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When the Stimulus Tailwinds Fade

Prologue Big numbers are showing up in U.S. economic data, partly due to the low levels of economic activity a year ago, partly caused by the reopening, and partly caused by the generosity of Uncle Sam.  We’ve had three helicopter money drops, two of them in 2021.  The economy is rapidly reopening as seen from the latest OpenTable data which shows U.S. restaurants in late April down -20% to -30% …Read More

U.S. Data Says “Boom:” Part Base Effect, Part Transient, Part Real

Prologue The much anticipated economic boom has finally arrived!  The NY Fed Weekly Economic Index exploded to the upside in late March and early April (see chart above).  Retail Sales were up an amazing +9.8% M/M in March!  That number is not Y/Y.  The Y/Y number was +27.7%, but was greatly influenced by depressed Retail Sales last March when the economy was beginning to shut down.  April’s Y/Y number will …Read More

Incoming Data Looks Robust – It’s A Mirage

Incoming PPI data marked the initial volley of the oncoming “siege” of inflation data. Despite reopenings, state Initial Unemployment Claims spiked as March ended.  Either the reopening lags are longer than we thought, or disincentives from overly generous benefit payments are at play. If recent history is any guide, only part (25%) of the stimulus cash will be spent on consumption, the remainder saved or used to reduce debt.  Business, …Read More

Dysfunctional Credit Markets – Still Waiting on the Fed

As the week ended, U.S. credit markets appeared confused, if not outright dysfunctional.  The 10-Year Treasury yield began February at 1.09% and reached an interim peak of 1.54% on February 25.  Then it retreated to 1.42% as markets thought the rise had simply been overdone.  But Fed Chair Powell’s refusal to assure financial markets regarding the Fed’s intentions at the Wall Street Journal’s Jobs Summit (as detailed in last week’s …Read More

Careful Mr. Powell; Higher Rates Will Kill the Recovery

Treasury yields rose again this week; blame this one on Fed Chairman Powell.  In an interview at the Wall Street Journal’s Job Summit, he said that the Fed isn’t ready to stop the run-up in yields “until financial conditions tighten.”  In so saying, he paved the way for those financial conditions to tighten as markets immediately obliged.  We can’t help but think that it would have been better if he …Read More

The Rate Spike Will Damage the Recovery

Fed Intervention Needed There was quite a spike in interest rates the last week of February with the 10-Year T-Note spiking from a 1.36% level as of the close on Wednesday to as high as 1.60% intraday with a close of 1.55% on Thursday.  Friday’s close was 1.45%.  But, a lot of damage was done. It is naïve to think that this spike was caused by the inflation narrative, i.e., …Read More