|By Paul Wiseman, MSN Money, 08/31/2012|
MarketMinder's View: While this does nicely shatter the myth that the Fed is somehow out of ammo, we rather disagree more Fed action is needed. Unemployment is a late-lagging indicator, and a growing economy likely brings improved employment over time—and with plenty of underappreciated strength in the private sector, in our view, the economy seems likely to continue growing, more Fed action or no.
|By Wayne Ma, Wall Street Journal, 08/31/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Apparently market forces are affecting the Chinese solar industry more than their government can prop it up. Perhaps if these solar companies were allowed to succeed or fail on their own merits (anywhere, not just in China), those that survive would likely be more innovative, more productive and, likely, more profitable.
|By Simon Johnson, The New York Times, 08/31/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Politics aside, there are many items here we disagree with. Not least of which is the call to put a cap on the size of big banks. Realistically, limiting bank size can limit economic growth—wealth isn’t and shouldn’t be finite. Furthermore, bank size likely provides more benefits (large loans, hedging, etc.) than the opposition would have you believe.
|By Ciaran Giles, Associated Press, 08/31/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Complying with EU officials’ conditions for helping rescue troubled banks, Spain announced its banking sector reform plans. While the efficacy of creating a “bad bank” to help unwind nonperforming assets, giving the central bank more regulatory control and raising capital requirements remains to be seen, the plan itself shows Spain’s dedication to reform and recovery.
|By Mark J. Perry, Carpe Diem, 08/31/2012|
MarketMinder's View: No one enjoys paying higher gas prices, but this piece does help put rising prices in perspective—US gas prices are among the world’s most affordable. And we’d add that there’s one big reason why: Other nations, especially in Europe, levy huge taxes on gasoline—taxes, not market forces, are the primary reason why Norwegians pay over $10 per gallon. Once again, America’s freer markets benefit society. For more on oil prices, see our 03/19/2012 cover story, “Oil Prices Other Signal.’
|By Jim Brunsden and Rebecca Christie, Bloomberg, 08/31/2012|
MarketMinder's View: If adopted as the European Commission envisions, “the proposals would be a major step toward creating an EU-wide financial services framework that can override national self-interest.” Expect heavy debate—particularly over how non-eurozone nations like the UK and Sweden would be involved, and how much sovereignty nations will be expected to cede. These issues, and the ultimate plan, bear watching in the month ahead.
|By Sarika Gangar, Bloomberg, 08/31/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Record corporate bond sales illustrate credit markets are quite a bit healthier than many assume—even in Europe. Just one of the many underappreciated positives at work today.
|By Staff, The Economist, 08/30/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The global markets aren’t without risk, but the potential disruptors described here have been widely discussed for quite some time—going on three years, in fact, in the eurozone’s case. Such broadly known issues typically don’t have much influence on stocks over time—surprises move markets.
|By Matthew Yglesias, Slate, 08/30/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Yes, “when a hurricane wrecks a bunch of houses somewhere, that leads to a surge in residential investment because there’s a localized shortage in habitable housing.” But this piece fails to mention that this investment comes at some other investment’s expense. Disaster recovery efforts don’t create economic growth—they just shift investment from other, potentially more productive areas.
|By Staff, BBC News, 08/30/2012|
MarketMinder's View: While not great news for Valencia, that the region needs €1 billion more than initially anticipated likely doesn’t change things much for Spain. Between the Regional Liquidity Fund and Instituto de Credito Oficial, it appears Spain has plenty of money to help its indebted regions. For more, see our 08/29/2011 cover story, “Homage to Catalonia.”
|By Zachary A. Goldfarb, The Washington Post, 08/30/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This rather overstates the importance of the Jackson Hole summit and the need for Fed action. Headline GDP growth may remain slow, but private sector components—the main engine of our economy—are healthier than most appreciate. With corporations cash-rich and banks flush with excess reserves, additional QE likely wouldn’t have the impact many assume.
|By Staff, Der Spiegel, 08/30/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Though the eurozone still has a tough road ahead, by some measures it does appear three years of economic reforms in the periphery are starting to take effect. Lower unit-labor costs, in particular, suggest these nations are regaining competitiveness—key to returning to growth in the years ahead.
|By Staff, Xinhua, 08/30/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Another step in China’s ongoing economic liberalization—and likely part of a broader effort to attract foreign investors, who provide an important capital source.
|By John Foley, Reuters, 08/30/2012|
MarketMinder's View: An interesting look at how close economic ties can help nations move past the occasional diplomatic flare-up—just one of the benefits of our increasingly globalized economy.
|By Anne D’Innocenzio, Associated Press, 08/30/2012|
MarketMinder's View: July consumer spending jumped, too, yet consumer confidence fell. “What Americans say and do are two different things”—and what they do, in our view, is far more telling.
|By Staff, EUbusiness, 08/30/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The Dutch election in September may not have huge implications for the most troubled eurozone nations, whose bailouts are mostly written in stone at this point. But as this piece shows, it will likely provide insight into European voters’ comfort with surrendering more state sovereignty to Brussels.
|By Annie Lowrey, The New York Times, 08/29/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Beware arguments predicated on little to no actual data—this piece is long on long-range forecasts (which we think are near-impossible to make with any degree of accuracy) and short on facts backing up its thesis, which is seemingly future growth will likely come much slower than it has in recent decades. Maybe it will! But that doesn’t preclude enormous productivity, life expectancy or standard of living gains from even seemingly incremental developments. If there is one constant in life it is change—betting against that is betting against human ingenuity.
|By Hugh Carnegy, Financial Times, 08/29/2012|
MarketMinder's View: In a country aiming to cut its budget deficit by more than €30 billion next year, this is a rather odd move. While we certainly understand unemployment is incredibly challenging for individuals facing it, the reality is governments have never proven terribly reliable sources of job creation. Far better would be for the French government to extricate itself more and allow private enterprise to do what it does best: grow and, thereby, create new jobs.
|By Saurabh Chaturvedi, The Wall Street Journal, 08/29/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We’d humbly suggest the opposite plan is likely more effective—i.e., de-regulating electricity and significantly diminishing the government’s role in overseeing generation and distribution. Instead, it seems the Indian government is mulling over plans to give regulators increased oversight—a move that, if implemented, likely helps more than it hurts, even if that’s not immediately evident.
|By Ian Mulheirn, Financial Times, 08/29/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We rather agree there’s an appropriate time and place for fiscal stimulus. And given the UK’s rather sluggish growth recently, perhaps that time is now-ish. However, basing future expectations for economic growth wholesale on government-sponsored infrastructure investment takes it to the opposite extreme—one that likely crowds the private sector out to some extent, thereby limiting its ability to contribute to growth. And make no mistake: The private sector is by far the larger economic growth engine and therefore should be released to do just that as much as possible.
|By Adam Davidson, The New York Times, 08/29/2012|
MarketMinder's View: To believe eurozone leaders’ return from vacation should be approached with fear is to presume markets are just so utterly happy-go-lucky that they’re unable to discount something everyone knows. Yet the exact opposite is more often true. Volatility can happen for just about any reason. But in our view, this isn’t a great way to build economic or market forecasts.
|By Casey Mulligan, The New York Times, 08/29/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This is a sound look at some aspects of the inherent faultiness in the CBO’s outlook for the US economy—namely, its failure to account for economic incentives, which (as we’ve said before) matter enormously. For more, see our 08/23/2012 cover story, “The CBO’s Fuzzy Math.”
