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The Fed Is Wrong Again: Core Inflation Rapidly Rolling Over And Will Drop To 3% By Q1

The Fed Is Wrong Again: Core Inflation Rapidly Rolling Over And Will Drop To 3% By Q1

The Fed was dead wrong for the past decade in perpetuating…

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The Fed Is Wrong Again: Core Inflation Rapidly Rolling Over And Will Drop To 3% By Q1

The Fed was dead wrong for the past decade in perpetuating QE long after the economic crisis had passed, but especially in 2020 and 2021 when it saw nothing but transitory inflation, and refused to step in an contain soaring prices which we are seeing today everywhere in action. And the Fed is also dead wrong now in its crusade to crush inflation - as it confirmed today when it hiked 75bps and telegraphed another 145bps of rate hikes - even if it means a grave recession.

Why is the Fed wrong again? Because besides sliding commodity prices (which will very likely soar in the very near future, especially once winter arrives in Europe and once Biden's drain of the SPR is over), the bulk of core CPI components - and certainly some of the biggest drivers such as shelter, cars and airfares are rolling over fast.

That's according to a new report by JPM's Phoebe White (full note available to pro subs here), who writes that she forecasts a material softening in inflation across all of the components that have been the largest contributors of core inflation over the past year—not only vehicle prices, but rents, medical care services, and airfares as well—and last week’s hot CPI report does not change this view.

At a high level, we have seen a continued rotation in the composition of core inflation over recent months, with core services inflation accelerating from 3.7% Y/Y as of December 2021 to 6.1% as of August 2022, while core goods inflation has decelerated from 10.7% to 7.1%. Notably, even while core goods inflation continues to run hotter than core services inflation, services receive nearly triple the weight in the calculation of the core index, with the rent components alone comprising more than 40% of the basket (Exhibit 1).  Thus, it is clear to see why rent inflation, which has accelerated above 6% Y/Y in recent months, is the largest contributor to core CPI inflation as of the August report: Exhibit 2 shows that the two rent measures, owners’ equivalent rent and rent of primary residence, account for 1.9%-pts and 0.7%-pts, respectively.

Let's drill down into the data, starting start with rent inflation - which is the largest contributor to Core Inflation - and which the JPM analyst expects to peak in the next few months and roll over.  Why? Take the Zillow Observed Rent Index which like the Apartment list price index (which we have discussed countless times especially when it was soaring higher), tends to lead the CPI rent measures, and this index has been softening recently.

And while JPM expects shelter inflation to break above 7% Y/Y by early next year - due to its several month delay from real-world prices - the bank also expects the pace of monthly gains to peak within the next few months. The rate of increases in the Zillow Observed Rent Index, which measures asking rents on new leases, peaked above 17% in February, but has softened to 12%
oya as of August—a notable softening, albeit still elevated versus the ~4% average pace observed prior to the pandemic. Unlike the Zillow data, the rent components in CPI track average rents across both new and existing leases. Thus fluctuations in the Zillow index slowly pass-through to official measures as the stock of leases begins to resemble the recent flow of new leases, with each percentage-point increase in the Zillow rent index preceding a 0.6%-pt cumulative increase in shelter CPI .

To be sure, one complicating dynamic that we have been highlighting is the fact that tighter monetary policy could temporarily exacerbate rental inflationary pressure, as high mortgage rates discourage home-buying. Indeed, now that no new home buyer reliant on a mortgage can possibly afford a house, they will likely have no choice but to find a rental. On the other hand, there is a limit to how high rents can go simply as a function of disposable income: outside of the top income cohort, JPM finds that rent affordability is already stretched, implying it will be difficult for rent inflation to sustain rates much above the pace of wage growth. And once neither housing nor rent is affordable, well then it becomes a political issue and Democrats will scream bloody murder - as Liz Warren already did today - and will demand Powell to start cutting rates.

Away from rents, new and used vehicles have had the next largest contributions to core CPI. And with demand softening, supply constraints easing, and raw material costs falling, JPM thinks declines in used vehicle prices are on the near-term horizon. Declines in new vehicle prices are likely to follow in 2023. In fact, the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index, which measures the prices dealerships pay for used cars at auctions, has declined since its peak in January, with the index falling 4% in August alone, and another 2.3% over the first half of September.

