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Inflation, real interest rates revisited

I Now Track the Most Important Measure of the Fed’s Economy: the “Wealth Effect” and How it Impacts Americans Individually

I Now Track the Most Important Measure of the Fed’s Economy: the “Wealth Effect” and How it Impacts Americans Individually

The Fed provides the data quarterly, I dissect it at the stunning per-capita level.

The Federal Reserve is pursuing monetary policies that are explicitly designed to inflate asset prices. The rationalization is that ballooning asset prices will create the “wealth effect.” This is a concept Janet Yellen, when she was still president of the San Francisco Fed, propagated in a paper. In 2010, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke explained the wealth effect to the American people in a Washington Post editorial. And in early 2020, Fed Chair Jerome Powell pushed the wealth effect all the way to miracle levels.

Today we will see the per-capita progress of that wealth effect – what it means and what it accomplishes – based on the Fed’s wealth distribution datathrough Q4 2020, and based on Census Bureau estimates for the US population over the years. Here are some key results. At the end of 2020, the per-capita wealth (assets minus debts) of:

  • The 1% = $11.7 million per person (green);
  • The next 9% = $1.6 million per person (blue);
  • The 50% to 90% = $263,016 per person (red line at the bottom).
  • The bottom 50% = $15,027 per person. That amount of wealth is so small it doesn’t show up on this per-capita chart that is on a scale of wealth that accommodates the 1%.

The total population in 2020, according to the Census Bureau, was 330 million people. The 1% amount to 3.3 million people. Back in 2000, the population was 283 million people, and the 1% amounted to 2.8 million people. So the 1% has grown by 473,000 people because the population has gotten larger. And the 50% – the have-nots, as we’ll see in a moment – have grown by 24 million people.

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

 

Fed and Treasury Steer Their Unsinkable Ship toward Iceberg

Fed and Treasury Steer Their Unsinkable Ship toward Iceberg

Illustration of the Titanic sinking with iceberg in backgroundThis past week we got to observe Fed Chair Jerome Powell and the US stock market andthe US bond market do everything I said they would do in their complicated shuffle of ships-and-icebergs:

“I’m sure many helium-headed stock investors believe the lilly-livered Fed will turn tail and run from its goal of letting inflation rise as soon as bonds begin to clobber stocks more seriously…. I believe the Fed is more committed than ever to raising inflation as it has been saying it wanted to do for years.”

Stocks in Bondage but Fed Not Fazed

While bond yields had already begun to rise and compete against stocks, the Fed stayed the course, iceberg dead ahead. As a result, longterm bond interest rose even more because the Fed did nothing to jawbone the idea of increasing its bond-buying QE to take interest rates back down (which it accomplishes by purchasing US government bonds from banks to take them off the market, putting them on its own balance sheet).

You see, the Fed is — I believe — caught in its own catch-22. Usually, to lower interest (in order to stimulate the economy and hit the higher inflation number the Fed says it is targeting), the Fed would buy more bonds; however, buying bonds and adding them to its balance sheet tends to create more money in the system, and the bond market is already afraid of rising inflation because much of the new money is now going into the hands of average people. (This game only worked when all new money was going into the stock market.)

As a result, aiming for higher inflation by purchasing more bonds will cause the reinvigorated bond vigilantes to up their demand on bond yields to cover inflation, making it impossible to lower longterm yields by purchasing bonds.

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

 

The Mainstream Is Wrong About Rising Bond Yields and Gold

The Mainstream Is Wrong About Rising Bond Yields and Gold

Prices are going up. The Federal Reserve is printing money at an unprecedented rate. The US government continues to borrow and spend at a torrid pace. As Peter Schiff put it in a recent podcast, we’re adrift in a sea of inflation. Gold is supposed to be an inflation hedge. So, why isn’t the price of gold climbing right now?

In a nutshell, rising bond yields have created significant headwinds for gold. And the mainstream is reading rising yields and their relationship to gold all wrong.