|By Mark J. Perry, Carpe Diem, 08/29/2012|
MarketMinder's View: “If we’re in recession, or on the edge of one, it sure isn’t being reflected in the Michigan economy, which is doing better now than at any time during the last ten years, according to Comerica Bank’s Michigan Economic Activity Index. If we were close to a recession, wouldn’t that blue line in the chart above be going down, and not sharply up?”
|By Mark Peters, The Wall Street Journal, 08/29/2012|
MarketMinder's View: An effective illustration of how prices work: As supply decreases, prices naturally rise, meaning farms are hurt less than widely bemoaned—particularly when combined with insurance contracts held for just such instances as drought. For more, see our 07/20/2012 cover story, “Gotta Have My Pops!”
|By Meghan Bahree and Deborah Ball, The Wall Street Journal, 08/29/2012|
MarketMinder's View: A perfect foil to the Journal’s story on US companies’ leaving the US for more friendly tax climes abroad—and an illustrative example of what the US (and India) could more closely resemble, given some much needed corporate tax reform.
|By John McKinnon and Scott Thurm, The Wall Street Journal, 08/29/2012|
MarketMinder's View: No matter how much politicians attempt to legislate around all possible loopholes (in this case, passing legislation in 2004 aimed at preventing companies from leaving the US), the reality is businesses will always respond to incentives. And if the benefits of domiciling outside the US continue outweighing the negatives, companies will continue the practice. Far more effective would be simplifying and lowering the overall US corporate tax structure, thereby reversing perverse incentives created by ever-increasing legislation aimed at retaining US business.
|By Richard Barley, The Wall Street Journal, 08/28/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This strikes us as another declaration of a “critical” day/week/month for the euro. But what European officials have consistently shown is a willingness to do what it takes to prevent a disorderly eurozone breakup or other worst-case scenario. This time likely proves little different. For more, see our 08/21/2012 cover story, “Another ‘Critical’ Week for the Euro.”
|By Miles Johnson and Ralph Atkins, Financial Times, 08/28/2012|
MarketMinder's View: One of the most indebted regions in Spain, Catalonia has indicated before it may need a bailout. That the region can tap Spain’s €18 billion regional bailout fund likely mutes potential negative impacts and gives European officials more time to continue addressing issues as they arise.
|By Cynthia Lin, The Wall Street Journal, 08/28/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Consumer confidence and other sentiment-based indicators are backward looking (coincident at best), and foretell little about the future direction of markets or the economy.
|By James R. Hagerty, The Wall Street Journal, 08/28/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This piece highlights many companies’ (not just in manufacturing) frustration with the arcane and unwieldy US corporate tax structure—which arguably makes it somewhat harder for US businesses to compete as efficiently and successfully in a global environment.
|By Mark J. Perry, Carpe Diem, 08/28/2012|
MarketMinder's View: “Far from being gloomy, perhaps there’s a positive story here. A story that over the last forty years there has been significant movement by income category among American adults, as would be expected in a dynamic economy, with movement going in both directions. But on net, the changing income dynamics have been positive overall, with about 150 Americans moving up for every 100 Americans who moved down.” Well said.
|By Staff, The Independent, 08/28/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Spain’s latest bond auction was successful with lower yields and ample coverage. Of course, that doesn’t mean yields can’t rise again, but it would seemingly indicate they’re far from problematic in the shorter term.
|By Brent Kendall, The Wall Street Journal, 08/27/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The US government’s recently enacted consumption taxes on US purchases of Chinese-made tires and solar cells are retroactive in nature. So in other words, five years ago you should’ve bought American, or you’ll now pay the price. Such tariffs don’t make much economic sense when they’re not retroactive—adding that twist makes them just that much worse.
|By Brad Plumer, The Washington Post, 08/27/2012|
MarketMinder's View: It doesn’t really matter much how you get there—a dollar in the government’s coffers is one that came from the private sector. In our view, the latter is far more efficient at deploying that dollar, so we’d suggest quibbling over how government gets its “revenues” largely misses the point.
|By Dean Baker, The Guardian, 08/27/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Beyond this article’s bordering-upon-conspiratorial tenor, we differ with the notion “free trade” should mean “shared property rights.” For a trade to occur, two willing parties must enter into an exchange. Without property rights, there’s no reason for that exchange to ever occur. So no, property rights and protections for patents are not protectionist measures.
|By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Telegraph, 08/27/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Prices—here for oil—are not some scourge presenting insurmountable problems. They are a transmission mechanism for matching supply and demand. Should prices stay elevated, it’s highly likely increased exploration, production and ultimately, innovation, eventually follow. The fact that doesn’t happen overnight doesn’t mean it won’t. For more, see our 03/19/2012 cover story, “Oil Prices’ Other Signal.”
|By Erik Holm, Serena Ng and Al Yoon, The Wall Street Journal, 08/27/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The New York Fed has unwound it’s 2008-era holdings of AIG debt acquired via its Maiden Lane vehicles. And it seems the story here is, once again, “toxic” assets don’t really seem very death-inducing at all. For more, see our 03/16/2012 cover story, “Pulling Back the TARP.”
|By Rainier Buergin, Bloomberg, 08/27/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This is mostly just talk, but it does help illustrate extant political will to find a cooperative solution to keep the eurozone intact.
|By Jason Zweig, The Wall Street Journal, 08/27/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Most of all, we agree with this: “When you see 9% yields in a 1% world, don’t let the word ’Royalty’ fool you into thinking you have just found the king of all income investments.” Repeat after us: There is no holy grail in investing—seeking high returns necessitates risk taking.
|By John Steele Gordon, Barron’s, 08/27/2012|
MarketMinder's View: An interesting read highlighting the fact that recent, highly publicized snafus involving trading aren’t at all new or unique.
|By Ben Chu, The Independent, 08/24/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This piece seems to confuse the justifications for pursuing QE and likely overstates its effect (ignoring the impact of a global economic expansion over that period). But even if you accept the data and theory here, we’re not sure you need a study to figure out that increasing the assets of both the wealthy and poor by 28% is going to result in a bigger absolute gain for the wealthy. That’s not being cutesy—it’s just doing math.
|By Shih Hsiu-chuan, Taipei Times, 08/24/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Unfortunately, the plan outlined here follows demand-side thinking. It seems to us, though demand-side policy may give a boost in the short term, Taiwan would be better off focusing on stimulating private spending and reducing public spending for lasting economic growth.
|By R. Scott Asen, The New York Times, 08/24/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Griping about a product from a private business costing too little seems a little silly to us—even if the product is education and the business is a private school. Realistically, prices are set by the market (read, supply and demand) and, therefore, are probably correct—and if they aren’t, market forces will likely fix the imbalance.
|By Staff, The New York Times, 08/24/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We agree with practically none of this. Claiming the economy won’t recover until housing does misses a fundamental point: The economy is at all-time high levels of output (real and nominal GDP) now. And housing comprises about 2-3% of that output. Moreover, while we agree unemployment is high and problematic for individuals, it’s is a late-lagging economic indicator—so it’s not surprising it’s still elevated. All this makes the calls here for more government involvement untimely at best.
|By Staff, BBC, 08/24/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Turns out, the UK economy contracted 0.5% in Q2, better than the initially reported 0.7% figure and signaling the UK—while still rather sluggish—is doing better than is popularly portrayed in areas like production and construction.
|By Melissa Eddy, The New York Times, 08/24/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Now, we don’t know about “must remain,” and frankly, a Grexit seems unlikely to really be disastrous at this point. But this is interesting in the sense Merkel seems to be very upfront about her intent in this latest debate over amending Greek bailouts. For more, see today’s cover story, “Ich Will Europa.”
|By Mark J. Perry, Carpe Diem, 08/24/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Signs of strength in the US manufacturing sector further illustrate the ongoing US economic expansion, despite dour sentiment elsewhere.
