Category Archives: Economics

US Core Consumer Prices Explode Higher At Fastest Pace Since 1981, by Tyler Durden

Inflation is in the ascendancy, thanks to nonstop debt monetization since the end of 2019. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

After March’s blowout 0.6% MoM surge in headline CPI, analysts expected a modest slowdown MoM, but surge YoY due to the base-effect comps from April 2020’s collapse. However, it appears analyst massively underestimated as headline CPI surged 0.8% MoM (4 times the +0.2% expected) and exploded 4.2% YoY. That is the biggest YoY jump since Sept 2008 (and biggest MoM jump since June 2008)

Source: Bloomberg

Core CPI was expected to rise by the most this millennia, but it was hotter than that. The index for all items less food and energy rose 3.0% over the past 12 months; this was its largest 12-month increase since January 1996… and the MoM jump of 0.92% is the biggest since 1981

Source: Bloomberg

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Jim Grant: The Fed Can’t Control Inflation, from SchiffGold

It’s a comforting notion to many people, the idea that wise bureaucrats can manage something as complicated as the economy. Too bad they can’t do it. From Jim Grant at schiffgold.com:

 

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell insists inflation is “transitory.” As prices have spiked throughout the economy, Powell’s messaging has essentially been, “Move along. Nothing to see here.”

Peter Schiff has been saying the central bankers at the Fed can’t actually tell the truth about inflation because even if they acknowledge it’s a problem (and it is) they can’t do anything about it.

In a recent talk, Jim Grant, investment guru and founder of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, echoed Peter, saying the Fed can’t control inflation.

During a webcast sponsored by State Street SPDR ETFs, Grant said he thinks “there’s a gale of inflation of all kinds in progress,” adding that he believes it will take the Fed by surprise and “overwhelm our monetary masters.” Grant said, inflation is “clear and present and will manifest itself in our everyday lives.”

That sounds like the exact opposite of Powell’s “transitory” mantra.

Peter has said that once the Fed is forced to admit that inflation isn’t transitory, it will be too late to take action. Grant made a similar prediction, saying inflation will “catch the Fed flatfooted. In response it will “prevaricate” – meaning speak or act in an evasive way. In fact, that already seems to be the central bank’s strategy.

The question is can the Fed actually control inflation. Grant doesn’t think so.

I think the Fed is under the misconception that it controls events. Sometimes, events control the Fed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was one of those times. The Fed thinks that not only can it control events, but it can measure them. It believes it can pinpoint the rate of inflation.”

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Biden’s “America the Beautiful” Vision Ignores Feds’ Dreadful Record, by James Bovard

A review of federal farm policies reveals that stewardship of the land is way down the list of government priorities. From James Bovard at aier.org:

Will Biden’s “America the Beautiful” program save America’s environment? On January 27, President Joe Biden issued an executive order proclaiming “the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.” That target would require almost tripling the amount of land under government restrictions – an area twice the size of the state of Texas. Last week, the Biden administration released a 22-page “America the Beautiful” vision statement short on details but overflowing with bromides including the following gem: “The road to a full recovery remains steep, but President Biden is determined to lead America to new heights.”

Biden has not yet specified which provision of the Constitution entitles the president to proclaim national land use goals. Regardless, he is reaping applause for pledging to fight climate change, protect biodiversity, expand parkland, and other courageous positions. Biden is launching the initiative regardless of the feds’ own dreadful environmental record. As law professor Jonathan Turley observed, “the government remains the nation’s premiere environmental felon.”

But everything will be different under Biden, right? His plan was jointly developed by the Commerce, Interior, and Agriculture Departments. Gina McCarthy, Biden’s senior climate change advisor, proclaimed, “This is the very first national conservation goal we have ever set as a country.” However, much of the plan resembles what the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has claimed to be achieving for almost a century.

