Global, domestic impediments will slow down economy, but no recession yet
LOS ANGELES, June 1, 2022
UCLA Anderson Forecast says war in Ukraine, COVID lockdowns in China, supply chain constraints, inflation will stymie growth
LOS ANGELES, June 1, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- In March, the UCLA Anderson Forecast cited the uncertainties facing the U.S. and California economies. Seemingly, just as the economy was returning to normal as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic began to abate, the Russian invasion of Ukraine destabilized global economic conditions.
In the UCLA Anderson Forecast's June reports for the nation and the state, the effects of a number of economic impediments — including the Russia-Ukraine war, COVID lockdowns in China, supply chain constraints and inflation — continue to affect the U.S. and California economies. And while there is no recession forecast in the June report, economic slowdowns in California and across the U.S. are expected.
Given growing concern about the possibility of a recession caused by rising interest rates and a slowdown in housing, Professor Edward Leamer, in an article titled "A New Way of Forecasting a Recession: Not Much to Worry About Right Now," examines the evidence through a statistical analysis of past recessions. Leamer's analysis concludes that a recession in the next 12 months is unlikely.
However, according to UCLA Anderson Forecast Senior Economist Leo Feler, author of the June forecast for the nation, there is no doubt that parts of the U.S. economy are abruptly slowing, as waves of economic shocks continue to cause damage. With the war in Ukraine and COVID lockdowns in China both continuing, the global economy continues to experience supply constraints and higher prices for raw materials.
Related to those shocks, what once seemed like transitory inflation has become persistent, and consumers have begun to expect higher rates of inflation for the coming years. In other words, the concern that inflation expectations could become unanchored has begun to materialize, which will make it more challenging for the Fed to rein in inflation. The UCLA Anderson Forecast expects that in order to do so, the Fed will significantly increase interest rates this year, which will slow consumer demand, especially for housing and related consumer durables. Higher rates will also slow business investment.
The slowdown in both consumer spending and business investment should bring demand back in line with supply and help alleviate some of the current supply chain constraints and shortages. Although a recession is not expected in the next two years, the risk has certainly grown. It is possible that continued global economic shocks will hurt the U.S. economic recovery and that the Fed will tighten too quickly, which could lead to a recession. The UCLA Forecast does not expect this to be the case, but a recession has become more possible.
The Forecast team also does not expect the Fed to be able to bring core inflation down to its 2% target until after 2024, even with the tighter monetary policy that is expected for this year and into 2023.
The June Forecast expects U.S. economic growth will likely slow to 2.8% in 2022, followed by 2.0% in 2023 and 1.9% in 2024, below the trend rate of growth in these later years. Just a few months ago, the forecast was for growth of 4.3%, 2.8% and 2.3%, respectively, for the same years. On a quarterly basis, the latest Forecast expects the depth of the economic slowdown and the highest risk of recession to occur in the middle of 2023.
According to Feler's report, the GDP contraction that occurred in the first quarter of 2022 was a "one-off." He expects a rebound in GDP of 3.1% on an annualized basis in the second quarter and 3.6% in the third quarter, as consumers shrug off COVID-19 and shift back to services like airline travel, recreation and dining.
"By the end of 2022 and into 2023, as the impact of the Federal Reserve's interest rate increases begin to bite, we expect growth to slow to below 2%," Feler says. "Only by the end of 2024 do we expect GDP growth to pick back up to trend rates."
With that economic slowdown, the level of GDP is expected to remain below what it would have been had the pandemic never occurred. That is, real GDP is not expected to return to its long-term trend even by the end of 2024. Unemployment will likely rise in 2023 as the Federal Reserve increases interest rates and the economy slows. The forecast for inflation does not see consumer prices easing any time soon and calls for 7.4% year-over-year inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, by the end of 2022, falling to 2.2% by the end of 2023.
Feler expects the Fed to raise interest rates at each of its meetings for the rest of the year, with the likelihood of 0.5 percentage point increases in June and July, and even the possibility of a 0.75 percentage point increase if inflation does not begin to come down. The forecast expects the federal funds rate to peak between 3.75% and 4.0% in mid-2023.
