Futures Now Futures Now: Blog


  Friday, 2 Oct 2015 | 1:22 PM ET

Immigrants taking all the jobs? Look again

After the release of a miserable jobs report Friday, some have seen fit to claim that employment is rising only for immigrants, and plummeting for native-born Americans. But a closer look at the numbers reveals a different story.

It is true that, according to the household survey, employment among native-born Americans slid from 124,314,000 in August to 124,052,000 in September. This came as the number of employed foreign-born American rose from 24,914,000 in August to 24,928,000 in September.

But there's a problem with the "they took our jobs" storyline.

Read MoreJob creation misses big in September

The number of unemployed foreign-born Americans also rose, from 1,142,000 to 1,204,000. Meanwhile, the number of unemployed native-born Americans fell from 7,021,000 to 6,423,000.

For that reason, the unemployment rate for foreign-born Americans rose by 0.2 percent, while the unemployment rate for native-born Americans actually fell by 0.4 percent — exactly the opposite of the shift some see occurring.

(Native-born Americans do still have a slightly higher unemployment rate, at 4.9 percent versus 4.3 percent. But at 61.8 percent versus 64.8 percent on the participation rate, fewer native-born people are in the labor force at all.)

Chart: What's the real unemployment rate?

So what's going on here? Are all the jobs going to foreign-born Americans, or not?

Quite simply, the overall number of native-born Americans in the labor force is falling, while the number of foreign-born Americans in the labor force is rising. That's why both employment and unemployment are falling for native-born Americans; it's the total group that is shrinking. This comes as more immigrants are in the labor force.

The numbers, then, should be taken as an indication of shifting demographics, rather than a shifting employment situation.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 30 Sep 2015 | 7:00 AM ET

Why a rate hike could be good for oil

The market can't seem to make up its mind on crude oil.

The battered commodity has recently traded in a wide range of sharp swings, and has plunged more than 52 percent over the course of one year.

But looking ahead, Darren Wolfberg, head of U.S. cash equity trading at BNP Paribas, said that there could be good news for oil on the horizon, specifically in a rate hike from the Federal Reserve.

Theoretically, a rate rise should be bad for oil, because increased interest rates would strengthen the U.S. dollar against other country's currencies.

Meanwhile, oil is inversely related to the dollar, because as the greenback rises, the value and price of oil, bought in U.S. dollars, tend to fall.

Read MoreChesapeake cuts 15% of workforce on oil slump

However, Wolfberg said expects the opposite to happen for two reasons.

"Historically when the Fed raises rates, that's actually the top in the dollar," Wolfberg said Tuesday on CNBC's "Futures Now." "Secondarily, the Fed's going to raise rates because the economy is good. And usually that means more demand of oil."

Crude oil has struggled to break above $47 a barrel in September, Wolfberg said Tuesday afternoon, but if it reaches above that level, he could see oil back up around $50 to $60.

Until oil recovers, "I think you really gotta buy the dips and sell the rips," he said Tuesday.

»Read more
  Sunday, 27 Sep 2015 | 5:00 PM ET

The trouble with the Fed's inflation call

It is often said that hope is not an investment strategy. Yet that chestnut may not apply to central bankers, because hope appears to be the Federal Reserve's strategy of choice when it comes to inflation.

In a Thursday speech delivered at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Fed chair Janet Yellen predicted that at long last, inflation is set to hit the Fed's long-run 2 percent inflation target in the years ahead.

Though inflation has been running at "essentially zero" over the past year, "the Committee expects that inflation will gradually return to 2 percent over the next two or three years," Yellen said.

Read MoreJohn Boehner just made Janet Yellen's life harder

Furnishing the below chart, she reasoned that much of the inflation "shortfall" is likely due to low energy and non-energy prices—both of which can be pinned on sliding oil and the surging U.S. dollar.

»Read more
  Thursday, 24 Sep 2015 | 3:04 PM ET

Something has changed in the gold trade: Gartman

Posted ByAmanda Diaz

Stocks' pain has turned into gold's gain.

