Another week in the meat grinder, as the markets pulled a Round trip. Starting soft Monday, selling off Tuesday, rallying Wednesday and Thursday, only to gap up Friday, rolling over and giving it all back and then some. Indices finished the week marginally positive — but hardly worth the efforts put in by the participants. Those waiting out the heat wave and the markets in the Hamptons have the right idea.

We have lots on our plate this week: The Economy, the Fed, Real Estate, the dreaded R word —  with a mix of ecclectic effluvia for your mouse clicking pleasures. 

Anon! On to the linkfest!

Employment Data Takes Center Stage:

• Another month, another dissapointing NFP: BLS released their Employment Situation Summary yesterday, and it was yet another weak report. Even the employment Bulls favored (flawed) metric, the Household survey, showed a decrease in employment. The WSJ called hiring "Tepid."

The big concern was the wage growth — the second consecutive month where wages rose at 0.4% — raising some inflation fears. Wages and income have been onbe of the only areas where we haven’t seen prices rise over the past two years. Barron’s (via The Liscio report) noted "nearly half the gain in July was chipped in by health care and bars and restaurants, neither obviously an occupational area renowned for exceptional wage generosity." (If no Barron’s, go here).

Some have argued that we are at full employment, and that’s why hiring has slackened. We simply cannot find the bodies to fill slots. That sentiment is belied by the recent study by Northern Trust’s Paul Kasriel: year over year trend in new unemployment applications. Layoffs have ticked up — hardly what you would expect if there was a labor shortage.

A broad swath of opinions on the Broader Economy:

• Janet L. Yellen, SF Fed Bank Prez, is upbeat on Prospects for the U.S. Economy;    

• The 64,000 question: Are we heading into a recession? 

• Citigroup doesn’t think so, they call this The Incomplete U.S. Expansion (pdf).

• All the teeth gnashing over a 1/4 point hike —  is there THAT much
difference between 5.5% or 5.25%? If this was a truly healthy economy, would anyone really care about another 25bp increase?

• Crossing Wall Street looks at a few years of GDP Revisions;

• If the US does slow dramatically, will the World "Decouple"?

The Federal Reserve and Inflation takes center stage this week: Here’s what you need to know:

• If not the long sought after pause, at the very least we should expect
to hear very different noise from the Fed come August 8th:  Either they
stop, or they announce their intention to do so.

• The Cleveland Fed explains how to calculate Fed Funds Rate Predictions

• Natexis technician extraordinaire John Roque writes that "the people who’re
telling us that “inflation is a lagging indicator” are the same people
who’ve told us all along that “there’s no inflation,  the same people
who said gold couldn’t rally, the same people who said oil wasn’t going
to stay at high levels, and the same people who said tech would be a
leader, the same people who said the “Fed’s done raising rates” for a
year, and the same people who said the Yanks were out of the race."

His conclusion?  "These People Are Dangerous".

• The NY Post’s John Crudelle demands that the Fed fess up about the Plunge Protection Team: COME CLEAN, BEN!


• Meanwhile, Wells Fargo observes that Weak Payrolls Trump Rising Inflation for Now;  Business Week agreed, calling the July Jobs data Pretext for a Fed Pause;   

• Demand Driven Inflation: Titanium and Carbon-Fiber (If no WSJ, go here)   

Unfortunately, it all seems to come back to Housing/Real Estate

Mortgage Apps drop 29% Y-Y    

Developers Nix or Delay Condo Projects

• A NYT Two-fer: Many Homes Are on the Market and Sales Numbers Are Declining and Housing Slows, Taking Big Toll on the Economy

Advice: In a Cooling Market, How to Make A Smart Second-Home Purchase

Some very interesting developments in the world of Investing:

• The conflicting Short versus Long Term expectations: Is this the Topping Process at Work?    

Don’t Blame Sarbox: Why is the US lead in underwriting IPOs slipping? For starters, U.S. investment banks charge the highest underwriting fees in the world.

• Floyd Norris looks at  The Sensitive Sectors

• There are slews of new ETFs coming to market nearly every day: Barclays’ has 2 new commodity ETNs: the PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund and iShares GSCI Commodity-Indexed Trust. But either notes or funds, Barclays Global Investors has become the 800-pound gorilla of the ETF business.

And coming soon: Actively managed ETFs; (I thought those were called closed-end funds!);

• Some of the real doom and gloomers have been predicting an utter collapse due to the boomers retirement. However, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office, Retiring Boomers Are Unlikely to Spur Market Collapse;

• The Learning Curve observes that CNBC is becoming skeptical: Is Bubblevision now Troublevision?   

• New research shows that if half of the analysts covering a company drop their stock-recommendation rating one notch — from "buy" to "hold," for example — that increases the likelihood of the CEO getting fired within six months by 50%.

