Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 10th December 2013
Classic from 1999-
Congrats on the budget surplus on the left, and warning that savings is too low on the right!
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 10th December 2013
Classic from 1999-
Congrats on the budget surplus on the left, and warning that savings is too low on the right!
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 10th December 2013
Pension contributions function as taxes:
Increased pension contributions
On Monday, a senior Senate Democratic aide said that workers would not have to increase their own contributions toward their pensions as much as previously thought.
The Congressional Budget Office had previously estimated that if each employee contributed an additional 1.2 percent of their salaries to get the same retirement annuities, it would save the government $19 billion over 10 years.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 9th December 2013
A bit more austerity on the way, seems:
Bundle of Tax Breaks Again Set to Lapse
(WSJ) Congress appears almost certain to allow a batch of temporary tax breaks to lapse at the end of 2013. The breaks range from broad provisions such as research credits for businesses and a sales-tax deduction for individuals, to narrower ones such as a credit for buying electric motorcycles. The number of temporary tax breaks has snowballed from a handful in the 1980s to more than 50 now, and some lawmakers are beginning to think the package might have become excessive. While extending them for a year or two at a time has helped mask their price tag, the Congressional Budget Office said that if the existing temporary breaks were extended over the next decade, they would cost the U.S. government almost $1 trillion. To keep the package intact, lawmakers rely on a tactic known as logrolling, supporting each other’s priorities in order to preserve their own breaks.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 8th December 2013
Pretty much all forecasters expect improvement in 2014 largely from what they call a reduction in fiscal drag. Their logic goes something like this (with the actual numbers varying a bit with different analysts):
Without the deficit reduction in 2013 that subtracted 2% from growth, growth would have been 4%. Therefore, when the fiscal drag ends, growth will return to the underlying 4% pace.
I’m suggest their logic is faulty.
The difference is that of ‘adding less’ vs ‘subtracting’
It’s not like the private sector alone was expanding at a 4% clip, and then govt came along and took away 2%.
It’s that by my count the private sector was growing at -2%, and govt was going to add 6% to that for 2013, but proactively reduced its support to only 4% in 2013 by cutting spending and raising taxes, resulting in 2% GDP growth rather than 4%. And for 2014 that ‘lost support’ will not be added back.
Assume, for example, GDP started 2013 at 100, and was forecast to go to 104 as stated above. Assuming nominal growth about 1.5% over real growth, let me push that up to 105.5.
That assumption included, say, federal deficit spending of 6% of GDP (starting at maybe a 7% rate and ending at maybe a 5% rate).
That is govt was forecast to make a net positive 6% contribution to spending by spending that much more than its income, aka ‘credit expansion’. Or, said another way, the total government spending contribution was over 20% of GDP, with all but 6% of that ‘offset’ by taxation that reduced incomes elsewhere.
Also note that the economy is currently ‘demand constrained’ as there is an output gap. In other words GDP could be higher, as a matter of accounting, simply by, for example,
govt hiring more people who are currently not working for pay, via the govt spending that much more than its income (adding to the deficit). Or GDP could be lower simply by govt cutting back, which is what actually happened, as recognized by the analysts.
That is, net govt spending was proactively reduced by about 2% due to tax increases and sequesters.
And federal deficit spending averaged perhaps 4% of GDP rather than 6% of GDP, thereby reducing said GDP..
That is, government contributed that much less to GDP. And that lost contribution will not be restored, as, if anything, there will be further deficit reduction forthcoming from Congress in 2014.
So my point is the 4% forecast for 2013 was not that much private sector growth that was then reduced by the deficit reduction measures. Instead, the growth forecast included the federal deficit contributing 6% to GDP, which was subsequently reduced by Congress to only 4%.
In fact, without the remaining 4% contribution of that net federal spending, nominal GDP might have been -.5% and real -2%.
And 2014 is starting out with federal deficit spending forecast to add only about $600 billion, which is less than 4% of GDP.
So to recap, the original forecast for 4% growth included the full 6% contribution from govt. And when that contribution was proactively reduced to 4%, growth forecasts were correctly cut to 2%.
And my point is that the assumed ‘underlying growth rate’ of 4% in fact presumed the then 6% contribution from govt which was subsequently reduced, thereby lowering ‘the underlying growth rate’ for 2013 to 2%.
It’s not that the private sector was responsible for 4% growth and that the govt took away 2% of that with the tax increases and sequesters.
In fact, it was more that the private sector was -2% on its own due to ‘demand leakages’/unspent incomes/savings desires including non residents) and govt support that was to boost that to +4% was cut back, resulting in a 2% rate of GDP growth for 2013.
I am not saying that GDP growth can’t pick up in 2014.
I am saying that the logic behind the widespread forecasts for a pick up in growth is universally faulty.
And that if growth does pick up it will be from an increase in non govt ‘spending more than incomes’, aka an increase non govt credit expansion.
While this is certainly possible, traditionally it comes from housing, which currently isn’t generating any credit expansion, and cars which are no longer generating meaningful increases.
Worse, in prior cycles we got the private sector credit expansion need to support relatively low output gaps only from expansion we never would have let happen if we had been aware of the consequences. These included the Bush sub prime expansion, the Clinton .com/y2k credit expansion, the Reagan S and L credit expansion, and the earlier Wriston emerging markets credit expansion. And I don’t see anything like that happening currently.
And so without the prerequisite acceleration of non govt credit expansion, the maths tell me 2014 GDP growth will remain at best at approximately the 2% level of 2013. And, with so little support from federal deficit spending, I see serious downside risks should private sector credit expansion falter for any reason.
And note too that the continuation of 2% GDP growth closes the output gap only by reducing estimates of potential output, primarily by assuming the drop in the participation rate is structural.
And even the modest employment gains we’ve seen are at risk. The growth rate of employment has been almost identical to the underlying rate of real growth, which improbably implies no productivity growth. So if there is any positive underlying productivity growth, and real growth remains the same, employment growth will decline accordingly.
Lastly, the ‘automatic fiscal stabilizers’ are continuously at work. So when private sector credit expansion does contribute to growth, the govt ‘automatically’ cuts back its support via reduced transfer payments and increased tax receipts, thereby tempering the positive effect of the private credit expansion, and making it that much more difficult for the growth to continue.
This means that even the current 2% growth rate will at some point get ground down by our current institutional structure. With growing risks that this could be very much sooner rather than later.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 4th November 2013
Loans negative and states borrowing less, thanks!
Top link is the change in total credit levels y/y in the commercial banking system using monthly data points through sept 2013. The numbers are seasonally adjusted. Trend going negative (looks to have last topped off in December 2012) in conjunction with federal deficit reduction and state & local deficit reductions. The bottom link has 3 series you can click on one for state & local and one for federal and one for consolidated gvt net borrowing or lending (looking at the federal or consolidated numbers they move flat 4q 2012 to 1q 2013 but spike upwards 1q 2013 moving forward. almost at the same exact time the credit levels started going negative).
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 22nd October 2013
July was first initially released at up 162,000 which, while lower than expected, I noted was still inconsistent with low top line growth. That is, without top line growth there aren’t any new private sector jobs unless productivity is negative. And causation runs from sales to employment.
So there’s no reason to expect job growth without top line growth that exceeds underlying productivity increases.
Also, the conventional wisdom all year has been that when govt ‘gets out of the way’ the ‘underlying private sector strength’ will come through and growth will resume. It was noted that reduced job totals were lowered by govt cutbacks while private jobs remained high. I suggested govt employment cutbacks would reduce private sector job growth, as that many fewer govt employees meant that much less spending/sales/employment for the private sector.
