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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

The Magnificent Six Stocks That Are Gobbling Up Market Share

3 days ago

The S&P 500 stock price index includes 500 companies. On Friday, five of the six so-called FAANGM stocks (all but Netflix) occupied the top spots as the largest S&P 500 companies by market capitalization. They were: Apple ($1,578 billion), Microsoft ($1,564 billion), Amazon ($1,442 billion), Alphabet ($1,002 billion), and Facebook ($665 billion). Netflix ($210 billion) was the 20th largest company in the S&P 500. Collectively, their record-high $6.5 trillion market cap accounted for a record 25% of the S&P 500’s market cap on July 3 (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2). That’s up from around 8% during 2013.
The Magnificent Six are widely referred to by their awkward “FAANGM” acronym. “MAGFAN” would be easier to pronounce. In any event, count us among the fans of these mega-cap companies, though they

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Powell’s Potent Put Powering Stock Market Meltup

25 days ago

From meltdown to meltup. The Greenspan Put, the Bernanke Put, and the Yellen Put all resulted from actions taken by the Fed under those three Fed chairs to give stock prices a boost when they seemed to need it to avert a meltdown. The Powell Put saved the day in late 2018 when the Fed chair started to pivot away from raising the federal funds rate in 2019 to actually lowering it three times instead. The S&P 500 soared 44.0% from December 24, 2018 to a record high on February 19, 2020.
On March 11, the World Health Organization declared that the COVID-19 outbreak had turned into a global pandemic. The pandemic of fear spread just as rapidly in the US capital markets, especially in the bond markets, which seized up as credit-quality yield spreads soared.
On Sunday, March 15, the Fed

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MAMU: The Mother of All Meltups

June 11, 2020

As of Friday June 5, the S&P 500 was up 42.8% since March 23. This 52-day meltup is historic. It is the best since bigger gains were recorded during August-September 1932 (up as much as 109.2%) and May-June 1933 (up as much as 73.2%).
The meltup started the day after March 23, when the Federal Reserve announced QE4Ever and started carpet-bombing the financial markets and the economy with B-52s full of cash (Fig. 1). Since then, the Fed’s balance sheet rose by $2.5 trillion to a record $7.1 trillion during the June 3 week (Fig. 2). Its holdings of Treasury securities increased $1.6 trillion over the same period to a record $4.1 trillion (Fig. 3).
The Fed actually started its bombing campaign on March 15, when it announced $700 billion of QE4 purchases of US Treasuries and mortgage-backed

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Economic Alphabet Soup: V, U, Z, W, L or Swoosh?

June 4, 2020

Will the economic recovery be shaped like a V, U, W, L, or Z? Cases can be made for all of these possibilities. There are other possible shapes to the recovery such as a square root sign, and even a “swoosh,” like Nike’s logo. Schematic diagrams of these alternatives can be seen in a May 11 WSJ article titled “Why the Economic Recovery Will Be More of a ‘Swoosh’ Than V-Shaped.”
In the past, economic recoveries from most recessions tended to be V-shaped. The experience of the Great Depression suggests that recoveries after such a severe downturn should be shaped more like an L or W. The recovery following the Great Recession of 2008 was widely perceived to be U-shaped.
The article cited above observed: “Until recently, many policy makers and corporate executives were hoping for a

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US Declaration of (Cold) War

May 29, 2020

Coauthored with Jackie Doherty, the senior contributing editor at Yardeni Research, Inc.
The major US equity market indexes continued to rebound, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average crossing back above the 25,000 marker on Wednesday, fueled by the slow reopening of the US economy in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown. The S&P 500 is now up 35.7% from its March 23 low and is down only 10.3% from its February 19 high (Fig. 1). Investor confidence in the improving economic outlook helped some of the most cyclical sectors outperform on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 Financials up 4.3% and S&P 500 Industrials up 3.3% (Fig. 2). They both clearly outperformed the 1.5% increase in the S&P 500 yesterday.
The Fed’s ultra-easy monetary policies continue to stimulate rebalancing out of bonds and into

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Stock Market Keeping Score in the Three-Front War Against the Virus

May 14, 2020

We are still in the midst of VWW-II, the second world war against the coronavirus. VWW-I occurred from 1918-19 as the world battled the Spanish Flu pandemic. It is estimated that about 500 million people, or one-third of the world’s population, became infected with the Spanish Flu virus. The number of deaths is estimated at 50 million worldwide, with about 675,000 in the US. In some ways, the damage from VWW-I exceeded the destruction resulting from WW-I.
So far during VWW-II, 4.1 million people have been infected globally and more than 283,000 have died. Potentially just as deadly is the economic impact of the government-imposed shutdowns around the world to enforce social distancing to reduce the spread of the virus. Millions of people are out of work, and hundreds of thousands of

