Following this morning's basic admission by Janet Yellen that "no matter what" The Fed is raising rates in December (which was then solemnly supported by an obedient Bill Dudley who "100% agrees with Yellen"), Fed Vice-Chair Stan Fischer, speaking tonight, reaffirmed this belief by, as we detailed previously, telling investors to ignore weak inflation. After San Fran Fed's Williams admission that "there's something going on here we don't understand," Fischer tonight admitted "US inflation is not as low as you think," at once contradicting Yellen's earlier comments and the various market-based measures, while confirming our previous detailed solving of the mystery of the hidden inflation.
Inflation Breakevens are collapsing...(longer-dated near record lows)
Inflation expectations are at a record low... and worse...
- *CURTIN SAYS `DISINFLATIONARY MINDSET' IS TAKING HOLD
But all of that is wrong.. As Stan Fischer admitted tonight:
- *FISCHER SAYS NOT MUCH EVIDENCE INFLATION MEASURE IS TOO LOW
- *FED'S FISCHER SAYS HE BELIEVES WAGE GROWTH WILL COME BACK
- *FISCHER SAYS U.S. INFLATION IS `NOT AS LOW AS YOU THINK'
- *FISCHER SAYS FED IS NOT THAT FAR FROM 2% INFLATION TARGET
Having now admitted that all of the above market-based (and survey-based) expectations (and current measures) of inflation are wrong, as we noted previously, depending on the importance of the credit channel, the Federal Reserve, by pegging the short term rate at zero, have essentially removed one recessionary market mechanism that used to efficiently clear excesses within the financial system.
While stability obsessed Keynesians on a quest to the permanent boom regard this as a positive development, the rest of us obviously understand that false stability breeds instability.
It is clear to us that the FOMC in its quest to maintain stability is breeding instability and that previous attempts at the same failed miserably with dire consequences for society. We are sure it is only a matter for time before it happens again.
And further seemingly confirmed that the real "hidden" inflation mystery - as we solved here - is in fact in the very heart of The Fed's wealth creation process: the U.S. transformation from a homeownership society, to one of renters.
From the latest, just released joint white paper by Harvard's Center for Housing Studies in conjunction with the Enterprise Resource Center, in which we read that the US rental crisis is about to get far worse. In fact, in an optimistic scenario in which rental inflation rises by 3% annually (it is currently far higher at 3.6%), while annual income growth is rising at a speed 2.0% (it is currently far lower in real terms) the number of severely cost burdened households - those who spend over half of their income on rent - will rise by over 25% over the next decade, from 11.8 million to a record 14.8 million households!
Which means that is using at least somewhat realistic assumptions, the real number of households who spend more than half of their income on rent will likely be in the upper teens if not 20s of millions by 2025.
From the report:
if current trends where rent gains outpace incomes continue, we find that for each 0.25 percentage point gain in rents relative to incomes, the number of severely cost-burdened renters will increase by about 400,000. Under the worst-case scenario of real rent gains of 1 percentage point higher than real income gains per year over the decade, the number of severely cost-burdened renters would reach 14.8 million by 2025, an increase of 25 percent above today’s levels.
More depressing details about the state of the US housing rental market:
At the time of the decennial census in 2000, one in five renters were severely cost burdened, paying more than half of their gross income for rent and utilities (Figure 2). Meanwhile, another 18 percent faced moderate cost burdens, spending between 30 and 50 percent of their income on housing costs, exceeding the widely accepted standard that housing should not command more than 30 percent of a household budget.3 This represented a slight improvement over the shares burdened in 1990 as income gains outpaced growth in rents.
And here is the punchline: "in the years following 2000, gains in typical monthly rental costs exceeded the overall inflation rate, while median income among renters fell further and further behind (Figure 3). As a result, the share of renter households facing severe cost burdens grew dramatically, reaching a new record high of 28 percent in 2011 before edging down to 26.5 percent in 2013. Adding in those with moderate burdens, just under half of all renters were cost burdened in 2013. These rates are substantially higher than a decade ago and roughly twice what they were in 1960."
And far from confirming the "bullish thesis" that Millennials will eventually move out of their parents basement and buy (or rent) their own housing while starting new households, just the opposite is taking place:
In 2015, 15.1 percent of 25 to 34 year olds were living with their parents, a fourth straight annual increase, according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Population Reference Bureau in Washington. The proportion is the highest since at least 1960, according to demographer Mark Mather, associate vice president with PRB. "The phenomenon of young adults, facing their own financial challenges, forced to squeeze in the homes of their parents. And new data show the trend is getting worse, not better."
In conclusion, nowhere is the mystery of the "missing" inflation more obvious than in the following interactive map showing that in virtually all major seaboard metro areas, including the major cities in California, New York, and Florida, the number of households with a cost burden is 50% or higher.
As we concluded when addressing this mystery,
All of this could have been avoided if only the Fed has observed the "missing" and soaring rental inflation that was right in front of its nose all the time, and which it did everything in its power to ignore just so the 1% can keep their ZIRP (and soon NIRP)and QE, and become even wealthier on the back of the middle class and the 80 million of 25-34 year old Americans who have found out the hard way that not only is the American Dream of owning a home officially dead, it has been replaced with the American nightmare of completely unffordable renting.
* * *
And thus, The Fed is forced to entirely trounce its "data-dependent" bullshit in order that it can do whatever it wants... in this case, raise rates in order to perhaps slow the speculative bubble in housing (driving rental inflation) just enough (goldilocks-style) to turn the multi-year trend in homeownership around...the lowest in 48 years!
Or, perhaps more likely, show it can and to have the merest of ammunition when the current bubble bursts before resorting to QE-moar... because as Peter Schiff recently concluded,
If the Fed is unable to raise rates from zero, it will also be have no ability to cut them to fight the next recession. So the next time an economic downturn occurs (one may already be underway), the Fed will have to immediately launch the next round of QE. When QE4 proves just as ineffective as the last three rounds to create real economic growth, the Fed may have to consider the radical ideas now being contemplated by the Bank of Japan.So this is the endgame of QE: Exploding debt, financial distortion, prolonged stagnation, recurring recession, and the eventual government takeover of industry and the economy. This appears to be the preferred alternative of politicians and bankers who simply refuse to let the free markets function the way they are supposed to.If interest rates were never manipulated by central banks and QE had never been invented, the markets could have purged themselves years ago of the speculative bubbles and mal-investments. Sure we could have had a deeper recession, but it also could have been much shorter, and it could have been followed by a far more robust and sustainable recovery.Instead Washington has joined Tokyo on the road to Leningrad.