|By Neal Lipschutz, The Wall Street Journal, 08/23/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We’d caution against lending much credence to CBO forecasts, which have historically proven rather off-base. Furthermore, suggestions like this: “With fiscal policy, at best, only capable of avoiding being a severe drag, the Fed remains the only economic policy player around,” ignore an enormous player—the private sector. History has shown the private sector’s ability to grow its way out of sluggishness time after time, and we doubt this time turns out radically different. For more, see today’s cover story, “The CBO’s Fuzzy Math.”
|By Anatole Kaletsky, Reuters, 08/23/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This is entirely too melodramatic and conspiratorial, in our view. Not to mention it entirely ignores the benefits “peripheral” countries received in joining the euro—including a near-immediate reduction in interest rates, which in part allowed them to continue financing bloated, socialist-leaning governments. Rather than force Germany out or simply complain at the end result of generations of socialism, we’d suggest struggling eurozone nations take more steps to compete with their European brethren and instead move toward more capitalist, free market-based systems.
|By Staff, EUbusiness, 08/23/2012|
MarketMinder's View: It’s true new free trade agreements may initially require some shifting and adjustments from the participants—and may create some interim losers at the individual level. But subsidizing the companies suffering short-term difficulties likely only prolongs the transition time. A better route would be to help facilitate transitions in an effort to speed them along, thereby maximizing the country’s ability to capture as much benefit from free trade as possible.
|By Richard Barley, The Wall Street Journal, 08/23/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We disagree with several aspects of this. For one thing, volumes, whether high or low, aren’t predictive of stocks’ future direction. Nor are fund flows—far from it—particularly when the data don’t include ETFs or individual securities. But even if they did, it would mostly tell you what already happened, not what’s about to. Economic data are similarly backward looking—while stocks always look forward. There’s just nothing here that actually tells you anything forward-looking about markets.
|By Lee Hopley, The Telegraph, 08/23/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We largely agree measures aimed at goosing private-sector growth are far more likely successful (and sustainable in the long term) than those directed toward boosting consumption. Rather, as businesses grow, they’ll hire more folks, pay higher wages and thereby fairly naturally increase demand. Not to mention likely attract greater investment, potentially kicking off a strong, virtuous cycle.
|By William Harrison, Jr., The New York Times, 08/23/2012|
MarketMinder's View: While we aren’t ones to suggest megabanks are an absolute economic necessity, we’d note this is a cogent and well thought-out argument for big banks and their importance to both the global and US economies. We especially agree with this: “Large banks invest billions of dollars to deliver the products and services consumers want—investments that only a company that has achieved scale can make. Scale allows them to deliver, like big-box stores, more innovation, greater convenience and consistent, reliable service.”
|By Jamie Smyth, Financial Times, 08/23/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Ireland continues taking strongly positive steps toward returning to markets and regaining investor confidence.
|By Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu, National Post, 08/23/2012|
MarketMinder's View: An insightful look at the benefits of innovation. “But we contend that modern practices are but the latest in a long line of innovations, the ultimate goal of which has always been to increase the accessibility, quality, reliability and affordability of humanity’s food supply.” Exactly.
|By Staff, Reuters, 08/22/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Though German rules regarding Basel implementation timeframes are still not final, this is a somewhat disappointing development. Maintaining strong capital buffers is all well and good, but giving banks time to adjust slowly while EU institutions find consensus on how to implement the new rules seems more sensible than rushing. Though, given broad improvement in banks’ balance sheets in recent years, this needn’t necessarily prompt a wave of deleveraging.
|By Brian Blackstone, The Wall Street Journal, 08/22/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Why August PMI—or any monthly datapoint—would be a tipping point for Europe is beyond us. Especially when, as this piece even points out, “output hasn’t fallen as badly as purchasing-managers’ surveys suggested it would.” Moreover, a contraction is broadly expected—continuing eurozone weakness isn’t sneaking up on anyone.
|By Mari Iwata and Takashi Mochizuki, The Wall Street Journal, 08/22/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This appears politically motivated—the government’s desperate to regain voters’ favor after last month’s sales tax hike, and Japan’s people are staunchly anti-nuclear since Fukushima. But going nuke-free is likely not the best move for Japan, considering the stiff economic headwinds presented by expensive energy imports.
|By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post, 08/22/2012|
MarketMinder's View: It’s highly unlikely Congress does nothing to prevent the so-called fiscal cliff—and extending or modifying even some of the tax increases and spending cuts involved could materially dampen its impact. Which wouldn’t necessarily be nearly as bad as the CBO anticipates, considering its lackluster track record for projecting such things. For more, see our 07/18/2012 research analysis, “A Closer Look at the Fiscal Cliff.”
|By Staff, The Telegraph, 08/22/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The drop in exports isn’t great news for Japan, but monthly trade data are notoriously volatile—that Japan should continue recovering from last year’s earthquake in fits and starts isn’t terribly surprising.
|By Danny Gabay, The Telegraph, 08/22/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We agree heavy fiscal stimulus probably isn’t the best course of action for the UK at the moment, but we’re skeptical of the alternate solution presented here—mainly because the UK’s household debt burden isn’t as onerous as this piece suggests. Household debt service payments as a percentage of personal disposable income are at their lowest point in decades as UK consumers repaid a significant amount of debt following the 2008-2009 recession.
|By Andrew P. Morriss and Donald J. Boudreaux, The Wall Street Journal, 08/22/2012|
MarketMinder's View: “From the 1920s to the 1950s, competitive markets successfully drove improvements in transportation fuels while reducing prices. We need to unleash those forces again.” Yes.
|By Abigail Moses, Bloomberg, 08/22/2012|
MarketMinder's View: While credit default swap costs aren’t necessarily the be-all-end-all indicator of investors’ risk aversion, falling costs globally could be a sign investors are gaining confidence some of the more widely discussed risks—disorderly eurozone collapse, Chinese hard landing and the like—are less likely than feared. Improved sentiment could provide a measure of relief for equities.
|By Laura Mills, Bloomberg Businessweek, 08/22/2012|
MarketMinder's View: A big milestone in the global free-trade push—and, over time, a net benefit for all of Russian society as lower tariffs provide consumers more and cheaper choices and the gradual reduction of state subsidies forces Russian producers to become more competitive.
|By Shobhana Chandra, Bloomberg, 08/22/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Another sign of incremental improvement in US housing—not a huge economic driver, granted, but an underappreciated positive nevertheless.
|By Staff, Associated Press, 08/22/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Efforts to develop the Rason special economic zone are maddeningly slow, but it appears they’re already beginning to bear some fruit. Over time, should Rason continue demonstrating the benefits of foreign investment and freer commerce, North Korean officials may have an interesting economic policy dilemma on their hands.
|By Joe McDonald, Associated Press, 08/22/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This piece abounds with evidence demonstrating the futility of subsidies and other governmental means of supporting inefficient industries. Allowing the market to pick winners and losers is likely far more productive.
|By Richard Rahn, The Washington Times, 08/21/2012|
MarketMinder's View: While we agree higher tax rates don’t automatically increase tax revenue, we’re puzzled by the assertion US government spending as a percentage of GDP is rising rapidly—throughout this expansion, GDP has grown as government spending has fallen. Moreover, the global economy appears in far better health than described here, and as long as debt service remains relatively affordable, growing deficits aren’t necessarily an economic ill.
|By Staff, Bloomberg, 08/21/2012|
MarketMinder's View: There’s no arguing Beijing doesn’t have a traffic problem, and the government’s no doubt counting on taxing driving to bring less of it. But with fewer cars on the road, it’s likely industries relying on motorists’ purchasing and maintaining vehicles also take a hit. No matter a cause’s nobility, overlooking directly or indirectly involved parties plausibly risks unintended consequences.
