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Archive for the 'Inflation' Category

Japan’s ‘bad inflation’

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 22nd September 2014

The Next Stage of Abenomics Is Coming – Shinzo Abe

(WSJ) My highest priority as Japan’s prime minister remains the economy… Make no mistake, Japan will emerge from economic contraction and advance into new fields and engage in fresh challenges…Some have said that Japan’s structural reforms—what I call the “third arrow” of Abenomics, alongside the first two “arrows” of monetary and fiscal policy—are at a standstill and that wage increases aren’t keeping up with price increases. But there is no reason for alarm. We remain on the path toward a revitalized Japan we began in December 2012…My cabinet and I will do all we can to implement our growth strategy and economic reforms and press forward with the second stage of Abenomics.

Japan PM say he aims to see pension-fund reform as soon as possible

(Reuters) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Friday he aims to reform the country’s $1.2 trillion public fund as soon as possible. “I believe GPIF reforms are extremely important …. I would like to review its portfolio as soon as possible,” Abe told business leaders in a speech. Abe also said he aimed to decide on whether to proceed with a plan to raise the sales tax to 10 percent from eight percent by the end of the year, after carefully examining economic conditions. “We just cannot miss the chance of beating deflation. We need to watch carefully how the economy has recovered in July, August and September (before making the decision),” Abe said.

Posted in Inflation, Japan | No Comments »

Producer prices chart and other news

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 22nd September 2014

Remember all that ‘hyper inflation’ talk surrounding 0 rates and QE?

No sign of it here. Or anywhere else I’ve looked:

Nor do you hear any more talk about ‘credit acceleration’ since its post winter growth fizzled:

And wage growth (NOT adjusted for inflation) remains next to nothing:

And you only hear about these ‘minor’ reports on retail sales when they go up…

ICSC-Goldman Store Sales


Store sales fell back sharply in the September 13 week, down a same-store 2.6 percent from the prior week for a year-on-year rate of plus 3.0 percent vs 4.0 percent in the prior week. But the declines appear to be isolated to the latest week, based on the text of the report which calls the results healthy.


Seems the data continues to support my narrative- the deficit is too small given ‘credit conditions’ all of which contributes to a ‘macro constraint’ on the US economy. And the rest of the world is doing same, putting a macro constraint on the global economy.

Furthermore, seems the exporters are in control everywhere, pushing their narrative designed to increase global ‘competitiveness’ by keeping real wages low via low domestic demand and high unemployment.

Posted in Deficit, Inflation | No Comments »

Housing and CPI

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 19th August 2014

Reinforces the mainstream narrative of the moment:
The Fed will keep rates low, getting ‘behind the curve’ and causing a run away economy.

My narrative remains that the 0 rate policy is deflationary and also keeps a lid on growth.

The ‘surge’ in total starts, which remain pretty much at the lows of prior recessions (see charts which are not population adjusted), was in multi family, which is ok, but units tend to be smaller and a lot less expensive than single family, and total expense is what counts for GDP/employement/etc. And it all remains a much lower % of GDP than in prior cycles:

Housing Starts

Housing may be making a comeback with the labor market improving and awareness that the Fed is cutting back on mortgage-backed securities-meaning a pending rise in mortgage rates.

Housing starts for July jumped to an annualized pace of 1.093 million units-up from 0.945 million units the prior month. The latest number well topped expectations for 0.963 million units. July was up a sharp 15.7 percent (monthly), after dipping 4.0 percent in June.

Strength was led by the multifamily component which surged 28.9 percent after a 3.1 percent decline in June. But the single-family component showed health with an 8.3 percent rebound after falling 4.4 percent in June.

According to building permits, momentum is building-but largely for the multifamily component. Permits jumped a monthly 8.1 percent to an annualized pace of 1.052 million units. For July, the multifamily component gained 21.5 percent while the single-family component edged up 0.9 percent.

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Consumer Price Index

Posted in Housing, Inflation | No Comments »

Abenomics= ‘bad’ inflation

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 3rd July 2014

Squeaking By on Abenomics

By Joseph Sternberg

July 2 (WSJ) — Preliminary data show cash earnings, including bonuses, rising by 0.8% year-on-year in May. Base pay increased 0.2%, its first rise in around two years. This looks like the “wage surprise” Japanese workers’ purchasing power fell another 3.6% year-on-year in May, after declines throughout much of Mr. Abe’s tenure. This is partly due to the price effects of the consumption-tax hike, and partly due to the import-price inflation stimulated by Mr. Abe’s weak-yen policy. Because Mr. Abe has yet to generate meaningful economic growth, the consumption tax merely redistributes income away from households and toward other government purposes.

Posted in Inflation, Japan | No Comments »

housing starts and other charts

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 17th June 2014

Same pattern- down some for the winter, up some, then backing off some.

If this is in fact what’s happening, Q2 GDP could be up less than 3%, and 2014 sub 2%, or even sub 0, if the demand leakages are allowed to keep the upper hand and a fiscal adjustment isn’t made.

“The Business Roundtable survey showed chief executives forecast GDP growth of 2.3 percent in 2014, down from last quarter’s estimate of 2.4 percent for the year.”

“Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said last month there was a risk a protracted housing slowdown could undermine the economy.”

Housing Starts

Housing took a step back in May. Starts fell a monthly 6.5 percent but followed a strong 12.7 percent spike in April. The 1.001 million unit pace was up 9.4 percent on a year-ago basis and fell short of expected 1.036 million units.

Single-family starts dropped 5.9 percent after a 4.6 percent rise. Multifamily starts declined 7.6 percent, following a 29.2 percent spike in April.

Building permits followed a similar pattern, suggesting some moderation in construction. Permits fell 6.4 percent after a 5.9 percent rise in April. Permits posted at 0.991 million units and were down 1.9 percent on a year-ago basis. Analysts forecast 1.062 million units.

Builder was up some, but has remained below 50 for 5 months, and by historical standards remains dismal:

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Industrial production/manufacturing was up some yesterday, but it’s a relatively small part of the economy and seems to chug along at 3-4% annual growth rates.

“The core CPI was lifted by a 0.3 percent rise in rent. There were also increases in medical care costs, apparel, new cars prices and airline fares.”

This doesn’t read to me like an ‘excessive demand problem’ that higher rates would reverse. But that’s just me. I agree the Fed may think otherwise!

Posted in Government Spending, Housing, Inflation | No Comments »

Abenomics Spurs Most Misery Since ’81 as Senior Scrimps

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 9th June 2014

As previously discussed, it’s a case of ‘bad inflation’…

Abenomics Spurs Most Misery Since ’81 as Senior Scrimps

By Isabel Reynolds and Chikako Mogi

June 6 (Bloomberg) — Mieko Tatsunami finds Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s drive to reflate Japan’s economy hard to digest.

“The price of everything we eat on a daily basis is going up,” Tatsunami, 70, a retired kimono dresser, said while shopping in Tokyo’s Sugamo area. “I’m making do by halving the amount of meat I serve and adding more vegetables.”

Tatsunami’s concerns stem from the price of food soaring at the fastest pace in 23 years after April’s sales-tax increase. Rising prices helped push the nation’s misery index to the highest level since 1981, while wages adjusted for inflation fell the most in more than four years.

With food accounting for one quarter of the consumer price index and the central bank looking to drive inflation higher, a squeeze on household budgets threatens consumption as Abe weighs a further boost in the sales levy. The prime minister may be forced to ease the pain with economic stimulus, cash handouts or tax exemptions championed by his coalition partner.

“Price hikes without confidence that wages are going to rise will hurt appetite for spending,” said Masamichi Adachi, senior economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Tokyo. “Abe has to raise people’s belief that the economy will improve.”

Food prices rose 5 percent in April from a year earlier, with fresh food climbing 10 percent. Onions soared 37 percent, and salmon — a staple of the nation’s lunch boxes — jumped 30 percent. Abe lifted the sales tax by 3 percentage points on April 1.

Greenhouse Vegetables

The yen’s 5 percent fall against the dollar over the year through April boosted the cost of imports in a nation that is only 39 percent self-sufficient on a calorie basis and more reliant on inbound shipments of fossil fuels after a nuclear disaster in 2011.

The cost of imported beef rose to 230 yen ($2.24) for 100 grams at stores in central Tokyo in April from 187 yen a year earlier, government data show. Growing vegetables in greenhouses is more expensive as a result of increased energy prices, according to Naoyuki Yoshino, the Tokyo-based dean of the Asian Development Bank Institute.

Yasunari Ueno, chief market economist at Mizuho Securities Co. in Tokyo, said food inflation likely accelerated in May and will remain high.

As Abe aims to create a “virtuous cycle” of rising production, incomes and spending, the Bank of Japan is targeting 2 percent inflation — stripped of the impact of the higher sales tax. Its key gauge of prices excluding fresh food rose 3.2 percent in April from a year earlier.

Tax Exemptions

Even so, the prime minister’s drive to fatten paychecks more than inflation is at risk of stalling, with wages excluding overtime and bonus payments falling for a 23rd straight month in April.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. sees base wages rising about 0.5 percent on year from May as salary gains from spring labor negotiations take effect — lagging the median forecast for 2.6 percent inflation this year in a Bloomberg News survey of economists.

The misery index, which adds the jobless rate — 3.6 percent — to overall inflation — 3.4 percent — climbed in April to 7, a 33-year high.

The squeeze on households could damage support for Abe’s administration, whose approval rating fell to 53 percent in a Nikkei survey in May from 62 percent when he took power in December 2012.

“The effects of Abe’s policies are kicking in and very soon people will start to take notice,” said Koichi Nakano, a professor of political science at Sophia University in Tokyo. Abenomics isn’t really trickling down to their wallets, he said.

Economic Stimulus

As Abe considers corporate tax cuts, he faces pressure from his coalition ally New Komeito to exempt food should he go ahead with plans to raise the sales levy further to 10 percent in October next year from 8 percent.

Mizuho’s Ueno said an option for Abe would be to provide more cash handouts to help low-income households, which would run counter to the government’s effort to reel in the world’s largest debt burden.

