Humans are by nature somewhat myopic. We tend to focus primarily on what is right in front of us and filter out things further removed. As a result, we can sometimes overlook important factors.
As Americans, we generally devote most of our attention on American policy. We follow political maneuverings in Washington D.C., study the Fed’s most recent pronouncements and track the US stock markets. But we also need to remember there is a whole wide world out there that can have a major impact on the larger economy and our investment portfolio.
One factor that could potentially rock the world economy that a lot of American may not be aware of is the mess in the European banking system.
Jerome Powell is like a kid playing with matches and he’s dangerously close to starting a fire he isn’t going to be able to control.
The Federal Reserve nudged interest rates up again last week. It was the seventh hike since the Fed launched the current tightening cycle in December 2015. The Fed Funds Rate (FFR) currently sits at around 2%. Although this remains historically low, it may already be near the cycle peak. That means we may be close to a major economic downturn, as indicated by analysis by GoldMoney’s Alasdair MacLeod recently published at the Mises Wire.
If you saw the headlines about the latest retail sales figures, you probably noticed adjectives like “hot,” “booming” and “sizzling.” Total retail sales including food services were up 5.9% year-on-year in May.
That’s an impressive number until you factor in inflation. In fact, a decline in the dollar’s purchasing power accounted for nearly half the gains in retail sales.
As expected, the Federal Reserve nudged rates up another .25 basis points on Wednesday. Perhaps more significantly, the Fed took a more hawkish tone than expected, signaling it would likely increase rates two more times this year for a total of four hikes. The central bank had been projecting three 2018 rate increases.
A buildup in inflation pressures was a major reason for the Fed’s more hawkish tone. According to the latest data released by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped by 2.8% year-over-year in May. The central bankers projected inflation will likely run above their 2% target into the near future. Analysts expect the CPI to hit 2.1% this year and run at that level through 2020.
In his latest podcast, Peter Schiff said higher inflation might be a victory for the Federal Reserve, but it will be a big loss for consumers. In fact, we are heading for a no-growth, high-inflation economy.
US productivity numbers for the first quarter of this year were disappointing, to say the least. Analysts expected Q1 productivity to rise by point 0.7%. Instead, it came in at nearly half that, rising by 0.4%. This was only a slight improvement over the 0.3% increase in the final quarter of 2017.
There wasn’t a whole lot of chatter about sluggish productivity in the mainstream financial press, but in his recent podcast, Peter Schiff pointed out that it could have significant ramifications for the economy – and on your pocketbook. If you’re counting on productivity to keep a lid on consumer prices, you have a big problem.
The US debt continues to skyrocket and it’s costing Uncle Sam more and more money just to make the interest payments.
The US public debt hit a record high of $21.145 trillion on the last day of May. Meanwhile, the cost of servicing all that debt also spiked, increasing by $26 billion through the first seven months of the fiscal year (October-April) compared with the same period last year.
A lot of seemingly positive economic data came out last week, but in his most recent podcast, Peter Schiff said it is just feeding into a delusional economic narrative that ignores the most fundamental storyline – debt. Everybody is talking about a new era of prosperity, but Peter said it’s a phony prosperity and it isn’t going to last.
Up until 1964, silver was literally money in the United States. Dimes, quarters and half-dollars were made from 90% silver. Looking at the value of these silver coins today reveals just how much the US government and Federal Reserve have devalued American money.
Gold tends to get more attention than silver, but the white metal still shines and some analysts believe it is poised to out-perform its big brother. Based on the historical silver/gold ratio, silver is currently significantly undervalued compared to gold.
So, could silver outshine gold in the wake of the next economic crisis? Analyst Dan Kurz thinks it might, and he builds the case in his latest in-dept analysis at DK Analytics.