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Yellen Admits Inflation Is About To Surge, Says It Will Be A “Plus For Society”

Last week, when Biden released his $6 trillion budget, we asked if it was a joke that the BIden budget saw just 2.1% inflation in 2021 and 2022.

Is this a joke:

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Yellen Admits Inflation Is About To Surge, Says It Will Be A "Plus For Society"
Last week, when Biden released his $6 trillion budget, we asked if it was a joke that the BIden budget saw just 2.1% inflation in 2021 and 2022. Fast forward to this weekend, when Fed Chair Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen addressed our rhetorical concern, and following the G7 finmin meeting in London where the world's most advanced nations agreed to impose a 15% minimum corporate tax rate (with zero enforcement provisions), said that contrary to the Biden Budget, inflation could climb as high as 3% this year in what the WaPo said was "the first time the Biden administration projected what inflation could be through 2021", which by the way is dead wrong since Biden's budget just last week predicted only 2.1% CPI in 2021. What the pathologically misleading Bezos Post meant to say is that this was the first time the Biden administration actually told the truth about how high the galloping US inflation will rise. And the only reason it did so is that in a time when home prices - and pretty much all other prices - are soaring at the fastest pace in US history, adhering to the laughable 2.1% CPI forecast would crush the credibility of everyone in this progressive administration. Of course, the admission that inflation is about to turn red hot led to many other unpleasant questions that need to be answered, such as what will this to the economy, to purchasing intentions (which as we reported at the end of May just crashed the most on record), and last but not least, to the market, where the tiniest hint of inflation leads to immediate selloffs. So, scrambling to preempt the barrage of questions come Monday, on Sunday Janet Yellen said that even though inflation is now at the highest level since Paul Volcker hiked rates to 20% and the US is about to issue another $3 trillion or so in debt just to fund existing stimulus programs, Joe Biden should push forward with his $4 trillion spending plans even if they trigger inflation that persists into next year and higher interest rates. Why? Because soaring inflation is good for you. “If we ended up with a slightly higher interest rate environment it would actually be a plus for society’s point of view and the Fed’s point of view,” Yellen said in an interview with Bloomberg. And yes, she really said that. It wasn't immediately clear why rising rates, hence inflation and a drop in one's purchasing power is "a plus for society's point of view" but needless to say, this is the kind of idiotic drivel that Rudy von Havenstein and his cronies said some time in 1921, just around the time Weimer hyperinflation kicked in. The debate around inflation has intensified in recent months, between those who, like Yellen, argue that current price increases are being driven by transitory anomalies created by the pandemic -- such as supply-chain bottlenecks and a surge in spending as economies reopen -- and critics who say trillions in government aid will fuel a lasting spike in costs. Just to make sure there was no doubt which side of the argument Yellen is on, she said the recent rise in prices will subside and the U.S. labor market still has a ways to go before returning to pre-pandemic strength. “We’re seeing some inflation but I don’t believe it’s permanent,” Yellen said at a press conference Saturday after the G-7 finance meeting in London. “We at least on a year-over-year basis will continue, I believe, through the rest of the year to see higher inflation rates -- maybe around 3%." Yet even Yellen admitted that she could be wrong (narrator: "she is") and that officials are still watching price increases closely. “I don’t want to say this is mind absolutely made up and closed. We’ll watch this very carefully, keep an eye on it and try to address issues that arise if it turns out to be necessary,” she said, although again she added that personally she believes "this represents transitory factors,” and that "policy should look past such factors." Yellen also made it clear that even though the world is now more indebted than at any time since World War II, it is about to take on even more debt, because you see, it's contained: “There is a concern among some about fiscal sustainability and an evident desire to begin to withdraw accommodation when things are back on track,” Yellen said, eyeing her former democrat buddy Larry Summers who has emerged as one of the biggest critics of "Biden's trillions." Yellen dismissed his concerns simply by saying that "we think that most countries have fiscal space.” “I will not give up on the next packages,” Yellen said. “They’re not meant as stimulus, they’re meant as investments to address long-standing needs of our economy.” Yes, she really said that, and yes she better be right about the "transitory" inflation part because we are about to get a whole lot more of it. Biden’s packages would add up to roughly $400 billion in spending per year, Yellen said, contending that’s not enough to cause an inflation over-run. Any “spurt” in prices resulting from the rescue package will fade away next year.  And, if she is wrong, well... it will be someone else' problem to mop it up. And speaking of what's coming, keep in mind that last month we learned that headline CPI rose 4.2%, but it is the May print that could be an "absolute shocker", as discussed last week. Yet despite surging prices, and despite soaring wages, the Fed has committed to only begin scaling back the $120 billion monthly pace of its asset purchases after there’s “substantial further progress” on inflation and employment. It is unclear how much higher inflation should rise for the Fed to be happy, but one thing is clear: we are now at a point where the government's welfare handouts and weekly unemployment benefits are distorting the picture dramatically, and the job market is growing far below expectations precisely because of Biden's ruinous fiscal policies, policies that keep the Fed's QE in play even longer and assure that not only is the wealth divide the widest it has ever been, but that when inflation really hits, it will truly be an "AAAAAAH!!!" moment. But none of that is a concern to the phlegmatic 74-year-old: Yellen said that monetary policy makers can handle any potential rise in inflation if it sticks. “I know that world - they’re very good,” Yellen said in the interview. “I don’t believe they’re going to screw it up.” This is the same clueless hack who in 2017 said she doesn't expect another financial crisis in "our lifetimes."
Tyler Durden Sun, 06/06/2021 - 20:00

