Heartaches On Heartaches! US Court Ruling May Take 70,000 Truckers Off Road, Spur Jams (Diesel Prices UP 118% Under Biden, Things Just Keep Getting Worse)

Hey, I thought Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the US Transportation Secretary, was supposed to unclog the supply-chain crisis! Instead, we get heartaches on heartaches as diesel prices rise 118% under Biden AND now the bottle-necks may get a lot worse.

A US Supreme Court decision that could force California’s 70,000 truck owner-operators to stop driving is set to create another choke point in already-stressed West Coast logistics networks, a truckers’ organization said. 

“Gasoline has been poured on the fire that is our ongoing supply-chain crisis,” the California Trucking Association said in a statement following the Supreme Court’s decision to deny a judicial review of a decision of a lower court, a process known as certiorari.

“In addition to the direct impact on California’s 70,000 owner-operators who have seven days to cease long-standing independent businesses, the impact of taking tens of thousands of truck drivers off the road will have devastating repercussions on an already fragile supply chain, increasing costs and worsening runaway inflation,” the CTA said.

The association asked the Supreme Court for a review of a case challenging California’s Assembly Bill 5, a law that sets out three tests to determine whether a worker is an employee entitled to job benefits or an independent contractor who isn’t. The trucking industry relies on contractors, and has fought to be exempt from state regulations for years because of federal law.

With few exceptions, the relationship between independent truckers and their carriers, brokers and shippers will be governed by the tests. 

As if US consumers aren’t getting crushed by rising prices already. In response to the Covid outbreak, The Fed slammed its foot on the money accelerator along with Federal government stimulus. Throw in Biden’s anti-drilling executive orders, and we have a nightmare.

Consumer confidence is already crumbling under inflation and rising energy prices.

Let’s get ready to stumble.

The End? Home Sellers Are Slashing Prices in Sudden Halt to Fed’s Stimulypto Boom (Dallas, Phoenix AZ And Las Vegas NV Seeing >20% Price Cuts)

As The Fed raises rates in their attempt to wrangle inflation, we are seeing an about-face in the US housing market.

The pandemic-related Fed monetary stimulypto begat a housing boom that is careening to a halt as the fastest-rising mortgage rates in at least half a century upend affordability for homebuyers, catching many sellers wrong-footed with prices that are too high. It’s an astonishing turnaround. Just a few months ago, house hunters felt pushed to make offers within days, waive inspections and bid way above asking. Now they can sleep on it and maybe even shop for a better deal. 

It doesn’t mean real estate is heading for a crash on the order of 2008. But when a market reaches these heights, even a drop toward normalcy will feel steep. And of course, a recession could make everything worse. 

Dallas, Phoenix AZ and Las Vegas NV are leading in the price-slashing derby.

Is this the end for the home price bubble?

Or is the music over with The Fed tightening monetary policy to fight inflation.

Slip, Slidin’ Away! US Q2 Real GDP Descends To -2.1% (Late In The Evening For The Midterm Elections!)

Slip slidin’ away
Slip slidin’ away
You know the nearer the midterm elections

The more you’re slip slidin’ away

As Bill Clinton once said about elections, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Which is bad news for Biden and Democrats after Q1’s bad GDP report of -1.6% “growth”, we now see the Atlanta Fed’s real-time GDP report for Q2 at -2.1%.

Today’s miserable construction spending report helped tank Q2’s real GDP forecast.

Its getting late in the evening since the midterms are only a couple of months away and Biden’s approval rating is miserable.

Sing it, Joe!

S&P 500 Posts Worst First Half Rout Since 1970 As 10Y Treasury Yield Tanks 14 Basis Points (Biden Approval Drops To 38.3% On Rising Inflation, Gasoline Prices)

Run runaway! For safety to Treasuries.

A “recession shock” begins for markets following the worst first-half for the S&P 500 in more than 50 years.

And investors are running to Treasuries for safety as US Treasury 10-year yields tank 14 basis points.

Biden’s approval rating has collapse with inflation and rising gasoline prices. Note that Biden’s approval rating dropped below 50 in mid-August 2021, long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022. Gasoline prices had risen 49% since Biden’s inauguration as President, but before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Winter is coming!

Slowing! US Personal Consumption Expenditures Drop To 0.2% MoM In May As PCE Deflator Hits 6.3% YoY (US Mortgage Rates Slip to 5.7%, the First Decline in Four Weeks)

The US economy is slowing as inflation ravages consumers. US Regular Gasoline prices, for example, are up 104% under President Biden which helps to slow the economy.

US personal consumption expenditures fell to +0.2% MoM in May as “inflation” or real personal consumption expenditures PRICES rose +6.3% YoY as The Fed’s balance sheet (aka, Master Blaster!) remains.

As I mentioned above, US regular gasoline prices are UP 103% under President Biden, diesel prices (the cost of shipping goods to markets like … food is up 119% under Biden while CRB foodstuffs is up 55% under China Joe.

Now we have mortgage rates in the US falling for the first time in four weeks. The average for a 30-year loan was 5.7%, down from 5.81% last week, Freddie Mac said in a statement Thursday.

This year’s Fourth of July celebration is going to cost 18% more than last year’s celebration.

Lastly, the Atlanta Fed GDPNow real time tracker for Q2 is showing … -1% GDP “growth.”

So, yes, the US economy is slowing.

