Category : Federal Reserve

(NYT) A Rebounding Economy Remains Fragile for Many

The eye-popping improvement in economic fortunes last year raises the question: If incomes are up and poverty is down, why is Donald J. Trump’s message of economic decay resonating so broadly?

The answer is in plain sight. While the economy finally is moving in the right direction, the real incomes of most American households still are smaller than in the late 1990s. And large swaths of the country ”” rural America, industrial centers in the Rust Belt and Appalachia ”” are lagging behind.

“We ain’t feeling too much of all that economic growth that I heard was going on, patting themselves on the back,” said Ralph Kingan, the mayor of Wright, Wyo. “It ain’t out in the West.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Bloomberg) Most Federal Reserve Officials Saw June Hike Likely If Economy Warrants

Federal Reserve policy makers indicated that a June interest-rate increase was likely if the economy continued to improve, boosting market expectations they will act next month.

“Most participants judged that if incoming data were consistent with economic growth picking up in the second quarter, labor market conditions continuing to strengthen and inflation making progress toward the committee’s 2 percent objective, then it likely would be appropriate for the committee to increase the target range for the federal funds rate in June,” according to minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee’s April 26-27 meeting released Wednesday in Washington.

Officials were divided over whether those conditions were likely to be met in time. “Participants expressed a range of views about the likelihood that incoming information would make it appropriate to adjust the stance of policy at the time of the next meeting,” the minutes stated.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Federal Reserve, Personal Finance, Stock Market, The U.S. Government

(Telegraph) Anthony Evans-Pritchard This is a global stock market rout worth celebrating

We toiling workers can allow ourselves a wry smile. For most of the last eight years the owners of wealth and inflated assets have had things their own way, while the real economy has been left behind.

The tables are finally turning. The world may look absolutely ghastly if your metric is the stock market, but it is much the same or slightly better if you are at the coal face.

The MSCI index of world equities has fallen almost 20pc since its all-time high in May of 2015, implying a $14 trillion loss of paper wealth. Yet the world economy has carried on at more or less the same anemic pace, and the OECD’s global leading indicators show no sign that it is suddenly rolling over now.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Stock Market, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Telegraph) Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: the Fed will have to reverse gears fast if anything goes wrong

[The data in the economic background paints]…a very murky picture. This is the first time the Fed has ever embarked on tightening cycle when the ISM gauge of manufacturing is below the boom-bust line of 50. Nominal GDP growth in the US has been trending down from 5pc in mid-2014 to barely 3pc.

Danny Blanchflower, a Dartmouth professor and a former UK rate-setter, said the US labour market is not as tight as it looks. Inflation is nowhere near its 2pc target and the world economy is still gasping for air. He sees a 50/50 chance that the Fed will have to pirouette and go back to the drawing board.

“All it will take is one shock,” said Lars Christensen, from Markets and Money Advisory. “It is really weird that they are raising rates at all. Capacity utilization in industry has been falling for five months.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government, Theology

(FT) US industrial heartland frets as Federal Reserve rate rise looms

If the Federal Reserve proceeds as expected and raises US interest rates for the first time in almost a decade on Wednesday it will be an affirmation of what Janet Yellen and her fellow policymakers see as the strength of the US recovery.

It will also be at odds with what many in the US’s industrial economy are seeing.

From manufacturing behemoths like Caterpillar and Deere & Co to companies supplying the industrial sector the common theme in recent months has been that, thanks to a strong dollar and a collapse in commodity prices, tough times are back. Some are going so far as to declare the arrival of an industrial recession.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Theology

(FT) Martin Wolf–America’s labour market is not working

Back in 1991, the proportion of US prime-age men who were neither in work nor looking for it was just 7 per cent. Thus the proportion of vanished would-be workers has risen by 5 percentage points since then. In the UK, the proportion of prime-aged men out of the labour force has risen only from 6 per cent to 8 per cent over this period. In France, it has gone from 5 to 7 per cent. So supposedly sclerotic French labour markets have done a better job of keeping prime-aged males in the labour force than flexible US ones. Moreover, male participation rates have been declining in the US since shortly after the second world war.