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Baltimore City Responds After Dozens Of Businesses Threaten Not To Pay Taxes

Baltimore City Responds After Dozens Of Businesses Threaten Not To Pay Taxes

This weekend, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) closed down multiple city streets around the Inner Harbor, in a stretch called "Fells Point," after dozens…

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Baltimore City Responds After Dozens Of Businesses Threaten Not To Pay Taxes

This weekend, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) closed down multiple city streets around the Inner Harbor, in a stretch called "Fells Point," after dozens of local businesses threatened the new city government, run by Mayor Brandon Scott, to not pay taxes because they're "fed up and frustrated" with the outburst of violence. 

Last week, 37 restaurants and small businesses sent a letter to the mayor's office titled "Letter to City Leaders From Fells Point Business Leaders." They threatened to stop paying city taxes and other fees until "basic and essential municipal services are restored." This comes as Madam State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby halted petty crimes during the pandemic and made such a measure permanent - the idea was to decrease violent crime, but that seems to have severely backfired.

What's happened in the historic bar strict is absolute mayhem at night, transformed into a dangerous area where violent and rowdy crowds have ruined the once pleasant atmosphere along with multiple shootings. 

So this weekend, BPD closed down streets around Fells Point, which includes parts of Aliceanna, Thames, and Bond streets.

In addition, Maryland State Police will conduct sobriety checkpoints in Fells Point. 

Local news WJZ13's Mike Hellgren tweets a couple of images of the increased police presence across Fells Point.

One of the 37 concerned business owners on the list is Bill Packo, who owns Barley's Backyard and has been operating in Fells Point for three decades. He spoke with WJZ13 about the out of control violence and public drunkenness:

"It's a shame. What they're letting happen to Fells Point is what they let happen in the Inner Harbor, and now it has made its way here," Packo said. "There's alcohol being sold by individuals out there, drugs, and clearly we all know about the shootings that took place last weekend. But there needs to be some control out there. There is none whatsoever."

BPD's mobile police command was spotted outside another shop in the bar district. It looks very dystopic. 

Meanwhile, Scott, who was newly elected, skipped out on the virtual community town hall meeting on Thursday at 7 p.m that was to address the issues in Fells Point. 

Packo called out Scott for not attending the meeting: 

"It's an embarrassment to the city. It's an embarrassment to the mayor no matter what the schedule was," he said.

Again, as we've said before, the chaos in Fells Point comes as the city descends into what could be the most violent period ever. Mosby has halted police officers going after petty crimes that have inadvertently backfired. Another liberal-run town with good intentions in policies not exactly panning out as they thought. 

