Bureau of Labor Statistics
We previously noted that both beef and pork (courtesy of the affectionately named Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus) prices have been reaching new all time highs on an almost daily basis. It is time to update the chart. Below we show what a world in which the Fed is constantly lamenting the lack of inflation looks like for beef, pork and shrimp prices.
March CPI Higher Than Expected, Driven By 16.4% Annual Spike In Utilities, Increase In Shelter IndexSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/15/2014 08:47 -0400
Following the hotter than expected PPI data, it was the turn of CPI to come in stronger than consensus had hoped for, and sure enough, moments ago the BLS reported that March consumer inflation printed higher than the expected 0.1%, coming at 0.2% for both headline and the core (excluding food and energy) components, driven mostly higher by a surge in Utility costs which soared by 7.5% M/M, and a whopping 16.4% Y/Y. Curiously, the energy services spike of 2.6% of which utilities is a part, was offset by a drop in energy commodities, mostly fuel oil, whose cost dropped 2.9% in March and by gasoline down 1.7%, and down 4.7% Y/Y. The BLS also noted the rapid increase in the shelter price index: "Almost two-thirds of this increase was accounted for by the shelter index, which rose 0.3 percent. The indexes for rent and owners’ equivalent rent both rose 0.3 percent, while the index for lodging away from home rose 1.5 percent." Is the housing bubble - both purchase and rent - and which has already burst across much of the nation, finally being noticed by the Fed?
Does the average American actually exist? The guy that the Bureau of Labor Statistics basis its figures on. It seems that the fictitious character is out there somewhere being hunted down; or perhaps the man was shot down long ago in some past that the country invented for itself in the hope of spinning another yarn about how rich the Nation was
Having warned just 6 weeks ago that high-yield credit and small high-tech firms may be in a bubble, Fed Governor Tarullo, ironically speaking at the Hyman Minsky Financial Instability Conference, suggested that the recuction in share of national income for "workers" (i.e. income inequality) is troubling. Furthermore, he added, "changes reflect serious challenges not only to the functioning of the American economy over the coming decades, but also to some of the ideals that undergird the nation's democratic heritage." His speech, below, adds that since there has been only slow growth so far, expectations for a growth spurt are misplaced and that the Fed-policy-driven recovery has "benefited high-earners disproportionately."
We all know what will eventually unfold: another collapse, this one even worse than that of 2008. Until then, the fraud and fiction will continue. Everyone with a vested interest in stocks moving up will do everything they can to perpetuate this.
The mainstream recovery narrative has an astounding “recency bias”. According to all the CNBC talking heads, the 192,000 NFP jobs gain reported on Friday constituted another “strong” report card. Well, let’s see. Approximately 75 months ago (December 2007) at the cyclical peak before the so-called Great Recession, the BLS reported 138.4 million NFP jobs. When the hosanna chorus broke into song last Friday, the reported figure was 137.9 million NFP jobs. By the lights of old-fashioned subtraction, therefore, we are still 500k jobs short—notwithstanding $3.5 trillion of money printing in the interim. The truth is, all the ballyhooed “new jobs” celebrated on bubblevision month-after-month have actually been “born again” jobs. That is, jobs which were created during the Fed’s 2002-2007 bubble inflation; lost in the aftermath of the September 2008 meltdown; and then “recovered” during the renewed bubble inflation now underway.
Employment is a function of demand by customers on businesses. As opposed to many economists and politicians, businesses do not hire employees to be "good samaritans." While such a utopian concept is fine in theory, the reality is that businesses operate from a "profit motive." The problem is quite clear. With the consumer heavily leveraged, the inability to "spend and borrow" is reducing aggregate demand. As stated, the current level of aggregate demand simply isn't strong enough to offset the rising costs of taxes, benefits and healthcare (a significant consideration due to the onset of the Affordable Care Act) associated with hiring full-time employees. Therefore, businesses initially opt for cost efficient productivity increases, and only hire as necessary to meet marginal increases in customer demand which has come from population growth.
