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What Is The State Of Stock Market Today?

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Stock Market Today

With President Donald Trump’s appointment of hawkish triad Jay Powell, Marvin Goodfriend and Loretta Master, how is the stock market today? Read on and find out from Mr. Malcolm Berko the state of stock market today.

Down Market

 

Dear Mr. Berko:

What’s your opinion of the current stock market? Why has the market collapsed so much the past month?

Some investors blame President Donald Trump’s appointment of hawkish Jay Powell, Marvin Goodfriend and Loretta Mester to guide the Federal Reserve. Others say that 2018 will be good for the economy. Others predict a slight decline in corporate revenues and earnings and a runaway deficit. Others say it’s a normal reaction to a market that’s run up too fast. This is very scary.

Will stocks recover from this ghastly crash?

The other question on most minds is: How do we protect what we have? Can you make any sense of what’s happened and what will happen?

— MT, Bettendorf, Iowa

Dear MT:

Janet Yellen was a swell Federal Reserve chair, and many investors who were comfortable with her policies are uncomfortable with what they know about Powell, Goodfriend and Mester. But they’re more uncomfortable with what they don’t know about these three musketeers. Each of them is a strong advocate of rising interest rates, and they probably will be more aggressive than Yellen in raising rates. The appointment of these three to super-powerful and sensitive positions at the Fed concerns most investors and me, too. It’s kind of like appointing a new coach and staff to run a professional football team when new hires were not necessary. Jumpin’ Jack Flash, mama mia, Jiminy Christmas, oy vey and blimey. My friend Knobby Walsh always reminded me, “If something ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” The Fed, running smoothly under Yellen, wasn’t broken, so these appointments take the cupcake. Perhaps this is why cryptocurrencies are becoming popular.

This year will be a good year for the economy and for most Americans. During the fourth quarter of 2017, the Fortune 500 companies reported a year-over-year average increase in revenues of 8.2 percent and a 14.4 percent average increase in earnings. The Fed said inflation ran at 2.1 percent for 2017 and to expect inflation at 2.5 percent in 2018. And economists are suggesting good metrics this year.

In a recent survey by The Wall Street Journal, economists predicted that the United States’ gross domestic product will grow by 2.8 percent this year, versus 2.5 percent last year. They also projected that unemployment will fall below 4 percent this year.

Yes, interest rates will rise. Historically, yields on 10-year Treasury notes have been roughly the equivalent of the growth in GDP plus the rate of inflation. Historical precedent suggests that the 10-year Treasury rate last year should have been 4.6 percent rather than 2.8 percent. And historical patterns suggest that this year’s 10-year Treasury notes should trade at 5.3 percent. Resultantly, the bond market may be roiling. Holders of U.S. Treasurys, which currently yield 2.8 percent, are reluctant to hold them because rising rates could cause their principal to fall by 30 to 35 percent. Certainly, investors would rather hold hot coals in their hands than Treasurys. It’s a definite maybe that rates will be higher in 2018, and that makes the investors nervous as Porky Pig in a bacon factory.

The pullback in the market was long overdue and is helpful. It brings investors back to earth from their unfettered optimism and dampens the price hype from those high flyers that keep traders in Cohibas, whiskey and bubbles. Higher rates will continue to challenge the Dow Jones industrial average, but higher corporate revenues, strong corporate profits and nicely increasing dividends should bring balance to the Dow. Be mindful that the Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 32 percent between the November 2016 election and late January 2018, so a 10 percent decline is not a disaster but rather a correction. And mind you, we’ve had plenty of those in the past 30-plus years and recovered nicely from each.

Stay the course if you own good names, and don’t ascribe long-term consequences to short-term events. Meanwhile, investors who bought many of the income/growth stocks recommended in this column are sitting well. As their AT&T, W.P. Carey, AmeriGas and Southern shares decline, the increasing dividends make those stocks easy to hold.

Please address your financial questions to Malcolm Berko, P.O. Box 8303, Largo, FL 33775, or email him at [email protected] To find out more about Malcolm Berko and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2018 CREATORS.COM

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Economy

Next Wave of Stimulus Could Be $2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill

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Next Wave of Stimulus Could Be $2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill

“Phase 4” of the government’s economic stimulus plan could include spending up to $2 trillion on improving America’s infrastructure.

The bill already has bipartisan support, and could be voted on as soon as April 20th when representatives of both the House and Senate return to Washington, D.C.

During his 2016 campaign, President Trump said he would make improving America’s roads, bridges and airports a top priority during his time in office.

“The only one to fix the infrastructure of our country is me – roads, airports, bridges,” Trump tweeted on May 12, 2015. “I know how to build, [politicians] only know how to talk!”

While previous attempts to pass a major infrastructure bill have failed, both sides seem willing to try again in an effort to help America’s economy rebound from the coronavirus outbreak.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is often at odds with the President, said she is “pleased the president has returned to his interest” in the issue. She called an infrastructure proposal “essential because of the historic nature of the health and economic emergency that we are confronting.”

She added “I think we come back April 20, God willing and coronavirus willing, but shortly thereafter we should be able to move forward.”

The Democrat’s proposal is part of a five-year, $760 billion package that includes money for community health centers, improvements to drinking water systems, expanded access to broadband and upgrades to roads, bridges, railroads and public transit agencies.

The plan designated $329 billion for modernizing highways and improving road safety, including fixing 47,000 “structurally deficient” bridges and reducing carbon pollution. It also aimed to set aside $105 billion for transit agencies, $55 billion for rail investments such as Amtrak, $30 billion for airport improvements and $86 billion for expanding broadband access.

“I could provide the legislative language in very, very short order for this package. It’s the funding that’s been holding us up, and if the president insists on funding, then I believe that Senator McConnell and Leader McCarthy will move on this issue,” said Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

During an appearance on CNBC yesterday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he is talking with Congress about a potential infrastructure bill.

