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Power User
Posts: 31478

« Reply #750 on: July 30, 2014, 07:14:52 PM »

Improving Economy, Weaker Guideposts To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 7/30/2014

Apparently, an improving labor market and higher inflation are not enough to get any signal from the Federal Reserve that short-term interest rates should be higher or QE should end faster than they thought before.

The Fed did what almost everyone expected, leaving short-term rates unchanged and continuing to taper by $10 billion per meeting. As a result, the Fed will buy $25 billion in bonds in August and remains on a path to end quantitative easing at the end of October.

The Fed did make some important changes to the wording of its statement. On the labor market, it removed language saying the jobless rate “remains elevated.” It’s about time considering how consistently the unemployment rate has been dropping faster than the Fed has anticipated.

But the Fed also added important new language, saying “a range of labor market indicators suggests that there remains significant underutilization of labor resources.” So, despite the jobless rate approaching the Fed’s long-term objective, the Fed isn’t going to provide any firm guideposts on how changes in the labor market are going to influence monetary policy. This is very opaque – the opposite of transparency.

Meanwhile, the Fed acknowledged inflation is approaching its long-term target of 2% and removed language about how inflation running persistently below 2% could hurt the economy. However, it’s important to note that what matters most to the Fed isn’t actual inflation but its own forecast of future inflation. And the Fed has yet to issue a forecast that shows inflation higher than 2%.

Unlike the last meeting in June, there was one dissent from a Hawk. Philadelphia Fed bank President Charles Plosser, who thought the Fed shouldn’t pre-commit to leaving rates low for a “considerable period” after QE ends. After his editorial in the Wall Street Journal, we thought Richard Fisher, President of the Dallas Fed would dissent, but surprise, surprise, he voted with the majority. We assume he was mollified by the minor changes in language to the Fed statement.

Overall, today’s statement is consistent with our view that the Fed is already behind the curve and will end up accepting higher inflation in the longer-run than its current 2% target. Fed policy is easy, the Fed is making a commitment to keep its balance sheet larger for longer, and it sees no real urgency to raise rates. All of this will create a boost for equity markets and the economy over the next 12-24 months. And we still think the bond market does not appreciate the danger it faces.
Power User
Posts: 31478

« Reply #751 on: August 18, 2014, 03:48:03 PM »

   Monday Morning Outlook
                                        Jackson Hole: A Recipe for Inflation To view this article, Click Here
                                        Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
                                        Date: 8/18/2014


On Thursday, The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s annual retreat in
Jackson Hole, WY will start. The topic of discussion is: “Re-Evaluating Labor
Market Dynamics.”

The title itself says a lot about the Fed’s current mindset. Economists have
been studying labor market dynamics for many, many decades, if not centuries. So,
why does the Fed need to do any re-evaluating?

The answer: the unemployment rate is still 6.2% and other measures of the labor
market are far from robust. This is true even though the Fed has spent trillions on
bonds, boosted its balance sheet to record levels and cut interest rates to zero.

Maybe the Fed should “re-evaluate monetary policy,” or study “the
impact of fiscal policy on the economy” or find “the actual efficacy of
QE.” With all those juicy, and important, policy topics available, why study
the labor market?

Back when Ben Bernanke was Chairman of the Fed, he targeted a 6.5% unemployment rate
to start tightening. Now, Fed Chair Janet Yellen says it’s more complicated
than that. There are more important measures of labor market health.

What’s interesting about all of this is that the Fed is becoming a poster
child for “mission creep.” When the Fed first started in 1913, its job
was to protect the value of the US currency. Then, with passage of the Federal
Reserve Reform Act of 1977, the Fed received a dual mandate – to keep
“the unemployment rate” and inflation low.

This dual mandate was a mistake. The Fed has control over one thing – the
amount of money circulating in the economy. But, money itself cannot create jobs, or
fewer part-time jobs, or increase the labor force participation rate. If printing
money actually created wealth, then we should allow every citizen to counterfeit
their own currency. Of course, this would not work. Counterfeiting is illegal
because you get something for nothing.