|By Ben Casselman, The Wall Street Journal, 08/21/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Sure, US economic growth isn’t exactly gangbusters—but slower growth is, nevertheless, growth. GDP is at all-time highs in the US—as well as developed nations, Emerging Markets and globally—and growth seems set to continue.
|By Michael Sivy, Time, 08/21/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The “problems” here have one big thing in common: They all rest on very long-term forecasts, which are fraught with peril. Any number of unknown variables could impact future tax revenues, economic growth and spending obligations and entitlements.
|By Liyan Qi, The Wall Street Journal, 08/21/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Yet more stimulus in China, where officials remain dedicated to goosing economic growth ahead of this autumn’s handover of power. Between significantly looser monetary policy and mounting fiscal stimulus projects, a Chinese hard landing appears increasingly unlikely.
|By Staff, Investor’s Business Daily, 08/21/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The US Energy Information Agency has announced January through April CO2 emissions are down to 1992 levels—and, as this piece shows, it’s largely due to cheaper, cleaner and more readily available natural gas, brought to you largely by fracking. It appears private-sector led innovations in natural gas have succeeded where the government’s green initiatives (cough—solar—cough) thus far haven’t.
|By Emese Bartha, The Wall Street Journal, 08/21/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Spain’s biggest debt auction since March was a success—the Treasury exceeded its planned €4.5 billion target, demand was strong and yields fell for 12- and 18-month bills. For now, it appears markets continue to believe Spain will meet its obligations.
|By Mohammed El-Erian, CNNMoney, 08/20/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This analogy seems rather ridiculously stretched and makes for a muddled line of logic. If the point we’re to take away is there are internal tensions within a currency bloc since the economies are subject to different pressures, fine. But in our view, the dramatic “fix or fail” called for at the article’s conclusion aren’t the only choices.
|By Bnyamin Appelbaum, The New York Times, 08/20/2012|
MarketMinder's View: It’s entirely possible moving more carefully on foreclosures has impacted the public’s perception of President Obama’s handling of the economy. But pursuing more “aggressive,” short-term focused and demand-focused policies, like enforced mortgage-principal reductions (cramdowns), could have severe side effects not considered here—like causing banks to greatly tighten credit availability over the long term. For a recent discussion of similar suggestions, see our 07/18/2012 contribution to Investors’ Business Daily.
|By Wayne Ma and Sarah Chen, The Wall Street Journal, 08/20/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Another rhetorical jab in the solar trade tit-for-tat—which seems quite senseless overall, considering the industry’s small size and scope. That and the fact the trade disagreements have seemingly driven up prices, which likely acts as a disincentive to broader alternative energy adoption by consumers. For more, see our commentary published at Real Clear Markets.
|By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Telegraph, 08/20/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We’re sure there are unique political pressures that could incrementally help keep Finland in the euro, but we’d not be so quick to discount the economic implications of the common currency or the eurozone’s will to hold it together. This article seemingly discounts those factors—which have largely told the tale of the last three years—in favor of speculation.
|By Staff, BBC, 08/20/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This quote seems quite accurate to us: “‘I can tell you what is not expected … that strong positions will be laid out or significant decisions taken. That will not happen.’” We fully expect this round of eurozone meetings will show continued gradual movement, if any.
|By Staff, Central News Agency, 08/20/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Still just talk at this point, but a deal’s resulting would be a plus—and it’s a story worth watching.
|By Mark J. Perry, Carpe Diem, 08/20/2012|
MarketMinder's View: “According to the broadest and most comprehensive measure of US economic conditions, we're nowhere near a recession.…”
|By Nin-Hai Tseng, CNN Money, 08/17/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We entirely agree employment figures and their calculation are rather wonky. However, this discusses unemployment as a problem that, if solved, would spur economic recovery in struggling nations—but realistically, lower unemployment is usually a result of recovery, not a cause.
|By David Leonhardt, The New York Times, 08/17/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Fact is, demographic changes take place over long, long time horizons—meaning their abilities to negatively impact economies is lessened because markets have plenty of time to adjust in advance. Thanks to cheaper and advancing technology, it’s far more probable the US economy evolves and finds new comparative advantages than experiences much of a hang up.
|By Tennille Tracy, The Wall Street Journal, 08/17/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Fears surrounding oil prices likely never end. But the reality is prices aren’t ever really an emergency—they’re a means of sending signals to the marketplace. For more, see our 02/27/2012 cover story, “As Oil Prices Rise, So Do Theories.”
|By Mark J. Perry, Carpe Diem, 08/17/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We completely agree: “‘Ultimately people [will] follow their wallets’ on global warming.” Without government intervention, market forces and cheap technology have arguably reduced carbon emissions more effectively than their subsidized renewable energy counterparts.
|By Jack Gerard, The Wall Street Journal, 08/17/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We’re all for transparency and its benefits to businesses and shareholders. But not its implementation at the expense of American businesses’ competitiveness, as aspects of Dodd-Frank threaten. This sums it up well: “Hamstringing the energy sector with costly and intrusive new disclosure rules will reduce jobs and investment.”
|By Staff, EUbusiness, 08/17/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Another step toward more free trade—something we like to see!
|By Michelle Jamrisko and Alex Kowalski, Bloomberg, 08/17/2012|
MarketMinder's View: More signs of a strong (and still strengthening) US economy, including rising retail sales, a healthier housing market and increased payrolls.
|By Stefan Kaiser, Der Spiegel, 08/16/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Let’s be clear: For all intents and purposes, Greece has already “gone broke.” But that has yet to prevent its European partners from extending it further aid as necessary. This time doesn’t seem likely to prove much different, and we’re curious what proof the author has “Greece’s eurozone partners are unwilling to provide any more help.”
|By Mike Moffatt, The Globe and Mail, 08/16/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Sure, increases in food prices might ding consumers a touch. But the likelihood the impact is outsized seems fairly small—particularly given consumers’ ability to substitute goods. What’s most confusing, though, is the assessment of US Fed monetary policy, which is deemed “excessively tight.” Forgive us, but since when are near-zero interest rates considered “tight?” On the contrary—if the Fed sees inflation increasing faster than it would like, it undoubtedly has policy tools at its disposal to address it. Like, say, raising interest rates. For more, see our 07/20/2012 cover story, “Gotta Have My Pops!”
|By Philip Aldrick and Rosa Prince, The Telegraph, 08/16/2012|
MarketMinder's View: So, they’re actually urging Osborne to … start austerity, right? Because the truth is the UK has yet to really implement austerity to speak of—in fact, government spending has continued increasing since the UK economy began slowing. For more, see our 07/26/2012 cover story, “Dousing the Flame?”
|By Tom Orlik, The Wall Street Journal, 08/16/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This is a rather dramatic depiction of what’s actually an entirely normal economic phenomenon: When production prices rise in one country, that means they’re relatively cheaper in another. Which ultimately leads economies to shift accordingly and produce according to their comparative advantages. Not to mention an appreciating yuan, while it might make it more challenging for Chinese exports to compete globally, makes Chinese domestic consumers relatively better off. The moral of the story: There are always two sides to economic stories like this, so beware melodramatic storylines that pontificate otherwise.
|By Abigail Moses and Maria Tadeo, Bloomberg, 08/16/2012|
MarketMinder's View: That investors are decreasingly betting on a Portugal default is a positive sign that speaks volumes about the progress the country’s made since its debt yields reached a euro-era high of 18.29% at just the beginning of the year.
