Month: July 2017

Scaramucci Listed As Dead In Latest Harvard Alumni Directory

It was a bad day for Anthony Scaramucci: first the Mooch was fired just ten days after he was first hired, in the brief process getting served with divorce papers and missing the birth of his baby while unleashing a bizarre rant for the ages, and then shortly after, his now former boss, the president of the US, the same one who earlier said there was no chaos at the White House, tweeted that it was “A great day at the White House”

In this case, one of the responses to the Trump tweet was substantially more informative than the original:

In 10 days you destroyed @Scaramucci’s hedge fund, his career, his marriage, and made him miss the birth of his child.
 
Then you fired him.

— Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) July 31, 2017

And then, adding insult to pink slip, CBS reported that Harvard Law School apologized for erroneously listing Anthony Scaramucci as dead in its new alumni directory.

No, really: a directory mailed to alumni this week included an asterisk by the name of Scaramucci, a 1989 graduate of the Cambridge, Massachusetts, university, indicating he had died.

A statement from the law school apologizes for the error and says it will be corrected in future editions. It doesn’t provide an explanation for the error. The directory is published every five years and is available only to alumni of the Ivy League law school.

If there was any consolation for Scaramucci, it came from People Magazine, which reported that the lawyer representing the estranged wife of ousted White House communications director denied the NY Post report that the couple ended their marriage because of President Trump.

“I don’t know where that came from, but it is not accurate. It is a false fact,” divorce lawyer Jill Stone, who represents Deidre Ball, told People magazine on Monday.

So at least that wasn’t Trump’s fault. And now that he is once again out of the public eye, Scaramucci may finally get what he requested just 48 hours ago: a plea to leave his family out of it.

Leave civilians out of this. I can take the hits, but I would ask that you would put my family in your thoughts and prayers & nothing more.

— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) July 28, 2017

To top off an emotional day for all, here is some humor from The Onion:

Following his abrupt dismissal just 10 days after being named White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci reportedly received an outpouring of sympathetic texts Monday from friends and family expressing that they were “so fuckin’ sorry to hear about this shit.”

 

“My deepest motherfuckin’ condolences, Tony, it’s terrible to hear you got shit-canned by these ass-munching cocks in D.C.,” read a text message in part, just one of dozens sent by old buddies at Goldman Sachs, current business partners at SkyBridge Capital, and extended family in New Jersey in response to his “goddamn bullshit” dismissal.

 

“Sorry to hear those bitches gave you the fucking ax, Mooch. That jackass [John] Kelly got no fucking clue what a good fuckin’ dude you are. Just know your mother and I always got your fucking back.” At press time, Scaramucci’s New York office was reportedly filled with flower arrangements and handwritten cards lamenting that this was “absolute fucking trash.”

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Democrats’ Biggest Donor Urges Shift To Bernie’s Platform: “Being Never-Trump Is Not Nearly Enough”

Tom Steyer, a California hedge fund billionaire, had the dubious honor of being the largest donor to the Democratic party – spending a whopping $87 million on Democratic candidates and causes in 2016 and endorsed Clinton after the primaries. With Schumer and the Democrats pushing their ‘new better deal’ and admitting the Russians didn’t do it (and being anti-Trump is not enough), Steyer is supporting his party’s perspective and dumping Hillary’s ‘but but but it was the Russians… and Comey’ narrative’.

Steyer recently spoke to Mic.com’s Jake Horowitz to discuss the state of play for Democrats in the Trump era – the good, bad and yes, the ugly…

“Democrats have to move from resistance to offense,” Steyer said.

 

Being not-Trump is not nearly enough. We have to put forward our positive vision for the future. If we can’t do that, then I don’t understand the point.

Today however, Steyer is now an unabashed supporter of Sanders’ progressive vision…

“When people say Bernie is crazy, no. Bernie is talking about inequality. That is the burning issue in the United States.”

 

“There is an absolute, unspoken war between corporate interests and the American people,” he said. “That’s the underlying subtext for all of the public discussions within the Democratic party.”

 

“We’re seeing a deliberate attempt to take away [working families’] future by really rich people. Until we address that, I don’t think we’re dealing with the reality Americans are facing today,” he continued.

But Democrats, Steyer said, have yet to develop a compelling and positive message to channel the energy Sanders generated on the campaign and help the party win back working class voters in the Rust Belt who flipped for Trump – let alone turn their own base out at the polls on Election Day. For Steyer, that message must start with inequality, not jobs.

