Weekend Update! Gasoline Prices UP 101% Under Biden, Mortgage Rates UP 89%, Foodstuffs UP 58% (Crude Oil Futures UP 142%)

This is not the legacy that will endear President Biden to voters. Regular gasoline prices have risen 101% under Biden.

But it not just gasoline and diesel that are soaring (while the rest of us are sore!), CRB Foodstuffs are up 58% under Biden while the 30-year mortgage rate is up 89% under Biden.

And this morning, WTI crude futures are up +1.71%.

And up 142% under Biden.

Prices are sizzling and clobbering the American middle class and low wage workers. But former Federal Reserve Chair and current US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen never saw it coming.

Biden’s just killing us. And Powell is making up for Yellen’s keeping monetary stimulus too high for too long. Price? Mortgage rates are soaring.

Mortgage Update! Mortgage Applications Fell 1.2% WoW, Refi Applications Down 75% YoY, Purchase Applications Down 16% YoY, Mortgage Rate UP 71% YoY

Mortgage applications decreased 1.2 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending May 20, 2022.

The Refinance Index decreased 4 percent from the previous week and was 75 percent lower than the same week one year ago. And under Biden, the refinance index is down -83.2%.

The good news? The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 0.2 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 1 percent compared with the previous week and was 16 percent lower than the same week one year ago. And the mortgage purchase applications index is down -12% under Biden.

While mortgage interest rates are up 71.7% than one year ago and mortgage rates are up 87% under Biden. As The Federal Reserve signals (but not yet accomplished) monetary tightening.

Once again, The Fed is dead set on cooling inflation caused by 1) Biden’s anti-drilling policies and 2) the remnants of the Federal government spending splurge to combat Covid. The Fed has been increasing their asset purchases (purple line) as inflation increase (blue line). Now they are signaling a decline in the balance sheet (green line) in the hope that it will cool inflation. Fat chance.

Let’s see how DEAD SET The Fed is about tightening monetary policy in the face of rising energy and food prices while a war rages in Ukraine and China in a Covid lockdown.

We are all goin’ down the road feelin’ bad under Biden.

Still Hot, Hot, Hot! US Existing Home Sales Fall -2.4% MoM In April, But Median Price Is 14.85% YoY And Inventory For Sale Remains MIA (Fed Stimulypto Still Helping Housing Bubble)

US Existing Home Sales were 5.61M SAAR in April, down -2.4% from March’s -3.0% MoM reading. But median prices YoY for existing home sales printed at 14.85%, still hot, hot, hot.

With 3 consecutive declines in MoM existing home sales, how can prices still be raging at 14.85%? First, inventory for sale in April remains low compared to 2010 (yellow line). Second, The Federal Reserve’s Stimulypto (excessive monetary easing) is still out there in force despite Jerome “Slowhand” Powell signaling rate increases (green line). 30Y mortgage rates are still rising.

Where do we go from here? 30 year mortgage rates have been climbing as The Fed signals its intents to tighten monetary policy. But with global economic slowing, Treasury yields have been coming down (like today’s -5.2 BPS drop (Germany’s 10Y Bund Yield dropped -8 BPS on slowing global economic growth).

But remember, the Existing Home Sales numbers are for April.

“Middle Class” Joe’s War On … The Middle Class (WTI Crude UP 102% Under Biden, Reg Gasoline UP 83%, Diesel Fuel UP 111%)

Joe Biden likes to sell himself as “Middle Class” Joe. But Middle Class Joe declared war on the middle class with executive orders on fossil fuel drilling and killing the Keystone pipeline. Hence, his press conference on reducing inflation left off one thing: he could rescind the aforementioned executive orders. But he didn’t. So its Band-Aids on Band-Aids.

Since Biden was elected President, WTI Crude Oil futures are up 102%. Regular gasoline is up 83% and the lifeline of the shipping industry, diesel, is up 111%. Of course, inflation measures don’t measure the harm to the middle class at 8.5% YoY.

Here is Biden’s speech, blaming everyone but himself for inflation. And then walks away (as usual) when asked a tough question. But he lied. He COULD cancel his executive orders on oil and natural gas exploration, but didn’t. Instead, he blamed Trump and MAGA voters.

