The Garbageman: Fed Rate Hikes Will Intensify Global Debt Crisis (NOW They Realize That Low-Rate Debt Is A Problem If Rates Rise??)

CNBC had an interesting Homer Simpson-moment when the Jubilee Debt Campaign suddenly realized that there was enormous debt outstanding, fueled by Central Banks and governments. They are only now realizing that Central Bank zero-interest rate policies leading to massive debt issuance may be a problem??

Interest rate hikes from the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks are likely to worsen a global debt crisis, particularly for developing countries, according to a new report from U.K. non-profit the Jubilee Debt Campaign.

The Federal Open Market Committee meets this week to decide the path for its tightening of monetary policy as it looks to contain soaring inflation. Some analysts are expecting the central bank to hike rates four times from their pandemic-era lows in 2022.

In a report published Sunday, the Jubilee Debt Campaign highlighted that developing countries’ debt payments rose 120% between 2010 and 2021, and are currently at their highest since 2001. The average portion of government revenues channeled toward external debt payments increased from 6.8% in 2010 to 14.3% in 2021, with payments shooting up in 2020.

The sharp increase in debt payments is hindering countries’ economic recovery from the pandemic, the report suggested, and rising U.S. and global interest rates in 2022 could exacerbate the problem for many lower income countries.

Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said last week that Fed rate hikes could “throw cold water” on already weak recoveries in certain countries. Higher U.S. interest rates, and thus a rise in the greenback, could make it more expensive for countries to meet their dollar-denominated debt obligations.

“The debt crisis continues to engulf lower income countries, with no end in sight unless there is urgent action on debt relief,” said Heidi Chow, executive director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign.

“The debt crisis has already stripped countries of the resources needed to tackle the climate emergency and the continued disruption from Covid, while rising interest rates threaten to sink countries in even more debt.”

Chow called on G-20 leaders to stop “burying their heads in the sand” and argued that the global economy urgently needs a “comprehensive debt cancellation scheme which compels private lenders to take part in debt relief.”

Austin, Texas musician Cornell Hurd has a song that nicely summarizes Central Banks like the US Federal Reserve: The Garbageman.

You ask me what I do for a living,

You’re trying to get a feeling on how I’m fixed for cash.

My friends all say I’m a just garbageman, baby

I’m out in this honkeytonk market, picking up trash.

Today we may see The Federal Reserve raise their target rate (slightly) to measure how bad markets will receive the news.

The Garbageman, Jay Powell.

US Home Price Growth “Slows” To 18.81% YoY With Phoenix AZ At 32.2% (Simply Unaffordable!)

Happenings two months ago. The Case-Shiller home price index is out for … November 2021.

The Case-Shiller National home price index “slowed” to 18.81% YoY in November as The Fed continues its monetary stimulypto. Notice that The Fed is easing even when there is limited inventory available. Result? Hideous home price inflation.

Which metro area is growing the fastest, making housing even more unaffordable for renters? Phoenix AZ is growing at a 32.2% YoY clip while Washington DC is the slowest growing metro area at 11.1% YoY. The second faster growing metro area in Tampa FLA.

Phoenix AZ is growing at the fastest rate in the nation as The Fed still has its monetary stimulus at FULL SPEED AHEAD.

Let’s see if Fed Chair Powell decides to raise rates and let the Fed’s balance sheet run-off.

Bubble Burst? NASDAQ, WTI Crude Futures And Bitcoin All DOWN On Opening (Europe Stoxx Down 4%)

Is this the bubble burst many were expecting once The Federal Reserve starting raising rates?

Well, if today’s market opening is an indication, the answer is yes. The NASDAQ Composite Index is down 1.36% and West Texas Intermediate Crude Oil futures prices are down 2%.

The S&P 500 index is down over 10% since January 3rd.

Drawdown is taking place.

But if you think the US equities are deflating, look at European equities. The Euro Stoxx 50 index is down 4.04%.

Is this a Don Ho “Tiny Bubble” burst? Or a slow deflation of asset prices as The Fed removes its stimulus?

World’s New Supply Trackers Flash Caution Amid Omicron Worries (Add Ukraine-Russia Tensions To The Mix)

COVID and its omicron variant (as well as government reactions such as mask and vaccination mandates) are wreaking havoc on the global economy, but particularly in the USA where the Federal government dumped trillions of dollars in fiscal stimulus along with The Federal Reserve’s monetary stimulus into an economy not prepared for it. The result? INFLATION.

But global supply chains are nearing a turning point that’s set to help determine whether logistics headwinds abate soon or keep restraining the global economy and prop up inflation well into 2022, according to several new barometers of the strains.

Just a week before the start of Lunar New Year, the holiday celebrated in China and across Asia that coincides with a peak shipping season, economists from Wall Street to the U.S. central bank are unveiling a string of models in the hope of detecting the first signs of relief in global commerce. 

From Europe to the U.S. and China, production and transportation have stayed bogged down in the early days of 2022 by labor and parts shortages, in part because of the fast-spreading omicron variant.