|By Staff, The Wall Street Journal, 08/16/2012|
MarketMinder's View: “The lesson is that taxes influence behavior, and punitive taxation hurts everyone, not least the punitive nation.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
|By Staff, The Wall Street Journal, 08/16/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Here’s an educating look at why to use extreme caution when reading the results of “studies”—and a perfect illustration of why correlation is not necessarily causation.
|By Staff, The Telegraph, 08/16/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The mood surrounding the UK’s been rather gloomy lately—and relatively understandably. But data continue surprising to the upside—they’re still overall sluggish, but better than expected. Which speaks to a couple points—among them, that sentiment (even analysts’ sentiment) isn’t the most reliable forward-looking indicator.
|By Nouriel Roubini, Project Syndicate, 08/15/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Yes, the eurozone has problems, but we’d argue the notion disintegration is the only possible endgame is misguided. Some peripheral nations, like Ireland and Portugal, are already demonstrating the positive impact economic reforms (so-called austerity) can have—as more nations improve competitiveness and resume growing over time, it seems entirely possible the eurozone can emerge from present troubles. For more, see our 08/07/2012 cover story, “P Is for Politicking, Progress and Portugal.”
|By Editors, Bloomberg, 08/15/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Do they, now? We don’t see much evidence supporting the claim, here or elsewhere. Assuming carbon emissions will have a set climate impact in a century, a new carbon tax will automatically raise tax revenues, or that the US even needs more tax revenue all seem quite a stretch, in our view. There are too many unaccounted for variables to draw any of these conclusions.
|By Stephen Joseph, The Guardian, 08/15/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Higher rail fares aren’t great news—especially for those who depend on the UK’s trains to fill their daily transportation needs. But we rather doubt more public funding is the right prescription for lowering prices. Full privatization, rather than the current public-private partnerships, likely do more to promote healthy price competition over time.
|By Lucia Mutikani, Reuters, 08/15/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We’re rather perplexed by the widespread fixation on the possibility of more quantitative easing—and we remain skeptical over whether more QE is necessary or would have much impact, given much of the funds from the last round are still parked at the Fed as excess reserves. For more, see our recent column on Investor’s Business Daily.
|By Editorial Staff, The Wall Street Journal, 08/15/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Here’s a great rundown of just how much the US’s increasing trade with China benefits all involved. Among the highlights: “Don’t forget all the transportation, retailing marketing and other jobs dependent on those Chinese goods. Roughly 55 cents of every dollar Americans spend on ‘Made in China’ products goes to the Americans who design, ship and market those products.”
|By Andrew Peaple, The Wall Street Journal, 08/15/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The saga surrounding the sham trial of a Russian music group provides a reminder that Russia’s corrupt, authoritarian political system undermines its economy: “The shaky rule of law has been one reason—along with excessive bureaucracy and corruption—why Russia languishes at 120th in the World Bank’s index for ease of doing business.”
|By Brad Plumer, The Washington Post, 08/15/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Technological advances in farming, like those described here, are one big reason the drought shouldn’t bring materially higher food prices over time—that is, provided competition and innovation remain relatively unrestricted. Periods like this show the importance of minimal regulations against genetically modified crops and other developments.
|By Nirmala George, Associated Press, 08/15/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Encouraging words from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who pledged to remove India’s many barriers to foreign investment—an important source of capital that, if increased, could vastly improve India’s rickety transportation infrastructure and power grid. However, given many reform efforts have stalled due to political opposition, only time will tell whether material changes take hold.
|By Joe Leahy, Financial Times, 08/15/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The measures include raising retirement ages, which could help reduce labor costs, and partial privatizations of road and rail operations, which could help improve Brazil’s increasingly outdated infrastructure over time. That Brazil’s ruling party—which has historically opposed privatization—is embracing these changes is a noteworthy development.
|By Naj Srinivas, Investor’s Business Daily, 08/15/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The latest from our MarketMinder editorial staff member Naj Srinivas, on how slowish headline GDP growth obscures a strong private sector.
|By Kerin Hope, Financial Times, 08/15/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Greece’s bailout renegotiations are set to launch when Prime Minister Antonis Samaras visits Berlin and Paris next week, and details of the request are emerging. It appears Greece doesn’t plan to request more money—just a longer implementation timetable for budget cuts and a postponement of aid repayments. Germany’s receptiveness will bear watching.
|By Staff, Der Spiegel, 08/14/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Economies almost never move in a straight line, one way or another, and one month’s or quarter’s result has no predictive power over the next period’s. So those taking issue with slipping German growth (and it still is growth) are reading a bit much into backward looking data that, incidentally, have little impact on stocks looking forward.
|By Staff, Xinhua, 08/14/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Power consumption is widely considered one of the more reliable Chinese economic indicators and is closely watched for that reason. But like most indicators, it’s pretty backward looking—as recent stimulus measures flow more to official data, results should likely improve.
|By Nathaniel Popper, The New York Times, 08/14/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We’ve heard these arguments in the past, but most, like this one, fail to provide concrete evidence high frequency or algorithmic trading is the sole cause for market volatility or the ills cited here—while completely discounting its various benefits.
|By Quentin Peel and Jamie Smyth, Financial Times, 08/14/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We acknowledge the outcome of these cases likely adds significant short-term volatility to markets. However, we’ve seen various challenges to eurozone officials’ efforts to backstop the union in the past, and what continues to be true is they will find ways to do what’s necessary to prevent a disorderly breakup.
|By Marcus Walker, The Wall Street Journal, 08/14/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Title aside, this is a largely sensible piece outlining the facts about the European situation right now—including the stronger areas, like Germany, that help offset the weaker periphery. We’d merely add that while the eurozone’s not in great shape, its economic troubles have long been widely discussed, and the region’s Q2 contraction shouldn’t surprise anyone.
|By Don Boudreax, Café Hayek, 08/14/2012|
MarketMinder's View: A real-life lesson in the folly of price controls, 1970s style.
|By Angili Raval, Financial Times, 08/14/2012|
MarketMinder's View: July’s retail sales rebounded strongly from June, demonstrating the considerable monthly volatility in sales data.
|By Jessica Mead and Costas Paris , The Wall Street Journal, 08/14/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Greece’s Treasury sold these notes primarily to Greek banks, which were largely funded by the ECB via the Bank of Greece—which speaks to the will of eurozone officials to prevent a disorderly default or breakup of the euro. It also likely buys Greece time to continue finding ways to solve near-term funding problems as it awaits its next aid tranche.
|By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Telegraph, 08/13/2012|
MarketMinder's View: While we agree Greece is still suffering from recession five years after it began, the vast majority of this seems like a major stretch. Consider: US, global and Emerging Markets GDPs are all at all-time highs. Given that, the claim a global recession is still ongoing seems built on a shaky foundation. Beyond that, the economics here—and sense of inevitability the author imparts—is fundamentally misperceived.
|By Spencer Jakab, The Wall Street Journal, 08/13/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Whether they’re of the bull or bear variety, secular markets are mostly a psychological construct and not a meaningful, factual one. Economies and markets are cyclical. The other indicators here, like bond yields and the cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio, aren’t exactly accurate forward-looking indicators.
|By Sarah Needleman, The Wall Street Journal, 08/13/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This article’s fine, it’s the concept of government restricting food truck owners’ locations that’s misperceived. All in all, this seems mostly like another example of businesses (in this case, fixed-location restaurants) seeking government-created and approved barriers to new innovation and competition—and restricting consumers’ choices in the process. All of which likely ultimately contributes to higher prices.
