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Central Banks Are Just Getting Warmed Up

Central Banks Are Just Getting Warmed Up

According to all central banks, one of the main problems they are called to solve is that countries cannot reach their inflation target of (close to but below) 2 percent. Even their religious trust in the long-discredited Phillips curve cannot explain why price inflation is low in many countries despite historically low unemployment rates. Nonetheless, central banks still enjoy immense credibility. It’s common to hear such sentences as “never bet against the Fed,” the “ECB has big bazooka primed”… and all market participants monitor each public meeting to understand what the next policy could be and how they should be positioned when it arrives.1

To reach the inflation targets and “stimulate the economy,” central banks regularly meet to devise ever-new stimulus programs, and do not despair when, inevitably, the one-off unconventional interventions quickly become the new normal. For example, the world-famous Quantitative Easing (QE) was supposed to be a one-time emergency response to the 2008 crisis, except it has now become one of the many tools of regular monetary policy, and a key component in market demand for financial assets. An undesired but perfectly predictable side effect of QE is that it allows governments to increase their spending without care for the deficit, and still pay negative interest rates in real terms, so no discipline is imposed, except for some empty promise to reduce the deficit some time in the future, if the opportunity comes. Several Western countries have embarked in QE, some in many consecutive rounds, but there is no mention of a reverse-course, an eventual, opposite Quantitative Tightening (QT). Only the United States have tried QT, and the Fed has even announced that they were on a stable and data-driven process back to normalization, to try to maintain their reputation of scientific management of the monetary aggregates.

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

Economists Puzzled By Surge In US Money Supply

Economists Puzzled By Surge In US Money Supply

Summary:

  • Uncertainty incites a dash to cash, which we’ve seen at an accelerated pace beginning about five months ago, amounting to $887.4B; In the two weeks ended September 30th, MZM rose by $158.1B, a figure that has only been eclipsed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11
  • Declining inflation expectations have netted record levels of households expecting rising real income gains; and yet, consumers are less confident about economic growth with a third anticipating rising unemployment captured in the continued rise in the fear of the unknown
  • Those aged 45 and under expect annual income gains of more than twice households as a whole; this corroborates the top-third of income earners’ (managers’) higher unemployment rate expectations vis-à-vis middle-income-earners’ (worker bees’) job market outlook

We Americans are drawn to nicknames that evoke our cities’ characteristics:  The Big Apple, The Windy City, Hotlanta. But those passionate Italians demand their cities be identified by the vividness of color, an element that played right into the logo design of the world’s most iconic sports car. As for the horse, that image was painted on the SPAD S.XIII flown by Francesco Baracca, Italy’s World War I flying ace who recorded an astounding 34 kills before being killed himself in 1918. As recounted by Enzo Ferrari, fate stepped in as such, “In ‘23, I met count Enrico Baracca, the hero’s father, and then his mother, countess Paulina, who said to me one day, ‘Ferrari, put my son’s prancing horse on your cars. It will bring you good luck’. The horse was, and still is, black, and I added the canary yellow background which is the color of Modena.”

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

An Inflationary Depression

An Inflationary Depression 

Financial markets are ignoring bearish developments in international trade, which coincide with the end of a long expansionary phase for credit. Both empirical evidence from the one occasion these conditions existed in the past and reasoned theory suggest the consequences of this collective folly will be enormous, undermining both financial asset values and fiat currencies.

The last time this coincidence occurred was 1929-32, leading into the great depression, when prices for commodities and output prices for consumer goods fell heavily. With unsound money and a central banking determination to maintain prices, depression conditions will be concealed by monetary expansion, but still exist, nonetheless.

Introduction

The unfortunate souls who are beholden to macroeconomics will read this article’s headline as a contradiction, because they regard inflation as a stimulant and a depression as the consequence of deflation, the opposite of inflation. 

An economic depression does not require deflation, if by that term is meant a contraction of the money in circulation. More correctly, it is the collective impoverishment of the people, which is most easily achieved by debasement of the currency: in other words, monetary inflation. Fundamental to the myth that an inflation of the money supply is the path to economic recovery are the forecasts by the economic establishment that the world, or its smaller national units, will suffer no more than a mild recession before economic growth resumes. It is not only complacent central bank and government economists that say this, but their followers in the private sector as well. 

It is for this reason that the S&P 500 Index is still only a few per cent below its all-time high. If there was the slightest hint that Corporate America risks being destabilised by a depression, this would not be the case.

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

The Importance Of A Resilient Life

The Importance Of A Resilient Life

In the end, it will mean all the difference

My business partner Adam and I recently met with a successful business owner whose career began on Wall Street. The kind of guy who should be rooting for the system, because it has treated him well.