Another Volcker Moment? JPMorgan Expects String of Nine Straight Fed Rate Hikes (Shock And Awful??)

In August 1979, when Paul Volcker became chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, the annual average inflation rate in the United States was 11%. Inflation peaked in 1980 at 14.6%. Volcker raised the federal funds rate from 11.2% in 1979 to 20% in June of 1981.

Inflation (defined as CPI YoY) declined from over 14.6% in 1980 to 3.6% by 1985. But 30-year mortgage rates resumed their upward trajectory and peaking in October 1981 at 18.63 before beginning a gradual decline as inflation was tamed.

But will Powell enact another Volcker moment by raising the target rate abruptly?

JPMorgan Chase & Co. economists said the Federal Reserve is likely to raise interest rates by 25 basis points at nine consecutive meetings in a bid to tamp down inflation.

The bank is joining others on Wall Street in ramping up bets for faster policy tightening, after U.S. consumer prices posted the biggest jump since 1982 in January. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is forecasting seven hikes this year, up from its earlier prediction of five.

“We now look for the Fed to hike 25bp at each of the next nine meetings, with the policy rate approaching a neutral stance by early next year,” the JPMorgan team, led by chief economist Bruce Kasman, said in a research note. 

January U.S. inflation readings “surprised materially to the upside,” the economists wrote. “We now no longer see deceleration from last quarter’s near-record pace.”

On inflation, the economists said a “feedback loop” may be taking hold between strong growth, cost pressures, and private sector behavior that will continue even as the intensity of current price pressures in the energy sector eventually fade.

Strong growth? 1.3% is strong growth??

Be that as it may, the US economy is at a different place today than under President Jimmy Carter. When Volcker started raising The Fed Funds Target rate, US public debt was still under $1 trillion. It has ballooned to over $30 trillion today.

9 rate increases is above what is being priced in The Fed Funds FUTURES market which is 6 rate increases over the coming year.

With 7.5% inflation, the Taylor Rule suggests a target rate of 15.45%. Talk about “Shock and Awful!”

We are starting to see GOLD (gold) surging and Bitcoin (yellow) falling as The Fed prepares “shock and awful” rate hikes and Biden continues to beat the war drums over Russia invading Ukraine.

If The Fed actually raises rates 9 times and dramatically pares back its massive monetary stimulus, it will be “shock and awful.”

Inflation And Fed Crushing Savers (REAL 3M CD Rate At -6.74%)

The Federal Reserve’s zero-interest rate policies (ZIRP) has The Fed Funds Target Rate at a measly 25 basis points or 0.25%. While this is great for some, it is disastrous for savers. Once we subtract off the inflation rate (CPI YoY), we find that the REAL 90-day Certificate of Deposit (CD) rate is a horrifying -6.74%.

I don’t think that Congress or the Biden Administration really think about how their spending may contribute to inflation and crush savers. Or the American worker who is seeing NEGATIVE real average hourly earnings growth (yes, Biden said that Americans have more money this holiday season … but not if we account for reduced spending power, also known as inflation.

Here is US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen singing “Goodbye Savers.”

Goodbye Savers
Will we ever meet again
Feel sorrow, feel shame
Come tomorrow, feel lots of pain

What’s Wrong With This Picture? Fed Reverse Repo Usage Continues To Grow Along With Fed’s Balance Sheet (Reverse Repos At All-time High)

I love listening to Fed talking heads (or Fear The Talking Fed). They mostly seem to acknowledge that inflation is a problem and that the excessive monetary stimulus should be reduced.

But then I see the chart of The Fed’s balance sheet and The Fed’s reverse repo operations.

Then we have Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller saying that Th Fed could start raising interest rates as early as its March 15-16 meeting, after deciding to end asset purchases sooner than planned. My question is … why wait until the March meeting?

Is it fear of the Omincron Variant (which sounds like a Frederick Forsyth thriller)? Does The Fed not want to rock the boat prior to the Christmas season? The US is at or near full employment, so what is the real reason for delaying a rate increase until March or June? Or the fear that Congress won’t pass Biden’s Build Back Better Act?

Fed Funds Futures infer that one rate hike will occur at the June Fed Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and one at the November meeting.

So will Powell get back in the saddle again and actually do his job?

