Between inflation under Biden and The Fed’s counterattack to get inflation to 2%, I call this the Biden Blitz.
Unlike what the elites in Washington DC think, small business are the cornerstone of the US economy. Unfortunately, small business optimism is getting crushed and just fell in March to a level lower than that found during the Covid economic shutdowns of 2020. HOW is it possible for small businesses to be even less optimistic than it was in April 2002, the nadir of the Covid economic shutdown?
Small business optimism soared in November 2016 after the election of Donald Trump and remained high (above 100) until Covid struck in March 2020. Small business optimism rose above 100 again with the massive money printing by The Fed (green line) and Federal spending spree. But as M2 Money growth slowed, small business optimism hasn’t been above 100 since August 2021. It has been all downhill since then as The Fed started to raise The Fed Funds Target Rate quite rapidly.
NFIB small business credit conditions are negative at -9.0 and sinking like The Titanic.
Biden is the face of big business (big banks, big pharma, big tech, big defense, big labor unions, big media, etc.). Biden just told Al Roker that he is indeed running for reelection, supported by …. big banks, big pharma, big tech, big defense, big labor unions, big media, etc.
Biden is no longer a President, but an old-time preacher screaming about MAGA Republicans as if they were demons. This is called Blitzkrieg Biden.
But also related to “The Core” is that the important Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) are out for December along with PCE price deflator numbers. In short, personal income was up 0.2% month-over-month (MoM) in December while personal spending was down -0.2%. REAL personal spending was down -0.3% MoM.
But the all important PCE deflators numbers were down all well. The REAL PCE price index (or deflator) was down to 5.0% YoY in Decmember while REAL CORE price index was down to 4.40%. All this is happening as M2 Money growth has stop spinning (down to -1.3% YoY in December).
Based on a CORE PCE YoY of 4.40%, the Taylor Rules suggest that The Fed Fund Target rate should be … 10%. However, the current Fed Funds Target rate is only 4.50%, so The Fed is not even half way there.
Fed Funds Futures are pointing to a peak rate of 4.90% by the June ’23 FOMC meeting, then a pivot (despite denials from Fed talking heads).
Of course, The Fed doesn’t follow the Taylor Rule or any other transparent rule for rate management. Rather, Fed Chair Powell like former Chair (and current Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen) follow a more seat-of-the-pants approach.
While the children in Congress and the Administration argue about cutting the Fedcral budget (as if there isn’t trillions of dollars of wasteful spending in the budget), we saw an even dumber suggestion from Pramila Jayapal (WA-D), Adam (Shifty) Schiff (CA-D) and Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-D): a bill to eliminate the debt ceiling altogether to allow unlimited Federal spending. That reminds me of the Tom Arnold/Julie Ford film “The Stupids.” Yet these clowns keep getting re-elected.
In any case, The Federal Reserve’s quantitative-tightening program risks being propelled toward an early end as US politicians bicker in Washington over raising the national debt limit, according to some economists and bond-market participants. As of this morning, the US credit default swap (1-year CDS) remains elevated signaling a positive probability of a US debt default. (CDS represents the price of insuring against a default).
But notice that The Fed still has $8.5 TRILLION in assets (largely Treasuries and Agency MBS) on their balance sheet. But The Fed’s plans to continue shrinking their balance sheet will be put on hold (and if fact will be reversed) if Democrats and President (10% for the big guy) Biden don’t budget on cutting some of the enormous fat from the Federal budget.
President Biden is giving his first State of the Union address tonight with rebuttals from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and The Squad’s Rashida Talib (yes, a Republican is giving the rebuttal to Biden’s SOTU speech, and a Democrat is rebutting a Democrat President??)
Let’s look at a short list of Biden’s economic triumphs. I will ignore Biden’s catastrophic Afghanistan withdrawal and his weak response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
If you want higher oil and gasoline prices, Biden is a tremendous success.
If you like rampant government spending, then Biden is your man. Home price growth is up to 18.84%, making housing unaffordable for millions of American families.
Wages? They are up, but declining after 7.5% YoY inflation. And GDP is almost zero.
Biden can only point to rising average hourly wages, but not REAL average hourly wages.
Inflation? Highest in 40 years, due to excessive Federal spending, The Fed’s crazy printing and Biden’s energy mandates.
I am scratching my head to think of accomplishments for Biden to mention in the SOTU. But I am sure that he will say something positive. Otherwise, Biden’s SOTU speech should be the Billy Preston song “Nothing from Nothing.“
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?
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.”
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