Tag Archive: Federal Reserve/Monetary Policy

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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China: Inflation? Not Even Reflation

The conventional interpretation of “reflation” in the second half of 2016 was that it was simply the opening act, the first step in the long-awaiting global recovery. That is what reflation technically means as distinct from recovery; something falls off, and to get back on track first there has to be acceleration to make up that lost difference.

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China: CNY, Not Imports

In February 2013, the Chinese Golden Week fell late in the calendar. The year before, 2012, New Year was January 23rd, meaning that the entire Spring festival holiday was taken with the month of January. The following year, China’s New Year was placed on February 10, with the Golden Week taking up the entire middle month of February.

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COT Blue: Interest In Open Interest

For me, the defining characteristic of the late nineties wasn’t the dot-coms. Most people were exposed to the NASDAQ because, frankly, at the time there was no getting away from it. It had seeped into everything, transforming from a financial niche bleeding eventually into the entire worldwide culture. We all remember the grocery clerks who became day traders.

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US Imports: A Little Inflation For Yellen, A Little More Bastiat

US imports rocketed higher once again in December, according to just-released estimates from the Census Bureau. Since August 2017, the US economy has been adding foreign goods at an impressive pace. Year-over-year (SA), imports are up just 10.4% (only 9% unadjusted) but 9.3% was in just those last four months. For most of 2017, imports were flat and even lower.

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How Global And Synchronized Is A Boom Without China?

According to China’s official PMI’s, those looking for a boom to begin worldwide in 2018 after it failed to materialize in 2017 are still to be disappointed. If there is going to be globally synchronized growth, it will have to happen without China’s participation in it. Of course, things could change next month or the month after, but this idea has been around for a year and a half already.

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The Historical Warnings of Money

It’s interesting, to me anyway, that an image of the Roman goddess Juno remains to this day on the logo of the Bank of England. There are many stories about her role as it relates to money, but what cannot be denied is that the very word itself came to us from her temple. The Latin moneta was derived from the word monere, a verb meaning to warn. Moneta was Juno’s surname.

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Globally Synchronized What?

In one of those rare turns, the term “globally synchronized growth” actually means what the words do. It is economic growth that for the first time in ten years has all the major economies of the world participating in it. It’s the kind of big idea that seems like a big thing we all should pay attention to. In The New York Times this weekend, we learn.

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December Durable Goods

Durable and capital goods orders and shipments all increased in December by growth rates consistent with those registered in the months leading up to the big storms Harvey and Irma. We continue to find evidence that accelerated growth in October and November was nothing more than the anticipated after-effects cleaning up after those hurricanes.

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The Dismal Boom

There is a fundamental assumption behind any purchasing manager index, or PMI. These are often but not always normalized to the number 50. That’s done simply for comparison purposes and the ease of understanding in the general public. That level at least in the literature and in theory is supposed to easily and clearly define the difference between growth and contraction.

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Central Bank Transparency, Or Doing Deliberate Dollar Deals With The Devil

The advent of open and transparent central banks is a relatively new one. For most of their history, these quasi-government institutions operated in secret and they liked it that way. As late as October 1993, for example, Alan Greenspan was testifying before Congress intentionally trying to cloud the issue as to whether verbatim transcripts of FOMC meetings actually existed.

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What About 2.62 percent?

There’s nothing especially special about 2.62%. It’s a level pretty much like any other, given significance by only one phrase: the highest since 2014. It sounds impressive, which is the point. But that only lasts until you remember the same thing was said not all that long ago.

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The Blatant Dishonesty of the ‘Boom’

Why do humans tend to behave in herds? It’s a fundamental question that only recently have researchers been able to better understand. On the one hand, it doesn’t take an advanced degree in some neurological science to see the basis behind it; survival for our ancestors often meant getting along with the crowd. There are times when that very trait applies still.

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U.S. Unemployment: The Dissonance Book

I’ve found the word “dissonance” has become more common in regular usage beyond just my own. Whether that’s a function of my limited observational capacities or something more meaningful than personal bias isn’t at all clear. Still, the word does seem to fit in economic terms more and more as we carry on uncorrected by meaningful context.

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Good or Bad, But Surely Not Transitory

When Federal Reserve officials first started last year to mention wireless network data plans as a possible explanation for a fifth year of “transitory” factors holding back consumer price inflation, it seemed a bit transparent. One of the reasons for immediately doubting their sincerity was the history of that particular piece of the CPI (or PCE Deflator).

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