Local news WMAR2's Eddie Kadhim interviewed a man who summed up the city's response in Fells Point: 

Another man said the violent crime in low-income neighborhoods is just spilling over into the downtown area. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/12/2021 - 15:00

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Visualizing The History Of US Inflation Over 100 Years

Visualizing The History Of US Inflation Over 100 Years

Is inflation rising?

The consumer price index (CPI), an index used as a proxy for inflation in consumer prices, offers some answers. In 2020, inflation dropped to 1.4%, the lowest rate..

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Visualizing The History Of US Inflation Over 100 Years

Is inflation rising?

The consumer price index (CPI), an index used as a proxy for inflation in consumer prices, offers some answers. In 2020, inflation dropped to 1.4%, the lowest rate since 2015. By comparison, inflation sits around 5.0% as of June 2021.

Given how the economic shock of COVID-19 depressed prices, rising price levels make sense. However, as Visual Capitalist's Dorothy Neufeld notes, other variables, such as a growing money supply and rising raw materials costs, could factor into rising inflation.

To show current price levels in context, this Markets in a Minute chart from New York Life Investments shows the history of inflation over 100 years.

U.S. Inflation: Early History

Between the founding of the U.S. in 1776 to the year 1914, one thing was for sure - wartime periods were met with high inflation.

At the time, the U.S. operated under a classical Gold Standard regime, with the dollar’s value tied to gold. During the Civil War and World War I, the U.S. went off the Gold Standard in order to print money and finance the war. When this occurred, it triggered inflationary episodes, with prices rising upwards of 20% in 1918.

However, when the government returned to a modified Gold Standard, deflationary periods followed, leading prices to effectively stabilize, on average, leading up to World War II.

The Move to Bretton Woods

Like post-World War I, the Great Depression of the 1930s coincided with deflationary pressures on prices. Due to the rigidity of the monetary system at the time, countries had difficulty increasing money supply to help boost their economy. Many countries exited the Gold Standard during this time, and by 1933 the U.S. abandoned it completely.

A decade later, with the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1944, global currency exchange values pegged to the dollar, while the dollar was pegged to gold. The U.S. held the majority of gold reserves, and the global reserve currency transitioned from the sterling pound to the dollar.

1970’s Regime Change

By 1971, the ability for gold to cover the supply of U.S. dollars in circulation became an increasing concern.

Leading up to this point, a surplus of money supply was created due to military expenses, foreign aid, and others. In response, President Richard Nixon abandoned the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1971 for a floating exchange, known as the “Nixon shock”. Under a floating exchange regime, rates fluctuate based on supply and demand relative to other currencies.

A few years later, oil shocks of 1973 and 1974 led inflation to soar past 12%. By 1979, inflation surged in excess of 13%.

The Volcker Era

In 1979, Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker was sworn in, and he introduced stark changes to combat inflation that differed from previous regimes.

Instead of managing inflation through interest rates, which the Federal Reserve had done previously, inflation would be managed through controlling the money supply. If the money supply was limited, this would cause interest rates to increase.

While interest rates jumped to 20% in 1980, by 1983 inflation dropped below 4% as the economy recovered from the recession of 1982, and oil prices rose more moderately. Over the last four decades, inflation levels have remained relatively stable since the measures of the Volcker era were put in place.

Fluctuating Prices Over History

Throughout U.S. history. there have been periods of high inflation.

As the chart below illustrates, at least four distinct periods of high inflation have emerged between 1800 and 2010. The GDP deflator measurement shown accounts for the price change of all of an economy’s goods and services, as opposed to the CPI index which is a fixed basket of goods.

It is measured as GDP Price Deflator = (Nominal GDP ÷ Real GDP) × 100.

According to this measure, inflation hit its highest levels in the 1910s, averaging nearly 8% annually over the decade. Between 1914 and 1918 money supply doubled to finance war efforts, compared to a 25% increase in GDP during this period.

U.S. Inflation: Present Day

As the U.S. economy reopens, consumer demand has strengthened.

