Federal Reserve should embrace more pain for good of the economy (by David J. Campbell)

Despite the stock market being up, unemployment being down, and inflation remaining low, significant risks of a financial meltdown remain. When Jerome Powell takes over the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve next February, he should make three moves to ward off future financial collapses like the one consumers and investors suffered in 2008.

He should push the Fed to:

 Be more discerning before interfering in the economy, and, when doing so, limit the dosage and duration;

Sell off quickly the bond investments it already has made to stimulate the economy; and

Let bankruptcy be a normal byproduct of the business cycle.

He needs to do this swiftly as the financial system has entered its own “opioid crisis” as the economy and investors have become addicted to the Fed’s extraordinary pain-relieving measures.

At first glance, it looks like Powell is inheriting a fairly sunny economic outlook. But along with stock prices, investor complacency has soared. Risk has not been allowed to play its proper role in helping the economy and asset markets to function normally.

For example, when the technology stock bubble burst in 2001, triggering a recession, the Fed moved aggressively by reducing the rate at which banks can lend to each other to just 1 percent. The recession turned out to be brief and mild, but the policy’s aftermath was dramatic and long-lasting. Investors and consumers went on a buying binge. Stock and real estate prices ballooned.

Similarly in 2008, as financial liquidity dried up and assets collapsed during the financial crisis, the Fed again purchased bonds to prop up both asset prices and the economy, driving interest rates to an unprecedented zero percent. In fact, its balance sheet more than quintupled to $4.5 trillion in the past decade. As a result, stock and real estate prices have soared once again.

Who pays the price for all of this intervention? You do.

Savers earn near to zero percent on bank deposits. Insurance companies have been squeezed as the Fed drove down interest rates. Pension plans are being chronically underfunded and the pension deficit is increasing: according to a Willis Towers Watson report, 410 of the Fortune 1,000 companies held an average of just $80 for every $100 of promised benefits.

The stabilization of the economy made people confident that regulatory actions could bring better control over the markets, prevent bad outcomes and smooth out normal economic cycles. It’s this abiding faith that has led to the bailout of banks that made bad loans and the bailout of a failing auto industry.

It also has produced a dangerous level of hubris on the part of public officials and those in the private sector who now feel insulated from any bad investment decisions. Removing the real risk of bankruptcy creates investor complacency and the willingness to buy at any price.

This isn’t to knock intervention altogether. When it’s well-applied, measures to protect citizens from systemic risks are vital to a well-functioning economy and society. The Fed was absolutely correct to step in strongly in 2008 but as far back as four years ago, it was clear that the economy was strong enough to function satisfactorily without the persistent application of the Fed’s medicine. Yet the Fed kept on prescribing it and is only now considering reducing the dosage.

David J. Campbell is a principal of the San Francisco wealth management firm BOS, which has about $4.3 billion in assets under management as of Oct. 31.

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Tech Workers Targeted for HUGE Tax Increases by Republicans, Democrats and Middle Class Americans!

This article below was published in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday, November 11th, 2017.   Trump, both political parties and middle class Americans are “up to here” with folks working in tech and they are coming after your money!  The current tax legislation working its way through Congress is targeted at you, especially if you live in California, New York and Texas!

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It was telling that former White House adviser Steve Bannon dismissed the allegations of sexual harassment against GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama because they came from the “Bezos-Amazon Washington Post.”

Blaming a tech company taps into a growing populist — and bipartisan — resentment against what Bannon describes as “the lords of Silicon Valley.” While people may love their iPhones, and the public’s opinion of Google and Facebook remains high, those on the losing end of the nation’s growing income gap are finding a new villain to blame: the people making big money in tech.

In Bannon’s opinion, those people aren’t the disrupters they portray themselves as, but part of the political establishment — along with “lobbyists, consultants, and corporatists and globalist elites” who are ruining the country for the working class.

The valley is getting heat from the left, too, particularly over its slow reaction to Russia’s use of social media outlets to meddle in last year’s elections. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein scolded Facebook, Google and Twitter representatives for the “vague answers” she heard at a recent Senate Intelligence Committee meeting.

“I must say, I don’t think you get it,” Feinstein told tech company lawyers. (The CEOs declined to attend.) “You bear this responsibility. You created these platforms, and they are being misused. And you have to be the ones to do something about it — or we will.”

Signs of tech resentment that have been boiling for a few years in San Francisco are now popping up elsewhere.

They can be seen in concerns about gentrification in downtown San Jose, as Google moves to develop up to 8 million square feet of office space to accommodate 20,000 of its well-paid workers.

