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U.S. Inflation Rate Spiraling Out Of Control: Is Stagflation And A Depression On The Horizon?

April 15th, 2022 Comments off

Sheldon Filger-blogger for GlobalEconomicCrisis.com

 

 

 

Earlier this week the Labor Department released statistics on the CPI (consumer price index) for the period March 2021 through March 2022. The news was dismal,; the CPI data revealed that inflation in the United States had reached 8.5 percent. This is the highest level of CPI growth in the U.S. over a one year period registered since December 1981.

As bad as the official figures are, the reality is probably much worse. Typically, American government statistics reflecting inflation are lagging indicators. What is clear is that inflation in the U.S., as in most of the world, is accelerating at a quickening pace. It probably has reached double digits in the U.S., with every indication that it will continue to increase, probably well into double digit territory.

As to be expected, the Biden administration is blaming the Russia-Ukraine war for spiraling inflation. No doubt, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had a major negative impact on price stability. However, contrary to the spin of President Biden and his officials, the primary driver of the worst inflation spiral in the U.S. in more than 40 years has been policy missteps  of both a fiscal and monetary nature.

On the fiscal side the U.S. government responded to the Covid pandemic with levels of deficit spending that, in real terms, exceeded the debt spending required to fight World War II. In addition, government mandated lockdowns and restrictions on economic activity, both in the United States and worldwide, disrupted  supply chains. Added to all this has been the non-stop money printing by the Federal Reserve. In defiance of economic logic, the Fed unleashed an unprecedented floodtide of liquidity, while publicly claiming that the resulting inflationary upsurge was merely “transitory.”

The accumulation of policy missteps by sovereigns and central banks, especially as had occurred in the United States, has created a vicious negative feedback cycle. On the one hand, inflations is at its worst in more than 40 years, and accelerating. On the other hand, labor will demand massive wage increases to match the CPI , which will in turn add further pressure on the inflationary trend. Only recently has the Federal Reserve begun to comprehend its massive policy errors, and is beginning to play catch-up. With interest rates set to rise sharply over the next several months, policymakers have crafted the perfect storm: high inflation and a severe recession, leading to a likely stagflationary depression.

Global Economy on the Precipice of a 1930s Style Depression: Inflation, War Threats and Covid

January 31st, 2022 Comments off

Sheldon Filger-blogger for GlobalEconomicCrisis.com

 

 

Now that the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks have been finally forced by reality to abandon the fiction that inflation was a transitory phenomenon, they have hinted at upcoming interest rate rises  during the course of 2022. However, having been so wrong in policy measures thus far, it is highly likely that the Fed will be equally error-prone in the coming months. In the meantime, other factors are at play, beyond the grasp of any central bank’s efforts.

Instability is a toxic brew for economics, and the first weeks of 2022 already point to a year of geopolitical disarray. The Biden administration has gone public with warnings that Russia is about to invade Ukraine, stampeding its NATO allies into joining the anti-Putin hysteria. Even if the prediction of a Russian invasion should prove false, the loud manner that Washington has dealt with the issue assures greatly heightened tension in Europe, creating new strains on the world’s economic order. This is already reflected in the continuing rise in energy prices, including oil and natural gas, with the latter being a manifestation of European dependency on Russian energy exports. Added to this are the growing signs that the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program are not going well. Should they  collapse, this will create the growing danger of war in the Persian Gulf region, and the possible closure of the Straits of Hormuz, through which 30 percent of oil exports worldwide traverse. That alone would conceivably double or triple oil prices, virtually overnight.

Ukraine and Iran are not the only flashpoints on the horizon. North Korea continues its belligerent weapons testing. It is not inconceivable that it will conduct another nuclear weapons test during the course of 2022. In the meantime, there are growing strains between China and the U.S. over Taiwan.

While the geopolitical stability of the world continues to erode, the Covid pandemic is entering its third year, with no signs that its debilitating impact on global supply chains and normative economic activity will be ameliorated in the near-term.