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Fed Eats Buffett’s Lunch

May 6, 2020

In my recent conference calls with our accounts, I’ve been making the case for investing in crony capitalism. This system differs from entrepreneurial capitalism where the business of companies is to compete with one another fairly and squarely for their customers’ business. Entrepreneurial capitalists who fail to do so go out of business. Those who succeed prosper.
The problem is that successful entrepreneurial capitalists tend to become crony capitalists when they pay off politicians to impose legal and regulatory barriers to market entry by new competitors. It doesn’t seem to matter to them that they succeeded because no such barriers blocked their access. Rather than cherish and protect the system that allowed them to succeed, they cherish and protect the businesses they have built.

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The Twilight Zone: Where Is Everybody?

April 30, 2020

The very first episode of The Twilight Zone aired on CBS on October 2, 1959. It was titled “Where Is Everybody?.” The TV series was created by Rod Serling and broadcast from 1959 to 1964. Wikipedia observes: “Each episode presents a stand-alone story in which characters find themselves dealing with often disturbing or unusual events, an experience described as entering ‘The Twilight Zone,’ often with a surprise ending and a moral. Although predominantly science-fiction, the show’s paranormal and Kafkaesque events leaned the show towards fantasy and horror.”
Each episode started with Serling explaining: “There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between

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Fed Trying To Contain Zombie Apocalypse It Created

April 22, 2020

Creating the Zombie Apocalypse. Fed Chair Jerome Powell is doing an admirable job of playing the action hero in “2012 Zombie Apocalypse,” a 2011 film about a fictional virus, VM2, that causes a global pandemic. He is doing whatever it takes to stop the zombies from killing us by ruining our economy and way of life.
In my recently released book Fed Watching for Fun & Profit, I defined the zombies as living-dead firms that continue to produce even though they are bleeding cash. In a purely capitalist system, they should go out of business and be buried. However, these firms survive only because they are kept on life support by government subsidies, usually because of political cronyism, which corrupts and undermines capitalism. In recent years, the Fed’s ultra-easy monetary policies have

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From Reach for Yield to Mad Dash for Cash to Rebalancing into Stocks

April 16, 2020

We live in an age of future shocks. It wasn’t too long ago that everyone seemed to be reaching for yield in the bond and stock markets. Actually, that was evident as recently as January 17 of this year, when the yield spread between high-yield corporate bonds and the 10-year US Treasury bond fell to 322bps, the lowest since October 8, 2018 (Fig. 1). That was followed by a mad dash for cash, as evidenced by the jump in this spread to 1,062bps on March 23, which was the highest reading since May 26, 2009. That also happened to be the day that the Fed announced QE4ever. Since March 24, it’s been a mad dash to rebalance away from cash and bonds into stocks.
That’s evidenced by the 27.2% jump in the S&P 500 since March 23 through Tuesday’s close (Fig. 2). The index is still down 15.9% from

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Tech Is Going Even More Viral

April 11, 2020

Anyone who wasn’t a tech addict before the Great Virus Crisis (GVC) turned our lives upside down certainly is now. For many of us, working from home has only emphasized our need for fast wireless connections to the cloud. Cocktails and conference calls via Zoom have helped us connect despite the separation. And Netflix and video-gaming systems have kept the whole family entertained. Technology has become a GVC staple, right up there with food and toilet paper.
The tech names helping us during this time of social distancing are scattered primarily throughout the S&P 500 Information Technology and Communication Services sectors. Both sectors are leaders in the performance derby among S&P 500 sectors ytd through Tuesday’s close: Information Technology (-9.4%), Consumer Staples (-9.7),

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The Most Common Sense Way To Stop Spreading the Virus (#masks4all)

March 31, 2020

Executive Order To Slow Spread. The President of the United States should issue an executive order immediately requiring everyone to wear surgical masks or washable DIY masks made from cotton t-shirts when they go out. Along with social distancing and widespread testing, #masks4all is likely to dramatically slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Experts Changing Their Minds on Masks. In our March 25 Morning Briefing, we wrote: “Hopefully, social distancing for a few weeks and widespread testing will allow us to return to our normal lives in a few weeks. Meanwhile, we should produce billions of surgical masks to wear when we venture out of our homes. Indeed, the government should mandate that everyone wear a mask outside their homes until the crisis passes. Authorities are doing that in