What has been happening to participation of prime-aged women is no less striking. In the US, female labour force participation rose strongly until 2000, when it was among the leaders. The US is the only G7 country to experience a sustained decline in the participation rate for prime-aged females since then. Japan, once far behind, has caught up….

The relentless decline in the proportion of prime-aged US adults in the labour market indicates a significant dysfunction. It deserves attention and analysis. But it also merits action.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, History, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, The U.S. Government, Theology

(WSJ) Charles Moore–Western countries must honestly face The Middle-Class Squeeze

Since the financial crisis of 2007-08, which Western leader could boast of spreading ownership in any important way? In the U.S. and Britain, the percentage of citizens owning stocks or houses is well down from the late 1980s. In Britain, the average age for buying a first home is now 31 (and many more people than before depend on “the bank of Mom and Dad” to help them do so). In the mid-’80s, it was 27. My own children, who started work in London in the last two years, earn a little less, in real terms, than I did when I began in 1979, yet house prices are 15 times higher. We have become a society of “have lesses,” if not yet of “have nots.”

In a few lines of work, earnings have shot forward. In 1982, only seven U.K. financial executives were receiving six-figure salaries. Today, tens of thousands are (an enormous increase, even allowing for inflation). The situation is very different for the middle-ranking civil servant, attorney, doctor, teacher or small-business owner. Many middle-class families now depend absolutely on the income of both parents in a way that was unusual even as late as the 1980s.

In Britain and the U.S., we are learning all over again that it is not the natural condition of the human race for children to be better off than their parents. Such a regression, in societies that assume constant progress, is striking. Imagine the panic if the same thing happened to life expectancy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Foreign Relations, Globalization, History, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Senate, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

(WSJ) Mixed Jobs Report Sets Fed Up for Close Call on Rates

U.S. employment growth slowed in August but the jobless rate fell to the lowest level since 2008, a mixed labor-market reading that leaves the Federal Reserve with a challenging decision on whether to raise short-term rates at its September meeting.

Nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 173,000 in August, the Labor Department said Friday. Revisions showed employers added 44,000 new jobs in June and July than previously estimated.

However, the unemployment rate, which comes from a separate survey of U.S. households, fell to 5.1%, from 5.3% the previous month. The unemployment rate is now lower than at any point since 2008 and right in the middle of the Fed’s long-run projections.

The decline in the unemployment rate strengthens the case for an interest rate increase at the Fed’s Sept. 16-17 meeting.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Federal Reserve, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The U.S. Government

(Wash. Post) Robert Samuelson–are we currently sowing the seeds of the next financial crisis?

The BIS critique goes like this. Low interest rates have sustained the recovery, but the support is fragile. The economy relies too much on debt, which cannot build forever, and artificially high asset prices (stocks, homes, bonds) may someday tumble from unrealistic levels. A new crisis could be severe because governments have already deployed their standard anti-recession tools: cheap credit and big deficits.

The BIS’s most intriguing point is that a new recession or financial crisis might originate with emerging-market countries: China, Brazil, India, Turkey and the like. Although there has been debt repayment in the United States, the opposite has happened in some emerging-market countries, the BIS says. Private firms have assumed dollar loans worth $3 trillion, even though their “debt servicing capacity .”‰.”‰. has deteriorated.” Will defaults follow?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, History, Psychology, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Upshot NYT) Neil Irwin–Does It Really Matter Exactly When the Federal Reserve Raises Rates?

What is in Fed officials’ control is what they do today and tomorrow and in their policy meeting Sept. 16 and 17. So by deciding to raise rates then (or deciding not to), they are sending a more powerful signal than any speech or written statement that they believe it is time to start winding down the era of easy money.

The thing is, Ms. Yellen and her colleagues know this, and that comments like those she made Wednesday won’t do much to change it. The best they can do is try to manage expectations so that people don’t assume that a quarter-percentage point rise in the Fed’s interest rate target in September automatically translates to much higher rates in a year or two.