It really comes down to expectations. Most people in the mainstream view rising yields as an inflation signal, and they expect the Federal Reserve to respond to this inflationary pressure in a conventional way. They expect the Fed to tighten monetary policy, raise interest rates and shrink its balance sheet.

As Peter Schiff has explained on numerous occasions, this won’t happen. The Fed won’t fight inflation because it can’t. It will ultimately surrender to inflation.

Right now, the markets sense that inflation is going to be moving higher. And maybe even higher than what the Fed is acknowledging. But I think the markets still believe the Fed — that the Fed will be able to contain the inflation problem before it really runs out of control. So, it’s the expectation that the Fed’s going to fight inflation by raising rates — that’s what’s pressuring gold. But the markets are wrong. The Fed is not even going to attempt to fight inflation. It’s going to surrender. Inflation is going to win without a fight…

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

, schiffgold, inflation, money printing, credit expansion, central banks, qe, quantitative easing, peter schiff, fed, us federal reserve, gold,

Monetary Policy at a Crossroad: Policymakers Need to Break Promise of Easy Money to Avoid Boom-Bust

The Federal Reserve’s new policy approach is that policymakers want to see “actual progress, not forecast progress” before deciding to change its policy stance. Substantial actual progress is occurring in the economy, some faster than others. How much monetary accommodation is needed to meet the ultimate employment and inflation objectives is debatable. But it is less than when the pandemic started and less after the passage of $1.9 trillion in federal stimulus.

Determining when a policy stance has become too accommodative is not an easy matter—but enabling excessive risk-taking to become well-entrenched is comparable to past policy mistakes by allowing a build-up of inflation and inflation expectations. Both are difficult to unwind, and past episodes have shown it is impossible without triggering significant adverse effects in the economy.

Evidence of Actual Economic Progress & Excessive Risk-Taking

Employment and Jobless Rate: In March, payroll employment increased 916,000, far above market expectations, bringing the three-month job gains of Q1 to 1.6 million. The strong string of monthly job gains helped lower the jobless rate by 0.7 percentage points, from 6.7% to 6.0%.

Job gains in Q2 could easily double Q1 numbers. The rapid increase in vaccinations, enabling the many parts of the economy to re-open, especially travel and schools, will trigger outsized solid job gains. By mid-year, the jobless rate could drop a whole percentage point to 5%, getting very close to the Fed’s year-end target of 4.5%.

Does it make sense to maintain the same monetary accommodation scale with the jobless rate at 5% as when it was 10% one year earlier.

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

joe carson, the carson report, fed, us federal reserve, monetary policy,

QE During the “Everything Mania”: Fed’s Assets at $7.7 Trillion, up $3.5 Trillion in 13 months

QE During the “Everything Mania”: Fed’s Assets at $7.7 Trillion, up $3.5 Trillion in 13 months

But long-term Treasury yields have surged, to the great consternation of our Wall Street Crybabies.

The Fed has shut down or put on ice nearly the entire alphabet soup of bailout programs designed to prop up the markets during their tantrum a year ago, including the Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) that bought corporate bonds, corporate bond ETFs, commercial mortgage-backed securities, asset-backed securities, municipal bonds, etc. Its repos faded into nothing last summer. And foreign central bank dollar swaps have nearly zeroed out.

What the Fed is still buying are large amounts of Treasury securities and residential MBS, though no one can figure out why the Fed is still buying them, given the crazy Everything Mania in the markets.

But for the week, total assets on the Fed’s weekly balance sheet through Wednesday, March 31, fell by $31 billion from the record level in the prior week, to $7.69 trillion. Over the past 13 months of this miracle money-printing show, the Fed has added $3.5 trillion in assets to its balance sheet:

One of the purposes of QE is to force down long-term interest rates and long-term mortgage rates. But long-term Treasury yields started rising last summer. The 10-year Treasury has more than tripled since then and closed today at 1.72%. Mortgage rates started rising in early January. Bond prices fall as yields rise, and the crybabies on Wall Street want the Fed to do something about those rising long-term yields and the bloodbath they have created in the prices of long-term Treasury securities and high-grade corporate bonds.