With fiscal support down to less than 3% of GDP from around 7% about a year ago, and at least 1.5% of that from the recent proactive tax hikes and spending cuts, and the automatic fiscal stabilizers as aggressive as they are, and with ‘financial conditions’ as they are, I don’t see any signs of the domestic credit expansion needed to support anything more than
very modest levels of real growth. And I also continue to see substantial risk of negative growth should the housing softness persist, auto sales revert back to the 15 million level, student loan growth continue to decelerate, business investment not accelerate, and net imports not do a lot.
Lower fuel prices are a plus but not yet nearly enough overcome the fiscal hurdles.
(feel free to distribute)
Released On 10/22/2013 8:30:00 AM For Sep, 2013
The payroll data and household numbers were mixed in September at the headline level but soft in detail. Markets were looking over their collective shoulder at the Fed. Total payroll jobs in September advanced 148,000, following a revised increase of 193,000 for August (originally up 169,000) and after a revised gain of 89,000 for July (previous estimate was 104,000). The consensus forecast was for a 184,000 gain for the latest month. The net revisions for July and August were up 9,000.
The unemployment rate slipped to 7.2 percent after dipping to 7.3 percent in August. Analysts expected a 7.3 percent unemployment rate. But the improvement was largely related to a decline in the pool of available workers, affecting the number of unemployed.
Turning back to payroll data, growth in recent months has been on a slowing trend. Private payrolls gained 126,000, following an increase of 161,000 in August (originally 152,000). The median forecast was for a 184,000 rise.
Wage growth eased in September, rising only 0.1 percent for average hourly earnings, following 0.2 percent the month before. Expectations were for a 0.2 percent gain. The average workweek held steady at 34.5 hours, matching the consensus projection
Y/Y growth in household labor force survey:
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 20th September 2013
Deficit sort of = savings?
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 24th August 2013
Down and both prior months revised down as well. And this was before mtg rates spiked, and before mass layoffs were announced by mortgage originators, etc. And ‘months supply’ rose to a somewhat ‘normal’ 5.2 months of supply at the current sales pace, taking some wind out of the ‘supply shortage’ story. And a measure of price declined from last month softening that story as well. All still up some from the same month last year, but the year over year gains are decelerating post fiscal tightening
It’s now hard to say housing has improved since the last Fed meeting.
The August employment report will be telling, as the initial report of July job increase dropped to 160,000. A lower number means that series would be worse than what the Fed was expecting as well
First, this report and the revisions, like the revisions to Q1, fit the narrative that austerity works to slow the economy. And so do the ‘revised’ numbers such as Q1 GDP. It’s the 200+ year old identity that in a monetary economy the demand leakages (agents spending less then their incomes) have to be overcome by others spending more than their incomes, or the output doesn’t get sold. So last year’s growth included the govt spending maybe 7% more than it’s income for that GDP to be posted. And this year, through automatic and proactive measures, govt is limited to spending 3% more than it’s income. That means the difference has to come from other agents spending more than their incomes or that much output doesn’t get sold. Yes, that kind of private sector credit expansion is possible, but I sure don’t see any evidence of that kind of credit expansion. So I don’t see growth increasing until that does happen. It’s not about ‘the govt cuts subtracted from GDP, so when that effect passes growth resumes’ Instead, it’s ‘govt was adding 7%, and now it’s adding only 3%, and growth will cause that to fall further via the automatic stabilizers until the cycle ends.’ That’s why they are called ‘stabilizers’- they cause the deficit to grow in a down turn until they cause the deficit to get large enough to reverse the decline, and they cut net govt spending until it’s too small to support the credit structure and it all goes into reverse.
And, of course, no one of political consequence sees it that way, as Congress and most others continue to judge deficit reduction as success that will somehow
lead to prosperity. So I only see it getting worse.
Also, as previously discussed, I see growth of industrial production as a sign of duress. Globally, for the most part that kind of thing goes to the nation that can feed its workers the fewest calories, in a brutal race to the bottom. Like Japan’s recent currency depreciation initiative taking a 25% bite out of real wages followed by export growth, etc.
Second, the whole QE thing is ‘perverse’ in that it doesn’t actually do anything of further economic consequence but market participants, and the Fed, act as if it does matter for the macro economy. And it also has some what can be called ‘supply side’ effects as it shifts available private sector assets between reserves, tsy secs, and agency mortgage backed securities.
So, for example, if tapering is on, stocks fall as its presumed the reason stocks went up was QE, and tsy and mbs yields rise as the Fed will be buying fewer of those things. And mixed into all that is the notion that the Fed tapers because it thinks the economy is strong, which should be good for stocks, but also cause yields to rise, which is bad for stocks. So the entire thing is a confusion of reaction functions and misperceptions.
It’s all something like the Keynesian beauty contest but with all the judges legally blind.
So if it goes ‘tapering off’ due to weak employment numbers from a weakening economy, is that good for stocks because QE continues, or bad because the economy is faltering?
And it will result in lower yields for both reasons.
One last thing.
The Fed minutes stated, as they always do, is that one of the reasons supporting their ‘improving growth’ forecast is the positive effect from ‘monetary accommodation’ that, in my humble opinion, as in Japan that has done far more far longer than we have, has failed to materialize going 5 years now. And all they have it the counterfactual using the same methodology that shows how much worse it would have been otherwise .
Again, in my humble opinion, history will not be kind to any of these people.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 21st August 2013
Comments in below and highlights mine:
Developments in Financial Markets and the Federal Reserve’s Balance Sheet
The Manager of the System Open Market Account reported on developments in domestic and foreign financial markets as well as the System open market operations during the period since the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met on June 18-19, 2013. By unanimous vote, the Committee ratified the Open Market Desk’s domestic transactions over the intermeeting period. There were no intervention operations in foreign currencies for the System’s account over the intermeeting period.
In support of the Committee’s longer-run planning for improvements in the implementation of monetary policy, the Desk report also included a briefing on the potential for establishing a fixed-rate, full-allotment overnight reverse repurchase agreement facility as an additional tool for managing money market interest rates. The presentation suggested that such a facility would allow the Committee to offer an overnight, risk-free instrument directly to a relatively wide range of market participants, perhaps complementing the payment of interest on excess reserves held by banks and thereby improving the Committee’s ability to keep short-term market rates at levels that it deems appropriate to achieve its macroeconomic objectives. The staff also identified several key issues that would require consideration in the design of such a facility, including the choice of the appropriate facility interest rate and possible additions to the range of eligible counterparties. In general, meeting participants indicated that they thought such a facility could prove helpful; they asked the staff to undertake further work to examine how it might operate and how it might affect short-term funding markets. A number of them emphasized that their interest in having the staff conduct additional research reflected an ongoing effort to improve the technical execution of policy and did not signal any change in the Committee’s views about policy going forward.
This would tend to work against the larger banks to the extent larger depositors could access the Fed directly.
Staff Review of the Economic Situation
The information reviewed for the July 30-31 meeting indicated that economic activity expanded at a modest pace in the first half of the year. Private-sector employment increased further in June, but the unemployment rate was still elevated. Consumer price inflation slowed markedly in the second quarter, likely restrained in part by some transitory factors, but measures of longer-term inflation expectations remained stable. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its advance estimate for second-quarter real gross domestic product (GDP), along with revised data for earlier periods, during the second day of the FOMC meeting. The staff’s assessment of economic activity and inflation in the first half of 2013, based on information available before the meeting began, was broadly consistent with the new information from the BEA.