In other words, Ms. Yellen may be an economist, but she is well aware that her tools for managing the economy work via financial markets. So how bond traders interpret the Fed’s words and actions matter a great deal.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Psychology, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Economist) Only a matter of time before the next recession strikes+the rich world is not ready

Inevitably fragilities remain. Europe is deep in debt and dependent on exports. Japan cannot get inflation to take hold. Wage growth could quickly dent corporate earnings and valuations in America. Emerging economies, which accounted for the bulk of growth in the post-crisis years, have seen better days. The economies of both Brazil and Russia are expected to shrink this year. Poor trade data suggest that Chinese growth may be slowing faster than the government wishes.

If any of these worries causes a downturn the world will be in a rotten position to do much about it. Rarely have so many large economies been so ill-equipped to manage a recession, whatever its provenance, as our “wriggle-room” ranking makes clear…. Rich countries’ average debt-to-GDP ratio has risen by about 50% since 2007. In Britain and Spain debt has more than doubled. Nobody knows where the ceiling is, but governments that want to splurge will have to win over jumpy electorates as well as nervous creditors. Countries with only tenuous access to bond markets, as in the euro zone’s periphery, may be unable to launch a big fiscal stimulus.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Foreign Relations, G20, Globalization, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government, Theology

(W Post Wonkblog) U.S. economy shrinks in first quarter, raising questions about underlying strength

The U.S. economy shrank at an annualized pace of 0.7 percent in the first three months of the year, according to government data released Friday morning, a tumble for a recovering nation that until recently seemed poised for takeoff.

The contraction, the country’s third in the aftermath of the Great Recession, provides a troubling picture of an economy that many figured would get a lift from cheap oil, rapid hiring and growing consumer confidence. Instead, consumers have proved cautious, and oil companies have frozen investment ”” all while a nasty winter caused havoc for transportation and construction and a strong dollar widened the trade deficit.

The numbers released Friday were a revision of earlier figures that had shown GDP growing in the first quarter at 0.2 percent. Markets had since expected the downward revision, in large part because of recent data showing the trade deficit at a 6½-year high.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Bloomberg) New Survey From the Fed Shows Exactly Why they are in No Rush to Raise

The Federal Reserve’s report on the economic well-being of U.S. households is out, and it contains one very interesting finding: A decent share of Americans want to work longer hours even without a raise.

The Fed asked non-self-employed workers whether they’d prefer to work more, less, or the same amount that they now work if their hourly wage was unchanged. The goal of the question was to help gauge the amount of underemployment in the economy, according to the report.

Thirty-six percent of respondents said they’d prefer to work more hours at their current wage. Among those who work part time, the share is even higher at 49 percent. The results might help Fed Chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues connect the dots in a labor market that’s still flashing mixed signals.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Theology

(FT) US inflation expectations scale highs for the year

Several widely-watched gauges of US inflation expectations have climbed to their highest levels this year, as oil prices regain their footing and some investors bet that the Federal Reserve will be slow in quelling any price pressures.

The US 10-year “breakeven” rate measures the market’s expectations of average inflation over that time by comparing the yields of conventional US Treasuries maturing in 10 years and Treasury Inflation Protected Securities, or Tips.

The 10-year breakeven has shot up from a low of 1.53 per cent in mid-January to 1.92 per cent on Monday, the highest since November 2014. The five-year breakeven rate has risen to 1.71 per cent, the highest since September, while the two-year is at its highest since July 2014.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Federal Reserve, History, Psychology, The U.S. Government

Federal Reserve district president returns to a stronger Charleston SC than when he visited in 2009

Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, which includes the Palmetto State, got a first-hand look at the Boeing juggernaut during a two-day visit to the Charleston area last week.

“It’s really impressive,” he said. “What I don’t think is broadly known is the extent of which … they’ve added to what was just a manufacturing and assembly facility, and this looks now to be a bigger part of Boeing’s future than it looked a couple of years ago. So I think that speaks well for Charleston’s economic capabilities and for its work force … because they’ll tell you … the biggest uncertainty about the whole venture down here was whether they could attract enough of a work force to do the things they can do up in Puget Sound. They’ll tell you they succeeded.”

