Weekend Update: Oil, Commodities, Wheat, Soaring In Price, Mortgage Rates Down (Inflation Forecast To Worsen)

This has been a brutal week for consumers. With the Russia/Ukraine conflict raging and Congress seems determined to not allow for additional oil and gas production, and Biden’s anti-fossil fuel edicts still in place, we are seeing dramatic price increases in wheat (UP 89.5% since January 1, 2021), WTI Crude (UP 143% since January 1, 2021), and food stuffs (UP 55% since January 1, 2021).

Bankrate’s 30-year mortgage rate has actually been falling the last several days, which is good for prospective home buyers as the 10-year US Treasury Note yield has been declining.

The USD/Russian Ruble cross is skyrocketing and the USD/Euro is doing likewise. Russians visiting the US will find that their trip is suddenly unaffordable (as do many American citizens will its rampant inflation). As Bruce Willis said in “Die Hard,” “Welcome to the party, pal.”

On Friday, the US Treasury 10-year yield declined 11 bps.

And energy prices continue to soar, particularly UK Natural Gas Futures that rose 19.85% overnight.

The US inflation data will be released on March 10th and the consensus is that February CPI inflation will rise to 7.9% YoY.

But even the latest unemployment rate report (3.8%) is signalling that The Fed should be raising interest rates since it is lower than the Natural Rate of Unemployment or NAIRU (4.44%).

And we have the next Fed policy error on March 16th. The Fed dots plot looks like the glide slope for an aircraft, but the message is that rates will be going up at future meetings.

And just for amusement, I present to you the infamous Hindenburg Omen chart that forecast the 2008/2009 stock market correction. Since that correction, the Hindenburg Omen has been flashing “danger” but the only correction was the COVID-linked correction of early 2020. While the Hindenburg Omen is flashing red right now, The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet (green line) has protected against market corrections. Let’s see what happens if and when The Fed decides to remove the epic monetary stimulus.

Its anyone’s guess as to whether The Fed will actually tighten monetary policy.

Weekend Update: US Q1 GDP Falls To 0.6%, Treasury 10Y-2Y Curve Flattens and Commodity Prices UP 52% Under Biden (Ports Still Clogged)

Russia is still attacking Ukraine and I am still seeing stories about actor/comedian Bob Saget’s cause of death. So now for something completely different.

After last week’s Personal Consumption Expenditures, GDP and new home sales reports, the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow real GDP estimate for Q1 shriveled to 0.6%.

The US Treasury yield curve? It is flattening rapidly as it typically does prior to a recession.

Commodities? Commodity prices are UP 52% under Biden. And that includes prices dropping slightly from 2/24 to 2/25.

And then there is average port delays in US ports. Hey, I thought Mayor Pete the port Czar was supposed to unclog the ports!

Hopefully this coming week will be better! Particularly for the Ukrainian people.

Russian Stock Market Drops Over 30% As Their 10-year Yield Rises To 15.23%, Ruble Crashes And UK Natural Gas Rises 51% (As Biden Throws The Booklet At Russia)

We now know that Russia has invaded Ukraine and President Biden really threw the booklet at Putin in a speech today. Rather than removing Russia from the SWIFT banking system which would have really hurt Russia’s trade with Europe, he gave a surprisingly cogent speech about the US and NATO agreeing to do … not much. He did warn us that energy prices would rise (which he helped do when he took office) and told energy companies not to gauge consumers.

The reaction in Russia? Their stock market tanked over 30% (not because of Biden’s speech, but because of negative costs of war).

Russia’s 10-year sovereign yield rose to 15.23%.

The Russian Ruble crashed and burned.

UK natural gas prices rose 51% today.

And while 17 Euro nations have negative 2 year sovereign yields, Russia has 2-year sovereign yield of 28.65% which is nothing compared to Ukraine’s 75% 2-year yield (in US Dollars).

The SWIFT system, or Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, facilitates financial transactions and money transfers for banks located around the world. The system is overseen by the National Bank of Belgium and enables transactions between more than 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries around the world. Removing Russia from the SWIFT system would really hurt Russian trade with Europe. I assume that Europe is scared of soaring energy costs, so probably doesn’t want Russia removed from SWIFT.