Modest growth and inflation low and stable.
Private nonfarm employment rose at a solid pace in June, as in recent months, while total government employment decreased further. The unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in June, little changed from its level in the prior few months. The labor force participation rate rose slightly, as did the employment-to-population ratio. The rate of long-duration unemployment decreased somewhat, but the share of workers employed part time for economic reasons moved up; both of these measures remained relatively high. Forward-looking indicators of labor market activity in the near term were mixed: Although household expectations for the labor market situation generally improved and firms’ hiring plans moved up, initial claims for unemployment insurance were essentially flat over the intermeeting period, and measures of job openings and the rate of gross private-sector hiring were little changed.
Manufacturing production expanded in June, and the rate of manufacturing capacity utilization edged up. Auto production and sales were near pre-recession levels, and automakers’ schedules indicated that the rate of motor vehicle assemblies would continue at a similar pace in the coming months. Broader indicators of manufacturing production, such as the readings on new orders from the national and regional manufacturing surveys, were generally consistent with further modest gains in factory output in the near term.
Real personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased more slowly in the second quarter than in the first. However, some key factors that tend to support household spending were more positive in recent months; in particular, gains in equity values and home prices boosted household net worth, and consumer sentiment in the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers rose in July to its highest level since the onset of the recession.
Slower PCE increase and stocks and the Michigan survey mentioned subsequently reversed some.
Conditions in the housing sector generally improved further, as real expenditures for residential investment continued to expand briskly in the second quarter. However, construction activity was still at a low level, with demand restrained in part by tight credit standards for mortgage loans. Starts of new single-family homes were essentially flat in June, but the level of permit issuance was consistent with gains in construction in subsequent months. In the multifamily sector, where activity is more variable, starts and permits both decreased. Home prices continued to rise strongly through May, and sales of both new and existing homes increased, on balance, in May and June. The recent rise in mortgage rates did not yet appear to have had an adverse effect on housing activity.
Subsequently mortgage apps continued to fall as rates rose.
Growth in real private investment in equipment and intellectual property products was greater in the second quarter than in the first quarter.2 Nominal new orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft continued to trend up in May and June and were running above the level of shipments. Other recent forward-looking indicators, such as surveys of business conditions and capital spending plans, were mixed and pointed to modest gains in business equipment spending in the near term. Real business expenditures for nonresidential construction increased in the second quarter after falling in the first quarter. Business inventories in most industries appeared to be broadly aligned with sales in recent months.
Real federal government purchases contracted less in the second quarter than in the first quarter as reductions in defense spending slowed. Real state and local government purchases were little changed in the second quarter; the payrolls of these governments expanded somewhat, but state and local construction expenditures continued to decrease.
Didn’t mention tax collections were up.
The U.S. international trade deficit widened in May as exports fell slightly and imports rose. The decline in exports was led by a sizable drop in consumer goods, while most other categories of exports showed modest gains. Imports increased in a wide range of categories, with particular strength in oil, consumer goods, and automotive products.
Exports subsequently firmed some.
Overall U.S. consumer prices, as measured by the PCE price index, were unchanged from the first quarter to the second and were about 1 percent higher than a year earlier. Consumer energy prices declined significantly in the second quarter, although retail gasoline prices, measured on a seasonally adjusted basis, moved up in June and July. The PCE price index for items excluding food and energy rose at a subdued rate in the second quarter and was around 1-1/4 percent higher than a year earlier. Near-term inflation expectations from the Michigan survey were little changed in June and July, as were longer-term inflation expectations, which remained within the narrow range seen in recent years. Measures of labor compensation indicated that gains in nominal wages and employee benefits remained modest.
Inflation remained low.
Foreign economic growth appeared to remain subdued in comparison with longer-run trends. Nonetheless, there were some signs of improvement in the advanced foreign economies. Production and business confidence turned up in Japan, real GDP growth picked up to a moderate pace in the second quarter in the United Kingdom, and recent indicators suggested that the euro-area recession might be nearing an end. In contrast, Chinese real GDP growth moderated in the first half of this year compared with 2012, and indicators for other emerging market economies (EMEs) also pointed to less-robust growth. Foreign inflation generally remained well contained. Monetary policy stayed highly accommodative in the advanced foreign economies, but some EME central banks tightened policy in reaction to capital outflows and to concerns about inflationary pressures from currency depreciation.
Not much prospect for meaningful export growth.
Staff Review of the Financial Situation
Financial markets were volatile at times during the intermeeting period as investors reacted to Federal Reserve communications and to incoming economic data and as market dynamics appeared to amplify some asset price moves. Broad equity price indexes ended the period higher, and longer-term interest rates rose significantly. Sizable increases in rates occurred following the June FOMC meeting, as investors reportedly saw Committee communications as suggesting a less accommodative stance of monetary policy than had been expected going forward; however, a portion of the increases was reversed as subsequent policy communications lowered these concerns. U.S. economic data, particularly the June employment report, also contributed to the rise in yields over the period.
Stocks down, term interest rates higher, job growth a bit lower subsequently.
On balance, yields on intermediate- and longer-term Treasury securities rose about 30 to 45 basis points since the June FOMC meeting, with staff models attributing most of the increase to a rise in term premiums and the remainder to an upward revision in the expected path of short-term rates. The federal funds rate path implied by financial market quotes steepened slightly, on net, but the results from the Desk’s July survey of primary dealers showed little change in dealers’ views of the most likely timing of the first increase in the federal funds rate target. Market-based measures of inflation compensation were about unchanged.
Over the period, rates on primary mortgages and yields on agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) rose about in line with the 10-year Treasury yield. The option-adjusted spread for production-coupon MBS widened somewhat, possibly reflecting a downward revision in investors’ expectations for Federal Reserve MBS purchases, an increase in uncertainty about longer-term interest rates, and convexity-related MBS selling.
Spreads between yields on 10-year nonfinancial corporate bonds and yields on Treasury securities narrowed somewhat on net. Early in the period, yields on corporate bonds increased, and bond mutual funds and bond exchange-traded funds experienced large net redemptions in June; the rate of redemptions then slowed in July.
Market sentiment toward large domestic banking organizations appeared to improve somewhat over the intermeeting period, as the largest banks reported second-quarter earnings that were above analysts’ expectations. Stock prices of large domestic banks outperformed broader equity indexes, and credit default swap spreads for the largest bank holding companies moved about in line with trends in broad credit indexes.
Municipal bond yields rose sharply over the intermeeting period, increasing somewhat more than yields on Treasury securities. In June, gross issuance of long-term municipal bonds remained solid and was split roughly evenly between refunding and new-capital issuance. The City of Detroit’s bankruptcy filing reportedly had only a limited effect on the market for municipal securities as it had been widely anticipated by market participants.
Credit flows to nonfinancial businesses showed mixed changes. Reflecting the reduced incentive to refinance as longer-term interest rates rose, the pace of gross issuance of investment- and speculative-grade corporate bonds dropped in June and July, compared with the elevated pace earlier this year. In contrast, gross issuance of equity by nonfinancial firms maintained its recent strength in June. Leveraged loan issuance also continued to be strong amid demand for floating-rate instruments by investors. Financing conditions for commercial real estate continued to recover slowly. In response to the July Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices (SLOOS), banks generally indicated that they had eased standards on both commercial and industrial (C&I) and commercial real estate loans over the past three months. For C&I loans, standards were currently reported to be somewhat easy compared with longer-term norms, while for commercial real estate loans, standards remained somewhat tighter than longer-term norms. Banks reported somewhat stronger demand for most types of loans.
