Markets are lower after Chinese stocks dropped 8% overnights. Bonds and MBS are up.
Durable goods orders came in at 3.4%, a good reading. Durable goods ex-transportation rose 0.8% versus the 0.5% estimate. Capital goods orders rose 0.9% while shipments fell. The Capital Goods number is used as a proxy for business capital investment – businesses look like they might be investing in capacity in the future, but so far they aren’t.
The biggest event this week will be the FOMC meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday. No one expects the Fed to raise rates at this meeting, since there is no press conference. The drop in commodity prices certainly gives the Fed room to hold off on raising rates. Some economists think the Fed might actually be closer to hitting its 2% inflation target than the consensus seems to be. The key is wage growth. And so far, it is nonexistent.
Speaking of commodity prices, here are the states which have the most exposure to commodity prices. The top nine states on the map got at least 10 percent of their gross state product from energy, mining and agriculture last year: Wyoming, Alaska, North Dakota, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana and South Dakota. There is a massive spread between the states, with Wyoming getting 36% of its state domestic product from mining and agriculture, versus places like Connecticut, which gets 0.2% from mining and ag. We will get a read on Texas (almost 15%) tomorrow when homebuilder D.R. Horton reports tomorrow morning.
Overall, don’t sweat the drop in commodity prices on the economy. While it does hurt earnings in the oil patch, most people are users of commodities and benefit from lower prices.
Hillary Clinton is going to push her plan to end “corporate short termism,” by raising capital gains taxes. Not sure how that is going to help, but she has her story and she is sticking to it. She is going to review securities regulations in order to help companies defend against activist investors. Not sure what her corporate governance vision is (I am afraid to ask), but essentially her goal is to compel companies to shift the amount they plow into stock buybacks into “investment,” whether that is capital expenditures or salaries. I hope this is just specious pablum for the Democratic party base – because it demonstrates a gross ignorance of how companies make decisions. Not only that, but government induced “investment” creates gluts which cause bad busts. Always has, always will. We are still digging out from the last glut (residential real estate).
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