• Tag Archives Fed
  • Janet Yellen: Trump’s Tax Cut Could Play a Negative Role in Next Downturn

    The outgoing Chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, held her last press conference yesterday following the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision to hike the Feds Fund rate by one-quarter percentage point, bringing its target range to 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 percent.
    Given the growing reports from market watchers that the stock market has entered the bubble stage and could pose a serious threat to the health of the economy should the bubble burst, CNBC’s Steve Liesman asked Yellen during the press conference if there are ‘concerns at the Fed about current market valuations.’
    Yellen gave a response which may doom her from a respected place in history. She stated:
    ‘So let me start Steve with the stock market generally. Of course the stock market has gone up a great deal this year and we have in recent months characterized the general level of asset valuations as elevated. What that reflects is simply the assessment that looking at price-earnings ratios and comparable metrics for other assets other than equities we see ratios that are in the high end of historical ranges. And so that’s worth pointing out.
    ‘But economists are not great at knowing what appropriate valuations are. We don’t have a terrific record. And the fact that those valuations are high doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily overvalued.

    This post was published at Wall Street On Parade By Pam Martens and Russ Marte.


  • Still Can’t Find That Pitchfork, Can You?

    Corporate balance sheets have never been in the condition they are now, but most of this is a fraud.
    Virtually all of the so-called “growth” has been in buybacks and (to a lesser extent) dividends. The problem with buybacks is that into ramping prices they are a terrible long-term deal. They make some sense in the depths of a crash, but of course nobody has the cash to do it during a crash.
    When debt financed it’s even worse because history says that corporate debt is never paid off, only rolled over. In point of fact non-financial companies did not decrease their total debt levels (as measured by the Fed Z1) even during the depth of the financial crisis of 2007-2009. This of course means that debt:equity levels go vertical as soon as the ramp in equity price stops.
    I remind you that while buybacks increase earnings during good years (by reducing the divisor) they also increase losses during bad ones. People forget this because, well, there haven’t been any bad ones recently. That will end and when it does it will provide a gross amount of acceleration for the decline in equity prices. In fact, it’s not going to be gasoline poured on that fire, it’s going to a mixture of diesel fuel and ammonium nitrate…. See Galveston for what will come of that.
    But on top of this we now have the real screw job in the tax bill.

    This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-12-15.


  • The Rug Yank Phase of Fed Policy

    Bogus Jobs Pay Big Bucks
    The political differences of today’s two leading parties are not over ultimate questions of principle. Rather, they are over opposing answers to the question of how a goal can be achieved with the least sacrifice. For lawmakers, the goal is to promise the populace something for nothing, while pretending to make good on it.
    Take the latest tax bill, for instance. The GOP wants to tax less and spend more. The Democrat party wants to tax more and spend even more. We don’t recall seeing any proposals to tax less, spend less, and shrink the size of the state. And why would we?
    Today’s central planners and social engineers are enlightened and progressive. They know much more about anything and everything than the rest of us. In particular, they share a general sense that they know how to spend your money better than you.

    This post was published at Acting-Man on December 15, 2017.


  • The Flattening US ‘Yield Curve’? NIRP Refugees Did it

    Sez Fitch & Yellen
    US Treasury securities are doing something that is worrying a lot of folks, including Fed Chair Janet Yellen: While short-term yields are rising in line with the Fed’s hikes of its target range for the federal funds rate, longer-term yield have done the opposite: they’ve been declining. This has flattened the ‘yield curve’ to a level not seen since before the Financial Crisis.
    This chart shows the yield curve of today’s yields (red line) across the maturity spectrum against the yields of exactly a year ago, after the rate hike at the time. Note how short-term yields on the left have risen in line with the rate hikes, while toward the right of the chart, long-term yields have fallen:

    This post was published at Wolf Street on Dec 14, 2017.


  • Bonds Versus Economists: Reality & The Echo Chamber

    As part of its effort to stress its own self-importance, the Federal Reserve conducts a survey of the Primary Dealer members through its New York branch. A written questionnaire is sent out to each bank in advance of every monetary policy meeting. The purpose is for monetary policymakers to make sure that there aren’t any big surprises, that the market, or, in this case, orthodox Economists working for one part of the market, is seeing things consistent with how the Fed wants them to.
    In September 2013, the Primary Dealer Survey questions included a few pertaining to the then ongoing ‘taper tantrum’ roiling markets around the world. It was ‘reflation’ #2 and like the others, both the one before and the one after, it came on rather quickly and harshly. On the issue of benchmark interest rates, in the form of the UST 10s, the Primary Dealers all saw interest rates rising still further into the foreseeable future.
    Of those surveyed, 65% believed that the 10-year yield would be above 3% by the end of 2014; more than three-quarters, 78%, thought the same for the end of 2015, including 15% who were expecting the 10s to get above 4.50% compared to just 6% who guessed, correctly, 2.01% to 2.50%.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 14, 2017.


