Trump To GOP: Drop Dead

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


As much as I don’t like the fact that President Trump had to make a deal with the Devils – i.e., Democrats – to reach a temporary budget agreement, he did the only sensible thing he could do to avoid a government shutdown. He was able to increase the government’s borrowing limit and get emergency aid for Hurricane Harvey victims, all in one fell swoop.

Rather than wait around for the do-nothing Republicans in Congress to, well, do nothing, Trump agreed to a deal with the likes of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to at least get something done that needed to be done quickly. Was it the deal he really wanted? No. Was it the best deal? Probably not. Was it the best deal he could get right now under the circumstances? Probably. That’s politics.

But it might lead to bigger, better and more important agreements down the road, most immediately tax reform, and that was more likely Trump’s primary goal. He knew he couldn’t rely on Republicans for that. Continue reading "Trump To GOP: Drop Dead"

Fed Can't Backtrack On Regulatory Reforms

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


I’ve been pretty harsh in this column on Federal Reserve monetary policy, but the one area that I haven’t written much about– financial regulation – is probably the main area where the Fed does deserve a lot of credit.

In her speech at the Jackson Hole symposium late last week, Fed Chair Janet Yellen probably disappointed a lot of market watchers for her failure to talk about interest rates or unwinding the Fed’s balance sheet. Instead, she spent most of her speech defending the Fed’s actions in the regulatory realm in the wake of the global financial crisis and pushed back against critics who want to roll back those regulations, including President Trump, who vowed that he wants to “do a big number” on Dodd-Frank.

If Yellen wants to be reappointed to her position by Trump when it ends in February, she certainly didn’t sound like it. Then again, making comments in opposition to Trump is hardly a heroic stance.

Still, she deserves credit for defending the Fed’s position on bank regulation, and the next Fed chair, whether it’s Yellen, Gary Cohn, or someone else, should stick with the current policy, which will go a long way toward keeping our banking system safe and secure and make sure that the global financial crisis doesn’t repeat itself. After all, if you can’t trust keeping your money in a bank, nothing else matters. Continue reading "Fed Can't Backtrack On Regulatory Reforms"

S&P 500: Any Juice Left?

Lior Alkalay - INO.com Contributor


The S&P 500 (CME:SP500) closed for the week at 2,472.10, after hitting an all-time record, after gaining 10.5% year-to-date. The S&P’s forward Price-to-Earnings ratio, a key ratio for investors, is 17.8 above the 10-year average of 14. And this brings up the inevitable pondering; is there any juice left in the S&P 500?

In searching for an answer, the intuitive starting point might be the S&P’s valuation. We’ve already pointed out that the S&P 500 is trading at a high valuation compared to its 10-year average. Furthermore, according to Factset research, earnings for the 500 companies which comprise the S&P 500 are expected to rise by 9.3% as compared to 9.26% in 2016. Now, while that is a solid figure, it also suggests earnings growth is not accelerating and may even suggest the acceleration in earnings growth is over. And if earnings growth is likely to decelerate in the coming years it cannot account for the S&P500’s 17.8 PE ratio. So, there’s no valid reason why the S&P’s valuation would be the catalyst for another surge. Why not? Simply because it's too high. In fact, the real catalyst isn’t within the S&P500 or even within the stock market; instead, the real reason lies within the Bond market. Continue reading "S&P 500: Any Juice Left?"

Has Yellen Become A Dove Again?

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


Janet Yellen’s equivocal remarks at last week’s semi-annual Congressional testimony certainly might make you believe that a rate hike at the Federal Reserve’s July 25-26 meeting is hardly a sure thing. Indeed, the odds of that happening are a lot less than 50-50. A lot less.

In her testimony, Yellen remained confident in her previous declarations that inflation would gradually rise to the Fed’s 2% target. “It’s premature to reach the judgment that we’re not on the path to 2% inflation over the next couple of years,” she said. But then she quickly hedged her bets. “We’re watching this very closely and stand ready to adjust our policy if it appears that the inflation undershoot will be persistent,” she said.

Based on the past several months’ worth of inflation statistics, one would have a tough time arguing that lower-than-expected inflation hasn’t become “persistent.” Last month’s consumer price index was unchanged from May and up only 1.6% versus a year earlier, the fourth straight decline by that measurement. That followed May’s personal-consumption expenditures index, the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, which fell 0.1%. The core index, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.1%, but just 1.4% on a year-to-year basis, well below the Fed’s target rate and lower than at the beginning of the year. Continue reading "Has Yellen Become A Dove Again?"

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

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


Last week Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell joined the chorus of prominent industry leaders and government officials calling for reform of the American housing finance system, namely by reducing the government’s role in the business and bringing in more private capital.

Some questioned why Powell should speak on this subject, given that – as he told his American Enterprise Institute audience –the Fed “is not charged with designing or evaluating proposals for housing finance reform.” Still, he pointed out, “we are responsible for regulating and supervising banking institutions to ensure their safety and soundness, and more broadly for the stability of the financial system.” Besides, he noted, he was expressing his own personal views on the subject, not necessarily the Feds.

But what caught the attention of a lot of people, including myself, was the sense of urgency for reform that Powell claimed existed. Continue reading "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is"