Thursday, September 11, 2014

Why the U.S. Budget Deficit Is Getting Smaller

The latest figures from the U.S. Government indicate that the budget deficit is shrinking. For the first 11 months of the fiscal year, which runs from October 1 through September 30, the government's budget deficit fell to $589 billion.

By the end of August, the deficit was 22% lower than it was this time last year. In addition, the deficit is now at its lowest point since 2008.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Europe's Central Bankers Push Negative Rates Lower

The plot thickens as European central bankers experiment with negative rates. In a surprise move, the European Central Bank decided to push interest rates lower. Already in negative territory, the E.C.B. felt compelled to lower deposit facility rates to negative 0.2%.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Why the U.S. Economy Is Expanding at 4.2%

The U.S. economy advanced at a 4.2% annual rate in the second quarter, according to the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis. The government revised the second quarter GDP number higher: from 4.0% to 4.2%.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Insights From the Fed Meeting at Jackson Hole

JACKSON HOLE, Wy. Today's annual meeting of economists and central bankers took place in a secluded location surrounded by the Grand Teton Mountains. Yellowstone National Park is not too far away, north of Jackson Hole. Far removed from the stuffy boardrooms of New York and Washington, D.C., central bankers gathered to talk policy. Below is an image of the location:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Job Openings Increasing

The number of job openings in the U.S. economy increased again in June, rising to the highest level since 2001, according to the Labor Department. This marks five straight months of increasing job openings. The following graph shows the level of job openings over the past year. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Consumers Are Spending Again

Despite lingering perceptions about a weak economy, consumers are spending more than ever before. The following graph shows retail sales over the past 10 years:

Friday, August 1, 2014

U.S. Economy Expanding at 4%

After cooling off last winter, the economy warmed up in the second quarter, expanding at a 4% annual rate, according to the Commerce Department. This performance exceeded expectations. Most economists were forecasting an expansion rate of 3%.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Quote ... Unquote

"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, 
they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, 
they do not refer to reality."
– Albert Einstein

Thursday, July 24, 2014

How Negative Rates Are Impacting Europe

The European Central Bank has taken the unprecedented step of pushing interest rates below zero. Frustrated at the slow pace of growth, policymakers in Europe are hoping that negative rates will boost economic expansion. So far, there is some evidence that negative rates are working.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

U.S. Economy Is Gaining Strength

The U.S. economy is improving after a slow start to the year, as expected by many economists. An extremely cold winter season caused the economy to lose strength during the first quarter. However, after stalling in the cold, the U.S. growth engine is now revving up.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Federal Debt Woes Weigh on the U.S. Economy

Total federal debt has breached 100% of Gross Domestic Product. In other words, the debt is now bigger than the entire U.S. economy.

To keep the economy afloat during hard times, the government has borrowed money. The following graph shows the rising debt burden faced by U.S. citizens:

Monday, June 30, 2014

2 International Stock Ideas to Consider

Hosting the World Cup has put Brazil on the world stage. Brazil is the largest economy in South America and has vast natural resources, including offshore oil reserves. However, along with other emerging markets, the Brazilian stock market has underperformed recently. Share prices have dropped so much that now could be a good time to invest in some high-quality companies in Brazil.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Now Comes Inflation

The government's Personal Consumption Expenditures index has started to rise. The Federal Reserve watches the PCE index closely for signs that inflation might be accelerating faster than previously expected. The following graph shows the PCE index over the past two years:

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Why This Resource-Rich Country Should Be in Your Portfolio

Source: Jared Grove via Wikipedia.

When investors consider international options, Canada is frequently overlooked -- even though our friendly neighbor to the north is right next door. Yet Canada offers numerous benefits and minimal political risk for investors seeking international exposure. Canada is so overlooked that you might not realize it's missing from your portfolio.