But instead, the Fed has said in monotonous uniformity that rising long-term yields despite $120 billion of QE a month are a welcome sign of rising inflation expectations and a growing economy:

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

wolf richter, wolfstreet, qe, quantitative easing, money printing, credit expansion, fed, us federal reserve, central bank, interest rates, wall street

US Dollar’s Status as Dominant “Global Reserve Currency” Drops to 25-Year Low

US Dollar’s Status as Dominant “Global Reserve Currency” Drops to 25-Year Low

Central banks getting nervous about the Fed’s drunken Money Printing and the US Government’s gigantic debt? But still leery of the Chinese renminbi.

The global share of US-dollar-denominated exchange reserves dropped to 59.0% in the fourth quarter, according to the IMF’s COFER data released today. This matched the 25-year low of 1995. These foreign exchange reserves are Treasury securities, US corporate bonds, US mortgage-backed securities, US Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities, etc. held by foreign central banks.

Since 2014, the dollar’s share has dropped by 7 full percentage points, from 66% to 59%, on average 1 percentage point per year. At this rate, the dollar’s share would fall below 50% over the next decade:

Not included in global foreign exchange reserves are the Fed’s own holdings of dollar-denominated assets, its $4.9 trillion in Treasury securities and $2.2 trillion in mortgage-backed securities, that it amassed as part of its QE.

The US dollar’s status as the dominant global reserve currency is a crucial enabler for the US government to keep ballooning its public debt, and for Corporate America’s relentless efforts to create the vast trade deficits by offshoring production to cheap countries, most prominently China and Mexico. They’re all counting on the willingness of other central banks to hold large amounts of dollar-denominated debt.

But it seems, central banks have been getting just a tad nervous and want to diversify their holdings – but ever so slowly, and not all of a sudden, given the magnitude of this thing, which, if mishandled, could blow over everyone’s house of cards.

20 years of decline.

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

wolfstreet, wolf richter, us dollar, world reserve currency, central banks, money printing, fed, us federal reserve, money, us debt, debt, united states

The Hazardous Detour in the Road to “Recovery” Few Foresee

The Hazardous Detour in the Road to “Recovery” Few Foresee

As the level of Fed smack and crack needed to maintain the high increases, system fragility increases geometrically.

You know the plot point in the horror film where the highway is blocked and a detour sign directs the car full of naive teens off onto a rutted track into the wilderness? We’re right there in the narrative of “the road to recovery”: the highway that everyone expected would be smooth and wide open is about to be detoured into a rutted track that peters out in a wilderness without any lights or signage.

Oops–no cell coverage out here either. Is that the road over there? Guess not–we just careened into a canyon alive with the roar of a raging river. Our vehicle keeps sliding downhill, even with the brakes locked… this trip to “recovery” was supposed to be so quick and easy, and now there’s no way out… what’s that noise?

You know the rest: the naive, trusting teens are picked off one by one in the most horrific fashion. Substitute naive punters in the stock market and you have the script for what lies ahead.

The “recovery” has an unfortunate but all-too accurate connotation: recovery from addiction. The “recovery” we’ve been told is already accelerating at a wondrous pace does not include any treatment of the market’s addiction to Federal Reserve free money for financiers; rather, the “recovery” is entirely dependent on a never-ending speedball of Fed smack and crack and a booster of Fed financial meth.

The addiction to Fed speedballs had already turned the entire financial sector into a casino of lunatic junkies who delusionally believe they’re all geniuses. Beneath the illusory stability of the god-like Fed has our back, the addiction to free money has completely destabilized America’s social, political and economic orders by boosting wealth and income inequality to unprecedented extremes.

