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Thursday, September 18, 2014

The market took solace in the fact that the “considerable time” phrase was left in the Fed’s policy statement. Not so fast though. This phrase cost Janet Yellen nothing because despite maintaining that interest rates will remain low for a considerable time, Fed Chair Yellen reiterated that rate decisions will be based on economic data. The economic data has been getting better so considerable time might be first quarter. For now the market can just ignore that 800 pound gorilla. Meanwhile, the U.S. economy posted some mixed news this morning. Housing starts fell 14.4 percent to 956,000 last month from 1.12 million in July, which had been the fastest pace since 2007. However, builder confidence rose to the highest level in nine years. On the employment front, the number of initial unemployment claims dropped 36,000 to 280,000 last week. This is the lowest level since mid-July when we reached the best readings since May 2000. Please follow jobless claims and the headline unemployment rate on page 58 of the Global Perspectives book.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Fed meets today and investors are anxiously waiting to see if Janet Yellen removes the "considerable time" provision in the language regarding rates. If she does, this in theory would seem to move the rate timetable up. The market is taking comfort in the latest below target inflation report because it seemingly takes some of the heat off the Fed. U.S. consumer prices fell in August for the first time in 16 months, declining 0.2 percent. The bulk of the decline was due to energy prices which declined 2.6 percent, offset partially by another increase in food prices. If investors assume the U.S. is slipping into a low inflation/deflation scenario a la Eurozone it would be a mistake. The U.S. economy is gaining steam. The employment picture, the Fed’s other concern when it comes to raising rates, has been lagging but is also firming up. The latest number of job openings is the highest in 13 years and there are only now 2.1 applicants for each potential position. Investors don’t seem to realize better economics trump Fed language modifications so we could be in for a spike in volatility on the road back to normal. Please follow inflation measures on page 65 of the Global Perspectives book.

Also, if you missed Karyn's Sept. 16th appearance on CNBC's Closing Bell, watch it here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Europe just can’t catch a break. Two of the top three economies in Europe are troubled including Italy and France. In Italy, GDP is in recession after two consecutive quarters of contracting growth along with having to grapple with deflation. Yes, deflation is synonymous with depression. France has just pushed off its target to achieve the EU mandated deficit of 3 percent to 2017 from its original target of 2013. Well, with its zero GDP growth for Q2, it may be better to say c’est la vie to achieving fiscal targets. Meanwhile, the ECB implements the first targeted long-term refinancing TLTRO) operation this Thursday and U.S. economic growth and inflation are accelerating. In particular today’s PPI inflation number hit a healthy 1.8 percent YoY. Investors would be well-advised to accept normal volatility and take this time broaden their portfolio to build wealth and mitigate risks. Please see the Voya Global Perspectives latest market outlook.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Two manufacturing data points sent conflicting signals this morning. Industrial production declined 0.1 percent in August to mark the first decline since January. Revisions also lowered output in July. On the other side, the regional index of manufacturing activity in the New York region, the Empire State Manufacturing Index strengthened to a five-year high in September. The drop in industrial production was likely due to seasonal adjustments regarding auto production and does not point to a slowdown in U.S. data. In fact, look for Janet Yellen to remove the “considerable time” provision relating to a rate increase in her policy statement on Wednesday. If she does, that could signal a rate hike sooner than expected. Based on the strength of the economic data we may see the Fed raise rates in March 2015 or sooner. Please follow industrial production on page 11 of the Global Perspectives book.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Blockbuster Retail Sales on a better than expected report and strong revisions to the prior month. The grave concern about the demise of the consumer has been greatly exaggerated. Let’s look at this in a little more detail. Retail Sales, that was initially reported to have had no growth in July, was revised up to a healthy 0.3 percent and on top of the August Retail Sales that doubled the newly revised July pace rising 0.6 percent. Auto sales were the big driver in August, apparently parents want their kids in nice and safe cars going back to school, rising nearly ten percent compared to one year ago. Meanwhile the bond yields are moving up fast on rising economic growth with the ten year yield breaking 2.60 percent in today’s action. Please see Voya Global Perspectives Consumer as "Game Changer" and Retail Sales on page 13.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Please take a moment to remember and honor those lost on 9-11 and the men and women in our military who continue to protect our country.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

There are plenty of reasons to sell, none the least being the war drums beating in Washington and the comeback of my favorite movie "Braveheart", where the Scots finally look to be in striking distance of taking it to the English after a mere 350 years or so. However, investors would be better served focusing on the astounding fundamentals. For example, in the U.S. these fundamentals include record GDP, record corporate earnings, record retail sales, and lower prices at the pump. Please see the latest monthly for a more in depth look at risks and opportunities.

Also, in case you missed Doug's appearance on Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo, watch it here:
FoxBusiness Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo, Sept. 10, 2014.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wall Street Journal reports today that “Fed to Hit Biggest U.S. Banks With Tougher Capital Surcharge, Extra Padding in Case of a Financial Crisis Would Surpass That Required by International Regulators” and is based on prepared testimony from Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo for today’s Senate Banking Committee hearing. This goes beyond the Basel III, a global regulatory standard on bank capital adequacy among other requirements. This arguably is the most transparent way to protect taxpayers by building a cushion against losses while banks will complain that it puts them at a competitive disadvantage to global banks. Well, if every few years banks need a bailout maybe more shareholder capital will prevent government bailouts. Let’s look at a few: Continental Illinois National Bank & Trust in 1984; Savings & Loan bailout in 1989; and almost every mega bank in the U.S. in 2008’s Great Financial Crisis. Meanwhile, Financial Times reports that “Dubai unveils vision for mega-hub” and adds “Dubai plans to invest $32 billion in a desert project to create what should be one of the world’s largest airline mega-hubs.” It looks like the emerging markets are becoming the center of global growth and a welcome respite from developed countries’ tired drama of recovery. Please see Voya Global Perspectives page 4 "World Economy – GDP"for Emerging Markets increasing share of the global pie.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The UK economy has bucked the Eurozone trend and has shown signs of strengthening, even prompting investor anticipation of a potential rate hike from the Bank of England. That’s the good news. The fly in the ointment though is the latest polls showing support appears to be growing for Scotland’s separation from England in the independence referendum scheduled on Sept. 18th. This is rattling investors and has sent the British pound tumbling to its lowest level in 10 months. Scottish independence could have dramatic economic implications especially in the financial sector because the two countries would have to decide how to divide national debt, taxes, mortgages and the entire banking infrastructure. Due to all of the uncertainty surrounding this issue, a yes vote will roil markets and we will see a rise in volatility at least in the short term. Expect to see Europe dominate the spotlight for the next couple weeks whether it is Ukraine, Scotland or the ECB. Remember, broad global diversification is the way to navigate these uncertain waters. Please see the latest Global Perspectives Monthly Commentary.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mario Draghi, ECB president, took bold action today on cutting rates and launching QE. It was the power of ten with ten basis points cut from its main refinancing rate to 0.05 percent, its marginal lending facility to 0.30 percent and its deposit rate to -0.20 percent. That’s not all though because he announced his much anticipated but little expected launch of QE, ABS purchase program and covered bond purchase program, to be started almost immediately in October. European and U.S. markets applauded the news and once again U.S. markets hit new highs confounding the bears on Wall Street. Please see "Monetary Policy Outlook" for the ECB’s balance sheet on page 46 of Voya Global Perspectives Book.


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