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When Will “Transitory Inflation” Overstay Its Welcome?

There has been much talk of "transitory inflation", but the evidence is starting to suggest the term may overstay its welcome.

The Fed chose the word…

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This article was originally published by Real Investment Advice

There has been much talk of “transitory inflation”, but the evidence is starting to suggest the term may overstay its welcome.

The Fed chose the word “transitory” to describe this instance of rising prices because of its imprecision. Transitory can denote hours, months, or decades. Using transitory versus a specific period provides the Fed freedom to be wrong but be grammatically correct.

While the Fed uses ambiguous words, Mr. Market may have more defined expectations. If investors grow impatient with the Fed’s transitory, bond markets may react. In such a case, how will the Fed respond to “enduring” or “lasting” inflation coupled with higher yields? If they are already tapering, will such conditions push them to speed up their pace?

Conversely, recent data shows inflation may be stabilizing. Maybe the Fed is correct, and inflation rates will normalize in the coming months. If so, will they hold off on tapering or reduce the rate of tapering?

In July, we wrote Just How Transitory is Inflation?  The article is a deep dive analysis of CPI. At the time, we sought a better understanding of what was causing inflation to rise. With two more months of inflationary data, an update is essential.  

Understanding inflation beyond the headlines helps us answer the all-important question: Just how transitory is transitory? From there, we can begin to assess potential Fed and market reactions.

Headline CPI Summary

In the latest CPI report, covering August, the monthly CPI figure rose by 0.3% or 3.6% annualized. The year-over-year rate is +5.30%. In comparison, June’s monthly CPI rose by 0.90% or nearly 11% annualized. Despite the big difference in monthly rates, June’s year-over-year change of +5.40% is only 0.10% higher than August.

As shown, the monthly CPI and core (excluding food and energy) are turning lower. While not as pronounced, the annual data is following suit. Two months does not make a trend, but it appears to be fulfilling the transitory definition. Core CPI, at +0.10% last month, is 0.10% below the average for 2017-2019. Headline CPI is only 0.10% above the average.

The headline data is supportive of the transitory narrative; however, it does not tell the whole story.

The Breadth of CPI

Digging deeper into CPI and looking beyond the headline averages may not support the word transitory. The graph below shows the CPI Index based on the median price of the goods and services in the index. Unlike the headline CPI Index, median CPI is still rising and at the highest level since 2008.

The distribution graph below compares June to August regarding how the prices of all the underlying goods and services within CPI are changing on an annual basis. We separate the data into 2% price buckets.

The blue (August) and orange (June) bars comparing the two months may look somewhat similar, but there are differences worth discussing.

In June, 75% of the CPI components were rising at a rate slower than the 5.4% inflation rate. In August, 71% were rising at a slower rate than the 5.3% rate of inflation.

The number of goods whose prices rose between 2% and 10% increased from 66 to 77. The number of goods whose prices rose by 2% or less fell from 72 to 55. While subtle in the graph, the number of goods shifting to the right (more inflation) is noteworthy.

52 of the goods and services have price declines from June to August. Six were unchanged, and 95 had price increases. Again, more goods are rising in price than falling.

The breadth of the market is not supportive of the transitory theme. A wide swath of prices are broadly rising, albeit not at an alarming pace.

Outliers

In the original article, four goods had year-over-year price changes of greater than 20%, as shown below.

  • Used Cars 45.2%
  • Gasoline 45.1%
  • Fuel Oil 44.5%
  • Other Motor Fuels 32.1%

In the August report, six goods had greater than 20% increases. The four goods from June maintain annual 20% rates of inflation. Added to the list are propane and utility services.

The inflationary outliers continue to be energy and auto-based. Both are rising in large part due to the reopening of the economy and supply disruptions. We expect both will moderate in the coming months. As this occurs, they will put less upward pressure on the CPI Index.

Employee and school cafeteria food prices are down well below 20%. Over time these should moderate as schools and offices come online. Such will result in inflationary pressures.   

Big Contributors

In June, 92% of CPI was due to the price changes of the ten largest index weightings, as shown below. Those ten goods played slightly less of a role in August, contributing 82% to the change in the index. Below is a comparison of the same ten contributors for June versus August.

The prices of Used Cars and Transportations rose at a lesser rate than June, but every other category was little changed.

In the original article, we warn Shelter prices are the most considerable risk to more inflation. Driving our concern is Shelter’s 30%+ contribution to CPI and rapidly rising home and rent prices.  As we show above, higher home and rental prices are barely making their way into CPI.  

What gives?

In our article BLS’ Housing Inflation Measure is Hypothetical Bull****, we stated: It appears impossible to calculate the BLS version of OER or rent.”

We remain concerned that a double-digit increase in rent and home prices (OER) will push Shelter prices higher in the months ahead. However, history proves reality, and the BLS Shelter measure has a near-zero correlation.

Flexible Prices

As we wrote in June, CPI tends to be heavily correlated with goods and services that have flexible prices. These are goods like gasoline, whose prices tend to fluctuate both up and down. The Atlanta Fed publishes data on flexible and sticky prices, as shown below.

