Fed Dead Redemption? A Fed-Induced Recession in 2H 2023 (50-BPS Hike On 12/14 Then Two 25-BPS Hikes In 2023)

The Fed has signaled the terminal rate will likely be around 5% — we think an upper bound of 5% — reached in early 2023. To get there, the central bank will likely raise rates by 50 basis points at its December 2022 meeting, followed by two more 25-bp hikes in 2023. We then see it holding at 5% throughout the year. Markets have priced in a similar amount of tightening. 

Controlling inflation comes at a cost to growth. Yield curves have inverted. A Bloomberg Economics model shows a 100% probability of recession starting by August 2023. Take that — like all model forecasts — with a grain of salt. But the basic view that aggressive Fed tightening will very likely tip the economy into a downturn is correct.

While various measures of impending US recession show a good chance of a 2023 recession, Powell’s preferred measure of the yield curve shows only a 30% chance.

What Might the Recession Look Like?

We project a 0.9% GDP contraction in 2H 2023, driven by an investment downturn as firms pare inventories amid a downshift in consumption. Residential investment will also contract with real interest rates likely to rise steadily throughout 2023 as nominal rates stay high and inflation moderates.

An Inventory-Led Downturn

Resilient consumption should help put a floor under demand. 

Households have enough of a cash buffer — extra savings built up over the course of the pandemic, rising COLAs for Social Security recipients, ongoing state and local government stimulus and solid 2022 wage income growth — to sustain consumption during the recession. Our base case is for real spending to grow at a quarterly annualized pace of about 0.5% in 2023, with strength concentrated in services.

By one measure, households may still have $1.3 trillion in the coffers, based on flows within the personal income report through September. At the current rate of drawdown, that’s enough to last around 15 months, or through the end of 2023. Funds may dry up faster as job losses mount and the unemployed fall back on their savings.

$1.3 Trillion Extra Savings to Keep Spending Positive

The labor market remained exceptionally tight into the end of 2022. We expect it to soften significantly next year, with the unemployment rate rising to 4.5% by the end of 2023. The pace of hiring will slow markedly as support from catch-up hiring dissipates and the effects of restrictive monetary policy settle in. We estimate only 20%-30% of total employment is still in sectors experiencing labor shortages, implying demand for labor is falling fast.

Avoiding a Hard Landing Depends on Inflation, Fed

Extreme circumstances — the pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — have made a recession more likely than not. Extreme circumstances can change, and so can policy makers’ response Whether the US can stick a soft landing depends substantially on how external conditions develop and how the Fed responds. 

Not our base case, but we can envision a scenario in which the central bank opts to ease rates in 2023, boosting the chances of a soft landing.

One way that could happen is inflation falling faster than expected. Currently, our baseline is for headline CPI to drop to 3.5% and the core to 3.8% by the end of 2023. The most important assumption there is that energy prices remain flat next year from 2022.

In an alternative scenario, inflation fall faster as China maintains Covid controls and growth stumbles. A Bloomberg Economics model attributes the recent fall in oil prices entirely to a drop in demand — mainly from China. If China’s growth falls off the cliff, perhaps amid a sharp rise in Covid cases and resumed lockdowns, commodity prices could tumble sharply.

A warm winter in Europe and the US could also keep energy prices in check. Lower demand from Europe for US liquefied natural gas would help stem the increase in domestic electricity prices.

In that scenario, US energy prices could fall 20% in 2023 and headline inflation may drop to 2% by the end of the year. Lower gasoline prices would work to soften inflation expectations, easing pressure on the Fed to hold rates at higher level. A rate cut could then come in 2H 2023, raising the possibility of a soft landing.

Scenarios of CPI Inflation in 2023

The risk cuts both ways. A quick and successful pivot to reopening in China could boost oil and other commodities prices. A colder winter in Europe and the US would generate upward pressure for electricity and utility prices. Assuming China is fully open by mid-2023 — the base case for our China team — energy prices could increase by 20% in the year. In that case, headline US CPI would hit a bottom of 3.9% in midyear before surging to 5.7% by year-end.

