The US Producer Price Index (PPI) final demand rose 10% YoY in February, further evidence of spiraling inflation under Biden/Pelosi/Schumer’s reign of error.
And speaking of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Empire State Manufacturing Survey (General Business Conditions) crashed to -11.8.
And Russia is losing the economic demolition derby with Ukraine (at least for sovereign debt).
I am still trying to figure out what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) meant by “When we’re having this discussion, it’s important to dispel some of those who say, well it’s the government spending. No, it isn’t. The government spending is doing the exact reverse, reducing the national debt. It is not inflationary.”
Here is a chart of Federal government outlays and inflation. Massive expenditures and growth in Federal debt and the resulting inflation. Nancy?
In August 1979, when Paul Volcker became chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, the annual average inflation rate in the United States was 11%. Inflation peaked in 1980 at 14.6%. Volcker raised the federal funds rate from 11.2% in 1979 to 20% in June of 1981.
Inflation (defined as CPI YoY) declined from over 14.6% in 1980 to 3.6% by 1985. But 30-year mortgage rates resumed their upward trajectory and peaking in October 1981 at 18.63 before beginning a gradual decline as inflation was tamed.
But will Powell enact another Volcker moment by raising the target rate abruptly?
The bank is joining others on Wall Street in ramping up bets for faster policy tightening, after U.S. consumer prices posted the biggest jump since 1982 in January. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is forecasting seven hikes this year, up from its earlier prediction of five.
“We now look for the Fed to hike 25bp at each of the next nine meetings, with the policy rate approaching a neutral stance by early next year,” the JPMorgan team, led by chief economist Bruce Kasman, said in a research note.
January U.S. inflation readings “surprised materially to the upside,” the economists wrote. “We now no longer see deceleration from last quarter’s near-record pace.”
On inflation, the economists said a “feedback loop” may be taking hold between strong growth, cost pressures, and private sector behavior that will continue even as the intensity of current price pressures in the energy sector eventually fade.
Strong growth? 1.3% is strong growth??
Be that as it may, the US economy is at a different place today than under President Jimmy Carter. When Volcker started raising The Fed Funds Target rate, US public debt was still under $1 trillion. It has ballooned to over $30 trillion today.
9 rate increases is above what is being priced in The Fed Funds FUTURES market which is 6 rate increases over the coming year.
With 7.5% inflation, the Taylor Rule suggests a target rate of 15.45%. Talk about “Shock and Awful!”
We are starting to see GOLD (gold) surging and Bitcoin (yellow) falling as The Fed prepares “shock and awful” rate hikes and Biden continues to beat the war drums over Russia invading Ukraine.
If The Fed actually raises rates 9 times and dramatically pares back its massive monetary stimulus, it will be “shock and awful.”
How bad is inflation in the USA? Try 18%, based on the Flexible Consumer Price Index.
The Flexible Price Consumer Price Index (CPI) is calculated from a subset of goods and services included in the CPI that change price relatively frequently. Because flexible prices are quick to change, it assumes that when these prices are set, they incorporate less of an expectation about future inflation.
Again, remember that Federal inflation numbers woefully undercount housing and rent inflation. For example, the Case-Shiller National Home Price index (as of November 2021) was growing at 18.8%.
The sad part is that inflation-adjusted average hourly earnings growth of all employees is crashing thanks to inflation.
Like John Belushi from The Blues Brothers, Fed Chair Jerome Powell is saying that the markets lackluster response in terms of bond yields to his “hawkish” announcement yesterday “isn’t his fault.”
(Bloomberg)Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell appears unperturbed by the fact that longer-term bond yields remain low even as officials lay the ground work for tighter policy and inflation is ticking higher.
While the drop in longer-term rates may be viewed by some as indicative of where so-called terminal rates for U.S. policy might ultimately lie, Powell on Wednesday emphasized the impact of ultra-low yields in places like Japan and Germany in helping to keep them anchored.
