The inflation that is crushing Americans is due to energy and food price increases. That is, the non-core inflation. Under Biden, food is up 63%, gasoline is up 92% and diesel prices are up 112%. But The Fed doesn’t consider food and energy prices, per se.
If we look at the Taylor Rule considering fighting inflation including food and energy, The Fed would have to raise their target rate to … 21.38%.
Now, The Fed can clearly cool-off the housing market by raising rates. In fact, my fear is that they go too far and crash the housing market. The Fed will NEVER get to 20% again like we last saw under Volcker in 1981. 20% rates certainly cooled home prices back then and Fed rate hikes helped crash the housing market in 2008.
So, when The Fed says they want to be the inflation-fightin’ Fed, we must be aware what The Fed can and cannot do. They can’t tame the inflation beast in the form of food and energy prices (unless they crash the economy), but they can crush home prices.
Most of us are painfully aware of rising food prices, particularly with the US fighting a proxy war with Russia. Wheat prices have doubled under Biden and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
But inflation is everywhere. Rising home prices, rising gasoline and diesel prices, etc. When Jeep can see a Wagoneer for $100,000+, you know we have inflation.
The surprise this morning was retail sales, up 0.9% MoM (though still less than expected), despite rising prices. Odd since REAL wage growth is negative.
But the other bit of good news this AM is that US industrial production rose +1.1% MoM in April. And US Capacity Utilization is rising dangerously towards 80%, it is at 79% in April.
You will notice that Fed monetary tightening occurs when capacity utilization hits 80%, indicating an overheated (or OVERSTIMULATED) economy. Yes, we still have The Fed Funds Target Rate (Upper Bound) at only 1% and The Fed Balance Sheet still near $9 trillion. So, Fed stimulypto is still in play.
Meanwhile, M2 Money Velocity is near its historic low and M2 Money YoY is still sizzling at 9.85% YoY.
Wheat prices have doubled under Biden, and you can see how wheat futures soared when Russia invaded Ukraine.
Nothing has been the same since Covid and The Federal Reserve’s massive overreaction to the government shutdowns of the economy.
Notice how the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index (white line) has plunged since Covid and the ensuing rise in inflation. University of Michigan’s Buying Conditions for Houses has also plunged to new depths.
Rising inflation (highest in 40 years) and hottest home price bubble (even hotter than the infamous housing bubble of 2005-2007) AND rising mortgage rates have placed a damper on home buying sentiment.
The US Senate yesterday confirmed the reappointment of Jerome “Slowhand” Powell as Federal Reserve Chairman.
The good news? Atlanta Fed’s Flexible CPI YoY cooled to 20% in April. The bad news? Flexible prices are still growing at 20% while wages are growing at 5.5% YoY.
On the export front, export prices are cooling and were at 18% YoY in April, down slightly from March. Import prices cooled to 12% YoY as The Federal Reserve has slowed asset purchases.
I would have preferred President Biden appoint a serious Federal Reserve Chairman liked Stanford University’s John Taylor (of Taylor Rule fame). In his honor, here is the Mankin version of the Taylor Rule which calls for a Fed Funds Target Rate of 13.89% while the current Fed Funds Target Rate under Powell and the Gang is … 1%.