“Before you freak out on the jobs question, which everyone loves to do, understand that we [only] have 4.3% unemployment,” Steyer said.

 

“But what we do have is a whole bunch of people who have jobs they can’t live on,” he added, a reference to the thinking behind the Fight for $15 and other progressive campaigns to raise working class wages.

Steyer, who said he considers himself a Democrat but “not part of the party apparatus in any shape or form,” was the largest individual funder of the 2016 election. The results were obviously quite disappointing. Of the seven candidates for national office that Steyer supported through NextGen’s Action Committee, four lost — including, of course, Clinton.

Coming off those bruising defeats, Steyer has only redoubled his efforts.

He recently announced on Mic the launch of NextGen Rising, a new voter registration campaign to mobilize young voters in eight key states ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

“One of the absolute necessities for Democrats in 2018 is going to be to recruit credible and good candidates that line up well with their districts,” Steyer said.

Still, aside from Sanders, it’s not immediately obvious who would be the best candidate to advance the economic message Steyer is championing, between the dozen or so names that are frequently mentioned as 2020 contenders — from Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, to outsiders like Howard Schultz. But one thing is clear: Steyer has his eyes on 2018 and 2020, and he’s in favor of the party adopting a solidly progressive agenda, rather than just running on an anti-Trump platform or trying to fight for the center.

Well it can’t get much worse?

We suspect,. however, that no matter what Steyer and Schumer say, Maxine Waters and her ilk will be unable to change their narrative… like this little beauty over the weekend…

Mike Pence is somewhere planning an inauguration. Priebus and Spicer will lead the transition.

— Maxine Waters (@MaxineWaters) July 30, 2017

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Rand Paul: Trump Considering Executive Action On Healthcare

After the Senate failed to repeal Obamacare on Thursday, when a critical “Nay” vote by John McCain crushed Trump’s biggest campaign promise shortly after midnight, on Saturday the President threatened to end key payments to Obamacare insurance companies if a repeal and replace bill is not passed. “After seven years of ‘talking’ Repeal & Replace, the people of our great country are still being forced to live with imploding ObamaCare!” Trump tweeted, followed by: “If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!.”

Now, in previewing what may be Trump’s next potential step to keep the fight against Obamacare alive, Reuters reports that Senator Rand Paul told reporters that Trump is “considering taking some form of executive action” to address problems with the healthcare system.

Paul said he spoke to President Donald Trump by phone about healthcare reform on Monday and told the president he thought Trump had the authority to create associations that would allow organizations to offer group health insurance plans.

Allowing groups like AARP, which represents retirees, to form health associations could enable individuals and small businesses to form larger groups to negotiate with health insurance companies for lower rates.

Such a move would also allow Trump to implement his threat of “ending bailouts for insurance companies.”

Saturday was not the first time Trump had made a similar threat: the president previously threatened to withhold Cost Sharing Reduction payments, or CSR, which lower the amount individuals have to pay for deductibles, co-payments and insurance. While the White House announced earlier this month that key ObamaCare subsidies to insurers would be paid this month, the administration did not make a commitment beyond July.

As Bloomberg explained over the weekend, there are two key ways the President of the U.S. could undermine the law: asking his agencies not to enforce the individual mandate created under Obamacare; and stopping funds for subsidies that help insurers offset health-care costs for low-income Americans. Both moves could further disrupt the Affordable Care Act’s individual markets and eventually lead to higher premiums, or rather even higher premiums that Obamacare itself has led to.

Which means that even without an executive order, one of the first steps the president could take should he wish to pursue his crusade against Obamacare, would be to stop the monthly CSRs. The administration last made a payment about a week ago for the previous 30 days, but hasn’t made a long-term commitment. Trump has called the subsidies a “bailout” for insurance companies in the past, and he just did it again on Saturday.

“We are still considering our options,” Ninio Fetalvo, a spokesman for Trump, said in an e-mail. Meanwhile, America’s Health Insurance Plans, a lobby group for the industry, said premiums would rise by about 20 percent if the payments aren’t made. Many insurers have already dropped out of Obamacare markets in the face of mounting losses and blamed the uncertainty over the future of the cost-sharing subsidies and the individual mandate as one of the reasons behind this year’s hikes in premium.

