Tag Archive: CPI

FX Daily, September 30: Nervous Calm

Quarter and month-end considerations could be overwhelming other factors today.  Turnaround Tuesday saw early gains in US equities fade.  Asia Pacific shares were mixed, with the Nikkei (-1.5%) and Australia (-2.3%) bear the brunt of the selling, while China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and India rose.

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Inflation Karma

There is no oil in the CPI’s consumer basket, yet oil prices largely determine the rate by which overall consumer prices are increasing (or not). WTI sets the baseline which then becomes the price of motor fuel (gasoline) becoming the energy segment. As energy goes, so do headline CPI measurements.

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Fama 2: No Inflation For Old Central Banks

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the core CPI in July 2020 jumped by the most (+0.62%) in almost thirty years. After having dropped month-over-month for three months in a row for the first time in its history, it has posted back to back gains the latest of which pushing the index back above its February level.

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Transitory, The Other Way

After a record three straight months of decline for the seasonally-adjusted core CPI March through May 2020, it turned upward again in June. Buoyed by a partially reopened economy, the price discounting (prerequisite to the Big D) took at least one month off.

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A Big One For The Big “D”

From a monetary policy perspective, smooth is what you are aiming for. What central bankers want in this age of expectations management is for a little bit of steady inflation. Why not zero? Because, they decided, policymakers need some margin of error. Since there is no money in monetary policy, it takes time for oblique “stimulus” signals to feed into the psychology of markets and the economy.

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What Happens When Central Banks Buy Stocks (ETFs)? Well, We Already Know

Can we please dispense with all notions that monetary policy works? Specifically balance sheet expansion via any scale asset purchase programs. Nowhere has that been more apparent than Japan. Go back and reread all the promised benefits from BoJ’s Big Bang QQE that were confidently written in 2013. The biggest bazooka ever conceived has fallen short in every conceivable way.

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If Trade Wars Couldn’t, Might Pig Wars Change Xi’s Mind?

Forget about trade wars, or even the eurodollar’s ever-present squeeze on China’s monetary system. For the Communist Chinese government, its first priority has been changed by unforeseen circumstances. At the worst possible time, food prices are skyrocketing. A country’s population will sit still for a great many injustices. From economic decay to corruption and rising authoritarianism, the line between back alley grumbling and open rebellion is...

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China’s Dollar Problem Puts the Sync In Globally Synchronized Downturn

Because the prevailing theory behind the global slowdown is “trade wars”, most if not all attention is focused on China. While the correct target, everyone is coming it at from the wrong direction. The world awaits a crash in Chinese exports engineered by US tariffs. It’s not happening, at least according to China’s official statistics.

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CPI Changes On Energy: The Inflation Check

After constantly running through what the FOMC gets (very) wrong, let’s give them some credit for what they got right. Though this will end up as a backhanded compliment, still. After having spent all of 2018 forecasting accelerating inflation indices, from around New Year’s Day forward policymakers notably changed their tune.

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Why The Japanese Are Suddenly Messing With YCC

While the world’s attention was fixated on US$ repo for once, the Bank of Japan held a policy meeting and turned in an even more “dovish” performance. Likely the global central bank plan had been to combine the Fed’s second rate cut with what amounted to a simultaneous Japanese pledge for more “stimulus” in October. Both of those followed closely an ECB which got itself back in the QE business once more.

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Big Difference Which Kind of Hedge It Truly Is

It isn’t inflation which is driving gold higher, at least not the current levels of inflation. According to the latest update from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation calculation, the PCE Deflator, continues to significantly undershoot. Monetary policy explicitly calls for that rate to be consistent around 2%, an outcome policymakers keep saying they expect but one that never happens.

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The Path Clear For More Rate Cuts, If You Like That Sort of Thing

If you like rate cuts and think they are powerful tools to help manage a soft patch, then there was good news in two international oil reports over the last week. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) cut its forecast for global demand growth for the seventh straight month. On Friday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) downgraded its estimates for the third time in four months.

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When Verizons Multiply, Macro In Inflation

Inflation always brings out an emotional response. Far be it for me to defend Economists, but their concept is at least valid – if not always executed convincingly insofar as being measurable. An inflation index can be as meaningful as averaging the telephone numbers in a phone book (for anyone who remembers what those things were).

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China’s Big Money Gamble

While oil prices rebounded in January 2019 around the world, outside of crude commodities continued to struggle. According to the World Bank’s Pink Sheet, base metal prices fell another 1.8% on average from December. On an annual basis, these commodities as a group are about 16% below where they were in January 2018.

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It’s Not That There Might Be One, It’s That There Might Be Another One

It was a tense exchange. When even politicians can sense that there’s trouble brewing, there really is trouble brewing. Typically the last to figure these things out, if parliamentarians are up in arms it already isn’t good, to put it mildly. Well, not quite the last to know, there are always central bankers faithfully pulling up the rear of recognizing disappointing reality.

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Insight Japan

As I wrote yesterday, “In the West, consumer prices overall are pushed around by oil. In the East, by food.” In neither case is inflation buoyed by “money printing.” Central banks both West and East are doing things, of course, but none of them amount to increasing the effective supply of money. Failure of inflation, more so economy, the predictable cost.

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Rate of Change

We’ve got to change our ornithological nomenclature. Hawks become doves because they are chickens underneath. Doves became hawks for reasons they don’t really understand. A fingers-crossed policy isn’t a robust one, so there really was no reason to expect the economy to be that way.

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China Going Back To 2011

The enormous setback hadn’t yet been fully appreciated in March 2012 when China’s Premiere Wen Jiabao spoke to and on behalf of the country’s Communist governing State Council. Despite it having been four years since Bear Stearns had grabbed the whole world’s attention (for reasons the whole world wouldn’t fully comprehend, specifically as to why the whole world would need to care about the shadow “dollar” business of one US investment “bank”) the...

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Eurodollar Futures: Powell May Figure It Out Sooner, He Won’t Have Any Other Choice

For Janet Yellen, during her somewhat brief single term she never made the same kind of effort as Ben Bernanke had. Her immediate predecessor, Bernanke, wanted to make the Federal Reserve into what he saw as the 21st century central bank icon. Monetary policy wouldn’t operate on the basis of secrecy and ambiguity. Transparency became far more than a buzzword.

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Raining On Chinese Prices

It was for a time a somewhat curious dilemma. When it rains it pours, they always say, and for China toward the end of 2015 it was a real cloudburst. The Chinese economy was slowing, dangerous deflation developing around an economy captured by an unseen anchor intent on causing havoc and destruction. At the same time, consumer prices were jumping where they could do the most harm.

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