Instead, he was quite nervous about the sustainability of the status quo. “Starting in August,” he said, “Maybe it was the Amazon catching fire, maybe it was the negative interest rates – I don’t know for certain what the trigger was – but something has snapped.”

I agree. Because I feel it, too.

As do so many others. And not just those who regularly read PeakProsperity.com. Increasingly, even ‘mainstream’ voices are stating to report a profound sense that something really isn’t right. That — from the economy to geopolitics to the natural world — things are swiftly worsening.

Public perception is beginning to shift from complacency to fear. Countries are fast rejecting globalization in favor of nationalization. The holes in our ecosystem — vanishing birds, insects, amphibians and fish stocks — are becoming frighteningly obvious. The threats to life as we’re accustomed to it are becoming more visible while accelerating in both magnitude and frequency.

I expounded on the danger of this in my recent report It’s the Pace of Change That Kills You. Negative developments can spark their own vicious cycle. The more components of a system that fail, the more at risk the remaining components become.

That report was published just two weeks ago. Since then the world’s largest oil refinery was attacked by hostile forces and knocked out of commission, throwing the future integrity of the global oil market into question. Scientists just announced that North America has lost 29% of its total bird population (a drop of -3 billion) in the past half century.

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

Russia Considers Possibility Of $25 Oil Next Year

Russia Considers Possibility Of $25 Oil Next Year

MBS Putin

Russia is considering the notion that oil prices may be as low as $25 per barrel in 2020, the country’s central bank said in its new forecast published on Monday, as cited by Reuters.

Russia’s Central Bank has forecast in its macroeconomic forecast that oil could possibly hit that low due to falling demand for oil and oil products worldwide, as well as from disappointed global economic growth.

The doom and gloom scenario was just one proposed by the bank. If that risk scenario actually materializes, Russia’s inflation could increase to 7% or 8% next year, on the back of falling gross domestic product to 1.5%– 2%.

Russia is perhaps uniquely positioned to withstand low oil prices, although $25 per barrel is pretty bleak.

One of the reasons why Russia is more impervious to low oil prices compared to its competition is that its currency weakens when oil prices fall. This provides some type of a cushion—at least to some extent—for its lower oil revenues. Russian oil companies can pay their expenses in this weaker ruble, but still rakes in US dollars for its oil exports. Further allowing it to withstand lower prices, are that Russia’s oil company’s taxes are designed to be less as oil prices fall.

So much so is Russia’s ability to adapt to lower oil prices, that it actually struggles with higher oil prices, which dent demand for its oil. Russia’s budget for 2019 was based on $40 oil.Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia needs $80—some say even $85—per barrel.

In August, Russia said its 2019 budget breakeven was at a Urals price of $49.20—the lowest breakeven in more than a decade.  This has Russia and Saudi Arabia—colleagues in the current production quotas designed to rebalance the market—at odds, and likely working toward perhaps different goals.

Trump Says Fed Should Cut Rates “To ZERO Or Less”, So US Can Refinance Debt And Lenghten Maturities

Trump Says Fed Should Cut Rates “To ZERO Or Less”, So US Can Refinance Debt And Lenghten Maturities

Volfefe begins early today.

One day before the ECB is expected to cut rates further into negative territory and restart sovereign debt QE, moments ago president Trump resumed his feud with the Fed piling more pressure on Powell to cut rates “to ZERO or less” because the US apparently has “no inflation”, while also crashing the conversation over whether the US should issue ultra-long maturity debt (50, 100 years), saying the US “should then start to refinance our debt. INTEREST COST COULD BE BROUGHT WAY DOWN, while at the same time substantially lengthening the term.” 

At least we now know who is urging Mnuchin to launch 50 and 100 year Treasuries. What we don’t know is just what school of monetary thought Trump belongs to – aside from Erdoganism of course – because while on one hand Trump claims that “we have the great currency, power, and balance sheet” on the other the US president also claims that “the USA should always be paying the lowest rate.” In a normal world, the strongest economy tends to pay the highest interest rate, but in this upside down world, who knows anymore, so maybe the Fed has just itself to blame.

Trump’s conclusion: “It is only the naïveté of Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve that doesn’t allow us to do what other countries are already doing. A once in a lifetime opportunity that we are missing because of “Boneheads.”


 · 1h

The Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less, and we should then start to refinance our debt. INTEREST COST COULD BE BROUGHT WAY DOWN, while at the same time substantially lengthening the term. We have the great currency, power, and balance sheet…..