Another way Trump could hamper the ACA is to instruct Price’s department to direct little or no support to open enrollment when people sign up for Obamacare plans near the end of the year. It could include ignoring website upkeep, not advertising the enrollment period and offering little help for people who have difficulty signing up.

Finally, the Trump administration could simply choose not to enforce the penalties surrounding the individual mandate of Obamacare for uninsured people or broaden exemptions to the law. The Internal Revenue Service, which enforces the penalty, said in January it would no longer reject filings if taxpayers didn’t indicate whether they had insurance. Unless the IRS follows up with each silent filing, this could let some uninsured people dodge the penalty.

All the moves would only have a gradual impact over time. For now, only one thing is certain: nothing is certain. As Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, put in a series of tweets:“The big question in health care now is what will happen with the individual insurance market,” Levitt said. “Insurers will be reading all the tea leaves for what the administration will do with cost-sharing payments and the individual mandate.”

Finally there is the question of how state Attorneys General would respond: an Executive Order by Trump would likely by immediately challenged in court, delaying the process indefinitely, and potentially pushing it all the way to the Supreme Court. In other words, without Congress, any real repeal of Obamacare will take many months, if not years.

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More on : Trump studying executive action on healthcare – senator Rand Paul

headlines from earlier here:
Republican Senator Rand Paul – Trump considering executive action on healthcare
Reuters have a little more here:

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New Zealand politics – Opposition leader resigns

New Zealand Labour Party leader Andrew Little has announced he will step down
NZ media report here
Resignation apparently due to poor polling results.

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Here’s The Real Reason The Fed Is Making Absurd Monetary Decisions

John Mauldin has often written about the Fed’s abysmal track record in managing the economy. Here Lacy Hunt and Van Hoisington of Hoisington Investment Management explain the reasons for the Fed’s consistently poor track record.

They start by considering the Fed’s “dual mandate,” which sets “the goals of maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates.” (And yes, that is actually three goals, not two.)

 

But a problem arises, the authors note, “because considerable time elapses between the implementation of the monetary actions designed to follow the mandate and when the impact of those actions take effect on broader business conditions.”

 

The time lag can easily be three years or longer, with the result that policy changes often end up being pro-rather than countercyclical.

 

To make matters even worse, “the economic risks from adherence to this dual mandate are now much greater than historically due to the economy’s extreme over-indebtedness, poor demographics and a fragile global economy.”

Hoisington Quarterly Review and Outlook, Second Quarter 2017

By Dr. Lacy Hunt and Van Hoisington

The Fed’s Dual Mandate

“Dual mandate” is one of the most commonly used phrases in U.S. central banking. The current Chair of the Federal Reserve often mentions it in both speeches and testimony to Congress. Not surprisingly, this is an extremely hot topic in monetary economics, and execution of this mandate has profound significance.

The mandate originated in The Federal Reserve Reform Act of 1977. This legislation identified “the goals of maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates.” Ironically, these goals have come to be known as the Fed’s “dual mandate”, even though there are actually three goals. The manner in which the Fed operates in following these goals has had and will have dramatic effects on economic activity. In this report we consider:

  1. What is the causal link between the mandate and the Fed’s capacity to act in a counter-cyclical fashion?
  2. How has the dual mandate morphed into the Phillips Curve?
  3. What are the arguments for and against a Phillips Curve based approach for conducting monetary policy?
  4. What does empirical research reveal?

In view of the extreme over-indebtedness and other adverse initial conditions, what are the immediate consequences of using a Phillips Curve based dual mandate for the economy, the Fed and fixed income investors?

Causality

To achieve the goals of this mandate (maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term rates), the Fed will inevitably tighten for too long and by too much. This occurs because considerable time elapses between the implementation of the monetary actions designed to follow the mandate and when the impact of those actions take effect on broader business conditions. By waiting to recognize a definitive change in inflation and unemployment, monetary policy changes will be pro-, not counter-cyclical. The time difference between leading or causative measures like the money and reserve aggregates, on the one hand, and the economically lagging series of the unemployment rate and inflation, on the other hand, can easily be three years or longer.

This difference between the actions of the Fed and the reactions within the economy explains why the Fed historically has not begun easing cycles until the economy was either in, or on the cusp of, a recession. When the Fed takes action, relief is painfully slow in arriving. Importantly, the economic risks from adherence to this dual mandate are now much greater than historically due to the economy’s extreme over-indebtedness, poor demographics and a fragile global economy.

