Posts Tagged ‘FOMC’

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.

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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).

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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.

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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).

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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.

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Notes From Underground: Overheated to Overrated

February 27, 2018

In his first Congressional testimony as Fed Chairman Jerome Powell didn’t surprise as he was measured and succinct in presenting a more market-based approach to monetary policy. The equity, currency, precious metals and debt markets were all in sell mode as the prepared statement gave rise to a renewed sense that the FED will lean toward FOUR rate hikes in 2018. The key paragraph was:

“In gauging the appropriate path for monetary policy over the next few years, the FOMC will continue to strike a balance between avoiding an OVERHEATED [emphasis mine] economy and bringing PCE price inflation to 2 percent on a sustained basis. While many factors shape the economic outlook, some of the headwinds the U.S. economy faced in previous years have turned into tailwinds: In particular, fiscal policy has become more stimulative and foreign demand for U.S. exports is on a firmer trajectory. Despite the recent volatility, financial conditions remain accommodative.”

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Notes From Underground: This Is A Week Filled With …

January 29, 2018

This week for global macro traders is packed with data and policy statements that can ignite the volatility fuse. On Tuesday night, President Trump, the conquering hero of Davos, will deliver the State of the Union address. Chair Janet Yellen will oversee her final FOMC meeting this week. There are also several data releases Thursday and Friday, culminating with the unemployment report.

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Notes From Underground: Feeding the Ducks (Part Two)

January 10, 2018

Tonight, I’d like to expound on the recent musings from Chris Whalen, titled, “Bank Earnings &Volatility.” Whalen stresses that the FED will not be selling assets but merely ending “its reinvestment of cash when securities are REDEEMED,” (emphasis mine). In what I consider a key point raised, Whalen said, “Yet as we and a growing number of investors seems to appreciate, the FED cannot force up long-term rates so long as it is sitting on $4 trillion worth of securities THAT IT DOES NOT HEDGE. More given that the Treasury intends to concentrate future debt issuance on short-term maturities, downward pressure on long-term bonds yields is likely to intensify.” Whalen also said, “What the FOMC has done to the markets via QE is essentially reduce potential volatility by holding securities and not hedging these securities.” The key point is enhanced by the fact that both the ECB and BOJ do not hedge their security exposure either so volatility has been diminished by the reduced hedging.

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Notes From Underground: Things On Our Radar Screen in 2018

January 2, 2018

The last trading day of the year, me and Rick took a BRIEF look into concerns about 2018. Three minutes is not enough time but it does afford the opportunity to put some ideas out that are not people’s screens. As the month progresses we will discuss several items in greater detail. I want to tell readers to review the very vibrant discussion that is taking place on the last blog post. Thank you to all the participants for providing insights into the global macro world. The discussion is first class, representing dialectic efforts, not validation. (A tip of the cap to  Dave, Stefan Jovanovich, Chicken, Big Man  and Professor Waspi for enhancing the quality of analysis.) Dave Richards and Asherz have been regular contributors and have certainly been on top of the precious metals markets and the weakness of the dollar. Tonight I will briefly discuss some issues outside the generally accepted narrative.

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Notes From Underground: Which Spark Will Start the Prairie Fire?

September 27, 2017

In several blog posts over the last eight years I have used the words of Mao to relate to the potential issues that could cause severe disruption to the global financial system. If you listen to the narrative propagated by the mainstream financial media your concerns would revolve around North Korea, the Trump tax and healthcare plans, the FED starting QT (or else citing the Fed’s ridiculous dot plots), concerns about the potential shutdown of the U.S. government, the economic implications of Brexit, etc. The bottom line is that all the forecasters have been wrong for long as Phillip Tetlock revealed in his wonderful book, Superforecasting. The FED has been worshiped as all-knowing fonts of wisdom when nothing they have forecast has proven correct. Yesterday, Fed Chair Janet Yellen admitted that the FED is as confused about the lack of inflation as most of the prognosticators on Wall Street. This confirmed my theory that what the FED peddles IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.

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