Aside from Boeing’s growth, Lacker has witnessed other sea changes since his last official visit to the Holy City. In 2009, the Fed was still cutting interest rates to jump-start the then-wounded economy. Now, some believe the time is finally ripe to start raising them again.

Read it all from the local paper

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The U.S. Government, Theology

Daniel Davies–global econ. growth has slowed quite dramatically–why? Exploring Secular stagnation

With a few short-lived and unsustainable exceptions, the story of the last 30 years appears to be one of constantly falling interest rates and disappointing growth. Central banks try to keep stimulating the economy, but investment demand never really seems to gather pace in response to their efforts. Instead, investment seems stagnant and unresponsive to policy during normal periods, but shoots up during events like the dotcom and real estate bubbles, which then burst and leave everyone worse off.

People have been puzzling over this pattern for decades, but it took a speech by Larry Summers to the IMF in 2013 to really crystallise the whole picture, and bring it into the public eye. Ever since, it’s been known by the term he gave the phenomenon: ”˜secular stagnation’. But he didn’t invent it. It was first coined by Alvin Hansen in the post-Depression 30s, when technological progress seemed to have ground to a halt.

The revival of the term could be misleading on a number of levels.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Globalization, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Psychology, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Economist) The Federal reserve's meeting: A loss of patience

Rarely have investors lavished so much attention on a single word. After a two-day meeting, the Federal Reserve dropped the word “patient” from its monetary-policy statement. Why the fuss over this single word?

“Patient”, in Fed-speak, indicates that it will hold off increasing interest rates for at least two meetings. Now the word has been ditched, at subsequent meetings (most probably in June) we could see rates move off from rock-bottom for the first time since 2008.

The last rate-tightening cycle began over a decade ago. The Fed feels comfortable, it seems, with raising interest rates now that unemployment has moved towards 5.5%. The latest forecasts from the Fed show that it expects the economy to expand by 2.3%-2.7%, a slight fall from the projections in December but still one of the strongest in the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Globalization, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Theology

(PS) Raghuram Rajan–Is the Global Economy Bracing for Stagnation?

As 2015 begins, the global economy remains weak. The United States may be seeing signs of a strengthening recovery, but the eurozone risks following Japan into recession, and emerging markets worry that their export-led growth strategies have left them vulnerable to stagnation abroad. With few signs that this year will bring any improvement, policymakers would be wise to understand the factors underlying the global economy’s anemic performance ”“ and the implications of continued feebleness.

In the words of Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director, we are experiencing the “new mediocre.” The implication is that growth is unacceptably low relative to potential and that more can be done to lift it, especially given that some major economies are flirting with deflation.

Conventional policy advice urges innovative monetary interventions bearing an ever expanding array of acronyms, even as governments are admonished to spend on “obvious” needs such as infrastructure. The need for structural reforms is acknowledged, but they are typically deemed painful, and possibly growth-reducing in the short run. So the focus remains on monetary and fiscal stimulus ”“ and as much of it as possible, given the deadening effects of debt overhang.

And yet, the efficacy of such policy advice remains to be seen.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Foreign Relations, Globalization, India, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Wonkblog) The boom is here: the economy just grew 5 percent, and it’s not going to stop

The economic recovery is real, and even though it’s not spectacular, it’s getting there.

The good news is that the economy grew at a 5 percent annual pace in the third quarter this year, revised up from the 3.9 percent that the Commerce Department had previously estimated. It’s the best quarterly growth since 2003, and, on the heels of the 4.6 percent growth in the second quarter, it’s also the best six months the economy has had in that long. The even better news, though, is that this growth, unlike every other uptick the past few years, looks sustainable.

This isn’t a blip. It’s a boom.

Well, at least by the sad standards of this slow and steady recovery. The truth is that for all the hype and headlines about every little head fake, the economy has just been chugging along at the same 2 percent pace the past few years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Theology

(The Economist Exchange) is The Federal reserve preparing to make a mistake?