In California, the pandemic continues to be a major factor influencing the economy, but it is no longer the sole influence. Higher energy prices due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine as well as uncertainty on Wall Street that will impact funding for the state's technology entrepreneurs are headwinds, in addition to continuing pandemic-related supply chain interruptions.
But there are also some positives, including California's record surplus general fund and a significant rainy-day fund to protect against future tax revenue downturns.
Still, according to UCLA Anderson Forecast Director Jerry Nickelsburg, who authored the June California forecast, the headwinds affecting the state's growth are significant. As a result, the forecast has been shifted downward from the previous one. It is not a recession, but it is a shallower growth trend than before.
Nickelsburg's June analysis includes an examination of sectors that are now experiencing constraints but are expected to drive the California economy in the coming years.
The California forecast calls for solid gains in employment. The current data indicate that broad-based hiring in retail trade, health care and social services, technology and construction is likely to mean solid gains in the coming three years. Increases in defense spending and the continued demand for tech will also be factors in the California economy's continued growth.
But there are real risks to the economy in the near term. As a consequence of the expected slowing of growth elsewhere in the U.S., the California forecast is now a bit weaker than it was three months ago. Further risks to the forecast are the continuing pandemic and domestic migration on the downside, as well as increased international immigration and accelerated onshoring of technical manufacturing on the upside.
Technology-laden industries have been driving the California economy since the end of the Great Recession, as the demand for new software and technological solutions to 21st-century business and consumer activity has been evident in both the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California. Today, this spans aerospace, manufacturing, life sciences, energy, entertainment and computing.
Although tech is not a sector itself, two sectors — professional, technical and scientific services being one, and information the other — are arguably the most tech-intensive sectors. The information sector includes film and television production and broadcasting. By June 2021, employment in these two sectors had recovered in the Bay Area, and in April 2022, the level of payroll employment was 7.2% higher than its previous peak. Also, April employment grew at an annual rate of 7%. Between the last three months and the previous three months, employment grew by an annual rate of 4%.
In addition, the logistics industry has been hiring rapidly since the downturn in March 2020. This has been driven by a shift from services consumption to goods consumption during the worst of the pandemic, an increase in home remodeling and a shift in purchase behavior from brick-and-mortar retail to online retail. The impact can be seen in the sea port and airport data. As California is the port of entry for most of the goods produced in Asia's industrial centers, the state has disproportionately benefited from this increased demand.
The unemployment rate for the third quarter of this year is expected to be 4.3%, and the average rates for 2022, 2023 and 2024 are expected to be 4.5%, 4.1% and 4.5%, respectively. The forecast for 2022, 2023 and 2024 is for total employment growth rates to be 4.3%, 1.5% and 4.7%. Non-farm payroll jobs are expected to grow at rates of 5.1%, 2.3% and 1.2% during the same three years. Real personal income is forecast to decline by 4.5% in 2022 and grow by 2.4% in 2023 as a function of the transfers from the stimulus packages expiring, and it is expected to grow by 2.9% in 2024.
In spite of the slowing economy, the continued demand for limited housing stock, coupled with low interest rates, leads to a forecast of a relatively rapid return of homebuilding. The economists' expectation is for 124,000 net new units to be permitted in 2022, growing to 143,000 by 2024. That level of homebuilding means that the prospect of the private sector building out of the housing affordability problem over the next three years is nil.
In a companion essay, UCLA Anderson Forecast economist William Yu updates the Forecast's City Human Capital Index (CHCI).
In 2012, the UCLA Anderson Forecast developed the CHCI to calculate the weighted average of educational attainment of adult residents by various geographic domains, such as state, metro (MSA), county and ZIP code. The goal is to provide a simple barometer to measure and compare human capital across regions in the U.S. over time. A simple interpretation of the index is that — by and large — one-tenth of its value is equal to the average schooling years of local residents.
According to the report, the top three metros with the highest CHCI in 2020 were Washington, D.C.; Boston; and San Francisco, with New York City in the middle and Los Angeles, San Antonio, Las Vegas and Riverside, California, at the bottom.
According to Yu, the good news is that there was an across-the-board increase in the CHCI from 2013 to 2020 due to such reasons as increased investment in education, higher graduation rates and higher human capital migration. Los Angeles County, although still falling below the national average in adult educational attainment, is now outpacing the U.S. in the growth in millennials' educational attainment.