Among the big unknowns: whether solid demand from consumers and businesses will start to loosen up, allowing economies to finally see some easing in supply bottlenecks. Fresh indicators from the private and official sectors are in high demand because there’s still much uncertainty in industries overlooked by mainstream economics before the pandemic.

Once the realm of trade and industrial organization experts, supply chains “have shifted to center stage as a critical driver of sky-high inflation and a stumbling block to the recovery,” Bloomberg Chief Economist Tom Orlik said. “The profusion of new indices and trackers won’t unblock the arteries of the global economy any quicker. They should give policy makers and investors a better idea of how fast — or slowly — we are getting back to normal.”

The Bloomberg Economics Index

Bloomberg Economics’ latest supply constraint index for the U.S. shows that shortages have trended modestly lower for six months. Even so, strains remain elevated, and the wave of worker absenteeism is adding to the problems at the start of 2022.

Port traffic tracked by Bloomberg shows container congestion continues to rankle the U.S. supply chain from Charleston, South Carolina, to the West Coast. The tally of ships queuing for the neighboring gateways of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, continued to extend into Mexican waters, totaling 111 vessels late Sunday, nearly double the amount in July.

Source: Bloomberg, IHS Markit, Genscape

Note: Data counts the total number of container ships combined in port and in offshore anchorage area.

Kuehne+Nagel’s Disruption Indicator

Kuehne+Nagel International AG last week launched its Seaexplorer disruption indicator, which the Swiss logistics company says aims to measure the efficiency of container shipping globally. It shows current disruptions at nine hot spots is hovering near “one of highest levels ever recorded,” with 80% of the problems happening at North American ports.

Seaexplorer disruption indicator as of Jan 20, 2022

Flexport’s Guages

Another freight forwarder, San Francisco-based Flexport Inc., last year developed its Post-Covid Indicator to try to pinpoint the shift by American consumers back to purchasing more services and away from pandemic-fueled goods. The latest reading released Jan. 14 “indicates the preference for goods will likely remain elevated during the first quarter of 2022.”

Flexport has a new Logistics Pressure Matrix with a heat map showing demand and logistics trends, and much of those numbers are still flashing yellow or red. Flexport supply chain economist Chris Rogers said in a recent online post that similar grids for Asia and European markets will be part of the research.

The Federal Reserve’s Stress Monitor

Adding their stamp to the burgeoning genre of supply stress indicators were three Ph.D. economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, with the launch its Global Supply Chain Pressure Index. Rolled out earlier this month, it shows that the difficulties, “while still historically high, have peaked and might start to moderate somewhat going forward.” The New York Fed said it plans a follow-up report to quantify the impact of shocks on producer and consumer price inflation.

Morgan Stanley’s Index 

Less than a week later came the Morgan Stanley Supply Chain Index. It lined up with the Fed’s view that frictions have probably peaked, though some of improvement ahead will come from a slowdown in the demand for goods. 

“Supply disruptions remain a constraint to global trade recovery, but as firms continue to make capacity adjustments to address them, capacity expansion could mitigate these,” Morgan Stanley economists wrote in a report Jan. 12.

Citigroup’s Tool

Citigroup Inc. last week released research that was less optimistic yet complementary to the New York Fed’s work, which Citi said doesn’t factor the role of surging demand as a contributor to the supply disruptions. Sponsored Content The Collaboration Disconnect Atlassian

Co-written by Citi’s global chief economist Nathan Sheets, a former U.S. Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, the bank’s analysis “gives a more complete, and intuitive, picture of the current situation.” While strains may ease in coming months, Citi said, “these supply-chain pressures are likely to be present through the end of 2022 and, probably, into 2023 as well.”

The Keil Institute’s Flows Tracker

In Germany, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy updates twice a month its Trade Indicator, which looks at flows across the U.S., China and Europe. Its latest reading Jan. 20 shows that along the key trading route between Europe and Asia, there are 15% fewer goods moving than there would be under normal times. The last time the gap was that large was in mid-2020, when many economies were reeling from initial lockdowns, Kiel said.

More recently, “the omicron outbreak in China and the Chinese government’s containment attempts through hard lockdowns and plant closures are likely to have a negative impact on Europe in the spring,” says Vincent Stamer, head of the Kiel Trade Indicator, said in a post last week. “This is also supported by the fact that the amount of global goods stuck on container ships recently increased again.”

Baltic Dry Index

The Baltic Dry shipping cost index indicates that costs for shipping materials such as iron ore have decline to where it started under Biden, despite West Texas Crude Oil spot prices begin considerably higher thanks to Biden’s anti-fossil fuel policies.

So as the world comes out of Omicron (and whatever COVID variant rises to take its place), we should see a normalization in the supply chain. And with Intel building a new chip factory in New Albany Ohio (aka, outskirts of Columbus). the supply chain woes will eventually subside.

Then again, there is always the Russia-Ukraine tension that may erupt into a disaster. I suggest that President Biden sent Hunter Biden to Moscow to negotiate on behalf of The Ukraine.

Ain’t it funky now. The US’s new ambassador to Russia?

Bitcoin/Ethereum/Dow Slide As Gold Rebounds (Fun Times As $3.3 Trillion Options Expire)

Yes, it is fun times in markets this Friday as $3.3 trillion in options expire.

