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Dr. Ed Yardeni

Dr. Ed Yardeni

Dr. Ed Yardeni is the President and Chief Investment Strategist of Yardeni Research, Inc., a provider of independent investment strategy and economics research for institutional investors. In this blog, we highlight some of the more interesting relationships and developments that should be of interest to investors. Our premium research service is designed for institutional investors.

Articles by Dr. Ed Yardeni

US Bond Yields Made in Germany

4 days ago

Another round of central bank easing is underway. So why are bond yields rising?
The 10-year US Treasury bond yield rose from a recent low of 1.47% on 9/4 to 1.72% on Tuesday (Fig. 1). The record low was 1.37%, hit on 7/8/16 just after the Brits voted to leave the European Union (EU). The risks of a no-deal Brexit have eased in recent days, though it still could happen next month. A hard Brexit could cause the bond yield to retest its recent low.
In any event, the main reason that the US bond yield has moved higher in recent days has more to do with Germany than the UK. The 10-year German government bond yield has risen from a recent record low of -0.71% on 8/30 to -0.54% Tuesday. Reuter’s reported: “Germany’s 30-year government bond yield briefly rose into positive territory on Tuesday

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From FOMO to FONIR

11 days ago

I visited with our accounts in Atlanta and Chattanooga recently. They seemed relatively calm. Most of them believe that the US economy can continue to grow for the foreseeable future. So they aren’t freaking out about the recent inversion of the yield curve. However, they are somewhat anxious about the prospect of negative interest rates in the US, though they think it is a remote possibility. Consider the following:
(1) US bond yields stand out. We discussed in our meetings the expectation that the Bank of Japan (BOJ) is likely to keep its official policy interest rate at -0.10% for the foreseeable future, as it has since 1/29/16, while the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) is likely to lower its official deposit rate, currently -0.40%, deeper into negative territory

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Trump’s Game of Chicken

19 days ago

President Donald Trump seems to be playing simultaneous games of chicken with Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Last Friday, he raised tariffs again on US imports from China and ordered US companies to leave China. He also said that Fed Chair Jerome Powell is a greater enemy than Xi. Trump’s game plan is to create more uncertainty about trade, thus increasing the risks for US economic growth so that the Fed will have to respond with more interest-rate cuts. At the same time, he hopes that Xi will relent by agreeing to a trade deal that is good for the US economy.
Games of chicken are often reckless and dangerous, with dire consequences. The S&P 500 tumbled 2.6% on Friday. In the classic movie “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955), Jimmy (played by James Dean) agrees to a

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Bonds In Neverland

25 days ago

The negative interest rate policies of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of Japan (BOJ) have created a Neverland in the global fixed-income markets. An 8/18 Bloomberg story reported: “The world’s headlong dash to zero or negative interest rates just passed another milestone: Homebuyers in Denmark effectively are being paid to take out 10-year mortgages. Jyske Bank A/S, Denmark’s third-largest lender, announced in early August a mortgage rate of -0.5%, before fees. Nordea Bank Abp, meanwhile, is offering 30-year mortgages at annual interest of 0.5%, and 20-year loans at zero.”
A 7/29 story in The Washington Times reported: “The latest estimates are that approximately 30 percent of the global government bond issues are now trading in negative territory. Last week, Swiss 50-year

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Yield Curve Inverts: Head for the Hills?

August 16, 2019

The stock market tanked on Wednesday, August 14 because the yield spread between the 10-year US Treasury bond and the 2-year Treasury note turned negative. Such an inversion of the yield curve is widely viewed as a reliable leading indicator of economic recessions. In fact, it is one of the 10 components of the Index of Leading Economic Indicators. But so is the S&P 500, which remains close to its recent high but would fall sharply if stock investors become convinced that a recession is imminent.
Not only did the stock market react badly to the latest yield-curve inversion, but so did President Donald Trump, who tweeted: "CRAZY INVERTED YIELD CURVE! We should easily be reaping big Rewards & Gains, but the Fed is holding us back."
An inverted yield curve has predicted 10 of the last 7

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The Great Inflation Delusion