Federal agricultural policy offers stark lessons on the folly of trusting politicians with the environment. Since Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, farm policymakers have routinely portrayed the private sector as inherently destructive to the environment. Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace declared in 1934: “Probably the most damaging indictment that can be made of the capitalistic system is the way in which its emphasis on unfettered individualism results in exploitation of natural resources.”

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Tesla – and GM – Finally Admit It, by Eric Peters

Electric cars, including Tesla’s, in the US have yet to meet the market test: can they be sold without subsidies at a price that will their makers to make a decent profit? From Eric Peters at ericpetersautos.com:

 
 
 

GM – and Tesla – just publicly admitted that they can’t sell electric cars. Or rather, they need your help – via Uncle.

To pay people $7,500 each to “buy” their electric cars.

To be paid by those who pay the taxes which will make up for the taxes not collected from the people who “buy” electric cars. This is the wealth transfer scheme styled “electric car tax credits.”

They have been around for years – and may be coming back – because electric cars have pull rather than range.

Great sums of money were expended to extract great sums of money – via the tax code, which was adjusted to give preferential treatment to the purchasers of electric cars by making electric cars seem more affordable than they are, in fact.

 

In order to create the fiction of a “market” for electric cars, where none – or very little – actually existed.

If that were not the case, then why the need to pay people to “buy” them? In every other case of such massive discounting – an industry term –  the need to apply such discounts is taken as evidence of the car being discounted being a flop.

Get rid of them by whatever means necessary – as by giving them away –  and then build no more.

The Aztek being a for-instance. Imagine being paid to buy one. Of course, the difference with EVs is that instead of GM paying you to buy an Aztek, the government is making someone else pay for your electric Aztek.

Or rather, your neighbor’s electric Aztek.

No one would abide such a thing, much less laud such a thing. How come almost no one is questioning this thing?

That question is hardly ever raised – much less answered. Probably because of the answer. Electric cars are the Azteks of our time, but worse. And unlike the Aztek, which was merely ugly – electric cars are evil. A kind of cancer that is not only metastasizing but being encouraged to metastasize.

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Keep It Simple: Gold vs. a Mad World, by Matthew Piepenburg

Everybody should own some precious metals, not as speculations against currencies, but as protection—a medium of exchange and a store of value—should fiat currencies collapse. From Matthew Piepenburg at goldswitzerland.com:

Psychologists, poets and philosophers have written for centuries that many who have eyes refuse to see, and many who can think, refuse to think clearly–all for the simple reason that some truths, like the sun, are just too hard to look straight into.

Or as others have said more bluntly: “Truth is like poetry—everyone [fricking] hates it.”

When it comes to bloated markets, debt orgies and helicopter money, the rising fun of such “stimulus” is embraced, yet the template for its equally market-tanking, social-destroying and currency-debasing consequences are simply ignored.

The same is true when it comes to the “great inflation debate,” which is simply no longer a debate but a neon-screaming reality playing out in real time and growing more pernicious before eyes otherwise blinded by calming Fed-speak and bogus inflation scales.

Each passing day, the evidence of the inflationary cancer beneath the smiling surface of our still rising markets and “recovering/opening” economy increases, and thus, like it or not, the inflation topic just won’t and can’t be over-stated enough.

In short: Here I go again with the inflation thing…

From the Grocer to Buffet: Inflation is Obvious

Extreme US “stimulus,” vaccine rollouts, Europe’s eventual reopening, and rising commodity costs are accelerating the inflationary tailwinds which everyone from grocery store clerks and home builders to Warren Buffet can no longer deny or ignore.

As facts rather than theories confirm, commodity prices have surged from steel to copper, or corn to lumber while precious metals steadily rise against COMEX price fixers, CPI lies and other unsustainable boots to the neck of a coiled gold market positioned for big moves into late 2021 and beyond.

