The Confidence Game

by Pierre G. Villere

My well-known optimism, even throughout the last Great Recession, has been shaken by the swift and sudden collapse of the global economy, including ours here in the U.S., in the face of the novel coronavirus also known as Covid-19. I am not any different than most consumers, except that I probably fall within the upper tier of those who see life through rose-colored glasses, and therefore espouse optimism at every turn.

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A Black Swan event for sure

By Pierre G. Villere

I hope you read my column last month; I worried about the events surrounding the unfolding coronavirus epidemic in Milan and northern Italy, and feared what might happen if it struck an American city. I described the epidemic as a Black Swan, a theory that refers to unexpected events of large magnitude and consequence and their dominant role in history. I had no idea we would witness what has occurred since I wrote that column.

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A Black Swan Event?

By Pierre Villere

For months now, I have been extolling the virtues of the U.S. economy, as well as the larger global markets, and touting the slow-but-steady strength of U.S. business and industry, especially the strong construction markets that drive volume in our concrete businesses. And as I have written so many times before, my philosophy is that “sentiment is self-fulfilling.” So now we have the coronavirus, and some of the most recent reactions to it have left me disquieted, wondering if a “Black Swan Event” could upend the U.S. economy.

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Let’s be more like Australia’s economy

By Pierre G. Villere

This time last year, the business press was having a field day with their occasional Chicken Little prognostications that the economy was headed into recession, and the talking heads on the business news cable networks were the worst. Their bearish view, derived from the tiniest of economic indicators, threw the stock market into a tailspin the last couple of months of 2018, which continued into the first part of 2019, giving pause to the entire economy.

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The stock market rocks, the 2020 economy rolls on

By Pierre Villere

I can’t help but follow up on my column from a couple of months ago when I opined that a strong stock market was a harbinger of the economy, and what lies ahead. Now that 2019 and the decade it capped have come to an end, it’s worth reviewing the markets and what they foreshadow. In addition, the many geopolitical pressures from various directions don’t even seem to be moving the needle on the economy in particular, and sentiment as a driver of the underlying economy in general. Let’s take a look at both.

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Deserving Recognition

by Pierre G. Villere

My late business partner Bill Allen was an institution in the ready mixed concrete industry, and I was fortunate to spend 15 years working beside him and learning from a master. Industry education was of utmost importance to Bill, and he felt that because of our firm’s success, we had an obligation to give back, constantly teaching our industry how to improve financial performance, operations and safety through education.

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Will headwinds from the global economy affect us?

By Pierre Villere

As this column was going to press in early November, the U.S. stock markets were breaking records and reaching all-time highs. Many in the economics and investing community were holding their breaths as we tip-toed through third-quarter earnings season for America’s publicly traded companies, big and small. The high-level concern going into earnings season was that the slowing U.S. economy would unleash a spate of poor reports, and the stock market would confirm what many bears had predicted: the slowdown is here. Well, it didn’t happen.

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A breath of fresh air from the National Association of Home Builders

PGV headshot 2016

By: Pierre G. Villere

The top line economic indicators are mixed these days, but we remain bullish at our firm about the future of the construction industry. My frustration is with the press, from CNBC to the major news networks on both the conservative and liberal sides of the political spectrum, with their need to fill the day with news. This results in long, anguished speculation about the state of the economy, and just more of the Chicken Little Syndrome, as I call it (“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”).

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What Recession?

PGV headshot 2016

By: Pierre G. Villere

My wife and I were traveling recently, and we had made a reservation at a popular restaurant in the town where we were visiting. When we arrived promptly for our reservation time, the hostess politely told us it would be 15 to 20 minutes before we could be seated. We gladly sat at the bar, observing the restaurant and all the comings and goings. But one fact struck me as odd: 25 percent of the tables were empty. So on our way out, I asked the hostess about this and asked about the wait, and she explained what we all know about the current employment picture: They can’t hire enough servers and kitchen staff to maximize the restaurant’s seating capacity.

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Lower interest rates cause a jump in mortgage refinancing

PGV headshot 2016

By: Pierre Villere

As I have been saying for months now, the fear of a stalling economy coupled with the stock market correction in the Fall of 2018 shook up Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and his fellow Board Governors, and they made public pronouncements that the Fed would pause any rate hikes for the foreseeable future. Shortly thereafter, the Fed came back and added that they were open to considering a cut in rates depending on the economic metrics they monitor to guide them in those decisions.

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