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The Latest from Our Blog

The Shortest Recession In History Is Offcial

Shortest ever. Last week, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) finally announced the official dates for the recession that occurred in 2020. Economic activity peaked in February 2020 and bottomed in April 2020. That makes the pandemic recession the shortest in American history. According to the NBER, “The recent downturn had different characteristics and dynamics than prior recessions. Nonetheless, the committee concluded that the unprecedented magnitude of the decline in employment and production, and its broad reach across the entire economy, warranted the designation of this episode as a recession, even though the downturn was briefer than earlier contractions.”

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The Term “Peak Growth” Has Become Almost As Popular As The Comedy Show Ted Lasso.

Peak growth is a catchphrase with the potential to mislead. When the term is applied to the U.S. economy, it does not mean the United States economy has reached the pinnacle of growth and it’s all downhill from here. It simply means economic growth is likely to climb at a slower pace than it had previously. Nicholas Jasinski of Barron’s reported the term is, “…a buzzy phrase used nowadays in discussing the rate of change in corporate earnings, U.S. gross domestic product, stock prices, government, and central-bank stimulus and inflation. It’s the trend that matters for investors, and the outlook is moving toward a deceleration on several of those fronts.” Last week, the bond market appeared to signal slower economic growth ahead, reported Mark DeCambre and Vivien Lou Chen of MarketWatch. Yields on 10-year Treasuries finished the week at 1.3 percent, which was lower than the previous week and well below March highs.

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The Bond Market Continues To Be Confused

There was a gapers’ block in financial markets last week as equity investors slowed to see what the United States Treasury bond market was up to. U.S. Treasury bonds rallied last week. Yields on 10-year Treasuries dropped from 1.43 percent at the start of the week to 1.27 percent on Thursday. The rally was quite a surprise, reported Randall W. Forsyth of Barron’s. “After all, the economy has been booming, accompanied by rising inflation – exactly the opposite of what would be conducive to lower [bond] yields and higher [bond] prices.”

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An Index To Track "Normalcy"

The world is about halfway back to normal. The Economist developed the Global Normalcy Index (GNI) to measure the post-pandemic return to normal. In March 2020, the GNI was 35 overall, with 100 being the normal pre-pandemic level. At the end of the second quarter, the worldwide GNI was 66, or about halfway back to normal. Activity in the United States has been recovering faster than in other nations. The U.S. GNI was 72.8 on June 30. However, recovery in the U.S. has been uneven. For instance, Employment is improving, but more slowly than anticipated. Last week’s jobs report showed a better-than-expected gain of 850,000 jobs in June. However, April and May jobs reports were below economists’ expectations, reported Randall Forsyth of Barron’s. In June, the unemployment rate was 5.9 percent, which is an improvement on the double-digit pandemic unemployment rate, but above the pre-pandemic level of 3.5 percent.

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Everybody Loves A Good Infrastructure Bill

What begins with the letter “I”? Infrastructure is essential and sometimes taken for granted. Pipes carry drinking water to our homes, offices, and healthcare facilities, and carry away sewage and wastewater. Highways, airports, railroads, waterways, roads, and bridges make efficient transportation of goods and safe travel possible. Energy systems and transmission lines keep the lights on and the stove cooking. Broadband data transmissions systems assure high speed internet access. On Thursday, President Biden and a bipartisan group of senators announced that progress had been made on the framework for a bipartisan infrastructure plan. Investors were happy to hear it. Randall Forsyth of Barron’s reported:

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All Eyes Will Be On The Federal Reserve For Awhile.

Is that a hawk? The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) met last week. They get together eight times a year to review current economic and financial conditions, assess risks to price stability and economic growth, and adjust monetary policy accordingly. When the Federal Reserve raises the fed funds rate to keep inflation and economic growth in check, it is ‘hawkish’. When the Fed lowers the fed funds rate to encourage inflation and economic growth, it is ‘dovish’. Last week, the FOMC appeared to veer toward a more hawkish policy.

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