With higher food prices, people will cut back on durables, luxury goods and eating out as they did after the sales tax was last increased in 1997, the ADBI’s Yoshino said. “A government stimulus package is needed to compensate for the consumption decline.”

The elderly, many of whom are on fixed incomes, may be hit the hardest, said Hideo Kumano, executive chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute in Tokyo. Kumano estimates households headed by people over age 60 accounted for nearly half the nation’s consumption last year.

“If prices keep rising, there is a risk that consumption by seniors may be damped as they don’t enjoy the benefit of wage increases,” Kumano said.

Kumano’s concerns are reflected in Sugamo, an area of northern Tokyo bustling with elderly shoppers like Tatsunami.

“Abenomics may be helping the big corporations, but life’s tough for people like me,” said Tatsunami, who has seen her pension shrink. “We don’t go out as much as we did — we’re having to cut back.”

Posted in Inflation, Japan | No Comments »

Wage inflation!

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 9th June 2014

Time to tighten up on account of ‘wage inflation’…

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Posted in Employment, Inflation | No Comments »

proactive fiscal tightening damages income growth

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 10th March 2014

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Mind the gap:

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This is below prior recession levels!

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This is year over year growth in consumption of domestic product, which is GDP less capex less exports.

It shows how much ‘the consumer’ is spending on domestically produced goods and services:

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The underlying narrative is that proactive austerity damages income growth and thereafter requires a ‘jump’ in ‘borrowing to spend’/reduction in savings’ to sustain the prior levels of growth.

When growth itself brings the govt deficit down via the auto fiscal stabilizers, the needed credit growth/savings drop to replace the lost govt deficit spending is ‘already there proactively’ as it’s what drove the growth in the first place. So while the credit expansion/savings reduction needs to continue to grow to support GDP growth, the credit expansion/savings reduction doesn’t need to ‘spike up’ proactively as it does when the fiscal tightening is proactive.

So note that q3′s higher GDP growth included over 1% from additions to inventories. That represents a reduction in corporate savings from what it would have been if they had not net added to inventories. That is, consumers didn’t ‘jump the gap’ created by the ongoing increase in FICA vs the prior year, and the sequester cuts, that together proactively reduced govt deficit spending by over 1.5% of GDP (with the FICA hike adding to the automatic stabilizers as well). And Q4′s consumer spending on domestic product grew at a lower rate even as capex was higher. Also note that while capex growth for 2014 is forecast at about the same 5% as 2013, even with the high levels of energy investments, ultimately it’s largely a function of top line sales.

The reduction in net imports is a reduction in the growth of foreign savings of $ denominated financial assets, which does ‘make up’ for the reduction in govt deficit spending, depending on foreign demand. But it’s been ongoing and doesn’t look to be ‘jumping the spending gap.’

And note too that the running US deficit of about 3% of GDP is about the same as the euro zone’s and the Maastricht limit. So for me the question is whether this will make our economies converge as US income growth continues to decline?

And, as previously discussed, the 0 rate policy has worked to directly bring down personal income. Also note that personal income growth has slowed coincidentally with the approx 200,000/mo additions to total employment.

So seems that the income added by that much new employment isn’t enough to keep overall (after tax) personal income growth positive.

Posted in Deficit, Fed, Government Spending, Inflation | No Comments »

Factory orders- another Dec print revised down

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 6th March 2014

Frigid weather in January didn’t help the factory sector where orders fell 0.7 percent following a downwardly revised 2.0 percent decline in December. Also revised lower is the ex-transportation reading for January, to a slim plus 0.2 percent vs an initial reading (in last week’s durable goods report) of plus 1.1 percent. Non-durables are the new data in today’s report which show a 0.4 percent decline on weakness in chemical products.

Orders for primary metals show a third month of contraction, at minus 1.2 percent in January, with transportation equipment a second month of contraction, at minus 5.7 percent vs a 12.1 percent plunge in December. The bulk of the weakness in transportation is tied to the ups and down of commercial aircraft orders but also to motor vehicles, where orders fell 0.9 percent following December’s 1.2 percent decline. Machinery also shows a decline in January along with electrical equipment and furniture, the latter two of which are tied to housing. The plus side shows a big gain for fabricated metals, one however that follows a big loss in December, and a gain for computer equipment that doesn’t offset a much larger December decline.

Shipments fell 0.3 percent for a second month in a row while inventories rose 0.2 percent, a moderate build but enough, given the weakness in shipments, to raise the inventory-to-shipments ratio one notch to the heavy side to 1.30. Unfilled orders were unchanged in the month.

There is a positive in the report and that’s capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a core reading on business investment that rose 1.5 percent. Still, the gain isn’t enough to offset a 1.6 percent decline for this reading in the prior month.

Factory orders are a choppy series, sometimes up and sometimes down, but the trendline has been flat at best. Anecdotal indications on February point to another month of weakness for shipments, weakness tied to heavy weather, but, in what hopefully points to a bounce back for the spring, respectable strength for orders.

Chart looks like the weather turned bad in May:

Lots of talk about ‘wage inflation’ but not showing up for real so far:

Productivity in the fourth quarter rose a revised1.8 percent after a 3.5 percent boost the prior quarter. Expectations were for 2.4 percent increase. Unit labor costs declined an annualized 0.1 percent, following a decrease of 2.1 percent in the third quarter. The market forecast was for a 0.5 percent decline.