August 5, 2019

The Fed, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the Bank of Japan (BOJ) came up with lots of headline-grabbing shock-and-awe programs over the past 10 years in reaction to the Great Financial Crisis. Over time, they seemed to lose their effectiveness and ability to shock or awe.
Nevertheless, the US economy had improved sufficiently by 2014 that the Fed terminated Quantitative Easing (QE) in October 2014 and started very gradually to raise interest rates in late 2015. However, by the end of July 2019, the Fed was lowering the federal funds rate again. The ECB terminated its QE at the end of 2018 and was expecting to raise interest rates by mid-2019. However, by July 2019, the ECB signaled that it would most likely lower its deposit rate further into negative territory in September, and

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Embezzelcoin

July 1, 2019

In late 2017, when bitcoin was soaring toward a record-high price of $18,961 on 12/18/17, a distant relative asked me what I thought about the cryptocurrency. He had bought one bitcoin when it was around $4,000 in mid-2017. I said it reminds me of digital tulips. “What do you mean?,” he responded. He is a Millennial who had never heard of the Dutch Tulip Bubble from 1634-38. I explained what happened back then and noted that the bubble was mostly confined to Amsterdam, whereas the bitcoin bubble is global.
Of course, some bitcoin fans believe that bitcoin has a legitimate role in a portfolio as a hedge against the madness of central banks. I concede that point. However, as we saw last year, it can crash, which is what it did on its way back down by gut-wrenching 83% from the high of

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Running Out of Workers?

June 17, 2019

I am not convinced that the demand for labor was hard hit by Trump’s escalating trade war during May. Granted, payroll employment was weak last month, rising just 75,000 (Fig. 1). That compares poorly to the average gains of 186,250 per month during the first four months of this year and 223,250 per month during 2018.
The problem may be that all the anecdotal evidence of labor shortages is actually constraining the growth of payrolls. Perhaps we really are finally running out of workers, or at least those with the appropriate skills and geographic proximity to fill job openings. Consider the following:
(1) Openings. There certainly are plenty of job openings. They totaled 7.45 million during April, exceeding the number of unemployed workers by a record 1.6 million (Fig. 2).
(2) The

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Income Stagnation Is a Progressive Myth

May 3, 2019

The Progressives claim that—despite the (Old) New Deal, the Great Society, and Obamacare—the incomes of the vast majority of Americans have stagnated for three decades and that income distribution remains disturbingly unequal and must be fixed with more progressive taxes. Who would know better than Joseph Stiglitz? After all, he is a Nobel laureate in economics. In 1972, I took Stiglitz’s course on microeconomics in Yale’s PhD program. He gave me a good grade, so I like him.
In a 4/19 NYT article titled “Progressive Capitalism Is Not an Oxymoron,” he lamented: “Despite the lowest unemployment rates since the late 1960s, the American economy is failing its citizens. Some 90 percent have seen their incomes stagnate or decline in the past 30 years. This is not surprising, given that the

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S&P 500 Run, Forrest, Run!

April 25, 2019

Forrest Gump’s fans cheered him on during his remarkable roundtrip cross-country marathon by exhorting him to “Run, Forrest, run!” Similarly, bullish investors are cheering for the bull market in stocks with their gleeful chant, “Run, bull, run.” In this video podcast, I discuss why I believe that the bull market still has legs with revenues and earnings likely to keep it moving higher.

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Disconnecting the Fed’s Dots (Melissa Tagg and Ed Yardeni)

March 17, 2019

Don’t look too closely at the Fed’s dot plot or you might miss the larger monetary policy picture, warned Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in a 3/8 speech titled “Monetary Policy: Normalization and the Road Ahead.” To make his point, he showed two unusual images: an unrecognizable close-up of a bouquet of flowers from impressionist painter Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” and a very recognizable image of the full painting. Monetary impressionists may not be seeing the forest for the trees, to mix up the metaphor.
The Fed began issuing its Summary of Economic Projections (SEP) for the next three years and longer run back in 2007, specifically with the 10/30-10/31/07 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting materials. Included in the SEP

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Happy Birthday to the Bull Market!

March 10, 2019

In this video podcast, I examine the prospects for the bull market that turned 10 years old on March 9. I also discuss potential peace and productivity dividends that may prolong the bull run.

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Should Stock Buybacks Be Banned?