When will this slowdown appear in official data: as chart 5 illustrates, the pass-through from the Mannheim index to the BLS data exhibits a 1-3 month lag, making it somewhat difficult to forecast the precise timing of inflections in the used vehicle CPI. Looking ahead, JPM expects the trend of falling used vehicle prices to continue over coming months: Chart 6 shows that the J.P Morgan Automotive Commodities Index is now down 35%, reflecting the cost-weighted average price of the commodities used to manufacture a vehicle. Used vehicle prices tend to be more sensitive to raw commodity costs compared with new vehicles, given that scrap value reflects a greater share of the overall price of a used vehicle.

The component with the next largest contributions to core CPI inflation is airline fares which is one of the more highly volatile categories of inflation. The still-high rate of airfare inflation on a year-ago basis reflects the surge observed through the spring alongside rising jet fuel prices, but this component has fallen by more than 14% since its peak in May, with prices likely to be somewhat more stable going forward.

Finally, the recent surge in health insurance inflation likely reflects, at least in part, the drop in insurance claims over a year ago, given the “retained earnings” methodology that BLS uses to calculate this component. Some utilization metrics are now tracking in line with pre-pandemic levels

Overall, when taking a deeper look at the largest contributors to core CPI inflation over the past year, JPMorgan sees clear evidence that core inflation is peaking and is likely to moderate fairly quickly on a sequential basis over the near term, falling from 6.5% in the three months through August, to about a 3.5% SAAR pace in 1Q 23 and just 3.1% in 2Q23, or essentially in line with the Fed' target.

To be sure, the longer it takes for these dynamics to play out, the greater the risks that high inflation could become more ingrained. However, what is even more relevant is that the latest hawkish rate hike by the Fed - which guarantees that the Fed overshoots, driving a more material weakening in demand and triggering a recession — will certainly lead to even softer inflation. In other words, if the Fed halts its tightening campaign here, not only will core prices drop to where the Fed wants them, but a recession may even be averted. However, if Powell continues blindingly to hike, a crushing recession is virtually guaranteed. And since the Fed is always wrong about everything, the worst case scenario is now in play.

Much more in the full report available to pro subs in the usual place.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/21/2022 - 20:00

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Economics

Cities With Good Neighbors Have Lower-Than-Average Home Values

New York’s Rochester was identified took the top spot as the most neighborly city in the country.

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New York's Rochester was identified took the top spot as the most neighborly city in the country.

Many want the kind of neighbor who will stop by with fresh-baked cookies, offer gardening tips and take out the mail while they're away — a thing that, if you live in an urban mecca like New York, is just as likely as finding a spacious apartment that's available and within budget.

In honor of National Neighbor Day on Sept. 28, self-storage company Neighbor.com identified Rochester in the Finger Lakes region of New York state as the most neighborly city in the country.

The study analyzed both big and small cities through factors such as resident happiness levels and number of people volunteering their time to the community.

"It's not a surprise that Rochester is the most neighborly city this year, it's made this list each year," Joseph Woodbury, CEO and co-founder of Neighbor.com, said of the findings. "Oftentimes, we connect hospitality with small cities, but you’ll find that people in large cities are just as likely to go out of their way to help one another."

Correlation Between Neighborliness and Home Values

While Federal Reserve economic data pegs the median price of homes sold in 2022 at $428,000, the median list price identified by Realtor.com for Rochester is $150,000. 

Madison, Wis., and Provo, Utah followed Rochester as the most "neighborly" cities in the U.S. and have respective median list prices of $360,000 and $495,000.

Along with Provo, California's Oxnard breaks the list's mold with its high real estate prices — amid proximity to the beach (the city is about 60 miles from Los Angeles) and quaint Victoria architecture, the city has a median list price of $794,500.

Getty Images

Other cities on the list generally fall below the national average for a standard single-family home. Grand Rapids in Michigan has a median list price of $307,500 while that number is only $175,000 in Milwaukee, Wis.

Harrisburg, Pa., and Des Moines, Iowa are two other neighborly cities with respective list prices of $215,000 and $227,500. 

