Tag Archive: Federal Reserve/Monetary Policy

Transitory’s Japanese Cousin

Thomas Hoenig was President of the Federal Reserve’s Kansas City branch for two decades. He left that post in 2011 to become Vice Chairman of the FDIC. Before that, Mr. Hoenig as a voting member of the FOMC in 2010 cast the lone dissenting vote in each of the eight policy meetings that year (meaning he was against QE2, too). This makes him, apparently, the hawk of all hawks.

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The Science of Japanification

The term itself gives it away. They called it quantitative easing for a specific reason. Both words mean to convey substantial concepts. The first part, quantitative, was used because it sounds deliberate, even scientific. It implies a program where great care and study was employed to come up with the exact right amount. It’s downright formulaic, where you intend that by doing X you can predictably create Y.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Interest Rates Make Their Move

How quickly things change in these markets. In the report two weeks ago, the markets reflected a pretty obvious slowing in the global economy. In the course of two weeks, what seemed obvious has been quickly reversed. The 10-year yield moved up a quick 20 basis points in just a week, a rise in nominal growth expectations that was mostly about inflation fears.

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Why The Last One Still Matters (IP Revisions)

Beginning with its very first issue in May 1915, the Federal Reserve’s Bulletin was the place to find a growing body of statistics on US economic performance. Four years later, monthly data was being put together on the physical volumes of trade. From these, in 1922, the precursor to what we know today as Industrial Production was formed. The index and its components have changed considerably over its near century of operative history.

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The Retail Sales Shortage

Retail sales rose (seasonally adjusted) in March 2018 for the first time in four months. Related to last year’s big hurricanes and the distortions they produced, retail sales had surged in the three months following their immediate aftermath and now appear to be mean reverting toward what looks like the same weak pre-storm baseline. Exactly how far (or fast) won’t be known until subsequent months.

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China’s Exports Are Interesting, But It’s Their Imports Where Reflation Lives or Dies

Last month Chinese trade statistics left us with several key questions. Export growth was a clear outlier, with outbound trade rising nearly 45% year-over-year in February 2018. There were the usual Golden Week distortions to consider, made more disruptive by the timing of it this year as different from last year. And then we have to consider possible effects of tariffs and restrictions at the start of what is called a trade war (but isn’t really,...

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US Imports Don’t Quite Match Chinese Exports

In early 2015, a contract dispute between dockworkers’ unions and 29 ports on the West Coast of the US escalated into what was a slowdown strike. Cargoes piled up especially at some of the largest facilities like those in Oakland, LA, and Long Beach, threatening substantial economic costs far and away from just those directly involved. Each side predictably blamed the other for it.

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The Best ‘Reflation’ Indicator May Be Japanese

Japanese industrial production dropped sharply in January 2018, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry reported last month. Seasonally-adjusted, the IP index fell 6.8% month-over-month from December 2017. Since the country has very little mining sector to speak of, and Japan’s IP doesn’t include utility output, this was entirely manufacturing in nature (99.79% of the IP index is derived from the manufacturing sector).

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Just A Few More Pips

On Page 1, Chapter 1 of the Central Banker Crisis Handbook it states very clearly, “do not make it worse.” It’s something like the Hippocratic oath where monetary authorities must first assess what their actions might do to an already fragile system. It’s why they take great pains to try and maintain composure, appearing calm and orderly while conflagration rages all around. The last thing you want to do is confirm the run.

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The Boom Reality of Uncle He’s Globally Synchronized L

Top Chinese leadership is taking further shape. With Xi Jinping’s continuing consolidation of power going on right this minute, most of the changes aren’t really changes, at least not internally. To the West, and to the mainstream, what the Chinese are doing seems odd, if not more than a little off. Unlike in the West, however, there is determined purpose that is in many ways right out in the open. Many here had been expecting that outgoing PBOC...

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US Industry Experiences The Full 2014 Again in February

In February 2018, it was like old times for the US industrial sectors. Prior to the 2015-16 downturn, the otherwise moribund economy did produce two genuine booms. The first in the auto sector, the other in energy. Without them, who knows what the no-recovery recovery would have looked like. They were for the longest time the only bright spots.

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Three Months Now of After-Harvey Retail Sales; or, The Boom Narrative Goes Boom

If indeed this inflation hysteria has passed, its peak was surely late January. Even the stock market liquidations that showed up at that time were classified under that narrative. The economy was so good, it was bad; the Fed would be forced by rapid economic acceleration to speed themselves up before that acceleration got out of hand in uncontrolled consumer price gains. On February 1, the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow tracking model was moved up to...

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China’s Questionable Start to 2018

The Chinese government reported estimates for Industrial Production, Retail Sales, and Fixed Asset Investment (FAI) for both January and February 2018. The National Bureau of Statistics prepares and calculates China’s major economic statistics in this manner at the beginning of each year due to the difficulties created by calendar effects (New Year Golden Week).

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China Prices Include Lots of Base Effect, Still Undershoots

By far, the easiest to answer for today’s inflation/boom trifecta is China’s CPI. At 2.9% in February 2018, that’s the closest it has come to the government’s definition of price stability (3%) since October 2013. That, in the mainstream, demands the description “hot” if not “sizzling” even though it still undershoots. The primary reason behind the seeming acceleration was a more intense move in food prices.

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China Exports: Trump Tariffs, Booming Growth, or Tainted Trade?

China’s General Administration of Customs reported that Chinese exports to all other countries were in February 2018 an incredible 44.5% more than they were in February 2017. Such a massive growth rate coming now has served to intensify the economic boom narrative.

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China Going Boom

For a very long time, they tried it “our” way. It isn’t working out so well for them any longer, so in one sense you can’t blame them for seeking answers elsewhere. It was a good run while it lasted. The big problem is that what “it” was wasn’t ever our way. Not really. The Chinese for decades followed not a free market paradigm but an orthodox Economics one. This is no trivial difference, as the latter is far more easily accomplished in a place...

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Data Distortions One Way Or Another

Back in October, we noted the likely coming of two important distortions in global economic data. The first was here at home in the form of Mother Nature. The other was over in China where Communist officials were gathering as they always do in their five-year intervals. That meant, potentially. In the US our economic data for a few months at least will be on shaky ground due to the lingering economic impacts of severe hurricanes.

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Durable and Capital Goods, Distortions Big And Small

New orders for durable goods, excluding transportation industries, rose 9.1% year-over-year (NSA) in January 2018. Shipments of the same were up 8.8%. These rates are in line with the acceleration that began in October 2017 coincident to the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. In that way, they are somewhat misleading.

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New Home Sales (Predictably) Fall Out of the Boom, Too

New home sales were down sharply again in January 2018. For the second straight month, the level of purchase activity fell substantially despite what are otherwise always described as robust or even booming economic conditions. Like the sales of existing homes, the sales of newly constructed units should be both moving upward as well as being significantly more than stuck at this low level.

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US IP On The Other Side of Harvey and Irma

Industrial Production in the US was revised to a lower level for December 2017, and then was slightly lower still in the first estimates for January 2018. Year-over-year, IP was up 3.7%. However, more than two-thirds of the gain was registered in September, October, and November (and nearly all the rest in just the single month of April 2017).

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