Meanwhile, supply bottlenecks, from semiconductor chips to lumber, are causing strains on automotive and tech industries. While this points towards increasing inflation, some suggest that it may be temporary, as prices were depressed in 2020.

At the same time, the Federal Reserve is following an “average inflation targeting” regime, which means that if a previous inflation shortfall occurred in the previous year, it would allow for higher inflationary periods to make up for them. As the last decade has been characterized by low inflation and low interest rates, any prolonged period of inflation will likely have pronounced effects on investors and financial markets.

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/12/2021 - 19:00

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Visualizing The Biggest Companies In The World In 2021

Visualizing The Biggest Companies In The World In 2021

Since the COVID-19 crash, global equity markets have seen a strong recovery. The 100 biggest companies in the world were worth a record-breaking $31.7 trillion as of March 31 2021,…

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Visualizing The Biggest Companies In The World In 2021

Since the COVID-19 crash, global equity markets have seen a strong recovery. The 100 biggest companies in the world were worth a record-breaking $31.7 trillion as of March 31 2021, up 48% year-over-year. As a point of comparison, the combined GDP of the U.S. and China was $35.7 trillion in 2020.

In today’s graphic, Visual Capitalist's Jenna Ross uses PwC data to show the world’s biggest businesses by market capitalization, as well as the countries and sectors they are from.

The Top 100, Ranked

PwC ranked the largest publicly-traded companies by their market capitalization in U.S. dollars. It’s also worth noting that sector classification is based on the FTSE Russell Industry Classification Benchmark, and a company’s location is based on where its headquarters are located.

Within the ranking, there was a wide disparity in value. Apple was worth over $2 trillion, more than 16 times that of Anheuser-Busch (AB InBev), which took the 100th spot at $128 billion.

In total, 59 companies were headquartered in the United States, making up 65% of the top 100’s total market capitalization. China and its regions was the second most common location for company headquarters, with 14 companies on the list.

Risers and Fallers

What are some of the notable changes to the biggest companies in the world compared to last year’s ranking?

Tesla’s market capitalization surged by an eye-watering 565%, temporarily making Elon Musk the richest person in the world. Food delivery platform Meituan and PayPal benefited from growing e-commerce popularity with their market capitalizations growing by 221% and 151% respectively.

Tech companies TSMC and ASML Holdings were also among the top 10 risers, thanks to a shortage of semiconductor chips and growing demand.

On the other end of the scale, Swiss companies Nestlé, Novartis, and Roche Holding were all among the bottom 10 companies by market capitalization growth. China Mobile was the only company to decline with a -12% change. The company was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange as a result of an executive order issued by former president Donald Trump, and recently announced its intention to list on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

A Sector View

Across the 100 biggest companies in the world, some sectors had higher weightings.

Technology had the highest market capitalization and was also the most common sector, with Big Tech dominating the top 10. Companies in the consumer discretionary, financials, and health care sectors also had a strong representation in the ranking.

Despite having only five companies on the list, the energy sector amounted to almost 10% of the top 100’s market capitalization, mostly due to Saudi Aramco’s whopping valuation.

An Uncertain Recovery

From near market lows on March 31, 2020, all sectors saw increases in their market capitalization. However, top 100 companies in some sectors outperformed their respective industry index, while others did not.

Basic materials and industrials, both cyclical sectors, were high performers in the top 100 and outperformed their respective industry indexes. Technology companies also outperformed, and accounted for $255 billion or 31% of all shareholder distributions by the top 100, far more than any other sector. Apple alone spent $73 billion on share buybacks and $14 billion in dividends in the 2020 calendar year.

On the other hand, the worst-performing sectors in the top 100 were health care, utilities, and energy. While the index performance for health care and utilities was also relatively poor, the wider energy sector performed fairly well.

It’s perhaps not surprising that all sectors saw positive returns since their low levels in March 2020, buoyed by fiscal stimulus and central bank policies. As countries begin to reopen, will the value of the biggest companies in the world continue to climb?

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/12/2021 - 23:00

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