Disclaimer. After nearly 40 years managing money for some of the largest life offices and investment managers in the world, I think I have something to offer. These days I'm retired, and I can't by law give you advice. While I do make mistakes, I try hard to do my analysis thoroughly, and to make sure my data are correct (old habits die hard!) Also, don't ask me why I called it "Volewica". It's too late, now.

BTW, clicking on most charts will produce the original-sized, i.e., bigger version.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

US Indicators Surprisingly Strong

In particular, the ISM indices.  These are now the highest they've been for two decades and are still in an uptrend. 

The change in the unemployment rate (inverted, naturally, since unemployment goes up in recessions and down in recoveries) is also the highest for decades.

Employment growth is sluggish, if you believe the official data.  Which I don't -- the payrolls survey always underestimates employment growth in the first year of recovery, because new firms are not picked up by the Dept of Labor.  It's only later that the undercounting is corrected by the statisticians.  Right now the change in unemployment is in my opinion the better indicator.  And it says the strongest growth in over 2 decades -- scarcely surprising when you consider QE2.

Housing starts remain very very sluggish, however.  A sign of major structural problems (too much debt, a too low savings ratio) but those haven't been enough to counteract the influence of massive liquidity injections.  These underlying problems will reemerge when the stimulus starts being withdrawn -- in my judgement that's still many months away.  And though share markets do look ahead, I don't think their present travails reflect a sober assessment of 2012 tightening.  Which means this is most probably just a correction not the beginning of a new big one.

Watch this space.

[As usual, if you click on the charts, you'll be able to see bigger, crisper, more readable versions]

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