Financing conditions in the household sector improved further in recent months. Mortgage purchase applications declined modestly through July even as refinancing applications fell off sharply with the rise in mortgage rates. The outstanding amounts of student and auto loans continued to expand at a robust pace in May. Credit card debt remained about flat on a year-over-year basis. In the July SLOOS, banks reported that they had eased standards on most categories of loans to households in the second quarter, but that standards on all types of mortgages, and especially on subprime mortgage loans and home equity lines of credit, remained tight when judged against longer-run norms.
Mortgage purchase applications subsequently continued to fall as rates rose.
Increases in total bank credit slowed in the second quarter, as the book value of securities holdings fell slightly and C&I loan balances at large banks increased only modestly in April and May. M2 grew at an annual rate of about 7 percent in June and July, supported by flows into liquid deposits and retail money market funds. Both of these components of M2 may have been boosted recently by the sizable redemptions from bond mutual funds. The monetary base continued to expand rapidly in June and July, driven mainly by the increase in reserve balances resulting from the Federal Reserve’s asset purchases.
Ten-year sovereign yields in the United Kingdom and Germany rose with U.S. yields early in the intermeeting period but fell back somewhat after statements by the European Central Bank and the Bank of England were both interpreted by market participants as signaling that their policy rates would be kept low for a considerable time. On net, the U.K. 10-year sovereign yield increased, though by less than the comparable yield in the United States, while the yield on German bunds was little changed. Peripheral euro-area sovereign spreads over German bunds were also little changed on net. Japanese government bond yields were relatively stable over the period, after experiencing substantial volatility in May. The staff’s broad nominal dollar index moved up as the dollar appreciated against the currencies of the advanced foreign economies, consistent with the larger increase in U.S. interest rates. The dollar was mixed against the EME currencies. Foreign equity prices generally increased, although equity prices in China declined amid investor concerns regarding further signs that the economy was slowing and over volatility in Chinese interbank funding markets. Outflows from EME equity and bond funds, which had been particularly rapid in June, moderated in July.
Staff Economic Outlook
The data received since the forecast was prepared for the previous FOMC meeting suggested that real GDP growth was weaker, on net, in the first half of the year than had been anticipated. Nevertheless, the staff still expected that real GDP would accelerate in the second half of the year. Part of this projected increase in the rate of real GDP growth reflected the staff’s expectation that the drag on economic growth from fiscal policy would be smaller in the second half as the pace of reductions in federal government purchases slowed and as the restraint on growth in consumer spending stemming from the higher taxes put in place at the beginning of the year diminished. For the year as a whole, the staff anticipated that the rate of growth of real GDP would only slightly exceed that of potential output. The staff’s projection for real GDP growth over the medium term was essentially unrevised, as higher equity prices were seen as offsetting the restrictive effects of the increase in longer-term interest rates. The staff continued to forecast that the rate of real GDP growth would strengthen in 2014 and 2015, supported by a further easing in the effects of fiscal policy restraint on economic growth, increases in consumer and business confidence, additional improvements in credit availability, and accommodative monetary policy. The expansion in economic activity was anticipated to lead to a slow reduction in the slack in labor and product markets over the projection period, and the unemployment rate was expected to decline gradually.
The staff’s forecast for inflation was little changed from the projection prepared for the previous FOMC meeting. The staff continued to judge that much of the recent softness in consumer price inflation would be transitory and that inflation would pick up somewhat in the second half of this year. With longer-run inflation expectations assumed to remain stable, changes in commodity and import prices expected to be modest, and significant resource slack persisting over the forecast period, inflation was forecast to be subdued through 2015.
The staff continued to see numerous risks around the forecast. Among the downside risks for economic activity were the uncertain effects and future course of fiscal policy, the possibility of adverse developments in foreign economies, and concerns about the ability of the U.S. economy to weather potential future adverse shocks. The most salient risk for the inflation outlook was that the recent softness in inflation would not abate as anticipated.
Participants’ Views on Current Conditions and the Economic Outlook
In their discussion of the economic situation, meeting participants noted that incoming information on economic activity was mixed. Household spending and business fixed investment continued to advance, and the housing sector was strengthening. Private domestic final demand continued to increase in the face of tighter federal fiscal policy this year, but several participants pointed to evidence suggesting that fiscal policy had restrained spending in the first half of the year more than they previously thought. Perhaps partly for that reason, a number of participants indicated that growth in economic activity during the first half of this year was somewhat below their earlier expectations. In addition, subpar economic activity abroad was a negative factor for export growth. Conditions in the labor market improved further as private payrolls rose at a solid pace in June, but the unemployment rate remained elevated. Inflation continued to run below the Committee’s longer-run objective.
Participants generally continued to anticipate that the growth of real GDP would pick up somewhat in the second half of 2013 and strengthen further thereafter. Factors cited as likely to support a pickup in economic activity included highly accommodative monetary policy, improving credit availability, receding effects of fiscal restraint, continued strength in housing and auto sales, and improvements in household and business balance sheets. A number of participants indicated, however, that they were somewhat less confident about a near-term pickup in economic growth than they had been in June; factors cited in this regard included recent increases in mortgage rates, higher oil prices, slow growth in key U.S. export markets, and the possibility that fiscal restraint might not lessen.
Consumer spending continued to advance, but spending on items other than motor vehicles was relatively soft. Recent high readings on consumer confidence and boosts to household wealth from increased equity and real estate prices suggested that consumer spending would gather momentum in the second half of the year. However, a few participants expressed concern that higher household wealth might not translate into greater consumer spending, cautioning that household income growth remained slow, that households might not treat the additions to wealth arising from recent equity price increases as lasting, or that households’ scope to extract housing equity for the purpose of increasing their expenditures was less than in the past.
The housing sector continued to pick up, as indicated by increases in house prices, low inventories of homes for sale, and strong demand for construction. While recent mortgage rate increases might serve to restrain housing activity, several participants expressed confidence that the housing recovery would be resilient in the face of the higher rates, variously citing pent-up housing demand, banks’ increasing willingness to make mortgage loans, strong consumer confidence, still-low real interest rates, and expectations of continuing rises in house prices. Nonetheless, refinancing activity was down sharply, and the incoming data would need to be watched carefully for signs of a greater-than-anticipated effect of higher mortgage rates on housing activity more broadly.
Subsequently mtg purchase apps fell further and there has been anecdotal evidence of mortgage originators cutting staff, while homebuilder confidence has continues to firm.
In the business sector, the outlook still appeared to be mixed. Manufacturing activity was reported to have picked up in a number of Districts, and activity in the energy sector remained at a high level. Although a step-up in business investment was likely to be a necessary element of the projected pickup in economic growth, reports from businesses ranged from those contacts who expressed heightened optimism to those who suggested that little acceleration was likely in the second half of the year.
Participants reported further signs that the tightening in federal fiscal policy restrained economic activity in the first half of the year: Cuts in government purchases and grants reportedly had been a factor contributing to slower growth in sales and equipment orders in some parts of the country, and consumer spending seemed to have been held back by tax increases. Moreover, uncertainty about the effects of the federal spending sequestration and related furloughs clouded the outlook. It was noted, however, that fiscal restriction by state and local governments seemed to be easing.
No mention of increased state and loval tax collection.