In the meantime, opaque crypto-currencies have become major factors in the world financial order, posing dangers similar to that of derivatives during the 2007-09 Global Financial Crisis, but to a much higher degree.

With all the warning signals indicated above, this is the time that the Federal Reserve will have to begin lifting its near zero interest rates and end its lavish quantitative easing. The odds are that these policy measures will prove insufficient in arresting high inflation increasingly being nourished by factors unrelated to sheer monetary policy. What is more likely is that the Fed will stumble and likely precipitate a collapse of the asset bubbles it has created in the equities and real estate markets. All these factors point to not only a severe global recession, but something much worse; depression 1930s style.

U.S. Inflation Rate Rises to 7 %;Federal Reserve Will Be Compelled To Raise Interest Rates

January 12th, 2022 Comments off

The U.S  Labor Department released its CPI data for December 2021. It shows that, compared with the CPI for December 2020, the past year has seen an annual inflation rate of 7 %. Compared with the prior month, the CPI advanced a full half of a percent.

The official inflation  numbers make it clear that the Federal Reserve’s often repeated claim that inflation was “transitory” was a myth. If anything, inflation in the United States is accelerating. Furthermore, many economists view the official CPI data as an undercount. Likely, true inflation in the U.S. has reached double digits.

The reasons for this wave of inflation , unprecedented in the U.S. economy since the 1970s, I have commented on before in previous blog pieces. The important question now is what will the Fed, as well as other leading central banks in major economies, do in response to a clearly sustained wave of major price inflation.

Recently, even the Fed has abandoned its moniker that inflation was a transitory phenomenon . The Federal Reserve is now openly mulling monetary tightening in 2022, with intimations of 4 interest rate increases during the course of the year. However, the Fed and other central banks have been so muddled in their policy responses to date, it is likely that the steps expected will be ineffective. Should inflation further accelerate, compelling a more severe monetary retraction, the whole edifice of major equities and real estate valuation expansion built on cheap money will collapse. This makes a severe recession , and even a depression, a more likely near-term economic outcome.

Sheldon Filger-blogger for GlobalEconomicCrisis.com

U.S. Annual Inflation Rate Soars to 6.2% As Federal Reserve Engages In Deliberate Deception

November 10th, 2021 Comments off

 

The U.S. Labor Department has released its most recent official inflation report, which shows that the annual rate has now reached 6.2 %. This is the highest level of inflation in the United States in thirty years. It should be noted that official statistics on American inflation  are usually a lagging indicator. Likely, annual inflation in the U.S. is in the 8-9 percent range.

As noted on this blog previously, there are a number of converging forces feeding this inflationary spiral, which is afflicting not only the U.S. but the entire global economy. These include Covid restrictions that have reduced employment in key sectors, everything from shipping capacity to energy production and computer chip manufacturing. Then there has been the unprecedented flood of liquidity released by many central banks, in particular the Federal Reserve, which in this mix of lower productivity serves as a turbocharger of inflationary forces.

The policy of the Fed, up to the present moment, has been to claim that this inflationary spiral is merely “transitory.” No one believes this anymore; it is absurd to believe that the policymakers in the Federal Reserve believe their own lies.

Why is the Fed engaging in deliberate deception, while inflation is likely to hit double digits? It would appear that the Fed has concluded that the American economy is in such dire straits, it requires the life support of money printing (quantitative easing and monetization of public debt). Furthermore, the level of public debt is reaching the point of unsustainability, leaving  only two outcomes: the U.S Treasury defaults on the national debt or the real value of the debt is sharply diminished by high inflation. Of course , the Fed will never publically admit that it prefers inflation, even at a high level, than the alternative. This would involve sharply raising interest rates, leading to a sharp recession.

