It's the question that parents around the world know all too well, "Are we there yet?" That was the key question coming into today's Fed meetings. The answer? Not yet, but we're getting closer.
Someone once said, "technology has never moved this fast, and at the same time, will never move this slow again."
Another quarter for consumers to rely on massive stimulus payments, extremely loose monetary policy, and the continued re-opening of the US economy combined to push real GDP up at a very rapid pace in the second quarter, with the federal government preparing to release its initial estimate of economic growth on July 29.
Many are convinced that a US stock market correction, or even a bear market, is inevitable. So, when the S&P 500 was down 1.6% last Thursday, many thought it had arrived.
Many analysts have been thinking and writing about the "twin deficits" and whether the record-breaking size of those two deficits, combined, mean the US dollar is about to plummet versus other currencies.
One of the key decisions President Biden will make later this year is who is going to run the Federal Reserve for the next four years.
As expected, the Federal Reserve made no significant changes to monetary policy today.
To drive home his commitment to easy monetary policy and low interest rates in mid-2020, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell declared the Fed was not even "thinking about thinking about raising rates."
We keep hearing people make comparisons between this recovery and those of the past as if it's apples-to-apples.
Talk about revisionist history!
Inflation is running hot.
One of the best economic debates that's happening right now isn't between Republicans and Democrats or liberals versus conservatives, it's between policymakers who want to go full steam ahead with as much fiscal and monetary "stimulus" as possible and center-left economists who worry about the economic effects of over-stimulating the economy.
President Biden and Congress agreed to a roughly $2 trillion stimulus back in March and are now contemplating two new additional multi-trillion dollar pieces of legislation, on both infrastructure and social spending, as well as some massive tax hikes
Nobody expected the Fed would lift interest rates today
Mix extremely loose monetary policy, a federal government cutting checks like it’s going out of style, and extensive roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines, and what do you get?
The S&P 500 fell almost 50% between mid-February and mid-March 2020, during the initial stages of the pandemic.
Housing prices have soared in the past year. The national Case-Shiller index is up 11.2% in the past twelve months, the largest gain since 2005-06.
When the scientists said “15 days to slow the spread,” some of us actually believed that by Easter the shutdowns would end.
The federal budget deficit hit an all-time record high of $3.1 trillion last year.
You've got to hand it to the Federal Reserve. With the cleverness of a seasoned head coach – think Jim Boeheim leading Syracuse in the NCAA basketball tournament – they figured out how to accomplish a great deal while making it look like they didn't have many tools at their disposal.
At its most recent meeting the Federal Reserve made no changes to monetary policy and minimal changes to its statement, simply acknowledging that some economic indicators have "turned up" recently while also noting that inflation remains below 2.0%.
We believe inflation is still, and always will be, a monetary phenomenon. It is defined as "too much money chasing too few goods and services" – but that doesn't mean every period of higher inflation is going to look exactly the same.
The Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978 gave the Fed a “dual mandate” – to promote maximum sustainable employment and stable prices. Over the years, the meaning of these two mandates has changed.
Those of us who are concerned about inflation increasing faster than the Federal Reserve anticipates are focusing on the rapid increase in the M2 measure of the money supply.
After receiving the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus from China, it took Moderna just two days (two days!!) to generate the sequence of the vaccine. In less than a month, they produced the first clinical batch of the mRNA-1273 vaccine that has now seen tens of millions of doses distributed.
Things are looking up for the US economy. Later this week we'll get an update on real GDP growth for the 4th quarter of 2020. We estimate that'll be revised up to a 4.3% annual rate of growth from a prior estimate of 4.0%.
Ever since the stock market bottomed in 2009 during the financial crisis, people have been coming up with reasons why the bull market was about to end. We heard every reason – Brexit, the end of Quantitative Easing, too much debt, COVID, etc. – and while we understood each may be a cause for consternation, we focused on valuations, which suggested the bull market would continue. Over time, math wins.
While the US has been a focus for criticism throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, its vaccine rollout has so far been the envy of the world. Since Operation Warp Speed eliminated many of the bureaucratic hurdles to FDA approval and helped deliver a vaccine in record time, the US has been steadily growing its distribution system.
Inflation is not dead. It is not gone. It has not been tamed. We know it seems like it, especially after the past few decades which generated in many an "inflation-complacency" that feels justified. After all, following the 2008 Financial Panic, many predicted Quantitative Easing would cause hyper-inflation.