Alarm! Treasury Dealer Short Positions Another Red Flag for Liquidity As Stock Market Surges On Realization The Fed May NOT Taper (And Fausti Oversold Omicron Threat)

Alarm!

(Bloomberg) — The recent drop in primary-dealer holdings of front-end Treasuries is another warning of potential market dislocation heading into the year-end liquidity vacuum.

As of Nov. 24, primary dealers — which are mostly the large banks — were on the whole betting against two- to three-year Treasuries rather than buying. They had net short positions of just over $9 million, near the most bearish levels since 2017, signaling a pullback by buyers that provide crucial liquidity for older Treasury issues.

The positioning in the front-end of the curve “suggest less demand from the dealer community to fund off-the-run long positions,” Barclays strategists Anshul Pradhan and Andres Mok say in a Dec. 3 note. Off-the-run Treasuries are notes and bonds created in past years and traded less frequently than the newest issues; they’re the biggest part of the market and make up most of the Federal Reserve’s daily asset purchases, which are being scaled back. 

Short positioning increased on a relative basis as a result, “which may also have crowded demand to borrow particular issues over others,” the analysts wrote. 

Those forces together could contribute to an increase in market dislocations.

 Jerome Powell’s hawkish pivot shocked financial markets. A week later, stocks are higher.
The S&P 500 staged its biggest rally since March to wipe out losses from the past week. The speculative fringe that was a smoldering wreck Friday was soaring Tuesday. An index of meme stocks rallied more than 4%, while one composed of airlines added 1.6%. A gauge of newly public companies advanced more than 4%, SPACs jumped more than 2% and even cryptocurrencies rallied, with Bitcoin powering back above $51,000.

It’s a stunning about-face for risk assets that went into a tail spin after the Federal Reserve chair suggested he favored accelerating the removal of monetary support. What follows are takes from market-watchers on why the market is looking past the Fed’s potential change in policy.

Also, the realization that Fausti was chicken-little and Omicron is not the planet killer.

Or could it be that with China easing, the US will be forced NOT to taper. Or taper only ever-so-slightly.

With the Dow up another 500+ points, it looks like no one is taking Powell and the Gang seriously about tapering. Or Fausti for that matter.

NIAID Director Anthony Fausti.

NOT In Labor Force Remains Near 100 Million As REAL Hourly Earnings Drop To -1.4% YoY (Biden Celebrates Unemployment Rate Dropping To 4.2%?)

President Joe Biden took to Twitter yesterday to celebrate how well his economic policies are working, particularly the American Rescue Plan. Between Congress and The Fed pumping trillions of dollars of stimulus in the economy, how is this surprising? Or a reason for celebration?

While declining unemployment is great, there is more to the story that President Biden failed to mention. Like … the number of people NOT in the labor force remains near 100 million (99,997,000 to be exact). Thanks to Covid-related policies (like job loss due to resisting vaccinations), increasing retirement, etc.), NOT in labor force remains elevated compared to pre-Covid levels. And, of course, Biden doesn’t want to mention that inflation is growing faster than hourly wage growth resulting in REAL hourly wage growth being -1.4% YoY.

And President Biden took credit (he is a politician, after all) for a small decline in gasoline prices. Of course, after helping send gasoline prices up over 50% since he took office.

So, is Biden going to take credit for increasing gasoline prices by 50%? And declining REAL average hourly earnings? Or over 100 million people NOT in the labor force? I doubt it. But he is focusing on the POSITIVES of his American Rescue Plan.

Its a bold strategy Cotton, let;s see if it pays of for him.

Transitory? US Export Prices Soar By 18% YoY (Exporting Inflation To The World!)

I wonder if Biden’s Press Secretary Jen Psaki will argue that inflation is transitory … again?

Well, the US is exporting inflation to our trading partners. US Export Prices by end use rose 18% YoY.

Of course, with the Biden Administration shutting down energy pipeline and drilling, it is not surprising.

Then we have the advance retail sales numbers for October. Growing at 16.3% YoY with massive monetary stimulus still in play.

Then we have Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard saying that the central bank should speed up its reduction of monetary stimulus in response to a surge in U.S. inflation.

You mean like what Mankiw’s specification of the Taylor Rule model suggests??