The rise in productivity reflected a 3.4 percent jump in non-farm output, following a boost of 5.4 percent in the third quarter. Hours worked increased 1.6 percent in the fourth after rising an annualized 1.9 in the third quarter. Compensation firmed to a 1.7 percent rate after rising 1.3 percent in the third quarter.

Year-on-year, productivity was up 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter versus up 0.5 percent in the third quarter. Year-ago unit labor costs were down 0.9 percent, compared to up 1.9 percent in the third quarter.

Posted in GDP, Inflation | No Comments »

Turkey’s Prime Minister on rates and inflation

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 30th January 2014

Turkey’s central bank prepared to tighten policy further

“Mr Erdogans own resistance to interest rate rises goes deep: on the flight, the prime minister insisted that, contrary to economic theory, increases in interest rates cause inflation. I believe that inflation and interest rates are not inversely proportional but in direct proportion, he told reporters. In other words, the relationship between inflation and interest is cause and effect: the interest rate is the cause, inflation is the result. If you increase the rate, inflation increases. If you reduce it, both drop together. When you think they are inversely proportional you always get much more negative results.

Posted in CBs, Inflation | No Comments »

ECB proposals to buy loans to households and companies

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 27th January 2014

This is highly problematic.

If the ECB takes the risk, there is extreme moral hazard. If they don’t, lending won’t likely increase:

ECB poised for battle to ward off deflation

January 26 (FT) — Mario Draghi has signalled that he would be prepared for the ECB fight deflation in Europe by buying packages of bank loans to households and companies. Since the corporate bond market was small and working well, he said, there is no need to do something in that field. As the ECB does not issue debt and a decline in net lending remains a deep problem in peripheral eurozone countries, Mr Draghi said he favoured looking at a way to package bank loans to the private sector and for the ECB to buy them if economic conditions got worse. Mr Draghi said: What other assets would we buy? One thing is bank loans?.?.?.?the issue for further thinking in the future is to have an asset that would capture and package bank loans in the proper way. Right now securitisation is pretty dead, he said adding, that there was a possibility of buying asset backed securities if they were easy to understand, price and trade and rate.

Posted in ECB, Inflation | No Comments »

Lagarde quote

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 16th January 2014

They seem to think deflation causes weakness, rather than the other way around:

quote from Christine Lagarde, who heads the IMF “With inflation running below many central banks’ targets, we see rising risks of deflation, which could prove disastrous for the recovery. If inflation is the genie, then deflation is the ogre that must be fought decisively.”

Posted in Inflation | No Comments »

Got quoted here the deflation post

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 13th December 2013

The Truth About Deflation

By Mike Whitney

Posted in Inflation | No Comments »

Comments on Volcker article

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 1st October 2013

Here’s my take on the Volcker article

My comments in below:

The Fed & Big Banking at the Crossroads

By Paul Volcker

I have been struck by parallels between the challenges facing the Federal Reserve today and those when I first entered the Federal Reserve System as a neophyte economist in 1949.

Most striking then, as now, was the commitment of the Federal Reserve, which was and is a formally independent body, to maintaining a pattern of very low interest rates, ranging from near zero to 2.5 percent or less for Treasury bonds. If you feel a bit impatient about the prevailing rates, quite understandably so, recall that the earlier episode lasted fifteen years.

The initial steps taken in the midst of the depression of the 1930s to support the economy by keeping interest rates low were made at the Fed’s initiative. The pattern was held through World War II in explicit agreement with the Treasury. Then it persisted right in the face of double-digit inflation after the war, increasingly under Treasury and presidential pressure to keep rates low.

Yes, and this was done after conversion to gold was suspended which made it possible. And they fixed long rates as well/

The growing restiveness of the Federal Reserve was reflected in testimony by Marriner Eccles in 1948:

Under the circumstances that now exist the Federal Reserve System is the greatest potential agent of inflation that man could possibly contrive.
This was pretty strong language by a sitting Fed governor and a long-serving board chairman. But it was then a fact that there were many doubts about whether the formality of the independent legal status of the central bank—guaranteed since it was created in 1913—could or should be sustained against Treasury and presidential importuning. At the time, the influential Hoover Commission on government reorganization itself expressed strong doubts about the Fed’s independence. In these years calls for freeing the market and letting the Fed’s interest rates rise met strong resistance from the government.

Not freeing the ‘market’ but letting the Fed chair have his way. Rates would be set ‘politically’ either way. Just a matter of who.

Treasury debt had enormously increased during World War II, exceeding 100 percent of the GDP, so there was concern about an intolerable impact on the budget if interest rates rose strongly. Moreover, if the Fed permitted higher interest rates this might lead to panicky and speculative reactions. Declines in bond prices, which would fall as interest rates rose, would drain bank capital. Main-line economists, and the Fed itself, worried that a sudden rise in interest rates could put the economy back in recession.

