Connect with us

Economics

Lacalle: Powell’s “Soft Landing” Is Impossible

Lacalle: Powell’s "Soft Landing" Is Impossible

Authored by Daniel Lacalle,

After more than a decade of chained stimulus packages and extremely…

Published

on

Lacalle: Powell's "Soft Landing" Is Impossible

Authored by Daniel Lacalle,

After more than a decade of chained stimulus packages and extremely low rates, with trillions of dollars of monetary stimulus fuelling elevated asset valuations and incentivising an enormous leveraged bet on risk, the idea of a controlled explosion or a “soft landing” is impossible.

In an interview with Marketplace, Federal Reserve chairman admitted that “a soft landing is really just getting back to 2% inflation while keeping the labor market strong. And it’s quite challenging to accomplish that right now”. He went on to say that “nonetheless, we think there are pathways … for us to get there.”

The first problem of a soft landing is the evidence of the weak economic data. While headline unemployment rate appears robust, both the labor participation and employment rate show a different picture, as they have been stagnant for almost a year. Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.2 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.0 percent remain each 1.2 percentage points below their February 2020 values, as the April Jobs Report shows. Real wages are down, as inflation completely eats away the nominal wage increase. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, real average hourly earnings decreased 2.6 percent, seasonally adjusted, from April 2021 to April 2022. The change in real average hourly earnings combined with a decrease of 0.9 percent in the average workweek resulted in a 3.4-percent decrease in real average weekly earnings over this period.

The University of Michigan consumer confidence in early May fell to an 11-year low of 59.1, from 65.2, deep into recessionary territory. The current conditions index fell to 63.6, from 69.4, but the expectations index plummeted to 56.3, from 62.5.

The second problem of believing in a soft landing is underestimating the chain reaction impact of even allegedly small corrections in markets. With global debt at all-time highs and margin debt in the US alone at $773 billion, expectations of a controlled explosion where markets and the indebted sectors will absorb the rate hikes without a significant damage to the economy are simply too optimistic. Margin debt remains more than $170 billion above the 2019 level, which was an all-time high at the time.

However, the biggest problem is that the Federal Reserve wants to curb inflation while at the same time the Federal government is unwilling to reduce spending. Ultimately, inflation is reduced by cutting the amount of broad money in the economy, and if government spending remains the same, the efforts to reduce inflation will only come from obliterating the private sector through higher cost of debt and a collapse in consumption. You know that the economy is in trouble when the fiscal deficit is only reduced to $360 billion in the first seven months of fiscal year 2022 despite record receipts and the tailwind of a strong recovery in GDP.  Now, with GDP growth likely to be flat in the first six months but mandatory and discretional spending still virtually intact, government consumption of monetary reserves is likely to keep core inflation elevated even if oil and gas prices moderate.

The Federal Reserve cannot expect a soft landing when the economy did not even take off, it was bloated with a chain of newly printed stimulus packages that have made the debt soar and created the perverse incentive to monetize all that the Federal government overspends.

The idea of a gradual cooling down of the economy is also negated by the reality of emerging markets and European banks. The relative strength of the US dollar is already creating enormous financial holes in the assets of a financial system that has built the largest carry trade against the dollar in decades. It is almost impossible to calculate the nominal and real losses in pension funds and the negative result of financial institutions in the most aggressively priced assets, from socially responsible investment and technology to infrastructure and private equity. We can see that markets have lost more than $7 trillion in capitalization in the year so far with a very modest move from the Federal Reserve. The impact of these losses is not evident yet in financial institutions, but the write-downs are likely to be significant into the second half of 2022, leading to a credit crunch exacerbated by rate hikes.

Central banks always underestimate how quickly the core capital of a financial institution can dissolve into nonexistence. Even the financial system itself is unable to really understand the complexity of the cross-asset impact of a widespread slump in extremely generous valuations throughout all kinds of assets. That is why stress tests always fail. And financial institutions all over the world have abandoned the healthy process of provisioning expecting a lengthy and solid recovery.

The Federal Reserve tries to convince the world that rates will remain negative in real terms for a long time, but borrowing costs globally are surging while the US dollar is strengthening, creating an enormous vacuum effect that can create significant negative effects on the real economy before the Federal Reserve even realizes that the market is weaker than they anticipated, and liquidity is significantly lower than they calculated.