No monetary policy expert has argued that the US experienced the crisis of 2008
because the Fed was too tight. And no one, with credentials, argues now that the US
economy is growing slowly because money is scarce.

In other words, monetary liquidity was not, and has not been, a problem for the
economy. As a result, any findings by the Fed that the labor market is not
performing at its full potential can be seen as proof that monetary policy is not
the tool for the job.

As the US learned in the 1980s, over the long-term, a single policy lever cannot
accomplish more than one policy objective. Monetary policy controls inflation in the
long run. Fiscal policy impacts the real economy (GDP and unemployment).

The Fed has now been easy for over five years, so it is impossible to argue that
monetary policy is being used as a short-term tool. If the labor market is still
having problems it must be because fiscal policy is harming potential growth. With
government spending, and especially redistribution, much higher than in the 1990s,
regulation a huge and growing burden, Obamacare, and higher tax rates, it’s no
wonder employment and incomes are lagging.

Unfortunately, the Fed does not see it this way. It is willing to maintain
abnormally, and artificially, low interest rates because the US hasn’t reached
so-called full employment. But those artificially low rates may cause other
problems, like a bubble in some sector, which the Fed has now decided to deal with
using “macro-prudential policy tools.” It sounds really technical, but
it's essentially playing “whack-a-mole” once excesses from easy money
pop up. In effect, the Fed wants to use monetary policy as a long-term policy tool
and deal with short-term monetary problems by using regulatory tools.

In reality, the existence of financial market excesses should prove that Fed policy
is being mishandled. But the Fed will choose to view excesses as a mistake by
financial institutions themselves. Blame the other guy, always.

This is a recipe for falling behind the curve. The Fed is already there and is
likely to stay there for some time to come. 
Power User
Posts: 31478

« Reply #752 on: August 18, 2014, 03:55:42 PM »

second post

StealthFlation Defined………………by BDI


An intractable economic condition that inevitably arises as unlimited units of
currency compulsively pursue nonproductive wealth assets in a grossly over-leveraged
economy which has been artificially reflated in a desperate and misguided attempt by
monetary authorities to synthetically engineer growth via extreme monetization. 
Preventing the real economy on the ground from seeking the healthy normalization and
natural balance of free market forces necessary for genuine productive economic

Also known as; wishful thinking, and robbing Peter to pay Paul.

This entirely synthesized approach to capital formation has brought us the following
disastrous results:

1)  Stealth incendiary inflationary risks to the economy due to latent money velocity

2)  Repeat massive unstable asset bubble dislocations

3)  Gross misallocation of genuine productive investment capital, stifling the
crucial SME sector

4)  Excessive market volatility which stymies business development and trade

5)  Lethargic economic activity and growth

6)  Massive off-shoring of the manufacturing base

7)  Facilitates fantastic fiscal deficit spending sprees

Cool  Decreases income & real job creation

9)  Extreme income inequality

10)  Eviscerates the very essence of money itself

Brought to you by The Savant @ StealthFlation , Stop by for Shelter from the Storm

Power User
Posts: 31478

« Reply #753 on: August 19, 2014, 08:18:36 PM »

Data Watch
The Consumer Price Index Increased 0.1% in July To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 8/19/2014

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.1% in July, matching consensus expectations. The CPI is up 2.0% versus a year ago.
“Cash” inflation (which excludes the government’s estimate of what homeowners would charge themselves for rent) was unchanged in July and is up 1.8% in the past year.

Food prices increased 0.3% in July, while energy prices declined 0.3%. The “core” CPI, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.1%, below the consensus expected 0.2%. The gain in core prices was led by owners’ equivalent rent. Core prices are up 1.9% versus a year ago.

Real average hourly earnings – the cash earnings of all employees, adjusted for inflation – were unchanged in July and unchanged in the past year. Real weekly earnings are up 0.3% in the past year.