All of those concerns are in play today, some sixty years later, even if few now take the extreme view of the first report of the then new Council of Economic Advisers in 1948: “low interest rates at all times and under all conditions, even during inflation,” it said, would be desirable to promote investment and economic progress. Not exactly a robust defense of the Federal Reserve and independent monetary policy.

But in my humble opinion a true statement!

Eventually, the Federal Reserve did get restless, and finally in 1951 it rejected overt presidential pressure to maintain a ceiling on long-term Treasury rates. In the event, the ending of that ceiling, called the “peg,” was not dramatic. Interest rates did rise over time, but with markets habituated for years to a low interest rate, the price of long-term bonds remained at moderate levels. Monetary policy, free to act against incipient inflationary tendencies, contributed to fifteen years of stability in prices, accompanied by strong economic growth and high employment. The recessions were short and mild.

I agreed with John Kenneth Galbraith in that inflation was not a function of rates, at least not in the direction they believed, due to interest income channels. However, the rate caps on bank deposits, etc. Did mean that rate hikes had the potential to disrupt those financial institutions and cut into lending, until those caps were removed.

In general, however, the ‘business cycle’ issues are better traced to fiscal balance.

No doubt, the challenge today of orderly withdrawal from the Fed’s broader regime of “quantitative easing”—a regime aimed at stimulating the economy by large-scale buying of government and other securities on the market—is far more complicated. The still-growing size and composition of the Fed’s balance sheet imply the need for, at the least, an extended period of “disengagement,” i.e., less active purchasing of bonds so as to keep interest rates artificially low.

Artificially? vs what ‘market signals’? Rates are ‘naturally’ market determined with fixed fx policies, not today’s floating fx.

In fact, without govt ‘interference’ such as interest on reserves and tsy secs, the ‘natural’ rate is 0 as long as there are net reserve balances from deficit spending.

Nor is there any technical or operational reason for unwinding QE. Functionally, the Fed buying securities is identical to the tsy not issuing them and instead letting its net spending remain as reserve balances. Either way deficit spending results in balances in reserve accounts rather than balances in securities accounts. And in any case both are just dollar balances in Fed accounts.

Moreover, the extraordinary commitment of Federal Reserve resources,

‘Resources’? What does that mean? Crediting an account on its own books is somehow ‘using up a resource’? It’s just accounting information!

alongside other instruments of government intervention, is now dominating the largest sector of our capital markets, that for residential mortgages. Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to note that the Federal Reserve, with assets of $3.5 trillion and growing, is, in effect, acting as the world’s largest financial intermediator. It is acquiring long-term obligations in the form of bonds and financing those purchases by short-term deposits. It is aided and abetted in doing so by its unique privilege to create its own liabilities.

The Fed creates govt liabilities, aka making payments. That’s its function. And, for example, the treasury securities are the initial intervention. They are paid for by the Fed debiting reserve accounts and crediting securities accounts. All QE does is reverse that as the Fed debits the securities accounts and ‘recredits’ the reserve accounts. So it can be said that all QE does is neutralize prior govt intervention.

The beneficial effects of the actual and potential monetizing of public and private debt, which is the essence of the quantitative easing program, appear limited and diminishing over time. The old “pushing on a string” analogy is relevant. The risks of encouraging speculative distortions and the inflationary potential of the current approach plainly deserve attention.

Right, with the primary fundamental effect being the removal of interest income from the economy. The Fed turned over some $100billion to the tsy that the economy would have otherwise earned. QE is a tax on the economy.

All of this has given rise to debate within the Federal Reserve itself. In that debate, I trust that sight is not lost of the merits—economic and political—of an ultimate return to a more orthodox central banking approach. Concerning possible changes in Fed policy, it is worth quoting from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s remarks on June 19:

Going forward, the economic outcomes that the Committee sees as most likely involve continuing gains in labor markets, supported by moderate growth that picks up over the next several quarters as the near-term restraint from fiscal policy and other headwinds diminishes. We also see inflation moving back toward our 2 percent objective over time.

If the incoming data are broadly consistent with this forecast, the Committee currently anticipates that it would be appropriate to moderate the monthly pace of [asset] purchases later this year. And if the subsequent data remain broadly aligned with our current expectations for the economy, we would continue to reduce the pace of purchases in measured steps through the first half of next year, ending purchases around midyear.

In this scenario, when asset purchases ultimately come to an end, the unemployment rate would likely be in the vicinity of 7 percent, with solid economic growth supporting further job gains, a substantial improvement from the 8.1 percent unemployment rate that prevailed when the Committee announced this program.

I would like to emphasize once more the point that our policy is in no way predetermined and will depend on the incoming data and the evolution of the outlook as well as on the cumulative progress toward our objectives. If conditions improve faster than expected, the pace of asset purchases could be reduced somewhat more quickly. If the outlook becomes less favorable, on the other hand, or if financial conditions are judged to be inconsistent with further progress in the labor markets, reductions in the pace of purchases could be delayed.

Indeed, should it be needed, the Committee would be prepared to employ all of its tools, including an increase in the pace of purchases for a time, to promote a return to maximum employment in a context of price stability.

Implying QE works to do that.

I do not doubt the ability and understanding of Chairman Bernanke and his colleagues. They have a considerable range of instruments available to them to manage the transition, including the novel approach of paying interest on banks’ excess reserves, potentially sterilizing their monetary impact.

