Archive for the ‘Fed’ Category

Notes From Underground: Is The Greenspan Put KAPUT?

April 19, 2018

I am borrowing this phrase from a Bloomberg Radio interview Thursday in which bond reporter Alexandra Harris (my daughter) used these phrase to discuss the speech today delivered by FOMC Governor Lael Brainard titled, “Safeguarding Financial Resilience Through the Cycle.” Alex noted that the tone of Brainard’s speech was spattered with references to the concept of LEAN or CLEAN. The binary analysis of monetary policy analyzed by BIS Chief Economist William White, led to White criticizing Chair Greenspan in a speech at Jackson Hole in 2003.

The recent flattening of the yield curves in the U.S. has precipitated discussion that the FED is moving too fast in raising rates with the market action predicting an impending recession. The discussion has been centered around recent FED speeches utilizing the White use of countercyclical capital buffers (CCyB) to slow the increase of leverage in the financial by having banks build up capital ratios to insure increasing financial vulnerabilities.

(more…)

Notes From Underground: A Podcast With Futures Radio

April 12, 2018

On Monday, I taped a podcast with Peter Boockvar and Anthony Crudele, the host of Futures Radio. Anthony does a splendid job of getting to the crux of the investing mind. Enjoy the 36 minutes of conversation.

The yield curve continued to flatten and even Rick Santelli was able to question Professor Ken Rogoff about the FED‘s most recent efforts to raise interest rates. There are now voices raising concerns over the continued flattening of the curve, which will remain a theme here at NOTES. As tensions eased in Syria the GOLD gave back all of Wednesday’s gains while holding onto a slight increase for the week. The rise in short-term yields without any new political revelations allowed the U.S. dollar to rally. Enjoy the podcast and your weekend.

Notes From Underground: Flattening Curves — All Action and No Talk

April 11, 2018

In the political realm, the concern about tariffs has been lessened as Chinese President Xi took the high road with some silky conversation. It is not in the Chinese interest to raise the level of shouting/tweeting, nor to allow the YUAN to depreciate. The last blog post weighed the harm China would do to itself if the YUAN were to depreciate for it would then have to face the acrimony of many nations it is trying to placate. From a TECHNICAL perspective, it appears that the YUAN is going to test three-year lows between 6.11/6.20 to the dollar. As the Chinese tensions eased, the world now turns its eyes to Syria.

(more…)

Notes From Underground: Does AnyOne Really Care About Jobs Friday?

April 5, 2018

The first Friday in April brings a key data point: the unemployment report. Of course, what most people are concerned about are THE AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS. The consensus is for AHE to increase by 0.3%, which is much better than February’s tepid increase of 0.1% rise. The focus on AHE has rendered the NFP growth a distant concern, especially as the participation rate suggests unemployed are returning to the job market. This calls into question how the FED model measures genuine SLACK in the jobs market. For the U.S., the unemployment rate is expected to be 4.0% with a net gain of 190,000 workers in the nonfarm payrolls.

(more…)

Notes From Underground: The Week That Was …?

March 26, 2018

What a week last week turned out to be (and that was if you just followed the headlines). Tariffs are taxing the global financial markets as they try to guesstimate the economic impact from the effect of tit-for-tat responses to the initial U.S. measures efforts to gain support for dealing with Chinese trade violations. The FOMC added to market volatility as the suspense over three or four rate hikes still impacts the DOT PLOTS. The Bank of England confused markets as they voted 7-2 to sustain the current interest rate policy, even though consensus assumed a 25 basis point increase. By week’s end the confusion reverberating around the globe did serious damage to equity markets as the S&PS were down almost 6 percent on the week and the European stock indices continued their continued their selloff, making them the weakest of all regions (in contravention to the punditry’s call for the buying of European stocks).

