We Need To Keep The CFPB

George Yacik - INO.com Contributor - Fed & Interest Rates

President Trump’s first federal budget proposal got a lot of grief over the past week from both Republicans – some of whom say it’s “dead on arrival” – and Democrats – some of whom claim it’s actually going to kill people. But one small part of the plan got relatively little notice, maybe because it was on the next-to-last page of the document. That was the huge cuts proposed for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), essentially abolishing it in a few years.

The Trump proposal would cut the agency’s budget by $145 million in 2018, a one-year reduction of more than 20%, with the cuts increasing to more than $700 million by 2021, when it would essentially be defunded.

I think that would be a terrible mistake. For those of you who disagree, I have two words for you: Wells Fargo (WFC). Continue reading "We Need To Keep The CFPB"

The Fed Giveth and the Bullion Banks Taketh Away…

Precious metal expert Michael Ballanger breaks down the gold price roller coaster surrounding the Fed's decision not to raise interest rates.

Ballanger chart cover

Janet Yellen just blew all remaining semblances of credibility believed to be still present at the U.S. Federal Reserve Board.

We have all heard for the past month or so that the Fed was going to hike the Fed Funds rate at today's meeting, the anticipation of which caused a rally in the U.S. Dollar (USD) and a surge in stocks - all while the bond market was rallying in response to weakness in the macroeconomic environment.

Well, they didn't raise as predicted back in March because of "China weakness," so today they didn't hike because of "soft exports" and "vulnerabilities in the global economy" and "Brexit worries" and a host of other totally clueless hypothecations. But the bottom line is that they didn't hike because the ensuing dollar rally would impair the collateral that underpins the massive debts owed by governments and homeowners to the banks that hold that debt. Stocks reversed lower when it became clear that the Fed has absolutely zero control over the U.S. economy, and is now truly caught in the headlights because banks are getting killed with the yield curve this "flat," and since the Fed's shareholders ARE "the banks," it takes on an aura of the surreal. Continue reading "The Fed Giveth and the Bullion Banks Taketh Away…"

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Continued Weak Jobs Numbers Allow the Fed to Sit Tight

George Yacik - INO.com Contributor - Fed & Interest Rates

Was Friday's April jobs number good enough to get the Federal Reserve to start normalizing interest rates soon?

Based on the reaction of both the stock and bond markets, the answer is no. The increase was likely way too small to convince the data-paralyzed Fed that the economy has recovered enough to let it stand on its own feet. The sharp downward revision in the already lousy March figure only added to the case.

The jobs report – nonfarm payrolls rose 223,000 in April – was a lot better than March's report – which isn't saying a whole lot – but certainly not strong enough to worry investors that the Fed might see a reason to raise interest rates sooner than most now expect, which is either late this year or early 2016. Continue reading "Continued Weak Jobs Numbers Allow the Fed to Sit Tight"

Are We In A Boom Or A Bust?

George Yacik - INO.com Contributor - Fed & Interest Rates

This is the world we live in today: Stocks are priced as if the global economy is booming, while the bond market is priced as if we’re in a worldwide depression.

Nowhere is this truer than in Europe, where stocks are at or near record highs while yields on sovereign bonds are at record lows, below zero in many cases.

Of course, we’re neither in a boom or a bust. While we’re closer to the former in the U.S., we’re a lot closer to the latter in Europe. The bond market in Europe is telling us that the euro zone economy’s in the tank, which is much closer to reality, while the stock market there is now trading at a seven-year high. Continue reading "Are We In A Boom Or A Bust?"

Does the big GDP revision get us any closer to 'normal' rates?

George Yacik - INO.com Contributor - Fed & Interest Rates

Will Tuesday’s GDP upgrade to its fastest growth in more than 10 years nudge – or push – the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates earlier than Janet Yellen recently signaled, i.e., no earlier than the first quarter of next year?
Alas, probably not.

The final revised estimate for third quarter GDP showed the economy growing at a robust 5% annualized rate, the fastest pace in 11 years. That was far higher than the previous estimate of 3.9% and well above both the 4.3% rate the Street was looking for as well as the most optimistic individual forecast of 4.5%. It was also up from the second quarter’s growth rate of 4.6%.

Ninety minutes later, the Commerce Department came out with another report that showed personal spending rising 0.6% in November, the most in three months, while personal income gained 0.4%, the strongest pace in five months.

A week earlier, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association predicted that GDP growth would hit 3% next year, which it says “would be the strongest growth in nearly a decade.”

If this latest batch of strong economic news still doesn’t convince the Fed that it should start raising interest rates sooner than it indicated only a week before, we can only conclude that the Fed has lost sight of its statutory mandate, namely to “foster maximum employment and price stability.”

Instead, it has become how to best finesse its extrication from its near-zero interest rate policy and start raising rates without setting off a giant market selloff. So the easy thing to do, as most other major decisions are made in Washington, is to do nothing and deal with it later, whenever that is. Which of course by then the problem will have grown much worse and much more difficult to deal with.

At its FOMC monetary policy meeting the week before, the Fed said that it “judges that it can be patient” in normalizing monetary policy, adding that “it likely will be appropriate” to maintain its near zero target rate range for a Continue reading "Does the big GDP revision get us any closer to 'normal' rates?"