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Germany is moving in the right direction in striking a balance between economic growth and fiscal consolidation, but should continue to look for ways to spur domestic demand, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on Wednesday. "Over the course of this past year, I think we've seen very constructive movement to get the balance right between fiscal consolidation and growth," he said, in a joint news conference with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble. "We have made very clear that we think that more domestic demand and investment would be a good thing," Lew stated. German Finance Minister Schaeuble said "important steps" have been taken globally:
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe published an editorial last night on the World Economic Forum stating that he sees Japan on the precipice of strong wage gains after more than a decade of stagnation. The PM feels strongly about this positive development in Japan after recent meetings with government business and labor leaders. Moreover he feels that the 5-trillion-yen fiscal-stimulus plan should far outweigh the negative effects of the planned sales-tax increases in Japan. Also overnight we heard comments from IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde. She stated that the Fund intends to upgrade its outlook for global economic growth in the next 3 weeks.
U.S. retailers posted their lowest holiday sales growth in four years after shoppers stayed at home despite some of the biggest discounts and promotions since the recession, retail industry tracker ShopperTrak said. Retail sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas rose 2.7 percent, compared with 3.0 percent a year earlier, while the number of people walking into stores across the United States declined 14.6 percent, ShopperTrak said. ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based company that measures foot traffic in more than 50,000 locations worldwide, said U.S. shoppers spent $265.9 billion during the latest holiday period. Its data excludes online sales.
Anyone who has been around the block in financial markets learns that the obvious trade is seldom the most rewarding. An important caveat, of course, is that contrarian thinking does not produce automatic wins; it simply produces nonstop bragging when it works at all. By the way, some form of Darwinism should have eliminated the contrarian gene from our midst by now. So saying that the obvious trend of expecting short-term interest rates to rise is a compelling one.

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