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

Blackrock CIO: The Endgame Is Coming And Central Banks Will Debase Everything To Spark Inflation

Blackrock CIO: The Endgame Is Coming And Central Banks Will Debase Everything To Spark Inflation

Blackrock’s Chief Investment Officer, Rick Rieder, best known perhaps for recently suggesting that the ECB should monetize stocks, writes in the Blackrock blog today and highlights the economic policy state-of-play today, and where it may lead to should economic growth falter, productivity not materialize, and populism continue to thrive.

* * *

The major global central banks continue to draw bigger guns in their battle against deflation, yet in some places, it appears to be of no avail. The fact is that the share of sovereign yields that are in negative territory keeps increasing and the average level of these interest rates becomes ever more negative. Further, quantitative easing (QE) purchases of sovereign debt have transitioned to purchases of corporate debt, and in some places equities; with inflation still elusive and improved growth prospects in question. That all leads one to wonder where (and how) these policies end? What is today’s monetary policy endgame?

Turn to economic history for perspective

In order to envision the monetary policy endgame several years (or a decade) from now, let’s start by stepping back and examining two of the foundational tenets that have driven the global economy and financial markets since the 1970s. The first principle is that the major central banks embraced a roughly 2% inflation target (implicit for the Federal Reserve since, at least, 1995 and explicitly stated since 2012), and the second factor is the end of the Bretton Woods monetary system; marking the shift away from the gold standard and into a world of fiat currency fluctuation.

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

Here’s a dirty secret few people know about gold

Here’s a dirty secret few people know about gold

In 1962 in a picturesque setting in Santa Barbara, California, two local entrepreneurs opened a low-cost, roadside inn where the nightly room rate was just $6.

They called it Motel 6.

And today the chain has grown to over 1,400 locations.

If you want the most straightforward explanation for why you should own gold, consider your local Motel 6.

It’s noteworthy that, today, the very same Santa Barbara location now rents its rooms for nearly $90 per night.

That’s a 15x increase in 57 years, an average increase of roughly 5% per year.

Are the rooms 15x bigger, or 15x nicer? Not really.

The reason the price has increased so much is because of inflation– the gradual erosion of the US dollar’s purchasing power over the past several decades.

This is why it’s important to have a conversation about gold.

Unlike paper currencies, gold has a 5,000 year track record of keeping up with inflation.

In fact, when priced in gold, a room at the Motel 6 has actually gotten cheaper.

Back in 1962, an ounce of gold would buy you about 6 nights at the motel. Now, despite the 12-fold increase in the price of a room, one ounce of gold will buy you 21 nights there.

That’s because the price of gold has largely outpaced the rate of inflation and the decline in the purchasing power of the US dollar.

Gold is a fantastic long-term store of value. It’s also an insurance policy– a hedge against paper currency, systemic risk, and uncertainty.

And there’s plenty of those in the world.

But there’s also a number of catalysts emerging right now that could send gold prices substantially higher in the near future, so it may be worth considering gold right now as a speculation.

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

Inflationary Financing and GDP

INFLATIONARY FINANCING AND GDP

This article demonstrates that only government borrowing in the US and UK drives GDP growth. This surprising conclusion is confirmed by long-run statistics. GDP does not represent economic progress, nor does it include the expansion of activity in the non-financial private sector, because that marries up with larger trade deficits, which are excluded from GDP. These findings have important implications for how the global downturn will be reflected in national statistics for the US and UK and the eventual prospects for the dollar and sterling.

Introduction

We tend to think of a nation’s accounts as being split between government and the private sector. It is for this reason that key tests of a nation’s economic sustainability and prospects for the currency are measures such as a government’s share of a nation’s economic output, and the level of government debt relative to gross domestic product.

While there is value in statistics of this sort, it is principally to give a quick overview in comparisons with other nations. For a more valuable analysis it is always worthwhile following different analytical approaches in assessing the prospective evolution of a currency’s future purchasing power.

Bald comparisons between government and non-government activity are a bad indicator of the true position. A more practical approach would admit that government finances are inextricably linked with the private sector. As Robert Louis Stevenson might have put it, a public servant is a Mr Hyde, who is a non-productive cost on productive society, while being a Doctor Jekyll spending his salary into the private sector as a consumer and contributing to a nation’s production in a demand role. The source of Mr Hyde’s income is the production of others, and increasingly his pay is made up by the debasement of everyone’s currency. Governments also spend money acquiring private sector goods and services, further distorting the overall picture. It all takes some untangling, a long way beyond a simplistic or conventional approach.

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

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…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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