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Lacy Hunt: Negative Real Rates Are A Strong Recession Warning

Lacy Hunt: Negative Real Rates Are A Strong Recession Warning

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

In his 4th Quarter Review and Outlook, Lacy provides some interesting charts on negative real rates and recessions.

Please consider.

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Lacy Hunt: Negative Real Rates Are A Strong Recession Warning

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

In his 4th Quarter Review and Outlook, Lacy provides some interesting charts on negative real rates and recessions.

Please consider the Hoisington Management Quarterly Review and Outlook Fourth Quarter 2021Emphasis Mine

Real Treasury Bond Yields

Real Treasury bond yields fell into deeply negative territory in 2021. In elementary economic models, this event, taken in isolation, would qualify as a plus for economic growth in 2022 and would be consistent with the strength indicated by fourth quarter 2021 tracking models.

Lacy a different view however. His analysis shows that negative real yields are associated with recessions. 

Debt overhang and demographics make the matter worse.

History

Since 1870, the starting point of reliable data, only 24 full yearly averages were negative, or just 16% of the 152 readings over this time span.

Detailed parsing of the series reveals that 12 of those occurrences fell in the spans from 1914 to 1920 and 1939 to 1953, both of which were dominated by major military engagements and their subsequent demobilization – World Wars I and II and the Korean War.

Excluding the 1914-20 and the 1939-53 periods from the post 1870 sample still leaves a robust sample of 130 readings. During this lengthy span, cyclical and secular economic conditions resulted in a negative yearly average for real Treasury bond yields twelve times, or just 8% of the time. In the eleven cases prior to 2021, nine of the negative real yield periods coincided with recessions – 1902-03, 1907, 1910, 1912, 1937, 1974-75, and 1980.

Real long maturity yields were negative in 1934, which while not a recession year, happened during the horrific conditions of the Great Depression (1929-1939). In only one case, 1979, does the negative real yield happen during an economic expansion when the economy is not in a highly depressed state.

Debt Overhangs and Real Interest Rates

The level of indebtedness of the economy is another of the critical moving parts in assessing future economic growth. Based on empirical evidence, theory and peer reviewed scholarly research, the massive secular increase in debt levels relative to economic activity has undermined economic growth, which has in turn, served to force real long-term Treasury yields lower. This pattern has been evident in both the United States and the more heavily indebted Japanese and European economies.

Real 10-Year Government Bond Yields 

Economic research provides additional insight and evidence as to why interest rates fall to low levels and then remain in an extended state of depression in times of extreme over-indebtedness of the government sector. While differing in purpose and scope, research has documented that extremely high levels of governmental indebtedness suppress real per capita GDP. In the distant past, debt financed government spending may have been preceded by stronger sustained economic performance, but that is no longer the case.

When governments accelerate debt over a certain level to improve faltering economic conditions, it actually slows economic activity. While governmental action may be required for political reasons, governments would be better off to admit that traditional tools would only serve to compound existing problems. For a restless constituency calling for quick answers to economic distress and where inaction would be likened to an uncaring and insensitive attitude, this is a virtually impossible task.

Carmen Reinhart, Vincent Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff (which will be referred to as RR&R), in the Summer 2012 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives linked extreme sustained over indebtedness with the level of interest rates. In this publication of the American Economic Association, they identify 26 historical major public debt overhang episodes in 22 advanced economies, characterized by gross public debt/GDP ratios exceeding 90% for at least five years, a requirement that eliminates purely cyclical increases in debt as well as debt caused by wars. They found that the economic growth rate is reduced by slightly more than a third, compared when the debt metric is not met.

Persistent Global Weakness

Advanced Economies (AD)

In 2021, the Japanese, Euro Area and Chinese economies, in comparative terms, underperformed the U.S. economy. This pattern should continue this year. Due to more massive debt overhangs and poorer demographics, real GDP in Japan and the Euro Area in the third quarter of 2021 was still below the pre-pandemic level of 2019. The U.S. in this time period managed to eke out a small gain. The dispersion between the U.S., on the one hand, and China and Japan, on the other hand, may be even greater. Scholarly forensic evaluations have found substantial over-reporting of GDP growth in China and now, similar problems have been revealed in Japan.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on December 15, 2021, that overstated construction orders had the effect of inflating the country’s economic growth figures for years. Consequently, the marginal revenue product of debt is even lower than reported therefore so is the velocity of money for both Japan and China. Interestingly, Bloomberg syndicated columnist and veteran Wall Street research director Richard Cookson makes a strong case that “China looks a lot like Japan did in the 1980s.”

Emerging Market Economies (EM)

The sharp surge in inflation in 2021 has resulted in far greater damage to the EM economies than the U.S. for three reasons. First, a much higher proportion of household budgets are allocated to necessities than in the United States since real per capita income levels are much lower than in the U.S. Second, numerous EM central banks increased interest rates in 2021.

Another problem emerges as most of the EM debt is denominated in dollars. When EM currencies slump as in 2021, the external costs of servicing and amortizing debt add an additional burden on their borrowers.

