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The Fed’s Ill-Designed Inflation Policies

On Thursday, August 27, Fed Chair Jay Powell spoke at the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole symposium. His talk was much anticipated, as it was expected that the old 2% inflation objective would be updated. In fact, the Fed had telegraphed the change; and the Fed has been following the newly announced policy for several months. The policy change allows the Fed to permit inflation to exceed the Fed’s announced 2% target without …Read More

The Inflation Scare

Interest rates backed up last week.  The 30-year T-Bond, which was 1.19% on August 4, closed at 1.44% on Friday (August 14).  The 10-year T-Note closed at 0.71%.  It was 0.52% on August 4.  The CPI showed up with a +0.6% M/M rise (7.4% annual rate) for July.  That pushed the Y/Y rate to +1.0% from +0.6% in June.  Clothing prices rose +1.1% M/M in July.  They had risen +1.7% …Read More

The Economy: Navigating Scylla & Charybdis

  In Greek mythology, Scylla and Charybdis were mythical sea monsters existing on the opposite sides of the Strait of Messina, between Sicily and the Italian mainland.  Scylla was a six headed sea monster; Charybdis a huge whirlpool.  Because they were so close together, any passing ship was threatened.  In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus passed close to Scylla, losing only a few sailors rather than risking losing his whole ship in …Read More

The Shape Of Things To Come: ‘V’ Or ‘L’ Recovery

What do -38%, -34%, -30%, and -25% have in common? If you guessed that these are the Q2 real GDP forecasts from the major financial houses (Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JPMorgan), you would be correct. Incredible as it may seem, we are likely headed for a drop in Q2 real GDP in that magnitude, and the just passed Q1 quarter looks to be somewhere near high negative single digits. …Read More

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