Gary D. Halbert

  • Yes, Republican Leaders Are Pushing For New Tax Increases

    Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, conservative or liberal, you will want to be aware of what I write about below. The “Establishment” Republican leaders are quietly pushing for a huge tax increase that has yet to get much attention in the mainstream media.

    This new tax increase is called the “Border Adjustment Tax” (BAT). In essence, the BAT would impose a 20% tariff on all imports to the US.  If enacted, it will mean significantly higher prices for imports and anything made in America that includes imported goods.

    You probably haven’t heard about this trade-killing tax since its main proponents, House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (both Republicans), have done their best to keep this effort quiet.

    The good news is that if enough Republicans oppose Ryan, Brady and their backers, this anti-trade tax will not see the light of day. Like I said, whether you are a liberal or conservative, you need to know about this since it could mean a big cost-of-living price increase for all of us.

    Sadly, the BAT is not the only bad tax being promoted by Republicans. Another group of Republicans is lobbying President Trump for a new “carbon tax” in exchange for a “significant” rollback in EPA regulations. The GOP promoters of this new tax claim it will help the economy and benefit working-class Americans. A closer look finds it will do neither and is another very bad idea. I’ll fill you in below.

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    Posted to Forecasts & Trends by Gary D. Halbert on 02-14-2017
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  • President Obama’s Legacy – Weaken America For Eight Years

    If you have read me for very long, you know a few things about my political leanings, which I don’t hesitate to espouse now and then. I’m a free-market conservative that believes in smaller government, balanced budgets and lower taxes, just...
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  • Small Business Optimism Soars to Highest Level Since 2004

    Small businesses and entrepreneurs have had a rough time of it for these past eight years. New startups and entrepreneurial activity have pretty much been stagnant, weighed down by heavy regulation, high taxes and an economy that’s just been stumbling along. Yet in November and again December, there were signs of optimism and business renewal that could mark a real turnaround in the fortunes of small business.

    The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reported last week that its Small Business Optimism Index soared in December by the most in one month since 1980, a year when another maverick conservative-leaning candidate surprised everyone and won the presidency. His name was Ronald Reagan.

    Another report out last week found that small businesses are now in the best financial shape since before the Great Recession based on revenues, cash-flows and sales.

    While the economy is still far from healthy, we have seen more positive news since the election. Today we’ll look at these two latest reports on small businesses -- and what President Trump will, and will not, be able to do with regard to rolling back onerous regulations early-on in his administration.

    Finally, we’ll look at an Investor’s Business Daily editorial last week that blows out of the water the liberals’ scare tactics when it comes to repealing Obamacare.

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    Posted to Forecasts & Trends by Gary D. Halbert on 01-19-2017
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  • Global Bonds In Worst Selloff In 13 Years - How Come?

    Bond investors have had a rough ride in November. The Barclays Global Aggregate Bond Index plunged by 5% during the last two weeks just before and after the election – its worst such drop since March 2003, according to Dow Jones data. When yields rise, bond prices fall, and vice-versa.

    As you know, interest rates have been falling for over 35 years since peaking in 1980. It has been a spectacular bull market for bond investors, that is until just recently. To say that the reversal over the last few weeks came as a surprise to bondholders around the world is an understatement.

    More than $77 billion in assets are benchmarked to the Barclays Global Aggregate Bond Index, according to Morningstar, making it one of the most widely followed in the fixed-income world. It incorporates investment-grade debt denominated in 24 different currencies. Sovereign bonds have historically been the Index’s most heavily-weighted constituent, followed by asset-backed securities, corporate bonds and government-related debt.

    Global bond yields have been edging up since falling to historic lows in late June/July following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union. But the selloff accelerated aggressively after Donald Trump won the US presidential election – an outcome that took most bond market participants around the world by surprise.

    The sharp selloff was predicated on the notion that Donald Trump’s campaign promises to rebuild America’s infrastructure, cut taxes and raise trade barriers, would – if they become reality – drive up inflation, and possibly force the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates much more aggressively than had been expected.

    In just the two days following Trump’s election, global bonds shed an estimated $1.1 trillion in value, the worst rout in a year and a half as investors sold bonds and bought stocks in many cases. The stampede out of bonds propelled US Treasury yields to their highest levels since January.

