Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Tuesday, 20 February 2018.
In a New York Times column, one gun-grabber suggests that banks could act to enforce some level of gun control, even if Congress doesn’t. The piece says that by rewriting the terms of service for credit and debit cards, banks could effectively stop doing business with gun stores. He goes further and claims to have spoken with some banking chief executives who, he says, have been considering such a move. [source]
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller confirmed that he’s looking at sending Marines to train in Alaska. Shifting from traditionally desert warfare training to Arctic training is a good indicator that Neller is serious about the possibility of war in Europe and North Korea. Marines have been stationed in Norway since last year, and the Defense Department has been stuffing equipment into Norwegian caves as part of a pre-positioned stock program.
Fear of inflation is still the name of the game on Wall Street. Last week, the U.S. Dollar hit its lowest level in three years, which could push inflation higher. The Federal Reserve will release its January meeting minutes today, which could offer us a glimpse of potential interest rate hikes. The consensus here is to expect market volatility every time the Fed mentions raising interest rates.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says that a 65 percent household debt-to-GDP ratio should be considered a financial risk warning sign, especially if that debt is growing. Ten economies around the world are currently surpassing that level and have a growing debt problem. Switzerland, which has a 127.5 percent household debt-to-GDP ratio, joins Australia, Norway, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Finland in having growing ratios higher than 65 percent. The U.S. is just under an 80 percent ratio, but that level is receding from nearly 100 percent at the peak of the U.S. housing bubble. [source]