|By Staff , BBC News, 08/13/2012|
MarketMinder's View: All you need to know about this story is in the first sentence: “The US, France and Mexico are planning talks to consider whether an emergency meeting is needed to tackle the soaring price of grain.” (Italics ours.) Much of the remainder of the article doesn’t even discuss anything pertinent to today.
|By Staff, Reuters, 08/13/2012|
MarketMinder's View: There’s little in this article that’s actually new or surprising. After all, analysts’ consensus view was Italy’s debt-to-GDP ratio would increase. Ditto for weak economic conditions. But beyond that, this article alludes to a bailout being close at hand but provides no evidence to that effect. In fact, it points out the 10-year yield is below 6%—which is lower than yields have been at quite a few points during the last year—seemingly evidence of the opposite view.
|By Mary Watkins, Financial Times, 08/13/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Yields slightly rose at an auction of Italian short-term debt on Monday, but so did demand—ultimately making for a successful sale.
|By Mark J. Perry, Carpe Diem, 08/13/2012|
MarketMinder's View: “Based on the ongoing increases and record highs for world merchandise trade in May and US merchandise exports in June, and the IMF forecasts for above-average growth in 2012 and 2013, it seems like it would be hard to make a strong case for either a global or US recession.”
|By Cameron McWhirter, The Wall Street Journal, 08/13/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Here’s an interesting tale of how trade with Emerging Markets has helped a US paper mill reinvent itself. Foreign trade can bring challenges, but it also brings great opportunities—one shouldn’t focus on the former to the exclusion of the latter.
|By Peter Eavis, DealBook, 08/10/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Banks are a favorite scapegoat—as demonstrated here with very little data to back up the claims. The reality is in a capitalist, free economy, private enterprise is entitled to profit to the extent it can, provided it operates within the rule of law.
|By Veronica Brown, Reuters, 08/10/2012|
MarketMinder's View: True, decreasing an already diminished supply may result in higher prices. However, it’s unlikely consumers won’t find alternative food supplies (like they have before), should the US drought severely impact prices and supplies of corn and soy in the longer term. For more on market resilience during drought, see our 07/20/2012 cover story, “Gotta Have My Pops!”
|By Jeff Macke, Yahoo! Finance, 08/10/2012|
MarketMinder's View: While we agree bearishness likely isn’t appropriate these days, this article isn’t exactly bullish—and more importantly it overlooks bull market fundamentals currently developing in favor of a "we're less doomed than you" attitude.
|By Isabel Reynolds and Takashi Hirokawa, Bloomberg, 08/10/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We think it’s unlikely increasing Japan’s sales tax will have much impact on reducing its debt—remember, when you tax something, you typically get less of it.
|By Spencer Jakab, The Wall Street Journal, 08/10/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The assumption here is the size of the US’s current and impending budget deficit and overall debt are massively problematic—which, in our view, they’re not. Sure, we’d prefer the government spent less because it would leave more capital in the private sector’s hands, which has historically proven the far more efficient spender. But a dollar spent is still a dollar spent, whether by a private business or the government.
|By Richard Gluyas, The Australian, 08/10/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We generally think reviewing whether Basel III requirements are appropriate is smart—for all involved countries, in fact. Implementing potentially onerous regulations on a nation’s banking system likely does more harm than good.
|By Jennifer Ryan and Scott Hamilton, Bloomberg, 08/10/2012|
MarketMinder's View: A revision suggesting the UK’s economy isn’t necessarily in as dire straits as claimed—also, a reminder to take initial economic data estimates (and media reactions) with a grain salt.
|By Staff, The Wall Street Journal, 08/10/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Fortunately, this is far from reality and seems likely not to be much more than a campaign plank for the Social Democrats for now. But if Germany heads down the path of taxing wealth, they seem likely to (re-) learn some hard lessons—like when you tax something, you typically get less of it.
|By Staff, Xinhua, 08/10/2012|
MarketMinder's View: More talk of potentially increasing global free trade (whether through the Trans-Pacific Partnership or other agreements) is always encouraging, in our view.
|By Jared Bernstein, Financial Times, 08/09/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Given decades’ worth of data showing regardless of overall tax rates—whether as high as 94% or significantly lower—tax revenues consistently average roughly 18% of GDP, we’re puzzled by arguments like this one. Particularly also given an economy that’s been growing for a couple years now.
|By Isabel Reynolds and Takashi Hirokawa, Bloomberg, 08/09/2012|
MarketMinder's View: An ill-advised move, in our view—as it seems the French may very well learn soon, too. The reality is taxing something typically disincentivizes folks to participate in the activity that generates that tax—making such efforts ostensibly aimed at the opposite goal slightly head-scratching.
|By Michael Schuman, Time, 08/09/2012|
MarketMinder's View: In a nutshell, no, that doesn’t seem terribly likely. Especially considering food prices have historically fluctuated, yet over time, consumers haven’t proven as terribly fragile as economists seem to expect. For more, see our 07/20/2012 cover story, “Gotta Have My Pops!”
|By James Saft, Reuters, 08/09/2012|
MarketMinder's View: To be sure, all is not so rosy in the UK at the moment—medal ceremonies aside. And we largely agree monetary policy has its limits when it comes to spurring economic growth. But so, too, does government spending, particularly in a world where the vast majority of economic activity can be attributed to the private sector, not the public. Add in the fact the UK hasn’t even truly attempted austerity, and the conclusions here seemingly preclude a recovery based on the private sector’s ability to generate economic growth—which it’s demonstrated myriad times through history.
|By Adrian Moore, Real Clear Markets, 08/09/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Frédéric Bastiat first articulated the idea government regulations or attempts to prevent certain economic activities do not create jobs: “To break, to spoil, to waste is not to encourage national labor; or, more briefly, ‘destruction is not profit.’” Beware arguments that suggest job creation through government regulation is a productive economic activity.
|By Ellen Ullman, The New York Times, 08/09/2012|
MarketMinder's View: An interesting look at a recent proposal to “fix” computer glitches that lead to trading errors. As is saliently pointed out, “The best solution would be to bring back the ‘market makers’ of old, the people who stood between the bid and the asking price and were responsible for making the trade work.” Yet going backwards is not progress. The better solution is allowing technology to continue evolving, as it undoubtedly will.
|By Patricia Kowsmann, The Wall Street Journal, 08/09/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The more important aspect here, in our view, is the strong export growth—hopefully a positive sign for continued economic growth ahead.
|By Fred Smith and Michelle Wei, Real Clear Markets, 08/09/2012|
MarketMinder's View: A well-articulated look at the faulty logic behind Malthusian theories. “True sustainability has nothing to do with Malthusian doomsday predictions. Sustainability means progress: the onward and upward movement of a society that is making itself healthier, wealthier, faster and stronger.” Hear, hear!
|By Elisabeth Dellinger, Real Clear Markets, 08/09/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The latest contribution from MarketMinder editorial staff writer Elisabeth Dellinger to Real Clear Markets.
|By Michael Schuman, Time, 08/08/2012|
MarketMinder's View: While we agree more US central bank action isn’t necessary and ECB lending likely isn’t the eurozone’s silver bullet, the (private and central) bank-bashing here overlooks the differences (including some positives) of the different global economic situations addressed and vastly underestimates markets’ and economies’ abilities to ultimately self-correct.
|By Caroline Fairchild, Bloomberg, 08/08/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This article is based on the (in our view, largely incorrect) assumption car and/or home ownership is equivalent to personal financial stability and economic health. However, almost entirely overlooked is the fact this alleged trend toward a “rental culture” has seemingly created new markets for things like hourly car and designer clothing rentals—capitalism at work!
|By Kathleen Madigan, The Wall Street Journal, 08/08/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The list of risks that “could” derail recovery would be nearly endless. Yet in our view, this does nothing to assess the probability any of them come to pass—and the four documented here, in our view, just aren’t probable drivers of a bear market/recession.
