Thursday, October 5, 2017

Thursday Night -- October 5, 2017

NFL-free Thursday night: this is simply amazing. As I've mentioned, I won't watch the NFL any more. But I just learned that the NFL Network football games are streamed live on Amazon Prime. Amazing. I was curious. I just got back from water polo with our oldest granddaughter, and I remembered that. I went to and two clicks later I'm watching Thursday night NFL. It is incredibly cool. So, I will watch a few minutes for the "thrill" of seeing it streamed for free on Amazon Prime and then go back to something more productive. 

Which US cities could declare bankruptcy next? Luckily, for those looking to escape the trauma of being taxed into oblivion by their failing cities/counties/states, JP Morgan has provided a comprehensive guide on which municipalities haven't the slightest hope of surviving their multi-decade debt binge and lavish public pension awards.  The list is here. Fargo, ND, makes the list, and so do the following:
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Chicago, IL
  • too many cities in the northeast to list
  • Seattle, WA
  • Portland, OR
  • several cities in California: LA, San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco
  • several cities in Texas: Dallas, Ft Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Austin
  • several cities in Florida: Miami, Tampa, Orlando
Must view: top 50 Jewish personalities. None of the top 50 are in the NFL. If the link is broken:
1: Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump -- US royalty (prince and princess)
2. Gal Gadot
3. Bibi
4. Steven Mnuchin - US Sec Treasury
5. Gideon Sa'ar
6. Esther Hayut
7. Volodymyr Groysman
8. Anat Hoffman (female0
9. Bob Iger (Mickey Mouse)
10. Avichal Mandelb
11. Chuck Schumer
12. David Friedman
13. Ron Lauder
14. Avigdor Liberman - Naftall Bennett
15. Ayelet Shaked
16. Janet Yellen (so far down the list, it tells me how important the Fed is -- not very)
17. Natan Sharansky
18. Ruth Bader Ginsburg - Stephen Breyer - Elana Kagan (and Senator Feinstein was worried with one Catholic on the bench -- yes, Diane is Jewish as is Al Franken and Richard Blumenthal)
19. Israel Katz - Miri Regez - Gilad Erdan
20. Avi Gabbay - Yair Lapid
39. Judge Judy (which tells me the list is "legit")
Notable no-shows: Harvey Weinstein and about 50 other Hollywood personalities. 
Jobs. The unemployment report for September, 2017, is to be released tomorrow. Never take President Trump literally, but always take him seriously. Perhaps he is talking in "generalities" in this tweet, but when he says unemployment is the "lowest it has been in decades" suggests he has seen the data that will be released tomorrow. So, we'll see.

The market bubble or whatever you want to call it:

I believe the dates and Dow 30 data points are accurate in the graphic below (I didn't spend a lot of time double-checking this). Because of the nature of the graph, the arrows might not point exactly to the right spot, but they are "close enough."

Ten years ago:
  • July 28, 2006: 11,220
  • October 9, 2007: 14,093
  • 25.6% gain
  • July 29, 2016: 18,432
  • October 5, 2017: 22,775
  • 23.6% gain
The strength and duration of the "bull market"-- some rambling:
This is simply incredible, when one looks at the graphic above, how long this "bull market" has lasted, and how strong it has been. Children born in 2009 have never known anything but a "bull market." For the past umpteen months questions have been asked what accounts for this long "bull market."

During the second term of the Obama administration, the "bull market" was attributed to the typical economic cycle, a recession followed by a growing economy (for any number of reasons). The GOP simply blamed Obama for a very, very slow recovery, but other than that, it was what one would expect after a "great depression."

The second explanation for the very, very long "bull market": cheap money. Low interest rates are being explained for the "bull market" going on longer than expected. Warren Buffett alluded to that this week when interviewed on CNBC.

The most interesting thing is what no one seems to be talking about. I remember talking about this during Obama's first term (I've long forgotten if it was still being talked about in his second term).

Quick! Do you remember what that was?

The GOP was complaining about how much the government was spending (the "stimulus") with nothing to show for it. Hundreds of million of dollars went to each state to promote job growth. Remember those stories of the US government spending $500,000 for each job in states like Wyoming or Maryland. We joked that the Bakken resulted in more jobs than the trillions of dollars spent by the Obama administration for job growth. Despite all that money flowing to the states, nothing seemed to work.

The Obama administration and his supporters argued that it would take time for those trillions of dollars to circulate through the economy. Well, maybe we're now seeing what happens when trillions of dollars work their way through the economy.

From an earlier post on the blog:
[This is one of the] data points for January 20, 2017, the last half-business day for President Obama's presidency:
Someone smarter than I can look up the US debt when President Obama took office but it was maybe half of that $20 trillion when he left office. Whatever. The details don't matter.

The point is that the Obama administration and his supporters are probably exactly correct: it took time for those trillions of dollars to work their way through the economy. I certainly can't comprehend it nor fathom the gigantic number $20 trillion represents but it has to be unprecedented in the history of mankind.

The "bull market" can't simply be explained away by cheap money. Let's say Venezuela announced tonight that the banks will now charge zero percent interest on all money and folks can withdraw as much money as they need to survive. Does anyone seriously believe the Venezuela economy would take off?

I know Europe is supposedly doing well; some say it is doing better than the US economically. I don't know; maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But the EU certainly doesn't excite me like the US does when it comes to future economic growth. And yet EU's central bank rates are even lower than in the US: currently the EU's central bank lending rate is a negative 0.4%, I believe. A negative rate of return.

Joe Biden once famously said ObamaCare "was one big f***ing deal." Heath care accounts for one-sixth of the US economy and Medicare and ObamaCare must make up most of that. And Medicare and ObamaCare are the gifts that will keep on giving regardless of what happens next.

My point, even as "stimulus" (measured in trillions of dollars) continues to work its way through the economy, Medicare and ObamaCare will provide a floor, as it were.

I can't articulate this as well as others can but the bottom line for me is: cheap money alone cannot be the reason for the duration and strength of the economy. There has to be something else. Our energy exports are helping, but the energy revolution is way, way too young to account for much of this.

I wonder if 90% of the duration and strength of the "bull market" this past year might not be explained simply by stimulus money finally working its way through the economy along with Medicare/ObamaCare dollars. Ten trillion dollars poured into the economy had to have gone somewhere. Even if it all went to the rich, most of it would have trickled down. The wealthy like to put their money to work just as much as anyone else.

Some would argue, "hey, the bull market took place after Trump won the election." Not true; one can see that the "bull market" began many years ago. That's why I call this "Riding The Wave" at the sidebar at the right.

So, bottom, bottom line: my thoughts about the strength and duration of the "bull market":
  • 90% due to stimulus working its way through the economy, along with ObamaCare and Medicare
  • 9% due to cheap money
  • 1% due to "just one of those things"
I'll be off the net until later tonight. If there are typographical errors I won't catch them until later. I probably won't catch factual errors unless someone points them out. 

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