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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Where Can You Find a Reasonably Reliable U.S. GDP Forecast ?

The Atlanta Fed. It's all about money.
Apparently, all you've got to do is check out the Atlanta Fed GDPNow estimate.

Why ?  Wolf Richter explains in his article, "Atlanta Fed’s “GDP Now” Model Totally Nailed Ugly Q1, “Blue-Chip” Economists Ludicrously Optimistic".

Peace out.

Is Your ETF at Death's Door ?

Check out Ron Rowland's April 2015 Deathwatch List, for the latest additions and deletions at SEEKING ALPHA.

To scan the entire Deathwatch list, to find out what criteria Rowland uses to add an Exchange Traded Product to the list, or to read his suggestions on what to do if your ETF succumbs, click on the respective links.

Have Abenomics Succeded, or Monetarism Failed ?

It seems clear from Jeffrey P. Snider's article SEEKING ALPHA, entitled "Japan Needs A Bigger Hole? ", excerpted below, that the answer depends on whether you're in the 1% or the 99%.

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Japan continues to provide the best refutation of monetary policy as anything other than destructive. With its economy stripped bare of dynamic essentials after thirty years of the Bank of Japan's "lead," marginal changes are left as remnants of nothing more than monetary transmission. In the space of QQE, that has used up and destroyed what was left of Japan's once-dominant trade position, leaving the economy to hollow out from the inside as Japan Inc. transfers to Offshore Inc.

As it turns out, Japan may not be hobbling out of recession at all, despite the huge gains in "luxury" spending due to artificial, financial redistribution. In fact, quite relatedly, Japan's recession may still be digging deeper as March's retail sale figures can attest. Confirming of the trajectory apart from that yearly distortion, retail sales fell 1.9% M/M in March after February's +0.7% M/M gain. That negative direction persists across a range of figures, which, of course, has economists calling for the BoJ to visit some further injury.
"If you look at the larger data points of the past three to six months, they've been pretty bad all around," Joe Zidle, a portfolio strategist at Richard Bernstein Advisors, told CNBC. "If you think about the consumer's importance … it's 60 percent of the Japanese economy, I think this ratchets up the pressure on the Bank of Japan (BOJ) in order to introduce more stimulus."
I think that is exactly the problem, as consumers in Japan right now seem to be preparing themselves for more "stimulus." It has become so disastrous as monetary policy itself may have been sorely turned upside down (if it was ever right to begin with) but yet nobody in policy or the media has the intestinal fortitude to call it what it clearly is: destructive.

The record of so much "stimulus" is absolutely clear, as the Japanese people, most of them, are becoming poorer by the day.

Everywhere that QE has been tried, and it is almost a foregone conclusion for Europe, there is a clear bifurcation in the economy where those inside the umbrella of artificial redistribution do exceptionally well through artificial attainment. There isn't any wonder that does nothing but harm to the real economy as no system can arbitrarily remain in a stable state. There is absolutely nothing wrong with "inequality" except the manner in which it is achieved. Artificial means through bubbles and QE are the ingredients for nothing but social decay as well as economic malaise (and worse). Actual inequality brought about by productive wealth building is the means by which capitalism progresses because the creation of wealth itself is the foundation for economic health. There simply is no shortcut.

Thus, the mistaken conceit of monetarism is on full display, especially in Japan, as they boil down their efforts to substitute financial wealth for true wealth as if they could simply conjure industrious creation from nothing. And Japan is proving useful as the full and complete refutation of every facet of such a notion, even if the mainstream resists so far confessing it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Is it futile to hope Jim Webb's a real contender against Ms. Clinton ?

Robert Tracinski, in his FEDERALIST piece, calls Webb "The Democrat Who Could Win, But Won’t". I respectfully disagree, at least to the extent of saying it's too darned early to rule the man out. Clearly, Webb, whose resume items include United States Senator from Virginia, Secretary of the Navy, Assistant Secretary of Defense, congressional staffer, and Marine Corps officer, would have the political right and center to himself in any contest with Hillary. And if the Democratic primaries took place while foreign policy crises erupted, say, in Libya or the Ukraine, Webb might re-energize Reagan Democrats and others tired of the Clintons. Meantime, it seems he has his work cut out for him even in his home state, where a recent poll showed Hillary a prohibitive Dem favorite.

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In any case, the WEEKLY STANDARD's Fred Barnes does well to remind us in his article, "What we don't know about 2016" is "Almost everything."
At the moment, there’s nothing going on in either party’s campaign that is predictive of what will occur when we get to the Iowa caucuses (February 1) and New Hampshire primary (February 9). This is not a historic first. Wildly off-base projections are the norm in the nomination races. Recall the situation at roughly this time in 2007. The eventual GOP nominee, John McCain, was dead in the water. Barack Obama barely registered a blip.
The lesson here has largely gone unlearned. We see campaign stories about the threat Wisconsin governor Scott Walker poses to Jeb Bush in the New Hampshire primary next year, based on a fleeting poll. And considerable attention has been paid to New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s “comeback.” What comeback? He hasn’t even announced he’s running, much less competed with his rivals in a televised debate. The first debate isn’t until August 15.

NEWS FLASH - Jarrod Saltalamacchia DFA'ed by Marlins

Now that former Bosox catcher Jarrod has been designated for assignment by the Marlins -- right after his maternity leave came to an end -- wonder how long it'll be before Theo Epstein grabs him ? After all, TE was willing to take a flier on another former Bosox, busted reliever/starter Daniel Bard.