“I think rates should be 4% today,” the JPMorgan Chase CEO said this week, referring to the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note. And if that wasn’t strong enough, he added, “you better be prepared to deal with rates 5% or higher — it's a higher probability than most people think.”
The question shouldn’t be, “Is he right?” Instead, it should be: “Why aren’t rates that high already?”
The 10-year yield ended last week at 2.95%, about unchanged from the previous week, although it did cross over into 3.0% territory for about a day before falling back. It started this week at 2.93% -- after Dimon made his comments.
After the S&P 500’s rather flat performance over the first three weeks of January, the Index has finally broken higher, pierced through the 2,280 resistance, and seems well on its way to surge above 2,300. So, the question of potential profit taking for the Index at this time may raise some eyebrows. But if we are to take the signals coming from the Federal Reserve over the past few weeks, this is exactly when we should be worried about profit taking and a jump in volatility for the Index.
While the S&P 500 (CME:SP500) was muddling through over the past few weeks, some attributed it to the protectionist stance of the new US president, e.g. the looming threat of a trade war with China, the risk of import levies and, of course, the latest events of this week. President Trump, in a characteristically dramatic fashion, announced the revocation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and proclaimed his intention to renegotiate NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. And how did investors respond? By pushing the S&P 500 up and out of its stagnation and into a new high. Because, while investors are concerned about the risk of a protectionist trade policy, their concerns are somewhat soothed by Trump’s plan to slash the US corporate tax to 15% and boost infrastructure spending.
The Federal Reserve, the only central bank in the G7 economies and China to raise rates and the only central bank to lead a tightening cycle, is also the only central bank to get it right. As counter-intuitive as that may sound, higher rates in a world of negative rates and massive monetization is the only viable solution to stimulate growth. To understand the irony, we must delve into credit markets and assess what’s broken.
Cheap Credit Expensive Growth
One of the arguments espoused by critics of monetary stimulus, whether it’s negative interest rates or quantitative easing, is inflation. But in reality the real cost of a ultra-loose monetary policy is the exact opposite—deflation; prices in most of the world and, in fact, in most products are either falling or stagnating. The reason is that when the policy is ultra-loose inefficient sectors of the economy are kept artificially afloat. As long as interest rates are close to zero failing sectors can keep on piling debt and thus contribute less and less to growth while leaving less available capital to the more efficient sectors that really need to grow. Continue reading "Fed Tightening Will Unleash U.S. Growth"→
Growth momentum is back in America? That is what investors believe after the positive surprise from the latest US GDP release. The second US GDP release for Q4 2015 was revised higher to 1% from 0.7%. Core PCE Inflation was also encouraging, reflecting a 1.67% rate of inflation. But while data from the last quarter has certainly been less anaemic, Dollar bulls shouldn’t pop the champagne just yet. Doubts over the current quarter continue to exist. Risks still loom and hurdles need to be cleared before we get another move higher.
What Looms On The Dollar?
Of course, I continue to reiterate that the Dollar’s long-term trajectory is still up. However, there are soft patches along the way because even the US economy can’t always perform well. And when those soft patches occur the FX market will be filled with doubt and the Dollar will dip again.
On Friday (Feb. 27), the 4th quarter U.S. GDP was revised downward to 2.2% from the original 2.6%.
"U.S. stock markets shrugged off the revision," wrote Fox Business. And why wouldn't they -- after all, the conventional wisdom says that as long as the economy is growing, so is the stock market.
Except, it's not exactly true.
See, if that notion were true, then you'd have to assume that the U.S. economy was in a bad shape in 2007, when the stock market began its biggest decline since the Great Depression. But the facts show the opposite.