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Stock Market Fears Virus of Socialism Almost as Much as COVID-19

March 4, 2020

I’ve been asked several times since last week’s stock market correction whether the selloff might not be just about the COVID-19 virus outbreak. Might the emergence of Bernie Sanders as the Democratic party’s frontrunner—and the possibility that it will be a “democratic socialist” running against Donald Trump in the general election—in part explain the stock market rout? The S&P 500 peaked at a record high of 3386.15 on Wednesday, February 19. It plunged 12.8% to 2954.22 on Friday, February 28. There were lots of headlines about the spreading virus that coincided with the plunge in stock prices. However, also coincidently, Bernie won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, February 11.
Sanders took New Hampshire with the support of a majority of the voters aged 18 to 29, winning 51% of

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Government Measures To Stop COVID-19 Triggering Pandemic of Fear

February 26, 2020

Our rapid-response team at Yardeni Research first responded to the coronavirus outbreak in the Monday, 1/27 issue of our Morning Briefing, which was titled “Going Viral?” That was the next business day after the outbreak first hit the headlines on Friday, 1/24. Let’s review some of our initial assessments and the latest developments:
(1) Panic attack #66 could be the one that causes a global recession and a bear market. In our 1/27 analysis, we suggested that the outbreak had the potential to be added to our list of 65 panic attacks since the start of the current bull market: “Will the coronavirus outbreak that started in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Hubei turn out to be just the latest panic attack that provides yet another buying opportunity for stock investors? Fears that it could turn

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Powell Says Economy Is ‘In a Very Good Place.’ Time To Worry?

February 20, 2020

Fed I: Balanced MPR. My colleague Melissa Tagg and I read the Federal Reserve’s 71-page semi-annual Monetary Policy Report (MPR) to Congress dated February 7. We concluded that Fed officials believe the US economy is well balanced and that they will keep the federal funds rate in the current range of 1.50%-1.75%. Nevertheless, they are concerned about several global issues, which they are monitoring closely.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell emphasized during his MPR congressional testimony on February 11 and 12 that the “US economy is in a very good place.” The threat from the coronavirus is something to watch, he said, but too early to understand. Nevertheless, he affirmed that “there is no reason why the expansion can’t continue.”
Below, we review reasons that Fed officials are

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With Immunity to Coronavirus, US Stocks Melt Up with Impunity

February 13, 2020

I discussed the possibility of a meltup in stock prices in my 12/18/19 Morning Briefing titled “2020 Vision.” I wrote: “Another risk is that investors could conclude that there is nothing to fear but fear itself. That could lead to a meltup. When the S&P 500 rose to our 3100 target for this year on 11/15, we started to consider the possibility of a meltup scenario involving an advance to our 3500 year-end 2020 target well ahead of schedule in early 2020. We may be experiencing that meltup now given that the S&P 500 is getting close to 3200 already!”
I reiterated this view in my first commentary of 2020, dated 1/6 and titled “Nothing to Fear But Nothing to Fear (and Iran).” As it turned out, the crisis with Iran didn’t last long enough to merit adding it to our Table of S&P 500 Panic

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Fed on Hold as Inflation Remains Stubbornly Below Fed’s 2.0% Target

February 5, 2020

I believe that the 1/29 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s same-day press conference suggest that the Fed is likely to stay on hold through the end of this year. Furthermore, the Fed’s next move, whenever that comes, is likelier to be a rate cut than the start of more hikes. That’s because Fed officials remain concerned that inflation has stayed stubbornly below their 2.0% target.
Last year, the FOMC cut interest rates three times—on 7/31, 9/18, and 10/30—by a total of 75 basis points, from the 2.25%–2.50% range to 1.50%–1.75%. The committee voted to keep the range unchanged at both its 12/11/19 and 1/29 meetings. So far this year, comments from voting Fed officials indicate that the FOMC is likely to hold rates where they are for

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Sinatra’s Stock Market: Fly Me to the Moon

January 23, 2020

If today’s stock market had a theme song, it would be “Fly Me to the Moon.” It was written in 1954 by Bart Howard and recorded by lots of top singers. Frank Sinatra and the Count Basie Orchestra recorded a version of the song arranged by Quincy Jones in 1964. “Fly me to the moon / Let me play among the stars”: Those lyrics could as easily be about an investor frolicking in today’s stock market as a fellow smitten by love. Investors love the stock market these days! It has aroused their animal spirits. They are sending it to the moon, and going right along with it.
What’s not to love about the S&P 500, which is up 3.1% so far this year? It is up 41.6% since the Xmas Eve bottom on 12/24/18, 55.6% since Trump was elected president, and 392.2% since the start of the current bull market (Fig.