And they can be seen in concerns about self-driving vehicles, which are being developed by Tesla and Google as well as traditional auto manufacturers. There is a growing fear that the more than 3.2 million truck and delivery drivers — people earning solid middle-income wages — will be replaced by those vehicles. Union organizers feel their fear.

“Everywhere I go I hear that the robot car apocalypse is coming,” said Doug Bloch, political director for the Teamsters Joint Council 7, which represents 100,000 workers in Northern California and Nevada.“Why are we acting like it’s inevitable? Why can’t we actually come up with a different vision of the future?”

But tech leaders are starting to listen, to hear that resentment and fear. And there are small signs they’re changing their ways.

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Fremont, who represents part of Silicon Valley, is dubious about Bannon’s sincerity when it comes to anti-tech populism, considering that Bannon used to work for Wall Street titan Goldman-Sachs and the Hong Kong online gaming company IGE.

But after spending part of his first term touring Rust Belt communities in Ohio and Kentucky to learn more about how to help all sectors of the economy, Khanna heard the same anti-tech sentiment expressed there and understands it.

While people in struggling communities “associate tech with prosperity and the future, what they’re frustrated with it is that they don’t have any access to it,” Khanna said. “Their communities have been hard hit economically. Factories have been offshored. They’re seeing all of this technological progress, and newly minted millionaires and billionaires, and their sense is, ‘How is that working for us?’ ”

Khanna is working on ideas to entice companies to — in the language of the valley — “network” their prosperity to less prosperous areas.

As a sign tech companies are listening, he cited Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s announcement last month of $1 billion in grants to nonprofits to help people adjust to the rapidly evolving workplace. For example, $10 million of that will go to Goodwill, which created the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator to help people in various parts of the country upgrade their digital skills.

Bloch, the Teamsters organizer, said tech companies seem to be getting the message that they need to share some of the largesse. The Teamsters are working on a deal with San Francisco tech company Marble to test a delivery robot that could be made and operated by union workers.

A theme of the annual Friends of O’Reilly tech gathering held this month in San Francisco — hosted by 4-decade-old technology publisher and conference host O’Reilly Media — was that Silicon Valley needs to share its prosperity with the rest of the country. Some say that growing realization came last year when, for the first time, the top five U.S. companies in market capitalization were from the tech world (Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook).

“There is a fear that the blowback is very serious, and this is something that tech has not faced before — a hostile public,” said Peter Leyden, founder of Reinvent, a media company that focuses on how technology can improve the world. Over the past six months, Leyden said, he’s seen a “growing sense of responsibility” in tech.

“This has only recently dawned on the tech community that they’re the adults in the room. They’re the people on the top of the heap,” said Leyden, who has spent two decades working to connect the tech and political worlds “They’re no longer the upstarts disrupting stuff.”

Leyden said he is “convinced that these tech titans are not like the Wall
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Fed Vexed About Inflation, Really?

Is the Fed stumped about inflation or is this just their story?  This is an easy and insightful read about monetary policy, inflation, deflation (which might seem like a good thing but it’s not) and the mystery of the missing inflation.   What do you think, long live adjustable rate mortgages or time to lock-in those fixed rates?

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Fed Hikes to Deflate Stocks, Housing?

The feeble fed is flat on the floor (say that 5 time fast!)  Seriously, Yellen and the Feds are stepping in to quell the run-up in housing and stock prices.  Their distrust of Trump is so great that even in the face of anemic growth forecasts for Q1, they are raising interest rates.  What’s a little hike in interest rates mean to you as a stock investor?  Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Janet Yellen thinks she can normalize interest rates with impunity during this current hiking cycle. If that is indeed the case, look for a flat yield curve and recession by year-end to wipe out 50 percent of equity prices for the third time in the past seventeen years if the Fed follows through on plans to hike three times in 2017.

My friends, get out of this market, ASAP!  Here’s a link to the full article:  http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/08/fed-rates-hikes-will-crush-the-markets.htmlgold-coins-on-the-screen-with-business-chart_600x400

 

 

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Pigs Waiting to Be Slaughtered?

How many times are you going to hear me or someone else tell you to SELL ALL YOUR STOCKT today and get out of the market before you take action?  The article below is from ValueWalk, here’s a link to the original:  http://www.valuewalk.com/2017/02/pigs-waiting-get-slaughtered/

We discuss the Stock Market Bubble is this video and provide some metrics to help the Federal Reserves Members spot the Bubble, since they seem to be having difficulty spotting the Bubble Market. The Fed should call an emergency meeting tomorrow, and hike rates the 50 basis points they were supposed to do last year, but passed on.

