The VP Blog

A blog about financial markets and the VP investing framework

Structural labour market issues in the US point to looser for longer at the Fed

Employment in the US is closely watched, especially as the Fed has marked it out as an important factor in how it will judge its stance in monetary policy. Payrolls have improved and the unemployment rate has declined, but structural issues stubbornly remain. The Fed will be alert to these issues, and thus the bar for the removal of stimulus is very high, despite repeated murmurings of ‘tapering’ and a tightening in monetary conditions.

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NYSE Margin Debt Going Parabolic Signals Increased Risks for Equities

In the short run, it is difficult to see what can stop equities at this point. Low inflation, central bank support and relatively robust economic data have created a Goldilocks scenario for equities. However, perhaps as a result it is worthwhile looking at what could go wrong. One of the more important intermediate indicators on the equity market is derived from the stock of US margin debt at the NYSE.

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Buying Time in Portugal Unlikely to Improve Fundamentals

The spotlight remained on Portugal the end of last week as EU finance ministers agreed to give the country seven more years to repay its stock of existing loans. Still, despite the words of praise showered on the country the deficit containment record has been a pretty checkered one. The deficit target for 2013 is 5.5% of GDP will not come under the EU 3% level until 2015 at the earliest.

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Global Equities Showing Signs of Weakness, but don’t Look to Bonds for Salvation

Judging by the comments from most analysts and commentators, global equities are the place to be and equity markets are still doing well. This is certainly true if you look at Japan, but in general it is not exactly correct. On a 1 month basis, even the otherwise resilient S&P 500 is now flat and many stock markets are down significantly. Indeed, despite widespread investor optimism we are now seeing broad based weakness on a monthly basis.

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France in borderline depression territory

France looks increasingly like it is slipping into recession. It is the poorest performing core country – an increasingly inapt label. Highlighting this are the latest PMI numbers. The services PMI, already woefully depressed, slipped lower last month, to 41.9, lower even than Spain’s. The manufacturing PMI was barely much better, falling to 43.9.

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The Housing Market in Canada is Starting to Look Shaky

We have pointed to the Canadian housing market boom and subsequent bust on several occasions in our reports to clients. Canadian households are overlevered and the housing market has risen to new highs. However, we are now starting to see decisive signs of weakness and consequently and unwind of excess froth in the Canadian housing market.

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