Manufacturing - A Flashing Yellow Light

Posted in , By David Robinson

US manufacturing activity slowed again in September, the weakest monthly performance since the summer of 2009. We agree with most business executives, who attribute the contraction to the uncertainties generated by the US-China trade war. (CNN) (New York Times) The manufacturing pullback hits the Midwest, a key 2020 election battleground, especially hard. The already fragile Michigan economy is also reeling from the GM strike, which is now in week 3. While manufacturing only accounts for roughly 10% of US jobs, we still view the slowdown as a flashing yellow light, meaning that investors need to proceed cautiously. It will take a comprehensive trade agreement with China to restart the US manufacturing sector.

  • Atlanta Fed Model Predicts 1.8% 3Q Growth: GDPNow is a favorite tool of financial professionals. It provides a real time estimate of GDP growth, using a similar methodology to that of the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. As the end of a fiscal quarter approaches, it becomes increasingly accurate. With the 3Q over, GDPNow estimates that 3Q growth will be 1.8%. That is slow growth but continued growth, nonetheless.  (Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta)
  • Putin Goes Green? It may be difficult to wrap our heads around the idea of Vladimir Putin as an environmental activist, but Russia has ratified the Paris Climate Accord. The likely motivation? The melting permafrost is now a threat to Russia’s ability to continue pumping oil and gas in northern Russia. Believe I’ve got it...Russia views climate change as a threat to its ability to pump more hydrocarbons. Read the excellent Bloomberg article for an explanation of how climate change looks through Russian eyes.  (Bloomberg)

Lest you assume that we only think about what impacts financial markets...

  • How to Live to a Ripe Old Age? Simple activities that stave off frailty matter a great deal. Pending the discovery of a magic pill, focusing on activities that promote overall fitness, health and strength are a good bet. Of course, eating well and getting enough sleep are crucial. But simple physical activities are important too and are relatively easy to do. Walk faster. Improve your grip strength. Do some push-ups. Men who can do 40 push-ups in one session have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Anyone up for a push-up challenge?  (Washington Post)
  • Red Meat: Never let it be said that we don’t provide readers with red meat. For years, conventional nutritional wisdom has been that eating red meat is bad for you. Now in an abrupt about-face, we learn that the risks are not as clear as previously assumed. The subtitle to the linked article calls it “may be the most unexpected dietary finding to come along in years”. (New York Times) Still waiting for the study proving that donuts are good for you, however.
  • Autumn Chocolates from Maine: I stumbled on this short New York Times write up of a Rockland, Maine designer chocolate maker, Bixby & Co. Even to someone who is not a big chocolate lover, they sound delicious and are available on-line. Good gift giving idea? (New York Times) (Bixby & Co.)
  • A Majority of Portland Home Shoppers Are from Out of State: Apparently, Greater Portland is only one of five metro areas nationally where a majority of those looking at home listings are from out of state. Unless this is signaling that homes in Greater Portland are becoming unaffordable for many natives, this is heartening and a great indicator for the future of Greater Portland and southern Maine. The theory is that the demand is coming from younger, professionally minded families, looking for a higher quality of lifestyle and affordable housing.  (Portland Press Herald)
  • A Traveler’s Guide to Portland: I like reading travel articles about Portland from the national media because it gives a fresh look at what we see almost daily and might be prone to take for granted. This article is from the Washington Post and has a terrific list of places to visit (if you haven’t already).  (Washington Post)
  • A Quote I Like: “Mastery in nearly any endeavor is the result of deeply understanding simple ideas.” James Clear

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About the Author David Robinson

A wealth advisor with more than 25 years of experience in the financial field, Dave serves as Robinson Smith Wealth Advisors’ Co-Chief Investment Officer and is a Co-Managing Member of the firm. As a Certified Financial Planner® and non-practicing attorney, he provides clients with deep expertise in areas including investment management and retirement planning.
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