  • Bad Case of Unaffordable Housing: Shelter CPI Rises >2x Core Inflation (‘Inflation’ Cools Ahead of FOMC Meeting)

    The Fed’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting is today. And according to the SF Fed’s calibration of the Taylor Rule, the Fed Funds Target rate should be 6.13% (it is only 1.25%, a spread of 488 basis points TOO LOW).

    This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on December 13, 2017.


  • Fed’s Janet Yellen: Stock Market Bubble Not Seen as Major Risk Factor

    The outgoing Chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, held her last press conference yesterday following the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision to hike the Feds Fund rate by one-quarter percentage point, bringing its target range to 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 percent.
    Given the growing reports from market watchers that the stock market has entered the bubble stage and could pose a serious threat to the health of the economy should the bubble burst, CNBC’s Steve Liesman asked Yellen during the press conference if there are ‘concerns at the Fed about current market valuations.’
    Yellen gave a response which may doom her from a respected place in history. She stated:
    ‘So let me start Steve with the stock market generally. Of course the stock market has gone up a great deal this year and we have in recent months characterized the general level of asset valuations as elevated. What that reflects is simply the assessment that looking at price-earnings ratios and comparable metrics for other assets other than equities we see ratios that are in the high end of historical ranges. And so that’s worth pointing out.
    ‘But economists are not great at knowing what appropriate valuations are. We don’t have a terrific record. And the fact that those valuations are high doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily overvalued.

    This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on December 14, 2017.


  • It’s Central Bank Bonanza Day: European Stocks Slide Ahead Of ECB; S&P Futs Hit Record High

    One day after the Fed hiked rates by 25 bps as part of Janet Yellen’s final news conference, it is central bank bonanza day, with rate decisions coming from the rest of the world’s most important central banks, including the ECB, BOE, SNB, Norges Bank, HKMA, Turkey and others.
    And while US equity futures are once again in record territory, stocks in Europe dropped amid a weaker dollar as investors awaited the outcome of the last ECB meeting of the year: the Stoxx 600 falls 0.4% as market shows signs of caution before the Bank of England and the European Central Bank are due to make monetary policy decisions as technology, industrial goods and chemicals among biggest sector decliners, while miners outperform, heading for a 5th consecutive day of gains. ‘The Federal Reserve raised interest rates last night, but they weren’t overly hawkish in their outlook. This has led to traders being subdued this morning,’ CMC Markets analyst David Madden writes in note.
    The stronger euro pressured exporters on Thursday although overnight the dollar halted a decline sparked by the Fed’s unchanged outlook for rate increases in 2018, suggesting “Yellen Isn’t Buying Trump’s Tax Cut Talk of an Economic Miracle.”
    That said, it has been a very busy European session due to large amount of economic data and central bank meetings, with the NOK spiking higher after the Norges Bank lifted its rate path, while the EURCHF jumped to session highs after SNB comments on CHF depreciation over last few months. The AUD holds strong overnight performance after a monster jobs report which will almost certainly be confirmed to be a statistical error in the coming weeks, while the Turkish Lira plummets as the central bank delivers less tightening than expected. Meanwhile, the USD attempts a slow grind away from post-FOMC lows.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 14, 2017.


  • Witchy Woman: Yellen’s Last FOMC Meeting (Fed Funds Rate Rises To 1.5% As Balance Sheet Begins Slow Unwind)

    This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Snake Hole Lounge. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
    Yes, this was Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s last Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. And the FOMC raised, as widely expected, the Target rate (upper bound) to 1.50%.

    This post was published at Wall Street Examiner by Anthony B Sanders ‘ December 13, 2017.


  • Watch Live: Janet Yellen’s Last FOMC Press Conference

    Grab your handkerchief, it’s gonna be a tear-jerker. Having managed to get through her term as Fed Chair without a ‘crisis’, unlike her three previous colleagues, it would appear Janet Yellen has managed to jump ship at the perfect time. Will she leave her last press conference with a ‘hanging chad’ of uncertainty about extreme asset valuations, or toe-the-line for Powell that everything is awesome?