Good neighbors have long been a hallmark of smaller cities with a quieter way of life — metropolises like New York and Los Angeles have very high property values, they are not exactly known for being "friendly" or "welcoming."

With a median list price of $495,000, North Carolina's Raleigh is the largest city to make the list.

Those who think New Yorkers are unfriendly need only to look outside the five boroughs — with a median list price of $334,000, Poughkeepsie also made the list for its neighborliness.

Search For the Next Big Real Estate City

As sleepy towns that paint a TV image of "neighborliness" tend to have lower demand, they may not offer the kind of real estate growth potential that many investors are specifically looking for. 

But exceptions do exist — many small cities are currently in the midst of a real estate boon and, subsequently, an explosion in real estate values.

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According to the study's authors, many homebuyers looking to move have specifically started looking for "friendlier" cities after the pandemic and are driving up demand for formerly quiet places.

Realtor.com identified Utah's Salt Lake City, Idaho's Boise and Washington state's Spokane as 2022's fastest-growing real estate markets.

"Being neighborly goes beyond a friendly wave while driving down the street or offering to water plants while on vacation," Woodbury said. "To be neighborly is opening yourself up to building relationships and ultimately a community that is rooted in compassion, trust, and care."

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Economics

Here’s Why Your Boss May Reject Your Business Travel Request

People are taking vacations again, but a once dominant travel sector is struggling to recover.

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People are taking vacations again, but a once dominant travel sector is struggling to recover.

Now that vaccines are readily available and President Joe Biden has declared that the pandemic is officially over, people are flying again. But they’re really not happy about it.

The research firm J.D. Power found that last year, when the airline industry first started to cautiously rebound, consumer satisfaction with airports reached an all-time high. But this was very likely both because of a relatively smaller sample size and that so many people were happy to fly again that they were willing to overlook a lot of what has become headache-inducing about modern airfare travel.

J.D. Power  (JD) - Get JD.com Inc. Report has found that this year, global passenger levels are nearly back up to 91% of pre-pandemic levels. 

Customer satisfaction has dropped sharply, 25 points on a 1,000-point scale, to 777, as more people have returned to airports, for reasons ranging from an increase in flight cancellations and delays to inflation-driven increases in the cost of airport food.

But while airlines are aware that customers aren’t happy, and that the Biden Administration might try to right the ship with proposals that airlines likely won’t care for, at least people are flying again.

But an additional survey by J.D. Power has revealed that while people are flying again, traveling for business (be it for in-person meetings or industry conferences), has been lagging behind and recovering at nearly the rate of traveling for pleasure. 

Is Traveling for Business on the Way Out?

J.D. Power’s research has found that many travelers doubt that travel levels will increase dramatically from where they are now, and that “a strong majority of executives believe their companies will spend less in the next six months compared to the same period in 2019, for instance, due to things like fewer trips overall or fewer employees sent when there is a trip scheduled,” according to their data.

Overall, business travel has returned to “about 81% of 2019 levels,” notes Managing Director Michael Taylor. “83% was our prediction for this quarter, we’ll see how well we did in a few weeks and add a predication for Q4.”

J.D. Power

Fears of recession and the rising costs of air tickets from inflation play a factor in the decline of business travel. But overall, the main reason is that many of us have gotten so used to working at home that two-thirds of employees would rather find a new job than go back to the pre-pandemic status quo. If employees feel they can get work done from home and don’t feel like braving traffic to return to the office, why would they feel they need to get on a plane?

So have services like Zoom (ZM) - Get Zoom Video Communications Inc. Report and Slack made the business trip redundant? Taylor has his doubts.

“But will people be meeting exclusively in the 'Metaverse' rather than in person? I do not think that will happen,” he says. “There is too much information to be gathered in face-to-face meetings, spoken and unspoken, to be replaced completely by virtual ‘reality.’”

Getty Images

So is This It for Business Travel?

Back in the heady pre-pandemic days three years ago, airlines could rely on the extra income from people whose jobs entailed a great deal of travel, and who had come to the realization that if they were going to spend a chunk of their lives on the road, they could splurge to make it a more comfortable experience. 

