Inflation - Getting Back To Normal

George Yacik - Contributor - Fed & Interest Rates -

So now, suddenly, out of nowhere, inflation has reared its ugly head, and the financial markets are starting to believe it.

On Wednesday the Labor Department reported that the consumer price index rose a higher than expected 0.5% in January, 2.1% compared to the year-earlier period. The all-important core rate, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 0.3% for the month, 1.8% versus a year ago. While not exactly hitting the Federal Reserve’s revered 2.0% annual inflation target, it was apparently close enough to create more jitters in the bond market, with the yield on the U.S. Treasury’s benchmark 10-year note immediately climbing seven basis points to 2.91%, its highest level in more than four years.

The very next day, Labor reported that the core producer price index rose 0.4% for the month and 2.2% year-on-year, which pushed up the yield on the 10-year another basis point, to 2.92%.

I’m not exactly sure why this recent surge in inflation should come as such a big surprise to anyone, but it surely has, witness the tremendous amount of volatility in the financial markets in just the past two weeks. The tipping point seems to have been the release of the January jobs report, the highlight of which wasn’t the change in nonfarm payrolls and the unemployment rate, which they usually are, but the 0.3% (2.9% annualized) growth in wages, which was the strongest year-over-year gain since June 2009.

That seemed to finally catch everyone’s attention that yes, contrary to what the Fed has been telling us for the past four years, inflation really does exist. Now we have more verification. And it’s probably only going to exacerbate.

And who do we have to thank for this new-found inflation? Continue reading "Inflation - Getting Back To Normal"

The Fed's Gift of Free Money: Return to Sender

By Elliott Wave International

On June 2, the postman rang once -- and, boy, did he ring.

That day, the Wall Street Journal published a strongly worded letter titled, "Grand Central: A Letter to Stingy American Consumers," which included these notable passages:

"Dear American Consumer,

"This is the Wall Street Journal. We're writing to ask if something is bothering you. The sun shined in April and you didn't spend much money. The Commerce Department here in Washington says your spending didn't increase at all, adjusted for inflation last month, compared to March.

"You've been saving more too. You socked away 5.6% of your income in April after taxes, even more than in March. This saving is not like you. What's up?

"Fed officials want to start raising the cost of your borrowing because they worry they've been giving you a free ride for too long with zero interest rates. We listen to Fed officials all of the time here at The Wall Street Journal, and they just can't figure you out."

Well, on behalf of the "stingy American consumer," we'd like to answer this letter to best of our ability. Continue reading "The Fed's Gift of Free Money: Return to Sender"

Good News and Bad News

If you follow our blog, then you are definitely familiar with trader Larry Levin, President of Trading Advantage LLC. We have gotten such a great response from some of his past posts that he has agreed to share one more of his favorite trading tips as a special treat to our viewers. Determining the direction of the market can be tricky and just plain confusing at times, but Larry’s expert opinion keeps it simple.

If you like this article, Larry’s also agreed to give you free access to his Weekly Trading Tip.

One of the biggest moments for the markets can come when there is a key news release or fresh fundamental data. Buyers and sellers seem to wrestle with the potential outcome, and in the case of larger announcements, volatility goes through the roof. The problem that I see some traders struggle with is knowing what news to look for, and how to trade it. Continue reading "Good News and Bad News"

Deflationary Straw Man

No matter the debates over inflation vs. deflation, increasing employment vs. sound monetary policy or systemic health vs. fragility (and whatever else is flying around in Jackson Hole this week), the CPI marches onward and upward.  That is the system and it is predicated on creating enough money out of thin air while inflation signals are (somehow) held at bay.

The Straw Man* in this argument lives in the idea that inflation is not always destructive, that inflation can be used for good and honed, massaged and targeted just right to achieve positive ends to defeat the curse of deflation that is surely just around the next corner.  Currently, the Straw Man is supported by the reality of the moment, which includes long-term Treasury yields remaining in their long-term secular down trend.

Indeed, right here at this very site was displayed much doubt about the promotion having to do with the “Great Rotation” out of bonds and into stocks (i.e. that the yield would break the red dotted EMA 100 this time).  We noted it right at that last red arrow on the Continuum© below.  Now, with commodity indexes right at critical support and precious metals not far from their own, the time is now if a match is going to be put to that dry old Straw Man and silver is going to out perform gold, inflation expectations barometers (TIPS vs. unprotected T bonds) are going to turn up and the Continuum is going to find support.



People argue over inflation’s effects and the expectations thereof but the CPI, which is the ultimate measure of inflation’s lagging effects, has never stopped to take a breather.  2008′s liquidation of the system?  Child’s play.  Inflation, which is what the Fed has been hysterically promoting since 2007, will always manifest in rising prices somewhere.  As luck would have it, this time it is manifesting in the stock market to a greater degree than the CPI.  ‘All good!’ think our policy makers if the right prices are rising. Continue reading "Deflationary Straw Man"