The trade deficit rose quite significantly during the first year of the Trump administration. This despite the campaign's focus on this issue (regardless of its true economic importance).
Recently we have seen signs that the administration is turning its focus to this issue on several fronts.
Today's news is that there will be more of a concerted effort to talk the value of the dollar down. (thus making exports cheaper and imports more expensive).
The dollar which had already been fairly weak over the past six months had another sizable drop today to the lowest levels since early 2015.
Of course as we've seen over these past months, equity investors don't mind this at all. And not just US stocks. For instance emerging market stocks rose today for the 9th straight day.
Stock markets continued their remarkable rise during the fourth quarter. Stocks rose every month, and, in fact, have risen for 14 straight months through year-end. Volatility remains eerily low. Virtually every sector and geographic region had positive results. Bonds gained value in December and ended the period with a small positive return. The global economic recovery gained strength and the Fed raised short-term rates again. A large corporate tax cut was signed in late December, and this provided further impetus to the stock market rally.
For the first time since the onset of the Great Recession, all 45 countries tracked by the
You can read more about the OECD's report by clicking here.
The output of US manufacturers increased at a substantial pace in December of 2017 with growth reaching an 11 month high.
Manufacturers attributed the increased demand to both new and existing domestic customoers with realtively flat demand on export sales.
US based manufactures also noted that the cost of their inputs had increased and that they had been adding to their firm's payrolls.
It is still to early to see if this is part of a longer term trend and if the increased cost of inputs and additional staff finally lead to a pick up in the overall llevel of inflation.
Germany still remains the key to European economic progress. Manufacturing in that nation continues to impress. A measure of manufacturing strength is at heights last seen over 6 years ago.
The Family Firm co-sponsored the 2017 Taste of Bethesda festival which drew over 30,000 attendees to Woodmont Triangle in Bethesda.
The 1 in 5 Americans receiving benefits from Social Security will see a 2% boost in their payments next year.
Whether this is viewed as good news or bad is a matter of perspective and playing with numbers. Viewed as glass half full: 2% is better than the miniscule increase for 2017, which in itself was better than the 0% raise for 2016.
Glass half empty: 2% is far below historical levels and is reflective of the lack of inflation in the overall economy. For instance, the average increase in the 80s and 90s was over 4%.
Anyone tempted to pop the cork on their Dom Perignon in celebration should also remember that, just as inflation has worked to increase the SS benefit, that same inflation will work to increase the Medicare Part B premium. Sigh
One way to measure the strength of the stock market is the vitality of Initial Public Offerings (IPOs). Quality, quantity, performance.
Quantity: although the 3rd quarter was a quiet one, 2017 overall has seen more action than 2016. Several big names such as Spotify and Dropbox may go public later this year, which would give the IPO market a lift.
Quality/Performance: the average IPO in the 3rd quarter of 2017 gained 36%. This was entirely due to strong results from biotechs.
Overall, the IPO market will never be like it was twenty years ago. The markets have changed and companies have other routes for funding than the heavily regulated public markets.
Strong industrial production across Europe confirms the robust expansion taking hold across the region.
Particularly strong production results were recorded in Germany, Italy and Spain.
Should we be expecting more strength from the euro?