Implications: Consumer prices continued to move higher in July, though only at the tepid 0.1% pace the consensus expected. Although consumer prices are up a moderate 2% from a year ago, the year-over-year number masks an acceleration. The CPI is up at a 2.5% annual rate in the past six months and up at a 2.8% rate in the past three months. (!!!)  Since the start of 2014, consumer prices are up 2.4% at an annual rate versus the 1.2% pace in first seven months of 2013. Owners’ equivalent rent (what homeowners would pay if they were renting their homes from soemone else) led the way in July, up 0.3%, accounting for most of the increase in the overall index. Owners’ equivalent rent, which makes up about ¼ of the overall CPI, is up 2.7% over the past 12 months and will be a key source of the acceleration in inflation in the year ahead, in large part fueled by the shift toward renting rather than owning. And while energy prices declined 0.3% in July, muting the rise in the overall CPI, we expect this measure to move higher in the months ahead, continuing the trend higher we have seen over the past twelve months. The worst news in today’s report was that “real” (inflation-adjusted) average hourly earnings remained flat in July and are unchanged in the past year. Plugging today’s CPI data into our models suggests the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, the PCE deflator, probably increased 0.1% in July. If so, it would be up 1.6% from a year ago, barely below the Fed’s target of 2%. We expect to hit and cross the 2% target later this year, consistent with our view that the Fed starts raising short-term interest rates in the first half of 2015.
Power User
Posts: 31478

« Reply #754 on: August 22, 2014, 11:58:33 AM »

Hawks Crying Wolf

AUG. 21, 2014

According to a recent report in The Times, there is dissent at the Fed: “An increasingly vocal minority of Federal Reserve officials want the central bank to retreat more quickly” from its easy-money policies, which they warn run the risk of causing inflation. And this debate, we are told, is likely to dominate the big economic symposium currently underway in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

That may well be the case. But there’s something you should know: That “vocal minority” has been warning about soaring inflation more or less nonstop for six years. And the persistence of that obsession seems, to me, to be a more interesting and important story than the fact that the usual suspects are saying the usual things.

Before I try to explain the inflation obsession, let’s talk about how striking that obsession really is.

The Times article singles out for special mention Charles Plosser of the Philadelphia Fed, who is, indeed, warning about inflation risks. But you should know that he warned about the danger of rising inflation in 2008. He warned about it in 2009. He did the same in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. He was wrong each time, but, undaunted, he’s now doing it again.

And this record isn’t unusual. With very few exceptions, officials and economists who issued dire warnings about inflation years ago are still issuing more or less identical warnings today. Narayana Kocherlakota, president of the Minneapolis Fed, is the only prominent counterexample I can think of.

Now, everyone who has been in the economics business any length of time, myself very much included, has made some incorrect predictions. If you haven’t, you’re playing it too safe. The inflation hawks, however, show no sign of learning from their mistakes. Where is the soul-searching, the attempt to understand how they could have been so wrong?

The point is that when you see people clinging to a view of the world in the teeth of the evidence, failing to reconsider their beliefs despite repeated prediction failures, you have to suspect that there are ulterior motives involved. So the interesting question is: What is it about crying “Inflation!” that makes it so appealing that people keep doing it despite having been wrong again and again?

Well, when economic myths persist, the explanation usually lies in politics — and, in particular, in class interests. There is not a shred of evidence that cutting tax rates on the wealthy boosts the economy, but there’s no mystery about why leading Republicans like Representative Paul Ryan keep claiming that lower taxes on the rich are the secret to growth. Claims that we face an imminent fiscal crisis, that America will turn into Greece any day now, similarly serve a useful purpose for those seeking to dismantle social programs.