But if airlines want this sector to return, Taylor thinks it’s their duty to make it a more appealing option, because frequent delays and other headaches are enough to make anyone stick to Zoom.

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Airlines, Taylor says, must “create more of a “living room” experience for travelers, one that “makes travelers feel valued as patrons of the airlines, and makes people feel like individuals rather than cattle.”

Because while it’s hard to argue with the convenience, Taylor insists there is still something to be said for the occasional in-person meeting. 

“Millenia of evolution in mankind has created an awareness that can’t be described with words on a page or pixels on a screen,” he says. “People will still find advantages in meeting in-person rather than online.”

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Economics

Cambridge Bancorp Announces Receipt of Regulatory Approvals to Merge with Northmark Bank and Anticipated Closing Date

Cambridge Bancorp Announces Receipt of Regulatory Approvals to Merge with Northmark Bank and Anticipated Closing Date
PR Newswire
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 28, 2022

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Cambridge Bancorp (NASDAQ: CATC), th…

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Cambridge Bancorp Announces Receipt of Regulatory Approvals to Merge with Northmark Bank and Anticipated Closing Date

PR Newswire

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Cambridge Bancorp (NASDAQ: CATC), the parent company for Cambridge Trust Company ("Cambridge Trust"), today announced all regulatory approvals relating to the proposed merger between Cambridge Trust and Northmark Bank have been received. The shareholders of Northmark Bank approved the merger at a special meeting held on August 31, 2022.  The anticipated closing date of the merger is October 1, 2022, subject to the satisfaction of other closing conditions.

About Cambridge Bancorp

Cambridge Bancorp, the parent company of Cambridge Trust Company, is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cambridge Trust Company is a 132-year-old Massachusetts chartered commercial bank with approximately $5.1 billion in assets at June 30, 2022, and a total of 19 Massachusetts and New Hampshire locations. Cambridge Trust Company is one of New England's leaders in private banking and wealth management with $4.0 billion in client assets under management and administration at June 30, 2022. The Wealth Management group maintains offices in Boston and Wellesley, Massachusetts and Concord, Manchester, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Forward-looking Statements 

Certain statements herein may constitute "forward-looking statements" as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements about the Company and its industry involve substantial risks and uncertainties. Statements other than statements of current or historical fact, including statements regarding the Company's future financial condition, results of operations, business plans, liquidity, cash flows, projected costs, the impact of any laws or regulations applicable to the Company, and measures being taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Company's business are forward-looking statements. Words such as "anticipates," "believes," "estimates," "expects," "forecasts," "intends," "plans," "projects," "may," "will," "should," and other similar expressions are intended to identify these forward-looking statements. Such statements are subject to factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from anticipated results. Such factors include, but are not limited to, the following: the businesses of Cambridge and Northmark may not be combined successfully, or such combination may take longer to accomplish than expected; the cost savings from the merger may not be fully realized or may take longer to realize than expected; operating costs, customer loss and business disruption following the merger, including adverse effects on relationships with employees, may be greater than expected; changes to interest rates; the ability to control costs and expenses; the current global economic uncertainty and economic conditions being less favorable than expected; disruptions to the credit and financial markets; changes in the Company's accounting policies or in accounting standards; weakness in the real estate market; legislative, regulatory, or accounting changes that adversely affect the Company's business and/or competitive position; the Dodd-Frank Act's consumer protection regulations; the duration and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on levels of consumer confidence; actions that governments, businesses and individuals take in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and actions taken in response to the pandemic on global and regional economies and economic activity; a prolonged resurgence in the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic due to variants and mutations of the virus; the pace of recovery when the COVID-19 pandemic subsides; disruptions in the Company's ability to access the capital markets; and other factors that are described in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year end December 31, 2021, which the Company filed on March 14, 2022. The Company does not undertake, and specifically disclaims any obligation, to publicly release the result of any revisions which may be made to any forward-looking statements to reflect the occurrence of anticipated or unanticipated events or circumstances after the date of such statements. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.

CONTACT:
Cambridge Bancorp
Michael F. Carotenuto
Chief Financial Officer
617-520-5520

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SOURCE Cambridge Bancorp

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