June 2022 Forecast conference
2022 and Beyond: An Economy in the Choppy Waters of Supply Chains and Inflation
In addition to presentations of the U.S. and California forecasts, the June 2022 Forecast conference will feature a keynote address by John Burns, CEO of John Burns Real Estate Consulting, and a panel discussion regarding residential real estate. The panel participants are:
- David Shulman, Senior Economist, UCLA Anderson Forecast
- Jan K. Brueckner, Distinguished Professor, Economics, School of Social Sciences, University of California, Irvine
- Martha Mosier, President, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties
- Anthony Valeri, Executive Vice President, Director of Investment Management, California Bank & Trust
UCLA Anderson Forecast is one of the most widely watched and often-cited economic outlooks for California and the nation and was unique in predicting both the seriousness of the early-1990s downturn in California and the strength of the state's rebound since 1993. The Forecast was credited as the first major U.S. economic forecasting group to call the recession of 2001 and, in March 2020, it was the first to declare that the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic had already begun.
UCLA Anderson School of Management is among the leading business schools in the world, with faculty members globally renowned for their teaching excellence and research in advancing management thinking. Located in Los Angeles, gateway to the growing economies of Latin America and Asia and a city that personifies innovation in a diverse range of endeavors, UCLA Anderson's MBA, Fully Employed MBA, Executive MBA, UCLA-NUS Executive MBA, Master of Financial Engineering, Master of Science in Business Analytics, doctoral and executive education programs embody the school's Think in the Next ethos. Annually, some 1,800 students are trained to be global leaders seeking the business models and community solutions of tomorrow.
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SOURCE UCLA Anderson Forecast
China dev fined 3 yr’s salary for VPN use, 10M e-CNY airdrop: Asia Express
Crypto industry concerns after Chinese dev fined 3 year’s salary for using a VPN, largest Ponzi in Hong Kong history, JPEX saga, and more.
Crypto industry concerns after Chinese dev fined 3 year’s salary for using a VPN, largest Ponzi in Hong Kong history, JPEX saga, and more.
Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industrys most important developments.
Chinese worker fined $145K over VPN
An unnamed individual in China was fined 1.06 million Yuan ($144,907) for using a virtual private network (VPN) to access restricted websites as part of a remote work routine for a foreign employer.
According to local mediareportsearlier this week, during his employment as a consultant between 2019 to 2022 the unnamed individual accessed GitHub to view source code, answered questions in customer support, held teleconferences via Zoom, and posted multiple threads on Twitter with the help of a VPN.
Based on a document issued by City of Chengde Police, the individual’s income earned with the aid of a VPN was deemed as “proceeds of crime.” The police issued a penalty of $144,097, equivalent to three years of the individual’s salary.
Chinese law prohibits the use of VPNs to bypass the country’s “Great Firewall” that blocks popular sites such as Google, Wikipedia, and Facebook. The ruling has spooked many in China’s IT and Web3 circles, who often rely on VPNs for similar remote-work tasks.
City of Hangzhou airdrops 10M e-CNY
The City of Hangzhou is airdropping 10 million digital yuan central bank digital currency (e-CNY), worth a total of $1.37 million, to incentivize food and beverage spending as it hosts the 19th Asian Games.
Anyone within the municipality of Hangzhou, locals and visitors alike, can receive the e-CNY airdrop for use in food delivery platforms. Individuals can receive up to three vouchers that reimburse merchants, in e-CNY, up to 20% to 30% of the value of food items after purchase.
The airdrop will renew every five days until the balance is emptied. The vouchers, although denominated in e-CNY, are only effective for five days and can only be tendered through select food delivery platforms. Earlier this year, the City of Hangzhou airdropped 4 million e-CNY, worth $590,000, in an effort to boost the CBDC’s adoption.
15 detained over largest alleged Ponzi scheme in Hong Kong’s history
Hong Kong police have detained 15 individuals linked to the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange JPEX.