“A lot of things go into the long rates and the place I would start is just look at global sovereign yields around the world,” Powell said at a news conference following the Fed’s final scheduled policy meeting for the year, which saw officials ramp up the pace of stimulus withdrawal and boost predictions for rate hikes in 2022. The Fed Chair noted that rates on Japanese and German government bonds are “so much lower” than those on Treasuries and that with currency hedging taken into account American debt provides investors with a higher yield. “I’m not troubled by where the long bond is,” he said.
This stands as something of a contrast to the view expressed back in 2005 by one of Powell’s predecessors. Back then, Fed chief Alan Greenspan described a decline in long-term bond yields even in the face of six policy rate increases as a “conundrum.”
Or it could be that no one REALLY believes that Central Banks will ever cut interest rates, despite surging inflation.
The US Treasury 10-year yield dropped 7 basis points overnight and remains just south of 1.50%. The Eurozone remains below 1% (with Germany at -0.358% and France at -0.009% at the 10-year mark). Japan is at 0.039%. This is what Powell means by low global rates keeping US long-term rates down.
The 10-year Treasury term premium (measured before Powell’s head fake on raising rates) has returned to pre-Biden levels.
Meanwhile, global equities futures are up across the board (well, except for Mexico).
The Fed could have raised their target rate if they were REALLY interested in cooling inflation. The Taylor Rule remains at 14.94% while The Fed is stalled at 0.25%. Even if you don’t like the Taylor Rule, it still highlights how ridiculous Fed Stimulypto is.
Well, we do have a government-propelled economic recovery, but at a cost of declining REAL wages thanks to the highest inflation rate in 40 years.
Calamity Jay Powell is no longer mentioning “transitory” when it comes to inflation, but does Powell and the FOMC have the moxie to ACTUALLY raise rates more than a smidge??
(Bloomberg) — Team Transitory is throwing in the towel.
In a clear sign that the Federal Reserve is shifting to tighter monetary policy, Jerome Powell — who’s spent months arguing that the pandemic surge in inflation was largely due to transitory forces — told Congress on Tuesday that it’s “probably a good time to retire that word.”
The Fed chair, tapped last week for another four-year term, still thinks inflation will ebb next year.
But in testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, he acknowledged that it’s proving more powerful and persistent than expected, and said the Fed will consider ending its asset purchases earlier than planned.
A number of economists are forecasting cooling inflation next year, which gives Powell an excuse to NOT raise rates, other than just a bit.
For a little history, inflation was rampant in the 1970s and early 1980s. Fed Chair Paul Volcker, all 6’7 of him, raised the Fed Funds target rate (white line) to 20% on several occasions. The result? Inflation cooled from over 14% in 1980 to 2.46% by 1983. But since 2008, Fed Chairs Bernanke, Yellen and Powell have been the ANTI-Volckers … keeping the Fed Funds Target rate near zero for the the most part and adopted their gut-wrenching quantitative easing programs that are still here today.
Of course, Powell could do what Volcker did (and the Taylor Rule suggests) and raise their target rate to 15% to cool inflation.
But does Powell and the other FOMC members have the moxie to really cool inflation? Frankly, no. Powell until yesterday played the TRANSITORY card and still believes that inflation will cool by 2022.
True, the Federal government has binged on borrowing (up 172% since January 2009). And with Biden and Congress trying to spend trillions more (much of which will be added to the public debt rolls, so increasing interest rates ala Volcker is very problematic.
And then there is always the good ‘ole excuse not to raise rates if needed. Other than admitting that The Fed is monetizing Federal government spending to which there is no end in sight.
I have written numerous times about nothing has been the same since the housing bubble burst and ensuing financial crisis of 2008. The crisis led to bank bailouts (TARP) and banking legislation (Dodd-Frank) giving The Federal Reserve even more power. And then the COVID lockdowns led to even MORE power for The Fed. And a horrid decline in money velocity (the ability of printing money to increase economic growth … or GDP).
