As America heads back to school, and football season starts again, minds turn to what will be the run-in to the December holiday period.
While a lot can happen between now and then, there are 10 stories we’ll really be focusing on through the end of 2010.
See our picks here, and note what you’re really following in the comments.
Why it matters: Austerity plans in Europe already seem to be failing, and the big worry now is that they might actually expand, rather than shrink, the deficit.
If deficits widen, many of these states might find their position in the eurozone under further pressure.
What to follow: Keep a close watch of protests in the PIIGS, as unemployment rates remain high. Also, monitor any rhetoric on tax receipts, whether they are down or up, as that is an early indicator of the economy's health.
Protests might put pressure on PIIGS governments, but increasing deficits might force their hand, and make them think twice about austerity programs.
Why it matters: Hemmed in before the 2010 mid-term elections, President Obama has few options to stimulate the economy and score political points before the ballot. Under pressure from resurgent Republicans, Obama may need to back-down and accept the extension of the Bush tax cuts for everyone, rather than his favoured 'middle class.'
Markets are likely to react positively to the news in the short term, but it is likely another sign that the U.S. isn't serious about tackling its deficit, if all the Bush tax cuts are extended.
What to follow: Watch the conversation between President Obama and House Republican Leader John Boehner. Both have expressed willingness to compromise on the tax cut issue, with Obama open to an extension of the Bush tax cuts and Boehner willing to accept the middle class compromise.
Why it matters: The November elections will decide the fate of the Congress and whether or not President Obama will have an adversarial legislative branch to contend with. If the Republicans take back the House, the U.S. could be in for an early-nineties style government shutdown.
Republic strength in Congress might also inhibit President Obama's latest plans for more fiscal stimulus and see the Republicans enact deficit cutting measures.
What to follow: Unemployment numbers will play a large role in dictating how people vote in November, as it remains the primary concern for most Americans. If jobless claims improve, and that unemployment rate comes down, Democrats stand a chance of holding onto more seats and preventing Republican advances in Congress.
Why it matters: Q3 2010 was dominated by talk, and a bit of action, in the mergers and acquisitions space. Now, many of those deals are coming online and even more are emerging in what might be a busy run-up to December in the space.
What to follow: Companies, desperate to distract from flat revenues, will be attempting to make acquisitions prior to year end to increase profits and open up for further expansion in 2011. This is partially an effort to use excess capital, to keep share prices high, and to accommodate investors.
Many investment bankers will be trying to rush through deals before the year end in order to buoy their bonus payments, so watch for how often they're leaking stories to the press about deal ideas.
Why it matters: With much of the regulation now in place, banks know how they can and can't be operating, and where their capital ratios need to be (by 2019).
To meet these demands, banks may start ditching divisions like proprietary trading desks, hedge funds, and private equity groups.
What to follow: Keep an eye on the moves in and around prop trading, and the hedge fund units of banks. Some may even seek to spin off their entire investing banking divisions, like Barclays seems to be threatening, but what's more likely is that divisions sure to be banned will be sold off to larger asset management firms not affected by new regulations.
Why it matters: Investors are increasingly skittish about mutual funds and the opportunity within and are instead turning to other products, like ETFs, to achieve similar gains.
The mutual fund industry is in a period of dramatic change, brought on by a declining interest in their products. Outflows totaled $4.31 billion in the first week of September. Companies at the heart of the industry are now moving into ETFs to try to regain some of the market space they lost.
What to follow: The writing is on the wall in many ways for this industry, with active managed mutual funds on the outs and indexing, via ETFs, on the rise.
With emerging markets the focus of many of these ETFs, be watchful for increased inflation of market values on the Bombay Sensex and Brazilian Bovespa and more outflows from mutual funds.
Why it matters: The yuan story is back on the menu for many Congressmen, with Chuck Schumer leading the critique.
Treasury officials claim they are comfortable with the movements the yuan has made thus far. But politicians are likely to ignore this, and target China's trade surplus and the continued U.S. deficit via the yuan's valuation.
What to follow: Look for U.S. Congressmen to ratchet up their rhetoric in the run in to the November election in an effort to generate populist support for their campaigns.
Those critiques, if sizable enough, could have an impact on Chinese revaluation, if they're willing to accept the political pressure from the U.S.
After the election, populist measures that could even turn protectionist could be designed to target China. Though, these are unlikely to take full shape before 2011.
Why it matters: Many Americans are already underwater on their mortgages, and with prices continuing to fall, even more might enter that territory as the year continues.
A continued decline in prices will impact the interest of investors in the market, who will fear further declines and, instead, hold off from buying.
What to follow: Obviously, watch pending home sales, new home sales, and existing home sales data like a hawk. If there is a slow down in sales, that likely indicates buyers still think prices are heading lower.
Why it matters: Quantitative Easing II should come into play sometime this fall, as the Federal Reserve attempts to do something to stimulate a sagging economy.
What form it takes is still up for debate, but asset purchases in the open market, like U.S. government debt, seem most likely.
What to follow: Be mindful of increasingly dovish rhetoric from Fed Chairman Bernanke, and any clear FOMC or Bernanke statement about engaging in new asset purchases.
If QE II is to work, it is likely a fiscal package to encourage private spending and investment will need to be in place simultaneously, so look for both the White House and the Fed to turn their keys together in late 2010 or early 2011.
Why it matters: The topic du jour, deleveraging and deflation are the big fears on the minds of Americans. The lost decade scenario that Japan experienced in the fear, and even if that fear lurks, it is likely to impact many Americans' decisions on consumption and investment.
What to follow: The housing market is certainly in the midst of decline in value, but any pick up in sales would indicate Americans are once again believing in higher prices in the future. Revolving credit numbers should be monitored, as they indicate the amount of credit card spending consumers are engaging in, and that's a key form of leverage.
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