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 13, 2017.


  • FOMC Hikes Rates As Expected: Expects 3 Hikes, Faster Growth As Two Dissent

    With a 98.3% probability heading in, there was really no doubt the most-telegraphed rate-hike ever would occur, but all eyes are on the dots (rate trajectory shows 3 hikes in 2018), inflation outlook (unchanged), and growth outlook (faster growth in 2018), and lowered unemployment outlook to below 4%. The Fed also plans to increase its balance sheet run off to $20 billion in January.
    *FED RAISES RATES BY QUARTER POINT, STILL SEES THREE 2018 HIKES *FED SEES FASTER 2018 GROWTH, LABOR MARKET STAYING `STRONG’ *FED: MONTHLY B/SHEET RUNOFF TO RISE TO $20B IN JAN. AS PLANNED The dissents by Evans and Kashkari are significant as they send the signal that there is a significant fraction of the FOMC that would like to put off additional rate hikes until inflation is moving back closer to 2%. You could expect additional dissents in March if the FOMC goes ahead with a hike then, unless inflation rebounds by then.
    On the other hand, the median target “dot” for 2020 rose to 3.063% vs 2.875% in September; suggesting even further tightening in store.
    The Fed’s forecasts improved for growth and unemployment, while keeping inflation unchanged:

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 13, 2017.


  • Yellen’s Big Goodbye (And What She’s Leaving Behind)

    The past three Fed Chairs before Yellen all had their own crisis to deal with.
    Volcker had the disaster of the early 1980’s as he struggled to tame inflation with double digit interest rates. That helped contribute to the Latin American debt crisis, and the subsequent global bear markets in stocks.
    He handed over the reins to Greenspan in the summer of ’87 and within months, the new Fed Chairman faced the largest stock market crash since the 1920’s. That trial by fire was invaluable for Greenspan, as he faced a second crisis when the DotCom bubble burst at the turn of the century.
    His successor, Ben Bernanke also did not escape without a record breaking financial panic when the real estate collapse hit the global economy especially hard in 2007.
    But Yellen? Nothing. Nada. She has presided over the least volatile, most steady, market rally of the past century. Was she lucky? Or was this the result of smart policy decisions? I tend to attribute it more to luck, but it’s tough to argue that she made any large mistakes. Sure you might quibble about the rate of interest rate increases. And her critics will argue that economic growth, and more importantly, wage increases have been especially anemic under her watch, but to a large degree, those variables are out of her hands.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 13, 2017.


  • 2 Charts That Might Define the Fed’s Jerome Powell Era

    In September, we proposed a theory of the Fed and suggested that the FOMC will soon worry mostly about financial imbalances without much concern for recession risks. We reached that conclusion by simply weighing the reputational pitfalls faced by the economists on the committee, but now we’ll add more meat to our argument, using financial flows data released last week. We’ve created two charts, beginning with a look at cumulative, inflation-adjusted asset gains during the last seven business cycles:

    According to the way that the Fed defines its policy approach, our first chart stamps a giant ‘Mission Accomplished’ on the unconventional policies of recent years. Recall that policy makers explained their actions with reference to the portfolio balance channel, meaning they were deliberately enticing investors to buy riskier assets than they would otherwise hold. Policy makers hoped to push asset prices higher, and they seem to have succeeded, notwithstanding the usual debates about how much of the price gains should be attributed to central bankers. (See one of our contributions here and a couple of other papers here and here.) But whatever the impetus for assets to rise, it’s obvious that they responded. In fact, judging by the data shown in the chart, policy makers could have checked the higher-asset-prices box long ago, and with a King Size Sharpie.

    This post was published at FinancialSense on 12/13/2017.


