I must admit, Joe Biden has a horribly misleading nickname “Middle Class Joe.” Between Biden’s horrible energy policies and Pelosi’s/Schumer’s spending binges, the US middle class and low wage workers have suffered mightely with the inflation tax. Throw in Jerome Powell and The Federal Reserve’s manic money printing and the American middle class has a problem.
US inflation peaked at 9.1% year-over-year (YoY), but has declined to a still painful 7.1% YoY as The Fed removes it aggressive monetary stimulus. But to cope with persistent US inflation, consumers have had to dip into savings and use more credit cards. As a consequence, personal savings plunged -64.8% YoY while consumer credit rose 7.9% YoY.
The other tax on the middle class and low-wage workers is the 21 straight months of negative REAL weekly earnings growth.
On the housing front, REAL home prices are growing at 1.5% YoY while REAL weekly wage growth is still NEGATIVE at -3.13% YoY.
Make no mistake, inflation caused by The Fed and Federal governments spending is a tax on the middle class and low wage workers.
Biden, Pelosi, Schumer and Powell are the 4 Horseman of the Inflation Apocalypse.
First, US default risk as measured by credit default swaps remains elevated (primarily because Biden and Democrats refused to cut wasteful spending or reign in non-retirees on Social Security). And NY Fed’s Reverse Repos remain elevated.
And then we have Citi’s economic surprise index for the US at -17 as The Fed slows money growth to 0%.
I watched Biden’s Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre giving Biden credit for the lowest unemployment rate in US history thanks to his economic policies. And Biden mentioned that he inherited a terrible economy from Trump.
Let’s let the data talk.
Covid was horrific (I almost died from it), but it was the government response to Covid there was disastorous. Government shutdowns (and the masking of the populace) killed off numerous small businesses and sent jobless claims soaring in 2020 (white line) and U-3 unemployment rate rose to the highest level since The Great Depression.
The response from The Federal Reserve was a massive printing of money (green line). And after governments stopped their economic shutdowns (coupled with massive money printing), we saw jobless claims and unemployment shrink rapidly BEFORE Biden took office as President.
The 1981 recession begat an epic borrowing of money by The Federal government (under House Speaker Tio O’Neill D-MA) and we saw another explosion in Federal debt under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi D-CA TWICE, once in 2009 following the financial meltdown and again in 2020 following the Covid economic lockdowns.
So does Trump get any thanks for the rapidly improving labor market before his ouster by Biden? Of course not. But who gets the blame for the staggering growth in Federal debt? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The US did get positive wage growth under Biden, but due to inflation, American workers have experienced 21 straight months of NEGATIVE wage growth.
While Trump tried deregulation to free-up the US economy, Biden has consistently used regulation as a weapon of obidience. His slavish obidience to activist groups on the environment, which is a shame since temperatures have actually been coming down since 2016.
When you look at the data, Trump actually set in motion the jobs recovery, not Biden. Other than helping to create inflation, I can’t think of one positive thing Biden has done for the economy.
On an unrelated note, why is US FBI Director Chris Wray at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland when there is a top secret document fiasco going on in DC and Delaware?
Soft landing for the US economy? It is looking less and less likely. The bond market (10-year Treasury yield) just shed -14.1 basis points. As I always told my investments students, any 10 basis point shift in the 10-year Treasury yield is significant.
Let’s start wit the US business leaders survey of current conditions. It just crashed to -21.4
Then we have US industrial production, down -0.7% in December. And is up only 1.65% year-over-year as M2 Money growth stalls.
Capacity Utilization plunged more than expected to 78.7% (79.5% exp).
Biden claiming the US economy is strong is pure Fantasy Island.
Today, Jean Pierre annouced that Biden’s economic plans are working.
Mortgage applications increased 27.9 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending January 13, 2023. But mortgage applications are 60% lower than the same week last year.
The Refinance Index increased 34 percent from the previous week and was 81 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 25 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 32 percent compared with the previous week and was 35 percent lower than the same week one year ago.
Here are the stats.
One lender in particular, Wells Fargo, smells blood in the economic waters, and has cut back mortgage originations.
Just remember, mortgage applications generally rise in the first part of the year until May, then start slowing until the last week of the year. This is called seasonality. But despite the fast growth this year, purchase applications are still down -35% compared to last year at this time.
We got trouble in Potomac City! No, I’m not talking about the numerous Top Secret documents that Biden carelessly left in his garage in Delaware and the UPenn Biden Center. And they found more over the weekend. I’m talking about the US Treasury 10Y-2Y yield curve being inverted for 135 straight days. And thanks to inflation, REAL wage growth has been negative for 21 straight months.
All this is happening while M2 Money growth (green line) stalls to 0% YoY.
Swaps 5Y are rising as The Fed withdraws monetary stimulus.
Newly-minted US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy faces a daunting task: trying to avoid a US debt default. As I have discussed many times before, nothing has been the same since the US housing bubble and near-collapse of the banking system that produced an expensive bailout of seemingly all financial institutions. After 2008, Federal spending has gone out of control. The budgetary hawks (or pigeons) in the US House of Representatives (with Pelosi, Boehner, Ryan then Pelosi again) went on Federal spending sprees of epic proportions.
The Manhattan Institute has a nice chart showing the explosion in the Federal budget since 2008. Of particular note, interest payments on the Federal debt has increased by a staggering 192%. On the non-interest spending front, Social Security and Health Entitlements have increased by 140% while Nondefense Discretionary Spending has increased 76%.
The massive increase in Federal debt interest is due to both increased Federal spending and rising interest rates thanks to The Federal Reserve raising rates to fight inflation.
But what will McCarthy and House Republicans recommend cuts in? Tighter restrictions on who qualifies for Social Security and particularly Social Security Disability payments?
The odd factoid is that Defense and Wars budget is up less than 1% from 2008 to 2032. So, Ukraine military aid is coming from somewhere, but not from the Defense budget. Is Ukraine another entitlement program?
Rest assured that after debate, the House will pass a budget and, provided that virtually nothing was cut, the Senate will gleefully agree to more spending and “Top Secret Documents” Biden will sign it.
After he parks his gorgeous Corvette Sting Ray, that is.