It’s probably best to read the article first and then circle back to this edit.
Upon completing the article I realized that no forward look at the economy and financial markets from an inflationary/deflationary point of view would be complete without consideration of the Yield Curve. Here is its status at the time of writing. It is making a steepening hint this week along with the rise in bond yields. That signaling is inflationary, at least for now. But in 2008 the curve morphed from an inflationary steepener to a deflationary one and that’s an important distinction.
You’ll notice that a blessed Goldilocks economy is mentioned below as a less favored option for 2022. She runs with a flattening curve like the one during the 2013-2019 phase. If it steepens forget about Goldilocks and prepare for either an inflationary or deflationary steepener.
Stagflation and/or eventual Deflationary liquidation likely in 2022
We all know that the post-pandemic world is currently rife with supply bottlenecks and frustrated demand. We also know that the Federal Reserve and its fellow central banks sprang into heroic action (you know that is sarcasm) to fight the good fight against the dreaded liquidity event that came upon the macro markets and economies early in 2020. The combination of tight supply and printed money has obviously increased prices for materials, commodities, labor, and so on. Continue reading "When The Tight Economic Rope Slackens"→
Our 30 year Treasury yield ‘Continuum’ chart indicates that deflation is the dominant trend, but…
Steve Saville has written a post that got me thinking about carts and horses and more precisely, which comes before which. Is the inflationary horse pulling the deflationary cart uphill or is the deflationary cart leading the horse to drink from the shrinking liquidity pool periodically?
“The crisis-monetisation cycle doesn’t end in deflation. The merest whiff of deflation just encourages central bankers and politicians to do more to boost prices. In fact, the occasional deflation scare is necessary to keep the cycle going. The cycle only ends when most voters see “inflation” as the biggest threat to their personal economic prospects.”
And over the course of decades now that is exactly the case. Every damn time that the public becomes terrified of declining asset (especially equity) prices the Fed springs into action.
Yep, it's the same old story; once again, Japan is just muddling through. Private consumption is weak and inflation is practically non-existent. And inflation could get worse with the latest plunge in oil prices. And with Japan barely slogging through, investors' call for the BoJ to amp its efforts are on the rise.
So what's the problem? In the eyes of the BoJ, the situation isn't really bad enough to require further intervention.
What The BoJ Sees
So why wouldn't the BoJ want to add any more gunpowder to an already aggressive stimulus plan? The answer comes in two parts.
The first part was covered extensively in my last article and thus needs little elaboration. That is the BoJ wants the Abe government to shoulder some of the burden. It needs to fulfill its own side of the bargain and push forward much needed financial reforms.
And the second part? The BoJ wants to hold some gunpowder in its arsenal... just in case things get worse. With the Chinese stock market meltdown radiating across the world, the BoJ wants to make sure it has enough "weapons" to unleash. But so far, in the eyes of the BoJ, it's not yet bad enough to risk the economy.
Let's take a quick look at the latest key data. November's inflation figure (annualized), albeit rather low, still wasn't the textbook definition of deflationary pressures. From a total of 10 various segments, from food to energy to housing, only transportation and energy fell on an annual basis while Housing prices were unchanged at 0%. Despite the dismal numbers, for deflation to be a risk, prices of most items need to fall. And as the chart below shows, that has yet to happen. Continue reading "Bank of Japan To Release More Stimulus?"→
In the early 1990s, two simple words from a genius ad campaign radically transformed the way the U.S. consumer saw it: "Got Milk?"
Suddenly, the narrative changed from an obligatory drink you had to finish as a kid, along with eating your vegetables -- into a sexy, funny, and above all desirable treat for all ages.
In Europe, in 2015, famous celebrities donning milk mustaches no longer light the public's passion for lactose -- as prices for milk have spoiled. Here, a September 8, 2015 CNN Money article captures the curdled state of affairs:
"So much milk is sloshing around the European Union that milk is often cheaper than bottled water. In UK, a liter bottle of water costs around $1.50, a liter of milk $1... Wholesale milk prices have collapsed by 20% this year."
(Idea for a new campaign pitch: "Got (really, really, dirt cheap) Milk?")
Except that, it's not just the price of milk that's gone sour. According to data from April 2015, "supermarket prices in the UK have fallen at the steepest rate in eight years," including meat, milk, cheese, and vegetables. (The Telegraph) Continue reading "Europe in Deflation: Got (cheap) Milk?"→
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."