At first sight, claims that easy money will cause disaster even in a depressed economy seem different, because the class interests are far less clear. Yes, low interest rates mean low long-term returns for bondholders (who are generally wealthy), but they also mean short-term capital gains for those same bondholders.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story

But while easy money may in principle have mixed effects on the fortunes (literally) of the wealthy, in practice demands for tighter money despite high unemployment always come from the right. Eight decades ago, Friedrich Hayek warned against any attempt to mitigate the Great Depression via “the creation of artificial demand”; three years ago, Mr. Ryan all but accused Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman at the time, of seeking to “debase” the dollar. Inflation obsession is as closely associated with conservative politics as demands for lower taxes on capital gains.
Continue reading the main story
Recent Comments

Sooner or later we will have some inflation and the wingers can say they were right.
Larry Hoffman
25 minutes ago

Mr. Krugman, once again, points out the prognosticators who keep making the same "WRONG" prediction. The most amazing thing about them is...
Bob Burns
25 minutes ago

Great column. I've been having this same argument with my investment advisor for 6 years and so far he's been left to manufacturing "facts"...

    See All Comments
    Write a comment

It’s less clear why. But faith in the inability of government to do anything positive is a central tenet of the conservative creed. Carving out an exception for monetary policy — “Government is always the problem, not the solution, unless we’re talking about the Fed cutting interest rates to fight unemployment” — may just be too subtle a distinction to draw in an era when Republican politicians draw their economic ideas from Ayn Rand novels.

Which brings me back to the Fed, and the question of when to end easy-money policies.

Even monetary doves like Janet Yellen, the Fed chairwoman, generally acknowledge that there will come a time to take the pedal off the metal. And maybe that time isn’t far off — official unemployment has fallen sharply, although wages are still going nowhere and inflation is still subdued.

But the last people you want to ask about appropriate policy are people who have been warning about inflation year after year. Not only have they been consistently wrong, they’ve staked out a position that, whether they know it or not, is essentially political rather than based on analysis. They should be listened to politely — good manners are always a virtue — then ignored.
Power User
Posts: 31478

« Reply #755 on: September 17, 2014, 05:40:37 PM »

Rate Hikes Approaching To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 9/17/2014

We count five major takeaways from today’s activity at the Federal Reserve.

First, quantitative easing (QE) still looks on track for winding down at the end of October. As expected, the Fed announced it would cut its purchases of Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities to $15 billion in October and expects to announce an end to QE at the next meeting, which is October 29th.

Second, the median view among Fed officials is for a slightly faster increase in short-term rates. Back in June, the consensus was for the top of the federal funds target range to be 1.25% at the end of 2015; now it’s 1.5%. Previously the consensus was around 2.5% for the end of 2016, now it’s 3%. As a result, it now looks like the Fed will start raising rates by April 2015, perhaps even as early as the first quarter. To confirm this, look for the Fed to dump the “considerable time” language later this year.
Third, once it starts raising rates, the Fed will try to control the federal funds rate by using the interest it pays banks for holding excess reserves. It will also use reverse repos to help control the funds rate, but only as much and as long as needed. The Fed says it won’t use reverse repos for other purposes.

Fourth, the Fed isn’t going to outright sell securities from its portfolio to unwind its bloated balance sheet. After starting to raise the funds rate, the Fed will eventually allow its balance sheet to shrink in a passive way, by letting securities gradually mature without full reinvestment. The Fed is particularly reluctant to sell mortgage-backed securities (MBS), but may eventually do so several years down the road to clean up some long-dated securities on its books that won’t mature anytime soon. Long-term, the Fed intends to go back to holding almost all Treasury securities, not a large portfolio of MBS.

Last, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Two Fed officials dissented from the statement, both Philadelphia Fed Bank President Charles Plosser and Dallas Bank President Richard Fisher. More importantly, both dissents were from hawks, which suggests that if the Fed makes any changes in policy or projections at the next couple of meetings, it’s more likely to get more hawkish than more dovish.

The Fed also made some minor changes to the language in its statement, noting that the unemployment rate is little changed since the last meeting and the economy is expanding moderately after the downside surprise in Q1 and sharp rebound in Q2.

