S&P 500 reaches 2600

The S&P 500 reached its medium-term target of 2600. This is stage 3 of a bull market; a short correction or consolidation followed by further gains is likely.

S&P 500

A sharp correction during stage 3 often warns of an impending top but is unlikely at this stage.

Bellwether transport stock Fedex found short-term support after a 3-week correction. Bearish divergence on Twiggs Money Flow so far suggests secondary selling pressure and not an alteration in the primary trend. Recovery above 220 would respect the rising trendline, indicating a healthy up-trend — a bullish sign for the broader economy.

Fedex

Elliot Clarke at Westpac raises concerns over low investment growth:

…the FOMC clearly sought to cement market expectations of a rate hike in December in their October/November meeting minutes. The economy was seen as continuing to enjoy above-trend growth thanks to robust gains for household consumption. Built on income gains as well as strong confidence, this trend is expected to persist. Inevitably though, an economy cannot be built on consumption alone. Investment is necessary, and this is an area of the growth outlook where we harbor doubts. Should, as we expect, investment growth remain tepid, then productivity and income growth will be held back. This is a key reason why we believe that this rate hike cycle is likely to top out around 1.875%, after the December decision and two further hikes in 2018.

I think he is right that the Fed will remain cautious about raising interest rates until investment growth strengthens. Low inflation is partly caused by low investment, but this is likely to fade as new job creation strengthens.

Market sell-off despite improved job numbers

The market experienced a strong sell-off Friday, despite signs that the Winter slowdown in job creation is over. Nelson Schwartz at the New York Times writes:

The latest numbers are likely to be revised significantly as more information flows into the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even so, they suggest that the economy is not achieving what economists call escape velocity, something that policy makers have long sought. Neither is it falling into the rut some pessimists feared was developing early in 2014.

The S&P 500 retreated below its latest support level of 1880. Follow-through below 1840 would signal a correction, while respect of support would suggest an advance to 1950*. Bearish divergence on 21-day Twiggs Money Flow continues to warn of medium-term selling pressure and reversal below zero would strengthen the signal. An early correction (without a decent advance above the January high) would be a bearish sign, indicating that long-term sellers outnumber buyers.

S&P 500

* Target calculation: 1850 + ( 1850 – 1750 ) = 1950

CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) at 14 continues to indicate low risk typical of a bull market.

VIX Index

The Nasdaq 100 indicates long-term selling pressure, with a sharp fall following bearish divergence on 13-week Twiggs Money Flow. Breach of the (secondary) rising trendline and support at 3550 warns of a correction to primary support at 3400. Recovery above 3650 is unlikely, but would suggest a bear trap.

Nasdaq 100

* Target calculation: 3750 + ( 3750 – 3550 ) = 3950

The primary trend remains upward and none of our market filters indicate signs of stress.

Targeting the Wealthy Kills Jobs | WSJ.com

T.J. Rodgers compares job creation through private investment to government investment.

Even European socialist democracies are starting to understand that tax-and-spend policies kill jobs. For example, both Italy and Spain have repealed their incentive programs for solar energy along with their “green jobs” because the countries have calculated that for every job created by government investment in green energy, somewhere between 4.8 jobs Italy and 2.2 jobs Spain are lost because of the reciprocal cuts in private investment.

Read more at T.J. Rodgers: Targeting the Wealthy Kills Jobs – WSJ.com.

Economy Adds 146,000 Jobs | WSJ.com

Neil Shah at WSJ writes:

America’s employers added jobs at a slow pace in November, easing fears that uncertainty about U.S. budget policies would stifle hiring, but fueling concerns about the robustness of the economic recovery.

The Labor Department’s latest snapshot of the job market said employers added 146,000 jobs last month. That is an improvement from the previous two months, but below the average job growth per month of about 150,000 over the past two years.

via Economy Adds 146,000 Jobs | WSJ.com.

Jack Kemp Showed GOP How to Appeal to Minorities

Bruce Bartlett writes that late senator Jack Kemp is a role model for how Republicans should engage with minorities:

Although Kemp pushed for a cut in tax rates for the wealthy, he was adamant that all workers must share in the benefits of lower taxes. He also focused heavily on the idea that saving, investment, technological advancement and capital formation were the essential goals of economic and tax policy, because they raised productivity, which would raise the wages of workers. Today, Republicans just blithely assume that tax cuts for the wealthy will automatically help the economy without ever explaining how or why.