As of September 27, Hong Kong Policeclaimthey have received over 2,392 complaints claiming a total loss of 1.5 billion Hong Kong dollars ($191.6 million) in the apparent Ponzi scheme. Since the investigation began mid-September, police say that they have seized 8 million HKD ($1 million) in cash and frozen bank accounts worth 77 million HKD ($10 million) suspected of being proceeds of crime.
On September 13, the Hong Kong Securities & Futures Commission (SFC) issued a warning regarding JPEX being an unlicensed exchange within its jurisdiction. The move led to several arrests of its key executives and the abandonment of its corporate booth in Token2049 Singapore. Prior to its collapse, JPEX was one of the most heavily marketed crypto exchanges in Hong Kong, with corporate ads displayed across the city’s metro lines and taxis.
The incident is shaping up as potentially the worst Ponzi scheme in Hong Kong’s history in terms of monetary loss. Shortly after its discovery, the SFC began publishing a list of crypto exchanges awaiting registration or are unlicensed within the special administrative region of China.
CoinEx resilient despite $70M hack
Hong Kong crypto exchange CoinEx will resume services despite falling victim to a $70 million wallet hack orchestrated by North Korea’s infamous Lazarus Group.
According to a September 22 statement, CoinEx claims to have resumed deposits and withdrawals on 190 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, USD Coin, and Tether. The firm stated:
“The wallet system is operating safely and steadily at present. We will gradually resume deposit and withdrawal services for the remaining 500+ cryptos. Since the resuming operations will be processed frequently, there will be no further or separate announcements for each crypto.”
As part of its new wallet system, CoinEx updated the deposit addresses of all crypto assets, rendering old addresses invalid. On September 12, a leak of the exchange’s hot wallet keys led to the theft of over $70 million worth of users’ cryptos. Despite the incident, CoinEx said that cold wallets were not affected and that the CoinEx User Asset Security Foundation would “bear the financial losses from this incident.”
Multiple blockchain security firms, such as Elliptic, have pointed to North Korea’s Lazarus Group as the perpetrator of the exploit. The CoinEx team has since offered a “generous bounty” for the return of stolen funds. Prior to the hack, the exchange disclosed it had around $260 million worth of major cryptocurrencies in its proof-of-reserves report.
Alibaba moves into digital wallets
Chinese tech conglomerate Alibaba wants to launch its own wallet service.
According to the September 28 announcement, Alibaba’s Cloud subsidiary has partnered with crypto custodian Cobo to create an enterprise wallet-as-a-service solution for developers and organizations, integrating crypto wallets into software through APIs and SDKs. Cobo says it is incorporating its custodial wallet and multi-party computation technology to build the Alibaba Cloud wallet.
“This collaboration marks a significant step towards setting new standards in security, performance, and accessibility of the digital wallet infrastructure for Web3,” said Dr. Changhao Jiang, co-founder and CTO of Cobo. The firm claims to hold partnerships with over 500 institutions, with billions of digital assets in custody through its wallet solutions. In June, crypto-friendly executive Joe Tsaibecame the chairmanof Alibaba Group, replacing his predecessor Daniel Zhang.
Our Society Is Melting Down Even Faster Than Most People Thought That It Would
Our Society Is Melting Down Even Faster Than Most People Thought That It Would
Authored by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream…
It can be difficult to believe that the wild scenes that we are witnessing on the streets of America are actually real. Earlier this week, I wrote an article entitled “What Life Is Really Like In America’s Hellish Inner Cities”. I wrote that article before the widespread looting that just erupted in Philadelphia. Just when I think that conditions in our core urban areas have reached a low point, they seem to find a way to get even worse. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning of this crisis. As economic conditions continue to deteriorate, countless numbers of people will become very desperate. And when countless numbers of people become very desperate, our society will descend into a permanent state of chaos.
On Tuesday night, dozens of young people went on a rampage in the city of Philadelphia.
It is being reported that “stores in several areas of Philadelphia” were hit…
Dozens of people faced criminal charges Wednesday after a night of social media-fueled mayhem in which groups of thieves, apparently working together, smashed their way into stores in several areas of Philadelphia, stuffing plastic bags with merchandise and fleeing, authorities said.
A total of 52 arrests have been made so far, police said Wednesday.
