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The CPI Understates Inflation Skewing Our Expectations

The CPI Understates Inflation Skewing Our Expectations 

The purpose of the consumer price index (CPI) is to reflect just how much inflation is eating into both our incomes and our savings. Consumer inflation has been estimated since the 1700s, by measuring price changes in a fixed-weight basket of goods. This method was seen as a way of measuring the cost of maintaining a constant standard of living. In the last 30 years, a growing gap has become obvious between government reporting of inflation, as measured by the CPI, and the perception of actual inflation held by the general public.

Currently, the government understates inflation by using a formula based on the concept of a “constant level of satisfaction” that evolved during the first half of the 20th century in academia. This extended into the BLS re-weightings sales outlets such as discount or mass merchandisers with Main Street shops. Those promoting this change claim it is simply another way to measure inflation and it still reflects the true cost of living. Politicians touting the benefits of this system created it as a way to reduce the cost of living adjustments for government payments to Social Security recipients, etc. By moving to a substitution-based index and weakening other constant-standard-of-living ties those reporting inflation have muddied the water as to just how much we are being impacted by inflation.

The general argument was that changing relative costs of goods results in consumers substituting less-expensive goods for more expensive goods.  Allowing for a substitution of goods within the formerly “fixed-basket” would allow the consumer flexibility in obtaining a “constant level of satisfaction.” This adjustment to the inflation measure was touted as more appropriate for the GDP concept in measuring shifting demand and weighting actual consumption. Other tricks were also used to give the illusion of less inflation.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Nothing Is Guaranteed

Nothing Is Guaranteed

There are no guarantees, no matter how monumental the hubris and confidence.

The American lifestyle and economy depend on a vast number of implicit guarantees— systemic forms of entitlement that we implicitly feel are our birthright.

Chief among these implicit entitlements is the Federal Reserve can always “save the day”: the Fed has the tools to escape either an inflationary spiral or a deflationary collapse.

But there are no guarantees this is actually true. In either an inflationary spiral or deflationary collapse of self-reinforcing defaults, the Fed’s “save” would destroy the economy, which is now so fragile that any increase in interest rates (to rescue us from an inflationary spiral) would destroy our completely debt-dependent economy: were mortgage rates to climb back to historical averages, the housing bubble would immediately implode.Hello negative wealth effect, as every homeowner watches their temporary (and illusory) “wealth” dissipate before their eyes.

The Fed’s “fix” to deflationary defaults is equally destructive: bailing out too big to fail lenders will spark a political revolt that could topple the Fed itself, as the populace has finally connected the dots between the Fed bailing out the banks and financiers and the astounding rise in income and wealth inequality.

Other than the phantom “wealth” of real estate and stock bubbles, the vast majority of the ‘wealth” generated by the Fed’s actions of the past 20 years has flowed to the top 0.1%. This will become self-evident once the phantom gains of speculative bubbles vanish.

The Fed’s other “trick” to halt a deflationary collapse is negative interest rates, in effect taxing savers and those holding cash and rewarding those who borrow.Negative interest rates destroy every institution that depends on relatively low-risk interest income via bonds: pension funds, insurance companies, etc.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Global Central Banks “Are Trapped By Their Own Inflation Targets”

Global Central Banks “Are Trapped By Their Own Inflation Targets”

Negative Rates Would Lead To #Chaos

Central bankers attending the G-7 meeting are sounding remarkably coordinated in their message. The global economy is growing but inflation isn’t. And that, along with the oft-cited global headwinds, means they’re ready and able to add more liquidity to the system. In the case of the U.S. they have virtually promised that it’s underway. They can assure markets that they’re “ready.” But the far more important assertion is driving home that they’re still “able.”

Inevitably, and understandably, the question of whether they’re running out of ammunition to conduct further monetary easing has been the subject of debate. But the last thing they can afford to let happen is for investors, corporations or consumers to conclude that they’re near the end of the line.

Monetary policy is a transmission mechanism that largely works through expectations. Nothing will crater inflationary expectations, alter the spend-versus-save dynamic, affect capital-investment decisions and tighten financial conditions faster than the admission that little more is possible.

They’re in fact trapped by their own inflation targets. No one realized that it’s easier to get inflation down than up. Therefore, central bankers need to keep considering, and in some cases delivering, more and more extreme forms of easing.