The graph shows sharp increases in both flexible and sticky-price goods are leveling off over the last two months. Given the Atlanta Fed measure of flexible prices has a 96% correlation with CPI, we are hopeful the upsurge is halting.

Expectations

The graph below shows a glaring divergence between Wall Street inflation expectations and those of Mom and Pop. Five and ten-year market-implied inflation expectations have been stable since January. All the while, the University of Michigan survey of consumers sees steadily rising inflation expectations.

While Wall Street buys into the transitory theme, consumers are not. This divergence matters as personal consumption drives about two-thirds of economic activity.

The New York Fed, via their latest Consumer Expectations Survey, highlights why confidence is weak. Per their survey, expected inflation is now over 5% and rising. At the same time, expected wage growth is 2.5% and stable/falling. As a result, consumers expect to lose 2.64% (red line) in purchasing power over the next year. Would you be confident taking a 2.64% pay cut?  

Summary

We are witnessing unprecedented pressures on the supply and demand side of pricing equations. Forecasting, with such uncertainty, is challenging. As such, we maintain a humble approach to inflation forecasting.

The latest round of data provides some evidence inflationary pressures are abating. However, the breadth of the data tells us there are still many goods and services still rising in price. This difference may help explain why consumer inflation expectations are higher than the market’s and confidence is falling.

Just How Transitory is Transitory? We suspect the market will have its answer in the next few months. Prolonged rising or high inflation beyond December will likely get many to question if inflation is truly transitory. Until then, pay attention to headline inflation, the breadth of the data, and especially any effects from rising Shelter prices on CPI.

The post When Will “Transitory Inflation” Overstay Its Welcome? appeared first on RIA.





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Precious Metals

Stocks, Bonds, Bitcoin, & Bullion All Bid As Billionaire Tax Threat Builds

Stocks, Bonds, Bitcoin, & Bullion All Bid As Billionaire Tax Threat Builds

First things first, when is a wealth tax not a wealth tax?…

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Stocks, Bonds, Bitcoin, & Bullion All Bid As Billionaire Tax Threat Builds

First things first, when is a wealth tax not a wealth tax? When Janet Yellen says so…

The proposal under consideration from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) would impose an annual tax on unrealized capital gains on liquid assets held by billionaires, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday on CNN.

“I wouldn’t call that a wealth tax, but it would help get at capital gains, which are an extraordinarily large part of the incomes of the wealthiest individuals and right now escape taxation until they’re realized,” Ms. Yellen said.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN:

“We probably will have a wealth tax.”

But markets either a) don’t believe a word of it (given the relationship between all these billionaires as benevolent overlords of the political class), or b) don’t give a shit as The Fed will always be there…

And nowhere is this craziness more obvious than here. While Trump’s SPC (DWAC) stalled today (after rallying 800% in 2 days), TSLA and BKKT took over the crown of momentum-driven insanity kings

TSLA topped the trillion-dollar market-cap level for the first time (TSLA was up more than 1 GM today) on headline about HTZ ordering 100,000 TSLA vehicles…

Surpassing FB (ahead of tonight’s earnings) to join the ‘cuatro comas’ club…

Source: Bloomberg

All on the back of a massive gamma bomb.

@Stalingrad_Poor exclaimed:

“TSLA call options strikes up $10,000 in a single day. I’ve never seen this in my life”

NOTE: If unrealized gains are taxed as income (as several Democrats have indicated), Elon Musk would face a $30 billion tax bill for his gains this year!!

And BKKT soaring over 160% on its partnership with Mastercard on crypto rollout…

Bitcoin and Ethereum were both up today on the Mastercard news (and Neuberger Berman has linked up with BlockFi).

Bitcoin topped $63,500…

Source: Bloomberg

And Ethereum rallied back above $4200…

Source: Bloomberg

All the major US equity indices were higher today, led by Nasdaq and Small Caps. The Dow lagged but still closed green…

Record intraday (and closing) highs for The Dow and S&P today.

On a side-note, the S&P/TSX Composite rose again today – a record 14th straight daily gain (a record that stood for 102 years)…

All thanks to yet another major short-squeeze….

Source: Bloomberg

Utes and Financials lagged today while Consumer Discretionary and Energy ripped…

Source: Bloomberg

Treasuries were mixed today with yields lower across the curve aside from 30Y…

Source: Bloomberg

The yield curve (5s30s) steepened back into its recent range…

Source: Bloomberg

The dollar rallied on the day to the top of its recent narrow range…

Source: Bloomberg

WTI hit a new 7-year-high today above $85 before fading back into the red…

Gold jumped back above $1800…

Real yields dropped a little today, leaving room for a considerable move higher in gold still (to around $2000)…

Source: Bloomberg

Finally, the level of “greed” in the market is back at 2021 highs…

Source

“probably nothing” – oh and don’t forget that the last time capital gains taxes were hiked significantly was 1987 (from 20% to 28%) and that didn’t end so well eh?

