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Hedgeye Guest Contributor | Thornton: My Scary Chart

Editor's NoteBelow is a Hedgeye Guest Contributor research note written by Dr. Daniel Thornton. During his 33-year career at the St. Louis Fed, Thornton served as vice president and economic advisor. He currently runs D.L. Thornton Economics, an economic research consultancy. 

 

A brief note on our contributor policy. While this column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Hedgeye, suffice to say, more often than not we concur with our contributors. In the piece below, Thornton writes "I believe that some unforeseeable event will prick the bubble, perhaps this year. The result will be recession which will, unfortunately, be accompanied by more misguided monetary and fiscal policies."

 

Hedgeye Guest Contributor | Thornton: My Scary Chart - Bubble bear cartoon 09.26.2014  1

 

I published the graph below in a recent essay titled, Why the Fed’s Zero Interest Rate Policy Failed, but the graph deserves special attention because of what it seems to imply for the economy going forward. The graph shows household net worth (wealth) as a percent of personal disposable income. Household net worth as a percent of disposable income increased dramatically in the mid-1990s. Its collapse precipitated the 2000 recession. It increased even more dramatically during the subsequent expansion only to collapse again, precipitating the 2007 – 2009 recession.

 

Hedgeye Guest Contributor | Thornton: My Scary Chart - thornton1

 

Once again, household net worth has increased dramatically. Since the end of 2012 it has increasing by nearly 100 percentage points to 640% of disposable income. This is scary; not just because it is an incredibly large rise in wealth in a short period of time, but because it happened twice before with very bad consequences.

 

The first rise in household wealth ended because of the bursting of what is known as the Dot.com bubble. It is called the Dot.com bubble because the NASDAQ composite index rose dramatically in the mid-to-late 1990s only to fall even more dramatically beginning in 2000Q1. The graph below shows that the rise and fall of household net worth was accompanied by the rise and fall of the NASDAQ.

 

Hedgeye Guest Contributor | Thornton: My Scary Chart - thornton2

 

The NASDAQ and household net worth reached their respective peaks at exactly the same time, 2000Q1, after which they both fell precipitously. Household net worth recovered quickly during the expansion, but the NASDAQ didn’t. Indeed, the NASDAQ didn’t reach its 2000Q1 level again until 2014Q3. In contrast, household wealth as a percent of disposable income rose quickly, increasing by 125 percentage points from 2002Q3 to 2006Q4 before declining even more precipitously.

 

The large increase in household wealth was largely driven by an equally large and, as it turned out, unsustainable rise in house prices, as shown in the graph below. Not surprisingly, house prices and household net worth both peaked in 2006Q4.

 

Hedgeye Guest Contributor | Thornton: My Scary Chart - thornton3

 

By 2015Q1, household wealth had surpassed its 2006Q4 peak. This time the rise in wealth was fueled by both equity and house prices. The relevant question is: Is the 100 percentage point rise in household net worth sustainable, or will house and equity prices fall dramatically again?

 

The latter answer seems most likely. One reason is behavior of household net worth has been unusual since the mid-1990s. The graph below shows the level of household net worth over the period 1952Q1 to 2015Q4. The graph also shows a quadratic trend line estimated over the period 1952Q1 to 1994Q4 and extrapolated to 2015Q4.

 

 Hedgeye Guest Contributor | Thornton: My Scary Chart - thornton4

 

During the entire period from 1952Q1 to 1994Q4, household net worth tracks the trend line very closely. Since 1995Q1, however, household net worth has been consistently above the trend line and the gap has been getting progressively larger. Such behavior would be a concern in any circumstance, but it is particularly troubling because we know that the previous two boom cycles were followed by busts. The recent rise in household net worth has not been accompanied by a correspondingly large increase in output or the price level. Hence, it too does not appear to be supported by economic fundamentals—it appears to be unsustainable.

 

The Fed’s monetary policy has contributed to this problem. First, by keeping the federal funds rate below its own estimates of the normal or natural rate for much of this time and way below the normal rate for nearly a decade. The second, by unnecessarily purchasing a massive amount of government and mortgage-back securities, which Fed Chair Yellen and her colleagues are reluctant to sell. I don’t see the Fed doing anything different anytime soon.

 

I predict that the current level of household net worth is not sustainable. I believe that some unforeseeable event will prick the bubble, perhaps this year. The result will be recession which will, unfortunately, be accompanied by more misguided monetary and fiscal policies. I call this monetary and fiscal policy insanity: Keep doing the same thing and expect a different result! I would love to be wrong, but I doubt I will be.


Fed Watch: Next Rate Hike In April 2018???

Editor's Note: In an institutional research note, entitled "Reflation Reversal Risk Part II," Hedgeye Senior Macro analyst Darius Dale shows in granular detail how investors have priced-in a shockingly dovish Fed.

 

In other words, a look at the Fed Funds futures curve suggests "the next rate hike isn't being fully priced into the curve until April of 2018!" Below is an excerpt and chart from that note. (To access our institutional research email sales@hedgeye.com.)

 

Fed Watch: Next Rate Hike In April 2018??? - Fed cartoon 06.17.2015 dove large

 

"... That in conjunction with a dramatically compressed Fed Funds futures curve (2nd chart below) leads us to believe the Fed’s dovish pivot has been largely priced into the most affected markets and it’s likely that nothing shy of outright monetary easing will compress the forward rates expectations any further. Specifically, the next rate hike isn't being fully priced into the curve until April of 2018 (out from October 2016 at the start of the year)!”