To demonstrate, suppose that in the fourth quarter of this year, unemployment turns significantly higher while the inflation rate decelerates from its already subdued pace. The downturn that the Fed would be witnessing in the fourth quarter could be reflecting policy actions all the way back to the fourth quarter of 2015 when they initiated the current tightening cycle. This cumulative evidence is reflected in the monetary and credit aggregates (Charts 1 and 2). This change in economic fortunes might cause the Fed to accelerate the rate of growth in the monetary base and lower the policy rate in order to stimulate money and credit growth. However, the monetary and credit aggregates might not respond to these first steps until 2019 or even 2020, thus putting the Fed three years or more out of sync with the needs of the economy, suggesting a prolonged period of severe underperformance.

Being out of step with the goals of a counter-cyclical monetary policy will arise as long as the Fed keys its decision-making on unemployment and inflation, rather than on maintaining financial stability, which focuses on the reserve, monetary and credit aggregates. Achieving such stability, however, is now much more difficult for the Fed than in the past. Until the economy became so heavily indebted, M2 was a consistent leading economic variable. Now M2 only leads recessions. Until the debt overhang is corrected (which does not appear to be in the immediate future), the velocity of money is likely to continue declining. Thus, when the Fed eases in the future, the strong leading relationship between M2 and the economy will no longer prevail.

There have always been lags between the time of a policy shift and evidence of that shift in the broader economy. However, in a heavily indebted economy, with the velocity of money likely falling further, and policy rates close to the zero bound, the Fed’s current capabilities are decidedly asymmetric. Any easing actions taken now would be far less powerful than the steps taken in the prior tightening cycle. Thus, by keying off the dual mandate in an economy with a severe debt overhang, the Fed would be more disadvantaged than normal in trying to come to the quick aid of a faltering economy.

From the Dual Mandate to the Phillips Curve

The Federal Reserve Reform Act of 1977 does not spell out the nature of the trade-off between the unemployment rate and the inflation rate, nor does it say how the Fed should act if the mandates are at odds in terms of the policy approach.

The potential problems that arise from this lack of clarity are clearly illustrated by the current situation. The Fed has extended the current tightening cycle twice this year, with the latest move on June 14. At the time of the latest decision, headline and core CPI had year-to-date price increases of 1% and 1.3%, respectively, substantially below their 2% target. Additionally, the latest twelve-month increases in both of these inflation gauges were below the 2% target. Only the unemployment rate warranted more restraint. This means that inflation and unemployment are at odds, thus the dual mandate is dead. It now boils down to the Fed’s interpretation of the Phillips Curve.

The most definitive study of the Fed’s operations is widely considered to be the multi-volume series, A History of the Federal Reserve written by the late Carnegie Mellon economist Alan Meltzer (1928-2017). Volume I examines the span from the creation of the Fed in 1913 until the accord with the Treasury in 1951. Volume II, Book 1 covers the years from the accord in 1951 until 1969, while Volume II, Book 2 discusses the period from 1970 until the end of the great inflation period in the mid-1980s. In this scholarly historical examination, Meltzer, on the basis of price and financial stability, gave the Fed high marks in only one-fourth of its years of operation. Meltzer made many seminal contributions to economics, including identifying the algebraic determinants of the money multiplier and outlining the transmission of monetary policy actions to the real economy.

In his 2014 paper, “Recent Major Fed Errors and Better Alternatives,” Meltzer summarized the root cause of the Fed’s policy errors and long record of failed forecasts as follows: “The Fed’s error was to rely on less reliable models like the Phillips Curve … that ignore or severely limit the role of money, credit, and relative prices.” By focusing on the Phillips Curve, Meltzer contends that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) overemphasizes information in monthly and quarterly data periods while giving insufficient attention to persistent trends in money and credit, which are the very aggregates that the Fed supplies. To paraphrase Meltzer, by relying on the Phillips Curve, the FOMC avoids developing a strategic view of their role and the complex world in which they operate. As the massive credit buildup leading up to 2007 illustrates, the Phillips Curve mandate also diverts the Fed’s attention from important regulatory matters that can have extremely consequential and long lasting macro implications.