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The Inflation Monster Has Been Unleashed, by Bruce Wilds

Given the copious amounts of debt the Federal Reserve has monetized, rising prices are inevitable. From Bruce Wilds at brucewilds.blogspot.com:

The monster known as inflation has been unleashed upon the world and will not easily retreat into the night. This is reflected in soaring commodity and housing prices. Due to the stupid and self-serving policies of the Fed, we are about to experience a massive shift in the way we live. Bubbling up to the surface is also the recognition the Fed has played a major role in pushing inequality higher. This means that inflation is about to devour the purchasing power of our income and the savings of those that have worked hard and saved over the years.

Over the months we have watched Fed Chairman Jerome Powell time and time again cut rates and increase the Fed’s balance sheet. This has hurt savers, forced investors into risky investments in search of yield, damaged the dollar, encouraged politicians to spend like drunken sailors, and increased inequality. The greatest wealth transfer in history has already begun and the next crisis will only accelerate the process. Sadly, the same policies that dump huge money into larger businesses because it is an easier and faster way to bolster the economy give these concerns a huge advantage over their smaller competitors.

For decades the American people have watched their incomes lag behind the cost of living. To make matters worse, the official numbers of the so-called Consumer Price Index (CPI) have been rigged to understate inflation and not to reflect the true impact it was having on our lives. Want to know where the real cost of things is going, just look at the replacement cost from recent storms and natural disasters. Currently, the government understates inflation by using a formula based on the concept of a “constant level of satisfaction” that evolved during the first half of the 20th century in academia. This has skewed expectations and led many people to think inflation is not something they need to worry about.

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What Will You Do When Inflation Forces U.S. Households To Spend 40 Percent Of Their Incomes On Food? by Michael Snyder

Perhaps we’ll eat less, or eat lower quality food. Inflation is showing up at the grocery stores big time, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be “transitory.” From Michael Snyder at theeconomiccollapseblog.com:

Did you know that the price of corn has risen 142 percent in the last 12 months?  Of course corn is used in hundreds of different products we buy at the grocery store, and so everyone is going to feel the pain of this price increase.  But it isn’t just the price of corn that is going crazy.  We are seeing food prices shoot up dramatically all across the industry, and experts are warning that this is just the very beginning.  So if you think that food prices are bad now, just wait, because they are going to get a whole lot worse.

Typically, Americans spend approximately 10 percent of their disposable personal incomes on food.  The following comes directly from the USDA website

In 2019, Americans spent an average of 9.5 percent of their disposable personal incomes on food—divided between food at home (4.9 percent) and food away from home (4.6 percent). Between 1960 and 1998, the average share of disposable personal income spent on total food by Americans, on average, fell from 17.0 to 10.1 percent, driven by a declining share of income spent on food at home.

Needless to say, the poorest Americans spend more of their incomes on food than the richest Americans.

According to the USDA, the poorest households spent an average of 36 percent of their disposable personal incomes on food in 2019…

As their incomes rise, households spend more money on food, but it represents a smaller overall budget share. In 2019, households in the lowest income quintile spent an average of $4,400 on food (representing 36.0 percent of income), while households in the highest income quintile spent an average of $13,987 on food (representing 8.0 percent of income).

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Here’s How ‘Everything Bubbles’ Pop, by Charles Hugh Smith

The bubbles won’t pop all at once, but once they get going, it should be a wonder to behold. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

But weirdly, and irrationally, bubbles pop anyway.

At long last, the moment you’ve been hoping for has arrived: you’re pitching your screenplay to a producer. Your agent is cautious but you’re confident nobody else has concocted a story as outlandish as yours. Your agent gives you the nod and you’re off and running:

Writer: Two guys start a cryptocurrency as a joke to parody the crypto craze, and they name it KittyCoin. It goes nowhere but then the greatest speculative bubble of all time takes off, it’s the dot-com and housing bubble times 100 but in everything, and within a couple months the entire economy is dependent on this bubble, and the bubble is dependent on KittyCoin, which has shot up 15,000 percent in a few weeks. A celebrity CEO who’s been promoting KittyCoin is invited to host a failing TV variety show, and now the whole economy depends on KittyCoin soaring even higher.

