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Demographic Trends: The Case Against Negative Interest Rates

Japan has a 2.2% unemployment rate, yet, for 30 years, they have not had any significant economic growth, due to their demographic structure. Today, the developed world has Japan’s 1990s demographic features, with falling fertility rates, rising dependency ratios (retirees/working aged), and, ultimately, declining populations. Under these conditions, aggregate GDP growth will be harder and harder to achieve. QE’s “Wealth Effect” All the central banks of developed economies have adopted the Fed’s …Read More

Look For The Preponderance Of The Evidence, Don’t Rely On One Factor

The headline on my LinkedIn page on Friday (October 4th) read: “Jobless rate reaches half-century low, HP plans to cut up to 9,000 jobs…” Is this good news about jobs, or bad? I’ve learned many times over the years to rely on the preponderance of the evidence, and not on any single indicator. The jobs numbers, themselves indicate that the economy is still expanding. But, the lower level of job creation, along with …Read More

The Deer in the Headlights

The big event of August, the one that was going to move markets, was supposed to be Jay Powell’s remarks at the KC Fed’s annual symposium at Jackson Hole.  Turns out, his speech was a non-event! The Powell Non-Event The media made it their purpose, prior to his speech, to spotlight the fact that the FOMC members, the Fed’s rate setting committee, are very divided on the appropriate policy, given …Read More

The New Mercantilism Rates Race to the Bottom Currencies Depreciate

During the recent period of world growth, where nearly every country’s exports were rising, there was little incentive for governments to manipulate economic policies to foster even more economic growth. Getting back to “normal” seemed to be the universally adopted mantra, and that implied rising rates and tighter monetary policies. However, today, when world trade is contracting (some of which may be due to “trade wars,” but much of which is due …Read More

Fallout From Fed Dovishness

The rate setting committee of the Fed met on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 19 and 20. What the Market Saw and Heard From their formal statement and press conference, the equity market saw and heard only what it wanted, at least at first, and equity markets rose on Thursday, March 21st (Dow Jones +217): No rate hikes in 2019, and possibly only one in 2020 (and that one would occur because …Read More

The Rocky Road to “Normal”

The terms “normal,” “normalize,” and “neutral” are common in today’s economic discussions.  But, does anybody really know what “normal” is?  When the Federal Reserve (Fed) says that it  wants to “normalize” interest rates, do they have a rate scheme in mind?  Does it mean that rates will be similar to what they were 10-20 years ago?  That’s what most people believe “normal” is.  The truth is “normal” is significantly lower.  The current …Read More