February 20, 2019

The Government Is Here To Help
Journalist H.L. Mencken famously observed: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” Ronald Reagan just as famously warned: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’” Rahm Emanuel summed it all up neatly when he said: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”
The corollary of Rahm’s Law is that the government will tend to create crises so that we will need more government to fix them. A case in point is stock buybacks.
Senators Chuck Schumer

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Lipstick on a Pig: US Federal Government Debt

February 15, 2019

In this video podcast, I review the latest developments in the US federal government’s budget and I explain why I disagree with the proponents of Modern Monetary Theory who claim that deficits and debt don’t matter as long as the government borrows in its own currency and inflation remains subdued.

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Bonds: Doing the Unexpected

February 8, 2019

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Last year, the 10-year US Treasury bond yield peaked at 3.24% on November 8 (Fig. 1). Last year, when the yield first rose above 3.00% on May 14, there was lots of chatter about how it was likely to rise to 4.00% and even 5.00%. Those forecasts were based on the widespread perception that Trump’s tax cuts would boost economic growth, inflation, and the federal deficits. In addition, the Fed had started to taper its balance sheet during October 2017, and was on track to pare its holdings of Treasuries and mortgage-related securities by $50 billion per month (Fig. 2). It was also widely expected that the Fed would hike the federal funds rate four times in 2018, which is what happened, and that the rate-hiking would continue in 2019 into 2020.
Furthermore, the Bond Vigilantes model,

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Stocks: Something for Worriers

January 30, 2019

The S&P 500 is one of the 10 components of the Index of Leading Economic Indicators (LEI). The LEI stalled during the last three months of 2018—falling 0.3% in October, rising 0.2% in November, then falling again by 0.1% in December. The drop in stock prices accounted for much of that weakness. The rebound in the S&P 500 so far in January is a relief.
However, the selloff late last year and the partial government shutdown early this year depressed the expectations sub-index of the Consumer Optimism Index (COI) during January (Fig. 1). This is the average of the expectations components of the Consumer Sentiment Index (CSI) and the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI). That average is also one of the LEI indicators, and it has fully reversed the jump it took after Trump was elected

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On the Demographic Path to Human Self-Extinction

January 10, 2019

In Chapter 16 of my book Predicting the Markets, I observe that fertility rates have dropped below replacement rates around the world as a result of urbanization. Only in India and Africa are couples having enough babies to replace themselves. Humans are on a demographic path of self-extinction.
Leading the way has been Japan. I have often described the country as the world’s largest nursing home. That distinction undoubtedly will soon belong to China. All around the world, nursing homes will be bulging with more occupants, while the maternity wards will have lots of vacant cribs.
The economic consequences of these demographic trends will be slower growth and subdued inflation, if not outright deflation. That means that interest rates most likely will remain historically low for a very

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Video Podcast: Is the Fed Done?

January 1, 2019

Today is January 1, 2019. I wish you all a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year! In this video, I discuss why the new year is likely to start with some downbeat economic data that should cause the Fed to pause hiking interest rates. Regional business surveys conducted by five of the Fed district banks were very weak during December. That explains the recent drop in the 10-year Treasury bond yield below 2.70%. The 2-year Treasury yield tends to be a good one-year leading indicator of the federal funds rate, and is currently predicting no change this year. Are the implications bearish or bullish for the stock market? VIDEO

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Less Inflation Gives Fed Room to Pause

December 4, 2018

The Fed made lots of headlines last week. Evidence mounted that following another likely rate hike at the FOMC meeting on December 18-19, the monetary policy committee might pause during the first half of next year to reevaluate the course of monetary policy. Not as widely noticed last week was that inflationary pressures may be ebbing, which would also argue for a pause. Consider the following:
(1) PCED. While the labor market continues to tighten and wage gains are picking up, price inflation remains subdued according to the most currently available data. For starters, the core PCED rose 1.8% y/y during October, the lowest such pace since February (Fig. 1). Over the past three months through October, this measure is up just 1.1% (saar), the lowest reading since May 2017 (Fig. 2).
(2)

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Analysts Still (Too) High on S&P 500 Earnings

