God is a Capitalist

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Brick and mortar retail is falling down

Brick and mortar retail is dying according to many reports. Here’s an example:
American retailers are closing stores at the fastest pace ever.

Roughly 10% of mall retail space - or 1 billion square feet - is on the verge of being closed, having rents slashed or transformed into something else. And in March, retailers cut 30,000 jobs, the same as in February.

It was the worst two-month span of job cuts for the sector since 2009 - during the depths of the Great Recession!

This year, as many as 8,640 total stores may close - which would outpace the 6,200 closed in 2008.

And as I've pointed out for years, it's because the companies failed to adapt. They were slow to recognize the changing tides and are now being destroyed by a single company... Amazon .”

Monday, April 17, 2017

Morgan Stanley says ride the raging bull

Morgan Stanley’s analysts suggest running with the bulls this week. They recently announced that they expect the S&P 500 to rise 15% in the next twelve months and possibly to reach 3,000, a gain of 27.4%. They wrote, 
Although optimism is a late cycle phenomenon, history tells us the best returns often come at the end."
Essentially, they are shouting “the end is near!” but “party while you can!” They credited President Trump for their optimism:
While acknowledging that the pro-business agenda of President Trump has awakened "animal spirits" in the economy, the Morgan Stanley strategists feel that Trump has simply "turbocharged" a global business recovery that already has been underway since the first quarter of 2016. They note that one of the worst economic contractions in 30 years, as measured by U.S. GDP, bottomed out a year ago. Since then, their favorite economic indicators have been accelerating, including those capturing business conditions, business outlook and global trade.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Creative destruction becoming less destructive

Investors should worry about productivity growth of the firms they invest in because it is one of the major determinants of profits and market share. Innovation should drive old technology firms out of business and improve productivity but that hasn’t been the case for half a century.

Productivity growth has been falling since about 1970 for many companies according to Andrew Haldane, Bank of England Chief Economist, in his speech “Productivity puzzles” at the London School of Economics last month in which he reported what’s happening to productivity in the UK and globally.

Haldane said the future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed. Some companies are highly innovative with rapidly growing productivity, but most lag far behind. There are broad differences in productivity growth between advanced economies and emerging market economies, between the US and other advanced economies, across industries and within industries. After providing the fruits of excellent research, however, Haldane offered an anticlimactic solution:
The Mayfield Commission aims to create an app which enables companies to measure their productivity and benchmark themselves against other companies operating in similar sectors and regions. By shining a light on companies’ relative performance, the aim is that this would serve as a catalyst for remedial action by company management.”

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Show me the money

Most business cycle models include the money supply as a leading indicator of the economy, meaning that changes in the money supply tend to precede and signal changes in the economy in the near future. The money supply year-to-year change spiked late last year, giving some money watchers goose bumps.

According to Ryan McMaken at the Mises Institute, the money supply jumped 11.3 percent on the Austrian money supply (AMS) index late last year. Murray Rothbard and Joseph Salerno created the Austrian money supply index to provide a better measure than the Fed’s M2. That spurt in money occurred after a several years of sedate money growth. 

McMaken wrote that since 2014, money supply growth has ranged from about 7 percent to 8.5 percent. In October of last year, money supply growth hit a seven-year low of 6.8 percent. The AMS spiked to 11.3 percent in the fourth quarter, then in February it collapsed back to a year-to-year growth rate of 7.7 percent.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The four biggest mistakes in option trading

Years ago I had a friend attend a seminar on options in which he learned to buy out-of-the-money options on commodities and keep buying them until he hit the jackpot. Theoretically, the one big win would pay off all of the losses and add a hefty profit.

That strategy is pure gambling according to Jay Kaeppel, author of The Four Biggest Mistakes in Option Trading. The four are 1) relying solely on market timing to trade options, 2) buying only out-of-the-money options, 3) using strategies that are too complex and 4) casting too wide of a net.

Options and futures originated in the 17th century in the Dutch Republic to provide farmers a way to protect themselves against falling prices at harvest time and as a way for processors to protect their businesses against shortages caused by drought or disease. Options are still a good way to protect all kinds of assets, including shares of stocks. For example, a simple strategy for protecting one’s nest egg from a market collapse is simply to buy put options on an index of on the stock of specific companies. If the market declines, the option should increase in value enough to make up for the loss in the stock portfolio.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Now economists want to steal your wealth

Keeping your hard-earned wealth is hard. The state wants most of it in taxes. A couple of weeks ago I explained how socialists use randomness to steal your wealth. Now economists want to use a cashless society to take it. 

Many of the world’s top economists want to get rid of paper currency and force all of us to use electronic banking. One of the top mainstream economists, Kenneth Rogoff, has written a manifesto for them in his 2016 book, The Curse of Cash. Rogoff is the Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy at Harvard and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund. Many economists around the world have subscribed to his manifesto. Here are Rogoff’s main reasons for wanting a cashless society:
The real issues involve the ability to use monetary policy to (1) stabilize the economy, (2) issue credit in response to financial crises (act as lender of last resort), and (3) be able to inflate the price level in an emergency where it is necessary to engage in partial default (in real terms) on government debt. To achieve these ends effectively, it is extremely helpful for the government to control the unit of account and the currency to which most private contracts are indexed. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

God is a Capitalist! Markets from Moses to Marx



In his book, Jesus in Beijing, author David Aikman describes a lecture that he attended in Beijing in 2002. The speaker, a scholar from one of China’s premier academic research institutes, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the following:

One of the things we were asked to look into was what accounted for the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over the world . . . We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic, and cultural perspective. At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West has been so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this.