Zero rates begot quantitative easing which led to negative rates. While financial markets give the appearance of stability through asset bubbles, higher asset prices haven’t led to them fulfilling their mandates.

There is a reason there’s so much academic interest in discussing the potential benefits of policies like helicopter money and modern monetary theory — ideas that would have previously been dismissed out of hand. Officials need to convince themselves of the potential efficacy of these notions in order to get the rest of us to believe they’re legitimate options. The truth is, they really don’t know why inflation has remained such a problem. Therefore the proper cure remains elusive.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Core Consumer Price Inflation Prints Hotter Than Expected

Core Consumer Price Inflation Prints Hotter Than Expected

Having slowed and disappointed for the last two months, all eyes are on US consumer price index growth (which was expected to slow once again in June) this morning as the next Fed rate-cut narrative confirmation.

The problem for rate-cut-hopers is that the picture is mixed at best. Headline CPI slowed to +1.6% YoY (exactly as expected) – below The Fed’s mandated 2.0% ‘stability’ level; but core CPI rose 2.1% YoY (hotter than the expected 2.0%) and above The Fed’s 2 handle…

Under the hood, weakness in energy prices dominated the downside while used car prices rose more than expected

Indosuez Sees $60 Average WTI Crude Price for 2019

The tariff effect is beginning to hit perhaps – The index for household furnishings and operations rose 0.8 percent in June, its largest increase since February 1991, as the index for gardening and lawncare services rose 6.1 percent.

Both Goods and Services prices picked up in June (with Goods back into positive territory YoY) and Services rise 2.8% YoY…

The firmer inflation readings follow Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s testimony to lawmakers Wednesday that there’s “a risk that weak inflation will be even more persistent than we currently anticipate.’’

For Those Who Don’t Understand Inflation

FOR THOSE WHO DON’T UNDERSTAND INFLATION

This article is a wake-up call for those who do not understand the true purpose of monetary inflation, and do not realise they are the suckers being robbed by monetary policy. With the world facing a deepening recession, monetary inflation will accelerate again. It is time for everyone to recognise the consequences.

Introduction

All this year I have been warning in a series of Goldmoney Insight articles that the turn of the credit cycle and the rise of American protectionism was the same combination that led to the Wall Street crash in 1929-32 and the depression that both accompanied and followed it. Those who follow statistics are now seeing the depressing evidence that history is rhyming, though they have yet to connect the dots. Understandably, their own experience is more relevant to them than the empirical evidence in history books.

They would benefit hugely from a study of the destructive power of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act combining with the end of the 1920s credit expansion. The devastating synergy between the two is what crippled the American and global economy. And as we slide into a renewed economic torpor, contemporary experience tells us the Fed and all the other central banks will coordinate their efforts to restore economic growth, cutting interest rates while accelerating the expansion of money and credit. The current generation of investors argues that this policy has always worked in the past (at least in the past they have experienced) so the valuation-basis for financial assets and property should stabilise and improve.

This brief summary of current thinking in financial markets ignores the fact that a catastrophic tariff-cum-credit-cycle mixture is baking in the economic cake. Crashing government bond yields, reflecting a flight to relative safety, are only the start of it.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Europe Gives Up On Sound Money, Prepares To Join The Currency War

Europe Gives Up On Sound Money, Prepares To Join The Currency War

Not so long ago, Europe seemed to have its financial house more-or-less in order. German government spending was actually falling. Industries that had been nationalized in the socialist 70s were being privatized. The European Central Bank – run by sound money advocate Jean-Claude Trichet – was smarter and more cautious than the incoherently rambunctious Bernanke Fed. The euro, for a while, was actually preferred by many over the dollar. 

Then – gradually at first and now very quickly – everything went sideways.

Mario Draghi took over for Trichet at the ECB and promised to do “whatever it takes” to generate at least 2% inflation. Then he proceeded to deliver on that promise with massive asset purchases and negative interest rates. 

Inequality – which, we’re now coming to realize – is fed by low interest rates and easy money, rose to near-US proportions. Immigration was mishandled to the point that it became THE political issue. And populist parties opposed to the existing system attracted enough votes to rattle the mainstream parties. 

The entrenched political/financial class, shocked by the unwashed masses’ effrontery, are now responding exactly as you’d expect, with massive increases in social spending, promises of even easier money (Draghi actually claimed that there was “plenty of headroom” to cut rates from the current -0.4%) and, well, whatever else it takes to stay in power.