Fed Is ‘Just at the Beginning’ of Raising US Rates, Mester Says, MBA Mortgage Purchase Applications Drop -21% WoW As Rates Rise (Mester Channels The Carpenters)

Cleveland Fed’s Mester is channeling The Carpenter’s song “We’ve only just begun … to raise rates.”

Financial markets are anticipating what Mester is saying: rapidly rising interest rates. But as you can see from the following chart, gasoline prices (orange line) are driving rising US prices. So it is doubtful that monetary tightening will slow price increases. But Mester and company can only control monetary stimulus.

Mortgage rates have soared as The Fed attempts to crush inflation. And mortgage purchase applications fell -21% WoW in the most recent Mortgage Bankers Association survey.

The Refinance Index increased 2 percent from the previous week and was 80 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 0.1 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 21 percent compared with the previous week and was 24 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

It almost seems like Mester is following the Taylor Rule (not really). But using CPI YoY, the Taylor Rule is saying that The Fed Funds Target Rate should be … 22.10%. It is only 1.75% after years of excessive stimulus following the banking crisis of 2008/2009. And Yellen who seemingly never met a rate hike that she liked.

If we use core PCE as our measure of inflation, the Taylor Rule is still high at 13.25%, a whopping 11.50 spread over the current target rate.

Will The Fed drive up rates and risk a recession ala Paul Volcker? Are we sitting on top of the world or about to get fried?

Bear in mind that gasoline prices are up 104% under the Biden Administration and mortgage rates are up 105%.

The Thrill Is Gone! Richmond Fed Index Plummets To Covid-era Levels (Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Falls Below 100) As Fed Withdraws Stimulus

It took a while and trillions in fiscal and monetary stimulus to recover from Covid-era economic lockdowns, but now that the monetary stimulus is being withdrawn, the economy is stalling.

If you look at the chart below, you can see that “The Thrill Is Gone” from monetary and fiscal stimulus.

And The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index fell below 100 as M2 Money Stock YoY returns to pre-Covid levels.

You are gonna have to face it, we’re addicted to gov (stimulus).

Blitzkrieg Bop! ECB to Activate First Line of Defense in Bond Market July 1 (Lagarde Calls For Monetary Maginot Line) WIRP Forecasts US Rate Hikes Until March 2023, Then Declining Rates

The ECB is planning on a Blitzkrieg Bop, monetary style.

When Lagarde talks about the first line of defense, all I can picture is The Maginot Line in France, a failed defensive line that was easily bypassed by the German Wehrmacht (army).

The European Central Bank will activate the bond-purchasing firepower it’s earmarked as a first line of defense against a possible debt-market crisis on Friday, according to President Christine Lagarde.

Applying “flexibility” to how reinvestments from the ECB’s 1.7 trillion-euro ($1.8 trillion) pandemic bond-buying portfolio are allocated is aimed at curbing unwarranted turmoil in government bonds as interest rates are lifted from record lows to curb unprecedented inflation.

Net buying under a separate asset-purchase program is also set to end on Friday.

In other words, Euro-area inflation has exploded in 2021, just like the USA.

But the US also has an inflation problem caused in part by Covid and the government’s reaction to Covid: economic shutdown and massive Federal monetary and fiscal stimulus. The stimulus is still in play.

The bond market is already anticipating an about-face by The Federal Reserve (implied overnight rate peaking at the March 2023 FOMC meeting, then receding.

Again, nothing has been the same since the Covid outbreak of 2020 and Fed monetary blitz. Here is the US Dollar Swaps curve before Covid (yellow line) and today’s Fed-enhanced curve (green).

Mortgage rates in the US have climbed to 6% then backed-off slightly. The good ole Back-off Boogaloo as The Fed attempts to unwind its monetary stimulypto.

The French Maginot Line, easily bypassed by German tanks. The Federal Reserve is the US’s Maginot Line. The Yellenot Line??

More On Fed’s Bullard’s “Consumers Healthy” Remark (Consumer Sentiment At Lowest Level Since 1977 While Unemployment Rate At Only 3.6%)

St. Louis Fed President Bullard made a remark the other day that consumers are healthy so a recession is unlikely.

Consumers are healthy? It is true that the US U-3 uemployment rate is low (3.6% versus 14.70% in April 2020 thanks to government shutdowns over Covid). But even though unemployment is low, consumer sentiment is at its lowest point since 1977.

Generally, consumer sentiment is high when unemployment is low, but not this time around. Currently, inflation is at the highest level since March 1980 even though consumer sentiment bottomed-out in April 1980.

Here is my chart showing that REAL average hourly earnings growth YoY is negative and getting worse, hardly a sign of “healthy consumers.”

Of course, rising gasoline and diesel prices have risen dramatically since 2021, but are declining slightly thanks to the global economic slowdown (read “lower demand”).

And a M2 Money Stock (green line) declined, US rents (blue line) declined as well.

We are truly living in Birdland. As in bird-brain land.

Alarm! Fed’s Bullard Says US Recession Fears Overblown With Consumers Healthy (My Response In One Chart: REAL Average Wage Growth At -3.34% YoY, Real GDP Growth At … 0%)

Alarm!

No problemo, says James “Bully” Bullard, President of the St Louis Federal Reserve. Bullard said that US recession fears are overblown with consumers “healthy.”

Really Jim?

Inflation is so bad they REAL average hourly earnings growth keeps falling and is now -3.34% YoY.

Apparently, real GDP growth of ZERO doesn’t bother Bullard either.

Apparently, we are still Under The Thumb of The Federal Reserve.