But let’s take one step backwards. One the causes of the housing bubble that burst was President Clinton’s infamous National Homeownership Strategy that encouraged “partners” with the Federal government to soften underwriting standards for mortgage lending, particularly for minority households. The intent was to increase the homeownership rate in the US and it worked! Too well. Along with increasing the homeownership rate came rising home prices, culminating with home price growth reaching 14.5% YoY in September 2005. Only to start slowing to a crash.
Of course, the housing bubble was associated with no/low documentation and subprime mortgage lending. But the relaxing of underwriting standards by the National Homeownership Strategy helped fuel the no/low doc and subprime lending crisis. But weakening underwriting standards to increase homeownership rates is a dangerous strategy.
Note the surge in M1 Money Velocity (GDP/M1) starting in 1994. M1 Velocity grew until Q4 2007, then crashed along with home prices. The second and more sudden crash in M1 Velocity occurred with the COVID outbreak in March 2020 and the ensuing economic lockdowns and the intervention of The Federal Reserve in terms of money printing. M1 Money surged 173% from October 2008 to February 2020 and then another 369% from March 2020 to today. THAT is a Fed Storm Surge!!
M2, the broader definition of money, has not grown as rapidly as M1, but it still grew at an alarming rate. Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic blamed inflation on COVID but not The Fed’s insane money printing or government lockdowns. C’mon man!
Finally, the banking crisis (and TARP bailouts) along with COVID have made consumer purchasing power of King Dollar even worse.
Be careful of government strategies to make housing more “affordable” because they seem to make housing more expensive and can help crash the financial system.
The Federal Reserve continues to JOLT markets with excessive monetary stimulus despite numerous reasons why they should back off.
For example, today’s JOLT report (US job openings) revealed that 10.4 million jobs were open in September. This is the fourth consecutive month of 1 million plus job openings, yet The Fed refuses to raise their target rate.
At the same time, the University of Michigan survey revealed that buying conditions for houses dropped to 66 (baseline of 100). To show how bad this is, buying conditions for houses was at 144 this time last year.
UPDATE: UMich revised their number downward to 62, the lowest since 1981.
In The Fed’s mind, they are still chasing at least 3.5% unemployment, the lowest rate under President Trump prior to COVID. But with perpetual million plus job openings GOING UNFILLED, trying to get to pre-COVID unemployment rate of 3.5% is a fool’s errand.
Of course, with The Fed helping to pump up house prices to largely unaffordable levels, it makes sense that enthusiasm for buying expensive homes has crashed.
Meanwhile, The Fed continues to JOLT the economy with excess stimulus.
Overall inflation fears are leading to lowest consumer confidence since 2011.
Somewhere over the Alps, T-Sec Janet Yellen is fearmongering over a possible US debt default if Republicans don’t kowtow to Democrat’s desires to raise the debt ceiling.
(Washington ComPost) — SOMEWHERE OVER THE ALPS — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday said Democrats should be willing to approve a fix to the nation’s debt ceiling without GOP support if necessary, an approach senior Democrats ruled out during arecent standoff over the issue.
In an interview aboard a government airplane between Rome and Dublin, Yellen castigated Republicans for refusing to help raise the debt limit but acknowledged Democrats may be able to address the issue without GOP support through the Senate budget procedure known as reconciliation.
Senior Democratic leaders were adamant that the debt ceiling be resolved on a bipartisan basis last month. Senate Republicans have uniformly insisted that Democrats should alone be responsible for raising the nation’s debt limit. Congress probably will face a deadline of Dec. 3 to act, though the exact date is uncertain.
Well, Janet, the market (Credit Default Swaps for US) doesn’t seem to be worried about raising the debt ceiling.
Likewise, the CDX 5Y IG for the US investment grade corporate bonds is near historic lows. Even Yellen can’t make that rise.