As of 9:52am EST, we see Bitcoin (white) and Ethereum (blue) falling along with the Dow (pink), while gold (gold) fell then rebounded.

European stock markets are down 2% today.

Global sovereign bond prices are up across the board internationally as yields decline.

Crude oil is down today while natural gas is soaring. In particular, look at UK natural gas prices!

Brrr.

The Empire Strikes Out! Empire Manufacturing Index Slumps To Negative Territory As Inflation Roars (WTI Crude Futures UP 79% Since Jan 1st)

Well, Omicron is hitting hard. Not the virus itself, but governments’ reaction to the virus. The NY Empire Manufacturing Index has tanked into negative territory.

New orders are down 5%.

On the energy front, West Texas Intermediate Crude Oil futures are up 79% since January 1, 2021 while regular gasoline prices are up “only” 50% over the same period.

How about inflation and the Treasury yield curve? Inflation has soared to 40-year highs under Biden as energy prices (WTI Crude Futures) have soared 79%.

Container ships are still backed-up at LA and Long Beach ports. I thought Mayor Pete was supposed to fix the port congestion problem!

Maybe they should play the Darth Vader theme when Biden goes to the podium to stammer.

Inflation Nation! Commercial Real Estate Returns UP 22% YoY For Q4 2021 (Versus 19.66% YoY For Case-Shiller National Home Price Index)

Inflation is burning out of control. While home price growth has been off the cherts (as Jean-Ralphio would say), commercial real estate has jumped incredibly at 22% YoY. The Bloomberg charting function hasn’t updated for the Q4 NCREIF report yet so I had to manually write-in 22% on the following chart.

To quote Dean Martin, “Ain’t that a kick in the head.” Commercial real estate returns are now higher than house price growth.

So, what will happen IF The Fed follows through with its monetary stimulus reduction? JPMC’s Jaime Dimon warns that The Fed could hike 7 times in 2022 and not be ‘sweet and gentle’.

But The Fed seems to be stuck in underworld and doing a terrible job at signalling their intentions if Dimon thinks that The Fed could raise rates 7 times in 2022.

Shipping Blues! Cass Freight Index Expenditures Rose 43.6% In 2021 While Baltic Dry Index Has Crashed Since October 2021 (Omicron Strikes!)

Ever wonder why prices are rising so fast? One reason is that with rapidly rising energy prices under the Biden Administration, the costs are getting passed-through to consumers in the form of higher prices.

According to the Cass Corp Freight Index, the total spent in December on shipping goods to their customers in the US spiked by 43.6% from December 2020 to December 2021. Not surprising since energy prices over the past year have soared by almost 50%.

But at the same time, the Baltic Dry index (The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) is a shipping and trade index created by the London-based Baltic Exchange. It measures changes in the cost of transporting various raw materials, such as coal and steel) is crashing thanks to FEAR created by Omicron.

And yes, energy prices are surging again in 2022 after cooling off in Q4 2021.

Covid strikes!

Inflation Nation! US PPI Final Demand Soaring At 9.7% YoY As CPI Soared 7.0% YoY (Energy Prices Lessened In Q4 But Are Surging Again In 2022)

Yesterday’s inflation report was the worst in 40 years. But at least today’s Producer Price Index Final Demand is down slightly from November. But PPI Final Demand YoY is still roaring at 9.7%.

The producer price index for final demand increased 0.2% from the prior month and 9.7% from a year earlier, Labor Department data showed Thursday. The annual advance was the largest in figures back to 2010. 

Excluding the volatile food and energy components, the PPI climbed 0.5% in December and was up 8.3% from a year earlier. 

Too much Federal government spending, too much Fed monetary stimulus, Omicron helping created labor shortages, etc. But the real killer has been ENERGY prices. Note that natural gas, gasoline and WTI crude oil were falling in November/December helping to slow PPI growth by a smidge. BUT energy prices are skyrocketing in January. So … look for higher PPI in January.

Here is the painting by Thomas Hart Benton that drove “Brokeback Biden” to try to destroy fossil fuel production. Or at least this is Washington DC’s idea of what Oklahoma and Texas are like.

Waiting For Godot: US Inflation Jumps To 7% YoY As Real Hourly Earnings Growth Crashes To -2.32% (Taylor Rule Now 17.84% Versus Current Fed Funds Target Rate Of 0.25%)

This is like the Samuel Beckett play “Waiting For Godot.” Except we are waiting for Jerome Powell and The Federal Reserve to do something.

December’s consumer price index (CPI) is out and its a doozy, though expected. The CPI year-over-year (YoY) rose 7% in December.

If we exclude food and energy, CPI rose by 5.5% YoY.

Thanks to Biden’s assault on the energy sector, energy prices are up nearly 50% YoY.

REAL average hourly earnings YoY? It has crashed to -2.32%.

And with 7% inflation, the Taylor Rule model suggests a Fed Funds Target rate of … 17.84%. Bear in mind that the current target rate is 0.25%.

Meanwhile, grocery store shelves remain empty like we are living in Venezuela. Bidenzuela??

Meanwhile, we are waiting for Godot Powell to start taking action instead of jawboning.