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. But I can't by law give you advice, and I do make mistakes. Remember: the unexpected sometimes happens. Oddly enough, the expected does too, but all too often it takes longer than you thought it would, or on the other hand happens more quickly than you expected. The Goddess of Markets punishes (eventually) greed, folly, laziness and arrogance. No matter how many years you've served Her. Take care. Be humble. And don't blame me.

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Fundamental Problem

Too much debt  (oh, and let's not forget the impending shortage of oil)

Look how the debt ratio collapsed in the aftermath of the Great Depression.  The resulting low debt levels enabled the boom of the 50s, 60s, 80s and 90s.  But each upswing needed more debt.

Debt ratios have to decline like they did in the 30s and 40s.  And that is a huge structural headwind to longer-term growth.

[Source: Morgan Stanley]

Saturday, April 2, 2011

March Labour Stats Strong

I've mentioned before how in an upturn, the estimates for employment growth from the payroll employment survey understate the rise in employment because the survey doesn't pick up new establishments at first.  It's only after the census surveys, sometimes a couple of years later, that the statisticians adjust the establishment survey for start-ups.  They then "panel-beat" the series backwards to make it fit in with the new census data.  So the growth in payrolls of 216,000, in itself not a poor figure, likely understates real employment growth.

Both the change in the unemployment rate (inverted because it falls as the economy recovers) and overtime hours in manufacturing were very strong.   The recovery is on track, and better than everyone thinks.

click to enlarge

As usual, if you click on the chart you can see it in all its original-sized glory.