One major factor to the slow growth/low inflation in the U.S. is the Wall Street Yield Trade. By incentivizing unproductive use of capital, low interest rate via monetary policy is actually deflationary.
Economic science has long shown that labor is not magically exempted from the laws of supply and demand. Therefore, minimum wage laws hurt rather than help workers, especially those with few skills or those just starting out, who are on the lowest rungs of the ladder. If one wants to raise youth unemployment and price unskilled workers out of the market, there is no surer way than introducing a minimum wage – especially one that is far higher than what the market can bear. Seattle is one of the few municipalities in the US boasting of an openly socialist council member, Ksahma Sawant. One of her central demands was the introduction of a $15/hr minimum wage in Seattle. The city council has now bowed to this demand, a decision that is likely to prove extremely destructive, especially to small businesses. Seattle seems eager to become the next Detroit.
Anyone reading the regular Federal Open Market Committee press releases can easily envision Chairman Yellen and the Federal Reserve team at the economic controls, carefully adjusting the economy’s price level and employment numbers. The dashboard of macroeconomic data is vigilantly monitored while the monetary switches, accelerators, and other devices are constantly tweaked, all in order to “foster maximum employment and price stability." The Federal Reserve believes increasing the money supply spurs economic growth, and that such growth, if too strong, will in turn cause price inflation. But if the monetary expansion slows, economic growth may stall and unemployment will rise. So the dilemma can only be solved with a constant iterative process: monetary growth is continuously adjusted until a delicate balance exists between price inflation and unemployment. This faulty reasoning finds its empirical justification in the Phillips curve. Like many Keynesian artifacts, its legacy governs policy long after it has been rendered defunct.
- Inside the White House's decision to free Bergdahl (Reuters)
- Dimon’s Raise Haunts BNP Paribas as U.S. Weighs $10 Billion Fine (BBG)
- Jobs Are on the Line as Banks' Revenue Slides (WSJ)
- Wall Street Adjusts to the New Trading Normal (WSJ)
- Nothing like objective, intense probes: GM recall probe to clear senior execs, finds no concerted coverup (Reuters)
- ECB ready to cut rates and push banks into lending to boost euro zone economy (Reuters)
- China Should Resist Further Stimulus, IMF Says (BBG)
- Carney Finds Ally in Draghi as Key Rate Kept at 0.5% (BBG)
- Assad wins Syria election with 88.7 percent of votes (Reuters)
Just as we can't eat iPods, we can't subsist on official reassurances that the Fed and inflation are both benign.
Prof. Ken Rogoff’s book ‘This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly'; is one of the best researched public works on the subject of sovereign debt. And Rogoff’s conclusions (though hotly contested due to an ‘Excel error’) were that, sensibly, governments which accumulate too much debt get into serious trouble. Duh. Not exactly a radical idea. But in an article published yesterday afternoon on the Financial Times website (based on a recently published academic paper), Rogoff did propose a new idea that is radical: ban cash. All of it.
There can be no doubt that computer science knowledge is currently in great demand; however, we do believe that there are some signs that the boom is - so to speak - 'getting out of hand' and is beginning to reflect the effects of the technology echo bubble on Wall Street. The give-away is the size of the demand for computer science studies relative to other fields of study. The last time enrollment in computer science peaked was in the year 2000 – concurrently with the technology mania. This is obviously no coincidence. What is slightly disconcerting is that the current peak in enrollments towers vastly above that previous bubble peak.
It has gotten beyond ridiculous: a few short hours ago the yield on the 10 Year bond tumbled to a fresh low of 2.49% (and currently just off the lows at 2.50%), wiping out all of yesterday's "jump" on better than expected Durables and leading to renewed concerns about the terminal rate, deflation and how slow the US economy will truly grow. Amusingly, this happened just as US equity futures printed overnight highs. Doubly amusing: this also happened roughly at the same time as Spanish 10 Year yields dropped to a record low of 2.827%, or about 30 bps wider than the US (moments after Spain announced that loan creation in the country has once again resumed its downward trajectory and a tumble in retail deposits to levels not seen since 2008). Triply amusing: this also happened just about when Germany had yet another technically uncovered 30 Year Bund issuance, aka failed auction. So yes: nothing makes sense anymore which is precisely what one would expect in broken, rigged and centrally-planned markets (incidentally those scrambling to explain with events in bond world where one appears to buy bonds to hedge long equity exposure, are directed to the minute of the Japanese GPIF pension fund which announced it would buy junk-rated bonds to boost returns - good luck to Japanese pensioners).
"Of course, what that does imply is that when the skies finally do begin to darken, the winds could rapidly wind themselves up into an F5-scale twister. Low and declining volatility, lengthening durations, compressed spreads, high multiples, little FX movement – each feeding on the other – is it too far beyond the bounds of reason to suggest that once that virtuous cycle reaches its culmination, the torsional forces involved in its unwind could be remarkably violent?"
It was all over the news last week, both mainstream and gold sites. Barclays was caught manipulating the gold price. This story is a big deal to the gold community.
A dispassionate look at the week ahead.
Banking didn’t start out as a reckless, parasitical plaything of a moneyed and politically-connected aristocracy.
It is not too early to ask how the present US business cycle expansion, already more than five years old, will end. The history of the last great US monetary experiment in “quantitative easing” (QE) from 1934-7 suggests that the end could be violent. Autumn 1937 featured one of the largest New York stock market crashes ever accompanied by the descent of the US economy into the notorious Roosevelt Recession. As we noted previously - it's never different this time...