In that scenario, the terminal fed funds rate would most likely top 5%, possibly closing 2023 near the upper end of St. Louis President James Bullard’s estimated restrictive range of 5%-7%.

Bloomberg Economics US Forecast Table

Thanks to Yellen’s legacy of too low interest rates for too long, The Fed is playing catch-up by finally raising rates.

It is truly Fed Dead Redemption!

US Mortgage Rates Fall A Fourth Week, Longest Stretch Since 2019 (Mortgage Applications Rise, But Refi Apps Remain Low -86% YoY And Purchase Apps Are Down -40% YoY)

The US mortgage market is like Mussgorsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Where are the paintings are bad.

US mortgage rates fell for a fourth week in a row, the longest such stretch of declines since May 2019.

The contract rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage eased 8 basis points to 6.41% in the week ended Dec. 2, still the lowest since mid-September, according to Mortgage Bankers Association data released Wednesday.

Rates have retreated for the past month as the Federal Reserve has signaled it will soon slow down the pace of interest-rate hikes, likely at next week’s policy meeting. 

Even so, MBA’s mortgage purchase index fell 3%, the first drop in five weeks, underscoring how demand remains fickle and driving a decline in the overall measure of mortgage applications. On the other hand, refinancing activity rose last week, but remains near the lowest level in two decades.

Here is a chart of mortgage applications from the Mortgage Bankers Association showing the decline in US mortgage rates, and increases in mortgage purchases and refi applications. The Refinance Index increased 5 percent from the previous week and was 86 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 31 percent compared with the previous week and was 40 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

The MBA survey, which has been conducted weekly since 1990, uses responses from mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts. The data cover more than 75% of all retail residential mortgage applications in the US.

US Treasury Yield Curve Inverts To -82 Basis Points, Worst Since 1981 As Fed Tightens Policy (112 Straight Days Of Inversion)

Whoop there it is!

The US Treasury 10y-2y yield curve descended further into inversion at -82 basis point, the worst since 1981.

This is not a good sign, since the 10Y-2Y curve typically inverts just prior to a recession.

The current US Treasury curve is currently humped at 1 year, then declining rapidly. The swaps curve is peaking at 9 months, then declining rapidly.

The Fed Funds Futures market is pointing to a peak Fed Funds rate of 5% at the May 3rd FOMC meeting.

Yes, a recession is headed our way.

Strange Days! Fed Remittances Due To Treasury Skyrockets As Fed Tightens, Strategic Petroleum Reserve Crashing As M2 Money Growth Dies

We are truly living in Strange Days under Joe Biden. And with Elon Musk’s release of Twitter’s suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop scandal, they call Joe Biden the Sleaze.

As The Federal Reserve tries to crush Bidenflation, we are seeing Fed Remittances to the US Treasury soaring (white line). At the same time, we see the Biden Administration draining the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (orange dashed line). And as The Fed tightens, M2 Money growth crashes (green line).

And with tech layoffs, I predict that 2023 job growth will be pretty bad.

As I have discussed before, I am a fan of ADP’s job reports and not a fan of the BLS NFP reports. As M2 Money growth slows, we can see declining ADP jobs added (yellow line), but BLS’s NFP report shows huge spikes.

Lastly, we have Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX. SBF should be in custody for being involved in one of the biggest fraud cases in history, but like Hunter Biden, is roaming free and trying to raise MORE funds. Why are these lapses in justice occuring with “10% for The Big Guy” Biden?

Corruption in Washington DC?

Fed Rollercoaster! Fed Will Slash Rates By 200 Basis Points by Mid-2023 Says Deutsche Bank

Fed Rollercoaster!

Deutsche Bank, my former employer, said that The Fed will slash rates by 200 basis points by mid-2024 after staying hawkish in the short term.  

Deutsche Bank increased its view on the terminal rate and now sees it hitting 5.1% in May. 

The Federal Reserve will remain hawkish in the short term but will cut benchmark rates sharply after that, according to a Monday note from Deutsche Bank. 