Here, for instance, is Germany’s government spending. Note the uptrend now that the Greens are contenders:

German government spending Europe currency war

From today’s Wall Street Journal

To win voters lost to an anti-globalization backlash, Europe’s mainstream parties are going back to the 1970s.

In Germany, the U.K, Denmark, France and Spain, these parties are aiming to reverse decades of pro-market policy and promising greater state control of business and the economy, more welfare benefits, bigger pensions and higher taxes for corporations and the wealthy. Some have discussed nationalizations and expropriations.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Next 8.6-Year Wave will be Inflationary

The Next 8.6-Year Wave will be Inflationary 

All the real science is warning that there is a reasonable chance that we are headed into a much colder period ahead. This will have an impact on food prices and out computer models have been warning that the next wave of the Economic Confidence Model should be an inflationary wave. Even a new study from  nature.com said: “The recent prolonged solar minimum and subsequent weak solar cycle 24 have led to suggestions that the grand solar maximum may be at an end.”

The next 8.6-year wave beginning in January should produce a collapse in confidence in governments which will result in a shift from Public to Private assets, but then on top of this, we see a shortage in agricultural markets adding to the inflationary wave coming. Then add the Monetary Crisis and Sovereign Debt Crisis cycles and we end up with some very interesting impacts during the next wave.

Loonie Spikes After Canadian Core Inflation Soars To 10-Year Highs

Loonie Spikes After Canadian Core Inflation Soars To 10-Year Highs

Canadian inflation rose faster than expected in May across all eight major components, spiking the Loonie as it supports the BoC’s view that ‘the North’ is emerging from its growth slowdown (and Poloz argument that rates will need to go higher).

The headline consumer price index jumped 2.4% from a year earlier, compared with 2% in April and versus a median economist forecast of 2.1%, Statistics Canada said Wednesday from Ottawa. It was the highest annual rate since October, boosted by increases in food and durable goods prices.

Core inflation, closely watched by policy makers, surged, with the average of the three key measures rising to 2.07%, the highest since February 2012.

The largest upside contributor to CPI on an annual basis was shelter costs, which rose 2.7%. Food and transportation were also major drivers.

And the Trimmed Mean inflation print jumped 2.3% YoY – the highest since March 2009

Spiking the Loonie…

Presumably, BoC does not believe this spike is “transitory”.

Peter Schiff: The Fed Is Going to Stimulate Inflation, Not the Economy (Video)

Peter Schiff: The Fed Is Going to Stimulate Inflation, Not the Economy (Video)

In December, Peter Schiff predicted that the Federal Reserve was about to hike rates for the last time and that the next step would be rate cuts. Yesterday, Jerome Powell made comments widely interpreted to signal the rising likelihood of a rate cut. The Fed chair dropped the word “patient” from his vocabulary, saying the central bank would respond as “as appropriate” to the perceived economic impacts of tariffs and other economic data.

Peter appeared on Fox Business Countdown to the Closing Bell with Liz Claman to talk about what’s next up for the Fed and how it will impact the economy.

I don’t think that Powell would even open the door to the possibility of a rate cut if he wasn’t prepared to walk through it.”

Peter said the reason he knew the Fed would end the hiking cycle in December was because the stock market was tanking and he knew the only way the central bank could stop the carnage was to take the rate hikes off the table.

Well, now it’s falling again, and so now all they’ve got left in their quiver is to actually cut rates.”

Claman pointed out that the stock market was popping at the mere suggestion of a rate cut.

“Exactly!” Peter said. “But I think people are wrong if they think it’s going to work again.”

The Fed was able to inflate an enormous bubble with QE one, two and three, and keeping rates at zero for as long as they did. But the next time, it’s not going to work.”

Peter reiterated a point that he made during his podcast last week, noting that bond traders are anticipating a recession. They are betting that the Fed will cut rates during the downturn.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Company Store

The Company Store

Leaves almost nothing to live on

In the song Sixteen Tons by Merle Travis (and made famous by Tennessee Ernie Ford), the idea of the ‘company store’ referred to a system of debt bondage that effectively trapped workers within an unfair system designed to harvest all of their labor at very low cost.

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt

Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go

I owe my soul to the company store

       Sixteen Tons – Merle Travis

How exactly did the company store system operate?