The June employment report showed continued solid gains in payrolls. Nonetheless, the unemployment rate remained elevated, and the continuing low readings on the participation rate and the employment-to-population ratio, together with a high incidence of workers being employed part time for economic reasons, were generally seen as indicating that overall labor market conditions remained weak. It was noted that employment growth had been stronger than would have been expected given the recent pace of output growth, reflecting weak gains in productivity. Some participants pointed out that once productivity growth picked up, faster economic growth would be required to support further increases in employment along the lines seen of late. However, one participant thought that sluggish productivity performance was likely to persist, implying that the recent pace of output growth would be sufficient to maintain employment gains near current rates.
Recent readings on inflation were below the Committee’s longer-run objective of 2 percent, in part reflecting transitory factors, and participants expressed a range of views about how soon inflation would return to 2 percent. A few participants, who felt that the recent low inflation rates were unlikely to persist or that the low PCE inflation readings might be marked up in future data revisions, suggested that, as transitory factors receded and the pace of recovery improved, inflation could be expected to return to 2 percent reasonably quickly. A number of others, however, viewed the low inflation readings as largely reflecting persistently deficient aggregate demand, implying that inflation could remain below 2 percent for a protracted period and further supporting the case for highly accommodative monetary policy.
Both domestic and foreign asset markets were volatile at times during the intermeeting period, reacting to policy communications and data releases. In discussing the increases in U.S. longer-term interest rates that occurred in the wake of the June FOMC meeting and the associated press conference, meeting participants pointed to heightened financial market uncertainty about the path of monetary policy and a shift of market expectations toward less policy accommodation. A few participants suggested that this shift occurred in part because Committee participants’ economic projections, released following the June meeting, generally showed a somewhat more favorable outlook than those of private forecasters, or because the June policy statement and press conference were seen as indicating relatively little concern about inflation readings, which had been low and declining. Moreover, investors may have perceived that Committee communications about the possibility of slowing the pace of asset purchases also implied a higher probability of an earlier firming of the federal funds rate. Subsequent Federal Reserve communications, which emphasized that decisions about the two policy tools were distinct and underscored that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy would remain appropriate for a considerable period after purchases are completed, were seen as having helped clarify the Committee’s policy strategy. A number of participants mentioned that, by the end of the intermeeting period, market expectations of the future course of monetary policy, both with regard to asset purchases and with regard to the path of the federal funds rate, appeared well aligned with their own expectations. Nonetheless, some participants felt that, as a result of recent financial market developments, overall financial market conditions had tightened significantly, importantly reflecting larger term premiums, and they expressed concern that the higher level of longer-term interest rates could be a significant factor holding back spending and economic growth. Several others, however, judged that the rise in rates was likely to exert relatively little restraint, or that the increase in equity prices and easing in bank lending standards would largely offset the effects of the rise in longer-term interest rates. Some participants also stated that financial developments during the intermeeting period might have helped put the financial system on a more sustainable footing, insofar as those developments were associated with an unwinding of unsustainable speculative positions or an increase in term premiums from extraordinarily low levels.
Equities are subsequently down substantially.
In looking ahead, meeting participants commented on several considerations pertaining to the course of monetary policy. First, almost all participants confirmed that they were broadly comfortable with the characterization of the contingent outlook for asset purchases that was presented in the June post meeting press conference and in the July monetary policy testimony. Under that outlook, if economic conditions improved broadly as expected, the Committee would moderate the pace of its securities purchases later this year. And if economic conditions continued to develop broadly as anticipated, the Committee would reduce the pace of purchases in measured steps and conclude the purchase program around the middle of 2014. At that point, if the economy evolved along the lines anticipated, the recovery would have gained further momentum, unemployment would be in the vicinity of 7 percent, and inflation would be moving toward the Committee’s 2 percent objective. While participants viewed the future path of purchases as contingent on economic and financial developments, one participant indicated discomfort with the contingent plan on the grounds that the references to specific dates could be misinterpreted by the public as suggesting that the purchase program would be wound down on a more-or-less preset schedule rather than in a manner dependent on the state of the economy. Generally, however, participants were satisfied that investors had come to understand the data-dependent nature of the Committee’s thinking about asset purchases. A few participants, while comfortable with the plan, stressed the need to avoid putting too much emphasis on the 7 percent value for the unemployment rate, which they saw only as illustrative of conditions that could obtain at the time when the asset purchases are completed.
Second, participants considered whether it would be desirable to include in the Committee’s policy statement additional information regarding the Committee’s contingent outlook for asset purchases. Most participants saw the provision of such information, which would reaffirm the contingent outlook presented following the June meeting, as potentially useful; however, many also saw possible difficulties, such as the challenge of conveying the desired information succinctly and with adequate nuance, and the associated risk of again raising uncertainty about the Committee’s policy intentions. A few participants saw other forms of communication as better suited for this purpose. Several participants favored including such additional information in the policy statement to be released following the current meeting; several others indicated that providing such information would be most useful when the time came for the Committee to begin reducing the pace of its securities purchases, reasoning that earlier inclusion might trigger an unintended tightening of financial conditions.
Finally, the potential for clarifying or strengthening the Committee’s forward guidance for the federal funds rate was discussed. In general, there was support for maintaining the current numerical thresholds in the forward guidance. A few participants expressed concern that a decision to lower the unemployment threshold could potentially lead the public to view the unemployment threshold as a policy variable that could not only be moved down but also up, thereby calling into question the credibility of the thresholds and undermining their effectiveness. Nonetheless, several participants were willing to contemplate lowering the unemployment threshold if additional accommodation were to become necessary or if the Committee wanted to adjust the mix of policy tools used to provide the appropriate level of accommodation. A number of participants also remarked on the possible usefulness of providing additional information on the Committee’s intentions regarding adjustments to the federal funds rate after the 6-1/2 percent unemployment rate threshold was reached, in order to strengthen or clarify the Committee’s forward guidance. One participant suggested that the Committee could announce an additional, lower set of thresholds for inflation and unemployment; another indicated that the Committee could provide guidance stating that it would not raise its target for the federal funds rate if the inflation rate was expected to run below a given level at a specific horizon. The latter enhancement to the forward guidance might be seen as reinforcing the message that the Committee was willing to defend its longer-term inflation goal from below as well as from above.
Committee Policy Action
Committee members viewed the information received over the intermeeting period as suggesting that economic activity expanded at a modest pace during the first half of the year. Labor market conditions showed further improvement in recent months, on balance, but the unemployment rate remained elevated. Household spending and business fixed investment advanced, and the housing sector was strengthening, but mortgage rates had risen somewhat and fiscal policy was restraining economic growth. The Committee expected that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic growth would pick up from its recent pace, resulting in a gradual decline in the unemployment rate toward levels consistent with the Committee’s dual mandate. With economic activity and employment continuing to grow despite tighter fiscal policy, and with global financial conditions less strained overall, members generally continued to see the downside risks to the outlook for the economy and the labor market as having diminished since last fall. Inflation was running below the Committee’s longer-run objective, partly reflecting transitory influences, but longer-run inflation expectations were stable, and the Committee anticipated that inflation would move back toward its 2 percent objective over the medium term. Members recognized, however, that inflation persistently below the Committee’s 2 percent objective could pose risks to economic performance.