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

charles hugh smith, of two minds, fed, us federal reserve, covid, pandemic,

Peter Schiff: The Box That the Federal Reserve Is In

Peter Schiff: The Box That the Federal Reserve Is In

Jerome Powell and Janet Yellen testified jointly before the US Senate last week. Inflation was a big topic of conversation. The Fed chair continued to insist that the central can fight inflation if necessary, but that it really isn’t a problem we need to worry about right now. In his podcast, Peter Schiff said the truth is inflation is a problem. And when it comes to dealing with that problem, the Fed is in a box. It will never pick a fight that it can’t win.

The Federal Reserve balance sheet has swelled to a new record of over $7.72 trillion. It was up another $26.1 billion on the week last week. Peter said he expects this number to continue increasing at an even faster rate in the near future.

I would not be surprised to see the balance sheet hit $10 trillion by the end of 2021 because we have a lot of deficit spending in the pipeline and there is no way to pay for it other than the Federal Reserve.”

One of the questions directed toward Powell was about the Federal Reserve’s independence. Powell talked about how important it is. But Peter said the actions of the Fed chair show there’s really no independence at all.

There’s independence in form only, but not in substance. We pretend we have an independent Fed, but in reality, the Fed acts as if it’s just a branch of the US Treasury Department. The fact that both the secretary of the Treasury and the Fed chairman are testifying together shows a degree of cooperation. They’re working together and it seems that they are trying to coordinate their policies.”

The reason the Fed is keeping interest rates so low and expanding its balance sheet is to accommodate the US government as it spends more and more money.

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

peter schiff, schiff gold, jerome powell, janet yellen, fed, us federal reserve, us treasury department, us senate, inflation, balance sheet

The Losses are Hidden – Bill Holter

The Losses are Hidden – Bill Holter

Precious metals expert and financial writer Bill Holter has been predicting the financial system is going to go down sooner than later.  He says the signs are the lies being told to the public to try to hold the system together.  Holter explains, “If you look at everything, nothing is natural.  Everything is contrived.  We are lied to about pretty much everything 24/7. . . . They lied about everything regarding Covid.  They have lied about the election.  They are lying about the unemployment rate.  They are lying about inflation.  They are lying about the true amount of total debt outstanding.  They are lying about everything. And one other tidbit, 36% of all dollars outstanding have been created now, were created in the last 12 months.  Oh, and the Fed is no longer going to publish M2. . . . How can you make a business decision if you don’t know how much money is outstanding?”

This leads us to all the digital dollars sloshing around and Crypto currencies.  Holter says, “Crypto currencies are a perceived exit from the system.  They are perceived as a safe haven.  If Bitcoin, which is nothing but digital air, can become $65,000 per unit, what can something real become worth?  What these crypto currencies are doing is illustrating a debasement of all the fiat currencies.”

Bill Holter says big loses in the financial world are being hidden from the public.  Take real estate, for example.  Holter points out, “The average mall in the United States is appraised 60% lower than it was a year ago.  That’s a 60% drop.  It’s now worth 40%.  There is debt on these things they owe.  These malls were not bought, built and created out of cash…

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

greg hunter, usa watchdog, financial system, financial system collapse, bill holter, debt, fed, us federal reserve, money printing, credit expansion

There’s a Serious Flaw to the Team Powell-Yellen Inflation Scheme

There’s a Serious Flaw to the Team Powell-Yellen Inflation Scheme

If you’re a wage earner, retiree, or a lowly saver, your wealth is in imminent danger.

A lifetime of schlepping and saving could be rapidly vaporized over the next several years.  In fact, the forces towards this end have already been set in motion.

Indeed, there are many forces at work.  But at the moment, the force above all forces is the extreme levels of money printing being jointly carried out by the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury.

Fed Chairman Jay Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have linked arms to crank up the printing presses in tandem.

