Tag Archive: Federal Reserve/Monetary Policy

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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Disposable (Employment) Figures

If last month’s payroll report was declared to be strong at +128k, then what would that make this month’s +266k? Epic? Heroic? The superlatives are flying around today, as you should expect. This Payroll Friday actually fits the times. It wasn’t great, they never really are nowadays (when you adjust for population and participation), but it was a good one nonetheless.

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The BIS Misses An Opportunity To Get Consistent With The Facts

Much has been made about the repo market since mid-September. Much continues to be made about it. The question is why. It is now near the middle of December and repo looks dicey despite repo operations and a not-QE small-scale asset purchase intended to increase the level of bank reserves. Always the focus on “funds” which may be available. It was John Adams who took on the task of defending several British soldiers on trial for the Boston...

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You Will Never Bring It Back Up If You Have No Idea Why It Falls Down And Stays Down

It wasn’t actually Keynes who coined the term “pump priming”, though he became famous largely for advocating for it. Instead, it was Herbert Hoover, of all people, who began using it to describe (or try to) his Reconstruction Finance Corporation. Hardly the do-nothing Roosevelt accused Hoover of being, as President, FDR’s predecessor was the most aggressive in American history to that point, economically speaking.

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European Economy: A Time Recession

Eurostat confirmed earlier today that Europe has so far avoided recession. At least, it hasn’t experienced what Economists call a cyclical peak. During the third quarter of 2019, Real GDP expanded by a thoroughly unimpressive +0.235% (Q/Q). This was a slight acceleration from a revised +0.185% the quarter before.

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Fails Swarms Are Just One Part

There it was sticking out like a sore thumb right in the middle of what should have been the glory year. Everything seemed to be going just right for once, success so close you could almost feel it. Well, “they” could. The year was 2014 and the unemployment rate in the US was tumbling, the result of the “best jobs market in decades.” Real GDP in that year’s two middle quarters was pretty near 5% in both.

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All Signs Of More Slack

The evidence continues to pile up for increasing slack in the US economy. While that doesn’t necessarily mean there is a recession looming, it sure doesn’t help in that regard. Besides, more slack after ten years of it is the real story. The Federal Reserve’s favorite inflation measure in October 2019 stood at 1.31%, matching February for the lowest in several years.

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More Signals Of The Downturn, Globally Synchronized

For US importers, October is their month. And it makes perfect sense how it would be. With the Christmas season about to kick into full swing each and every November, the time for retailers to stock up in hearty anticipation is in the weeks beforehand. The goods, a good many future Christmas presents, find themselves in transit from all over the world during the month of October. For the Census Bureau’s trade data, that means this is the month...

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Consistent Trade War Inconsistency Hides The Consistent Trend

You can see the pattern, a weathervane of sorts in its own right. Not for how the economy is actually going, mind you, more along the lines of how it is being perceived from the high-level perspective. The green light for “trade wars” in the first place was what Janet Yellen and Jay Powell had said about the economy.

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The Risen (euro)Dollar

Back in April, while she was quietly jockeying to make sure her name was placed at the top of the list to succeed Mario Draghi at the ECB, Christine Lagarde detoured into the topic of central bank independence. At a joint press conference held with the Governor of the Reserve Bank of South Africa, Lesetja Kganyago, as the Managing Director of the IMF Lagarde was asked specifically about President Trump’s habit of tweeting disdain in the direction...

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Nothing Good From A Chinese Industrial Recession

October 2017 continues to show up as the most crucial month across a wide range of global economic data. In the mainstream telling, it should have been a very good thing, a hugely positive inflection. That was the time of true inflation hysteria around the globe, though it was always presented as a rationally-determined base case rather than the unsupported madness it really was.

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The Big One, The Smoking Gun

It wasn’t just the unemployment rate which was one of the key reasons why Economists and central bankers (redundant) felt confident enough to inspire 2017’s inflation hysteria. There was actually another piece to it, a bigger piece potentially complimentary and corroborative bit of conjecture. I write “conjecture” because despite how all this is presented in the media there’s very little precision to any of it.

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China’s Financial Stability: A Squeeze and a Strangle

I do get a big kick out of the way Communists over in China announce how they are dealing with their enormous problems especially as they may be getting worse. Each month, for example, the country’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) will publish figures on retail sales or industrial production at record lows but in the opening paragraphs the text will be full of praise for how the economy is being handled.

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Seriously, Good Luck Dethroning the (euro)Dollar

Scarcely a week will go by without some grand prediction of the dollar being dethroned. Set aside how if anything is to be deposed it would have to be the eurodollar, these stories typically follow the same formulaic approach: Country X is moving away from dollar reserves, “diversifying” its holdings because of the geopolitics of Y.

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More (Badly Needed) Curve Comparisons

Even though it was a stunning turn of events, the move was widely celebrated. The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee, the FOMC, hadn’t been scheduled to meet until the end of that month. And yet, Alan Greenspan didn’t want to wait. The “maestro”, still at the height of his reputation, was being pressured to live up to it.

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QE’s and Rate Cuts: Two Very Different Sets of Sentiment Drawn From Them

The stock market’s dichotomy grows ever wider. On the one side, record high prices which are being set by the expectations of a trade deal plus renewed worldwide “stimulus.” Sure, officials everywhere were late to see the downturn coming, but they’ve since woken up and went to work.

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For Labor And Recession, The Bad One

There’s a couple of different ways that Unit Labor Costs can rise. Or even surge. The first is the good way, the one we all want to see because it is consistent with the idea of an economy that is actually booming. If workers have become truly scarce as macro forces sustain actual growth such that all labor market slack is absorbed, then businesses have to compete for them bidding up the price of marginal labor.

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The Real Boom Potential

For the last five years Larry Summers has called it secular stagnation. It’s the right general idea as far as the result, if totally wrong as to its cause. Alvin Hansen, who first coined the term and thought up the thesis in the thirties, was thoroughly disproved by the fifties. Some, perhaps many Economists today believe it was WWII which actually did the disproving.

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Red Flags Over Labor

Better-than-expected is the new strong. Even I’m amazed at the satisfaction being taken with October’s payroll numbers. While you never focus too much on one monthly estimate, this time it might be time to do so. But not for those other reasons. Sure, GM caused some disruption and the Census is winding down, both putting everyone on edge. The whisper numbers were low double digits, maybe even a negative headline estimate.

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A Perfect Example of the Euro$ Squeeze

Germany’s vast industrial sector continued in the tank in September. According to new estimates from deStatis, that country’s government agency responsible for maintaining economic data, Industrial Production dropped by another 4% year-over-year during the month of September 2019. It was the fifth consecutive monthly decline at around that alarming rate.

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