Reserves can be thought of as ‘one day treasury securities’ and the idea that paying interest sterilizing anything is a throwback to fixed fx policy, not applicable to floating fx.

What is at issue—what is always at issue—is a matter of good judgment, leadership, and institutional backbone. A willingness to act with conviction in the face of predictable political opposition and substantive debate is, as always, a requisite part of a central bank’s DNA.

A good working knowledge of monetary operations would be a refreshing change as well!

Those are not qualities that can be learned from textbooks. Abstract economic modeling and the endless regression analyses of econometricians will be of little help. The new approach of “behavioral” economics itself is recognition of the limitations of mathematical approaches, but that new “science” is in its infancy.

Monetary operations can be learned from money and banking texts.

A reading of history may be more relevant. Here and elsewhere, the temptation has been strong to wait and see before acting to remove stimulus and then moving toward restraint. Too often, the result is to be too late, to fail to appreciate growing imbalances and inflationary pressures before they are well ingrained.

Those who know monetary operations read history very differently from those who have it wrong.

There is something else that is at stake beyond the necessary mechanics and timely action. The credibility of the Federal Reserve, its commitment to maintaining price stability, and its ability to stand up against partisan political pressures are critical. Independence can’t just be a slogan. Nor does the language of the Federal Reserve Act itself assure protection, as was demonstrated in the period after World War II. Then, the law and its protections seemed clear, but it was the Treasury that for a long time called the tune.

And didn’t do a worse job.

In the last analysis, independence rests on perceptions of high competence, of unquestioned integrity, of broad experience, of nonconflicted judgment and the will to act. Clear lines of accountability to Congress and the public will need to be honored.

And a good working knowledge of monetary operations.

Moreover, maintenance of independence in a democratic society ultimately depends on something beyond those institutional qualities. The Federal Reserve—any central bank—should not be asked to do too much, to undertake responsibilities that it cannot reasonably meet with the appropriately limited powers provided.

I know that it is fashionable to talk about a “dual mandate”—the claim that the Fed’s policy should be directed toward the two objectives of price stability and full employment. Fashionable or not, I find that mandate both operationally confusing and ultimately illusory. It is operationally confusing in breeding incessant debate in the Fed and the markets about which way policy should lean month-to-month or quarter-to-quarter with minute inspection of every passing statistic. It is illusory in the sense that it implies a trade-off between economic growth and price stability, a concept that I thought had long ago been refuted not just by Nobel Prize winners but by experience.

The Federal Reserve, after all, has only one basic instrument so far as economic management is concerned—managing the supply of money and liquidity.

Completely wrong. With floating fx, it can only set rates. It’s always about price, not quantity.

Asked to do too much—for example, to accommodate misguided fiscal policies, to deal with structural imbalances, or to square continuously the hypothetical circles of stability, growth, and full employment—it will inevitably fall short. If in the process of trying it loses sight of its basic responsibility for price stability, a matter that is within its range of influence, then those other goals will be beyond reach.

Back in the 1950s, after the Federal Reserve finally regained its operational independence, it also decided to confine its open market operations almost entirely to the short-term money markets—the so-called “Bills Only Doctrine.” A period of remarkable economic success ensued, with fiscal and monetary policies reasonably in sync, contributing to a combination of relatively low interest rates, strong growth, and price stability.

Yes, and the price of oil was fixed by the Texas railroad commission at about $3 where it remained until the excess capacity in the US was gone and the Saudis took over that price setting role in the early 70′s.

That success faded as the Vietnam War intensified, and as monetary and fiscal restraints were imposed too late and too little. The absence of enough monetary discipline in the face of the overt inflationary pressures of the war left us with a distasteful combination of both price and economic instability right through the 1970s—a combination not inconsequentially complicated further by recurrent weakness in the dollar.

No mention of a foreign ‘monopolist’ hiking crude prices from 3 to 40?

Or of Carter’s deregulation of nat gas in 78 causing OPEC to drown in excess capacity in the early 80′s?

Or the non sensical targeting of borrowed reserves that worked only to shift rate control from the FOMC to the NY fed desk, and prolonged the inflation even as oil prices collapsed?

We cannot “go home again,” not to the simpler days of the 1950s and 1960s. Markets and institutions are much larger, far more complex. They have also proved to be more fragile, potentially subject to large destabilizing swings in behavior. There is the rise of “shadow banking”—the nonbank intermediaries such as investment banks, hedge funds, and other institutions overlapping commercial banking activities.

Not to mention restaurants letting people eat before they pay for their meals. This completely misses the mark.

Partly as a result, there is the relative decline of regulated commercial banks, and the rapid innovation of new instruments such as derivatives. All these have challenged both central banks and other regulatory authorities around the developed world. But the simple logic remains; and it is, in fact, reinforced by these developments. The basic responsibility of a central bank is to maintain reasonable price stability—and by extension to concern itself with the stability of financial markets generally.

In my judgment, those functions are complementary and should be doable.

They are, but it all requires an understanding of the underlying monetary operations.

