Economic Risk Factor Update: September 2018

September 7, 2018

Last month, I reported that business confidence had pulled back in July and that job growth had weakened. But the data bounced back in the most recent report, for August, suggesting that July was an outlier and the positive trends remain in place. While the question of whether the tariffs are finally starting to have an effect remains open, the current data indicates that, if so, the effect is minor.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: August 2018

August 7, 2018

For the first time in quite a while, we saw disappointing news in the monthly reports for two major data points. First, job growth weakened significantly. Although the prior months were revised upward—more than making up for the shortfall—the question remains as to whether the labor market is getting closer to tapped out. Second, business confidence pulled back significantly. It remains expansionary, but this drop is an unusual move and raises the question of whether the tariffs are finally starting to have an effect.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: July 2018

July 10, 2018

Despite rising concerns as the Fed raised rates and trade tensions ballooned in June, the data remained significantly positive in all four major economic risk factors we track here. Job growth pulled back slightly on a monthly basis, but it continued to accelerate on an annual basis. Consumer confidence remained strong, and business confidence increased—taking the trend back to positive territory. Finally, while the Fed raised interest rates, as expected, it also endorsed the strength of the economic expansion in its statement and press conference, which was helpful. Overall, the strong economic data indicates that growth continues and that the soft spot earlier this year was just that.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: June 2018

June 7, 2018

May’s data improved over an already solid April. Job growth accelerated further, and consumer confidence remained strong. Business confidence also bounced back, taking the trend back to positive territory. Finally, Fed policy continues to be stimulative, which is helpful despite the likely rate increase this month. Overall, the economic data indicates that growth continues and that the recent soft spot may be passing.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: May 2018

May 4, 2018

April’s data continued to be solid overall. Job growth recovered and March’s weak report was revised upward significantly, easing one concern. Consumer confidence also bounced back a bit. More worrying is that business confidence moved further off the high, although this would be a change in trend rather than an immediate concern. Fed policy continues to be stimulative, which is helpful, despite the recent rate increase. Overall, the economic data indicates that growth continues, although it may have peaked.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: April 2018

April 10, 2018

March’s data continued to be good overall, although there was some pullback from February’s very strong reports. Job growth slowed substantially, which was the most notable concern. This is most likely not an immediate problem, however, as long-term trends remain favorable. More worrying is that while confidence remains high, the trend appears to be peaking for both consumers and business. Again, this is more of a change in trend rather than an immediate concern. Fed policy continues to be stimulative, which is helpful, despite the recent rate increase. Overall, this month’s economic data indicates that growth continues, although it may have peaked.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: March 2018

March 9, 2018

February’s data continued to be quite good. We saw improvements in many areas, particularly in employment, suggesting continued and possibly accelerating growth into 2018. Job growth jumped substantially, coming in well above expectations, and both consumer and business confidence remained at very high levels. Fed policy continues to be stimulative, and recent increases in long-term rates steepened the yield curve—often a positive sign. Overall, this month’s strong economic data indicates that the weakness at the end of 2017 has passed, although policy remains a concern, particularly around trade.

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Upcoming Appearances

Tune into Fox Business' Varney & Co. on Friday, September 28, between 8:40 AM and 12:00 PM to hear Brad talk about the markets in-studio with Stuart Varney. Exact interview time will be updated once confirmed. Check your local listings for availability.

Brad will be presenting an Economic and Market Update at the Financial Planning Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois, on Thursday, October 4, from 7:30 A.M. – 8:30 A.M. From 10:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M., he will be signing copies of his new book, Crash-Test Investing, by Commonwealth's booth, #321, in the Exhibit Hall. To attend, visit: https://fpaannual.org/.

 

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