Growth Obstacles

In 2022, several headwinds will weigh on the U.S. economy. These include negative real interest rates combined with a massive debt overhang, poor domestic and global demographics, and a foreign sector that will drain growth from the domestic economy. The EM and AD economies will both serve to be a restraint on U.S. growth this year and perhaps significantly longer. The negative real interest rates signal that capital is being destroyed and with it the incentive to plough funds into physical investment.

Demographics continue to stagnate in the United States and throughout the world. U.S. population growth increased a mere 0.1% in the 12 months ended July 1, 2021. This was the slimmest rise since our nation was founded in the 18th century, along with two other firsts: (1) the natural increase in population was less than the net immigration, and (2) the increase in population was less than one million, the first time since 1937. The birth rate also dropped again.

Inflation

Inflation has been one of the most widely reported and discussed economic factors in the past year. Surging energy, rents, building materials, automotive, food and supply disruptions have boosted the year-over-year rise in the inflation rate to the fastest pace in decades. While some see this increase as a good economic sign, its increase actually had the effect of reducing real earnings by 2%. Even though unemployment fell in 2021, consumers became more alarmed by the drop in real wages according to surveys.

With money growth likely to slow even more sharply in response to tapering by the FOMC, the velocity of money in a major downward trend, coupled with increased global over-indebtedness, poor demographics and other headwinds at work, the faster observed inflation of last year should unwind noticeably in 2022.

Due to poor economic conditions in major overseas economies, 10- and 30-year government bond yields in Japan, Germany, France, and many other European countries are much lower than in the United States. Foreign investors will continue to be attracted to long-term U.S. Treasury bond yields. Investment in Treasury bonds should also have further appeal to domestic investors, as economic growth disappoints and inflation recedes in 2022.

Thanks to Lacy Hunt 

Thanks again to Lacy Hunt for another excellent Hoisington quarterly review. The above snips are just a small portion of the full article. 

As of this writing, the article is not yet posted for public viewing but should be available at the top link soon.

When Does the Sizzling Economy Hit a Recession Brick Wall?

I addressed many of the same points on January 17 in When Does the Sizzling Economy Hit a Recession Brick Wall?

I discuss productivity, demographics, and unproductive debt.

Something Happened

Something has happened in the last 30 years, which is different from the past,” says Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari.

Yes it has and the Fed is clueless as to what it is.

The answer is unproductive debt is a huge drag on the economy. And the Fed needs to keep interest rates low to support that debt. 

When Does Recession Hit?

If the Fed does get in three rate hikes in 2022, then 2023 or 2024. And it may not even take three hikes.

Also, please see China' Central Bank Cuts Interest Rates As Consumer Spending Dives

Few believe China GDP statistics.

China posts a GDP target and generally hits it despite questionable economic reports, electrical use, etc., and with a property sector implosion.

Slowing Global Economy

China did not decoupled from the global economy in 2007 and the US won't in 2022.

For discussion, please see US GDP Forecasts Stumble Then Take a Dive After Retail Sales Data.

Finally, please see The Fed Expects 6 Rate Hikes By End of 2023 - I Don't and You Shouldn't Either

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Thu, 01/20/2022 - 19:10

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Economics

Hotels: Occupancy Rate Down 3.5% Compared to Same Week in 2019

From CoStar: STR: Weekly US Hotel Revenue per Available Room Reaches Highest Level Since July 2019U.S. hotel performance increased from the previous week, according to STR‘s latest data through May 21.May 15-21, 2022 (percentage change from comparable …

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U.S. hotel performance increased from the previous week, according to STR‘s latest data through May 21.

May 15-21, 2022 (percentage change from comparable week in 2019*):

Occupancy: 68.6% (-3.5%)
• Average daily rate (ADR): $151.75 (+13.4%)
• Revenue per available room (RevPAR): $104.06 (+9.5%)

*Due to the pandemic impact, STR is measuring recovery against comparable time periods from 2019.
emphasis added
The following graph shows the seasonal pattern for the hotel occupancy rate using the four-week average.

Click on graph for larger image.

The red line is for 2022, black is 2020, blue is the median, and dashed light blue is for 2021.  Dashed purple is 2019 (STR is comparing to a strong year for hotels).

The 4-week average of the occupancy rate above the median rate for the previous 20 years (Blue).

Note: Y-axis doesn't start at zero to better show the seasonal change.

The 4-week average of the occupancy rate will mostly move sideways seasonally until the summer travel season.

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Economics

“This Is A Crucible Moment” – Sequoia’s Ominous Warning To Companies On How To “Avoid The Death Spiral”

"This Is A Crucible Moment" – Sequoia’s Ominous Warning To Companies On How To "Avoid The Death Spiral"

"This is not a time to panic. It is…

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"This Is A Crucible Moment" - Sequoia's Ominous Warning To Companies On How To "Avoid The Death Spiral"

"This is not a time to panic. It is a time to pause and reassess," begins the thought-provoking presentation from veteran venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.