The danger of the Federal Reserve’s policy of deception and stealthily preferring high inflation is that it will lead to unforeseen consequences. Sustained economic growth along with political stability is incompatible with high inflation. Ultimately, the Fed policy will lead to stagflation, and eventually the Federal Reserve will be left with no alternative but to sharply raise interest rates, however in a more consequential manner.

Sheldon Filger-blogger for GlobalEconomicCrisis.com

Inflation On Steroids

October 15th, 2021 Comments off

Sheldon Filger-blogger for GlobalEconomicCrisis.com

 

 

 

For the past several months my blog has warned about the growing inflation threat to the global economy. That, and other economic distortions of a massive character, have made stagflation-inflation plus low or negative economic growth-an increasingly likely trend. Over that same period, central banks have nourished the flames of inflation, especially in the U.S.,  where theFederal Reserve has preached the erroneous gospel that inflation was only transitory, and therefore not a trend that should be of concern.

Reality has now caught up with the Fed.  At least some of the key players on the Federal Reserve have reluctantly agreed that inflationary pressures are real, and likely to be  a trend and not transitory. And then there is Larry Summers, former U.S. Treasury Secretary. He recently told Bloomberg News that the Federal Reserve’s policy errors are stoking inflation, making 1970s style stagflation inevitable. He told Bloomberg News, “we have a generation of central bankers who are defining themselves by their ‘wokeness.’…they’re defining themselves by how socially concerned they are.”

The causal factors for this surge of inflation are due to reactions by both sovereigns and their central banks to the Covid pandemic. Poorly conceived policy decisions have disrupted supply chains and labor markets. For example, in February of 2020 the percentage of eligible Americans in the active labor pool was 63.3%. By September of 2021 the labor participation rate had declined to 61.6%. With millions of workers absent from the labor pool and production and shipping of commodities and finished goods globally impeded, the resulting shortages have spiked prices of essential products, including food and energy.

As though government policy was not enough, central banks through profligate monetary policies have flooded a constricted global economy with unprecedented levels of liquidity. The result was fully predictable; turbocharged inflation. That is why housing prices in the U.S. have risen by more than 20% in the past year. They are projected to increase another 20% in the coming year, despite a weak economy. Simply put, the Federal Reserve, through artificially low interest rates and an out-of-control printing press, has encouraged speculators to buy up housing stock as investment properties, taking advantage of cheap money.

A stagflationary calamity looms just over the horizon. Unfortunately, policymakers and central bankers, especially in the United States, seem totally out of touch with reality, residing in a parallel universe while the global economy is on the edge of a cliff.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell Warns U.S. Economy May Contact By 30 Percent

May 18th, 2020 Comments off

In an interview with the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes, the Fed Chairman warned that the American economy could “easily” contract by 30 % in the current quarter. He also told the interviewer that the U.S. unemployment rate could peak at 25 %.Though the Fed chairman tried to put a positive spin on his message, using such rhetorical phrases as his “never bet against the American economy,” the reality Powell presented minus the spin was anything but rosy.

Even the Fed chairman’s prediction that economic growth would resume in the second half of 2020 was conditioned by developments on the health front, and that a full economic recovery required the development of an effective Covid-19 vaccine.

The Federal Reserve is clearly worried about a full-blown depression, a prospect that is increasingly likely. In fact, there is a growing consensus that a possible short-term recovery will be followed b y a sustained economic depression, transforming the global health crisis engendered by the coronavirus into the Global Economic Crisis of the 1920s.

 

U.S. Fed Raises Rates For First Time In Nine Years – -Federal Reserve Ends Zero-Interest Rate Policy

December 17th, 2015 Comments off

With the announcement by the Federal Reserve that it is raising its interest rate by 25 basis points, a policy of virtual zero-interest rates maintained by America’s central bank–and imitated by other central banks worldwide since the global economic and financial crises that arose in 2008–has officially come to an end. The minor rate increase of 0.25 percent is the first time since 2006 that the Fed has upped its benchmark interest rate.