This is what’s driving markets to price things – from copper to digital NFT art – in strange and shocking ways.  But what’s behind the money printing?

Surely it’s more than progressive politics – under the guise of virus recovery – run amok.

Where to begin?

The U.S. national debt is a good place to start.  And the U.S. national debt is now over $28 trillion.  Is that a big number?

As far as we can tell, $28 trillion is a really big number…even in the year 2021.  How do we know it’s a big number, aside from counting the twelve zeros that fall after the 28?

We know $28 trillion is a big number based on our everyday experience using dollars to buy goods and services.  You can still buy a lot of stuff with $28 trillion.  In truth, $28 trillion is so big it’s hard to comprehend.

Nonetheless, $28 trillion is not as big a number today as it was in 1950.  Back then, the relative bigness of $28 trillion was much larger.  It was unfathomable.

Crime of the Century

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

economic prism, mn gordon, janet yellen, inflation, jerome powell, fed, us federal reserve, central bank, stimulus, government stimulus, united states

Weekly Commentary: Powell on Inflation

Weekly Commentary: Powell on Inflation

The Treasury yield spike runs unabated. Ten-year Treasury yields rose another 10 bps this week to 1.72%, the high since January 23, 2020. The Treasury five-year “breakeven” inflation rate rose to 2.65% in Tuesday trading, the high since July 2008. The Philadelphia Fed’s Business Survey Prices Paid Index surged to a 41-year-high. In the New York Fed’s Manufacturing Index, indices of Prices Paid and Received both jumped to highs since 2011.
While crude oil’s notable 6.4% decline for the week spurred a moderate pullback in market inflation expectations (i.e. “breakeven rates”), this did not translate into any relief in the unfolding Treasury bear market.

Chairman Powell was widely lauded for his adept handling of Wednesday’s post-FOMC meeting press conference. He was well-prepared and could not have been more direct: The Federal Reserve will not anytime soon be contemplating a retreat from its ultra-dovish stance. It was music to the equities mania, as the Dow gained 190 points to trade above 33,000 for the first time. Treasury yields added a couple bps, but without any of the feared fireworks. Markets were breathing a sigh of relief.

Labored breathing returned Thursday. Ten-year Treasury yields spiked another 10 bps, trading above 1.75% for the first time since January 2020. And after trading as low as 0.76% during Powell’s press conference, five-year Treasury yields spiked to almost 0.90% in increasingly disorderly Thursday trading. The Nasdaq100 was slammed 3.1%, with the S&P500 sinking 1.5%.

The Treasury market would really like to take comfort from the Fed’s steadfast dovishness. It’s just been fundamental to so much. It’s worked incredibly well for so long. Not now. This raises a critical issue: Paradigm shift? Regime change? What’s driving Treasury yields these days? What is the bond market fearing? If it’s inflation, is Fed dovishness friend or foe?

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

credit bubble bulletin, doug noland, inflation, price inflation, fed, us federal reserve, jerome powell

Wrong… Again

Wrong… Again

The Federal Reserve met last week and voted to keep interest rates unchanged. What a shock!

The Fed also gave an upbeat forecast of economic growth, predicting that the U.S. economy will grow 6.5% this year, its highest rate in nearly 40 years. Its December 2020 forecast projected 4.2% growth.

The Fed also expects that the economy could return to full employment next year and that inflation could hit 2.4% this year before declining again.

In effect, the central bank said they were willing to let the economy run “hot” and risk higher inflation in order to capture the benefits of stronger growth.

Zero rates are essentially a given as far as the eye can see. What about that growth forecast?

The Fed has one of the worst forecasting records of any financial institution in the world. My expectation is that growth is slowing now and will get worse as the year progresses.

I believe this will be especially true as the Biden administration policies of higher taxes, more regulation, and open borders that import cheap labor take effect.