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    Posted to Forecasts & Trends by Gary D. Halbert on 11-22-2016
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  • How The Media Blew The Election & What To Watch For Just Ahead

    As long-time clients and readers know, I have kept a fairly low political profile as we moved through this year’s election season, as opposed to previous years when I was an outspoken supporter for the conservative candidates.

    One reason is that, like many of you, I didn’t care much for either candidate. I did go on the record a few weeks ago saying that I did not want to see the Clintons return to the White House, which made me a reluctant Trump supporter. In light of Trump’s surprise thrashing of Hillary in the Electoral College, I will offer some personal thoughts on the election today.

    Following that, I have reprinted the very best analysis I have seen on how and why the election turned out as it did. This excellent article was written by Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal. Kim has become one of my favorite writers in recent years, so I trust you will enjoy her keen analysis on why the election went to Trump. (Hint: She argues that it was President Obama who is primarily responsible for Trump’s victory.)

    Next I’ll add some parting thoughts on how the media got this election so very wrong. I will also add some thoughts on what we should be watching for just ahead to help us get a read on what kind of president Donald Trump may be.

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    Posted to Forecasts & Trends by Gary D. Halbert on 11-16-2016
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  • Stock Markets Look To Favor Hillary Clinton In This Election

    Historically speaking, the US stock markets (ie – Wall Street) have reliably favored Republicans in presidential elections, but this year looks different. In fact, in almost every case back to 1880, US equity markets have risen when Republicans win presidential...
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  • 3Q GDP Report Came In Better Than Expected At 2.9%

    We will touch on several bases today. I must admit that it was so tempting to devote today’s E-Letter to a discussion about the presidential election one week from today, especially with all the recent twists and turns in this race.

    But the fact is, these are two of the worst presidential candidates I can ever remember. So I’ll spare you my political thoughts today. I do have an interesting section below on which US presidents have been best for the economy dating back to President Eisenhower in 1953. Hint: President Obama ranks dead last!

    Following that discussion, we’ll take a look at the global bond market which has taken a hit over the last couple of months. Bonds worldwide lost almost 3% in October alone, the largest monthly loss since May 2013. The question is whether this is just a “correction” or the beginning of a new trend?

    Before we get into those discussions, let’s take a look at last Friday’s stronger than expected GDP report for the 3Q. The advance report showed growth well above the pre-report consensus. Most analysts concluded that the door is now wide open for the Fed to raise short-term interest rates in December. I’ll give you my latest thoughts as we go along today.

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    Posted to Forecasts & Trends by Gary D. Halbert on 11-02-2016
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  • Trump/Clinton Economic Plans Revisited, Extremely Different

    For the last several years, the economy has ranked #1 among the greatest concerns expressed by most Americans. And as we all know, the state of the economy has a huge bearing on the investment markets. With that in mind, let’s take a look today at the latest economic and tax proposals of the two presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

    Both candidates have made tweaks and changes to their economic and tax plans in recent weeks, and both have made more details available about how their plans should work. But even with the latest changes, both candidates’ plans are night-and-day different.

    Finally, if you are an “Accredited Investor” you need to let us know as soon as possible. One of the best alternative investments we’ve ever seen is expected to close to new investment very soon. This unique investment fund is only available to Accredited Investors, so if you would like to take a look at it before it closes forever, be sure to let us know if you qualify.

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    Posted to Forecasts & Trends by Gary D. Halbert on 09-27-2016
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  • The US Economy Is Nowhere Near “Full Employment”

    The official unemployment rate in the US has now been below 5% for four consecutive months. I mentioned in my E-Letter on Tuesday that some economists and members of the Fed believe the economy is approaching what is referred to as “full employment...
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  • Almost Six Million Unfilled Jobs In America - Question Is Why?

    On Wednesday of last week, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were a record 5.9 million unfilled job openings in America as of the end of July. Unless you are a news junkie like myself, this number may well come as a surprise to you. And the reasons why we have such a huge number of unfilled jobs may also come as a surprise.

    With our official unemployment rate at 4.9%, we know that the labor markets have improved significantly in recent years. It’s great that US businesses are hiring, but these record numbers of job openings are also a sign that business owners can’t find the skilled workers qualified to fill the jobs they have available. We’ll find out why as we go along today.