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Nothing To Fear But Nothing To Fear

January 17, 2020

Strategy I: Here Comes Another Earnings Season. First, the bad news: During the 1/9 week, industry analysts estimated that S&P 500 earnings per share fell 1.7% y/y in Q4-2019 (Fig. 1). They currently estimate that earnings rose just 1.1% last year (Fig. 2). That was mostly because the comparison with 2018 was tough, as earnings soared 23.8% that year thanks to Trump’s tax cut for corporations.
In addition, S&P 500 revenues per share growth was remarkably strong during 2018, rising 8.9% (Fig. 3). In other words, the S&P 500 profit margin jumped 14.9% during 2018 mostly thanks to the tax cut (i.e.,14.9% = 23.8% – 8.9%) (Fig. 4). That’s a hard act to follow, as demonstrated by 2019’s so-called “earnings growth recession.”
The good news is that the outlook for 2020, both from industry

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How to Get YRI’s App

January 4, 2020

Our website functions as an app across all digital platforms. Just follow these steps to add the YRI button to your cell phone’s home screen:
Apple devices:
(1) Open Safari and navigate to yardeni.com
(2) Click the share button on the toolbar (it looks like a box with an upward arrow coming out the top)
(3) Select "Add to Home Screen"
(4) Customize title if desired, then click “Add”
Android devices:
(1) Open Chrome and navigate to yardeni.com
(2) Select “Add to Home screen” on the toolbar
(3) Customize title if desired, then click “Add”

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Central Banks Likely to Keep Santa Claus Rally Going In 2020

December 29, 2019

Former Fed Chair Paul Volcker passed away on 12/8. He broke the back of inflation. Unfortunately, he had to cause a recession to do so, which broke the backs of lots of good hard-working people. He was widely viewed by them as the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. All of the Fed chairs who came after have preferred playing the role of Santa Claus, showering us all with lots of easy money. They were able to do so mostly because inflation has remained subdued ever since Volcker subdued it.
Actually, at the end of last year, Fed Chair Jerome Powell seemed more like a Grinch than a Santa. He roiled the financial markets by suggesting that the Fed would continue to raise the federal funds rate three or four times during 2019. He started to change his mind just around Christmas of last year and

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Paul Volcker: The Great Disinflator

December 10, 2019

The following is an excerpt about Paul Volcker, who passed away on December 8, from my forthcoming book, Fed Watching for Fun and Profit.
When Volcker took the helm of the Fed, the Great Inflation was well underway. During the summer of 1979, oil prices were soaring again because of the second oil crisis, which started at the beginning of the year when the Shah of Iran was overthrown. Seven months later, in March 1980, the CPI inflation rate peaked at its record high of 14.8%. When Volcker left the Fed during August 1987, he had gotten it back down to 4.3%.
How did he do that?
Volcker didn’t waste any time attacking inflation. Eight days after starting his new job, he had the FOMC raise the federal funds rate on August 14, 1979, by 50 basis points to 11.00%. Two days later, on August

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Inflation Remains in a Coma in Major Economies, Frustrating Central Bankers

December 5, 2019

I’ve been a disinflationist since the early 1980s. I first used that word, which means falling inflation, in my June 1981 commentary, “Well on the Road to Disinflation.” The Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate was 9.6% y/y that month (Fig. 1). I predicted that Fed Chair Paul Volcker would succeed in breaking the inflationary uptrend of the 1960s and 1970s when he adopted a monetarist approach during October 1979. I certainly wasn’t a monetarist, given my Keynesian training at Yale. I knew that my former boss at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York wasn’t a monetarist either. But I expected that Volcker would use this radical approach to push interest rates up as high as necessary to break the back of inflation. Which is what he did.
Ever since then, reflationists have been

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Thanksgiving: The Bull Is No Turkey

November 27, 2019

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s great getting together with family and friends. We always take turns—going around the dinner table—sharing what we are most thankful for. The comments tend to focus on health and supportive family members.
According to the weather forecasters, most of us won’t be thankful for the weather on Thursday when we gather for Thanksgiving. It’s going to be stormy around the country. Depending on the winds, the organizers of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade might have to ground their balloons.
For those of us in the stock market, the questions are whether there will be a Santa Claus rally this year, and whether it will inflate stock prices with too much hot air. I am predicting that the S&P 500 will reach 3500 by the end of next year. That’s an increase

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Are Stocks Overvalued?