The central bank has hiked rates by 375 basis points so far this year, with another half-point increase widely expected next month. Even more tightening will come, with analysts at Deutsche Bank increasing their view on the terminal rate, which they now see hitting 5.1% in May. 

“Risks remain skewed to the upside, and we caution that the transition to pausing and eventual cuts may not be entirely linear,” the note said. “If elevated inflation and labor market imbalances persist, or financial conditions fail to tighten, a higher terminal rate could be needed.”

Meanwhile, the economy will slow down amid the aggressive tightening, and Deutsche Bank sees an 80% probability of a recession in the next year. 

Analysts anticipate a moderate recession beginning mid-2023, with real GDP falling about 1.25 percentage
points over three quarters and the unemployment rate reaching a peak of 5.5%.

“With a sharp rise in the unemployment rate and inflation showing clearer signs of progress, the Fed should cut rates by 200bps by mid-2024 when it approaches a neutral level around 3%,” analysts said. “QT should cease when the Fed cuts rates, to ensure both tools are not working in competing directions. Balance sheet drawdown could be modified or halted earlier if reserves continue to fall faster than expected.”

The first rate cut will be 50 basis points in December 2023, followed by 150 basis points of cuts into 2024, the note said.

The last Fed Dots Plot shows the next leg of The Fed Rollercoaster.

In the short term, Fed Funds Futures are pointing at another 106 basis point increase by June 2023.

Yes, its The Fed Rollercoaster!

Rent Crisis! 41% in U.S. Couldn’t Pay Rent November (Bank MBS Holdings Collapse With Fed Tightening)

Interesting story on Alignable.

Due to high inflation, reduced consumer spending, higher rents and other economic pressures, U.S.-based small business owners’ rent problems just escalated to new heights nationally this month, based on Alignable’s November Rent Poll of 6,326 small business owners taken from 11/19/22 to 11/22/22.

Unfortunately, 41% of U.S.-based small business owners report that they could not pay their rent in full and on time in November, a new record for 2022. Making matters worse, this occurred during a quarter when more money should be coming in and rent delinquency rates should be decreasing. But so far this quarter, the opposite has been true.

Last month, rent delinquency rates increased seven percentage points from 30% in September to 37% in October. And now, in November, that rate is another four percentage points higher, reaching a new high across a variety of industries.

All told in Q4 so far, the rent delinquency rate continues to increase at a significant pace, up 11 percentage points from where it was just two months ago.

Well, this is not good.

And on the mortgage front, not all is quiet.

Commercial bank holding of Agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) has collapsed with Fed tightening and mortgage rate increases.

Ain’t that a lot of bad news for real estate and the mortgage market.

Bad Sign! What Interest Rates Are Telling Us (US 10Y-2Y Curve Inverts To -80 Basis Points, Euro 10Y Yields Falling, Fed Funds Rate Priced At 2.301% By January 2024)

What interest rates are telling us is a bad sign.

With an impending railroad strike that can torpedo the US economy (but if that is possible, why is the Biden Clan vacationing in Nantucket for Thanksgiving weekend when Joe should be talking with railroads and the unions to not let this happen?), let’s see what interest rates are telling us.

First, the US Treasury 10Y-2Y yield curve continues to descrend into the abyss (now at -80 basis points).

Second, the latest Fed Dot Plot (from September, new one will be issued during December) show that The Fed thinks that their target rate, while rising in 2023, will likely start falling again in 2024.

Third, since it is Thanksgiving Day, US bond markets are closed. But in Europe, the 10-year sovereign yields are falling, a sign that the ECB is reversing course by increasing monetary stimulus and/or a European are slow down.

Fourth, US mortgage rates have cooled since peaking (locally) at 7.35% on November 3, 2022 and now sit at 6.81%, a decline of 54 basis points. A clear sign of cooling.

Fifth, how about Fed Funds Futures data? It is pointing to a peak Fed Funds Target rate of 4.593% at the June FOMC meeting. Then a decline in rates to 2.301% by January 2024.

Now, go and enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family (up 20% since last year), courtesy of Jerome Powell, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

Alarm! Yesterday’s PUT/CALL Ratio Was Highest In History (1.46, Higher Than 2001 And 2008!) REAL M2 Money YoY Plunges To Lowest Since 1980 And Jimmy Carter

Alarm!