The key passage that Meltzer writes to describe the inadequacies of the Phillips Curve/ dual mandate within the Fed is as follows:

No less an authority than Paul Volcker explained publicly and to the staff that the Phillips Curve was unreliable and not useful. As Chair, he gave many talks about what I have called the anti-Phillips Curve. Volcker claimed repeatedly that the best way to reduce unemployment was to reduce expected inflation. He did not use Phillips Curve forecasts. He ran a very successful policy. Alan Greenspan was less outspoken, but he also rejected Phillips Curve forecasts as unreliable. Instead of finding a better model, the staff resumed use of Phillips Curve forecasts. They were again unreliable as should be evident from the repeated prediction errors … Year after year, growth and employment are below forecast. One might hope that repeated forecast errors all in the same direction would raise doubts about the usefulness of the model or models and initiate search for a better model. This does not appear to have happened.

In the three years since this prophetic passage, the string of unbroken economic forecasts continued unabated.

The Phillips Curve

The Phillips Curve represents the relationship between the rate of wage inflation and the unemployment rate. In a 1958 study, New Zealand economist A. W. H. (Bill) Phillips (1914-1975) found an inverse relationship between wage inflation and the unemployment rate in the United Kingdom from 1861 to 1957. A high unemployment rate correlated with slowly increasing wages, while a lower unemployment rate correlated with rapidly rising wages.

According to Phillips, the reasoning for this finding was that the lower the unemployment rate, the tighter the labor market, thus firms would raise wages to attract scarce workers. Conversely, at higher rates of unemployment the pressure on wages abated. Thus, this curve attempts to capture a cyclical process that can be used for evaluating the business cycle. This curve presumes the average relationship between wage demands and the unemployment rate is stable, thus there is a rate of wage inflation that results if a particular level of unemployment persists over time. As time has passed, Phillips Curve proponents have also asserted that a stable relationship exists between the unemployment rate and the overall rate of inflation, not just that for wages. The original Phillips Curve shows a downward sloping line on a graph, with wage inflation on the vertical axis and the unemployment rate on the horizontal axis.

In a 1967 peer-reviewed paper, Edmund Phelps challenged the theoretical structure of the Philips Curve. Independently of Phelps, Milton Friedman (1912-2006) in his Presidential address to the American Economic Association in 1967 (published in 1968) came to similar conclusions. They reasoned that well-informed rational employers and workers would pay attention only to real wages (i.e. the inflation adjusted level of wages). In the view of Friedman and Phelps, real wages would adjust to make the supply of labor equal to the demand for labor, and the unemployment rate would then stand at a level uniquely associated with the real wage rate. In time this uniquely associated real wage rate has come to be called the “natural rate of unemployment.”

Friedman and Phelps argued that the government could not permanently trade higher inflation for lower unemployment. When the natural rate of unemployment prevails, the real wage is constant. Workers who expect a given rate of inflation insist that wages increase at the same rate to prevent the erosion of their purchasing power.

Consistent with Friedman and Phelps, consider the effects of a monetary policy designed to expand economic activity in an attempt to lower the unemployment rate below its natural rate. The resulting increase in demand (pricing power) encourages firms to raise prices faster than workers anticipate. With higher revenues, firms are willing to employ more workers at the old wage rates and in some cases are willing to somewhat boost them. With rising wages, workers willingly supply more labor, which leads to a drop in the unemployment rate. Initially, they do not realize that their purchasing power has eroded since prices have advanced more rapidly than expected. In this initial period workers suffer from what is known as a “money illusion” – the rise in nominal wages is not equal to the rise in real wages. As workers come to anticipate higher rates of price inflation over time, they see through the money illusion, and less labor is supplied and demanded. The real wage is restored to its old level, and the unemployment rate returns to its natural rate. Today, the opposite case is present. Monetary restraint is limiting demand and eroding pricing power, causing employers to restrain wages. Once workers realize this restraint is not a cut in real wages, they will continue to supply the same amount of labor. The Phillips Curve trade-off does not exist in either of the two alternative situations.

Phelps and Friedman also distinguish between these effects over the “short run” and the “long run”. Phillips Curves only prevail so long as the average rate of wage inflation remains fairly constant. Only in such a limited time frame will wage inflation and unemployment be significantly inversely related. Once the higher inflation is fully incorporated into expectations, unemployment returns to the natural rate, with the result that the natural rate of unemployment is compatible with any rate of inflation. These long and short run relationships can be combined in an “expectations augmented” Phillips Curve. The quicker workers adjust price expectations to changes in the actual rate of inflation, the quicker the unemployment rate will return to the natural rate and the less successful the government will be in reducing unemployment through monetary and fiscal policies. The expectations augmented Phillips Curve approach is used in and appears to play a major role in the Federal Reserve’s large-scale econometric model.