The end of the extraordinary and long-lasting  monetary easing aggressively maintained by the Fed for nine-years thus  comes to an end, the justification being that the policy “worked,” the evidence being a very minor rise on forecasted future GDP growth prospects for the American economy. The decision by the Fed to raise its interest rate has supposedly been priced in by the equity markets for probably the last two years, at least. Nevertheless, the continued weakness in the global economy may provide a lesson in how fragile it really is, once the monetary pump-priming of zero-interest  rates is gone.

 

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Sheldon Filger's photo.

Fed Chair Yellen Muses Rate Increase

March 28th, 2015 Comments off

After a decade and a half of very low interests rates–and virtually zero interest rates since the onset of the global economic crisis in 2008, the U.S. Federal Reserve is increasing the rhetoric regarding what everyone knows is inevitable: rate increases.  The most recent comments by the Fed chair, Janet Yellen, point in that direction.

Yellen couched her words carefully, hinting that the rate increases will be slow and gradual, occurring in small increments over a period of several years. But the message is clear; monetary chicanery has run its course as an economic palliative. The distortions in the economy created by artificially low interest rates cannot be sustained forever.  The problem is, what bullets will be left to policymakers when the next recession strikes?

 

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Hillary Clinton Nude

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Excellent Critique Of U.S. Federal Reserve And Ben Bernanke By Israeli Economist Dr. Yishai Ashlag

September 24th, 2013 Comments off

Those who regularly read my blog, either on the GlobalEconomciCrisis.com website or my blogs pieces that are published in the Huffington Post, know that to say I am a critique of Ben Bernanke and his loose monetary policies at the U.S. Federal Reserve is an understatement.  Though most mainstream economists believe that Bernanke is a hero of the global economic crisis, a supposed savior from liquidity doom, there are a few excellent economists who from time to time offer incisive critiques on the Fed’s policies under Ben Bernanke.

Recently, I read an outstanding opinion piece on the madness of Ben Bernanke’s policies, and why it is bad for  other countries, including his own, to march in lock-step with the Fed’s easy money policies. Dr. Yishai Ashlag, an economist who writes for Israel’s leading business publication, “Globes,” has a piece entitled, “Interest rates should be raised not cut.” According to Ashlag’s take on Ben Bernanke,  “his policies are bad for the U.S. and bad for the world.” His explanation is well worth reading; here is the link to Dr. Ashlag’s piece on the “Globes” website:

http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000880933&fid=4111

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

Hillary Clinton Nude

HILLARY CLINTON NUDE

Hillary Clinton Nude

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Nouriel Roubini Warns That the U.S. Federal Reserve Is Constructing a “Monster Bubble.”

November 3rd, 2009 Comments off

 

In the Financial Times Professor Roubini wrote a thoughtful and frightening piece on the implications of the U.S. dollar’s sinking value and its increasing role in the global carry trade. Given Nouriel Roubini’s track record  in offering a timely warning on the collapse of the subprime mortgage  bubble, his latest red flag should be looked at very closely.

In essence, the loose monetary policies of the Fed have  poured a tidal wave of liquidity into the world, in the form of U.S. dollars being offered at effectively zero interest rates while simultaneously being devalued. This explains the explosive role the American dollar is exercising on the carry trade. As Roubini points out, speculators can borrow cheap dollars at effectively negative interest rates, and plough this cheap currency into higher yielding assets available in foreign exchange. What Professor Roubini describes as the “mother of all carry trades” is building a global speculative bubble of vast proportions, and in a manner that is utterly unsustainable.

Roubini closes his sober article in the Financial Times with the following chilling warning:

“This unravelling may not occur for a while, as easy money and excessive global liquidity can push asset prices higher for a while. But the longer and bigger the carry trades and the larger the asset bubble, the bigger will be the ensuing asset bubble crash. The Fed and other policymakers seem unaware of the monster bubble they are creating. The longer they remain blind, the harder the markets will fall.”

 

 

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