    Before we get to that discussion, let’s briefly review two decidedly disappointing reports for August -- the ISM Manufacturing Index and the ISM Services Index. We’ll also look at another key report which significantly surprised on the upside. Let’s get started.

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    Posted to Forecasts & Trends by Gary D. Halbert on 09-14-2016
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  • Fed Continues to Overstate the Growth of the Economy – Why?

    Two prominent Fed officials gave major speeches over the last week, and both suggested that the US economy will surge in the second half of this year. Both indicated that this newfound growth in the previously moribund economy means the Fed will raise...
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  • US Worker Productivity In Serious Decline -- The Reasons Why

    The Labor Department reported earlier this month that US worker productivity, which measures hourly worker output, declined for the third consecutive quarter at the end of June, the worst showing since the late 1970s. The productivity rate also declined for the 12 months ended June. This news came as a surprise to most forecasters who were sure that the productivity rate would have snapped back strongly in the 2Q.

    There is near-universal agreement among economists that worker productivity is the most important determinant in whether our incomes and living standards rise or fall over the years. If productivity continues to fall, the economy will be hamstrung, incomes will stagnate and our living standards will deteriorate in the years ahead.

    Interestingly, there is not near-universal agreement on what is causing the current extended period of falling productivity, nor what should be done to reverse this critical trend. Today I will devote this space to explaining why productivity is moving in the wrong direction and what should, and should not, be done about it.

    Given the enormous impact productivity has on our economy, our incomes and our living standards, I would hope that more Americans understand this issue better before they head to the polls in what will be the most critical presidential election in many years. Therefore, feel free to forward today’s E-Letter to as many people as you see fit.

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    Posted to Forecasts & Trends by Gary D. Halbert on 08-23-2016
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  • Clinton & Trump Unveil Very Different Economic Plans

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and New York billionaire Donald Trump both announced their major plans for the economy last week, if elected president in November. As you might expect, the two plans are very different. I will summarize both as we go along today, and you can draw your own conclusions.

    Before we get to that discussion, I want to bring to your attention the fact that the Atlanta Fed is forecasting a significant improvement in the US economy for the current 3Q. As you may recall, the Atlanta Fed produces a real-time estimate of the US economy which is called “GDPNow.” As of last Friday, the GDPNow is forecasting a jump to 3.5% in GDP in the 3Q.

    Keep in mind that US GDP was only 0.8% in the 1Q and 1.2% in the 2Q. A strong jump to 3.5% in the 3Q would be almost triple the anemic 1.2% in the 2Q. The obvious question is, what is the Fed seeing so far in this July to September quarter that is making it so confident? That’s what we’ll talk about just below.

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    Posted to Forecasts & Trends by Gary D. Halbert on 08-17-2016
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  • Another Strong Jobs Report, But Economy Remains Weak

    Last Friday’s unemployment report for July was significantly better than expected for the second month in a row. This has led many analysts to upgrade their forecasts for growth in the second half of this year. Yet as I will argue below, forecasters often put far too much weight on one or two monthly economic reports that can be revised significantly in subsequent months.

    While new jobs were substantially above the pre-report consensus in June and July, let us not forget that job creation in May was almost non-existent, the lowest in several years. The fact is, the US economy continues to limp along at less than 2% growth.

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    Posted to Forecasts & Trends by Gary D. Halbert on 08-09-2016
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  • GDP Stunner: 2Q Growth Was Less Than Half of Forecast

    The Commerce Department reported last Friday that gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the US, rose only 1.2% (annual rate) in the second quarter. That was less than half the pre-report consensus of 2.6%. This was one of the largest misses by forecasters in quite some time. I'll break down the report as we go along today. I will also discuss what the Fed's reaction to the disappointing GDP report is likely to be.

    At the end of today's letter, I will give you a link to a WALL STREET JOURNAL article on Sunday which claims that while Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton compromised national security by urging US technology companies to fund Russian research for military purposes. Assuming it’s true as the Journal claims, it will easily be the most serious scandal ever for Ms. Clinton. And it couldn't come at a better time!

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    Posted to Forecasts & Trends by Gary D. Halbert on 08-02-2016
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