Empirical Evidence

We examined the relationship between percent changes in real average hourly earnings and the unemployment rate from 1965 through 2016 – the entire historical record for wages. This sample is comprised of over 600 monthly observations (Chart 3). The trendline fitted through the observations does have a slightly negative tilt, but the line is not statistically different from a straight horizontal line, which signifies a total lack of responsiveness of real wage changes to the unemployment rate. The adjusted R2 is 0.04, which is not statistically significant. Thus, our empirical findings are consistent with the causality outlined – that the Phillips Curve assumption is not valid. Cherry picking through the data points can identify limited time periods when a greater inverse relationship exists between wage increases and the unemployment rate. As many researchers have pointed out this was true of the 1960s. From the first half to the second half of the 1960s, nonfarm business sector compensation per hour (a widely followed measure of labor compensation) increased from 3.6% per annum to 5.9% as the unemployment rate fell from 5.7% to 3.8%. The critical point is that these individual episodes of an apparent Phillips Curve trade-off are too weak and too infrequent to establish an enduring relationship over time.

The adherents to the Phillips Curve do not accept these various empirical criticisms. For many decades, they insist that the poor results are due to the fact that the basic relationship has not been properly quantified. They point to the problems capturing leads and lags between the unemployment rate and wage changes as well as difficulties that arise from measuring expectations and working with aggregate data. For followers of the Phillips Curve, it is just a matter of time before these issues of statistical quantification are resolved.

These arguments are not compelling, yet they have been used repeatedly for at least a half a century. As the years have passed, the constantly restated Phillips Curve formulations have regularly missed major business cycle developments, a pattern which has been evident in the Fed’s record. The Fed presided over the worst U.S. peacetime inflation from 1977 to 1981, and tightened before all of the recessions after 1977. The Fed did contain the Panic of 2008 with excellent lender of last resort tools, but a far better result might have been achieved if the Fed had learned the lesson of the 1920s and prevented the massive buildup of debt prior to 2008 that the regulatory powers of the Fed were designed to prevent.

For most of the past eight years, the frequently restated Phillips Curve models have pointed to a sustained acceleration in wage and price inflation that has failed to materialize. These failures not only impair monetary policy but also portfolio decisions based on the presumed efficacy of the Phillips Curve and the reliability of the dual mandate. Based on the slowdown in the monetary and credit aggregates, and the continuing fall in the velocity of money, the rate of inflation is more likely to moderate rather than accelerate, even as the unemployment rate in May 2017 stood at a sixteen year low. Thus, inflation, on average, moved lower during this current expansion, contradicting the forecasts for higher inflation based on the Phillips Curve concept. the velocity of money, the rate of inflation is more likely to moderate rather than accelerate, even as the unemployment rate in May 2017 stood at a sixteen year low. Thus, inflation, on average, moved lower during this current expansion, contradicting the forecasts for higher inflation based on the Phillips Curve concept.

Implications

For the Fed, the more advisable approach would be to pull the Phillips Curve relationships from their model and their policy decisions. Instead, they should rely on capturing the strategic role of the monetary transmission mechanism and its potentiality for moving through the reserve, monetary and credit aggregates in a highly leveraged economy. If the Phillips Curve proponents are right, and the quantification efforts are eventually proved to be valid, then at that point they can be inserted into the Fed’s model as well as into their subjective decision-making process.

This is relevant to investors as well. If adherence to the dual mandate induces financial insatiability, then investor performance, like overall economic activity, will be directly influenced. If the Fed’s mandate consistently leads them in the wrong direction, then long-term investors may often be forced to construct portfolios that are contradictory to the error-prone words, forecasts and policy actions of the FOMC. Moreover, investors should expect that the Fed’s actions will create substantially more volatility in the financial markets and particularly so over the short-term. Operating with strategic views and multi-year trends, rather than trying to focus on the Fed-generated noise in many monthly and quarterly indicators, may be a preferred method of generating investor returns.

