Economy | timiacono.com - Part 5

Maybe 2% Inflation Isn’t Ideal

Among the many rate-hike-related themes appearing in the financial media this week is what some are calling the Federal Reserve’s “Inflation Conundrum”, an homage to a similar stumping of the central bank more than a decade ago when short-term rates were raised but long-term rates didn’t budge, that is, until the yield curve inverted and, voila!, financial crisis and recession ensued when another asset bubble burst.

The WSJ weighs in with The Mystery of Missing Inflation Weighs on Fed Rate Move ($) today.

Fed officials face a troubling question: Jobs are on track, but inflation isn’t behaving as predicted and they don’t know why. Unemployment has fallen to 5%, close to estimates of full employment, but inflation is stuck at less than 1%, well below the Fed’s 2% target.

Central bank officials predict inflation will approach their target in 2016. The trouble is they have made the same prediction for the past four years. If the Fed is again fooled, it may find it raised rates too soon, risking recession.

Fed officials also don’t know why they target a 2 percent inflation rate rather than say, 1 percent or 3 percent or some other number, a question that is perhaps worth answering first, before they attempt any further investigation into why they’re not meeting this target.

American Middle Class R.I.P.?

Now that Pew Research has come out with some definitive (and quite compelling) data about the decline of the American middle class over the last few decades, it’s worth recalling how the one-percenters of the world think about this problem…

Lots of good related stories such as Most Americans Aren’t Middle Class Anymore and Middle-class families, pillar of the American dream, are no longer in the majority as another piece of the explanation for Donald Trump’s success unfolds, namely, from the latter:

Median-income voters, particularly non-college-educated men, are also at the core of billionaire Donald Trump’s surprising surge in the Republican presidential campaign. His supporters’ sense that their once-secure middle-class standing is in danger of slipping appears to be fueling much of the anger against the government and immigrant groups.

Global QE on a Grand Scale

Among the many other interesting (and, to varying degrees, alarming) graphics in Jeff Gundlach’s monthly commentary at Doubleline Capital is the chart below depicting the global, multi-year money printing extravaganza offered up by the world’s central banks.

Of course, the headlines this report is generating involve the predicted “real carnage” in junk bonds per Reuters and a holiday metaphor for the Fed getting cold feet next week, “It’s possible the Fed pulls another Lucy and the football,” Gundlach said, referring to Peanuts character Lucy yanking a football away from Charlie Brown (as shown below).

(more…)

Fun with Zero on the Y-Axis

To someone who used to produce a lot of charts (not so much at all anymore), this video about when and where to place zero on the y-axis was pretty entertaining.

Of course, this being Vox, Fox News was the poster-boy for using the Y-axis to lie, however, when looking at the detail behind the example that was offered up, the deception that was produced by the “Fair and Balanced” network was pretty egregious.

Ahead of today’s big Federal Reserve meeting minutes that will, absent a major market temper tantrum between now and then, seal the deal for a December rate hike, David Stockman shares some thoughts on this and related subjects at CNBC.

The former Reagan budget director, current proprietor of the Contra Corner website, and author of The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America was busy yesterday as evidenced by the six segments appearing after a quick CNBC video search.

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