Well, 2018’s third quarter earnings season is history. It was pretty much a repeat of both the first and second quarters. The U.S. economy will stay strong in 2019 and inflation will tick-up above 2% and so the U.S. central bank should continue to raise interest rates gradually, New York Fed President John Williams said Tuesday. “Given this outlook of strong growth, strong labor market and inflation near our goal and taking account all the various risks around the outlook, I do expect further gradual increases in interest rates will best sponsor a sustained economic expansion,” Williams said at a press briefing.
Well, 2018’s second quarter earnings season is history. It was pretty much a repeat of the first quarter. Once again, if you were to read the headlines, you would be led to believe the end-of-times was near. Reporter anxiety continues to run high and, at times almost hysterical. The continuing trade spat between the U.S. and China (and other countries), the threats from North Korea and Iran, the geopolitical risk from a populist Italy and a messy Brexit, or any one of several Trump tweets all ensured the fear-based media operated in full-on mode. Of course, this in turn has fed market volatility, which has risen considerably in 2018.
While that approach may be good at grabbing attention, it does little to convey the current situation of our global economy. The headlines are all bark, no bite. The reality, at least at this early juncture, is that the tariffs have yet to have any impact on the U.S. economy. Small business sentiment continues to run high and, producers are in growth mode. And, more importantly, broad based consumer confidence continues to run high as well. 75% of our GDP is created through consumer spending and, make no mistake, the consumer is spending!! Unemployment is at record lows, wages are rising, and the public feels confident in their financial position.
“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” – Mark Twain
Financial crises have hit the global markets on a regular basis throughout history. And it appears financial crises will continue to pop up at regular intervals into the future. The first recorded speculative bubble was Tulip Mania in 1637, a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which the prices for fashionable tulip bulbs reached extraordinarily high levels only to dramatically collapse. Today, we view stocks, bonds and commodities as our investments of choice and, as always, current events continue to cause the financial markets to fluctuate, sometimes dramatically.