Yes, 2021 is starting off as crazy as 2020. They don't agree on the Green New Deal, or Socialism, but Ted Cruz and AOC both agree that limiting investor access to markets is a mistake. In case you missed it, last week, Robinhood, a new online trading platform that marketed itself as democratizing investment, stopped investors from buying certain stocks.
Beyond the annual rotation of voting members on the Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC), there wasn't change in today's Fed statement. While acknowledging the moderation in some recent economic data, and that weakness is concentrated in areas most directly impacted by the pandemic...
The budget deficit for fiscal year 2020, which ended 9/30/2020, was $3.1 trillion, the highest ever on record in dollar terms, and the highest relative to GDP since World War II. This year the deficit will be even larger.
The double-dip recession so many feared didn't arrive in the fourth quarter of 2020, and it certainly doesn't look like it will happen in early 2021, either.
The seemingly endless election of 2020 is finally over, with Democrats winning both Senate seats in Georgia.
When it comes to attracting people, jobs, and businesses, some states are just better than others. While the total US population increased 6.5% from 2010 to 2020, it increased 17.1% in Utah, 16.3% in Texas, 16.3% in Idaho, 16.1% in Nevada, 15.8% in Arizona, and 15.3% in Florida.
We can't possibly exhaust our thoughts on all these topics in one Monday Morning Outlook, but we thought we'd give it the old college try.
The Bible story of the virgin birth is at the center of much of the holiday cheer this time of year. The book of Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus decreed a census should be taken. Mary gave birth after arriving in Bethlehem and placed baby Jesus in a manger because there was "no room for them in the inn."
Nobody expected to see a rate change from this week's FOMC meetings, but interest remained high as the market awaited the latest Fed forecasts on where they see the US economy headed from here.
Back room deals in Washington, DC always die and come back to life, over and over, again. And, even though a "COVID-shutdown rescue package" seems like a no brainer, it's been caught up in politics for months.
The COVID-19 Recession is the weirdest we've ever had. There is no way anyone could have forecast it. It did not happen because the Fed was too tight. It did not happen because of a trade war. It was self-inflicted, caused by COVID shutdowns.
In December 2019, we made a year-end 2020 forecast of 3,650 for the S&P 500. With the index closing Friday at 3,638, that looks like a very good call.
Who's in charge of fiscal policy? That's the real issue behind the recent dispute between Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell regarding the Treasury's decision to end certain emergency lending facilities by December 31, 2020.
Give Thanks! The US economy continues to heal. Payrolls keep growing, unemployment claims - though still elevated - are shrinking, key measures of the manufacturing and service sectors remain well into positive territory, and, as this week should show, both retail sales and industrial production remain on an upward trajectory.
While the election is still not certified, and court battles will drag on, it appears that we can draw two firm conclusions from the 2020 election. First, the pollsters were horribly wrong again. Secondly, American voters do not want a radical shift in economic policy.
If you hadn't known that there was a Federal Reserve statement coming out today, you wouldn't have missed much. As if 2020 wasn't weird enough, there was a Federal Reserve meeting, and a new statement from the FOMC today, and virtually no one noticed. We guess that makes sense given everything that is going on. But, don't fret - nothing changed.
As the US opened up, real GDP rebounded sharply in the third quarter, growing at a 33.1% annual rate. However, real GDP is still down 2.9% from a year ago and the economy got a huge boost from spending by the federal government, which borrowed from the future in order to allow people to spend today.
To reiterate, this Thursday morning we expect the government to report a huge, and virtually unprecedented, surge of a 33.4% annualized growth rate in real GDP growth for the third quarter. There are still a few monthly reports due this week that could affect our forecast, but only slightly.
There is nothing normal about the 2020 recession. Massive nationwide shutdowns of "non-essential" businesses caused real GDP to drop at a 31.4% annual rate in the second quarter, the biggest drop since the 1930s. However, as we expected, a V-shaped recovery is being traced out.
COVID lockdowns crushed the economy in the first half of 2020, with real GDP down 5.0% at an annual rate in the first quarter and 31.4% at annual rate in the second quarter, the latter of which was the steepest drop in real GDP for any quarter since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Over the past couple of decades, the Federal Reserve has coalesced around an idea about inflation that is little more than theoretical, with no real data to back it up. That "idea" is that 2% inflation is the "correct" amount of inflation.