Normally when we write about public policy – monetary policy, taxes, spending, trade, and regulations – we mainly focus on what we think policymakers will do and the likely effects on the economy or the financial markets.
As expected, the Federal Reserve raised short-term rates by one quarter of a percentage point (25 basis points) earlier today, the first rate hike since the end of 2018.
With every passing month, politicians and economists try to blame inflation on anything but excess money growth.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine led western nations to impose the most draconian economic sanctions in the modern era.
They say the truth is the first casualty of war...so, here we are about one week into the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the fog of war is still very thick.
Late last year we unveiled our stock market forecast for 2022, projecting the S&P 500 would rise to 5,250 and the Dow Jones Industrials average would climb to 40,000.
The financial markets have been on tenterhooks lately for two main reasons: Russia and rate hikes.
Nothing is normal about the current business cycle; it really is unique.
The Federal Reserve’s policy statement from last week plus Jerome Powell’s post-meeting press conference made it abundantly clear it is ready to start raising short-term interest rates in March.
The Fed stayed the course today, with no change in the Fed Funds rate, no adjustment to the pace of tapering, no shift in the timeline for raising rates, and no indication that they intend to lift rates in larger steps.
When fourth quarter GDP data is released later this week, it will show that 2021 finished on a high note.
Consumer prices rose 7.0% in 2021, the largest increase for any calendar year since 1981.
Many analysts were disappointed by last Friday’s job report for December, but we think the headline masks an overall report that shows continued improvement in the labor market and a possible surge in small-business start-ups and entrepreneurship.
Welcome to 2022! We can't imagine a more transformative year for America. After two years of unprecedented government actions, the winds of change are blowing hard.
The Bible story of the virgin birth is at the center of much of the holiday cheer this time of year. The book of Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus decreed a census should be taken. Mary gave birth after arriving in Bethlehem and placed baby Jesus in a manger because there was "no room for them in the inn."
From 30,000 feet, the COVID lockdown and re-opening played out pretty much like we thought.
A renominated Powell is a different Powell. The Federal Reserve didn't raise interest rates today, a policy move we think is overdue, but it made major changes that set the stage for multiple rate hikes in 2022 and beyond.
We were bullish in 2021 and bullishness obviously paid off. As of the Friday close, the S&P 500 is up more than 25% so far this year.
In recent weeks, the stock market has decided the economic pain associated with an eventual tightening of fiscal and monetary policy is more likely to come sooner rather than later.
On Friday, news of a COVID-19 variant identified in South Africa, and the announcement of new travel restrictions, sent markets reeling. This is obviously not the only variant, and it won't be the last, either.
As Americans gather among family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, we all have much to be thankful for.
Inflation is back and worse than it's been in decades. Consumer prices rose 0.9% in October and are up 6.2% in the last twelve months. Two more months of moderate increases, and the CPI will be 6.5% in 2021, the highest inflation since 1982.
In spite of what listening to the mainstream media might make you think, the voting public doesn't change much from year to year or election to election. As a result, when leaders try to take policy too far in one direction, without enough public support, they often get punished at the polls.
The Federal Reserve today announced the (much-overdue) start to tapering, which means it will continue to increase the size of its balance sheet, but not quite as fast. Starting later in November, the Fed will reduce its monthly pace of asset purchases to $105 billion per month from the current rate of $120 per month.
Investors will be focused on the Federal Reserve this week and our expectation is that it will finally announce an overdue tapering of quantitative easing. In addition, we expect Chairman Jerome Powell to make it clear in the press conference that he expects tapering to be completed by mid-2022.
When the US fell into the COVID crisis, the federal government went on a massive spending binge. Pre-COVID, in the twelve months through March 2020, federal outlays were $4.6 trillion, or 21.4% of GDP. In the next twelve months outlays soared to $7.6 trillion, or 36.2% of GDP.
Politics today is in large part about pitting one group against another and convincing one side they've been treated unfairly. One of those groups is the younger generation of workers known as Millennials, who are supposedly up to their eyeballs in debt and lagging well behind prior generations.
In 2009, after overly strict mark-to-market accounting rules were altered, we said the Financial Crisis was over. It was hard to get our voice heard, though, because both sides of the political aisle were busy saying the economy stunk.
No changes to monetary policy today, but plenty of changes to the outlook for monetary policy in the next few years.
Some analysts and investors breathed a big sigh of relief on inflation when it was reported last week that the Consumer Price Index rose 0.3% in August versus a consensus expected 0.4%. But we think any sense of relief is premature.
If you've read our two most recent Monday Morning Outlooks, you know we raised our forecast for the S&P 500, but lowered our forecast for real GDP growth. How can that be?
In early 2020, when COVID hit, the unemployment rate in the United States was 3.5%, wages for low-income earners were rising faster than wages for high-income earners, living standards were rising...the economy was on a roll.
We've been consistently bullish on stocks since 2009. This bullishness has paid off, although not every year; stocks fell in 2015 and 2018.
Narratives get more energy these days because of social media and cable TV, but they've always existed.
As we wrote last week, it's not possible to analyze the economy these days without focusing heavily on what government is doing.
In an ideal world, analysts and investors wouldn't have to spend much time, perhaps none at all, trying to manage around changes in government policy.
Last week, the government reported real GDP in the US grew at a 6.5% annual rate in the second quarter and was up 6.4% at an annual rate in the first half of 2021.
It's the question that parents around the world know all too well, "Are we there yet?" That was the key question coming into today's Fed meetings. The answer? Not yet, but we're getting closer.
Someone once said, "technology has never moved this fast, and at the same time, will never move this slow again."
Another quarter for consumers to rely on massive stimulus payments, extremely loose monetary policy, and the continued re-opening of the US economy combined to push real GDP up at a very rapid pace in the second quarter, with the federal government preparing to release its initial estimate of economic growth on July 29.
Many are convinced that a US stock market correction, or even a bear market, is inevitable. So, when the S&P 500 was down 1.6% last Thursday, many thought it had arrived.
Many analysts have been thinking and writing about the "twin deficits" and whether the record-breaking size of those two deficits, combined, mean the US dollar is about to plummet versus other currencies.
One of the key decisions President Biden will make later this year is who is going to run the Federal Reserve for the next four years.
As expected, the Federal Reserve made no significant changes to monetary policy today.
To drive home his commitment to easy monetary policy and low interest rates in mid-2020, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell declared the Fed was not even "thinking about thinking about raising rates."
We keep hearing people make comparisons between this recovery and those of the past as if it's apples-to-apples.
Talk about revisionist history!
Inflation is running hot.
One of the best economic debates that's happening right now isn't between Republicans and Democrats or liberals versus conservatives, it's between policymakers who want to go full steam ahead with as much fiscal and monetary "stimulus" as possible and center-left economists who worry about the economic effects of over-stimulating the economy.
President Biden and Congress agreed to a roughly $2 trillion stimulus back in March and are now contemplating two new additional multi-trillion dollar pieces of legislation, on both infrastructure and social spending, as well as some massive tax hikes