The bottom line is that the Fed has been and will remain behind the curve. Nominal GDP – real GDP growth plus inflation – is up 4.2% in the past year and up at a 3.7% annual rate in the past two years. A federal funds target rate of nearly zero is too low given this growth. It’s also too low given well-tailored policy tools like the Taylor Rule.
Hyperinflation is not in the cards; the Fed will keep paying banks enough to keep the money multiplier depressed. But, given loose policy, we expect gradually faster growth in nominal GDP for the next couple of years. In turn, the bull market in equities will continue to prevail and the bond market is due for a fall.
Power User
Posts: 31478

« Reply #756 on: September 26, 2014, 12:32:03 PM »
Power User
Posts: 31478

« Reply #757 on: October 06, 2014, 02:51:58 PM »

Monday Morning Outlook
Inflation: What Inflation? To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 10/6/2014

Who hasn’t heard forecasts of “Hyperinflation?” They’ve been all over the web and TV ever since the Federal Reserve started a huge expansion in its balance sheet, called Quantitative Easing, back in 2008. Among other things, these forecasts called for a dollar collapse, dire problems for the banking system and 1970s, or Weimar Republic-like, inflation.

We have consistently disagreed with these forecasts. Yes, the monetary base has expanded rapidly. But banks have held the vast majority of this QE as excess reserves. These reserves just sit at the Fed, earning 25 basis points, but other than that, gathering electronic dust. They haven’t boosted inflation as feared. And we don’t believe they are responsible for economic growth, or the rising stock market, either.

In economic terms, the velocity of money collapsed in the Panic of 2008 and, although there are some recent signs of a revival, it’s nowhere near bouncing back to where it was before the Panic. What QE has accomplished is reducing the money multiplier in a significant way.

To be clear, even though we never expected hyper-inflation, we did expect inflation to rise more than it actually has over the past few years. We thought inflation would be at least 3% by now, maybe even 4%. And yet, the Consumer Price Index is up only 1.7% in the past year while the Fed’s preferred measure, the PCE deflator, is up only 1.5%.

We still don’t expect inflation to stay this low, but for a number of reasons, we now expect any move higher over the next few years to be very gradual, maybe half a point per year. This isn’t enough, all by itself, to get the Fed to move rates much higher than it currently projects.

Here’s why we expect only a gradual rise in inflation.

First, the Fed is fully prepared to increase the interest rate it pays on excess reserves. And while this doesn’t guarantee the money supply won’t expand, the Fed is also ready to use higher capital standards and Chinese-like bank rules to hold back lending, which will contain money growth and loans.

Second, real economic growth should pick up over the next couple of years to close to 3% versus the average of roughly 2% growth per year since the recovery started in 2009. This extra growth could help soak up some of the loose monetary policy.

Third, and lately the most important reason for a very gradual slog higher in inflation, is the huge headwind coming from the energy sector, where the combination of horizontal drilling and fracking is transforming production. Supply is simply booming and prices are falling. Back in 2005, the US was importing ten times as much oil (petroleum and petroleum products) as it was exporting; now that ratio is down to 1.9 and headed lower. In the next few years, the US could easily become a net exporter of petroleum.

These forces are creating disarray in OPEC. Saudi Arabia is willing to accept lower prices for oil, undercutting other oil exporters in the Middle East as well as Russia. West Texas Intermediate, which was $104/barrel in late June is now below $90/barrel, and probably has further to fall.

Gold is below $1,200/oz., a clear sign that inflationary fears are receding. We still think it has further to fall.

As a result, even though the Fed will start to raise short-term rates next year, the rate hikes will be gradual. We don’t expect 50 basis point hikes at any single meeting anytime soon. More likely, the Fed will raise rates at one meeting and then pause at the next, in an attempt to damp volatility.

In turn, long-term rates will work their way higher, but not by leaps and bounds. We expect both equities and the 10-year Treasury yield to move higher later this year. While we look for 10-year yields to end this year below 3%, we look for something like 3.5% by the end of 2015 and 4% in 2016.

Most important for investors, is to understand that a 4% yield on the 10-year Treasury (the equivalent of a 25 price-earnings ratio) is not a headwind for the stock market. Based on next year’s forecasted earnings, the S&P 500 P-E is less than 15 today. That leaves plenty of room for equities to rally.

