Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Money Supply

New Unemployment Claims Drop Further, Beating Estimates

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, March 30, 2018: 

English: A map of the 12 districts of the Unit...

A map of the 12 districts of the United States Federal Reserve system.

New claims for unemployment insurance dropped last week to the lowest level in 45 years, according to the Department of Labor: “Seasonally adjusted initial claims [for unemployment insurance benefits were] 215,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week’s level [which was revised downward].”

Once again the economy is beating forecasters, who expected new claims to come in at 230,000. Either way, the performance of the economy continues to astound Democrats increasingly worried about the midterms and delight Republicans who voted for tax cuts and tax reform.

The last time new claims were this low was in 1973, when the labor force was much smaller. In 1973, the U.S. labor force was 100 million; today it is more than 160 million. Translation: Unemployment claims are the lowest in U.S. history when compared to the workforce.

It gets better.

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Fed Sees Inflation Coming, Raises Rates to Head it Off

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, March 22, 2018: 

Following the unanimous and much-anticipated decision by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates by another quarter of a percent on Wednesday, the new chairman, Jerome Powell, said, “The economic outlook has strengthened in recent months. Several factors are supporting this outlook: fiscal policy [i.e., Trump’s tax cuts to individuals and corporations] has become more stimulative, ongoing job gains are boosting incomes and confidence, foreign growth is on a firm trajectory, and overall financial conditions remain accommodative.”

This raises the question:

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Is the Federal Reserve Working Against Trump’s Reelection in 2020?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, March 23, 2018: 

English: Short-Run Phillips Curve before and a...

Short-Run Phillips Curve before and after Expansionary Policy

In politics, according to FDR, there are no coincidences. He famously said that “in politics if something happens you can be sure it was planned that way.” The announcement by Trump that he has filed for reelection in 2020 and the pronouncement by the Federal Reserve following it may just be one of those “planned” coincidences.

The pronouncement from Jerome Powell, the new head of the Fed, was, on the surface, comforting:

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Inflation Concerns Unfounded, Wall Street Moves Higher

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, February 14, 2018:  

Money-supply

Money-supply (this is an old chart, but you get the idea)

Once Wall Street traders read beyond the headlines released early Wednesday morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), they reversed the early selloff and bid the market higher.

Those traders were on high alert following the January report that wages had jumped nearly three percent last year. This triggered concerns that inflation was imminent, and that the Fed would institute interest rate increases which would slow the economy.

The headline from the BLS seemed to confirm those concerns:

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Sorry, Inflation Worries are Not Behind the Selloff in Stocks

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, February 7, 2018:  

All manner of explanations for the recent market selloff in stocks have come out of the woodwork: the market has gotten ahead of itself; it was due for a correction anyway; it’s been 400 days since a three percent correction; and so on. The least informed is that all of a sudden there is inflation! See? The yield on the 10-year Treasury is up 80 basis points since September! That must mean there’s inflation! Couple that with the “surge” in wages just reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2.9 percent year-over-year compared to 2.2 percent reported previously) and – voila! – inflation is back. Time to take profits!

Most commentators didn’t bother to check with the Fed, specifically the Cleveland Fed and the St. Louis Fed, which report the real numbers on inflation and money supply. First:

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Impact of Fed’s Plan to Do a “QE Unwind”

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, September 19, 2017: 

English: Official picture of Janet Yellen from...

Janet Yellen

What makes tomorrow’s [today’s – Wednesday, September 20] meeting at the Federal Reserve so interesting to market watchers and bond investors is the likelihood that Fed Chair Janet Yellen will provide more details on her plans to begin unwinding the Fed’s balance sheet: how much, how fast, how soon, and what does it all mean? In addition, she is hoping to placate conservatives in Congress who remain unhappy over the Fed’s intervention in the markets in the aftermath of the real estate collapse that triggered the Great Recession.

In June, Yellen outlined some possible scenarios, which included letting some of the bonds on the central bank’s enormous $4.2 trillion balance sheet simply mature without reinvesting the funds in new issues. She suggested the Fed would also start selling off some $10 billion a month of existing securities, and then raise that amount every quarter until it reaches $50 billion a month. This way, by expanding on her plans, and by slowly — very slowly — shrinking the Fed massive balance sheet, she hopes to avoid another “taper tantrum” that bond investors experienced back in 2013 when then-chairman Ben Bernanke first said the Fed should start reducing some of its holdings of U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.

If she provides sufficient clarity, and sufficient caution, Yellen might not only start the process without disrupting the market, but also avoid further criticism from congressional critics who think the Fed stepped way out of bounds in starting the whole “quantitative easing” (QE) program in the first place. In that way — again, if she is successful — she will not only cement into place the Fed as a necessary element in the American economy, but show that further “QE” expansions to meet future recessions are a legitimate tool.