…my colleague may be a bit too optimistic regarding just how close the economy is to full employment. It is true that the unemployment rate, at 5.8%, is within hailing distance of the Fed’s projected full-employment rate, of between 5.2% and 5.5%. But there are many margins along which the labour market can adjust in addition to the unemployment rate. Participation rates can and should rise. So too should hours, effort, and productivity. Given the slow growth in wages over the last year it is hard to conclude that the American economy is close to maxxing out its labour-force potential.

That apart, I think my colleague is exactly right and the Fed is close to making a big mistake. The wires are alive this morning with reports from Fed watchers, who are presumably taking their cues from Fed officials themselves, writing that the Fed will almost certainly adjust its language in a more hawkish fashion at the December or January meeting and is on track for an initial rate increase in the middle of 2015. I cannot fathom what the Fed is thinking.

Set aside potential downside risks (from a Russian financial crisis, or renewed euro-zone troubles, or a Chinese hard landing, or lord knows what else) and just focus on the dynamics within the American economy. Almost since the Fed announced that it was officially targeting an inflation rate of 2%, as measured by the price index for personal consumption expenditures, actual PCE inflation has run below the target, and often well below. It remains below target now. It is possible that tumbling oil prices could so augment household incomes that the economy roars forward and inflation jumps back to target. I do not think it is particularly likely, for a few reasons.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Federal Reserve, Globalization, History, The U.S. Government

(Bloomberg) Fed Bubble Bursts in $550 Billion of Energy Debt: Credit Markets

The danger of stimulus-induced bubbles is starting to play out in the market for energy-company debt.

Since early 2010, energy producers have raised $550 billion of new bonds and loans as the Federal Reserve held borrowing costs near zero, according to Deutsche Bank AG. With oil prices plunging, investors are questioning the ability of some issuers to meet their debt obligations. Research firm CreditSights Inc. predicts the default rate for energy junk bonds will double to eight percent next year.

“Anything that becomes a mania — it ends badly,” said Tim Gramatovich, who helps manage more than $800 million as chief investment officer of Santa Barbara, California-based Peritus Asset Management. “And this is a mania.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government, Theology

(FT) Fears grow over Quantitative Easing’s toxic legacy

“Bankruptcy? Repossession? Charge-offs? Buy the car YOU deserve,” says the banner at the top of the Washington Auto Credit website. A stock photo of a woman with a beaming smile is overlaid with the promise of “100% guaranteed credit approval”.

On Wall Street they are smiling too, salivating over the prospect of borrowers taking Washington Auto Credit up on its enticing offer of auto financing. Every car loan advanced to a high-risk, subprime borrower can be bundled into bonds that are then sold on to yield-hungry investors.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Theology

Stephen King–The US no longer controls its own economic destiny nor, indeed, the destiny of others

Sometimes, though, another analogy makes more sense. In this story, the US is the first to climb a cliff. Other countries are tethered to the US by ropes. The overall pace of ascent depends on the burden of debt each country has to carry. One false move by the US will wreck the entire enterprise. Yet the US will only get to the top if the others also make steady progress. At the moment, they are more in danger of losing their footing, thereby dragging down the US.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Globalization, History, The U.S. Government, Theology

Martin Feldstein in an Important interview on European weakness, the ECB, +the Federal Reserve

Watch it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government, Theology

(FT) Martin Wolf–We are trapped in a cycle of credit booms

Huge expansions in credit followed by crises and attempts to manage the aftermath have become a feature of the world economy. Today the US and UK may be escaping from the crises that hit seven years ago. But the eurozone is mired in post-crisis stagnation and China is struggling with the debt it built up in its attempt to offset the loss of export earnings after the crisis hit in 2008.