In their discussion of monetary policy for the period ahead, members judged that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy was warranted in order to foster a stronger economic recovery and sustained improvement in labor market conditions in a context of price stability. In considering the likely path for the Committee’s asset purchases, members discussed the degree of improvement in the labor market outlook since the purchase program began last fall. The unemployment rate had declined considerably since then, and recent gains in payroll employment had been solid. However, other measures of labor utilization–including the labor force participation rate and the numbers of discouraged workers and those working part time for economic reasons–suggested more modest improvement, and other indicators of labor demand, such as rates of hiring and quits, remained low. While a range of views were expressed regarding the cumulative improvement in the labor market since last fall, almost all Committee members agreed that a change in the purchase program was not yet appropriate. However, in the view of the one member who dissented from the policy statement, the improvement in the labor market was an important reason for calling for a more explicit statement from the Committee that asset purchases would be reduced in the near future. A few members emphasized the importance of being patient and evaluating additional information on the economy before deciding on any changes to the pace of asset purchases. At the same time, a few others pointed to the contingent plan that had been articulated on behalf of the Committee the previous month, and suggested that it might soon be time to slow somewhat the pace of purchases as outlined in that plan. At the conclusion of its discussion, the Committee decided to continue adding policy accommodation by purchasing additional MBS at a pace of $40 billion per month and longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of $45 billion per month and to maintain its existing reinvestment policies. In addition, the Committee reaffirmed its intention to keep the target federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and retained its forward guidance that it anticipates that this exceptionally low range for the federal funds rate will be appropriate at least as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6-1/2 percent, inflation between one and two years ahead is projected to be no more than a half percentage point above the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal, and longer-term inflation expectations continue to be well anchored.
Members also discussed the wording of the policy statement to be issued following the meeting. In addition to updating its description of the state of the economy, the Committee decided to underline its concern about recent shortfalls of inflation from its longer-run goal by including in the statement an indication that it recognizes that inflation persistently below its 2 percent objective could pose risks to economic performance, while also noting that it continues to anticipate that inflation will move back toward its objective over the medium term. The Committee also considered whether to add more information concerning the contingent outlook for asset purchases to the policy statement, but judged that doing so might prompt an unwarranted shift in market expectations regarding asset purchases. The Committee decided to indicate in the statement that it “reaffirmed its view”–rather than simply “expects”–that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends and the economic recovery strengthens.
At the conclusion of the discussion, the Committee voted to authorize and direct the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, until it was instructed otherwise, to execute transactions in the System Account in accordance with the following domestic policy directive:
“Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Federal Open Market Committee seeks monetary and financial conditions that will foster maximum employment and price stability. In particular, the Committee seeks conditions in reserve markets consistent with federal funds trading in a range from 0 to 1/4 percent. The Committee directs the Desk to undertake open market operations as necessary to maintain such conditions. The Desk is directed to continue purchasing longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of about $45 billion per month and to continue purchasing agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of about $40 billion per month. The Committee also directs the Desk to engage in dollar roll and coupon swap transactions as necessary to facilitate settlement of the Federal Reserve’s agency mortgage-backed securities transactions. The Committee directs the Desk to maintain its policy of rolling over maturing Treasury securities into new issues and its policy of reinvesting principal payments on all agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities. The System Open Market Account Manager and the Secretary will keep the Committee informed of ongoing developments regarding the System’s balance sheet that could affect the attainment over time of the Committee’s objectives of maximum employment and price stability.”
The vote encompassed approval of the statement below to be released at 2:00 p.m.:
“Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in June suggests that economic activity expanded at a modest pace during the first half of the year. Labor market conditions have shown further improvement in recent months, on balance, but the unemployment rate remains elevated. Household spending and business fixed investment advanced, and the housing sector has been strengthening, but mortgage rates have risen somewhat and fiscal policy is restraining economic growth. Partly reflecting transitory influences, inflation has been running below the Committee’s longer-run objective, but longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.
Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic growth will pick up from its recent pace and the unemployment rate will gradually decline toward levels the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate. The Committee sees the downside risks to the outlook for the economy and the labor market as having diminished since the fall. The Committee recognizes that inflation persistently below its 2 percent objective could pose risks to economic performance, but it anticipates that inflation will move back toward its objective over the medium term.
To support a stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with its dual mandate, the Committee decided to continue purchasing additional agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month and longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of $45 billion per month. The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction. Taken together, these actions should maintain downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative.
The Committee will closely monitor incoming information on economic and financial developments in coming months. The Committee will continue its purchases of Treasury and agency mortgage-backed securities, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate, until the outlook for the labor market has improved substantially in a context of price stability. The Committee is prepared to increase or reduce the pace of its purchases to maintain appropriate policy accommodation as the outlook for the labor market or inflation changes. In determining the size, pace, and composition of its asset purchases, the Committee will continue to take appropriate account of the likely efficacy and costs of such purchases as well as the extent of progress toward its economic objectives.
To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee today reaffirmed its view that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends and the economic recovery strengthens. In particular, the Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that this exceptionally low range for the federal funds rate will be appropriate at least as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6-1/2 percent, inflation between one and two years ahead is projected to be no more than a half percentage point above the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal, and longer-term inflation expectations continue to be well anchored. In determining how long to maintain a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy, the Committee will also consider other information, including additional measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial developments. When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent.”
Voting for this action: Ben Bernanke, William C. Dudley, James Bullard, Elizabeth Duke, Charles L. Evans, Jerome H. Powell, Sarah Bloom Raskin, Eric Rosengren, Jeremy C. Stein, Daniel K. Tarullo, and Janet L. Yellen.
Voting against this action: Esther L. George.
Ms. George dissented because she favored including in the policy statement a more explicit signal that the pace of the Committee’s asset purchases would be reduced in the near term. She expressed concerns about the open-ended approach to asset purchases and viewed providing such a signal as important at this time, in light of the ongoing improvement in labor market conditions as well as the potential costs and uncertain benefits of large-scale asset purchases.
It was agreed that the next meeting of the Committee would be held on Tuesday-Wednesday, September 17-18, 2013. The meeting adjourned at 12:30 p.m. on July 31, 2013.
By notation vote completed on July 9, 2013, the Committee unanimously approved the minutes of the FOMC meeting held on June 18-19, 2013
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 14th August 2013
With fixed fx/convertible currency ‘base money’ doesn’t include govt secs as those obligations are claims on govt reserves (gold, fx, etc.), which are part of ‘national savings’ as defined.
However, with today’s floating fx/non convertible currency tsy secs (held outside of govt) are logically additions to ‘base money’, as the notion of a reduction of govt reserves (again, gold, fx, etc) is inapplicable to non convertible currency.
That is, with today’s floating fx, I define base money as currency in circulation + $ balances in Fed accounts. And $ balances in Fed accounts include both member bank ‘reserve accounts’ and ‘securities accounts’ (tsy secs). And to me, it’s also not wrong to include any other govt guaranteed debt as well, including agency paper, etc.
That is, with floating fx, ‘base money’ can logically be defined as the total net financial assets of the non govt sectors.
(Note, for example, that this means QE does not alter base money as thus defined, which further fits the observation that QE in today’s context is nothing more than a tax that removes interest income from the economy.)
And deficit reduction is the reduction in the addition of base money to the economy, with the predictable slowing effects as observed.
The point of this post is to ‘reframe’ govt deficit spending away from ‘going into debt’ as it would be with fixed fx, to ‘adding to base money’ as is the case with floating fx where net govt spending increase the economy’s holdings of govt liabilities, aka ‘tax credits’.
Feel free to distribute!
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 13th August 2013
Funny how little attention, if any, is focused on how corporate profits are a function of federal deficit spending?
