Inching Toward A Deal: What’s Next in the US-China Trade Negotiations
The US and China surprised me with their announcement of a small, “phase one” trade deal last week. I had thought any kind of deal would be a long shot, so I view this development as good news. Here’s a summary of the deal and what could happen next.
Friday Fact: US-China Trade Data Measures the Damage
The fact that US trade with China has declined shouldn’t be a surprise. But how bad is the damage? According to the US international trade report for July, released September 4, US exports to China have declined at double-digit rates for the past 12 months. This is the longest sustained contraction in the last 20 years.
Maybe Inflation Didn't Ease: A Look at Trimmed-Mean Inflation
"Core" PCE inflation year over year eased from a recent high of 2.04% last July to 1.55% in March. This easing has made some market participants speculate that the US Federal Reserve will ease up on monetary policy. However, there’s more than one way to measure inflation.
Fed Watch: Things Could Get Interesting
The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee is set to release its press statement on December 19. I expect the FOMC to increase policy rates by 25 basis points. The new range for the federal funds rate would be 2.25% to 2.50%.
US Midterm Elections: The Base Case Scenario and the Implications
The national midterm elections are today. As of yesterday morning, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website is giving the Democrats an 85.6% chance of taking the House of Representatives and the Republicans an 85.6% chance of keeping the Senate. This forecast should be no surprise; the president’s party almost always loses House seats in the first midterm election...
Federal Deficit on Track to Pass $1 Trillion in FY 2019
The federal deficit hit $779 billion in fiscal year 2018. This was the highest level since the $1.09 trillion deficit of FY 2012. Many pundits point to the tax cuts as the driver, but that tells only a part of the story.
Friday Fact: Consumers Are Divided on Business Conditions
I noticed an interesting result in the Conference Board’s most recent Index of Consumer Confidence in March. The percentage of survey respondents describing business conditions as "good" reached its highest point since 2000. Great news, right?
Small Businesses and the Employment Mismatch
In early August, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) released a small business survey that revealed an upbeat assessment of the labor market. Firms have lots of job openings and they are planning to hire, but they are having a hard time finding qualified applicants; the quality of labor is a problem.
Fed Watch: All Eyes on Yellen
This week’s Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting will be anything but boring. The Federal Reserve seems eager to move toward rate and balance sheet normalization, probably because President Trump is unlikely to nominate Fed Board Chair Janet Yellen for another term when her current term expires in January. I expect Yellen and her colleagues to take three steps this week.