Inflation is loosely described as a general economic state of rising prices. In February 2020, the US inflation rate dipped from a high of 2.5% in January, to 2.3%. Assuming the standard of steadily increasing prices, driven largely by food, fuel, and living expenses, one can expect the inflation rate to tick higher. Forecasts for April 2020 are at 1.7%. Given that the major drivers of inflation are excess demand (demand-pull inflation), or cost-push inflation, current conditions based on Coronavirus quarantines have created a murky demand climate. Oil Prices and Inflationary Expectations All major US indices, including the Dow Jones Index, have plunged precipitously. Stock portfolios … [Read more...]
What is the Federal Funds Rate?
By law banks are required to maintain a certain percentage of their assets in reserves at any given time. This money is held at the Federal Reserve bank and is called the “Reserve Requirement”. Generally, this money does not earn any interest. But, any money over and above this minimum can be loaned to other banks to who might not have enough reserves. The rate that banks can charge each other is called the “Federal Funds rate” or “Fed Funds Rate”. The monetary policy-making body of the Federal Reserve System, is called the “Federal Open Market Committee” or “FOMC”. The FOMC meets eight times a year to discuss the economy and decide on any changes to monetary policy. One of the major … [Read more...]
Will the $2 Trillion Covid-19 Stimulus Cause Inflation?
The current round of massive Corona Virus easing began Monday March 16th, 2020, with the FED buying $40 billion in Treasuries and then buying another $50 billion in Treasuries on Tuesday. By Thursday morning, it had upped the plan to $75 billion PER DAY and added $10 billion in mortgage securities. By Friday morning, the Fed had decided to buy $107 billion worth of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities. In its first week, the FED purchased $317 billion worth of assets, which is slightly faster than the Fed balance sheet grew at the height of the 2008-2009 financial crisis. Initially, the Federal Reserve estimated purchases of $500 billion but FED chief Jerome Powell said the initial … [Read more...]
Does the FED Control Mortgage Rates?
For new home buyers, anything that increases the cost of the purchase (like rising mortgage interest rates) can negatively impact your ability to be able to afford your home. That is why everyone is concerned when the Federal Reserve (i.e. the FED) raises interest rates. The following chart shows how the Fed Funds Rate has performed from January 2015 through July 2019. The FED lowered the FED Funds rate to near zero in response to the market crash in 2008-2009. It kept it there until January 2016 when it began gradually raising rates. However, at their July end meeting, they decided to lower interest rates, reducing the federal funds rate target by 25 basis points, to a range of 2% to 2.25%. … [Read more...]
What Impact Does Interest Rates and Inflation Targets Have on Stocks?
Why is The FED's Targeted Inflation Rate Important in the US? Since 2012, the Fed has targeted an inflation rate of 2%. They have deemed this a healthy rate of inflation, necessary for economic growth. According to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, since 1977, the Federal Reserve has operated under a mandate from Congress to "promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long term interest rates" this is called a "dual mandate" in that it is supposed to balance a healthy economy with stable prices not just target low inflation. When the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meets, their job is to fulfill this mandate. The Fed has … [Read more...]
How the FED Controls the Money Supply
When the government spends more money than it receives in taxes it has a “deficit” situation. In order to deal with this deficit, it engages in some fancy bookkeeping. The government is made up of a variety of agencies, so the other agencies request money from the Treasury Department. If it doesn’t have enough money the Treasury Department issues an IOU (called a Government Bond). The Treasury gives the Bond to the Federal Reserve (which is theoretically not part of the government). The FED writes a check to the Treasury for the bond. It then breaks up the bond into smaller bonds and sells them to individual banks. The banks then sell them to individual investors and groups of … [Read more...]
Are Deflationary Forces Taking Hold Again?
From the chart below we can see that deflation was an issue in 2009 as the market eliminated billions of dollars in assets when it crashed. The FED used all the tricks in the book to combat the contraction of the money supply including lowering interest rates to near zero and when that wasn't enough it began buying assets through its "quantitative easing" (QE) programs. But the deflationary forces weren't through yet and by 2015 the FED was once again battling deflation. In the chart below we can see that after dropping interest rates to almost zero they kept them there until 2016 when they increased rates very tentatively. But in 2017 they began raising rates a bit more … [Read more...]
2018 Ends with More Disinflation
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their monthly Consumer Price Index report on January 11th 2019, for January 1 through December 31, 2018. Annual Inflation is Down Annual inflation in December was 1.91% down from November's 2.18%. December's CPI was 251.233 which was below November's 252.038, below October, September and even below the 251.588 in May. Monthly Inflation for December was -0.32% virtually identical to November's -0.33%. Next release February 13th Monthly Inflation: According to the BLS commissioner's report, "In December, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers fell 0.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis; rising 1.9 percent over … [Read more...]
Believe Your Own Eyes: Central Banks FOLLOW the Market
Many investors believe that the market follows the FED's monetary leadership. This sounds right because the FED is the 500 pound gorilla in the market right? It has Trillions of dollars at its disposal and isn't afraid to use it. But is this actually the case? Believe Your Own Eyes: Central Banks FOLLOW the Market By Elliott Wave International 3 Videos + 8 Charts = Opportunities You Need to See. Join this free event hosted by Elliott Wave International and you'll get a clear picture of what's next in a variety of U.S. markets. After seeing these videos and charts you will be ready to jump on opportunities and sidestep risks in some major markets. This free … [Read more...]
July Inflation Down for 3rd Consecutive Month
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their monthly inflation report for July on August 16th. According to the BLS Annual Inflation declined for the third consecutive month. Annual inflation was 1.13% in April, 1.02% in May, 1.01% in June and 0.84% in July. Not only did the rate of inflation fall but actual consumer prices declined as the CPI-U index declined from 241.038 to 240.647. Thus monthly inflation was -0.16%. For the year food at home was down -1.6%, energy was down -10.9%, used cars and trucks were down -3.7%, while overall transportation was down -4.9%. With all of these categories down one might wonder what actually caused the inflation rate to rise that meager … [Read more...]