Whether she can pull it off is an open question. Keynesian economist Austan Goolsbee, who headed Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors in 2010 and 2011, said, “The final exam, with the grade yet to be determined, is: can the Fed actually get out of this stuff?”

The Fed has been essentially flying blind for years, moving outside not only its mandate (to maximize labor force participation while keeping inflation under control) but its past experience. Said David Blanchflower, a Dartmouth College economist (read: Keynesian) who was on the monetary policy committee of the Bank of England from 2006 to 2009, expressed it perfectly: “We had no idea what we should buy, how much, for how long … [and] there is no idea on the way going out.”

It was all a grand experiment: expand the money supply to keep interest rates so far below market rates that people seeking income would take higher risks — i.e., dividend-paying stocks, real estate ventures, etc. — and home owners would find it easier to buy houses. This was the Keynesian antidote to the economic collapse. Rather than let the economy right itself by itself (see America’s recession and recovery in 1920-1921), Keynesians suffer the hubris to think they know better than the market, and intervened, resulting in the longest, slowest recovery from a recession in American history.

Once the Fed began to embark on its plan to bail out banks and other financial institutions in the wake of the real estate collapse, there was no going back. When the federal government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — mortgage insurers that were approaching bankruptcy — it found that it needed to buy up billions of their failing mortgages. That explains why $1.7 billion of the Fed’s balance sheet consists of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities.

But when that didn’t work the Fed adopted the strategy of “quantitative easing” (QE) — creating money to spur spending across the economy — which some observers thought would never end.

But it did end, in 2014, and the Fed has been sitting on its massive pile of government and mortgage debt, waiting for the economy to revive enough so it could be offloaded without major economic disruptions.

The Fed won’t be unwinding its entire portfolio. Instead it expects to reduce it by between $800 billion and $1 trillion over the next few years, leaving in place a balance sheet of between $2.5 and $3.2 trillion. This means that the Fed will never again see days when its balance sheet shrinks all the way back to the $900 billion it had prior to the Great Recession.

Its plan should have little impact on short-term rates. Using the 10-year Treasury as the standard, when Yellen’s plan (assuming it begins in October) kicks in, it might boost its yield by perhaps a quarter of a percentage point. This would be the natural result of increasing supply in a market with a fixed demand. When more is supplied, prices will go down. In the bond market that translates into a mini-interest rate hike.

But demand from abroad for U.S. bonds continues to be strong. Yields on 10-year bonds issued by foreign governments such as Japan’s and Germany’s remain far below U.S. 10-year bonds and so any increase in rates here will only make them more attractive to foreign buyers.

In fact, once Yellen has filled in the details, as she is expected to do on Wednesday, investors and market watchers are likely to express a sigh of relief, and continue the Fed-fueled rally in stocks that began in 2009 and that shows little sign of stopping. Diane Swonk, chief economist at DS Economics, agrees: “The start to reducing the Fed’s balance sheet is an action the markets are ready for. The Fed has laid out a roadmap and there is really a sense of relief to finally get it started.”

Venezuela’s Marxist Dictator Orders Arrest of Bakers Making Croissants

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, March 17, 2017:

Português: Brasília - O chanceler da Venezuela...

Four bakers trying to make ends meet were arrested earlier this week in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, a country that was once one of South America’s premier economic powerhouses. Venezuela’s ruler, Nicolas Maduro, mandated that 90 percent of scarce flour be turned into bread, which must be sold at a loss, rather than higher-priced sweet bread, ham-filled croissants, pastries, and cakes.Two bakers apparently broke this law, and two used out-of-date wheat for brownies. At least one baker will have his bakery taken over by the government for 90 days. The bakers, operating under Maduro’s mandates that they use government-imported wheat for flour to bake bread and sell it below their costs, were on survival mode, as are most of the people living in Venezuela’s socialist paradise.

Maduro, rather than to take the justified blame for the economic malaise that his socialist policies have caused, has dreamed up all manner of straw men to blame for the country’s woes, starting with

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Will Mick Mulvaney Pull Trump’s Financial Fat Out of the Fire?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, December 19, 2016:  

English: Official portrait of US Rep. Mick Mul...

Michael “Mick” Mulvaney (shown) rode the Tea Party wave in 2010 into Congress, replacing a 14-term Democrat from South Carolina’s 5th District. He has been handily reelected ever since. He took his oath of office seriously, saying in 2010 that “If political reporters want to know what drives the Tea Partiers, it is their belief in the Constitution. That’s what has always driven me in politics and will guide me in Congress.”

He remained as true to his word as any of those riding the same wave,

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Venezuelan Currency Lost Half Its Value in November

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 28, 2016:  

Português: Brasília - O chanceler da Venezuela...

