As everyone knows, October has been a terrible month for equity markets. Some market participants feel that this did not just coincide with higher interest rates, but was caused by flawed Fed monetary policy and comments on overshooting. Like the humming chorus in Madama Butterfly, there has been a steady rise in the number of voices supporting a Fed pause in December. These include members of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee itself, such as Neel Kashkari, and leading economists such as Jason Furman.
For several months, I’ve written about growing signals of a possible recession perhaps 10 to 15 months from now. The yield curve has flattened dramatically, because global investors are nervous about our near-term prospects. Investment growth after depreciation has slowed, even with Trump’s costly tax cuts. Inflation has picked up some steam, and interest rates have risen accordingly. Most important, productivity has been virtually flat for three years, and the inflation-adjusted earnings of a typical household have fallen now for more than a year.
Originally published by FIIG’s The Wire blog.
When Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy on Monday 15 September 2008, I was in what would turn out to be my last year as Chief Economist at ANZ Bank (not that I knew it then – I didn’t decide to leave until almost exactly three months later, and then took another seven months to put that decision into effect).
This essay was originally published by The Washington Post, October 1, 2018
Despite robust economic numbers during the Trump presidency, the American public has seemed curiously unmoved by good news such as the lowest U.S. unemployment level in nearly half a century. Its enthusiasm might have been dampened by this underappreciated economic reality: The typical working American’s earnings, when properly measured, have declined during the Trump administration.
President Xi JinPing of China recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), the centerpiece of China’s global projection of economic, political and financial power. However, the BRI project is meeting significant obstacles and seems in urgent need of a reboot. Significantly, the main sources of criticism and reevaluation come from some of the major beneficiaries of the project.
The gap in small business lending, which the easy-money policies of the Federal Reserve were supposed to fill, are well documented. It's more difficult for small businesses to get small loans from banks, in large part because it's less profitable for banks of all sizes to make small-dollar loans.
I returned to Europe this week to hear views from the other side of the pond, as US trade policy continues not just to pivot, but to spin. There is no doubt that a major reset of key trading relationships is now underway with implications for currencies worldwide. As the US economy seems to be outpacing growth everywhere except in China and India, will US monetary policy have unintended global spillover effects, especially for emerging markets? And more direct effects from trade policy in developed nations? European PMI figures announced today are down to 2-year lows.