Biden has also shut down new oil and gas exploration and wants to push a Green New Deal that will guarantee higher energy prices. Higher energy prices are a burden on the economy.

Little Cause for Optimism

Where’s the evidence that growth is slower than the Fed expects?

Inflation measures remain weak. The annual core consumer price inflation rate moved down from 1.7% in September 2020 to 1.3% in February 2021.

The overall consumer price inflation rate (including food and energy) rose modestly from 1.4% in September 2020 to 1.7% in February 2021.

On a year-over-year basis, the core personal consumption expenditures rate of increase (the Fed’s preferred index) moved from 1.4% in October 2020 to 1.5% in January 2021.

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

daily reckoning, james rickards, fed, us federal reserve, inflation, price inflation, cpi, consumer price inflation,

Powell, Do You Even Know What The Economy Is?

Powell, Do You Even Know What The Economy Is?

To Clarify, Main Street Is Not Wall Street

After all the destructive policies we have seen coming out of the Eccles Building, it may be time to ask Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, “Do you even know what the economy is?” All the easing and stimulus has taken us to a place we could call Bubbleville. It has bolstered asset prices and speculation but done little to help Main Street or generate a strong economy. This destructive force was unleashed long before Covid-19 came into the picture and hanging our economic misfortunes on the pandemic may sound reasonable but is far from accurate.History shows that misguided financial policies often end in  a crisis, in this case, it is likely to play out in massive inflation. Milton Friedman knew a bit about this, he said; The government benefits the first from new money creationmassively increases its imbalances, and blames inflation on the last recipients of the new money created, savers and the private sector, so it “solves” the inflation created by the government by taxing citizens again. Inflation is taxation without legislation. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeIeFUJ9EY

A comical Progressive Insurance commercial has a smooth-faced fella going on about his beard and apologizing for how he looks. Finally, a coworker asks him, “Jamie, do you even know what a beard is?” Over the months we have watched Fed Chairman Jerome Powell time and time again cut rates and increase the Fed’s balance sheet. This has hurt savers, forced investors into risky investments in search of yield, damaged the dollar, encouraged politicians to spend like drunken sailors, and increased inequality.

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

bruce wilds, advancing time blog, jerome powell, fed, us federal reserve, bubble, financial policies, fed balance sheet, inflation, taxation, inequality

First Signs that Surging Mortgage Rates Are Dialling Down the Heat under the Housing Market

First Signs that Surging Mortgage Rates Are Dialling Down the Heat under the Housing Market

The Fed smiles upon rising long-term Treasury yields as sign of economic growth and rising inflation expectations.

Long-term US Treasury yields have continued to march higher despite the Fed’s purchases of about $120 billion a month in Treasury securities and MBS, whose purpose it is to push down long-term rates. And the Fed governors continue to voice unanimous support for those higher yields as a sign of a growing economy and rising inflation expectations. Just about every day, they come out shrugging and expressing their support for those higher yields. On Friday, it was Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin’s job to spread the gospel.

“There’s a lot of momentum in the economy right now,” he told CNBC. “I think we are going to have a very strong summer, a very strong fall, as pent-up demand comes back in the economy, as vaccines roll out, and I think the economy is going to be strong enough to take somewhat higher rates.”

This comes on top of Jerome Powell’s insistence earlier in the week that the Fed will consider the rise in inflation as temporary, and that the Fed won’t do anything about it, and that the resulting rise in long-term yields, as long as it doesn’t create “disorderly conditions” in markets, are a welcome sign of economic growth and rising inflation expectations. This Fed is looking forward to a surge in inflation, and is promoting it, and so on Friday, the 10-year yield closed at 1.74%, the highest since January 2020:

The 30-year yield closed at 2.45% on Friday, the highest since July 2019. When yields rise, bond prices fall. The price of the iShares 20 Plus Year Treasury Bond ETF [TLT], which tracks Treasury securities with maturities of 20 years or more, has dropped 21.5% since August 4.

…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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