Between going green and the war in Ukraine, Germany is seeing economic distress (high inflation) and a -7.89% Real 10yr yield. At least the US is seeing “only” a -4.43% REAL 10yr Treasury yield.
Like the US, I wonder who in Germany studied game theory? That is, going green leaves nations vulnerable to foreign nations oil and natural gas supplies. Like Russian natural gas.
The Nash equilibrium is a decision-making theorem within game theory that states a player can achieve the desired outcome by not deviating from their initial strategy. In the Nash equilibrium, each player’s strategy is optimal when considering the decisions of other players.
Unfortunately, the US and Germany have deviated from the initial strategy are are paying dearly with skyrocketing energy prices. Particularly as we enter the winter season.
So, who blew up the Nordstream natural gas pipeline going from Russia to Germany?
It was not immediately clear why buyers had submitted requests for capacity when Russia has given no indication since it shut the line that it would restart any time soon.
Russia, which had supplied about 40% of the European Union’s gas before the Ukraine conflict, has said it closed the pipeline because Western sanctions hindered operations. European politicians say that is a pretext and accuse Moscow of using energy as a weapon.
But German inflation, using CPI, is only 7.9%. Something has to give!
On the western front (US), the US Treasury 10yr yield is up +10.2 bps. And sovereign yields in Europe are all above 10 bps.
REAL average hourly earnings growth remain in the toilet at -3.06% YoY.
Fuel oil used to heat homes rose 68.8% YoY. Food at home rose 13.5% YoY while rent (shelter) rose “only” 6.2% YoY. Wow, renters are REALLY getting the short-end of the stick from The Fed and the Biden Administration!!
New vehicles are UP 10.1% YoY. Good luck buying those “cheap” electric cars that Mayor Pete Buttigieg trumpets! And wait for the bill when the battery needs to be replaced!!!
Joe Biden is the king of malaprops. But his press secretary is just as bad as her boss. Recently, she said that under Biden, there were 10,000 million jobs created. Better known as 10 BILLION jobs created. Not bad, considering that the total population of the US is 333 million. THAT is a hot labor market! /sarc
But seriously, the US U-3 unemployment rate is 3.7% in August, the lowest since Donald Trump was President and BEFORE the Covid outbreak. The Covid economic shutdown saw a surge in the unemployment rate to 14.7% in April 2020 that begat a huge spike in M2 Money growth (22% YoY in May 2022 (green line). Only now is M2 Money growth returning to Trump-era growth rates.
But as The Federal Reserve removes its hefty monetary stimulus, it is unlikely that the unemployment rate will remain low.
In defense of Biden’s press secretary, the US economy saw 10.247 million jobs added under Biden (although while technically correct, even MSNBC wouldn’t give Biden credit for job creation in his first several months as President. Check that. They probably would.
April 2020 saw a decline in US jobs of -20.493 million jobs thanks to the Covid economic shutdowns. BUT with the M2 Money surge, we saw +12.1 million jobs added between May and November 2020 under Trump. Then the US elected China Joe (or Beijing Biden) as President.
The economic shutdowns due to Covid were an economic disaster for millions. But the surge in M2 Money (supporting the various Federal spending programs and inflation) explains the surge in jobs added, not economic wizardry of Biden.
For some reason, Biden and his press secretary failed to mention that inflation is so bad that REAL average hourly earnings YoY are declining at a 3% pace.
And not surprisingly, job growth has accrued to big corporations and not small businesses.
The Federal Reserve is facing an interesting problem. On the one hand, they vow to fight inflation by raising their target rate. At the same time, the probability of a recession in one year has grown to 50%.
Bankrate’s 30yr mortgage rate rose 31 basis points over the past week as 1) inflation probability increased and 2) Fed Funds Futures point to an O/N rate of 3.523% by the December FOMC meeting (up from 2.50% today). Growing recession probability typically results in Fed intervention and a lowering of rates while growing inflation typically results in Fed tightening. What’s The Fed to do??
Fed Funds Futures point to The Fed raising their target rate to 3.660 by March 2023, then loosening again.
Will The Fed consider that Public Debt grew from $7.84 trillion at the peak of the previous housing bubble in June 2005 to a whopping $30.7 trillion in August 2022? That is a 290% growth in Federal government debt since June 2005. With The Fed fighting inflation, the 2yr Treasury yield is smoking, making it more expensive to fund Federal government operations.
Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are an interesting asset class, allowing investors to purchase shares in large-ticket assets like multi-family properties or shopping centers. But given the changing landscape due to online shopping (aka, the Amazon effect), Covid economic shutdowns, etc., REITs should be having a hard time. But aren’t. How come?
Covid economic shutdowns definitely took its toll on retail shopping centers, as an example. And you can see the plunge in the NAREIT All equity index in early 2020. But the NAREIT All-equity index rallied … until The Federal Reserve started tightening their loose monetary policy. Note that as the implied O/N rate rose (orange line), REIT shares declined.
But as the WIRP implied O/N rate settled (pink box), the NAREIT index began to climb again. It is clear that REITs, like other equities, benefit from Fed easing. But how long will The Fed continue tightening?
As of this morning, The Federal Reserve is anticipated to raise their O/N rate to 3.738% by March 22, 2023. Then begin lowering their target rate … again.
Sadly, REITs, like other equity investments such as the S&P 500 index, are sensitive to The Fed’s easing/tightening. Look for REITs to struggle as The Fed tightens, then rally as The Fed eases again.
Here is the (in)famous Hindenburg Omen. Notice how the Hindenburg Omen alarm bells (yellow and red dots) have been silenced by The Fed. But as The Fed tightens (at least until March ’22), we may see the Hindenburg Omen flashing again. Call it the Powellburg Omen.
The NCREIF property index had a decline in the Covid-outbreak era (early 2020) and you can see a slight slowdown in the NCREIF index as The Fed started tightening to fight inflation.
Today’s US industrial production and capacity utilization numbers showed a nice “steady as she goes” slow decline from previous months, though still positive at 3.90% YoY.
And it is difficult to argue that the US is in a recession when capacity utilization is at 80.27%.
Notice that industrial production growth falls below 0% during a recession and capacity utilization slumps. We are NOT there … yet.
However, M2 Money growth is shrinking awfully fast.
While the US is technically in default (two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth), it doesn’t FEEL like a recession with 3.90% YoY industrial production growth and capacity utilization above 80%. During the Covid recession in early 2020, industrial production growth YoY had declined to -17.65% and capacity utilization shrank to 64.53%.
Speaking of a recession SIGNAL, the 10Y-2Y Treasury yield curve is SCREAMING impending recession.