Producer: So it’s ‘The Big Short’ plus ‘Network’.

Writer: Something like that, only zanier.

Producer: I get the zaniness but it’s so implausible — it’s preposterous.

Writer: It’s an absurdist comedy.

Producer: But it ends with everyone being wiped out.

Writer: OK, a tragi-comedy.

And here we are, in the Greatest Bubble of All Time (GBOAT) hanging on the thin thread of speculators rotating out of one bubble into another even more improbable bubble. If there is no heir-apparent for the rotation, then players rotate back into an asset that already reached bubblicious heights and is awaiting the next booster.

The Everything Bubble is one for the ages, but alas, even the most glorious global Tulip Bulb manias crash back to Earth. So how do Everything Bubbles end? Like every other bubble ends:

Preposterous moves to implausible which moves to plausible which moves to inevitable. In other words, bubbles inflating to even more outlandish valuations are no longer merely plausible, they’ve become inevitable: the Federal Reserve will continue printing money forever, Americans have trillions of dollars in stimmy and savings they’re itching to spend, and so on.

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Market Weekly: The Pivot to Gold Has Begun, by Tom Luongo

Buying either gold or cryptocurrencies is a vote of no confidence in governments, their central banks, and their fiat currencies. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

For the past few weeks I’ve incurred the wrath of what I’m now calling “Gold-Only” bugs for constantly haranguing them about bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. These are the folks which state only gold can beat the central banks.

I’ve made my position very clear, in a world of digital money and accelerating technology there is room for both assets as stores-of-value for different types of investors and taking a ideological position for either is stupid as well as arrogant.

Like all things, there are reasons why putting all of your eggs in one basket in markets as cocked-up and purposefully manipulated as these is simply bad asset management. Risk is, ultimately, not someone else’s problem no matter how much Wall St. tries to convince of this otherwise.

Risk is your problem.

The gold and crypto communities have been at each other’s throats for months now, as bitcoin continued rallying off the Coronapocalypse low from last March while gold peaked in August and has ground out a truly demoralizing eight-month bear market.

The envy coming from Gold-Only bugs has them missing one of the great opportunities for wealth creation in anyone’s lifetime. You don’t have to love bitcoin to make money from it. Just like you can hate Facebook but own its stock and cash it in when it’s too expensive versus another asset, say… I don’t know? Gold?

But that inverse relationship is finally changing. Bitcoin and gold are getting back into phase. And it’s right on schedule.

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Rising bond yields threaten financial markets, by Alasdair Macleod

There is no worse investment on the planet right now than longer-term bonds. If something else doesn’t upset the apple cart first, rising interest rates will raze the financial house of cards, to mix metaphors. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:

There is a growing recognition in financial circles that price inflation will increase significantly in the near future, and official estimates that it will be a temporary phenomenon limited to an average of 2% are overly optimistic. There is, therefore, increasing speculation about the need for interest rates to rise.

The bond yield on 10-year US Treasuries has already more than doubled over the last year. It is in the nature of market cycles for equity and other financial assets to continue to rise in value during an initial increase in bond yields. It is the second increase that can be expected to turn bullish optimism about the economic outlook into the beginning of a bear market. Financial markets, already dislocated from fundamental realities, appear to be acutely vulnerable to such a change in sentiment.

This article points out that equity markets are driven more by money flows rather than perceived economic prospects. Bank credit for industry is contracting, commodity prices are soaring, and supply chains remain disrupted. Fuelled by earlier expansions of money supply and further expansions to come, the world faces a far larger increase in price inflation than currently contemplated, and therefore far higher interest rates, threatening to destabilise both financial markets and fiat currencies.

Introduction

There is a rustling in the undergrowth, disturbing the sylvan setting where we complacently enjoy the dappled sunlight, innocently unaware of the prowling bear. The bear heralds another rise in bond yields as we grapple with the inflationary consequences of recent and current events.

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