The key to a thriving capitalist system is a successful partnership between capitalists and labor. Capitalists benefited hugely over the last half-century from jobs the private sector created — and from rising wage levels — through growing consumption. Without consumption they would fail. Workers on the other side of the bargain have also benefited from job creation and rising wage levels. Without them they would suffer unemployment and genuine hardship. Neither side can afford to focus on their own needs without recognizing the importance of the other’s.

Mancur Olson argued that specialized unions with narrow membership will attempt to optimize benefits to their members, be it airline pilots or sanitation workers, even if this achieves a sub-optimal outcome for the economy as a whole. In other words, they will advance their own interests at the expense of others. But he also argued that broad-based unions will not, recognizing that they cannot advance their own members’ interests if the economy as a whole suffers.

I believe the same applies to capitalists. Monopolies or cartels who attempt to maximize their own profits will damage the economy, while broader-based groups will recognize that they can only maximize profits by advancing the economy as a whole — creating new jobs and lifting wage levels.

You also cannot focus solely on lifting wage levels — as Herbert Hoover attempted in the early 1930s — in the hope that this will support the broader economy. Higher wages will slow job creation and retard the recovery. The focus has to be on maximizing the total wage bill — and consumption. At times, during a recession, this requires lower wages and more jobs. But as the economy approaches full employment, wages will rise while job creation slows.

Exporting jobs offshore may serve the narrow interests of some manufacturers but is ultimately not in their long-term interest. They may gain from cheaper labor costs but they are also exporting consumption, which will directly or indirectly hurt sales.

That Kemp was an extraordinary man is also borne out by his views on immigrants, emphasizing integration rather than exclusion:

I also know that Kemp had a far different attitude toward immigrants than virtually all Republicans today. He welcomed them, seeing immigration as one of the economy’s lifebloods. He would be extremely critical of efforts to demagogue Latino immigrants who come here, legally or illegally, just looking to earn an honest living and enjoy the American way of life.

Read more here: Jack Kemp Showed GOP How to Appeal to Minorities | The Fiscal Times.

Even without U.S. cliff, world economy teeters | Reuters

Pedro Nicolaci da Costa at Reuters writes:

In the United States, the economy faces growing challenges even without the ongoing political wrangling…….

The coming week brings a slew of reports expected to show the U.S. economy struggling. Data on Friday will likely show employment growth slowed to just 100,000 jobs last month from 171,000 in October, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

U.S. manufacturing data this week is also likely to suggest a fourth-quarter slowdown is at hand.

via Even without U.S. cliff, world economy teeters | Reuters.

Job Creators in Chief | Global Macro Monitor

By Global Macro Monitor

Let us begin by saying we don’t like the title of this post and believe it is misleading.

The President cannot, in our opinion, directly create permanent jobs in the private sector. Of course, he can hire federal workers and/or direct taxpayer funds to, say, defense or infrastructure projects, which creates, though temporary, a derived demand for labor. More important, however, is the administration’s policies that incentivize private sector hiring through creating an environment that empowers businesses and entrepreneurs and gives them confidence to expand capacity.

….In the short term, however, quantitative easing and negative real interest rates can generate asset bubbles, which can affect the real economy and hiring. But the experience of the collapse of two major bubbles in just a little over a decade illustrates there is always pay back and the monetary induced artificial boom will eventually turn to bust.

via Global Macro Monitor | Monitoring the Global Economy.

Short-Term Stimulus Won’t Help U.S. in Long Run: Glenn Hubbard – Bloomberg

The president’s announced jobs plan centers on the need for additional short-term stimulus designed to boost aggregate demand and jump-start economic growth. In some recession scenarios, such action, if timely, can indeed raise output and employment.

In our current state, however, calling for additional spending and temporary tax relief without addressing longer-term economic challenges may exacerbate the likelihood of another recession in the coming year.

This is because the U.S. economy suffers from structural problems predating the financial crisis, particularly an excessive reliance on household consumption and government spending, and insufficient attention paid to business investment and exports. The financial system and the economy need to adjust in the face of this structural shift.

This observation points out two problems with the case for stimulus being made by Obama. The first is that near-term and temporary support for household incomes does little to counterbalance the chilling effect of announced future policies. Uncertainty becomes the enemy.

via Short-Term Stimulus Won’t Help U.S. in Long Run: Glenn Hubbard – Bloomberg.