• 177 days Will The ECB Continue To Hike Rates?
  • 177 days Forbes: Aramco Remains Largest Company In The Middle East
  • 179 days Caltech Scientists Succesfully Beam Back Solar Power From Space
  • 579 days Could Crypto Overtake Traditional Investment?
  • 584 days Americans Still Quitting Jobs At Record Pace
  • 586 days FinTech Startups Tapping VC Money for ‘Immigrant Banking’
  • 589 days Is The Dollar Too Strong?
  • 589 days Big Tech Disappoints Investors on Earnings Calls
  • 590 days Fear And Celebration On Twitter as Musk Takes The Reins
  • 592 days China Is Quietly Trying To Distance Itself From Russia
  • 592 days Tech and Internet Giants’ Earnings In Focus After Netflix’s Stinker
  • 596 days Crypto Investors Won Big In 2021
  • 596 days The ‘Metaverse’ Economy Could be Worth $13 Trillion By 2030
  • 597 days Food Prices Are Skyrocketing As Putin’s War Persists
  • 599 days Pentagon Resignations Illustrate Our ‘Commercial’ Defense Dilemma
  • 600 days US Banks Shrug off Nearly $15 Billion In Russian Write-Offs
  • 603 days Cannabis Stocks in Holding Pattern Despite Positive Momentum
  • 604 days Is Musk A Bastion Of Free Speech Or Will His Absolutist Stance Backfire?
  • 604 days Two ETFs That Could Hedge Against Extreme Market Volatility
  • 606 days Are NFTs About To Take Over Gaming?
  1. Home
  2. Markets
  3. Other

Bombs Going Off One Level Down

It's been a strange couple of weeks. US stocks are not far from all-time records, both nominally and adjusted for inflation. Home prices are soaring - up 33% y-o-y in the Bay Area, to take just one of many possible examples. A casual observer might assume that things are going great.

But one level down on the headline ladder it's a very different story. The list of ominous events and trends has suddenly grown a lot longer. Among the bombs that went off last week:


Detroit declares bankruptcy

For years, analysts have been looking at the balance sheets and pension funds of dysfunctional entities like California, Illinois, Chicago, Detroit, and Oakland and wondering how much longer they could con the markets into believing that they were in any way capable of paying off their debts or making good on their pension obligations. Last week the first domino fell, as Detroit declared chapter 9 bankruptcy. The legal wrangling has just begun but initial bargaining positions have the city trying to eviscerate pension benefits and force massive haircuts on muni bond holders. If they succeed even partially, then the hundred or so other functionally-bankrupt cities may see this as the path of least resistance. The result: Turmoil in the muni market, which is generally considered a near-risk-free cash equivalent. See Avalanche of city debt downgrades and eventual bankruptcies coming up.


Corporate revenue growth stalls

Google and Microsoft both reported disappoinging revenue growth and their stocks tanked. Revenue is harder to fake than earnings, so it's a more reliable indicator of big trends. Tech bellwethers reporting weak revenues implies that the economy is itself weaker than we've been led to believe. And corporate profits, which have provided much of the fuel for rising equity prices, can't keep rising if revenues plateau. See The party may be over for tech stocks and Earnings season starting to look like a disaster.


Portugal and Spain descend into chaos

Both countries are finding it impossible to cope with life in a relatively-strong-currency regime. Unemployment is at capital "D" depression levels, home prices are plunging, voters are restless. Portugal's government can't pull together a working coalition, and the most popular party opposes the continuance of austerity. But the alternative to austerity is an exit from the eurozone. See Portugal political crisis: no end in sight.

Spain's leaders, meanwhile, seem to have reacted to the economic crisis by trying to steal as much as possible while they could get away with it. Apparently they went to the well a few too many times and now the resulting scandal has reached all the way to the top. With much of the existing government implicated - but still in power - it's not clear who will be left to do whatever it is that should be done about the economy. See Spain: scandals, lies, graft, and kickbacks

There's more, including massive, insanely ill-timed layoffs in Greece and the IMF calling China's policies "unsustainable". But all of it points to slowing - and maybe negative -- growth in the US in the coming year, which would make stock and real estate bubbles seem, in retrospect, a bit out of place.

 

Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment