As I walked through Lowe’s last weekend, I was struck by the presence of Halloween decorations. At the risk of sounding like a cranky old man, I couldn’t help but tell my wife: “It’s not even September yet!” And then I thought how 2015 seems to be flying by. Maybe I actually am a cranky, getting-old, man.
I have the same take as I read through the financial papers. Things are moving at light speed. From crashing equity markets to falling commodity prices, there’s a lot to contemplate at one time.
The U.S. economy isn’t crashing (yet), but growth is modest. Median income remains stagnant, while costs beyond energy are rising. To add, the Fed might raise rates next week for the first time in nine years, putting fixed income investors in a quandary.
Over in China, the equity market is flaming out and investors are leaving the country in droves. The yuan requires daily CPR from the government. While the country’s economy isn’t in reverse, it is slowing down.
The problem is that the old saying about the U.S. now applies to the Middle Kingdom as well. When that country sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold.
Indeed, several economies that have been red hot are suddenly cool to the touch. Canada and Australia, heavy commodity exporters, are looking for different customers as China scales back its orders. They’re left with the difficult task of replacing demand from the second largest economy on the planet. That will be hard, if not impossible.
Germany, which enjoyed shipping BMW’s, Audi’s, and a myriad of other goods to China has the same problem. So does South Korea.
The pace of change and seismic shifts in the global economy and world financial markets is enough to make your head spin. It’s time to take a breath.
As we leave the summer behind and move toward the fourth quarter, now is the time to take stock of where we are, and plan for the months and years ahead. Our 2015 Irrational Economic Summit couldn’t come at a better time.
Later this week in Vancouver, Harry Dent and I have the privilege of sharing the main stage with the likes of Lacy Hunt and David Stockman. Along with presentations from the many other industry and investing experts that are joining us, I’m looking forward to an information-packed conference to help separate the signal from the noise. Attendees can expect clear analysis and forecasts from the group instead of the normal “it-could-go-up-if-it-doesn’t-go-down” conclusions drawn by so many in the field.
As the name of our meeting suggests, we keep the notion that economic behavior is irrational front and center.
In both daily consumer choices and investor sentiment, ours is a world that at its core is driven by individual choices. Central banks can bend the lines, but they can’t change the choices we make.
Exhibit A is the $4 trillion of new money the Fed created through QE. According to any typical economic model the U.S. economy should be exploding, driven by cheap money. But it’s not.
Instead, consumers are holding back, moving at a pace and in a direction determined by their own needs, not the financial machinations of the central bank. How this plays out in the months and years to come is always a main topic when we get together.
Speaking of noise, over the next year or so we’ll be bombarded with political double-speak. Given the amount of money the candidates are raising, we won’t be able to escape their ads.
This makes the presentation by our Keynote Speaker, P.J. O’Rourke, particularly timely. With his biting humor and insight, I’m sure he’ll give us some ideas to chew on, as well as an entertaining take on the political hurdles we face today.
So for all of you joining us in a few days, I look forward to seeing you! I expect the presentations, conversations, and weather to be spectacular.
For those who couldn’t make it, all is not lost! While you won’t get the benefit of Vancouver in September, you can still get the benefit of the information through our LIVE recording of the event. Like I said, with all the economic obstacles we face, the event couldn’t come at a better time. If you’d like to tune in, you can do so here.
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