Weekly Market Commentary

June 17, 2019

 

The Markets

Are we on the cusp of change?

The United States is doing quite well. Randall Forsyth of Barron’s reported:

“…the U.S. economy and stock market both seem to be doing better than OK, thank you, as the expansion and bull market celebrate their 10th anniversaries. Unemployment is around the lowest level in a half-century. The worst thing seems to be that inflation continues to run slightly below the Fed’s 2 percent target, a problem that might strike some as similar to being too rich or too thin.”

The economic facts are encouraging, but recent events have potential to knock the U.S. economy off its tracks. The most significant threat may be a second round of oil tanker explosions in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. accused Iran and Iran denied responsibility and tensions in the region are on the rise.

U.S.-China trade rhetoric heated up, too, which has some concerned. It’s difficult to discern what’s truly happening, though. Reuters reported the United States stopped the World Trade Organization investigation of China’s treatment of intellectual property in early June. Some believe the action signaled a thaw in trade relations.

 

Plastic goes where few have gone before. In 2012, filmmaker James Cameron brought attention to the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on Earth (6.8 miles down), when he took a solo dive into its depths. The seafloor of the abyss also has been visited by at least one plastic bag, according to the Deep Sea Debris Database on ScienceDirect.

The Mariana Trench is just one of many unlikely places where plastic has been found. Jesse Li of Axios reported, “A marine biologist found 373,000 toothbrushes and 975,000 shoes on the beaches of a remote string of islands in the Indian Ocean.” In addition, the man-made material has made the trip to Point Nemo, the most remote location on Earth. Point Nemo is more than 1,000 miles from civilization in every direction – the farthest a person can get from dry land without heading into space, according to Atlas Obscura.

The pervasiveness of plastic is not too surprising. There is a lot of it in the world. Globally, almost 400 million tons of plastic were produced in 2015. Fifty-five percent of it was discarded, 25 percent was incinerated, and 20 percent was recycled, according to Our World in Data.

The glut of plastic pollution inspired Canada to ban single-use plastics last week. The goal is to eliminate use by 2021. The European Union has taken similar steps. As plastic use ebbs, new packaging materials are being developed. Biodegradable seaweed bubbles may replace plastic water bottles. Paper made from stone may wrap food products and fresh fruit may arrive to market wrapped in palm leaves.

Innovation creates opportunities for investors.

 

Focus On The Positive

“I’ve had a good day when I don’t fall out of the cart” –Buddy Hackett