Today the BLS released CPI data showing the core rate was 2.1% year over year and 1.6% for the quarter. If one accepts my theory that Owner’s Equivalent rent needs to adjust the CPI downward by 0.25% (or even more), then the 90 day core CPI would be 1.35%. With oil in the mid-50’s, its dramatic drop will surely put more downward pressure of CPI in the future. I remember when oil went up above $40 in 2004 and it seemed like a big deal, a high price at the time. Adjusting for inflation, a $40 price 14 years ago is like $53 this week (it’s now $56 for WTI oil) so we are almost equivalent now to the
A popular myth is that the US deficits and recent tax cuts are so huge and out of control that the global investment community will dislike the US economy and sell off their dollar-based assets, making the dollar collapse. Assuming the recent tax cuts aren’t as effective as thought and start to reduce the cuts due to pre-set changes in the law (the whole thing reverts back in less than a decade due to Byrd amendment) then deficits may not get that much bigger. The tax law of December, 2017 actually raised taxes on corporations with offshore operations and closed loopholes such as large personal state income tax deductions, causing some personal form 1040 taxpayers to pay more. The
Yesterday’s elections imply the political situation is moving away from a pro-business tax cutting era to a more of a slow growth, centerist era. Over the next two years I expect the liberals and centerists to grow stronger, resulting in a less business friendly climate, including higher taxes. Perhaps political compromises will enable a hidden back door of tax increases. The situation is likely to lead to a lower degree of deficit supplied stimulus and thus the federal deficit may grow at a slightly slower pace. Rising taxes would act to dampen inflation and growth, making yields go down. Taxes could be increased by closing loopholes (like ending excessive depreciation deductions that only businesses would notice) or raising tariffs
Regarding the concern that interest rates will rise to dangerously high levels, I doubt this will occur. The fear that Quantitative Tightening, where the Fed sells its holdings of bonds to undo QE, will make rates go up a lot is incorrect. When QE was implemented from 2009-2014 it didn’t create inflation and probably only lowered interest rates by 0.5%. The reason yields went down was because of global fears of falling into a debt/deflation trap and because other Developed countries (the EU, Japan, Scandinavia, Switzerland) had negative rates. I don’t see things getting better in Europe; probably the economic problems have not been truly solved in Japan. Thus since the fundamental reason for low yields in the U.S.
Today the monthly employment data was released by the BLS showing good jobs and wage growth. Traditionally this is viewed as inflationary and thus damaging to bonds. However, at the top of an economic cycle is when inflation and employment data peak, followed by a crash caused by excessive Fed tightening and by a reduction in corporate earnings caused by higher wages and higher interest rates. This reminds me of 2008 when oil was ludicrously high at 144 (it went to 35 in 2009). The extreme rise in oil’s price helped to slow down the economy and tip it into recession. Inflation is not caused simply by workers getting a job, rather the real cause is when the money supply