  • Stocks Rebound From “Bama Shock”, All Eyes On Yellen’s Last Rate Hike

    After an early slide last night following the stunning news that Doug Jones had defeated Republican Roy Moore in the Alabama special election, becoming the first Democratic senator from Alabama in a quarter century and reducing the GOP’s Senate majority to the absolute minimum 51-49, US equity futures have quickly rebounded and are once again in the green with the S&P index set for another record high, as European stocks ease slightly, and Asian stocks gain ahead of today’s Fed rate hike and US CPI print.
    ‘The big issue now is whether Republicans will push through their tax bill before Christmas,’ said Sue Trinh, head of Asia foreign-exchange strategy at RBC Capital Markets in Hong Kong. ‘And more broadly, U. S. dollar bulls will be more worried that this marks a Democratic revival into 2018 mid-term Congressional elections.’
    The negative sentiment faded quick, however, because according to Bloomberg, despite the loss of a Senate seat, it probably won’t affect the expected vote on business-friendly tax cuts, however, as the winner won’t be certified until late December.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 13, 2017.


  • The Fed’s Magic Trick That’s Picking Your Pocket

    Every year, the Federal Reserve robs you of a little bit of your wealth.
    And it does so by design.
    Writing for the Sovereign Man, Jeff Thomas called it a ‘magic trick.’ But it’s not magic in a mystical way. It’s magic in the show business sense of the word. It’s an illusion, facilitated by distraction that fools the audience. As a result, we all miss what’s actually happening.
    How does the Fed rob you?
    Inflation.
    As Thomas put it, inflation is the ideal magic trick. The average person doesn’t see it as a tax. The magicians – the central bankers – present it to us as a normal and necessary part of the economy.
    Rube Goldberg, was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor. He was best known for building complex machines that only accomplished a very simple task, or in some cases didn’t do anything at all. When you look at the Federal Reserve justification for inflation, it brings to mind one of these Rube Goldberg machines.

    This post was published at Schiffgold on DECEMBER 12, 2017.


  • How Fed Rate Hikes Impact US Debt Slaves

    But savers are still getting shafted.
    Outstanding ‘revolving credit’ owed by consumers – such as bank-issued and private-label credit cards – jumped 6.1% year-over-year to $977 billion in the third quarter, according to the Fed’s Board of Governors. When the holiday shopping season is over, it will exceed $1 trillion. At the same time, the Fed has set out to make this type of debt a lot more expensive.
    The Fed’s four hikes of its target range for the federal funds rate in this cycle cost consumers with credit card balances an additional $6 billion in interest in 2017, according to WalletHub. The Fed’s widely expected quarter-percentage-point hike on December 13 will cost consumers with credit card balances an additional $1.5 billion in 2018. This would bring the incremental costs of five rates hikes so far to $7.5 billion next year.
    Short-term yields have shot up since the rate-hike cycle started. For example, the three-month US Treasury yield rose from near 0% in October 2015 to 1.33% today. Credit card rates move with short-term rates.
    Mortgage rates move in near-parallel with the 10-year Treasury yield, which, at 2.39%, has declined from about 2.6% a year ago. Hence, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are still quoted with rates below 4%, and for now, homebuyers have been spared the impact of the rate hikes.

    This post was published at Wolf Street on Dec 11, 2017.


  • The Fed’s Fantasy on Neutral Interest Rates

    In her testimony to the Congress Economic Committee on November 29, 2017, the Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that the neutral rate appears to be quite low by historical standards. From this, she concluded that the federal funds rate would not have to increase much to reach a neutral stance.
    The neutral rate currently appears to be quite low by historical standards, implying that the federal funds rate would not have to rise much further to get to a neutral policy stance. If the neutral level rises somewhat over time, as most FOMC participants expect, additional gradual rate hikes would likely be appropriate over the next few years to sustain the economic expansion.
    It is widely accepted that by means of suitable monetary policies the US central bank can navigate the economy towards a growth path of economic stability and prosperity. The key ingredient in achieving this is price stability. Most experts are of the view that what prevents the attainment of price stability are the fluctuations of the federal funds rate around the neutral rate of interest.
    The neutral rate, it is held, is one that is consistent with stable prices and a balanced economy. What is required is Fed policy makers successfully targeting the federal funds rate towards the neutral interest rate.
    This framework of thinking, which has its origins in the 18th century writings of British economist Henry Thornton1, was articulated in late 19th century by the Swedish economist Knut Wicksell.

    This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on December 11, 2017.