And even if the Treasury yield goes above 4%, that’s OK for equities as long as interest rates rise primarily because of improvement in real GDP growth rather than inflation.
The bottom line is that our outlook for inflation has shifted downward, but not dramatically. We still expect more inflation, just not enough to cause serious concern for at least the next couple of years. This is good news for the stock market and the economy.
Power User
Posts: 31478

« Reply #758 on: October 15, 2014, 09:05:20 PM »

Risk of Deflation Feeds Global Fears
Falling Commodities Prices Pressures Central Banks
By Jon Hilsenrath and Brian Blackstone
Oct. 15, 2014 8:26 p.m. ET

Behind the spate of market turmoil lurks a worry that top policy makers thought they had beaten back a few years ago: the specter of deflation.

A general fall in consumer prices emerged as a big concern after the 2008 financial crisis because it summoned memories of deep and lingering downturns like the Great Depression and two decades of lost growth in Japan. The world’s central banks in recent years have used a variety of easy-money policies to fight its debilitating effects.

Now, fresh signs of slow global economic growth, falling commodities prices, sagging stock markets and declining bond yields suggest the deflation risk hasn’t gone away, particularly in the often-frenetic eyes of investors. These emerging threats come as the Federal Reserve is on track this month to end a bond-buying program that has been one of the main tools in its fight against falling prices.

The deflation concern is particularly pronounced in Europe and Japan, two economies where policy makers are struggling to come up with solutions to counter especially slow economic growth.

However, recent declines in commodities prices suggest that downward pressure on inflation—if not all-out deflation—could become a wider-ranging phenomenon, and one with some mixed implications for economies like the U.S. and emerging markets.

Investor worries about the global economy appeared to gather force Wednesday. European stock markets sagged; the Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 3.2% to its lowest level since last December. U.S. stocks pared steep losses, but still finished down for the fifth straight day; after falling more than 450 points at one point, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 173.45, or 1.1%, to 16141.74.

Meantime, yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes fell to 2.091%, their lowest level since June 2013, and are down nearly a percentage point from the beginning of the year. Bond yields fell to new lows in Germany, too. Crude-oil prices dropped further; crude futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell to $81.78 a barrel, the lowest level since June 2012.

The deflation concerns are particularly acute in Europe, where annual inflation in the 18 nations that use the euro was 0.3% last month, a five-year low that is far below the European Central Bank’s target of just under 2%.

With inflation so low, it wouldn’t take much of a shock—such as weakness in Germany’s economy or geopolitical tensions in nearby Ukraine—to tip the whole region into a deflationary downturn. Some eurozone countries, such as Italy, have already tipped into deflation. Even countries outside the currency bloc are feeling the pain. Sweden’s statistics agency said Tuesday that consumer prices fell 0.4% in annual terms last month after a 0.2% fall in August, well below its central bank’s 2% target.

The risk of deflation in Europe is “a real worry,” Harvard University professor and former Federal Reserve governor Jeremy Stein said in an interview. “The right prescription [for policy makers] is to be aggressive.”

ECB President Mario Draghi acted against deflation risks in June and September, pushing the central bank to slash interest rates to record lows each time—including a negative rate on bank deposits at the ECB—and unveiling new bank-lending and asset-purchase plans for asset-backed securities and covered bonds.

But there is little consensus for more-dramatic measures—the kind of monetary stimulus the Fed, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan have deployed—namely large-scale purchases of government bonds to raise the money supply.

The head of Germany’s central bank, Jens Weidmann, has signaled his opposition to such bond buying, and other members of the ECB’s governing council appear sympathetic to his argument that with government and corporate borrowing costs already superlow, the policy wouldn’t even do much good.

“I am very much for a steady-hand approach, and I think this is what we are doing,” Austria’s central bank governor, Ewald Nowotny, said in an interview last week.

