Posts with tag economy

PRICE INCREASES OFFSET WAGE GAINS - So, Put a Hold on Profits and Pay Workers More

Guest Writer, February 12 2022

Neil Irwin reminded us yesterday morning that a lot of hopes are riding on inflation easing this year. But it hasn’t happened yet—or over the last year.

Consumer prices surged more than expected over the past 12 months, suggesting a bleak outlook for inflation and increasing the likelihood of more than a few interest rate hikes this year.

The CPI (all urban index) rose 7.5% in January over a year ago, the Labor Department reported yesterday—the highest since February 1982. Economists were expecting an increase of 7.2%.

The so-called core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, increased 6%, compared with the estimate of 5.9%—its highest since August 1982.

Read More

AFTER A 7.9% INFLATION SURGE, ARE DOUBLE DIGITS IN OUR FUTURE? Meanwhile, Gold Hits All-Time High

Guest Writer, March 12 2022

Inflation raged on in February, driving consumer price increases to a place we haven’t been to in four decades.

The latest numbers include a paucity of signs that inflation us leveling off, muchless subsiding.

What’s more, they largely exclude the impact of Russia’s invasion on oil, gas and other global commodity prices.

Most economists and WallStreeters, the Biden administration and members of Congress—especially Democrats—have been counting on inflation peaking early this year. 

Unfortunately for them—not to mention consumers and businesses—the numbers are suggesting persistently high inflation for the foreseeable future.

Read More

FED IS FULL SPEED AHEAD Gold & Silver Off to a Good Start

Guest Writer, March 23 2022

The economy doesn’t want for problems—there are plenty of them, both at home and stemming from rising geopolitical volatility in eastern Europe.

But as Neil Irwin writes, wherever the movers and shakers of the Federal Reserve look right now, “they're seeing flashing green lights that the world wants them to get moving on raising interest rates.”

Yes, the Fed acts independently based on its best analysis of economic data—in theory anyway. 

But other factors shape the tone and outcomes of internal debates, too—like discussions by outside economic thinkers and financial market reactions to potential and actual Fed moves.

Right now, Irwin believes those reactions are almost uniformly pointing toward more aggressive action to try to rein in high inflation.

In fact, Fed future traders say another rate hike by the Fed’s May meeting is a done deal—38.4% see a hike of 50-75 basis points (0.5%-0.75%), while 61.6% see a hike of 75-100 basis points (0.75%-1.0%)

Read More

OIL REFINERS’ PROFITS HAVE SOARED - Is It Corporate Greed or Supply and Demand?

Guest Writer, June 25 2022

Crack spreads — vernacular for oil refiners’ profits — have soared this year as gasoline demand outstrips supply.

They measure the difference between the cost of crude oil and the prices of refined products like gasoline — and are a key contributor to both profits at oil refineries and also prices at the pump.

Matt Phillips of Axios believes crack spreads will see more pressure as the Biden administration does everything in its power to push gas prices lower before November’s mid-term elections.

Already, stocks of the major oil refiners got hammered on Wednesday, heading into yesterday’s meeting between Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and top industry executives.

Marathon Oil fell 7%, Phillips 66 and Conoco Phillips both dropped 6%, while Chevron and Exxon both fell about 4%.

President Biden publicly is urging an increase in U.S. refinery production, saying bluntly, "I'm calling on the industry to refine more oil into gasoline and to bring down gas prices."

But earlier this year, as crack spreads soared, so did the share prices of major American refining companies, which are up a whopping 38% since January – even as the S&P 500 index has entered bear territory.

While surging profit margins for the makers of gasoline open the industry up to charges of price gouging, industry officials claim that they’re producing as much gas as they can right now.

Industry capacity utilization is running at 94% these days – the highest since 2018 when it hit 97%.

But a recent government report also showed that overall refining capacity has fallen in the last two years. 

In fact, it’s now back down to where it was in 2014, meaning that supply will remain hurt even if refineries were to run at 100%.

So, with little chance of bringing new sources of gasoline – domestic or imported – online anytime soon, the administration's best chance to lower prices at the pump in the near term will have to come from leaning on OPEC+ to drill more oil or on refiners to accept smaller profit margins.

That, I predict, will become a growing source of agita for investors in oil companies – and other industries. 

Read More

HOW MUCH WILL UNEMPLOYMENT RISE AS FED RATE HIKES CONTINUE?

Guest Writer, August 3 2022

Debate is flourishing on Wall Street and at Main Street kitchen tables over the Federal Reserve's fight to lower inflation and how high unemployment will jump as a result.

            On the one hand, Fed policymakers believe its rate hikes will eventually drive down strong demand in the economy without causing too much pain in the job market – in other words, a soft landing.

On the other hand, influential economists like Larry Summers say the Fed's ideal outcome hasn't materialized before, and there's no reason to think it will now.

The fight is being debated in various academic papers, but the real stakes for workers and their families are high. 

Courtenay Brown and Neil Irwin write today that the issue “is not whether unemployment rises, but by how much as the Fed tightens.”

They believe the crux of the debate is the inverse relationship between unfilled job openings and the unemployment rate. 

Other things being equal, as job vacancies rise, unemployment falls and vice versa.

As of May, job openings trended lower but remained near their highest levels ever at 11.3 million. 

Plus, the headline unemployment rate is holding near a half-century low (remember, the headline rate is significantly underreported).

The result is an unprecedented 1.9 job openings for each unemployed worker.

Read More

Two Things

Bob Rinear, January 28 2023

Well maybe a few more than two. But first off, did you all see Biden promising 31 more tanks to Ukraine? I watched his 20 minute word salad speech and I was speechless.  They want this war to go on and on and on. They want all the spending they can squeeze out of this, and boy the money is flowing.

It took me a long time…over two hours. But I wanted to look up the first time I said that when the economy is in the toilet, they will spark a war, open the debt gates and spend their way out of the hole. Well it was all the way back during the NASDAQ meltdown, and sure enough, we went into Iraq over the BS of weapons of mass destruction. 20 years ago. I probably said it sometime in the 90’s also, but got tired of searching.

Once the war time spending hits, they can spend their way out of most recessions. Well, they’ve done it again. They set up the Ukraine since 2013 to be the area ( patsy) for the next multi billion dollar war spending spree. So it worked. They pushed and pushed Russia to the point where Putin did what any world leader would do…he snapped and pushed back.

That was and is the plan and the reason all these politicians are saying things like “what ever it takes” concerning helping Ukraine win. Listen folks, these people don’t give a rats ass about the Ukrainian people. They do like the Ukrainian chemicals, rare earths, and oil and gas…but the people? To the politicians they’re just as expendable as the people in Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Palestine, and a hundred other places. Cannon fodder, nothing more. Oh and a good place to launder their millions of dollars…they do like that too.

But they’re playing a very dangerous game this time around. Russia isn’t Iraq or Libya. Russia isn’t Vietnam or Afghanistan. Russia is a very formidable opponent. So, while they’re all in on this  war because of the debt that the Central banks can create and the money that gets spent on more armaments…if it gets out of control, we are in WWIII, with the death and destruction that brings. War is a racket, as quoted by Gen. Smedly Butler so long ago. Well this is one of their biggest rackets ever. 

Okay, so lets me get back to market land. This coming week is yet another two day FOMC meeting, where they will determine what they’re going to do with interest rates. Then, on the second day of the meeting, Powell himself will give a Q&A press conference, where he’ll get asked 25 times “when are you going to pause and when are you going to cut rates.”  Both of which he will dance around in Fed speak. He’s not as good as Mumbles Greenspan, but he’s pretty deft at it.

Read More

86 posts with tag economy online