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It’s Crunch Time For The Fed As Stagflation Looms – Ep. 162

  • Earlier today the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee, (FOMC) began their 2-day meeting
  • It concludes tomorrow and at 2:00 they will announce their decision on interest rates
  • Nobody is anxiously awaiting that announcement
  • Although there were plenty of fools a few months ago who actually believed the Federal Reserve would be raising interest rates, in fact they thought they were going to raise them in March and then, when they didn’t there were a lot of people who still thought they might do it in April
  • But some of these fools still believe the Fed is going to hike rates later in the year – maybe June
  • Maybe June, September and December
  • There are still people, like Goldman Sachs, who are looking for 3 rate hikes this year
  • I was on a panel months ago with Jim Rickards, whom I have a lot of respect for, and back then he argued with me, because he believed the Fed would raise rates 2 if not 3 times in 2016
  • I said the Fed would not raise rates at all
  • Today I posted an interview that he gave on Bloomberg – now Jim Rickards says Janet Yellen has gone super-dove and she is not going to raise rates
  • The reason Jim Rickards disagreed with me on the panel a couple of months ago is that, although he agrees with my thoughts on the economy, is that he thought the Fed would not recognize that the economy is very weak, rather that it believes the economy is still recovering
  • He thought the Fed would raise rates anyway, which would cause a recession, cause the Fed to abort the increases, go back to zero and to QE4
  • I said, I think we are going to skip all the rate hikes and go directly to rate cuts and QE4
  • And now I think Jim has joined me in that perspective
  • The question is: Will the Federal Reserve actually admit that the economy is that weak, or just not raise rates, which is tantamount to an admission of weakness
  • We are going to get the first official look at Q1 GDP on Thursday
  • There’s a good chance that we will print a negative number
  • And even if we don’t print a negative number, it will be a single digit number less than 1
  • And by the time they revise it the following month to incorporate all the bad news that comes after Thursday, I think they will revise it negative
  • Which means we’re in a recession
  • If Q1 is negative, and I don’t believe we will get a bounce-back in Q2
  • I think Q1 is the high water mark and it’s down hill from here
  • I think Q2 will be weaker regardless of how weak Q1 is, because we borrowed growth from Q2 because we had the warmest winter in 120 years
  • Companies are now winding down their bloated inventories that they built up the last couple of years
  • And because the trade deficits are getting bigger and not smaller
  • So we have a lot weighing down GDP in Q2 in an already weak economy
  • By the way, the Atlanta Fed revised up their Q1 GDP number from .3 to .4
  • Why did they do that?  This is the second time the Atlanta Fed has upwardly revised their estimate, despite the fact that the economic data has gotten worse since their last estimate
  • If the data gets worse, why would you revise your forecast up?
  • To me something’s going on, maybe it’s the boys at the New York Fed putting pressure on Atlanta to be more optimistic, but we’ll see, because we will get the first official numbers on Thursday
  • Let me go over some of the economic data that has come out just since my last podcast
  • On Friday last week, we got the PMI Flash Index for April – not a Q1 number
  • One of the first numbers for Q2 and it ain’t pretty – the consensus was for an improvement
  • March was 51.4, and 52 was expected – we got 50.8 – much weaker than the Atlanta Fed thought
  • New Home Sales missed; they were looking for 522,000, we got 522,000
  • The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey General Activities Index, which was -13.6 in March
  • They were looking for an improvement to -9 in April and instead we got -13.9
  • This is a Q2 number
  • But the big number that should have caused the Dallas Fed to go down was Durable Goods
  • It was an ugly durable goods number, especially relative to expectations
  • This was for March and February, because we got some big revisions
  • In March, they were looking for an increase of 1.6 – instead the increase was .8
  • The year-over-year number was -2.5
  • X transportation month-over-month, expected was +.5, we got -.2 – a bad number
  • If you look at year-over year numbers, core capital goods were down for the 16th consecutive month
  • That has not happened for the last 60 years, unless we were in recession – we got -2.4%
  • But the revisions were worse: February new orders Durable Goods were originally reported as -2.8
  • That was revised to -3.1
  • Not only did we not bounce back 1.6. we only bounced back .8 from a bigger -3.1
  • February X Transportations, last month was reported -1, now is -1.3
  • Core Capital Goods, initially reported as -.1 was revised to -.8
  • Across the board the numbers were revised down and the Atlanta Fed increased their estimate anyway
  • Meanwhile Richmond Fed jumped up to 22 in March, but it crashed down to 14 in April – they were looking for 12
  • Consumer Confidence came out quite a bit lower than estimated for April – 96 was expected and instead we got 94.2
  • The most important number on the day was that Durable Goods number, which really should have caused the Fed to take notice
  • The markets, on the other hand are really acting like they are figuring out what’s going on
  • The markets have got stagflation written all over them