Nothing ‘new’ about the idea that deficit spending and profits are related:
Kalecki’s most famous contribution is his profit equation.
In this model total profits (net taxes this time) are the sum of capitalist consumption, investment, public deficit, net external surplus (exports minus imports) minus workers savings.”
In any case, without an increase in net exports or some kind of material increase in credit expansion the decline in the federal deficit is highly problematic.
Corporate profits and the deficit as a % of GDP:
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 12th August 2013
The Hubbard is bare?
His concluding remarks:
America’s high and rising national debt threatens our economic health through higher future taxes, crowding out important government services, or both. The best antidote is a focus on economic growth and a balanced approach to deficit control.
Are those now the only two arrows left?
Higher future taxes and crowding out GOVERNMENT services?
Yes, higher taxes to cool demand if the output gap gets too small, which would be a good thing, and I thought it used to be that govt deficits crowd out private borrowing?
All the rest has been abandoned?
Because he now knows they are nonsensical fear mongering?
Pathetic that he carries on with it at all, of course
By R Glenn Hubbard and Time Kane
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 11th July 2013
The data continues to support the narrative:
Proactive deficit reduction, aka ‘austerity’, slows an economy and can throw it into reverse if some other agent’s deficit spending/savings reduction doesn’t rise to the occasion.
And add to that the growing headwind of the now highly aggressive ‘automatic fiscal stabilizers’ with a deficit now probably running at a pace well under 3% of GDP.
As you know I’ve been looking for any sign of credit expansion and so far I see nothing but deceleration. Mortgage credit outstanding continues to contract, housing starts have gone sideways, and most recently mtg apps have actually turned down. Unemployment claims seem to have bottomed earlier this year and the 3 month moving average has turned up as well. Year over year consumer credit growth is flat, and bank lending in general remains only very modestly positive, with no sign of a recent increase needed to fill the ‘spending gap’ left by a retreating govt sector.
Furthermore, GDP has been revised down to be consistent with my narrative, with Q1 now down to 1.8% and Q2 estimates in the 1%- 1.5% range. And, as discussed yesterday, with long term productivity somewhere around that level, jobs should go from up 200,000 to flat, with a lag of course. In other words, the upturn in claims that leads jobs is offering more support for that narrative.
Additionally, the risk of it all going into reverse is mounting as well. This happens when the deficit- the net financial equity of the economy- isn’t sufficient to support the credit structure that’s supporting growth. And the way the deficit gets higher is via the automatic fiscal stabilizers going into reverse- the slowing economy increases transfer payments and reduces revenues.
Also note the evidence of global disinflation including commodity prices, a general fade of the emerging market sector, and Europe at best getting modestly less worse. Only Japan has had some growth, but none of it is about growing imports, so it’s no help to anyone else, and their 25% real wage pay cut and increased exports/lower prices is reducing domestic demand abroad and deflating prices and margins abroad.
For more data, scroll down through www.moslereconomics.com where I’ve been posting charts with the data releases. Hint: they all show a general deceleration.
Conclusion- we are in the midst of a global, broad based fiscally induced set of contractionary/deflationary forces.
Supporting optimism is the notion that ‘yes the fiscal drag from the tax hikes is subtracting from growth, but when it ends growth will return as the underlying private sector is growing at over 3%”
Yes, that’s possible, but again, it means private sector credit growth has to be there offering ever increasing support to offset the ‘demand leakages’ and to overcome the fiscal headwinds of the automatic fiscal stabilizers. And note that the automatic fiscal stabilizers are just that. They work to reverse declines by automatically increasing the deficit, and work to end expansions by automatically decreasing the deficit. So they will end the up leg in any case, and pro active deficit reduction only hastens that outcome in any case.
So after the tax hikes and sequesters have ratcheted down growth and lowered the deficit as well, the question is whether the economy will grow from that point.
I agree it’s not theoretically impossible, but it takes ever expanding private sector credit expansion, which is asking a lot from our current institutional structure.
And, of course, the portfolio shifting in reaction to the QE placebo is it’s own can of worms…
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, although the level still appeared to point to healing in the nation’s job market. Meanwhile, prices for U.S. imports and exports fell in June for the fourth straight month.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased by 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 360,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 10th July 2013
Looks like the fiscal year deficit will drop from 7% of GDP in 2012 to 3.2% of GDP in 2013.
That means it’s probably going to be running at pace much lower than that on a month to month basis. Again, we are at risk of the deficit not being large enough to support GDP growth at current levels as demand leakages continue unabated.
Could private credit or exports expand sufficiently to ‘make up’ for the reduced govt deficit spending?
Yes, in theory, but so far I see no signs of that happening.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 8th July 2013
Yes, and another Banker’s Trust alumni!
Note how his superior credentials as former BT CEO and Dep Tsy sec command respectful engagement
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 21st June 2013
So back to basics
For 16t in output to get sold there must have been 16t in spending, which also translates into 16t in some agent’s income.
And (apart from unsold inventory growth), for all practical purposes nominal GDP growth is another way to say sales growth.
To state the obvious, sales = spending, income = expense, etc. Working against growth is ‘unspent income’, also called ‘demand leakages’. Those include pension contributions, insurance reserves, retained earnings, foreign CB fx purchases, cash hoards, etc. etc. etc. And for every agent that spent less than his income, some other agent spent more than his income, to the tune of the 16t GDP.
And GDP growth is a function of that much more of same.
Well, the 2% or so growth we’ve been getting once included the govt spending maybe 10% more than its income to keep sales growing more than the demand leakages were working against sales growth. And with growth, the so called automatic fiscal STABILIZERS work to temper that growth, as growth causes govt revenues to increase and govt transfer payments to decline.
You can think of this as institutional structure that causes the economy to have to go uphill to grow. That’s because as the economy grows, the growth of govt net spending is ‘automatically’ reduced.
So after a couple of years growth the govt went from spending maybe 10% more than its income to something under 6% of its income, which translated into about 2% real growth, and about 3.5% nominal growth.
Well, to keep this going in the face of the demand leakages, some other agents were picking up the slack.
Looking at the charts it seems to me it was the home buyers and car buyers who were consistently spending more than their incomes, driving the nominal GDP growth.
But then on Jan 1 fica taxes went up as did some income tax rates, by about 3.5 billion/week, removing that much income from potential spenders. And a few months later the sequesters hit, both reducing GDP by the amount of those spending cuts and reducing income by about another 1.5 billion per week.
In other words, the govt suddenly reduced the amount it was spending beyond its income by about 1.5% of GDP, which had been working along with the domestic credit expansion to outpace the demand leakages.
So how has domestic credit managed to expand to fill that spending gap caused by the already retreating govt deficit spending proactively dropping another 1.5%?
With great difficulty!
Since January, after climbing steadily, car sales look to have gone sideways. And looks to me like the rate of domestic deficit spending on housing has declined as well. In any case there hasn’t been an the increase these ‘credit expansion engines’ needed to fill the spending gap from the proactive drop in govt deficit spending. And add to that decelerating person income stats (and remember, the pay for additional jobs comes from someone else’s income, and hopefully income spent on output).
And in any case to keep growing at about 2% credit expansion has to overcome the demand leakages and climb the hill of the automatic fiscal stabilizers as with the current institutional structure nominal growth automatically reduces the contribution of govt deficit spending, which is now maybe down to 4% of GDP. Note that with forecasts of 2% growth the forecast for the govt deficit spending falls to only 2% of GDP, implying far more rapid increases of ‘borrowing to spend’ in the domestic sector. And if that net new borrowing doesn’t materialize, the sales don’t either.