Burglary, theft and other counts have been filed so far against at least 30 people, all but three of them adults, according to Jane Roh, spokesperson for the Philadelphia district attorney’s office.
The largest group consisted of approximately 100 young people, and there was violence when the police finally confronted that group outside of a Lululemon store…
Police in the city said that a large group of around 100 juveniles kept moving from store to store and looting them.
Videos shared on social media show officers attempting to grab thieves, some of whom are wearing Halloween masks, as they run riot through a Lululemon store.
One officer manages to hit one of the looters with a punch after tackling them to the ground.
Many on social media seem to be quite entertained by videos of the looting, but the truth is that this footage should break all of our hearts.
Everything in Center City Philadelphia is free with promo code: “the Big Guy 2024.”— Charles R Downs (@TheCharlesDowns) September 27, 2023
"Everybody keep yo phone out!"— Andy Ngô ????️???? (@MrAndyNgo) September 27, 2023
Seeking another George Floyd moment, #BLM protesters tell one another to start recording after Philadelphia Police arrived to make arrests at the downtown mass looting. Video uploaded by @OSiiNT:pic.twitter.com/oEyKU3Mhwk
Our society is literally coming apart at the seams all around us.
I had warned my readers that total retail theft would exceed 100 billion dollars this year, but now it is being reported that total retail theft already broke that threshold in 2022…
Last year, total losses tied to theft amounted to $112.1 billion, according to data from the 2023 National Retail Security Survey. That is up from $93.9 billion in losses in 2021 and $90.8 billion in 2020.
Retailers within metros including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland as well as Houston, New York and Seattle were hit the hardest last year.
So if last year’s number was 112 billion, what will the final number be for 2023?
Major retail chains all over America are shutting down stores due to rampant theft.
Target Corp. will shutter nine stores across four states on Oct. 21 because of theft and threats to safety, the company announced Tuesday, the latest — and loudest —example of a retailer exiting urban locations because of crime.
Target said it made the “difficult decision” to close the stores — which include locations in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, Seattle, Portland and the San Francisco Bay area — after the Minneapolis-based company determined that theft-preventive measures had proved ineffective. The company said it had tried adding more security, including third-party guards, and using deterrents such as locking up merchandise.
“We cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests and contributing to unsustainable business performance,” the company said.
But nine stores is just a drop in the bucket compared to what other retailers are doing.
For example, it is being reported that Rite Aid will close approximately 500 stores…
One of the largest U.S. drugstores chains Rite Aid is set to close around 500 stores nationwide as it negotiates a plan to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the firm, which is the third largest in the country, is looking to close branches and either sell or let creditors take over their remaining operations.
And CVS is in the process of closing a total of 900 stores by 2024…
Drugstore chain CVS is set to close hundreds of stores across the US as it undergoes a major reform to adjust to the needs of modern online shoppers.
The retail giant is coming to the end of a policy launched in 2021 which will see 300 stores closed each year – meaning 900 will have shuttered by 2024.
In the announcement, which has hit headlines again recently amid rampant shoplifting at the store, bosses they said that they were undergoing a new ‘retail footprint strategy.’
Drugstores used to be all over the place in our core urban areas.
But now our inner cities are littered with scores of boarded up establishments with “space available” signs on them.
This is what the future of America looks like, and it isn’t good.
Once upon a time, we could be proud of the shiny new cities that we had built from coast to coast.
Those cities were safe and they were clean.
But now our major cities have degenerated into crime-ridden hellholes that are absolutely filthy. In New York City, the millions of rats that live there are constantly making headlines…
This is the moment a group of horrified New Yorkers is forced to hop over scores of vermin scurrying across their path from bins outside a pizzeria.
Footage shows a few rats brazenly scurry across the pavement before scores of them emerge from an overflowing bin.
Taryn Brady, 29, who was with a group of friends when she filmed the rat encounter, said she was left in ‘fear and disgust’ after she and her friends had to hop over the rodents running towards them.
This is our country now.
I know that I keep saying that, but it is such an important point.
We don’t have the same nation that previous generations passed down to us.
Over the past 50 to 60 years, we have literally ruined America.
From the White House all the way down to the kids that are looting retailers in our major cities, we have become a laughingstock to the rest of the world.