Without an unsustainable credit boom somewhere, the world economy seems incapable of generating growth in demand sufficient to absorb potential supply. It looks like a law of the conservation of credit booms. Consider the past quarter century: a credit boom in Japan that collapsed after 1990; a credit boom in Asian emerging economies that collapsed in 1997; a credit boom in the north Atlantic economies that collapsed after 2007; and finally in China. Each is greeted as a new era of prosperity, to collapse into crisis and post-crisis malaise.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Europe, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Globalization, History, The U.S. Government

Rana Foroohar (Time) completely nails it on the struggling US economy: "very, very broken"

A little over three years ago, I wrote a column titled “The 2% Economy,” explaining how a recovery with only 2% GDP growth, no new middle-class jobs and stagnant wages wasn’t really a recovery after all. Like everyone, I hoped that once growth kicked up to about 3%, middle-class jobs and wages would finally revive.

But we’re now in a 3% economy, and I’m writing the same column. Only this time, the message is more disturbing. Growth is back. Unemployment is down. But only a fraction of the jobs lost during the Great Recession that pay more than $15 per hour have been found. And wage growth is still hovering near zero, where it’s been for the past decade. Something is very, very broken in our economy.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, House of Representatives, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, Senate, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Theology

(WSJ) The Federal Reserve Plots a Cautious Course on Interest Rate Rises

The Federal Reserve took two steps toward winding down the historic easy-money policies that have defined its response to the financial crisis, but stopped short of the move markets are awaiting most: signaling when interest rates will start to rise.

With the economy gradually improving, U.S. central-bank officials plan to end the bond-buying program known as quantitative easing after October, hoping to finally stop expanding a six-year experiment in monetary policy that has left the Fed holding more than $4 trillion of Treasury and mortgage bonds.

The Fed on Wednesday also detailed a new technical plan for how it will raise short-term interest rates, something most officials currently don’t intend to do until next year. The central bank has kept the federal-funds rate near zero since December 2008 and offered assurances along the way about rates remaining low, another part of its varied efforts to boost the post-financial-crisis economy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government, Theology

(WSJ) Federal Reserve: Gap Between Rich, Poor Americans Widened During Recovery

The gap between the richest and poorest Americans widened even as the U.S. economic recovery gained traction in the years after the recession, the Federal Reserve said.

Average, or mean, pretax income for the wealthiest 10% of U.S. families rose 10% in 2013 from 2010, but families in the bottom 40% saw their average inflation-adjusted income decline over that period, according to the Fed’s Survey of Consumer Finances, which is conducted every three years.

The report showed little change in average take-home pay for middle- and upper-middle-class families, who “failed to recover the losses experienced between 2007 and 2010,” it said.

Overall, average income rose 4% from the 2010 survey while median””the midpoint with half higher and half lower””income fell 5%, “consistent with increasing income concentration during this period,” the report said. Median income fell for every income bracket except the top 10%.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, History, Personal Finance, The U.S. Government, Theology

Janet Yellen Tells Congress That Federal Reserve Will Continue to Help Economy

Ms. Yellen, in downplaying concerns about financial stability, said the economic recovery remained incomplete and the Fed’s help was necessary.

“Too many Americans remain unemployed, inflation remains below our longer-run objective and not all of the necessary financial reform initiatives have been completed,” Ms. Yellen told the Senate Banking Committee.

Ms. Yellen’s testimony is likely to reinforce a sense of complacency among investors who regard the Fed as convinced of its forecast and committed to its policy course. She reiterated the Fed’s view that the economy will continue to grow at a moderate pace, and that the Fed is in no hurry to start increasing short-term interest rates.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Federal Reserve, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

(WSJ) As Food Prices Rise, The Federal Reserve Keeps a Watchful Eye

U.S. food prices are on the rise, raising a sensitive question: When the cost of a hamburger patty soars, does it count as inflation?

It does to everyone who eats and especially poorer Americans, whose food costs absorb a larger portion of their income. But central bankers take a more nuanced view. They sometimes look past food-price increases that appear temporary or isolated while trying to control broad and long-term inflation trends, not blips that might soon reverse.

The Federal Reserve faces an especially important challenge now as it mulls the long-standing dilemma of what to make of the price of a pork chop.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Federal Reserve, Globalization, Personal Finance, The U.S. Government