The Bipolar Economy

Feb. 18, 2016 10:38 AM ETAAPL, INTC, ORCL, CAT, IBM
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Macro

Contributor Since 2013

John Thomas is a 50-year veteran of the financial markets. He spent 10 years as a financial journalist, ten more years trading for a major investment bank, and another decade running the first dedicated international hedge funds. Seeing the incredible inefficiencies and severe mispricing offered by the popping of multiple bubbles during the Great Crash of 2008, and missing the adrenaline of the marketplace, he returned to active hedge fund management.

With The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader, his goal is to broaden public understanding of the techniques and strategies employed by the most successful hedge funds so that they may more profitably manage their own money.

He publishes a daily research newsletter, and offers one of the most successful trade mentoring services in the industry. He currently has followers in 134 countries.

In his free time, John Thomas climbs mountains, does long distance backpacks, practices karate, performs aerobatics in antique aircraft, collects vintages wines, reads the Japanese classics, and engages in a wide variety of public service and philanthropic activities.

His career has taken him up to 20,000 feet on Mount Everest, to the edge of space at 90,000 feet in the Cockpit of a MIG-25, and to the depths of a sunken Japanese fleet in the Truk Lagoon.

Why they call him "Mad" he will never understand.

Corporate earnings are up big! Great!

Buy!

No wait!

The economy is going down the toilet!

Sell! Buy! Sell! Buy! Sell!

Help!

Anyone would be forgiven for thinking that the stock market has become bipolar.

According to the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis, the answer is that corporate profits accounts for only a small part of the economy.

Using the income method of calculating GDP, corporate profits account for only 15% of the reported GDP figure. The remaining components are doing poorly, or are too small to have much of an impact.

Wages and salaries are in a three decade long decline. Interest and investment income is falling, because of the ultra low level of interest rates. Farm incomes are up, but are a tiny proportion of the total. Income from non-farm unincorporated business, mostly small business, is unimpressive.

It gets more complicated than that.

A disproportionate share of corporate profits is being earned overseas. So multinationals with a big foreign presence, like Apple (AAPL), Intel (INTC), Oracle (ORCL), Caterpillar (CAT), and IBM (IBM), have the most rapidly growing profits and pay the least amount in taxes.

They really get to have their cake, and eat it too. Many of their business activities are contributing to foreign GDP's, like China's, more than they are here. Those with large domestic businesses, like retailers, earn less, but pay more in tax, as they lack the offshore entities in which to park them.

The message here is to not put all your faith in the headlines, but to look at the numbers behind the numbers. Those who bought in anticipation of good corporate profits last month, got those earnings, and then got slaughtered in the marketplace.

Caveat emptor. Buyer beware.

What's In the S&P 500?

Has the Market Become Bipolar?

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