But that's about as 'positive' as they get as the founders of the firm warn of a prolonged market downturn and urges the startups in its portfolio to preserve cash and brace for worse to come.

"We believe this is a Crucible Moment, one that will present challenges and opportunities for many of you. First and foremost, we must recognize the changing environment and shift our mindset to respond with intention rather than regret."

And in its somewhat ubiquitous historically grim outlooks (its "R.I.P Good Times" in 2008 and "Black Swan" memo in March 2020 have become legendary) don't expect a quick rescue and recovery this time.

"Sustained inflation, and geopolitical conflicts further limit the ability for a quick-fix policy solution. As such, we do not believe that this is going to be another steep correction followed by an equally swift V-shaped recovery, like we saw at the outset of the pandemic," the note said.

They argue that it will be "Survival of the Quickest"...

In particular, Sequoia urged companies to look at cutting projects, R&D, marketing, and other expenses, noting that companies should be ready to cut in the next 30 days.

"We expect the market downturn to impact consumer behaviour, labour markets, supply chains and more. It will be a longer recovery and while we can't predict how long, we can advise you on ways to prepare and get through to the other side," it said.

The founders/CEOs who face reality, adapt fast, have discipline rather than regret will not just survive, but win, noting that "It is easier to preserve cash when you have more than six months left. Recruiting is about to get easier. All the FANG have hiring freezes."

They conclude their presenttation by noting that:

"At Sequoia, we believe that the one who wins is the one most prepared."

In other words America, brace for capex cuts, hiring freezes to accelerate, and growth to evaporate.

*  *  *

Read the full presentation below:

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/26/2022 - 15:45

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Economics

Best Day For Discretionary Stocks Since COVID-Crash As Consumer Recession Bets Get Steamrolled

Best Day For Discretionary Stocks Since COVID-Crash As Consumer Recession Bets Get Steamrolled

A week ago, following dismal guidance by Walmart,…

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Best Day For Discretionary Stocks Since COVID-Crash As Consumer Recession Bets Get Steamrolled

A week ago, following dismal guidance by Walmart, Target indicated that it is seeing a shift in the consumer wallet away from the pandemic purchases and into reopening purchases - including apparel - and the pace of this shift caught some retailers off guard on inventory. WMT, COST, and TGT all saw their stocks fall sharply last week as investor concerns around a US consumer slowdown mounted and investors reconsidered just where, if anywhere, you can play "defense" in the current market.

But as Goldman's Chris Hussey writes today, this week, results from companies like DKS, Macy's, JWN, WSM, DLTR, and DG painted a decidedly different picture.

Deep discount retailers Dollar Tree - or rather Dollar 25 Tree - and Dollar General both posted strong results and DLTR raised top-line guidance.

Which isn't surprising: as we discussed in "Middle Class Is Shutting Down As Spending By The Rich Remains Robust" when consumers are trading down - as they are doing now due to Biden's runaway inflation - dollar stores see more business.

As a result, Dollar Tree surged as much as 20% on Thursday, the biggest intraday move since October 2020. Evercore ISI said Dollar Tree's move to a "$1.25 price point" last November from $1 “came in the nick of time" adding that "given the broad-based inflationary cost pressures, the 25% price increase drove material sales and margin upside for both the namesake division and the total company," wrote analyst Michael Montani who also said that while freight, transport, and labor headwinds are real, some of the pressure cited by Target last week was likely company specific.

The analyst concluded that the read-across from DG and DLTR is “favorable,” and it seems that the low-end consumer is “hanging in better than initially thought.” Or rather, the middle-class is getting crushed and it has no choice but to trade down to the cheapest retail outlets.

And with countless shorts having piled up and getting massively squeezed, the S&P 500 Consumer Discretionary Index today has risen as much as 5.6%, its best day since April 2020, as optimism on the health of the consumer returns following a string of better-than-expected earnings reports from retailers.

Top performers in the S5COND index include Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Norwegian Cruise, Caesars Entertainment and Carnival; the Discretionary Index is on pace for its best week since March 18, when the group climbed 9.3%; the index sank 7.4% as Walmart and Target reports spooked investors. The index is still down almost 30% YTD.

"Retail earnings are bullish.... with four blow-outs,” said Vital Knowledge’s Adam Crisafulli, referring to quarterly reports from Williams-Sonoma, Macy’s, Dollar General, and Dollar Tree.  “The overall retail industry is experiencing stark changes and the market is incorrectly conflating these shifts with underlying demand weakness when the actual health of the consumer is much better than it seems,” Crisafulli says, although there are many - this website included - who wholeheartedly disagree with his optimistic view of the US consumer.

Remarkably, thanks to today’s rally, even Burlington Stores, which sank as much as 12% in premarket on disappointing results, is trading up as much as 11% and some say, the rally helped reverse the earlier tumble in NVDA shares.

The discretionary group is also getting a boost from airline operators Southwest and JetBlue, helping travel-related names, while on the economic front, better-than-expected personal consumption (for the revised Q1 GDP print). and jobless claims may be adding to the bullishness according to Bloomberg.

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/26/2022 - 15:00

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