“As you know, the president has been very interested in infrastructure. This goes back to the campaign: The president very much wants to rebuild the country. And with interest rates low, that’s something that’s very important to him.”

He added “We’ve been discussing this for the last year with the Democrats and the Republicans. And we’ll continue to have those conversations.”

Earlier this week President Donald Trump said he wants to spend $2 trillion on a massive infrastructure package.

He tweeted that “With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO,this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill. It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4.”

“The president very much wants to rebuild the country, and with interest rates low, that’s something that’s very important to him,” Treasury Secretary Mnuchin added.

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Stocks Will Head Lower, Warns Billionaire Bond Investor

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Stocks Will Head Lower, Warns Billionaire Bond Investor

Billionaire bond investor and DoubleLine Capital founder Jeffrey Gundlach is the latest Wall Street veteran to warn that the worst is yet to come for stock prices.

He joins famed investor Jim Rogers, who said on Tuesday that he expects the market to stay elevated for a while, but ultimately another stock market route is on the way.

“I expect in the next couple of years we’re going to have the worst bear market in my lifetime,” Rogers said in a phone interview.

Gundlach may not be as bearish as Rogers, but he did say earlier in March that there was a 90% chance the United States would enter a recession before the end of the year due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the short-term Gundlach said during a webcast on Tuesday that he believes that the lows we saw in March will be eclipsed in April due to the uncertainty around the coronavirus outbreak and when we can expect the number of new cases to slow.

“I think we are going to get something that resembles that panicky feeling again during the month of April,” while adding “The low we hit in the middle of March, I would bet that low will get taken out.”

Mark Hackett, chief of investment research at Nationwide agrees with Gundlach and warns that there is compelling evidence that nearly every bear market has a few rallies before plunging lower.

“Last week’s double-digit gain for markets was a welcome relief rally, though market bottoms are rarely as clean as this one has been. In 2000/01, there were four rallies of greater than 20% before ultimately reaching a bottom, and in the financial crisis, the S&P 500 had a false breakout of 27% before hitting a bottom.”

Gundlach also said that any projections that the US economy will quickly recover once the spread of the virus slows were too optimistic and that the hopes of a quick recovery were causing the markets to act “somewhat dysfunctionally.”

“We will get back to a better place, but it’s just not going to bounce back in a V-shape back to January of 2020,” he said.

Gabriela Santos, JPMorgan’s global market strategist agrees with Gundlach that we aren’t going to get the quick “V-shaped” recovery that most are predicting.

She believes that we’ll start a slower “U-shaped” recovery once coronavirus infection rates peak.

“A ‘V-shape’ I think we should unfortunately discount at this point, because even when infection rates peak for COVID-19 around the world, what the China experience is teaching us is even though the government begins to relax some social distancing guidelines, individuals themselves are still very careful about how exactly they go back to their day to day lives,” she said.

“So demand was quick to shut down, but it’s actually much slower to come back online,” she added. “The better analogy here is a U. There’s a very sharp drop in activity in the first half, there’s a bit of a stall in the second, and then in 2021 is when that strong rebound begins.”

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Economy

Fed Bank Predicts 53 Million Americans Out of Work, 32% Unemployment Rate

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Fed Bank Predicts 53 Million Americans Out of Work, 32% Unemployment Rate

As we covered here on The Capitalist last week, during an interview with Bloomberg News, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said that he is forecasting the U.S. unemployment rate will hit 30% in the coming months as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The comments understandably raised a few eyebrows at the thought of such a staggering unemployment rate, which would be nearly triple what we experienced during the Great Recession.

Bullard tried to soften the blow in a later interview with CNBC, stating that although the unemployment number will be “unparalleled” we shouldn’t get discouraged.

“…if we play our cards right and keep everything intact, then everyone will go back to work and everything will be fine.”

Now, one of Bullard’s colleagues at the St. Louis Fed has an even more dour prediction about what America will face in the coming months.

In a research paper published last week, Miguel Faria-e-Castro, an economist at the St. Louis Fed, titled his article “Back-of-the-Envelope Estimates of Next Quarter’s Unemployment Rate” and estimated (remember, this is one man’s estimates) that nearly 53 million Americans could find themselves unemployed due to the coronavirus.

That works out to an unemployment rate of 32.1%. At the peak of the Great Depression nearly 100 years ago the unemployment rate topped out at 24.9%.

Faria-e-Castro acknowledges that it’s a massive number, and states “These are very large numbers by historical standards, but this is a rather unique shock that is unlike any other experienced by the U.S. economy in the last 100 years.”

He points to previous research that identifies 66.8 million workers who are in “occupations with high risk of layoff” that include sales, production, food preparation and services. He then looks at additional research that found 27.3 million workers in “high contact-intensive” jobs at risk such as barbers, stylists, airline attendants and food and beverage services.

Faria-e-Castro then averages those two numbers and adds in the existing number of unemployed Americans to arrive at his estimate.

While we are nowhere near reaching that unimaginable number, we are at the very beginning of a massive wave of initial jobless claims filings.

Just last week initial jobless claims hit a record of 3.3 million and another 2.65 million are expected to join them this week, according to economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

Some are even more pessimistic.

Thomas Costerg at Pictet Wealth Management has the highest estimate at 6.5 million, while Goldman Sachs estimates 5.25 million and Citigroup is at 4 million.

Moody’s Analytics predicts that initial unemployment claims from last week, which will be announced Thursday, could reach 4.5 million.

“COVID-19 has caused unemployment to surge and we look for U.S. initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits this week to total 4.5 million, compared with the 3.283 million in the week ended March 21,” Moody’s Chief Economist Mark Zandi said in a statement.

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