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…

201804.06
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Payroll Time

Never get hung up on one payroll report, good or bad. The Establishment Survey series, seasonally-adjusted and statistically smoothed as much as humanly possible, is still incredibly noisy. It didn’t used to be this way, which is an important clue that “something” has changed. The lack of consistency in the monthly measurement is as the…

201803.20
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Choosing the Right Curves

The background for inflation hysteria was pretty simple. Globally synchronized growth meant acceleration in the US economy which would raise demand for labor. The unemployment rate, faulty as it has been, suggests that any further increase in labor utilization would just have to pressure wages – the competition for workers rises as the marginal supply…

201803.07
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Really Looking For Inflation, Part 2

Continued from Part 1 What these unusually weak productivity estimates lean toward is, quite simply, the possibility the BLS has been overstating jobs gains for years. In early 2018, there is already the hint of just that problem in a 4.1% unemployment that doesn’t lead to any acceleration in wages and labor income. What it…

201803.07
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Really Looking For Inflation, Part 1

Most people have been looking at Jerome Powell’s Chairmanship of the Federal Reserve as continuity, a comprehensive extension of Janet Yellen’s (and therefore Bernanke’s). This would by nature include all the nasty habits Chairman Yellen had picked up during her one term. At the top of that list is the word “transitory”, particularly how it…

201803.06
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Questions Not of Success, But of the Effectiveness of Illusion

Last week, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda unleashed a mini-controversy with remarks he now claims were taken somewhat out of context. On March 2, speaking before Japan’s parliament, the central banker sure sounded quite confident: Right now, the members of the policy board and I think that prices will move to reach 2 percent…

201802.27
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Does It Always Have To Begin In Farce?

Imagine you live in a terrific neighborhood backed right up to a large wilderness. This heavily forested area has inside of it grown up a tremendous amount of underbrush. The local government, concerned for your property as well as those of your neighbors, starts making noises about taking care of the land before it dries…

201802.16
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The Home Builder Rationalization

Home construction rebounded in January 2018, though that may have been nothing more than statistical noise. Total permits filed to build new residential structures totaled 1.396 million (SAAR) last month, up from a revised 1.300 million in December. The entirety of that increase was due to a big jump in permits for the multi-family segment….

201802.02
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More Hurricane Effects Wear Off; Auto Sales Slump in January

The storm-assisted car-fest that ended last year appears to be fully winding down. Automakers overall posted weak sales to start 2018. They are putting on their best face, admitting widely that this year was going to be a tough one anyway as if they expected it. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, total sales…

201802.02
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Where’s The Inflation? Average Weekly Earnings Flat, Focus on 200k Instead Which Isn’t Even A Good Number

The unemployment rate, I’m sorry to report, didn’t tumble all the way to zero. Pity. It did stay at 4.1% for the fourth straight month. Because of that, wage pressures should be exploding right now. That seems to be the verdict in markets this morning, a rumble of inflation shot right through everything at the…