Eric Fry

Today’s issue of The Daily Reckoning finds a resurgent US stock market. Despite dipping – briefly – into the red for the year-to-date a couple weeks ago, the S&P 500 is closing out the first quarter with a gain of 6%! Despite the noteworthy stresses around the globe – and the considerable economic uncertainties here at home – the S&P sits less than one percent below its peak levels of the last two-and-a-half years.

So the stock market’s doing pretty darn well. The US consumer…not so much. The chart below, for example, looks nothing like the ascendant price chart of the S&P 500 Index.

Year Over Year Growth of Consumer Spending

Consumer spending, apart from spending on essentials like food and gasoline, is sluggish at best. A chart of disposable income, after taxes and inflation, would look equally dismal. In other words, despite some measurable upticks in economic activity, these upticks are failing to bear much fruit down at the level where real people earn and spend money. Inflation is chewing up almost all the statistical economic gains of the last several months.

Even though incomes are rising somewhat, inflation is rising just as quickly…which means that net wealth is going nowhere. Perhaps that’s why companies like Marriott International are posting disappointing earnings results. Earlier this week, Marriott disclosed that its “revenue per available room” (Revpar) will be lower than originally forecast, due to weakness in North American demand. International revenue remains “robust” however, according to Marriott.

Falling Shar Price of Marriott

Perhaps this “weakness in North America” is a one-off or perhaps it is a sign of things to come. Whatever the case, the contrast between the sluggish growth rates of the world’s Developed Markets and the robust growth rates of the world’s Emerging Markets is very real…and this contrast is becoming a staple of the global investment environment.

Eric Fry
for The Daily Reckoning

Eric Fry

Eric J. Fry, Agora Financial's Editorial Director, has been a specialist in international equities for nearly two decades. He was a professional portfolio manager for more than 10 years, specializing in international investment strategies and short-selling.  Following his successes in professional money management, Mr. Fry joined the Wall Street-based publishing operations of James Grant, editor of the prestigious Grant's Interest Rate Observer. Working alongside Grant, Mr. Fry produced Grant's International and Apogee Research, institutional research products dedicated to international investment opportunities and short selling. 

Mr. Fry subsequently joined Agora Inc., as Editorial Director. In this role, Mr. Fry  supervises the editorial and research processes of numerous investment letters and services. Mr. Fry also publishes investment insights and commentary under his own byline as Editor of The Daily Reckoning. Mr. Fry authored the first comprehensive guide to investing internationally with American Depository Receipts.  His views and investment insights have appeared in numerous publications including Time, Barron's, Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Business Week, USA Today, Los Angeles Times and Money.

Recent Articles

5 Big Tax Changes in 2015

Sandy Botkin

The clock is ticking down to April 15th. TaxBot founder, Sandy Botkin, outlines the five big tax changes for 2015 you need know before you file...


Ignore the Crash Callers and Buy This ETF

Greg Guenthner

Look, we're not contrarian just for the sake of being contrarian. Only idiots are. And yes, the market will eventually drop. But the charts will tell us when it's time to sell. And right now, they're screaming "BUY". There's simply no other way to put it.


Tesla’s Great Deformation

David Stockman

The trouble with money printing, explains David Stockman, is that it's responsible for Tesla. Armed with earnings figures, he shreds the company’s visage to pieces...


China’s Love for Gold: You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

Frank Holmes

This year, we expect China to reveal just how much gold it owns. Today, our friend, Frank Holmes, gives his insight on how China could buy even more gold in the near future. And we’ve got every reason to believe it could upset the gold markets any day now, with great results for gold investors…