29 December 2018 FT — Articles to Read

29 December 2018


Question: According to MSN: Lifestyle, what are five (5) ways to actually enjoy a party when you have social anxiety?


Down and out…Wild ride ends turbulent year – Pg. 1

–          Global stocks were set for their worst year in a decade after the last full day of trading in 2018, capping a final quarter when global trade fears, political turmoil and the end of economic stimulus had roiled markets and sent shares tumbling


Falling vaccination rates pose a global health risk – Pg. 6

–          Anti-vaccination campaigns defy decades of evidence of the indisputable global benefits of immunization.  Vaccines have eradicated or brought under control seven major human diseases – smallpox, diphtheria, tetanus, yellow fever, whooping cough, polio, and measles

–          If future generations are to be spared the scourges of their ancestors, public health officials, scientists and doctors must sharpen communications.  They need to learn to navigate the awkward terrain of social media, to engage with critics and give more weight to credible scientific evidence.  Public health urgently needs better defences; the common good needs better advocates


Forecasting the world in 2019 – Pg. 7

–          Will the Democrats attempt to impeach President Donald Trump?  Yes.  Mr Trump will be impeached by a simple majority in the Democratic House.  But the Senate, needing a two-thirds majority to convict, will exonerate him.  The scene will be set for a “rule of law” presidential election in 2020

–          Will there be a new financial crisis?  No, if we define a financial crisis as one in which policymakers need to rescue, or resolve, more than one globally significant financial institution at the same time

o   A reason for optimism is that global financial institutions’ balance sheets have strengthened substantially since the 2008 crisis

o   Reasons for pessimism are that interest rates remain low, debt levels exceptional and many asset prices high.  Vulnerabilities include several emerging markets, China, Brexit-hit Britain, Italian sovereign debt and US stocks

–          Will the S&P 500 finish 2019 above 3,000?  No.  Analysts’ median estimates are for a close above that level, despite turbulence.  But the positive factors behind one of the longest Wall Street runs are fading.  Earnings growth will be slower and margins compressed.  A pause in rate-tightening by the Federal Reserve, capping the dollar’s strength, and stimulus from China should help sentiment.  But the cycle is long in the tooth and corporate credit stress is rising.  No sector has partied as hard as credit during the era of easy money.  As the music fades, the equity market will discover balance sheets matter (Prof Note: Balance Sheets ALWAYS matter in the long-run!)

–          Will Brent Crude end 2019 below $60 a barrel?  Yes.

–          Will Mark Zuckerberg step down as chairman of Facebook?  No.

–          Will the US yield curve invert?  Yes.  The slope formed by Treasury yields of various maturities has inverted – with short-term bond rates higher than longer-term ones – ahead of most recessions, and is now perilously close to another inflection point.  The 10-year Treasury yield is unlikely to climb much above 3%, pinned down by forces such as disinflationary demographics and demand for safe assets, while the Fed is still likely to lift rates a few times in 2019.  That should, barely, invert the curve – hinting at trouble later on


Answer: (1) Resist the urge to cancel (Prof Note: I ALWAYS have this urge.  Yet, every time I go I have a wonderful time.  Now I have set “dates” with close friends and make a point of making the time!  Quality people are wealth!); (2) Come with conversation starters (Prof Note: I generally start with “Hello”.  Also, when I am in Target I will “practice” on those in line.  I will say hello and start a conversation.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it tanks.  But I try and it has gotten easier.); (3) Vow to speak to three new people (Prof Note: Play the numbers game.  You can leave after trying to speak with “X” number of people and failing.  Hint: You probably won’t fail but the knowledge that you have the out will provide confidence.); (4) Don’t drink too much (Prof Note: “Loose Lips Sink Ships”.  There is such a thing as liquid courage.  Perhaps focus on the “too much” and always be aware if you are driving home.); (5) Wait for the anxiety to pass (Prof Note: if you are shut down in a conversation, they are a “jerk”.  NEXT!!!)