There is no easy solution. There is no possible painless normalization path. After a massive monetary binge there is no soft hangover. The only thing that the Federal Reserve should have learnt is that the enormous stimulus plans of 2020 created the worst outcome: stubbornly high core inflation with weakening economic growth. There are only two possibilities: To truly tackle inflation and risk a financial crisis led by the US dollar vacuum effect or to forget about inflation, make citizens poorer and maintain the so-called bubble of everything. None is good but they wanted a decisive and unprecedented response to the pandemic lockdowns and created a decisive and unprecedented global financial risk. They thought money creation was not an issue and now the accumulated risk is so high it is hard to see how to tackle it.

One day someone may finally understand that supply shocks are addressed with supply-side policies, not with demand ones. Now it is too late. Powell will have to choose between the risk of a global financial meltdown or prolonged inflation.

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/16/2022 - 13:20

Read More

Continue Reading

Government

New Hampshire Governor Vetoes Ivermectin Bill

New Hampshire Governor Vetoes Ivermectin Bill

Authored by Alice Giordano via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

New Hampshire’s Republican…

Published

on

New Hampshire Governor Vetoes Ivermectin Bill

Authored by Alice Giordano via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

New Hampshire’s Republican Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed a bill that would have made Ivermectin available without a prescription.

Ivermectin tablets packaged for human use. (Natasha Holt/The Epoch Times)

The Republican governor vetoed the bill on June 24, the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Some fellow Republicans questioned the timing.

It certainly seemed like a convenient way to bury a veto of a bill that won support from the vast majority of Republicans in New Hampshire,” JR Hoell, co-founder of the conservative watchdog group RebuildNH, told The Epoch Times.

Hoell is a former four-term House Republican planning to seek re-election after a four-year hiatus from the the New Hampshire legislature.

Earlier this year, the New Hampshire Department of Children Youth and Family (DCYF) tried to take custody of Hoell’s 13-year old son after a nurse reported him for giving human-grade ivermectin to the teen months earlier.

Several states have introduced bills to make human-grade ivermectin available without a prescription at a brick and mortar store. Currently, it can be ordered online from another country. In April, Tennessee became the the first state to sign such a measure into law. New Hampshire lawmakers were first to introduce the idea.

Both chambers of the state’s Republican controlled legislature approved the bill.

In his statement explaining the veto, Sununu noted that there are only four other controlled medications available without a prescription in New Hampshire and that each were only made available after “rigorous reviews and vetting to ensure” before being dispensed.

“Patients should always consult their doctor before taking medications so that they are fully aware of treatment options and potential unintended consequences of taking a medication that may limit other treatment options in the future,” Sununu said in his statement.

Sununu’s statement is very similar to testimony given by Paula Minnehan, senior vice president of state government regulations for the New Hampshire Hospital Association, at hearings on the bill.

Minnehan too placed emphasis on the review that went into the four prescription medications the state made available under a standing order. They include naloxone, the generic name for Narcan, which is used to counter opioid overdoses, hormone replacement therapy drugs, and a prescription-version of the morning after pill.

It also includes a collection of smoking cessation therapy drugs like Chantix, which has been linked to suicide, depression, and other neuropsychiatric conditions. Last year, Pfizer, the leading maker of the FDA-approved drug, conducted a voluntarily recall of Chantix. Narcan has also been linked to deaths caused by severe withdrawals that have led to acute respiratory distress.

Rep. Melissa Blasek, a Republican co-sponsor of the New Hampshire ivermectin bill, told The Epoch Times, that one could veto any drug-related bill under the pretense of overdose concerns.

The reality is you can overdose on Tylenol,” she said. “Ivermectin has one of the safest track records of any drug.”

The use of human-grade ivermectin became controversial when some doctors began promoting it for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19. Government agencies including the FDA and CDC issued warnings against its use while groups like Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) heavily promoted it.

Some doctors were  disciplined for prescribing human-grade ivermectin for COVID-19 including a Maine doctor whose medical license was suspended by the state.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Thu, 06/30/2022 - 20:30

Read More

Continue Reading

Economics

The One Housing Chart That Shows A ‘Buyer’s Market’ Has Returned

The One Housing Chart That Shows A ‘Buyer’s Market’ Has Returned

The red hot pandemic-era housing market is cooling as historically tight…

Published

on

The One Housing Chart That Shows A 'Buyer's Market' Has Returned

The red hot pandemic-era housing market is cooling as historically tight available inventory shows signs of reversing. 

An affordability crisis has removed millions of new home buyers as the number of active US listings soared 18.7% in June from a year earlier, the most significant increase in Realtor.com's data going back to 2017, according to Bloomberg. The days of insane bidding wars, waiving home inspections, and putting in an offer 20% or more over the list price appear to be over. In other words, a buyer's market could be emerging. 

"While we anticipate that more inventory will eventually cool the feverish pace of competition, the typical buyer has yet to see meaningful relief from quick-selling homes and record-high asking prices," said Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com. 

