Consumer debt climbed to a new all-time record in April as Americans continue to cope with rapidly rising prices.
Total outstanding consumer debt rose by $38 billion in April, reaching a new record of $4.57 trillion, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve. Total consumer debt was up 10.1% in April. It was the third straight month that consumer debt increased by $30 billion or more.
When the Federal Reserve tinkers with interest rates, it creates all kinds of economic distortions. This is very obvious in the housing market. Over the last couple of years, the Fed blew up a giant housing bubble. Now, the central bank has pricked that bubble. In this episode of the Friday Gold Wrap podcast, host Mike Maharrey looks at the housing market as a microcosm of the broader economy.
The Fed has barely started raising interest rates but the air is already seeping out of the housing bubble.
New single-family home sales plunged by 16.6% from March and were down 26.9% year on year. New home sales dropped to the lowest level since the lockdown in April 2020.
Last week, the Fed raised interest rates by 0.5%. It was the biggest rate increase since the year 2000. But it was hardly aggressive in light of the current bout of inflation. Not only that, Jerome Powell took a future 75 basis point hike off the table. In his podcast, Peter Schiff argued that no matter what the Fed does, it has already lost the inflation fight.
The Fed hiked rates 0.5% this week in an effort to stem the inflation tide. But the economy already looks shaky and the central bank has barely started this inflation fight. Friday Gold Wrap host Mike Maharrey breaks down the messaging that came out of the Fed meeting and concludes the central bank is getting closer and closer to a crossroads. What will the central bank do? And what will it mean for the economy?
Jerome Powell began hinting that inflation might be a problem last August. In November, Powell retired the word “transitory.” But here we are in May and the Federal Reserve still hasn’t done anything substantive to address the inflation problem.
And now it may be too late. It’s probably time to buckle up for more inflation – and perhaps a crashing economy.
The Federal Reserve came through with the second rate hike of this tightening cycle, bumping up the Fed Funds rate by 0.5%. It was the biggest interest rate boost by the Fed since 2000. But given the extent of the inflation fight, this hardly seems like a bold, aggressive move. In fact, it was a weak swing that looks more like shadow boxing. And one has to wonder just how long the Fed can stay in the ring.
Last month, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by one-quarter percent in its first salvo against rampant inflation. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has indicated that the central bank will get more aggressive in its inflation fight in the coming months. Conventional wisdom holds that monetary tightening will reverse the impacts of the extraordinarily loose monetary policy we’ve seen over the last two years and bring inflation under control.
Will it though?
The Federal Reserve launched its fight against inflation earlier this month, but it wasn’t exactly shock and awe. The Fed raised interest rates by just a quarter percent. Peter Schiff called it the most anticipated and least significant rate hike ever. Meanwhile, the central bank continued to expand its balance sheet.
While the Fed’s tiny monetary policy adjustments won’t likely put a dent in inflation, they are already having an impact on the economy. Last week, mortgage rates charted their biggest weekly increase in 11 years.
How long will it take for rising rates to pop the housing bubble?