Under a scrip system, workers were not paid cash; rather they were paid with non-transferable credit vouchers that could be exchanged only for goods sold at the company store. This made it impossible for workers to store up cash savings.

Workers also usually lived in company-owned dormitories or houses, the rent for which was automatically deducted from their pay.

(Source – Wiki)

This model was simple enough to understand.  “Pay” your workers with scrip vouchers, then sell them your marked up goods at the company store, pocketing a nice profit. On top of that, force your employees to live in company housing, too,  also at terms very favorable to the company.

Add it all up and the workers found themselves in perpetual service to their employer. No matter how hard and long they toiled, there was nothing left for their own private benefit after all was said and done.  The company succeeded in skimming off any and all  ‘excess’ for itself.

This vast unfairness eventually led to the formation of unions as well as to regulations providing protection to the workers.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

IMF’s Lagarde Laments “Highly Mysterious” Low Inflation, Says “Everybody” Would Like It To Be Higher

IMF’s Lagarde Laments “Highly Mysterious” Low Inflation, Says “Everybody” Would Like It To Be Higher

Without skipping a beat, IMF Director Christine Lagarde left President Xi’s Belt and Road initiative conference and traveled to sunny southern California to make an appearance at the Milken Institute Conference, where she sat for an interview with former WSJ editor-in-chief (now editor-at-large) Gerry Baker.

Given that Friday’s surprisingly robust (at least on the surface) GDP print has revived speculation among some economists about ‘divergence’ between the US and the global economy, Baker led with a question about whether Q1 GDP had impacted the view on US growth over at the IMF.

Lagarde

While the surprisingly large number will “certainly lead us to reassess our forecast for growth in the US,” which could in turn boost the global economy, Lagarde cautioned that one strong GDP print doesn’t make a trend, and that the global economy remains mired in what she called a “delicate moment.”

Earlier this month, the IMF again slashed its forecasts for global growth, this time to its weakest level in a decade.

Asked if we’re seeing more divergence now.

“We still think that it’s a delicate moment given the still synchronized slowdown for growth…you have about 70% of the global economy which is slowing – but still growing – and we are not expecting a recession and certainly not in our baseline. Everybody including the highest authorities were certainly surprised by the large number in the United States…that will certainly lead us to reassess our forecast for growth for the United States, and clearly given the size of the US economy it will have an impact overall.”

Looking ahead, the upcoming reading on US productivity will be important.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Social Security fund to go into the red in 2020; will be completely bankrupt by 2035… governments will desperately find a way to kill off populations around the world

Social Security fund to go into the red in 2020; will be completely bankrupt by 2035… governments will desperately find a way to kill off populations around the world

Image: Social Security fund to go into the red in 2020; will be completely bankrupt by 2035… governments will desperately find a way to kill off populations around the world

(Natural News) According to the 2019 annual report published by the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees, the Social Security fund will go in the red in 2020 and could potentially go bankrupt by 2035. If nothing is done to boost revenue or re-configure how the money will be distributed, then countless retirees, disabled persons, widows, and surviving children will be left with little to no funds to help them navigate through the most uncertain times in life.

The sad part about this shortage is that Social Security is not welfare; this trust fund is not dependent on tax money. Workers pay into the Social Security system during their working years. The system acts as an insurance once a person retires. The benefits are also paid out to disabled persons, widows, and dependents of deceased parents.

Due to the projected shortages, the U.S. government has a perfect opportunity to begin culling the population over the next three decades, restricting what is paid out through the Social Security safety net. As school textbooks teach children about the problem of “overpopulation,” the government obviously views humanity as a liability.

Social Security may not survive long past its 100th birthday

The Social Security program has been in place for 84 years and has collected approximately $21.9 trillion. In that time, the program has paid out roughly $19 trillion. The program currently has a reserve of about $2.9 trillion, which is divided among two trust funds. In 2020, the amount being paid out will supersede the amount coming in, forcing the program to dig into its reserves. With the trend continuing over the next decade, social security reserves will be dried up by 2035, drastically impacting vulnerable subsets of the population.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Italy Becoming Poor — Becoming Poor in Italy. The Effects of the Twilight of the Age of Oil

Italy Becoming Poor — Becoming Poor in Italy. The Effects of the Twilight of the Age of Oil

The living room of the house that my parents built in 1965. An American style suburban home, a true mansion in the hills. I lived there for more than 50 years but now I have to give up: I can’t afford it anymore. 