  • Bank of America: “We’ve Seen This Movie Before: It Ends With A Recession”

    In a merciful transition from Wall Street’s endless daily discussions and more often than not- monologues – of why vol is record low, and why a financial cataclysm will ensue once vol finally surges, lately the main topic preoccupying financial strategists has been the yield curve’s ongoing collapse – with the 2s10s sliding and trading at levels last seen in April 2015, and with curve inversion predicted by BMO to take place as soon as March 2018. And, according to at least one other metric, the yield curve should already be some -25bps inverted. This is shown in the following chart from Bank of America which lays out the correlation between the US unemployment rate and the 2s10s curve, and which suggests that the latter should be 80 bps lower, or some 25 basis points in negative territory.
    Here is some additional context from BofA’s head of securitization Chris Flanagan, who views “the recent sharp flattening of the yield curve, which has seen the 2y10y spread go from 80 bps to almost 50 bps since late October, as the natural course of events at this stage of the economic cycle. Unemployment is low, and probably headed lower, and the Fed is intent on raising rates to stave off future inflation; we’ve seen this movie before and it typically ends with a flat or inverted yield curve. Based on history (and gravity), we think the most likely path forward is that the 2y10y spread reaches zero or inverts sometime over the next year or so and that recession of some kind follows in 2020 or 2021. (Given that the curve has flattened 30 bps in just over a month, projecting an additional 50 bps flattening over the next year is not really too bold.) Of course, much can happen along the way to change that outcome, but for now that seems to us to be the most likely course of events to us.”
    Here Flanagan openly disagrees with the BofA’s “house call” of a steepening yield curve, and explains why:

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 10, 2017.


  • Bitcoin Mania Shows The World Financial System Is a Con

    The hidden agenda in the so-called tax reform bill is to act as stop-gap quantitative easing to plug the ‘liquidity’ hole that is opening up as the Federal Reserve (America’s central bank) makes a few gestures to winding down its balance sheet and ‘normalizing’ interest rates. Thus, the aim of the tax bill is to prop up capital markets, and the apprehension of this lately is what keeps stocks making daily record highs. Okay, sorry, a lot to unpack there.
    Primer: quantitative easing (QE) is a the Federal Reserve’s weasel phrase for its practice of just creating ‘money’ out of thin air, which it uses to buy US Treasury bonds (and other stuff). The Fed buys this stuff through intermediary Too Big To Fail banks which allows them to cream off a cut and, theoretically, pump the ‘money’ into the economy. This ‘money’ is the ‘liquidity.’ As it happens, most of that money ends up in the capital markets. Stocks go up and up and bond yields stay ultra low with bond prices ultra high. What remains on the balance sheets are a shit-load of IOUs.
    The third round of QE was officially halted in 2014 in the USA. However, the world’s other main central banks acted in rotation – passing the baton of QE, like in a relay race – so that when the US slacked off, Japan, Britain, the European Central Bank, and the Bank of China, took over money-printing duties. And because money flies easily around the world via digital banking, a lot of that foreign money ended up in ‘sure-thing’ US capital markets (as well as their own ). Mega-tons of ‘money’ were created out of thin air around the world since the near-collapse of the system in 2008.

    This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on December 8, 2017.


  • Bitcoin’s ‘Message’ & Tax Reform’s ‘Hidden Agenda’

    Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,
    The hidden agenda in the so-called tax reform bill is to act as stop-gap quantitative easing to plug the ‘liquidity’ hole that is opening up as the Federal Reserve (America’s central bank) makes a few gestures to winding down its balance sheet and ‘normalizing’ interest rates. Thus, the aim of the tax bill is to prop up capital markets, and the apprehension of this lately is what keeps stocks making daily record highs. Okay, sorry, a lot to unpack there.
    Primer: quantitative easing (QE) is a the Federal Reserve’s weasel phrase for its practice of just creating ‘money’ out of thin air, which it uses to buy US Treasury bonds (and other stuff). The Fed buys this stuff through intermediary Too Big To Fail banks which allows them to cream off a cut and, theoretically, pump the ‘money’ into the economy. This ‘money’ is the ‘liquidity.’ As it happens, most of that money ends up in the capital markets. Stocks go up and up and bond yields stay ultra low with bond prices ultra high. What remains on the balance sheets are a shit-load of IOUs.
    The third round of QE was officially halted in 2014 in the USA. However, the world’s other main central banks acted in rotation – passing the baton of QE, like in a relay race – so that when the US slacked off, Japan, Britain, the European Central Bank, and the Bank of China, took over money-printing duties. And because money flies easily around the world via digital banking, a lot of that foreign money ended up in ‘sure-thing’ US capital markets (as well as their own ). Mega-tons of ‘money’ were created out of thin air around the world since the near-collapse of the system in 2008.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 8, 2017.