Queue Creedence Clearwater singing “Lookin’ Out My … Limo Window.”

My Kuroda! Japan’s Inflation “Miracle” (0.5% Inflation) Despite $5 Trillion BOJ Balance Sheet And -0.10 Policy Rate

My Kuroda!

Forbes has an interesting article on the Japanese “miracle” entitled “The $5 Trillion Inflation Time Bomb No One’s Talking About.”

It’s taken nine years and the Bank of Japan supersizing its balance sheet to the $5 trillion mark, but Asia’s second-biggest economy finally has some inflation.

Officials in Tokyo are realizing the hard way, though, that it’s best to be careful what you wish for as bond yields spike.

Granted, the gains in consumer prices Japan is reporting are negligible compared to those in the U.S. and China. And inflation is still a good distance from the BOJ’s 2% target. Still, the 0.5% rise in consumer prices in January year-on-year is already unnerving the bond market. It followed a 0.8% jump in December and marks the fifth straight month of increases.

The worry is that Japan’s inflation is the “bad” kind. Haruhiko Kuroda was hired as BOJ governor in March 2013 to end deflation. Kuroda unleashed tidal waves of liquidity. That drove the yen down 30%, generated record corporate profits and sent Nikkei 225 Average stocks to 31-year highs.

Despite a staggering balance sheet with a -0.10 bps policy rate, Japan has only 0.5% inflation.

And Japan’s yield curve is negative at 3 year tenor and less.

How is it that Japan has virtually no inflation with negative rates but the USA has 7.5% inflation with a 0.25% target rate? Could it be the USA undertook massive fiscal spending related to COVID and reduced energy sources in an effort to go “green” that led to 7.5% inflation??

My Kuroda!

Good governments don’t go on wild, wasteful spending sprees and shut off energy sources like the Biden Administration and Congress.

Simply Unaffordable! How The Federal Reserve And Federal Government Are Making Housing Unaffordable For Millions (Rents Growing At 18%, Home Prices Growing At 19%, REAL Wages Growing At … -1.80%)

The Federal Reserve and Federal government are helping make housing simply unaffordable!

In January 2020, just prior to the COVID outbreak in the US, the Case-Shiller national home price index was growing at 4% YoY, the Zilliow rent index (all homes) was growing at 2.92% YoY and REAL average hourly earnings were growing at 0.52% YoY.

Then COVID struck and the Federal government dumped trillions of dollars of stimulus into the economy and The Federal Reserve massively expanded its balance sheet. Now the US has home prices growing at a 18.8% rate, rents (for those who can’t afford to purchase a home) growing at 14.91% and REAL hourly earnings growing at -1.80%.

The site Apartment List has an even bleaker view of rent growth, with rents in January 2022 having grown by 18% YoY.

Now that COVID is fading, we see New York City rents growing at 33.5% YoY followed by Florida and Arizona cities at 29.3% and higher rates. Irvine CA is seventh at 28%. The slowest growing city is Oakland, CA is growing at only 0.5%.

So, The Federal Reserve and Federal government have created their version of a horror film with even rents blowing out of control. And it’s getting weirder as inflation blows out of control.

New US Foreign Policy: Exporting Inflation Around The Globe As The Fed Keeps Printing (US Export Prices UP 15.1% YoY, Import Prices UP 10.8% YoY)

Another effect of The Federal Reserve’s reckless monetary policy coupled with Biden/Congress reckless spending is bad foreign policy. The US is exporting inflation around the globe.

US export price YoY is at 15.1%. The US is importing less inflation at 10.8% YoY.

Here is the export/import stack.

Things are not well in the US either. The misery index keeps rising under Biden’s Reign of Error.

The Federal Reserve keeps on printing!

Federal Reserve Bitcoin Meme GIF

Fed’s Bullard Backs Supersized Hike, Seeks Full Point by July 1 (10Y-2Y Yield Curve Crashing)

Call this “The running of the Bull(ard)s mouth.”

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said he supports raising interest rates by a full percentage point by the start of July — including the first half-point hike since 2000 — in response to the hottest inflation in four decades.