And if we don’t find a way to turn things around, our story is going to have an absolutely tragic ending.
* * *
Jim Grant: Fed Policy Is A Ph.D. Standard Of Improvisation
Jim Grant: Fed Policy Is A Ph.D. Standard Of Improvisation
All eyes are on the Federal Reserve, and people are wondering,…
All eyes are on the Federal Reserve, and people are wondering, what will it do next? The messaging coming from the central bankers is that they will need to keep interest rates higher for longer. But is that possible given the economic conditions and all of the debt in the economy?
Investment and economics writer Jim Grant appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box to discuss the Fed’s inflation fight and its impact on the economy. He said we ask too much of the central bankers. After all, they are only human.
Grant opened the interview by taking exception to Chicago Federal Reserve President Austan Goolsbee’s assertion that the current federal funds rate is “restrictive.”
His own Financial Conditions Index, produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, shows, oddly enough, that financial conditions, as defined, are looser than average even after this short of zero to 60 in six seconds of rate increases.”
So yes, monetary policy is “tighter,” but it is not yet “tight.”
Grant has said we are likely entering into a generational bear market in bonds. He pointed out that interest rates are unique because they tend to follow generational cycles. That’s been true in the US since the Civil War.
I say we just ended in 2021 40 years, 4-0 years, of persistently declining rates, which ended, and something I think financial historians are going to puzzle over for many many years, which is negative nominal rates — bonds priced to yields less than nothing to the tune of like $15 or $16 trillion. … It seems to me every big move in financial markets, whether its bonds or anything else, tends to climax in some absurdity, some valuation excess with the stock puppet 1999 or negative nominal yields in 2020-2021.”
Looking back, we had 40 years of declining interest rates. Before that, we had 35 years of generally increasing rates that ended in 1981. Grant said it’s simply a matter of pattern recognition “to give it its intellectual most dignified term.”
This is nothing like a physical law, but this, as I say, has been the form for many, many years in bonds.”
The CNBC host seemed a bit befuddled by Grant’s analysis. After all, if the Fed is controlling rates, why would we see these long trends? If the economy is doing well, the central bankers can raise rates. If the economy suffers, they can lower them.
Grant said “they” don’t always control events.
He quoted former British Prime Minster Harold Macmillan who was asked, “What might go wrong.” He responded, “My boy, events! Events might go wrong.”
We have been used to, I think, imputing to the Fed immense powers of foresight and control. But oftentimes, the Fed, like so many of us, finds itself not in the vanguard of action or thought, but rather running behind to catch up. You know, the Fed can will all it likes to return the 2% world it has defined for itself, but if the past is prologue, the Fed will be evolving a new set of narratives to explain the new world. And I expect that to be coming at Jackson Hole any summer now.”
While it is difficult to see the future, Grant said we can at least observe the present and size up the odds the markets are laying on certain outcomes.
Grant called the Fed members “well-intentioned human beings,” with an emphasis on human beings. He said many scored well on the SAT and they probably would have rather worked at NASA doing physical science as opposed to the “pseudoscience” of economic forecasting.
As recently as the early months of 2022, with inflation percolating above 5%, they were still doing QE. So, we ask too much of them, or indeed, of any set of human beings.”
Would some kind of rule-based system be better?
Grant gave an enthusiastic, yes!
The rule would be that interest rates ought to be discovered in the market rather than imposed or suppressed. We have decided over the course of many years to conduct our monetary affairs by kind of a Ph.D. standard of improvisation. There are no rules, per se. The dollar is uncollateralized as it had been from the beginning of the country to 1971. So, to some extent, we are playing tennis without a net, and without baselines, and without sidelines. So, circumspection in public finance is out the window.”
Demonstrating just how out of whack things have become, Grant pointed out that in private sector terms, the Fed is broke.
So, what about all of the investors and businesspeople who have made bets based on perpetually low interest rates? Grant said he thinks the odds are against them.
Within this long cycle — this projected, imagined long cycle I foresee — there are all sorts of twists and turns. There were in the 70s, for example. Inflation didn’t go straight up. It was in three phases or slices. So, if past is prologue, what we’ll see is a time of long-trending higher rates with head-fakes that will get people convinced that 2% is right around the corner.”
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