Fed chief Powell’s actions prodding Trump to change Fed’s structure

The Federal Reserve is believed to be raising rates on this coming Wednesday by a quarter point putting the Fed Funds Rate at 2.5%.

Fed chair Jay Powell, while saying the Fed is data dependent for future rate changes, seems to have walked back a bit his projected three raises in 2019.

However if the Fed is data dependent as Powell has said, the Dec. 19 decision should be to stand still if you are solely working off the dual mandate of the Fed to be guarding against inflation, while creating full employment.

The Fed’s biggest concern when it came to inflation was asset bubble inflation as in the stock market rise since President Trump’s election. If you look at wages, producer prices and consumer prices there is little in the pipeline suggesting that inflation will be above the targeted 2% annual growth that the Fed targets.

While Powell was Trump’s pick to lead the Fed after Janet Yellen stepped down, I believe Treasury Secretary Mnuchin was the driving force behind the pick and Trump knew little of Powell’s thoughts on economic and monetary policies.

The President’s tweets on Fed moves and speeches tells us that Powell & Co have a differing agenda than The White House when it comes to the economy.

Powell’s four rate hikes since March have certainly taken the wind out of the sails of stocks and house prices. These are the assets of the American people and Trump sees Powell as undermining his economic growth prospects for these people.

After a decade of near-zero rates, where Americans were battered by no interest on savings and low-to-nil wage gains, the Fed needs to get its foot off of the brakes and that is what the president is saying.

Only through growth — and that’s what the tax cut was meant to spur — can the US move forward on reducing its $21 trillion debt level. If you give a tax cut and then cut the economy at its knees with tightening credit, then you set yourself up for a deflation/stagflation scenario that could arrive closer to the 2020 election cycle.

This is not lost on President Trump. And this is why we are hearing about structural change coming to the Federal Reserve in 2019.


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Stock market gyrations, Google’s China fire

What is going on in the stock market?

The volatility and price swings of shares just does not ring true to this veteran market watcher. The year-end market moves this year defy logic. As many economic reports — while always questionable, but the only barometer used by the Street — show things are still better than the numbers from the Obama era economic malaise, they seem to fall on deaf ears.

This type of volatility has to be coming from institutional investors since the gyrations are so violent and sudden. I don’t think the incoming Democratic-controlled House is the root, since markets prefer divided government as they’re less likely to get any meaningful regulations through Congress.

Fed chairman Jay Powell needs to step aside and let his previous rate hike work through the economy and see where we stand in six months. Since there are words to that effect the Fed will more likely raise rates next week and that is baked into the market, but the language in the press conference will have greater impact.

One theory I believe is that the black box computer trading programs may have reach a critical level where the algorithms control far more shares than human decision makers, which gives you markets swing back and forth with more than 500 points in less than an hour on very little news.

Many market pros have their own interpretations, which are rooted in the past, but I think this market is being honed to towards more non-traditional sources of “news”. While veteran market makers would here rumors that could create price swings but there was discretion. Now these algorithms may take “rumors” or fake news with more seriously without discernment.


Does anyone else find it odd that hours after Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee on a host of issues including the search giant developing a censored product for China a fire develops in its offices there.

Breaking: Fire breaks out in Raycom Info Tech Park, which houses Google’s office, in the Zhongguancun technology hub in Beijing, China.

https://twitter.com/PMBreakingNews/status/1072705722746585088📁

Was the order given to cover tracks on the program called Dragonfly, which was a government-approved search engine for the Chinese market, which is heavily censored by Google for access to the market.

On Tuesday Pichai was questioned numerous times during his testimony of censored search. Each time he answered with a variation of “We have no plans at this time to launch in China.”

Perhaps that comment is now true since the fire has pushed back the launch of any product.

 

 

More evidence Trump is fed up with Federal Reserve

As the US came off the eight years of Federal Reserve controlled economy during the Obama administration’s anemic efforts to grow out of the Great Recession.

In January 2016, I wrote the most viewed post in the history of this blog. It touched on what I called  The Greatest Transfer of Wealth in History.

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Are the markets a tell on the midterms?

Are we seeing real-world exercises being conducted as a result of President Trump’s ongoing battle with the Deep State?

All of a sudden last week large institutional investors woke up and decided that the bull market was coming to an end and the Federal Reserve, which has been begging for the last decade to get the inflation rate close to 2 percent, discovered that runaway inflation was a real concern and said it would raise rates “aggressively” to combat it.

Now admittedly no market only rises with no corrections or pullbacks and it may be a little early to attribute the latest equity choppiness to anything more than profit taking and it being October, but the timing is curious.

The markets also have international concerns in Italy and China, which could be the contagion to hurt US growth and need to be watched carefully, but not to the degree we are seeing right now.

Trump did pick Fed chief Jerome Powell and he has reigned in the number of voices in the Fed speaking on the economy. Under ex-chief Janet Yellen it seemed even the maintenance staff at the Fed were allow to opine on monetary policy for TV audiences.

The President on Wednesday questioned the Fed’s rhetoric on inflation to reporters saying he thought it was crazy for Powell & Co. to be so aggressive in its stance on raising rates.

You see the Fed doesn’t really have to raise rates to curtail growth right now. The threat alone is enough to squeeze lenders into jacking up loan rates or to call in more questionable loans, which all dampen continuing growth. And as markets fall margin calls can steepen the decline as investors sell what they have to cover other bets.

So let’s keep an eye on this as the midterms near. I’m sure The President will have much to say should this sell off continue.

A US economic snapshot in the middle of 2018 — not all is well

Let’s take a quick look at the US economy and where it may be headed in the near term.

While unemployment is said to be very low, the rate is still artificially low due to the uncounted Americans no longer in the workforce because of chronic joblessness.

Producer and consumer pricing are rising — not because of tariffs as the left will cite — due to the excessive capital washing out of the stock and bond market. The stock price run up over the last three years was engineered by the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing capital finding safe haven in stocks and bonds.

Now that capital is exiting the security markets and finding better treatment with private equity firms that are buying out manufacturing and consumer brand companies, which drives up prices in order for the new owner — the PE firm — to make money from the investment through putting the brands deeper into debt to make special payments to them.

So this capital is not from the average American, but the repercussions are being felt by these average Americans through higher prices. Look at the biggest PE firms raising record amounts for new funds.

Taking a quick look at the US bond market to see where the real problems are. The difference in return rates between lending Uncle Sam money over 2 years versus 30 years.

The 2-year return is 2.61%, the 30-year interest rate is 2.96%. The delta between these two 0.35 percentage points return over 28 years. This is what is called a flat yield curve, since the interest curve is very shallow.

In the environment of the bond market capital is not treated well at all with artificially low returns, so this is pushing additional big money out of the public capital markets and into the private funding markets.

What is the down side of this move? Look at the number of bankruptcies in the retailing sector over the last year. These stores: Toys R US and a dozen or so women’s apparel stores are all closed or limping along because these companies were so leveraged up on debt that they could not pay off their huge debt levels imposed on them by their private equity owners.

But don’t worry about these PE firms because they took their money upfront and more than likely owed some of the companies bonds, which were paid off in the bankruptcy.