(more…)

Notes From Underground: Mr. Powell, the Spotlight Was On You

March 21, 2018

Dear Jerome, You handled Wednesday’s press conference with great alacrity as most of the media tossed ridiculous softball inquiries, following the road map of the dot plots. The summary of economic projections needs to be tossed on the trash heap of academic pabulum. You almost got to that point as the non-financial media kept questioning the decision about three or four rate hikes. You correctly stated that the only decision that the FOMC made today was to RAISE the fed funds range to 1.5%-1.75 % and that the DOT PLOTS were only forecasts and not decisions. Chairman Powell actually got miffed when a reporter began citing the 2020 projections.

(more…)

Notes From Underground: Dear Chairman Powell,

March 20, 2018

Wednesday brings the FOMC‘s interest rate decision. The CONSENSUS is for an increase of 25 basis points to 1.50%-1.75%. Chairman Powell, you will have a chance to explain the Fed’s decision as you engage in your first press conference 30 minutes after the announcement. The financial world will have the opportunity to assess whether you will follow the Yellen/Bernanke path of attempting to control markets or to be more respectful of the collective wisdom and allow price to be determined in the tradition of Western democratic capitalist markets. The FED chairman recently acknowledged that headwinds have become tailwinds, and, even more importantly, supported by Janet Yellen’s confidant, Governor Lael Brainard. The volte face by Brainard shook the markets into the belief that the FED would actually raise rates FOUR times or more in 2018. BUT IF I WERE YOU CHAIR POWELL I WOULD RAISE 50 BASIS POINTS TOMORROW (with this CAVEAT).

(more…)

Notes From Underground: Kudlow’s Dilemma, Tariffs Versus King Dollar

March 18, 2018

The newswires were flushed with either praise about the appointment of Larry Kudlow to lead the National Economic Council, or concerns about his past dalliances with drugs and supply-side economics. This BLOG doesn’t care about one’s past human foibles as we all have failings. But the addiction to supply-side economics is and will be an issue of concern as the White House attempts to push forward with a coherent policy. The great showpiece of last week’s media frenzy over Kudlow was the transparency of what I have referred to as the mainstream media’s desire for access versus genuine discourse. CNBC was giddy over the idea that one of the network’s talking heads was going to be a key figure in forthcoming economic discussions and old loyalty OUGHT to provide greater ACCESS. The questions for the consumers of financial news will be who abuses the relationship more. But enough editorializing.

(more…)

Notes From Underground: The Unemployment Number is Wall Street’s Version of Picasso’s `The Dream’

March 11, 2018

It was the best that Wall Street could dream of: It was a huge headline nonfarm payroll number with a large number of workers jumping into the labor market, which kept the unemployment rate at 4.1% and wage growth at a very tepid pace. Average hourly earnings were 0.1%, which is nirvana for the wealth managers: solid economic growth with stagnant wages. This may certainly be a one-off month as NFP could return to its average or wages begin to rise by at least 0.3% every month. Rick Santelli and Ed Lazear made the case that the increase in the labor participation rate was a great outcome as long time unemployed are gaining confidence in the genuine strength of the economy. The return of the long-term unemployed will show the real amount of slack in the economy, reflecting even more downward pressure on wages. If the slack is greater than the FOMC has previously believed, then the FED may well slow its rate increases. People returning to the labor force is a positive but it may be another kink in the Fed’s models.

(more…)

Notes From Underground: The President Trumps Powell

March 1, 2018

On Thursday Fed Chairman Powell sat through another day of Congressional interrogation as the Senate had its turn at playing the role of Grand Jury. The legislators tried to portray the Fed as either the greatest economic actor ever or the scapegoat for every social ill in the United States. Chairman Powell was very measured in his responses as he reminded the inquisitors that the FED does not have jurisdiction over many of the problems related to the issue of wage inequalities. The White House had scheduled a morning announcement on trade policy but because it related to tariffs it was canceled for fear of having it become an issue at the Senate hearing. Regardless, several Senators from both parties tried to elicit a response from Powell on trade issues but the Fed chairman was too wise to fall into the trap of “when did you stop beating your wife.” If the hearings told us anything, it’s that there are too many mediocre lawyers in Congress.

(more…)