Gold prices soared to a one-month high Thursday as fears of a global slowdown have investors seeking so-called safe haven assets like bonds and bullion. And according to Dennis Gartman, often referred to as the "commodities king," the rally in gold could just be starting.

"There's a real strength in the gold market when you look at it in non-U.S. dollar terms," the publisher of The Gartman Letter said Thursday in an interview with CNBC's "Futures Now." "The difference is enormous."

Read MoreHere's my Fed commodity trade: Jim Iuorio

While everyone focuses on gold's move relative to the dollar, Gartman says the real story is what's happening around the world. Pointing to gold priced in euros and yen specifically, the CNBC contributor said that bullion has actually been outperforming. As he noted, in euro terms, gold is up 4.6 percent in the past two years and 6.7 percent over the past five years. Whereas related to the yen, it's up 4.8 percent for two years and 26.4 percent in five years.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 23 Sep 2015 | 8:00 AM ET

Schiff: I'm right on Fed—I'll be right on stocks

Posted ByAmanda Diaz

Peter Schiff has a strong message for investors: It's time to wake up.

The longtime Fed foe took a victory lap on CNBC's "Futures Now" Tuesday, days after Fed chair Janet Yellen announced she would leave interest rates unchanged for the time being.

"The whole world has been fooled by this Fed con," said the Euro Pacific Capital CEO. "Most people believe the Fed. They believe the Fed is going to raise rates," he added.

Schiff has long posited that the Fed will never raise interest rates, contrary to general consensus. In fact, Schiff believes the likelihood of another round of easing is greater than a rate hike. "I don't think she ever intended to hike rates," he said. "They are in a monetary roach hotel, and they will never be able to raise rates back up."

Read MoreChina has a message markets don't understand

Recent turmoil in global equities is just the latest reason for the "data dependent" Fed to hold off on its first hike in nearly a decade. But for Schiff, this isn't anything new, as he has been calling the Fed's bluff long before the latest bout in volatility.

»Read more
  Sunday, 20 Sep 2015 | 5:02 PM ET

Less than zero: Are negative rates next for Fed?

Last week, the Federal Reserve spooked markets by preserving the monetary policy status quo. Yet a few central bank watchers were more surprised by a new idea the central bank seemingly suggested: a negative interest rate.

The Fed's closely watched "dot plot" revealed that at least one committee member floated the idea that a fed funds rate below zero might be an appropriate target for the remainder of this year and next.

The forecast is widely thought to be the work of Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota, a non-voting member of the committee who is known for his dovish views. In her press conference last week, Fed Chair Janet Yellen made clear that a negative federal funds rate "was not something that we considered very seriously at all today."

Read MoreThe Fed has to deal with its own zombie apocalypse

However, in an environment where prices are persistently low, negative rates mean that businesses and consumers are essentially paid to borrow money, which could serve as an important stimulative tool in times of crisis.

The idea has been floated in the U.K., and tried in the euro zone and Switzerland. Suffice to say, the fact that the concept is being floated in the U.S. is striking to some.

After all, the Fed has spent years noting that its benchmark rate is at the "zero lower bound," which forces it to take other actions in order to stimulate the economy, (i.e. purchase bonds) since rates can't be lowered any further.

Yet what if that bound is not a bound at all, but a Rubicon waiting to be crossed?

»Read more
  Wednesday, 16 Sep 2015 | 8:35 AM ET

Chase: Hike or not, this is most important for Fed

Posted ByAmanda Diaz

The big question on every investors mind this week is simple: Will she, or won't she?

Wall Street is ripe with anticipation as the countdown continues to what could be the most important Federal Reserve statement since the financial crisis. But while everyone seems to be weighing in on how the market will react if Fed Chair Janet Yellen decides to hike or not, one widely followed economist says it all comes down to her language.

"It really depends on what kind of guidance we get," Anthony Chan told CNBC's "Futures Now" on Tuesday. Chan, who is in the camp of a December rate hike, believes that if the Fed does indeed pass on September, it must make a "strong case" that the "fundamentals are improving and the only reason they decided to stop or pause is because of global volatility and some volatility here in the U.S.," in order for the market to react positively.

