As interest rates rise, the air continues to hiss out of the housing bubble.
Existing home sales tumbled to a two-year low in May. Sales fell to a seasonally adjusted 5.41 million units, according to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors. It was a 3.4% drop, bringing existing home sales to the lowest level since June 2020. May was the tenth consecutive month of year-over-year declines.
As Americans labor under the burden of inflation, the Biden administration keeps telling us the economy is just fine. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre recently said we are “transitioning” to “steady and stable growth.” As a result, she claims the American people are in a place where they can “take on inflation.”
Americans aren’t buying it. In fact, they’re buying less of everything as rising prices squeeze their wallets. Consumer confidence has plunged to historically low levels. But as bad as things are, the worst could still be yet to come because the proposed solutions are worse than the problem.
After last week’s FOMC meeting, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell claimed that a “soft landing” was still possible. In other words, he thinks the central bank will be able to slay red-hot inflation without tipping the economy into a recession.
Is this feasible? Or is it a fairytale?
A 75 basis-point rate hike wasn’t even on the table a month ago. It appears that the central bankers over at the Fed were crawling around under the table because they found a 75-basis point rate hike.
The Fed went big at the June FOMC meeting in response to hotter-than-expected May CPI data just a week earlier. Jerome Powell admitted that Fed members were “surprised” but another big spike in prices.
So, what’s the plan here? Well, by all indications, there isn’t one.
The Federal Reserve just gave us the biggest interest rate hike since 1994. A month ago, we were told a 75 basis-point hike wasn’t on the table. It almost seems like the central bankers are winging it. Or as Friday Gold Wrap podcast host Mike Maharrey puts it, it’s like they’re playing darts while wearing blindfolds. In this episode, Mike breaks down the rhetoric coming out of this Fed meeting and speculates on what might be next.
Retail sales unexpectedly dropped in May, casting doubt on Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s “the American consumer is healthy” narrative.
The Federal Reserve doesn’t have a very good track record. It was wrong about transitory inflation. It was wrong about peak inflation. And it’s almost certainly wrong in thinking the economy is strong enough to withstand tighter monetary policy to fight inflation.
But President Joe Biden trusts the Fed. The cornerstone of his inflation-fighting plan is to recognize the central bank “has the primary responsibility to control inflation.” He took a shot at President Trump for “demeaning” the Fed. On the other hand, Biden said he will respect the Fed and its independence.
Producer prices continue to rise at a near-record pace, further undercutting the notion that we’ve reached “peak inflation.”