Austin, Texas; Phoenix, Arizona; and Raleigh, North Carolina saw active listings more than double from a year ago. Nashville, Tennessee, active listings jumped 86%, and 72% in the Riverside, California. 

The Federal Reserve's most aggressive tightening campaign sent the 30-year fixed-loan mortgage rate from 3% to over 6% this year (back in March, we warned coming rate explosion would trigger a housing affordability crisis), removing millions of new home buyers who can't afford the cost of homeownership as the median existing-home sales price was around $407k in May. 

Even though inventory is historically tight, supply is expected to increase in markets across the country as demand for loan applications among prospective buyers slumps. Fewer buyers equal more inventory. 

The takeaway is that inventory is rising as homes stay on the market longer because demand evaporated thanks to the housing affordability crisis -- this could mean a housing top is nearing. 

Tyler Durden Thu, 06/30/2022 - 18:50

Read More

Continue Reading

Economics

States Need To Avoid ‘Cures’ That Can Make Inflation Worse

States Need To Avoid ‘Cures’ That Can Make Inflation Worse

Authored by Regina M. Egea and Danielle Zanzalari via RealClearPolicy.com,

Across…

Published

on

States Need To Avoid 'Cures' That Can Make Inflation Worse

Authored by Regina M. Egea and Danielle Zanzalari via RealClearPolicy.com,

Across the United States, state governments are awash in cash. In a sharp contrast, American taxpayers are enduring a rate of inflation unseen in four decades, with the costs of everything from food to gasoline at record highs.

In our home state of New Jersey, Trenton is looking at an unprecedented surplus of $8 billion through a combination of increased tax revenue, federal pandemic aid and borrowing.

A natural impulse among residents and policymakers is to offer residents “relief” in the form of rebate checks.

The reality is that relying exclusively on rebates or direct cash transfers to individuals will only lead to more inflation as this puts more money in consumers’ hands exacerbating the same problem as today - too many dollars chasing too few goods.

Rather, it is prudent that states focus on long-term investment and responsible budgeting to ensure economic growth now and in the future. This is especially important in high tax, big spending states due to the greater flexibility in work arrangements that have exposed the reality that wealth is mobile.

With more residents fleeing high tax states to low tax states, states will need to reevaluate their tax and regulatory climate to stay competitive. 

Regulation can raise the costs for consumers and slow job growth. A series of studies shows the regulation raises prices and worsens poverty.

Working with local governments to revisit restrictive laws that contribute to higher housing prices, such as building height restrictions and zoning rules, as well as removing unnecessary restrictions on business operations will lead to more economic growth.

Another way states can aid productivity and long-term economic growth with their temporary budget surplus, is to fund training programs for middle-skilled jobs.

Nearly every industry has experienced labor shortages and that reality is especially acute in trades like auto, refrigeration, HVAC, electrical, welding, and manufacturing.

States can invest in these skills through high school and vocational school programs. With college borrowing costs astronomically high, this encourages individuals to pursue careers that are lucrative and budget friendly, as well as fill the over 75,000 job openings that our state of New Jersey is projected to need in just a few years.

To further long-term economic growth many states should also concentrate on fixing their unfunded pension liabilities for public employees. This impacts red and blue states alike, with massive liabilities in California ($1.53 trillion), Illinois ($533.72 billion), Texas ($529.70 billion), New York ($508.70 billion) and Ohio ($429.53 billion). Here in New Jersey, our liability is nearly $40,000 for every resident of the state, which can dramatically deter future growth. Beyond using some of states’ budget surplus to shore up pension liabilities, states should move public employees to defined contribution plans, which are used by more than 100 million Americans. These are found to have better investment returns than state-wide pension plans and cost taxpayers less.

Our final recommendation is perhaps our most important: Save for a rainy day. If the U.S. economy enters into a recession, this will mean fewer jobs and less tax revenue for states. To prepare for the future when states again face a budget shortfall, which may be sooner than we think, states should follow best practices of reserving 10% of their budget in a rainy day fund, to sustain essential programs should a downturn occur in the future.

As state leaders consider their budgets, they should focus on long-term economic growth initiatives. Proposals like funding middle-skilled job trainings ensure workers are ready for the next decade, whereas eliminating unnecessary regulations and focusing on pro-growth tax reforms encourages residents to build businesses and create jobs. Lastly, taking care of state finances by properly funding state employees’ retirement plans and saving for a rainy day will ensure that no state is left behind in the next economic downturn.

Tyler Durden Thu, 06/30/2022 - 17:50

Read More

Continue Reading

Trending