Yesterday’s PUT/CALL ratio was the highest in history at 1.46. That is higher than 2001 and 2008.

REAL M2 Money YoY has crashed to its lowest level since 1980 and Jimmy Carter.

And the train keeps on rollin’.

Instead of Little Games, The Federal Reserve is making this BIG GAMES.

The Thrill Is Gone … From Cryptos? Bitcoin Resumes Downward Trend As Fed Tightens To Fight Inflation

The Thrill Is Gone … from cryptocurrencies.

The cryptocurrency market is getting hammered thanks mostly to two things: 1) Sam Bankman-Fried’s horrid failure with FTX (fraud, Enron, front-running, stupid investors, Democrat-Ukraine connection) and 2) Fed tightening to combat high inflation.

Bitcoin, the Mac Daddy of cryptos, is down another 2% today.

The rest of the story.

The NEW face of the US Federal government and why they will sweep the Bankman-Fried fiasco under the rug, just like Hunter Biden’s laptop fiasco.

Is Sam Bankman-Fried Another Bernie Madoff? Buyer Beware Or Rely On Government For Protection? (FTX Held Less Than $1bn In Liquid Assets Against $9bn In Liabilities)

Like the disastrous Bernie Madoff debacle where investors lost millions of dollars, Sam Bankman-Fried has apparently cost investors like Steph Curry, Shaq and Tom Brady considerable sums as well.

What do Bernie Madoff and Sam Bankman-Fried have in common? Greedy investors who apparently didn’t bother to monitor what was going on.

Yes, had they monitored FTX, Bankman-Fried’s company, they would have noticed that FTX held less than $1bn in liquid assets against $9bn in liabilities.

Generally, with buyer beware, the onus falls on investors to monitor what is going on. But The Fed’s completely dropped the ball on Bernie Madoff where investors didn’t seem at all curious about earning supercharged returns. The same is the case for FTX.

FTX had partnered with Ukraine to process donations to their war efforts within days of Joe Biden pledging billions of American taxpayer dollars to the country. Ukraine invested into FTX as the Biden administration funneled funds to the invaded nation, and FTX then made massive donations to Democrats in the US.

The SEC’s Gary Gensler blew it again. After his agency failed to warn investors about Terra and Celsius—whose collapses this spring sparked a trillion-dollar investor wipeout—the Securities and Exchange Commission chair allowed an even bigger debacle to unfold right under his nose. I’m talking, of course, about the revelation this week that the $30 billion FTX empire was a house of cards and that its golden boy founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, is the crypto equivalent of Theranos’s Elizabeth Holmes (Stanford University is where Holmes was an MBA student and Stanford Law School is where both SBF’s parents are professor).

To be fair, Gensler was not the only one suckered by SBF. Nearly everyone else fell for the narrative that SBF, with his cute afro and aw-shucks demeanor, was exactly the savior crypto needed to shake off its dodgy reputation and emerge as part of the mainstream financial system. The problem is that cop-on-the-beat Gensler not only failed to spot the crime—he appeared set to go along with a legislative strategy that would have given SBF a regulatory moat and made him king of the U.S. crypto market.

While it is easy to blame Gensler, the onus still falls on investors (and their managers) to MONITOR. Buyer beware.

What will happen to Sam? Likely nothing. He is a golden child of Democrats and was the second biggest donor to Biden and the Democrats after America-hating George Soros. Just like Biden’s son Hunter will never pay for his many inappropriate antics, I doubt that Merrick “Double Standard” Garland will do much to Sam.

Steph Curry, Shaq and Tom Brady should fire their investment advisors and possibly sue then for failure to monitor. No one noticed $1bn in assets against $9bn in liabilities??

Gary Genslar is more like Inspector Clouseau than a serious regulator.

Here is the SEC’s Gary Genslar interviewing Sam Bankman-Fried about FTX.

Maybe Sam’s Stanford law school professor parents didn’t tell him that it is against the law.