Here are the key numbers: March payrolls +192K, below the 200K expected (LaVorgna 275K). This was a drop from the upward revised February print of 197K. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7%, and above the 6.6% expected. The participation rate rose modestly from 63.0% to 63.2% as the labor force rose by 500K to 156,226 while the people not in the labor force declined by over 300K to 91,030. Manufacturing jobs had the largest drop since July. The number of unemployed rose 27K to 10,486K. Conclusion: it snowed in March too, but judging by the perfectly expected stock reaction, it snowed in a good way.
Today’s nonfarm payrolls release is expected to show a "spring" renaissance of labor market activity that was weighed on by "adverse weather" during the winter months (Exp. 200K, range low 150K - high 275K, Prev. 175K). Markets have been fairly lackluster overnight ahead of non-farm payrolls with volumes generally on the low side. The USD and USTs are fairly steady and there are some subdued moves the Nikkei (-0.1%) and HSCEI (+0.1%). S&P500 futures are up modestly, just over 0.1%, courtesy of the traditional overnight, low volume levitation. In China, the banking regulator is reported to have issued a guideline in March to commercial banks, requiring them to better manage outstanding non-performing loans this year. Peripheral EU bonds continued to benefit from dovish ECB threats at the expense of core EU paper, with Bunds under pressure since the open, while stocks in Europe advanced on prospect of more easing (Eurostoxx 50 +0.14%). And in a confirmation how broken centrally-planned markets are, Italian 2 Year bonds high a record low yield, while Spanish 5 Year bonds yield dropped below US for the first time since 2007... or the last time the credit risk was priced to perfection.
Goldman Sachs forecasts a 200k increase in non-farm payrolls for March - in line with consensus - and believe last month's 175k print supports the ongoing positive trend (in light of the weather effect). Key employment indicators looked mixed-to-better in March, and despite the continued cold temperatures, less extreme weather conditions overall should give an additional boost to job gains this month. Citi suggests the weather could have knocked 172k off payrolls overall from Dec to Jan and are more hopeful, expecting a 240k print. Their biggest fear, a greater than 275k print (which is the high bar that Joe Lavorgna has set) could see asset markets reacting badly (on the basis of quicker Fed tightening).
While we fail to see any occupations listed for "insider trading hedge fund managers" or "high frequency market manipulators" in the just released list by the BLS listing the number of workers and wages earned for all official US occupations, we supposed it will have to do, incomplete as it may be.
Just last week we asked "Is college waste of time and money?" It appears, based on the latest data from the BLS, that for all too many, it absolutely is. As CNN Money reports, about 260,000 people who had a college or professional degree made at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 last year.
The idea of “under-shooting inflation from below” is just ritual incantation. It provides the monetary central planners an excuse to keep the printing presses running red hot, but the true aim is not hard to see. After a 30 year rolling national LBO that has taken credit market debt outstanding to $59 trillion and to an off-the-charts leverage ratio of 3.5X national income, the American economy is saddled with $30 trillion of incremental household, business, financial and public debt compared to its historically sound leverage ratio of 1.5X GDP. We are at peak debt. Household, business and government balance sheets are tapped-out. The problem is not too little CPI inflation, but the unavoidability of a pay-back era of sustained debt deflation.
When you ponder the implications of allowing a small group of powerful wealthy unaccountable men to control the currency of a nation over the last one hundred years, you understand why our public education system sucks. The average American has experienced a fourteen year recession caused by the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. Our leaders could have learned the lesson of two Fed induced collapses in the space of eight years and voluntarily abandoned the policies of reckless credit expansion, instead embracing policies encouraging saving, capital investment and balanced budgets. They have chosen the same cure as the disease, which will lead to crisis, catastrophe and collapse.
Producer Prices in the US (less the all important food and energy - which no on uses) fell 0.2% month-over-month - the biggest drop since July 2013 - and missing expectations of a 0.1% rise. This is only the third month of 'disinflation in the last 18 months. Perhaps even more relevant is the dramatic slowdown in prices for final demand services which dropped 0.3% (the biggest drop since May 2013) and equal slowest rise year-over-year since the 'recovery' began.