This Federal Reserve is the most clueless Federal Reserve in a long line of incompetent Federal Reserves. They have followed in the exact footsteps of the 2007/08 Financial Crisis Playbook, it is as if The Federal Reserve is trying to Destabilize the entire Global Financial System on purpose.

We are definitely witnessing the euphoric phase of the stock market bubble, because investors couldn`t be more blindly bullish than they are right now. This is the equivalent to the shoe shine story regarding the Market Psychology right before the 1929 Market Crash, clueless ebullience is off the charts right now in Financial Markets!

Do you spot the Bubble now Janet Yellen? I will give you my person number, and I will be happy to walk you through it, so that you understand the magnitude of why this is the biggest stock market bubble of all time.

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Wells Fargo Impropriety Endemic of Entire Financial Services Industry?

This story should be a wakeup-call to everyone with an account at a bank or financial services institution.  Ian Minto worked for a Wells Fargo branch in San Rafael, California, in 2001, and reported to his superiors that employees within the branch were opening fake accounts.  Even more disheartening, they were “flipping” mostly immigrant customers into accounts with higher monthly service fees and telling them the old accounts were no longer available.  Apparently these tactics and deceptions are endemic in the industry according to Pricewaterhousecoopers:

Nearly half off all global economic crimes now originate from financial firms, the most of any industry, according to a report last year by PricewaterhouseCoopers.  “Increased global competition and thinning margins have turned up the pressure on management to gain market share,” the report said. “Pressure to perform” has spiked as a main contributor to internal fraud — up to 20 percent of economic crimes last year, compared with 12 percent in 2014.

Here are some excerpts and a link to the full article, below.

In 2001, Minto was an assistant branch manager in San Rafael when he started to notice troubling behavior: Some employees were signing up unusually large numbers of customers. One particular banker recruited more than two dozen customers in a single day.  Suspicious, Minto said, he discovered the banker listed the same address for those 25 people. So he went to the address. It was a cemetery. “As it turns out, he said, employees were creating fraudulent checking and credit-card accounts so they could hit aggressive sales goals and earn more money

Those reforms didn’t come soon enough for Minto, who had just joined the San Rafael branch in late 2001 when he discovered employees were opening accounts in the names of real people without their consent. One tactic, outlined in his complaint, was to target immigrants.  Employees would transfer customers into accounts with higher fees and then tell them that the old account was no longer available if they complained. The new accounts would count toward their sales quota, Minto alleged in his complaint.

Wells Fargo whistle-blower finds vindication after 15 years

 

 

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Indicators Are Indicating: Trump Dump!

Interesting article and there’s a ton of data in here to ponder as you prognosticate about the future of the economy and the stock market.  A “Trump Dump” recession is inevitable and the slump in demand for debt from construction to credit cards and auto loans is strong leading indicator (see excerpt, below.)   If you are 35 or 65, sell all equities and get out of the stock market, immediately!

The overall trend for credit demand going forward is not looking good with the latest results from the FED senior loan officer survey. Indications for demand for debt for Construction, credit cards and auto loans are all down at multi year lows.

This is important as credit demand overall has been tied to overall demand within the economy and especially with consumers. If the intentions from the survey follow through, the slowdown in the economy will begin to gather pace with the higher probability of the US starting a recession in 2017.

US FED loan Officer Survey Chart

Source: Zerohedge.com

Auto sales have performed very strongly since hitting the lows in 2009, with demand for auto loans driving a large proportion of retail sales demand. Auto sales have recovered strongly also because interest rates for auto loans have fallen substantially over the last 7 years from the FED dropping interest rates and pushing down bond yields via QE purchases. This has allowed buying a new car more accessible for consumers and allowed consumers to own more expensive models that previously they have not been able to afford on higher interest rates.

Auto sales Decline Y/Y First Time Since 2009

The strong performance of auto sales bubble appears to be over as December and January figures have been very weak. Making things worse y/y auto sales have recorded its first decline since 2009 the same year the US experienced a recession.

The data below shows the big 4 car companies in terms of autos units sold all experienced declines in y/y figures. Since the FED senior officer survey results for demand for auto credit is also falling, US car sales declines will most likely continue in 2017.

Here’s a link to the full article: http://www.valuewalk.com/2017/02/stocks-bullishness-record-danger/

 

 

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