November 20, 2019

In my book Predicting the Markets (2018), I reviewed various valuation models that stock investors follow. My main takeaway was that, “Judging valuation in the stock market is akin to judging a beauty contest. … Not only is beauty subjective, Hollywood tells us—it can be dangerous. At the end of the original version of the movie King Kong (1933), the big ape’s death is blamed by his handler on Ann Darrow, Kong’s blonde love interest, played by Fay Wray: ‘It was beauty that killed the beast.’ Valuation is in the eye of the beholder too. And buying stocks when they are most loved and very highly valued can also be deadly.”
In today’s politically correct times, it’s probably best to compare valuation to a talent contest rather than a beauty contest. Like any objective judge at a talent

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Zombies in the Fed’s Soup

November 15, 2019

I’m finishing up writing my next book, Fed Watching for Fun and Profit: A Primer for Investors. I’ve had a lot of fun writing it, and it has given me a broader perspective on the making of monetary policy by the Fed in particular and central bankers in general.
In my opinion, they all suffer from group-think.
They all use the same or similar models of the economy. Some are empirical models, but most are theoretical. The empirical ones create the illusion of a precise scientific analysis of how the economy works. The theoretical ones tend to be, well, too theoretical. Both can be quite misleading, especially if they are based on faulty assumptions and logic. Put simply, most of the models reflect thinking that bears little resemblance to reality and lacks plain old common sense.
When

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Lifestyle of the Rich & Famous President

October 25, 2019

The US economy continues to grow despite recurring recession scares. By my count, they’ve triggered 65 panic attacks in the stock market since the start of the bull market during March 2009. (See our S&P 500 Panic Attacks Since 2009 chart book and table.) The panic attacks—which include both corrections and mini-selloffs—have been followed by relief rallies. As a result, the S&P 500 remains near its record high of 3025.86 on 7/26 (Fig. 1).
The current economic expansion became the longest one on record during July of this year. It has now lasted 124 months. I expect it will continue through 2020. The main risk might be a radical regime change if President Donald Trump is defeated by one of the Democratic socialist candidates come the November 2020 election. Then again, our Founders

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Another Upside Hook for S&P 500 Earnings?

October 21, 2019

The Q3 earnings reporting season has started. Industry analysts’ estimates for the S&P 500 operating earnings per share plunged 8.7% from $44.85 at the end of last year to $40.93 during the 10/10 week (Fig. 1). As a result, the y/y growth rate in the consensus estimate for Q3 plummeted from 5.1% at the end of last year to -4.1% (Fig. 2).
It’s not unusual to see such downward revisions since industry analysts tend to be too optimistic about the future and become more realistic as the actual results approach during earnings-reporting seasons. Oddly, they tend to overshoot on the pessimistic side in the weeks before earnings seasons. That, in turn, means that there is often an earnings “hook” to the upside as actual results beat expectations.
I have weekly “earnings squiggles” data going

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The Myth of Income Stagnation, Again

October 6, 2019

The key to a happy economic outlook and a continuation of the bull market in stocks is productivity growth. I think productivity growth is starting to make a comeback as the labor market gets tighter. If so, then wages—which have been rising faster than prices since the mid-1990s—would rise at a faster clip. Faster growth of real wages likely would more than offset the supply-side slowdown in payroll employment growth. A quicker pace of productivity growth would keep a lid on inflation. Profit margins would remain at recent historical highs or even go higher. The bull market in stocks would continue as earnings moved higher.
At a meeting recently in San Francisco with one of our accounts, I was asked to explain why an 8/7/18 Pew Research Center study disputed my claim that real wages

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No Recession In Purchasing Managers Report

October 3, 2019

One of my favorite songs is “We Didn’t Start the Fire” (1989), by Billy Joel, who is one year older than I am. The lyrics are simply a long list of major personalities and issues that have pleased, pained, and plagued my generation—the Baby Boomers—since our parents started to have children during the late 1940s. The lyrics include brief, rapid-fire allusions to more than 100 domestic and global headlines during the Cold War, from 1949 through 1989. Many of them refer to troublesome events during that period.
Today, Billy Joel would have no trouble updating his list of troublesome events: Red China, North Korea, South Korea, vaccine, Ayatollah’s in Iran, foreign debts, homeless vets, China’s under martial law, impeachment, MMT, negative rates, deflation, inverted yield curve, M-PMI, and

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