June 15, 2018 | Economic and Financial Digest

Recession Watch

At 107 months and counting, the U.S. expansion is now the second longest on record, topping the 106 months from 1961 to 1969. Not surprisingly, the “recession watch” is on for economists, investors and policymakers. Some, of course, firmly believe that trees grow to the sky and the current upturn can continue forever. That illusion […]

May 25, 2018 | Econtrarian

Thin-Air Credit Growth Slowdown Augurs Poorly for 2018 Domestic Demand Growth

A majority of my readers have asked me to update the discussion about the behavior of thin-air credit or a variant thereof, namely the sum of commercial bank credit (loans and securities) and the monetary base (bank reserves at the Fed and currency). To paraphrase the motto of the former iconic Chicago department store, Marshall […]

May 21, 2018 | Economic and Financial Digest

The Return of Inflation

Welcome back old friend. It’s been a while – close to two decades in fact –that a familiar feature of the economic landscape has been missing: inflation. To be sure, many, if not most, households would disagree with that assertion, noting that prices on the basket of goods and services they typically purchase have been […]

April 30, 2018 | Econtrarian

As of this Past Fourth Quarter, the S&P 500 Remained Relatively Cheap

Now that the first quarter of 2018 has ended, what could be more fitting than to look back at the relative valuation of the S&P 500 stock index as of last year’s fourth quarter? After all, isn’t that what we economists do best, look back? This commentary is an update to my November 29, 2017 […]

April 30, 2018 | Economic and Financial Digest

Consumer Retrenchment Not Alarming

As advertised, the economy is turning in an underwhelming performance in the first quarter, dragged down by soft consumer spending. Since households are the economy’s main growth driver, many are fretting that the nation’s third-longest expansion, about to enter its tenth year, is nearing the end of the road. There are troubling signs that typically […]