Let me start with a disclaimer: I am not poor. As a middle class, state employee in Italy, I am probably richer than some 90% of the people living on this planet. But wealth and poverty are mainly relative perceptions and the feeling I have is that I am becoming poorer every year, just like the majority of Italians, nowadays.

I know that the various economic indexes say that we are not becoming poorer and that, worldwide, the GDP keeps growing, even in Italy it sort of restarted growing after a period of decline. But something must be wrong with those indexes because we are becoming poorer. It is unmistakable, GDP or not. To explain that, let me tell you the story of the house that my father and my mother built in the 1960s and how I am now forced to leave it because I can’t just afford it anymore.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Italy was going through what was called the “Economic Miracle” at the time. After the disaster of the war, the age of cheap oil had created a booming economy everywhere in the world. In Italy, people enjoyed a wealth that never ever had been seen or even imagined before. Private cars, health care for everybody, vacations at the seaside, the real possibility for most Italians to own a house, and more.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Lacy Hunt Blasts MMT and Speaks of Hyperinflation If Implemented

Lacy Hunt Blasts MMT and Speaks of Hyperinflation If Implemented

In the Hoisington First Quarter Review, Lacy Hunt blasts MMT as “self-perpetuating” inflation.

Please consider the Hoisington Investment Quarterly Outlook for the first quarter of 2019.

MMT Leads to Hyperinflation

Under existing statutes, Fed liabilities, which they can create without limits, are not permitted to be used to pay U.S. government expenditures. As such, the Fed’s liabilities are not legal tender. They can only purchase a limited class of assets, such as U.S. Treasury and federal agency securities, from the banks, who in turn hold the proceeds from this sale in a reserve account at one of the Federal Reserve banks. There is currently, however, a real live proposal to make the Fed’s liabilities legal tender so that the Fed can directly fund the expenditures of the federal government – this is MMT – and it would require a change in law, i.e. a rewrite of the Federal Reserve Act.

This is not a theoretical exercise. Harvard Professor Kenneth Rogoff, writing in ProjectSyndicate.org (March 4, 2019), states “A number of leading U.S. progressives, who may well be in power after the 2020 elections, advocate using the Fed’s balance sheet as a cash cow to fund expansive new social programs, especially in view of current low inflation and interest rates.” How would MMT be implemented and what would be the economic implications? The process would be something like this: The Treasury would issue zero maturity and zero interest rate liabilities to the Fed, who in turn, would increase the Treasury’s balances at the Federal Reserve Banks. The Treasury, in turn, could spend these deposits directly to pay for programs, personnel, etc. Thus, the Fed, which is part of the government, would be funding its parent with a worthless IOU.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Asset Inflation Will End–This Time

HOW ASSET INFLATION WILL END — THIS TIME

Life after death for asset inflation: this is what happens when “speculative fever” remains high even after monetary inflation has paused. This may well have been the situation in global markets during 2019 so far. But history and principle suggest that life after death in this monetary sense is short.

Readers may find it odd to be talking about a pause in monetary inflation at a time when the Fed has cancelled programmed rate rises and the ECB has embarked (March 7) on yet further “radical” policy moves. Moreover, the “core” US inflation rate (as measured by PCE) is still at virtually 2 per cent year-on-year.

Yet we know from past cycles that in the early stages of recession many market participants — and, crucially, central banks — mistakenly view a stall in rate rises or actual rate cuts as stimulatory. Later with the benefit of hindsight these policy moves turn out to be insufficient to prevent a tightening of monetary conditions already in process but unrecognized.

Even had monetary conditions been easing rather than tightening, it is highly dubious whether this difference would have meant the powerful momentum behind the business cycle moving into its recession phase would have lessened substantially.

(As a footnote here: under a gold standard regime there is no claim that monetary conditions will evolve perfectly in line with contracyclical fine-tuning. Both in principle and fact monetary conditions could tighten there at first as recessionary forces gathered. Under sound money, however, contracyclical forces would emerge strongly into the recession as directed by the invisible hand.)

Under a fiat money regime, monetary tightening can occur in the transition of a business cycle into recession, despite the opposite intention of the central bank policy-makers, due to endogenous factors such as an undetected increase in demand for money or a fall in the underlying “money multipliers.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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