Read MoreThis might be the worst Fed option

»Read more
  Sunday, 13 Sep 2015 | 5:00 PM ET

The Fed may hike, but here's why it may not matter

The Federal Reserve may or may not elect to raise its target on the federal funds rate when it meets on Thursday. Yet either way, the much-anticipated decision is unlikely to have nearly as great an impact on the economy as it might have 30 years ago.

Such is the argument in a recently released paper from the Kansas City Fed, which posits that changes in financial markets and the American economy have reduced the import of changes to the interbank lending rate.

Before 1985, an unexpected 25 basis point cut in the federal funds rate would have led to a 0.2 percent increase in employment over the next two years, the study noted. But in the post-1994 period, the effect on employment is statistically insignificant, find Jonathan Willis and Guangye Cao of the Kansas City Fed.

This is obviously problematic, given that the Fed describes its ultra-low interest rate target as intended to "support continued progress toward maximum employment." If the impact of a shifting fed funds rate target on employment is indeed nil, then this strategy makes little sense.

Read MoreWill it or won't it? Wall Street mulls Fed's next move

Perhaps even more troubling, it means that the Fed's primary tool for helping the economy has been, at best, severely blunted.

»Read more
  Friday, 11 Sep 2015 | 7:30 AM ET

Here's why the Fed won't hike next week: Deutsche Bank

Posted ByAmanda Diaz

While Wall Street frets about a potential Fed rate hike next week, one prominent economist has a simple message for investors: Relax. Nothing is going to happen.

"I would say in light of a variety of different events, most notably the fragility and volatility in the global equity markets, the Fed is most likely to pass on September," Joe LaVorgna said Thursday on CNBC's "Futures Now." Wild price swings have plagued U.S. equities in the past several weeks, as the market has grappled with heightened volatility.

But rather than push the decision to raise rates for the first time in nearly a decade back to the end of the year, LaVorgna—who believes the Fed missed a prime opportunity to hike in the spring—said it could come sooner than most market watchers think.

Read MoreNo Fed interest rate hike until 2017: Sri-Kumar

"They are going to view [the next month] as a way to see what, if any, negative fallout that the recent market events have had on the broader economy," said Deutsche Bank's chief U.S. economist. "I think October is interesting as a possibility for a hike, as the Fed could very well raise rates next month if economic and financial conditions warrant action."

»Read more
  Tuesday, 8 Sep 2015 | 3:16 PM ET

Market looks a lot like 1998: Wells Fargo

Posted ByAmanda Diaz

The recent spurt in volatility has many market participants drawing comparisons to prior crashes. Now, one former bear claims the market is giving her déjà vu to the late 1990s, and that could mean higher stock prices ahead.

"In terms of the late '90s, there are certainly some echoes and interesting comparisons that we're following," Wells Fargo's institutional equity strategist, Gina Martin Adams, told CNBC's "Futures Now" on Tuesday.

In 1998 the S&P 500 fell more than 15 percent from July to October before resuming its advance and finishing the year with more than 20 percent returns. "We cannot help but note the similarities to the 1998 emerging market financial crisis, and note that it took Fed action to calm the market then," said Martin Adams. A highly anticipated Fed meeting kicks off next week as investors anxiously wait to see if Janet Yellen will hike interest rates.

For Martin Adams, when it comes to the market, the two most important similarities between the current environment and 1998 are the swift decline in crude oil coupled with a sharp rise in the dollar, and the common sector leaders.

"Right before the 1998 crisis in stocks and the broader financial market, we did have a 60 percent decline in oil prices and a roughly 30 percent rise in the dollar. That's about where we are now." In the last 12 months WTI crude oil prices have fallen more than 50 percent while the U.S. dollar index has risen 14 percent in the same period.

Read MoreLeon Cooperman: Why this bull market isn't over

"It's no wonder why the S&P 500 is going through a pretty significant correction in response to the massive destruction in the currency and commodity markets," she continued. "This is a commodity led crisis."

»Read more

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