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Hooray! The Recession Is Over

There was no recession last year, but the widespread expectation of one depressed certain economic activities, like hiring. With that depressant now lifted, several labor market indicators shot to record highs in March. … Consumer spending has been strong, especially by Baby Boomers and especially on services, keeping demand for service workers robust. Strong employment and wage growth in turn have boosted consumer spending. … Real average hourly earnings has resumed its long-term uptrend after stagnating during the pandemic years. … Also: A look at recent years’ heavy influx of on-the-books foreign-born workers.
April 8, 2024

2024

Hooray! The Recession Is Over

There was no recession last year, but the widespread expectation of one depressed certain economic activities, like hiring. With that depressant now lifted, several labor market indicators shot to record highs in March. … Consumer spending has been strong, especially by Baby Boomers and especially on services, keeping demand for service workers robust. Strong employment and wage growth in turn have boosted consumer spending. … Real average hourly earnings has resumed its long-term uptrend after stagnating during the pandemic years. … Also: A look at recent years’ heavy influx of on-the-books foreign-born workers.
April 8, 2024

The Amazing Flying Machine

The US economy is flying high and should continue to do so. It has defied the past two years’ widespread expectations that it would land hard or fall into recession. In fact, last year’s real GDP growth of 3.1% matched the 48-year average. Fiscal stimulus has helped, but the major engine has been robust consumer spending as Baby Boomers spend their wealth. With consumption per household near its record high, Americans have never been better off. … Corporate America is thriving too, with record cash flow, capital spending, and profits. … Plus, inflation by some measures is at the Fed’s 2% target.
April 1, 2024

Another Post On Our Post-Modern Monetary Theory

Is the “Fed Put” back? Might the Fed’s assurances that interest rates will be brought down this year (as long as inflation behaves as expected) fuel irrational exuberance among investors? And what if interest rates really don’t need to come down, because the notion that they do rests on a faulty premise—the “long and variable lag” thesis? Our Post-Modern Monetary Theory suggests that monetary tightening doesn’t cause recessions because of a lagged demand-choking response of the economy. Tightening usually causes recessions when it triggers financial crises that turn into credit crunches that bring on recessions. That sequence of events is unlikely now that the Fed knows how to play Whac-A-Mole in the financial markets.
March 25, 2024

Post-Modern Monetary Theory

Unlike in January, investors’ rate-cut expectations now appear to be in sync with FOMC members’ projections. Both seem to be anticipating two or three 25-basis-point cuts over the coming months. … Whether the apolitical Fed might time its rate cuts with any consideration for election-year politics is unclear, but we list some political considerations that it might be weighing if so. … Also: We explain the theoretical framework we use to forecast the economy. For lots of reasons, we are not proponents of Friedman’s Monetarism or Kelton’s Modern Monetary Theory, favoring instead what we call “Post-Modern Monetary Theory.”
March 18, 2024

‘Pent-Up Exuberance’

Is Bostic on to something? We think the Atlanta Fed president is right to warn about “pent-up exuberance,” the business community’s readiness to pounce on opportunities en masse the minute interest rates drop. Demand then could surge, triggering resurgent inflation. The Fed should be wary of tripping that wire by lowering interest rates too soon. … Yet Fed Chair Powell sounded ready to ease soon last Thursday. We don’t think the recession threat (of keeping rates higher for longer) is as worrisome as the pent-up exuberance threat (of easing too soon). … Our Roaring 2020s scenario is right on track. Fingers crossed the Fed doesn’t mess with success.
March 12, 2024

The Elephant (& The Donkey) In The Room

Bouts of geopolitical or domestic political strife usually don’t derail the US stock market. Investors tend to divorce politics from their decision making, counting on wars to end and gridlock to keep regulation-happy lawmakers in check. Only when geopolitical problems disrupt supply chains, trade, and global energy markets or when domestic partisanship prevents the government from functioning do these considerations matter to companies and their investors. We’re closely monitoring these risks and think it’s time for a heads-up: They could cloud our optimistic Roaring 2020s outlook in 2025. … For now, no such concerns are impeding the bull market; it’s currently thriving by multiple measures.
March 4, 2024

2023

A Dozen Reasons To Remain Bullish In 2024

The bears who still expect a recession base their arguments on historical precedents: At times in the past when economic indicators were flashing the signs they are today, recessions occurred. But we see good reasons not to apply past rules of thumb to the current set of circumstances. Moreover, our Roaring 2020s thesis that widespread adoption of new technologies will set off a productivity boom is unfolding. As a result, we’re bullish on the outlook for the US economy and stock market. Today, we present the bears’ talking points and our rebuttals, including 12 good reasons for optimism as we enter 2024. … Also: Dr. Ed reviews “Archie” (+ +).
December 18, 2023

Hard Luck For Hard Landers

The economy has proven resilient, defying all the reasons it shouldn’t be, to which diehard hard landers still cling. We expect that it will remain resilient and that inflation will continue to fall to the Fed’s target (a.k.a. “immaculate disinflation”). In this scenario, the Fed won’t be rushing to ease and won’t ease by much. The Fed’s policy stance is perhaps better cast as “normalizing” than tightening that requires undoing. Labor market supply and demand are coming into better balance, as the Fed would like, though November employment data attest to the labor market’s continued strength. Also: What to make of the fact that GDI is weaker than GDP.
December 11, 2023

Ho! Ho! Ho!

The stock market’s Santa Claus rally has been turbocharged by a rallying bond market, subsiding inflation, lower oil and gasoline prices—in turn fueling consumers’ purchasing power—diminished fear of the Fed, and China’s economic weakness, which lowers the prices Americans pay for goods imported from there. … Jamie Dimon is right to warn that geopolitical dangers are great, but we don’t ascribe to his view that inflation remains troublesome, the Fed might tighten more, and the consumer’s strength likely isn’t sustainable. We think the economic evidence suggest otherwise on each score. … More good news: The sticky services inflation rates that have concerned the Fed are coming unstuck.
December 4, 2023