I happen to believe it is neither necessary nor desirable to try to pin down the objective of price stability by setting out a single highly specific target or target zone for a particular measure of prices. After all, some fluctuations in prices, even as reflected in broad indices, are part of a well-functioning market economy. The point is that no single index can fully capture reality, and the natural process of recurrent growth and slowdowns in the economy will usually be reflected in price movements.

With or without a numerical target, broad responsibility for price stability over time does not imply an inability to conduct ordinary countercyclical policies. Indeed, in my judgment, confidence in the ability and commitment of the Federal Reserve (or any central bank) to maintain price stability over time is precisely what makes it possible to act aggressively in supplying liquidity in recessions or when the economy is in a prolonged period of growth but well below its potential.

With floating fx bank liquidity is always infinite. That’s what deposit insurance is all about.
Again, this makes central banking about price and not quantity.

Feel free to distribute.

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4 more reasons the Fed didn’t taper just released

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 26th September 2013

Core PCE Y/Y:

Full size image

Personal Consumption SAAR:

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Real GDP Y/Y:

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Pending Home Sales:

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Fed up date

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 25th September 2013

So we know QE is about signaling.

And the Fed knew that tapering was a signal they were ok with the higher rates, including the already higher mortgage rates.

And they decided they didn’t want to send that signal, so they delayed the taper. They also revised down their growth forecasts, which meant the economy was performing at less than expected levels, which further pushed back against the higher rates.

And they expressed risk of continued ‘fiscal drag’ as well. It’s all about signaling their current reaction function to control the term structure of rates. And in fact the rates in question have subsequently come down, indicating tactical success. And, at least for now, the dollar is down a touch as well.

A few interesting things are not part of the discussion:

The Fed can directly set the term structure of their risk free rates by simply making a locked market on any part of the curve.

The Fed buying tsy secs is functionally the same as the tsy not issuing them in the first place.

The consequences of QE/tapering are largely the same as the issuance/non issuance of tsy secs.

Interest rate tools, operationally, also include the tsy issuing only at pre determined rates and maturities, as well as buy backs and maturity swaps.

And why is the paradox of thrift, a mainstream standard for maybe 200 years, never discussed?

By identity, if govt cuts back on its net spending, that output only gets sold if some other agent increases its net spending.

Meanwhile, the demand leakages continue to grow relentlessly. It’s all implicit in every mainstream model, but none the less left out of every public discussion.

And there’s another issue that’s internally conflicted. The Fed believes inflation is about monetary policy and the Fed, and not fiscal policy and the treasury. Hike rates until the ‘real rate’ is high enough and inflation goes down, because it makes borrowing expensive and slows the economy as well.

And lower the real rate enough and inflation goes up, though unfortunately that pesky 0 bound limits that tool, resulting in a hand off to QE and forward guidance and expanding the types of assets the Fed buys and the like.

Not to mention the key is the inflation expectations channel, which rules all, of course.

Let me conclude that today most mainstream elites have recognized there is no solvency risk for the US govt. Simplistically, ‘they can always print the money’ which is good enough for the point at hand. So with no solvency risk, the risk of too high deficits comes down to inflation, and there are no credible long term inflation forecasts flashing red.

Additionally, the Fed believes inflation is a monetary and not fiscal phenomenon. So the Fed can’t even argue against deficits on inflationary grounds, leaving it with, for all practical purposes, no argument for deficit reduction.

So as we enter the fray over deficit reduction and the risk of catastrophic systemic failure, there is no intellectual leadership coming from the Fed, and an intellectually dishonest silence from the mainstream academic and media elite.

Good luck to us!

(feel free to distribute)

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From SCE

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 26th August 2013

Taken from ‘Soft Currency Economics’, 1993

That was 20 years ago and the same error persists!!!


How the Government Spends and Borrows as Much as it Does Without Causing Hyperinflation

Most people are accustomed to viewing savings from their own individual point of view. It can be difficult to think of savings on the national level. Putting
part of one’s salary into a savings account means only that an individual has not spent all of his income. The effect of not spending as such is to reduce the demand for consumption below what would have been if the income which is saved had been spent. The act of saving will reduce effective demand for current production without necessarily bringing about any compensating increase in the demand for investment. In fact, a decrease in effective demand most likely reduces employment and income. Attempts to increase individual savings may actually cause a decrease in national income, a reduction in investment, and a decrease in total national savings. One person’s savings can become another’s pay cut. Savings equals investment. If investment doesn’t change, one person’s savings will necessarily be matched by another’s’ dissaving’s. Every credit has an offsetting debit.

As one firm’s expenses are another person’s income, spending equal to a firm’s expenses is necessary to purchase its output. A shortfall of consumption results in an increase of unsold inventories. When business inventories accumulate because of poor sales: 1) businesses may lower their production and employment and 2) business may invest in less new capital. Businesses often invest in order to increase their productive capacity and meet greater demand for their goods. Chronically low demand for consumer goods and services may depress investment and leaves businesses with over capacity and reduce investment expenditures. Low spending can put the economy in the doldrums: low sales, low income, low investment, and low savings. When demand is strong and sales are high businesses normally respond by increasing output. They may also invest in additional capital equipment. Investment in new capacity is automatically an increase in savings. Savings rises because workers are paid to produce capital goods they cannot buy and consume. The only other choice left is for individuals to “invest” in capital goods, either directly or through an intermediary. An increase in investment for whatever reason is an increase in savings; a decrease in individual spending, however, does not cause an increase in overall investment. Savings equals investment, but the act of investment must occur to have real savings.