Is it possible for housing related credit expansion to suddenly accelerate? Sure, but is it likely, especially in the face of the drag the govt layoffs and tax increases that made the hill the domestic credit expansion needs to climb that much steeper? And sure, the foreign sector could suddenly spend that much more of its income in the US, but is a US export boom likely in the current anemic global economy? I wouldn’t bet on it.
Now add this to the taper nonsense.
As previously discussed, QE is at best a placebo, and more likely a negative as it removes interest income from the economy.
But with none of the name institutions of higher learning teaching this, today’s portfolio managers think it’s somehow a ‘stimulus’ and act accordingly, driving up stock prices globally, supporting global ‘confidence’, even as growth and earnings show signs of fading. And then when the Fed even discusses the possibility of reducing the volume of QE, they all stampede the other way, with bonds reacting to the same misguided QE logic as well. But in any case, these are misguided, one time portfolio shifts, that tend to reverse with time as the reality of the underlying economy/earnings eventuates, refudiating the presumed effects of QE… :)
To conclude, I just don’t see the source of the credit expansion needed for anything more than modest nominal growth, which has now continued to decelerate to maybe 3% of GDP, and a real risk that the domestic credit expansion can’t even keep up with the demand leakages, and real GDP goes negative, along with top line growth and earnings growth.
In fact, with annual population growth running at about 1.25%, per capita GDP is already only about equal to productivity growth, as the labor force participation rate hovers at multi decade lows.
Have a nice weekend!
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 14th May 2013
Deficit projected 200bn less than 3mths ago for current fiscal year. Projected at 2.1% of GDP for 2014-15, or 600bn less than 3mtgs ago.
No more grand bargain talk?
Maybe, but this is still being said:
For the 20142023 period, deficits in CBOs baseline projections total $6.3 trillion. With such deficits, federal debt held by the public is projected to remain above 70 percent of GDPfar higher than the 39 percent average seen over the past four decades. (As recently as the end of 2007, federal debt equaled 36 percent of GDP.) Under current law, the debt is projected to decline from about 76 percent of GDP in 2014 to slightly below 71 percent in 2018 but then to start rising again; by 2023, if current laws remain in place, debt will equal 74 percent of GDP and continue to be on an upward path (see figure below).
And it all begs the question of whether the proactive tax hikes and spending cuts will through the credit accelerators into reverse, as nominal GDP growth continues to decelerate.
I sat next to Al Gore at dinner at Monty Friedkin’s house in Boca for 45 minutes in front of that election. Cliff was there as well. Al asked me how we should spend the $5.6 trillion surplus projected for the next 10 years. I told him there wasn’t going to be a $5.6 trillion surplus as that implied a reduction of that much of net global $US financial assets, to the penny. Instead, a $5.6 trillion deficit was more likely to bring deficit spending back in line with ‘savings desires’ which I also described. He’s a pretty good student, went through the numbers, and agreed with the logic. He then said something like ‘You know I can’t get up and say any of this’ as he got up and explained how he was going to spend the $5.6 trillion surplus.
Point is, the CBO makes assumptions about growth that don’t recognize that growth can be a function of fiscal balance.
In other words the tax hikes and spending cuts (aka ‘austerity’) initially cause the deficit to fall, but if the deficit is proactively brought down too much then undermines private sector credit expansion/spending causing sales/output/employment to slow sufficiently for the deficit to rise to where it ‘needs to be’ from suddenly falling revenues and rising transfer payments. As demonstrated by proactive fiscal tightening in the UK, Europe, and Japan, for example.
This is not to say the tax hikes and spending cuts in the US have crossed that line.
Nor is it to say they haven’t.
For me the jury is still out.
Today’s Tepper rally apparently was based on the idea that the ‘QE money has to be invested somewhere’ which is of course total nonsense.
(See if you can spot any sign of QE in the attached nominal GDP chart)
But it moved the market nonetheless.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 9th May 2013
Profits turned over to Tsy are a tax/demand leakage, just like $ from the Fed.
May 9 (Reuters) — Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest mortgage finance company, said on Thursday it will pay $59.4 billion in dividends to the U.S. Treasury after a record profit in the first quarter that reflecting a multibillion dollar gain from reversing an earlier writedown of tax benefits.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 1st May 2013
During the last two post 2008 double dip scares I made the point that the 9% or so deficit was too large for that to happen, and instead recommended buying the dips.
This time the deficit has been proactively cut to maybe a less than a 5% of GDP annual rate, in which case I see a meaningful chance of negative GDP.
And one that is not being discounted by a market that’s remembering that the last two double dip scares didn’t materialize.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 1st May 2013
Not that Krugman is right, but that ‘de Niall is wrong here. Comments in below:
By Morgan Korn
April 30 (Daily Ticker) — Niall Ferguson has two words for Paul Krugman: youre wrong.
The Harvard University history professor and author of Civilization: The West and the Rest says Krugmans pro-government spending thesis not only fails to address the core problems facing the U.S. and Europe today but also has dire consequences for individuals living in these economies.
You cant borrow trillions of dollars a year for the rest of time, Ferguson says in an interview with The Daily Ticker at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2013.
Operationally there is no numerical limit to US govt deficit spending. Nominal restrictions are political only. Yes, the currency might go down, there might be inflation, you might lose your job, but US Treasury checks won’t bounce unless congress decides to bounce them.
Once a government gets to a very very high level of debt, the risk is very small increases in borrowing costs which create a vast ocean of red ink. So that risk is not negligible.
So what happens as that ‘debt’ grows larger? Nothing if it isn’t spent. And if it’s spent, the risk is the risk of too much spending in the economy. Overspending would mean unemployment got ‘too low’ and the ‘excess spending’ was simply driving up prices. Comes back to the only risk of ‘too much’ deficit being inflation. So what’s his long term inflation forecast? He probably doesn’t even have one!!!
Very large debts do not simply disappear by magic.”
Correct, they remain as balances in either securities accounts (aka Treasury securities) at the Fed, or in reserve accounts at the Fed, or as actual cash, to the penny. And they constitute the $US net financial assets of the global economy that supports the global $US credit structure. To the penny.
Ferguson argues that Carmen Reinharts and Ken Rogoffs conclusions about the relationship between high debt and low growth are still true. The two Harvard economists had to defend their seminal book This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly after three University of Massachusetts academics correctly identified a spreadsheet coding error that led us to miscalculate the growth rates of highly indebted countries since World War II, according to Reinhart and Rogoff. (Lawmakers across the world cited their work as justification to institute austerity policies; they argued that economic growth slowed after a country’s public debt equaled 90 percent of its GDP).
The headlines have done a disservice to Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart, Ferguson notes. Its extremely implausible that governments with already high debt can improve their situation by making their debt even larger. High debt scenarios often end with inflation or default. They dont end with a rapid increase in the growth rate. A minor error in the Rogoff and Reinhart paper does not refute the case that governments with excessively large public debt have to bring them under control.”
Presenting data doesn’t ever show causation.
But regardless of the level of cumulative deficit spending for a currency issuing govt, with a proposed tax cut and/or spending increase every economist paid to be right will revise his GDP forecast up.
Moreover, Ferguson compares government accounting of public debt to one of the most famous and hated public companies that ever existed.
If companies behaved like governments, they would essentially be Enron, he says. There is a fundamental problem with government accounting.
There are likely govt accounting problems, but not solvency problems for the issuer of the currency.