|By Deepanshu Bagchee, CNBC, 08/08/2012|
MarketMinder's View: To us, the last couple weeks’ market rally hardly qualifies as the euphoric sentiment that typically precedes a bear market’s onset. It’s more likely this article adds to the wall of worry stocks are currently (and likely continue) climbing.
|By Liz Alderman, The New York Times, 08/08/2012|
MarketMinder's View: An overall sensible look at the impending 75% wealth tax and a French twist on the adage, “when you tax something you get less of it.” In this case, when you tax wealthy people heavily, you likely retain fewer of them. Though the tax isn’t in place (yet), it appears some have already voted with their feet—and others appear ready to follow. For more, see our 07/25/2012 cover story, “Aphorism Tuesday.”
|By Alex Kowalski, Bloomberg, 08/08/2012|
MarketMinder's View: US productivity gains are a positive which likely leads sooner than later to the need for increased hiring. After all, companies likely won’t hire in significant numbers until there is a noticeable need (i.e., they can’t much increase productivity without increasing staff). For more on employment, see our 07/24/2012 research article, “A Closer Look at US Payrolls and Jobless Claims.”
|By Philip Pangalos and Stelios Bouras, The Walls Street Journal, 08/08/2012|
MarketMinder's View: A labor pool like the one described here, though painful in the short term, likely encourages reducing Greece’s bloated public sector—potentially paving the way for private sector growth down the road. While these are still just discussions at this point, the potential seems promising.
|By Felix Salmon, Reuters, 08/07/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Arguments suggesting the existence and scourge of high-frequency trading near-universally cherry-pick data and overall fail to convince HFT is so problematic—this one is no exception. In fact, it’s far more likely HFT fears are tied to similar widespread fears of technology in general. For more, revisit our 08/22/2011 cover story, “The High Frequency Debate.”
|By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Telegraph, 08/07/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This likely overstates what largely amounts to politicking on the part of German officials. When it matters, eurozone officials have generally shown they’ll do whatever’s required to maintain the euro and prevent a disorderly breakup. This time likely proves similar.
|By Hibah Yousuf, CNN Money, 08/07/2012|
MarketMinder's View: First, history shows slowing earnings growth—or even occasionally contraction—is a frequent phenomenon during a bull market and doesn’t necessarily indicate its impending end. Second, ratcheted down earnings expectations can potentially set up upside surprise ahead, which we think rather more likely, given global corporations’ underlying health. For more, revisit our 05/07/2012 commentary on iStockAnalyst, “Lessons from the 1990s About Slowing Earnings Growth.”
|By Staff, The New York Times, 08/07/2012|
MarketMinder's View: To be sure, businesses no doubt prefer certainty to uncertainty—and the so-called fiscal cliff likely contributes some to the latter. But the suggestion the US needs higher federal spending combined with higher taxes largely overlooks what’s far more likely the economy’s prime mover-and-shaker: the private sector. For more, see our 07/18/2012 Research commentary, “A Closer Look at the Fiscal Cliff.”
|By Staff, Associated Press, 08/07/2012|
MarketMinder's View: More evidence the economy is slowly moving ahead of the unemployment rate and the private sector is driving the recovery. For more, see our 08/06/2012 cover story, “Donkeys, Elephants and Employment.”
|By Staff, The Wall Street Journal, 08/07/2012|
MarketMinder's View: France has proposed a number of rather head-scratching proposals allegedly aimed at boosting economic growth lately—this is just the latest. For more, see our 07/25/2012 cover story, “Aphorism Tuesday,” and our recent column for Investor Place, “France’s Wacky Definition of Competitiveness.”
|By Stelios Bouras, The Wall Street Journal, 08/07/2012|
MarketMinder's View: That Greece must amend a whopping 77 rules just to sell state-owned assets is emblematic of the numerous bureaucratic hurdles the country faces.
|By Staff, Xinhua, 08/07/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Fears TARP funds would never be recovered continue to be proven wrong. Nearly three-and-a-half years later, the US government continues recouping its investment as banks continue raising capital and other institutions buy back their own shares from the US Treasury. For more, revisit our 03/16/2012 cover story, “Pulling Back (the) TARP.”
|By Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 08/07/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Economic growth has been weak in the UK of late, but it seems production didn’t fall quite as far as initially reported in Q2—which may augur well for future GDP revisions, too.
|By Daniel Burrus, Huffington Post, 08/06/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This article just overlooks what seems to be the true lesson of India’s blackouts. India’s power grid is government owned—and it’s just not likely any one entity possesses all the data and information needed to produce an effective centrally planned power grid. A decentralized market is the best means humans have created to accomplish that goal. India’s slow-moving democracy would do well to move toward free markets more quickly.
|By Staff, The Telegraph, 08/06/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This is basically a small step in the wrong direction. Only a year ago, the EU approved a new free trade agreement with South Korea—removing tariffs on imported cars. Now that it’s had the desired effect—boosting trade—it seems politicians in France find the deal a nifty scapegoat and want to “monitor” it.
|By Ron Lieber, The New York Times, 08/06/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We’re sympathetic to those whose confidence in markets has wavered due to events in recent years. But we’d be extremely wary of solutions like those offered here. Fact is, most of the ideas included here have either no track record, no liquidity and/or next to no regulation—in some cases, all three. The risks of such a program to investors’ long-term financial health are enormous.
|By Cynthia Lin, The Wall Street Journal, 08/06/2012|
MarketMinder's View: A year ago Sunday, Standard and Poor’s downgraded the US’s credit rating from AAA to AA. In the time since—and contrary to prevalent fears at the time—US sovereign bond yields have fallen to multi-generational lows. As we wrote around that time, such downgrades rarely carry the effect feared.
|By Kanupriya Kapoor, Financial Times, 08/06/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Despite some volatility in some underlying data in the quarter, Indonesia’s economy grew 6.4% y/y in Q2, accelerating slightly from Q1 and exceeding analysts’ estimates—and demonstrating continued strength in Emerging Markets.
|By Jeff Kearns, Bloomberg, 08/06/2012|
MarketMinder's View: While we don’t entirely agree with every aspect of the author’s take on the data, the fact bank lending has improved is a positive for the US economy.
|By Todd Bliman, InvestorPlace, 08/06/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The latest contribution to InvestorPlace by Editorial Staff member Todd Bliman addresses recent claims of equities’ imminent demise—which seem to be greatly exaggerated, to us.
|By Joao Lima, Bloomberg, 08/06/2012|
MarketMinder's View: While most attention in Europe seems to be focused on those whose austerity programs are off track (Greece) or whose bond yields have recently risen (Spain and Italy), the quiet progress Portugal’s made is clearly noteworthy.
|By Ainsley Thomson, The Wall Street Journal, 08/03/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We’re a bit confused by what “austerity” means in this context as spending in the UK has actually been increasing. This is perhaps why the article includes much data on GDP, yields, unemployment, projected spending cuts, etc., but little (or no) data showing spending in the UK has actually been cut thus far. For more, see our 07/26/2012 cover story, “Dousing the Flame?”
|By Brendan Greeley, Bloomberg, 08/03/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This likely gives tax cuts far too much credit for contributing to US debt. In fact, historically, fluctuating tax rates have had overall little effect on the debt level—tax revenues hover pretty consistently at roughly 18% of GDP. Simply, higher rates can reduce taxable activity, while lower rates encourage it. What’s more, calling the “fiscal cliff” a crisis seems a stretch to us at this point.