Our economic view for 2017 is unchanged and continues to suggest that long-term Treasury bond yields will work irregularly lower. The latest trends in the reserve, monetary and credit aggregates along with the velocity of money point to 2% nominal GDP growth for the full year, down from 3% in 2016. This would be the third consecutive year of decelerating nominal GDP growth and the lowest since the Great Recession. This suggests that the secular low in bond yields remains well in the future.

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Meanwhile, this from Reuters: “North Korea can hit most of United States”

Reuters citing  two U.S. officials, discussed on condition of anonymity
The Reuters piece is here for more

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Trump Axes Obama’s MyRA Retirement Accounts After $70mm Of Taxpayer Funds Wasted

During his January 2014 State of the Union address Obama announced the creation of a new financial product that would allow American workers, those without access to retirement accounts anyway, to directly participate in the U.S. Treasury’s debt ponzi on a tax-deferred basis.  The accounts were cleverly named MyRA and were intended to be a substitute for people who didn’t have access to an employee-sponsored 401k…with one little catch…money deposited in the accounts could only be invested in U.S. government bonds.  Here’s an excerpt from Obama’s speech at the time:

Let’s do more to help Americans save for retirement. Today, most workers don’t have a pension. A Social Security check often isn’t enough on its own. And while the stock market has doubled over the last five years, that doesn’t help folks who don’t have 401ks. That’s why, tomorrow, I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA. It’s a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg. MyRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in. And if this Congress wants to help, work with me to fix an upside-down tax code that gives big tax breaks to help the wealthy save, but does little to nothing for middle-class Americans. Offer every American access to an automatic IRA on the job, so they can save at work just like everyone in this chamber can…

To summarize, a MyRA was, more or less, an IRA without the investing flexibility as you could only invest in a massive government-sponsored ponzi scheme.

Shockingly, as the New York Times points out today, the accounts turned out to be a massive disaster costing taxpayers $70 million, or roughly 2x the amount of money that was invested in the 20,000 accounts that were actually opened and funded. 

President Barack Obama ordered the creation of the so-called starter accounts three years ago, and they became available at the end of 2015. Since then, about 20,000 accounts have been opened, with participants contributing a total of $34 million, according to the Treasury; the median account balance was $500. An additional 10,000 accounts whose owners have not contributed to them have been opened.

 

Jovita Carranza, the United States treasurer, said in a statement that demand for the accounts was not high enough to justify the expense. The program has cost $70 million since 2014, according to the Treasury, and would cost $10 million a year in the future.

Obama

 

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, this is yet another component of the ‘Obama legacy’ that taxpayers will no longer have to pour millions of their hard-earned cash into propping up as the Trump administration has just announced that the program was axed last Friday.

An Obama-era program that created savings accounts to help more people put away money for retirement is being shut down by the Treasury Department, which deemed the program too expensive.

 

The 30,000 participants in the program, known as myRA and intended for people who did not have access to workplace savings plans, were sent an email on Friday morning alerting them of the closing. Participants were informed that they could roll the money into a Roth individual retirement account, the Treasury Department said.

Really surprising that people didn’t want to open a really restrictive IRA substitute where proceeds could only be invested in a ponzi scheme…

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Where To For Gold?

By Chris at www.CapitalistExploits.at

Regular readers know I’m a big fan of discrimination.

As such, I choose my friends wisely.

I chat regularly with a select group of friends and colleagues whose particular areas of expertise and intellect I value deeply. Sometimes we agree… and sometimes we don’t but always the thought process is extremely valuable. It is where we disagree that often the most value can be found.

One of those fine gentlemen is Brent Johnson. Brent runs the Santiago Capital gold fund and he recently published a video presenting his ideas – topics I’ve discussed at length with him in the past.

I’ve been asked often why I’m not heavily invested in gold.

The answer is in part because I’m very focused on what moves any market – global liquidity flows and an intricate web of moving pieces. Brent does an excellent job of bringing many of these moving pieces together and how this affects the price of gold in this presentation.

He is one of the only gold fund managers I know of who manages to look at the world rationally – as it is, rather than as he would wish it to be. He’s one of the only ones who seems to understand that it’s liquidity flows that moves markets.

I think it’s really worth watching and ingesting:

 

Enjoy!

– Chris

“O Gold! I still prefer thee unto paper, which makes bank credit like a bark of vapour.” — Lord Byron, Don Juan

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Liked this article? Then you’ll probably like my other missives on

this topic as well. Go here to access them (free, of course).

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