Tyler Durden
Mon, 10/25/2021 – 16:00



Author: Tyler Durden

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Economics

Crypto news: BlockFi partners with $437 billion investment fund; EY sponsors Chainlink ‘hackathon’ event

Cryptocurrency lending firm BlockFi has partnered with Neuberger Berman to offer crypto-based products to the US investment manager’s customers. BlockFi,…

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Cryptocurrency lending firm BlockFi has partnered with Neuberger Berman to offer crypto-based products to the US investment manager’s customers.

BlockFi, along with Celsius and Nexo, is one of the crypto industry’s big three lending services. It made the announcement on  Monday and revealed the joint venture will include the development of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and “other traditional structures.

The partnership’s products and strategies will be formulated and delivered by a newly created entity called BlockFi Nb.

With the Mastercard and Bakkt collab news barely a day old, it seems we’re in institutional crypto adoption season, although that’s pretty much been the case for the past 12 months.

“We are witnessing a significant shift in investor sentiment towards digital assets, and we believe that digital assets should be considered in modern portfolios,” said Greg Collett, president of the joint venture.

Neuberger Berman is a New York-based, 82-year-old independent investment management firm that looks after US$437 billion in client assets as of September 30. The firm’s main holdings reside in equities, fixed income, hedge funds and real estate.

 

Also making news: EY, Chainlink, GBTC, Uniswap, Rand Paul

• “Big Four” accounting firm Ernst & Young is sponsoring the Chainlink Fall 2021 Hackathon, running until Nov 28. The event gives crypto startups pitching opportunities with VCs.

• Grayscale’s GBTC (which is as close to a Bitcoin ETF as you’ll get in the US without actually being one), delivered better returns last week than the market’s new BTC ETFs.

• Decentralised exchange Uniswap is set to gain more exposure. Swiss digital asset issuer Valour is launching the first ever exchange-traded product (ETP) tracking the UNI token.

• US Republican Senator Rand Paul has stated that he thinks it’s possible Bitcoin could become the world reserve currency if more people lose faith in governments.

 

 

 

The post Crypto news: BlockFi partners with $437 billion investment fund; EY sponsors Chainlink ‘hackathon’ event appeared first on Stockhead.


Author: Rob Badman

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Economics

Oil in wait-and-see mode, gold moves up

Oil consolidates at the highs Oil markets probed the upside overnight, helped along by another large spike in natural gas prices. However, oil lacked the…

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Oil consolidates at the highs

Oil markets probed the upside overnight, helped along by another large spike in natural gas prices. However, oil lacked the momentum to maintain those intra-day highs as the US dollar started strengthening. With a lack of new headline drivers to sustain the moves. Brent crude finished 0.28% higher at USD 85.95 and WTI finished 0.50% lower at USD 83.75 a barrel, having traded as high at USD 85.35 intra-day. Asia has adopted a wait-and-see approach this morning, possibly on China nerves, leaving both contracts almost unchanged.

The US API Crude Inventories will be oil’s next volatility point, with a low print likely to lead to more price gains. However, the price action overnight does suggest that short-term upward momentum is waning as the trade gets ultra-crowded and the RSI indicators on both contracts remain overbought. Another 3 million barrel jump in inventories could spur some short-term long covering and see oil’s long-predicted sharp move lower finally occur to wash out some of the weak speculative longs. Once again though, I will reiterate that the overall environment for oil remains very constructive and any sharp sell-off is likely to see an equally sharp recovery. Of the two, WTI looks more vulnerable as it is more heavily traded by specs and Brent crude is more aligned to the international physical market.

The overnight highs at USD 86.70 and USD 85.40 a barrel for Brent and WTI form initial resistance. Trendline support at USD 83.40 and USD 79.70 a barrel should be the limit for any downside correction. Only a daily close below those levels suggests a deeper correction is possible.

Gold’s price action remains constructive

Gold staged another impressive rally overnight and there is no doubt that its price action is becoming more constructive towards further gains. Gold rose 0.85% to USD 1807.80 an ounce before some long-covering saw it fall 0.25% to USD 1803.20 an ounce in Asia. The rally is made more impressive by the fact that the US dollar has continued strengthening against the major currencies overnight. In contrast, US bond yields eased across the curve, and it looks like gold is taking its cues from them for now.

Gold has now recorded a daily close above USD 1800.00, and more importantly, the 100 and 200-day moving averages at USD 1793.50 and USD 1790.25 an ounce. One must respect the price action in these circumstances, especially when it appears not to be driven by fast-money gnomes. Therefore, gold has formed a nice layer of support between USD 1790.00 and USD 1800.00 now followed by USD 1780.00 an ounce. Initial resistance is at USD 1814.00 followed by the formidable zone of daily highs between USD 1832.00 and USD 1835.00 an ounce.

Gold continues to slowly but surely, form what appears to be the second shoulder of a longer-term inverse head and shoulders pattern. In the bigger picture, a rise through USD 1835.00 an ounce, would trigger the multi-month inverse head-and-shoulders technical pattern and swing gold’s outlook back to positive, targeting a move back above USD 2000.00 an ounce.




Author: Jeffrey Halley

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