Some unusual stories from with a Global bend:

A fascinating Oil statistic: The world consumes A Thousand Barrels per Second;

• The Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund (CUBA)   

• The WSJ’s MIDEAST CRISIS TRACKER Beirut and Israel Under Fire (free)

• An ethical argument about bringing back the draft:  A Moral Hazard of Global Proportions   

Most Americans Consider Britain Closest Ally to the U.S.

George Shultz, Renaissance man


Has Technology and Science news ever come faster? Its all we can do to keep up!

• Me too!  Astronomers: Universe May Be Bigger and Older;   

Haven’t we seen this story before? Web Start-Ups Lure Executives At eBay, Yahoo   

• Forbes calls WiFi The Great Disrupter    

• People are generally bad at accepting the importance of context and chance, and we fall prey to “the fundamental attribution error” — THE FATAL-FLAW MYTH    

• Why are Software Giants Seeking Friends Among Hackers?   

• Fascinating story — The Hive: A history of Wikipedia   

At An Underwater Volcano, Evidence Of Man’s Environmental Impact   

• I’m sticking with Dish, cause cable ain’t got BBC America: Satellite TV’s growth is sputtering;

• Apple without Steve Jobs? Hard to imagine. But the inquiry over options at Apple worries investors that New ‘irregularities’ in stock options might reach to Jobs

Film, Music, TV, Books, fun:

• Woody Allen’s latest movie is getting very good reviews: Cloud In the Silver Lining

• The surprising conservative accolades for Oliver Stone’s Vision of 9/11

The $700 Used Book   

• The CD just got another nail its coffin: Warner Music preps iTunes compatible "DVD album"   

• I have yet to find a better new Rock and Roll release this year than the Magic Numbers.

• My reality-TV guilty pleasure this summer:  Miami Ink

• Time wasters galore!

OK Go’s Here It Goes Again — an awesome use of treadmills in a music video

-The uplifting, feel-good version of "Taxi Driver"

-Denizens of the cube farms, this parody is for you: My Cubicle

-and finally, the long awaited episode 2 of Chad Vader, Day Shift Manager

That’s all from the sunny NorthEast, where the heat wave has broken, its sunny and 80 degrees, and the Hamptons are beckoning!

Tan safe, people!

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. whipsaw commented on Aug 6

    Nice Barry, but how could you have missed this? ;p

  2. Sherman McCoy commented on Aug 6

    You have it SO WRONG about why the economy is headed south, Barry. So so so wrong. Luckily I have my own (not so safe for work) blog where I can set the record straight. Stop your misinformation once and for all. ;-)

  3. whipsaw commented on Aug 6

    “Crude futures are creeping up.”

    hmmm, sounds like my XLE calls were a good idea, but a reminder of Investing Rule No. 4: You will always buy too much or too little.

  4. Craig H commented on Aug 6

    Sherman, your blog is demented. Consider it bookmarked!

  5. Craig H commented on Aug 6


    Don’t have live futures quotes, but futuresource has it up 84 cents now.

    The market was slow to react to this news. I caught it as it was posted on Yahoo and delayed quotes still hadn’t moved much even 30 minutes later. If I traded futures I would have bought on the news and made some nice coin. :-(

    This is really bad (or good if you’re an oil bull and stock bear). It’ll take 48 hours to shut down and later restart the pipeline when it’s fixed, and nobody knows how long repairs will take. I’m guessing at least 5 days of lost production, or close to 3 million barrels for this week.

    $80 crude just got a major shot in the arm.

  6. whipsaw commented on Aug 7

    per Craig H:
    “This is really bad (or good if you’re an oil bull and stock bear).”

    SPY puts and XLE calls, so maybe I win this time. Here I was thinking about what happens when missiles show up over Tel Aviv and something happens to oil transport in Alaska instead? Pretty damn crazy world.

    Anyway, we’ll see how this shakes out- thanks for the heads up.

  7. Mr. Bubbles commented on Aug 7

    “$80 crude just got a major shot in the arm”.

    Hmm…. I’m no conspiracy theorist, but the timing of this is just too rich. Wonder who is trying to goose the oil market. War in Iraq, war in Lebanon, threat of a confrontation with Iran, now this “accident” occurs just as hurricane season is heating up. No one can provide any kind of timeframe for the pipeline repair? In retrospect, I guess a suitable bubble does need to be created to help absorb all the unrestrained liquidity floating around. Bond market can’t absorb it ALL.

  8. KBo commented on Aug 7

    ” I’m no conspiracy theorist, but the timing of this is just too rich ”

    there are about 50 conspiracy theorists on this site already …. we don’t need 1 more

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