November 14, 2018

The latest earnings reporting season seemed to contribute to the sharp selloff in stocks during October, as some companies reported bullish earnings that were more than offset by bearish guidance about future earnings prospects. Collectively, however, the S&P 500 companies’ Q3 earnings results reported through the 11/8 week were 4.9% better than analysts had expected during the 9/28 week, i.e., just before the start of the latest earnings season (Fig. 1). As I’ve noted many times before, this pattern is par for the course. (The pattern shows up on our “earnings squiggles” data series as a hook at the end of the line—see our S&P 500 Earnings Squiggles Annual & Quarterly.)
In aggregate, the negative guidance corporate managements provided during earnings conference calls somewhat

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Fed’s R-Star Is A Black Hole

November 1, 2018

President Donald Trump must regret that he didn’t renew Janet Yellen’s contract to head the Fed for another four years. She probably would have been more accommodating to his supply-side policies. They both are populist do-gooders at heart. They want as many people to get jobs as possible.
Instead, Trump appointed Jerome Powell to be the new Fed chairman at the start of this year. Powell had been the vice chairman under Yellen. Trump appointed Richard H. Clarida to fill Powell’s vacant position after he was promoted. Both Powell and Clarida are all for continuing to raise interest rates. Both see strong economic growth and a tight labor market as potentially inflationary. So they want to raise interest rates to avert this scenario, by slowing the economy down.
No wonder that the 10/23

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Fed’s Restrictive Chatter Rattles Stocks

October 23, 2018

Some Fed officials have signaled in the weeks since the September 25-26 FOMC meeting that the economy may be so strong that they might have to raise the federal funds rate higher than they had mentioned doing in the past. That would be unfortunate given how well they’ve prepared the financial markets for a federal funds rate raised to 3.00% by the end of 2019. Now they’re talking more about 3.40% in 2020. Is that really necessary? A “gradual normalization” of the federal funds rate to what they’ve claimed is a “neutral” rate (3.00% in 2019) has been clearly telegraphed and is widely anticipated. Why suddenly speculate about turning restrictive in 2020?
It was widely noted that the 9/26 FOMC statement deleted the following language that had appeared in previous statements: “The stance

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Trump’s Poison Pills for China

October 10, 2018

A week ago I wrote about “China’s Syndromes.” I noted that aging demographic forces, which were significantly exacerbated by the Chinese government’s one-child policy, are already depressing the growth rate of real retail sales in China (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2). As a result, the government is scrambling to expand its overseas military and economic power to counter the structural weakness at home.
I argued that President Donald Trump is implementing policies aimed at either slowing or halting China’s drive to become a superpower. He wants to reduce America’s huge trade deficit with China by forcing US and other manufacturers to move out of that country. In the process, the US would no longer be financing China’s ascent with our trade deficit and providing technological know how that has been

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China’s Syndromes

October 1, 2018

China I: Getting Trumped. I’m coming around to a new working hypotheses on the outlook for China’s economy. I think it could be much weaker much sooner than widely recognized. A significant slowing in the growth rate of inflation-adjusted retail sales over the past couple of years suggests that the aging demographic factor—attributable to the government’s previous population control measure—may be hitting consumer spending significantly already. As a result, Trump’s escalating trade war with China may very well hurt China’s economy much harder than widely realized.
Furthermore, what if Trump’s trade war with China isn’t just about trade? Yes, we all know it is also about intellectual property rights. But what if at heart it’s about China’s superpower ambitions—as evidenced by its

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Bear Traps for Stocks?

September 26, 2018

In the past, the worst time to buy stocks typically has been when the unemployment rate was making a cyclical low (Fig. 1). Needless to say, initial unemployment claims was doing the same at the same time—and screaming “Get out! Get out!” (Fig. 2). Buying stocks when the yield curve was flat and on the verge on inverting has also been a bad idea (Fig. 3). Buying stocks when the Fed is raising interest rates can work okay for a while, until higher rates trigger a financial crisis, which often turns into a credit crunch and a recession (Fig. 4 and Fig. 5). Rising bond yields aren’t always bad for stocks, until they are (Fig. 6). Those times late in an expansion when the profit margin exceeds its mean tend to set it up for a bruising reversion to the mean and even below, which is bad for

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