“I’d like to see 100 basis points in the bag by July 1,” Bullard, a voter on monetary policy this year, said in an interview with Bloomberg News on Thursday. “I was already more hawkish but I have pulled up dramatically what I think the committee should do.”
 
Bullard’s plan involves spreading the increases over three meetings, shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet starting in the second quarter, and then deciding on the path of rates in the second half based on updated data. He said he was undecided on whether the March meeting should begin with 50 basis points, and would defer to Fed Chair Jerome Powell in leading the discussion. Powell, at a press conference in January, didn’t rule out the idea of such a move.

Bullard’s comments, along with the war drums along The Potomac about a Russian invasion of The Ukraine, are causing the 2-year Treasury yield to rise faster than the 10-year yield.

Resulting in a crashing 10Y-2Y curve.

The GINI measure of income inequality is at an all-time high as the purchasing power of the US Dollar is at an all-time low. Way to go, Federal Reserve and Congress!

What will The Fed decide at their emergency, closed-door meeting today? Nice transparency, Powell!

Bidenflation? WTI Crude UP 91% Under Biden, Foodstuffs UP 47%, 30Y Mortgage Rates UP 39% (6-7 Rate Increases, What’s It Going To Be?)

Well, it has been a cringe-worthy year+ under President Biden. West Texas Intermediate Crude futures price is up 91% and the Commodity Research Bureau Foodstuffs index is up 47%. Talk about Biden’s energy folicies being passed through to American households in the form of higher food costs and energy prices!

And then we have mortgage rates. Bankrate’s 30Y mortgage rate is up to almost 4%, up 39% since the beginning of 2021.

Other central banks are raising rates like banshees on the moor, while The Federal Reserve continues to send conflicting signals about possible March rate hikes.

Goldman Sachs sees 7 rate hikes in 2022, culminating in an eventual 2% rate in December.

Fed Funds Futures are signalling 7 rates increases by the February 1, 2023 meeting.

6 or 7 rate hikes, what’s it going to be?

It’s just like Biden to blame COVID for reckless Federal monetary and fiscal policies that overloaded the system.

PIGS Facing The Fire (Again)! Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain Seeing Surge In Sovereign Debt Yields

European PIGS must face the fire … again.

Once upon a time, European PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) saw incredible spikes in their sovereign yields related to Greek credit default contagion. But the European Central Bank (ECB), World Bank (WB), International Money Fund (IMF) rose to the rescue.

But here we go again! Thanks to rising inflation, the ECB is threatening to remove the massive monetary stimulus. Sound familiar??

Here are the Eurozone 10-year sovereign yields as of this morning. Greece is up a whopping 27.4 basis points, Italy is up 11.7 BPS, Portugal is up 9.3 BPS and Spain is up 9.2 BPS. The core of the Eurozone, France and Germany, are up 4.3 and 3.0 BPS, respectively.

Germany has REAL 10Y Bunds yields of -4.7%.

Like the USA, the Eurozone Taylor Rule is much higher than the ECB’s Main Refinancing rate of 0%..

Here is ECB’s Christine Lagarde saying “What, me worry??”

Lagarde Pivots on ECB Rate Hikes as Switch in Guidance Seen Soon (US 10Y Yield Up 5BPS, Mortgage Rates To Follow)

Its the same all over the WESTERN world as sovereign yields are starting to rapidly rise.

(Bloomberg) — European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde is no longer ruling out an interest-rate hike this year, a pivot toward the tightening stance of global peers that officials privately see materializing with a shift in policy guidance as soon as next month. 

Investors brought forward bets on ECB action as the monetary chief delivered surprisingly hawkish comments citing unexpected record inflation data, contrasting with an earlier statement on Thursday that kept intact its formal view that price increases will ease. 

She spoke after policy makers agreed that it’s sensible no longer to exclude a rate move in 2022, and that bond buying could end in the third quarter, according to officials familiar with their thinking who asked not to be identified because such discussions are confidential. An ECB spokesman declined to comment. 

The result of Lagarde’s jaw boning?

US mortgage rates are rising in anticipation of the US following Largarde’s lead. Powell and the Gang continue to lag.