Nicolas Maduro

Bloomberg reported last Thursday that Venezuela’s currency — the bolívar fuerte or “strong bolivar” — has lost 45 percent of its purchasing power so far this month, with six days to go. The underlying cause was put simply by Professor Milton Friedman, a member of the “Chicago School” of economic free market thinking and winner in 1976 of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences: “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon … and can be produced only by a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output.”

On the other hand, Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro,

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Standard & Poor’s Downgrades Chinese Sovereign Debt

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, March 31, 2016: 

Cover of "Coming Collapse of China"

The last of the three credit rating agencies to recognize China’s ongoing economic implosion, Standard & Poor’s, downgraded its rating on Chinese debt modestly on Thursday. The agency maintained its AA rating (one notch below its highest) but changed its outlook to “negative,” meaning another downgrade is possible within the next 12 months. It said:

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The Fed Joins Other Voices Predicting a U.S. Recession

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on March 22, 2016:  

Harry Dent, the author of The Great Crash Ahead, says that the current rebound in stocks is a head-fake of the first order, that the end of the seven-year bull market in stocks occurred last May. He said just look at a three-year chart of the SPX (Standard and Poor’s 500 Index) and see the rounded top formation.

Instead, talking heads all across the media are calling the recent rise following the precipitous decline that began the first day of trading of 2016 just a speed bump, a hiccup as the seven-year-long bull market in stocks is getting its second wind.

Markit Ltd., the monster financial services and advisory company located in London, issued its first warning in late February with its flash that its services purchasing managers’ index

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China Export Shipping Declines by Two-thirds

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, May 7, 2015: 

Two weeks ago the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI), which tracks shipping rates from Shanghai to the world, fell off a cliff: down a breath-taking 67 percent from a year ago. Wolf Richter thought it was a statistical fluke.

It was no fluke. In the next two weeks the SCFI for Northern Europe fell another 14 percent, an all-time low. Wrote Richter: “Something big is going on in the China-Europe trade.”

The collapse is being echoed by other indexes reflecting the breathtaking decline in China’s exports. For example

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Do Negative Interest Rates Portend a Negative Economy?

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, May 4, 2015:

Last Thursday the London Daily Telegraph’s assistant editor, Jeremy Warner, reported an astonishing statistic: Almost a third of all government debt in the eurozone is paying negative interest rates. That’s more than $2 trillion in government bonds, and, it appears, investors are happy that they aren’t paying even more.

Fifty percent of French bonds now trade with a negative yield, while 70 percent of Germany’s bonds trade at a negative yield. More remarkably, in Spain, which was on the verge of insolvency just a few years ago, 17 percent of its government bonds now trade with a negative yield.

This is counterintuitive, which explains why Keynesians, those who believe that “demand” in an economy can be artificially increased by manipulating taxes and the money supply, have no explanation for it. In theory,

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House Bill Offered to Study “Real World” Effects of Fed Policy

In anticipation of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve on December 23rd, House member Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Chairman of the House’s Joint Economic Committee, decided back in March to offer a bill to create a commission to

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Summers is out, Yellen is in, the Fed rolls on

Just when it appeared that Larry Summers had the nomination for the next Fed chair all wrapped up, Summers called the White House on Sunday and told his good friend, President Obama, that he was withdrawing his name from consideration. He then sent a formal withdrawal letter to the president:

I have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interest of the Federal Reserve, the Administration or, ultimately, the interests of the nation’s ongoing economic recovery.

The president dutifully responded with the appropriate accolades:

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CNBC says Larry Summers to replace Ben Bernanke at the Fed

Citing an unnamed source from “Team Obama”, CNBC announced that Larry Summers will be named head of the Federal Reserve by President Obama to replace outgoing chairman Ben Bernanke whose term expires on December 31st.

Despite much media conversation about other potential candidates for the position, chief among them Fed Vice Chairman Janet Yellen, Summers always had the inside track. Summers served as

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Central Banks’ bubble is bursting, sending markets down worldwide

When the Japanese stock market lost more than 6 percent of its value on Wednesday in a massive selloff, pundits jumped on the move to try to explain what happened, and what it all means. Evan Lucas, a market strategist at IG Markets, wrote:

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Slowing Economy Confirmed

The report from Automatic Data Processing (ADP) on Wednesday morning surprised economists once again by coming in substantially below their expectations. The 135,000 new private sector jobs created in May were way below the

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If the Fed has created so much new money, where is the inflation?

Frank Shostak, a scholar at the Mises Institute, asks the same question: where is the price inflation that is supposed to follow the creation of new money? Shostak asks it far more eloquently than I:

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Is the Fed running out of bullets?

MarketWatch is run by competent commentators with a slight conservative cast to their writings. It’s part of the Wall Street Journal’s online offerings. With that in mind, I take an exception to two points of view expressed yesterday in its article about the Fed “running out of bullets.”

First, the article says that the Fed is going to

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.