|By Mohamed El-Erian, Bloomberg, 08/03/2012|
MarketMinder's View: While there are items here we agree with (i.e., in order to truly address eurozone economic issues, competitiveness needs addressing), we disagree that the world needs saving. On balance, though there are pockets of weakness, the global economy is growing—and not necessarily because (or in spite) of central banks’ actions.
|By Amol Sharma, The Wall Street Journal, 08/03/2012|
MarketMinder's View: It seems to us limiting the amount India imports from China likely doesn’t encourage China to purchase more Indian goods. Protectionist measures like those described here probably hurt and limit India’s economy more than anything else.
|By John Stossel, Reason.com, 08/03/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This is a sensible and straightforward take on multiple economic myths surrounding free trade, poverty and government intervention. The bottom line here, and we agree, is economic freedom (including free trade and entrepreneurship) is more conducive to wealth’s creation and spread than politically popular protectionism.
|By Shobhana Chandra, Bloomberg, 08/03/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Jobs added overall, on private payrolls and in manufacturing beat expectations in July—more proof of a healthy, growing US economy.
|By Matt Kibbe, Forbes, 08/03/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Sweden enacts true austerity measures with apparent success: Unemployment and the deficit are expected to drop and wages are expected to rise through 2016. All this in the face of the “recovery-by-stimulus” rhetoric which suggested austerity measures’ failure across the eurozone.
|By Jason Zweig, The Wall Street Journal, 08/02/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Markets are inherently challenging—and often, humbling—things to try to understand. But the reality is stocks rise far more often than not and average the highest positive return over long time periods of any asset class—and that average includes periods similar to the one we’re currently in. The investors who benefit are those who are able to maintain their discipline and focus, however challenging that may be.
|By Staff, Der Spiegel, 08/02/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We’re surprised folks were surprised European officials are really only planning to make a plan—something they’ve largely done throughout the eurozone’s couple years-old difficulties. But as ever, such a go-slow method is likely preferable to precipitous, ill thought-out and ill-advised radical steps that could do more harm than good. Despite frustrations, this saga is likely a ways from its dénouement.
|By Keith Johnson, The Wall Street Journal, 08/02/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We’re perpetually amazed by some folks’ acknowledgement taxes discourage behavior—despite their apparent refusal to believe if it’s productive economic activity that’s taxed, folks will likely decrease (or redistribute elsewhere, etc.) that, too. Moreover, some seem too ready to accept that the tax sought will discourage only the targeted activity. Considering the government’s long, well-documented track record of causing unintended harm, we’re skeptical of the government’s ability to enact a laser-like, precise tax here. For an international illustration of this oddity, see our 07/25/2012 cover story, “Aphorism Tuesday.”
|By Matthew O’Brien, The Atlantic, 08/02/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We’re entirely unconvinced the US economy needs the support widely purported—or that said support (if needed) should necessarily come from the Fed. For more, see our recent contribution to Investor’s Business Daily, “Kicking the QE3 Habit.”
|By Mohamed A. El-Erian, Project Syndicate, 08/02/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This starts from a faulty assumption and draws puzzling conclusions from there. In fact, we’re not entirely certain we can sum up the overarching point in a succinct, clear way. If anything, the lesson is paying little heed to arguments that can’t be well-crafted and clearly articulated within the first paragraph or so.
|By Vanessa Fuhrmans, The Wall Street Journal, 08/02/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Oft-overlooked in popular concern about a given currency’s relative decline in value is the boost such a decline gives domestic exporters, whose goods become relatively cheaper and, hence, more attractive to potential foreign customers.
|By Zhang Weiying, The Wall Street Journal, 08/02/2012|
MarketMinder's View: A very interesting read on the current debate surrounding the reasons for China’s economic growth and the best way forward. This strikes us as particularly insightful: “Contrary to both dominant schools of thought, state intervention and government ownership are the causes of China’s inequality and profound contradictions, not the cure. The government’s control of vast amounts of resources and the excessive interference in the economy encourage official corruption and the collusion between the government and business. This has eroded the culture of business and destroyed the proper functioning of the market economy.”
|By Tennille Tracy, The Wall Street Journal, 08/02/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Foiling decades’ worth of predictions US (and global, for that matter) oil production was nearing its peak, US energy officials announced oil and natural gas reserves jumped in 2010 by “the highest margin in at least three decades.” Which speaks to innovation’s reliable ability to surprise. For more, see our 05/05/2011 column, “A Common Thread Between Horse Manure and Peak Oil.”
|By Jonathan Soble, Financial Times, 08/02/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Though likely to be a lengthy process, deregulation in Japan’s electricity market would undoubtedly be a positive—particularly given high power prices as a result of centralized control are hurting Japan’s global competitiveness in several senses.
|By Staff, Financial Times, 08/02/2012|
MarketMinder's View: We largely agree the US (and no doubt others, globally) would benefit from a radical corporate tax system overhaul—particularly one that makes the US more competitive and the tax structure overall simpler. But we also (reluctantly) agree such changes are highly politically improbable and (if attainable) in the far-distant future.
|By John W. Schoen, NBC News, 08/01/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Among our many quibbles with this piece is the notion consumers must spend more for US economic growth to accelerate—household spending is at all-time highs, and business investment is typically a much more variable contributor to the US’s growth rate. Plus, as we recently wrote, falling government spending has been the primary drag on growth in recent quarters.
|By Greg Quinn, Bloomberg, 08/01/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Seems to us Canada’s labor market is largely making adjustments on its own—government intervention, no matter how well-intended, could potentially interfere with the market’s natural improvement.
|By Staff, The Chosun Ilbo, 08/01/2012|
MarketMinder's View: This is a rather disappointing development—especially considering the free trade agreement between the US and South Korea took effect mere months ago. As we’ve seen in the ongoing trade spat between the US and China, anti-dumping duties can prompt a tariff tit-for-tat, which benefits neither party.
|By Staff, Associated Press, 08/01/2012|
MarketMinder's View: That Madrid’s having trouble reining in some of Spain’s more profligate regions isn’t great news, but Spain appears better equipped to deal with regional debt than this piece suggests. A number of the regions still appear able to issue debt on primary markets, and the central government has two regional funding lifelines—one of which has a banking license and can borrow from the ECB. For more, see our 07/24/2012 cover story, “Spain, Spain, Spain.”
|By Allister Heath, The Telegraph, 08/01/2012|
MarketMinder's View: “There are crucial parallels between the virtues that drive sporting excellence and those that lead to business success and economic growth. Entrepreneurs and business leaders get rich, create thousands of jobs and boost the pension funds of millions by trying to excel, striving relentlessly to defeat their competitors, and through extreme dedication and hard work.” Recognizing the private sector’s competitive drive—and removing barriers to competition—would do economies the world over immeasurable good.
|By Elisabeth Dellinger, Investor’s Business Daily, 08/01/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The latest from Fisher Investments Editorial Staff member Elisabeth Dellinger, on the world’s largely misguided fascination with the prospect of more Fed quantitative easing.
|By Steven Malanga, RealClearMarkets, 08/01/2012|
MarketMinder's View: Much as we love watching the Games, they do exemplify the inefficiencies of massive public infrastructure spending. Fiscal stimulus has its time and place, but in general, private firms tend to allocate capital far more productively.
|By Nirmala George, Associated Press, 08/01/2012|
MarketMinder's View: The technical causes may be unclear, but as this piece explains, that India’s energy sector is an inefficient state-run system seems a big culprit. Perhaps if power sources weren’t controlled by state monopolies and agricultural power weren’t subsidized, the grid could expand in sympathy with India’s economic development and electricity wouldn’t be rationed. For more, see today’s cover story, “Tuesday’s Headline Tour.”