

Here is the ECRI WLI (defined at ECRI’s glossary):

ECRI WLI

This next chart depicts, on a long-term basis, the Year-over-Year change in the 4-week moving average of the WLI:

ECRI WLI YoY of the Four-Week Moving Average

This last chart depicts, on a long-term basis, the WLI, Gr.:

ECRI WLI,Gr. 2.6 Percent

_________

I post various economic 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 2768.56 as this post is written

The June 2018 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey

The June 2018 Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Survey was published on June 7, 2018.  The headline is “Most Forecasters See Modest Growth Boost From Bank-Regulation Rollback.”

I found numerous items to be notable – although I don’t necessarily agree with them – both within the article and in the “Economist Q&A” section.

An excerpt:

Among dozens of forecasters surveyed in recent days by The Wall Street Journal, 61% said they expected U.S. growth in the medium term would be modestly stronger thanks to the bill signed last month by President Donald Trump. Some 33% said they expected no effect on economic growth from the rules-rollback. Few expected a decline or significant increase.

As seen in the “Recession Probability” section, the average response as to the odds of another recession starting within the next 12 months was 15.83%. The individual estimates, of those who responded, ranged from 0% to 33%.  For reference, the average response in May’s survey was 14.59%.

As stated in the article, the survey’s respondents were 56 academic, financial and business economists.  Not every economist answered every question.  The survey was conducted June 1 – June 5, 2018.

The current average forecasts among economists polled include the following:

GDP:

full-year 2018:  2.9%

full-year 2019:  2.4%

full-year 2020:  1.9%

Unemployment Rate:

December 2018: 3.6%

December 2019: 3.6%

December 2020: 3.9%

10-Year Treasury Yield:

December 2018: 3.23%

December 2019: 3.59%

December 2020: 3.54%

CPI:

December 2018:  2.5%

December 2019:  2.3%

December 2020:  2.2%

Crude Oil  ($ per bbl):

for 12/31/2018: $67.16

for 12/31/2019: $66.62

for 12/31/2020: $63.05

(note: I highlight this WSJ Economic Forecast survey each month; commentary on past surveys can be found under the “Economic Forecasts” category)

_____

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 necessarily 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 2769.09 as this post is written

Building Financial Danger – June 8, 2018 Update

My overall analysis indicates a continuing elevated and growing level of financial danger which contains many worldwide and U.S.-specific “stresses” of a very complex nature. I have written numerous posts in this site concerning both ongoing and recent “negative developments.”  These developments, as well as other exceedingly problematic conditions, have presented a highly perilous economic environment that endangers the overall financial system.

Also of ongoing immense importance is the existence of various immensely large asset bubbles, a subject of which I have extensively written.  While all of these asset bubbles are wildly pernicious and will have profound adverse future implications, hazards presented by the bond market bubble are especially notable.

Predicting the specific timing and extent of a stock market crash is always difficult, and the immense complexity of today’s economic situation makes such a prediction even more challenging. With that being said, my analyses continue to indicate that a near-term exceedingly large (from an ultra-long term perspective) stock market crash – that would also involve (as seen in 2008) various other markets as well – will occur.

(note: the “next crash” and its aftermath has great significance and implications, as discussed in the post of January 6, 2012 titled “The Next Crash And Its Significance“ and various subsequent posts in the “Economic Depression” category)

As reference, below is a daily chart since 2008 of the S&P500 (through June 7, 2018 with a last price of 2770.37), depicted on a LOG scale, indicating both the 50dma and 200dma as well as price labels:

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

S&P500 chart since 2008

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2770.37 as this post is written

Total Household Net Worth As Of 1Q 2018 – Two Long-Term Charts

For reference purposes, here is Total Household Net Worth from a long-term perspective (from 1945:Q4 through 2018:Q1).  The last value (as of the June 7, 2018 update) is $100.768344 Trillion:

(click on each chart to enlarge image)

TNWBSHNO

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

TNWBSHNO Percent Change From Year Ago

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; accessed June 7, 2018:

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

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2770.37 as this post is written

Total Household Net Worth As A Percent Of GDP 1Q 2018

The following chart is from the CalculatedRisk post of June 7, 2018 titled “Fed’s Flow of Funds:  Household Net Worth increased in Q1.” 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)

Total Household Net Worth As A Percentage Of GDP

As seen in the above-referenced CalculatedRisk post:

The net worth of households and nonprofits rose to $100.8 trillion during the first quarter of 2018. The value of directly and indirectly held corporate equities decreased $0.4 trillion and the value of real estate increased $0.5 trillion.

also:

The Fed estimated that the value of household real estate increased to $25.1 trillion in Q1. The value of household real estate is now above the bubble peak in early 2006 – but not adjusted for inflation, and this also includes 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 2767.09 as this post is written