 

Fed Watch: Next Rate Hike In April 2018??? - Implied Yields on Select Fed Funds Futures Contracts

Click image to enlarge 


Daily Market Data Dump: Thursday

Takeaway: A closer look at global macro market developments.

Editor's Note: Below are complimentary charts highlighting global equity market developments, S&P 500 sector performance, volume on U.S. stock exchanges, and rates and bond spreads. It's on the house. For more information on how Hedgeye can help you better understand the markets and economy (and stay ahead of consensus) check out our array of investing products

 

CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

Daily Market Data Dump: Thursday - equity markets 5 12

 

Daily Market Data Dump: Thursday - sector performance 5 12

 

Daily Market Data Dump: Thursday - volume 5 12

 

Daily Market Data Dump: Thursday - rates and spreads 5 12


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CHART OF THE DAY: A Sneak Peek At Our Big Macro Themes Calls

Editor's Note: Below is a brief excerpt and chart from today's Early Look written by Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough. Click here to learn more.

 

"... Not that we like to #timestamp and hold ourselves to account on our big macro themes calls or anything, but in our Macro Themes Deck (see Chart of The Day) we make our best ideas, across durations, very clear. Here are our Best TREND Shorts:

  1. Financials (XLF)
  2. Retail (XRT)
  3. Russell 2000 (IWM)
  4. SP500 (SPY)
  5. Spain (EWP)"

 

CHART OF THE DAY: A Sneak Peek At Our Big Macro Themes Calls - 05.12.16 EL Chart


Cartoon of the Day: Precious Metals

Cartoon of the Day: Precious Metals - gold cartoon 05.11.2016

 

It's been a tumultuous 2016 for investors but there's always a bull market somewhere. Gold is up more than 20% this year.


6 VIDEOS: 'About Everything' With Renowned Demographer Neil Howe

Takeaway: In the videos below, Neil Howe covers topics like the surge in mental health services & Millennial to Boomer behavioral differences.

6 VIDEOS: 'About Everything' With Renowned Demographer Neil Howe - neil howe headshot

 

In case you missed it, world-renowned demographer and Hedgeye Managing Director Neil Howe hosted the sixth installment of his About Everything series yesterday, discussing the long-term secular decline of the cable industry. For the record, Neil's work has garnered the resounding praise of such polar political opposites as Vice President Al Gore and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. (Click here to read Howe's complete biography.)

 

During live About Everything broadcasts, Howe dissects a topic's key underlying demographic trends and distills the broader implications for investors and their portfolios. Below are the six complimentary video installments, in their entirety, along with Howe's accompanying written pieces. The wide-ranging topics covered include the surge in mental health services, the demographic drivers behind "less interest in things" and the behavioral differences between Millennials and Baby Boomers.

 

Enjoy!

 

1. About Everything: Does Cable Have a Future? (5/10/2016)

 

 

In this complimentary edition of About Everything below, Hedgeye Demography Sector Head Neil Howe writes about why the cable and satellite TV industry's glory days are behind it. In it, Howe dissects the underlying demographic drivers and explains the broader implications for investors. 

 

Click here to read Howe’s associated About Everything piece.

 

2. About Everything | The Surge in Mental Health Services (4/28/2016)

 

 

In this complimentary edition of About Everything, renowned demographer and Hedgeye Sector Head Neil Howe discusses why "mental health services spending is riding a long-term attitudinal shift that has brought mental health issues out into the open." Howe explains why it's happening and explores the broader societal and investing implications.

Click here to read Howe’s associated About Everything piece.

 

3. About Everything | The Golden Age of Home Improvement (4/24/2016)

 

 

In this complimentary edition of About Everything, renowned demographer and Hedgeye Sector Head Neil Howe explores why consumer spending on home improvement is outstripping GDP growth and the key demographic trends behind this shift.

 

Click here to read Howe’s associated About Everything piece.

 

4. About Everything | A Perfect Storm of Trends Points to Less Interest In "Things" (4/18/2016)

 

 

In this complimentary edition of About Everything, Hedgeye Demography Sector Head Neil Howe discusses why manufacturers and retailers should prepare for the possibility that “goods” aren’t coming back anytime soon. And, even when (and if) the industrial sector emerges from its long-term atrophy, the underlying framework of the “old economy” will look entirely different than what we see today.

 

Click here to read Howe’s associated About Everything piece.

 

5. About Everything | When Less Is More (4/13/2016)

 

 

In this complimentary edition of About Everything, Hedgeye Demography Sector Head Neil Howe discusses why "we’re entering a new era in which simplicity — not choice — is the hallmark of a cutting-edge brand." 

 

Click here to read Howe’s associated About Everything piece.

 

6. about everything | Millennials Gone Mild: The Investing Implications (3/30/2016)

 

 

In this complimentary edition of “About Everything,” Hedgeye Demography Sector Head Neil Howe discusses the sweeping behavioral changes of Millennials (“Generation Yawn”) compared to prior generations, and spells out what it all means for investors and companies around the globe.

 

Click here to read Howe’s associated About Everything piece.


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