The structural situation in the U. S. is one in which individuals are given powerful incentives not to spend. This has allowed the government, in a sense, to spend people’s money for them. The reason that government deficit spending has not resulted in more inflation is that it has offset a structurally reduced rate of private spending. A large portion of personal income consists of IRA contributions, Keoghs, life insurance reserves, pension fund income, and other money that compounds continuously and is not spent. Similarly, a significant portion of business income is also low velocity; it accumulates in corporate savings accounts of various types. Dollars earned by foreign central banks are also not likely to be spent.

The root of this paradox is the mistaken notion that savings is needed to provide money for investment. This is not true. In the banking system, loans, including those for business investments, create equal deposits, obviating the need for savings as a source of money. Investment creates its own money. Once we recognize that savings does not cause investment it follows that the solution to high unemployment and low capacity utilization is not necessarily to encourage more savings. In fact, taxed advantaged savings has probably caused the private sector to desire to be a NET saver. This condition requires the public sector to run a deficit, or face deflation.

Posted in Currencies, Government Spending, Inflation | No Comments »

Fed minutes, comments on full text

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.

Notation Vote
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 in Bonds, Credit, Deficit, Employment, Equities, Exports, Fed, GDP, Housing, Inflation, Interest Rates, USA | No Comments »

health care inflation slowing

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 18th June 2013

I’m all for efficiency and cutting waste and fraud, but it does reduce aggregate demand, begging a tax cut or spending increase elsewhere to sustain output and employment.

Health Care Cost Inflation on Track to Slow in 2014: Report

By Dan Mangan

June 18 (CNBC) — Already sluggish health-care inflation is expected to slow down even more in 2014 as consumers, employers and the federal government continue looking to cut medical costs, a new report said Tuesday.

And the rate of health-care inflationas distinct from total medical spendingcould drop further in future years as Obamacare rolls out and employers and consumers pay greater attention to costs, suggests the report by the professional services firm PwC.

In 2014, the health-care inflation rate is projected to slow to 6.5 percent, according to the new Medical Cost Trend: Behind the Numbers report by PwC’s Health Research Institute.

That’s 1 percent less than the 7.5 percent inflation rate for 2013 that HRI projected last year.

After accounting for changes in health insurance benefit designs that drive down cost, the net growth rate of inflation next year is projected to be just 4.5 percent, according to HRI The report based those projections on analysis of the large-employer market that covers around 150 million Americans.

Posted in Inflation | No Comments »


Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 31st May 2013

Unfortunately what Japan risks is an exit from headline deflation but no growth in output and employment to show for it. What they’ve done might be to cause the currency to depreciate about 25% via ‘portfolio shifting’, which may not expand real domestic demand. In fact, in real terms, it may go down, leaving them with higher prices and a lower standard of living.

Yes, the currency shift makes imports more expensive, which means there will be some substitution to domestic goods which cost more than imports used to cost, but less than they now cost. But for many imports there are no substitutions, so the price increase simply functions like a tax increase.

And yes, exports, particularly nominal, will go up some, but so does the cost of inputs imported. And yes, some inputs sourced elsewhere will instead be sourced locally, adding to domestic employment and output, but not to real domestic consumption.

At the macro level what counts is what they do with regards to keeping the govt deficit large enough to accommodate the need to pay taxes and net save. Net exports ‘work’ by reducing real terms of trade when the govt purchases fx, which adds net yen to their economy. I call the fx purchases ‘off balance sheet deficit spending’. But so far the govt at least says they aren’t even doing that, and the lifers etc. now deny having done much of that either?

What has changed fundamentally is they are importing more energy since shutting down their nukes. Again, this functions as a tax on their economy (taxonomy for short? really bad pun intended!).

On the other hand, as above, buying fx by either the private or public sector is, functionally, deficit spending, which in this case first supports exports, but could add some to aggregate demand, depending on the details of relevant propensities to consume, etc.

The entire point of all this is Japan can cause some ‘inflation’ as nominal prices are nudged up by the currency depreciation, but with only a modest increase in real output via an increase in net exports that fades if not supported by ongoing fx purchases. And all in the context of declining real terms of trade as the same amount of labor buy fewer imports, etc. which is the engine that makes it ‘work’ on paper.

And for the global economy it’s another deflationary shock in a deflationary race to the bottom as other wanna be exporters compete with Japan’s massive cut in real wages.

So yes, they are trying to cause inflation, but not for inflation’s sake, but as a way to increase output and employment. But I’m afraid what they are missing that the causation doesn’t work in that direction.

In conclusion, this was the thought I was trying to flesh out:

Just because increasing output can cause inflation, it doesn’t mean increasing inflation causes real output and employment to increase.

sorry, this all needs a lot more organizing. Will redo later.

Posted in GDP, Inflation, Japan | No Comments »