Watching the Fed
Every day this week, investors will get data on the economy. New home sales today, then capital investment, GDP, consumer incomes and spending, manufacturing, and auto sales are on the list. All of this will feed into the outlook for what the Federal Reserve might do with interest rates this year.
A key economic mistake people make is thinking growth leads inflation. One reason they do that is because inflation is a monetary phenomenon. When money is too easy, first growth rises, and then inflation rises with a longer lag due to excess dollars in the system.
Budgets And Governing
The leaders of the House and Senate have come up with a new budget deal, and many people aren’t happy. It still needs passing by January 19th, or else the government, evidently, may shutdown. We doubt that this will happen, but the fight over government spending seems to drag on year after year after year.
The Employment Situation
The employment sector has undergone a tumultuous journey over the past four years, and recently the trajectory of job gains has experienced a gradual deceleration over the past year, prompting speculation about the future.
A Mild Recession and S&P 4,500
Very early this year our economics team got a pleasant surprise: Consensus Economics, which collects forecasts from roughly 200 economists around the world, rated us the most accurate forecasters of the United States for 2022, based on our forecasts for GDP and CPI. Unfortunately, we don’t expect a repeat award for 2023.
Fed Declares Mission Accomplished
The Federal Reserve declared victory today, projecting a soft landing as its base case in the years ahead, with more cuts in short-term rates, and with inflation gradually getting back to its 2.0% goal without a recession.
Crisis Management Government Leads to No Good
Back in 2008, Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson, using fear of financial collapse, convinced President Bush and Congress to 1) pass a $700 billion bailout of banks (called TARP) and 2) allow the Federal Reserve to pay banks interest on reserves at the same time the Fed moved from a scarce reserve model of monetary policy to an abundant reserve policy.
You Know It When You See It
While the Fed kept rates unchanged at today’s meeting, between the press conference and forecast updates, Powell and Co. gave plenty of ammo to keep the financial press busy speculating about what may come at the next FOMC meeting this Fall.
Where is the Economy?
What’s going on with the markets and the economy? Long-term Treasury yields are up substantially since last Fall while the stock market, after a big rally, has stumbled so far this month. Meanwhile, the real economy appears to continue to chug along – even accelerating!
An Age of Fiscal Limits
Wars cost money, and throughout history, countries have borrowed to fight them. There are plenty of examples of wars bankrupting countries, but the US was so dominant in the 1940s that at the end of World War II, its debt only cost about 1.8% of GDP to service.
Not All Recession Theories Make Sense
Take the 2008 financial panic. Was it market failure and bad business models or was it using the government to subsidize housing plus mark-to-market accounting? We believe the latter…without the subsidies and bad accounting rules, the recession might not have happened at all.
Prior to 2008, when the Federal Reserve ran a “scarce reserve” monetary policy, just about every bank in the US had a federal funds trading desk. These trading desks lent and borrowed federal funds (reserves) amongst each other.
The Red, White, and Blue Swan
In 1852, Karl Marx said, "Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves but under circumstances directly encountered and transmitted from the past."
Is the Recession Threat Dead?
Lately, it’s been easy to see the optimism. As of the Friday close, the S&P 500 is up 15% so far this year (not including dividends) and up 23% (again, without dividends) versus the lowest bear-market close back in October.
Jobs With Little Growth Means Less Productivity
We have used the word “unprecedented” to talk about the economy during and after COVID. We have never before locked down economic activity, while printing trillions of new dollars to help finance trillions of extra government borrowing to pay people not to work.
Agents of Change?
If you’ve been to a high school or college commencement lately, then you know the drill: at some point at least one speaker will urge the graduates to be “agents of change,” suggesting they’d like to see these students make the world a better place through some sort of social activism.
Has the Fed Paused?
The Fed raised short-term interest rates by another quarter percentage point today to a range of 5.00 – 5.25%, just like most analysts and investors expected. In addition, policymakers made changes to its official statement that hint that this rate hike might be the last of the cycle.