Hard fiscal problems are part of Europe’s problem. Last week, Standard & Poor’s stripped Finland of its triple-A credit rating and downgraded France’s outlook. On Tuesday, Fitch put France on review for a possible downgrade.

Struggling economies such as France and Italy face a tough choice: Take additional austerity measures to shrink budget deficits, inflicting more pain on their economies, or attempt to flaunt the EU’s budget rules calling for low deficits, which could damage their credibility in Europe.

ECB chief Mario Draghi, shown in Washington this past weekend, faces opposition to further measures to combat deflation in the eurozone.R Reuters

The resistance Mr. Draghi faces has shaken the faith of some investors that policy makers in Europe will address the threat.

“Market valuations, especially for rich countries, have been well above what was warranted by fundamentals. What kept them up there was a belief that central banks were markets’ best friends,” said Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz Group. “Most people now recognize that the ability of central banks to address what ails the global economy is weaker than they believed.”

Meanwhile, Japan had recently begun to stir sustained growth, which helped to push its inflation rate above 1%, after years of on-again, off-again deflation. But inflation decelerated again in recent months as the economy softened after an April sales-tax increase meant to restrain mounting government debt. Many private economists forecast a slip back below 1% this year.

Japanese officials must now decide whether to follow through on another planned sales-tax increase that could dent growth even more. And the Bank of Japan is weighing whether it needs to provide even more stimulus. BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda launched new asset purchase programs last year to reverse two decades of deflation and has pledged to persist until he reaches the 2% target.

Japan’s struggles to exit deflation, even with massive central-bank stimulus, illustrate just how difficult it is for an economy to pull out of the trap, once it has settled in.

A weak global outlook “has to be a worry for every economy,” Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan told The Wall Street Journal in an interview last week.

The U.S. confronts much different circumstances than Europe and Japan. U.S. inflation had been rising toward the Fed’s 2% objective earlier this year but now faces a downward tug amid the weakening global growth and a strengthening U.S. dollar. The Labor Department reported Wednesday that producer prices in the U.S. fell in September. Sharp drops in commodities prices this month could add to downward pressure.

Yet falling commodities prices have silver linings. For one, the decline is being driven in part by a U.S. energy production boom—not just sagging global demand for goods. Moreover, falling gasoline prices are a boon to U.S. consumers: One rule of thumb is that every one-cent drop in the price of gasoline amounts to a $1 billion boost to U.S. household incomes, and gasoline prices have dropped by 13 to 17 cents from a year ago, according to the automobile group AAA.

“All else equal, when energy gets cheaper, we benefit,” Mr. Stein said.

Meanwhile, the Fed is on track this month to end its bond-buying stimulus program launched in September 2012. And Fed officials have largely stuck to their line that they expected to start raising short-term interest rates by the middle of 2015. Still, traders in futures markets have been pushing up the prices of contracts tied to the Fed’s benchmark interest rate—a sign they see diminishing odds that the Fed will follow through on that plan.

Harvard’s Mr. Stein said he didn’t think the U.S. central bank needed to alter its thinking much in light of recent developments. “I wouldn’t dramatically revise my expectations,” he said. “The balance of the job-market news in the U.S. has been very positive.”

A Commerce Department report Wednesday showed U.S. retail sales dropped in September, but many economists are sticking to estimates that the U.S. economy expanded at a rate in excess of 3% in the third quarter, potentially the fourth time in the past five quarters it exceeded 3%. Moreover job growth has been stronger than Fed officials expected.

Write to Jon Hilsenrath at and Brian Blackstone at
Power User
Posts: 12069

« Reply #759 on: October 15, 2014, 10:48:07 PM »

Yes, I'm looking for the post.
Power User
Posts: 4135

« Reply #760 on: October 17, 2014, 07:05:17 AM »

So yesterday the Fed hinted it might continue easing.  It is so hard not to be cynical that this is just another political stunt before and election to buttress the markets.

Any comments?   I mean Yellen is a liberal as are many of the Fed people.  undecided

Could this be any more convenient for the Crats and the self chosen One?
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