201804.25
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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Interest Rates Make Their Move

How quickly things change in these markets. In the report two weeks ago, the markets reflected a pretty obvious slowing in the global economy. In the course of two weeks, what seemed obvious has been quickly reversed. The 10-year yield moved up a quick 20 basis points in just a week, a rise in nominal…

201804.20
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Transitory’s Japanese Cousin

Thomas Hoenig was President of the Federal Reserve’s Kansas City branch for two decades. He left that post in 2011 to become Vice Chairman of the FDIC. Before that, Mr. Hoenig as a voting member of the FOMC in 2010 cast the lone dissenting vote in each of the eight policy meetings that year (meaning…

201804.19
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Hawkish

At their December 2017 policy meeting, the FOMC majority voted to increase the monetary policy targets (RRP & IOER) by an additional 25 bps. It was the fifth such move dating back to December 2015. It was not, however, a unanimous decision. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari both opposed…

201804.18
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Why The Last One Still Matters (IP Revisions)

Beginning with its very first issue in May 1915, the Federal Reserve’s Bulletin was the place to find a growing body of statistics on US economic performance. Four years later, monthly data was being put together on the physical volumes of trade. From these, in 1922, the precursor to what we know today as Industrial…

201804.16
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The Retail Sales Shortage

Retail sales rose (seasonally adjusted) in March 2018 for the first time in four months. Related to last year’s big hurricanes and the distortions they produced, retail sales had surged in the three months following their immediate aftermath and now appear to be mean reverting toward what looks like the same weak pre-storm baseline. Exactly…

201804.13
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There Aren’t Two Labor Markets

Allusions to a labor shortage continue to be ubiquitous. Two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal published yet another such story under the headline Iowa’s Employment Problem: Too Many Jobs, Not Enough People. Ostensibly about the experiences of companies trying to hire in the one state, the implication was clear enough. If Iowa, IOWA, has…

201804.11
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Inflation Hysteria Takes A Chinese Hit

Today is inflation day, as can happen on the occasional month. The US CPI came in without signs of acceleration despite the relinquishment of the Verizon effect on the statistical bucket. Financial markets are unenthused by all this, but you might not know why. The spread between 5- and 30-year Treasury yields, as well as…

201804.11
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Inflation Hysteria Takes Another Big Hit

As it turns out, those “transitory” inflation factors were worth only about 25 bps on the core CPI rate. This isn’t at all surprising and was as usual entirely predictable. But when you don’t have any answers there is a lamentable tendency toward denial or deliberate evasion, even if that leads toward the ridiculous. Base…

201804.10
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The Boom Takes Another Big Hit

The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 requires the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to produce and release its economic projections and assumptions every year. Typically, the CBO does so under initial assumptions each January. Those estimates are then revised, if necessary, later in the year with more complete information. This past January, however, the release was…

201804.10
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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Investing Is Not A Game of Perfect

The market volatility this year has been blamed on a lot of factors. The initial selloff was blamed on a hotter than expected wage number in the January employment report that supposedly sparked concerns about inflation – although a similar number this month wasn’t mentioned as a cause of last Friday’s selling. The unwinding of…