Viewing Inflation Through Rose-Colored Glasses


Armstrong Economics Blog/Inflation Re-Posted Oct 18, 2021 by Martin Armstrong

Once “we get the pandemic under control, the global economy comes back, these pressures will mitigate and I believe will go back to normal levels,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated, echoing “transitory” sentiments by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. Powell believes supply chain bottlenecks are the main culprit for inflation. Well, the Biden Administration appointed the secretaries of Commerce, Agriculture and Transportation to create a supply chain task force to fix the influx issues.

Sameera Fazili, a deputy director of the White House National Economic Council, stated, “Our approach to supply chain resilience needs to look forward to emerging threats from cybersecurity to climate issues.” Is climate change the issue here? Is this an indication of where the government will misdirect resources once again? Fazili further displayed how out of touch the government is with the current crisis by saying inflation due to supply shortages is “kind of [a] good problem to be having,” as it indicates demand. The countless number of businesses and consumers currently paying for basic living expenses at up to 30-year highs may not see the glass half full at the moment.

Then, the Biden Administration met with the workers at the Port of Los Angeles this week, where it was agreed upon that the port would operate 24/7 to address issues. Ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, account for 40% of all shipments into the US, which seems to be a good start. Even Walmart, FedEx, and UPS have agreed to unload their shipments at non-peak hours to help the process. Oh, wait, the ongoing worker shortage. Companies are begging people to apply, and it remains to be seen whether the ports will be able to maintain proper staffing to run at full capacity around the clock. Then the need for a sufficient number of truck drivers becomes an issue as well. Even if the ports do reach full capacity, what about the spike in fuel prices? Energy prices have caused the price of transportation to skyrocket, which is then passed on to the consumer. The US government is approaching this issue from a domestic standpoint as well and not factoring in the reason why inflation and supply shortages are not limited to the US.

Socrates indicated that inflation could rally into 2034, and based on the current solutions, the computer will likely be correct once again. Perhaps we should all view inflation through rose-colored glasses and view the 5.4% YoY spike in September as “kind of a good problem to be having.”

The Psychology Behind Consumer Spending and Hedonic Adaptation


Armstrong Economics Blog/Behavioral Economics Re-Posted Oct 18, 2021 by Martin Armstrong

Consumer debt in the US reached $14.88 trillion in 2020, according to Experian’s consumer debt study. That is a $3 trillion increase in the past decade, and spending in 2021 has only amplified. Nearly 42% of US adults have reported falling deeper into debt since March 2020, and according to a survey by BankRate.com, 2,400 of 1,297 adults had credit card debt of which 47% contributed that debt to the pandemic. Credit card debt is difficult to crawl out from, with the average APR well above 16%. Even more alarming is that 54% of adults hold on to their credit card debt for at least a year, and with that rising interest, it will take years to pay it off (if ever).

Inflation is not deterring retail sales in the US. I have stated that other countries line up to sell their exports to America, making the US the top consumer economy, and the top economy overall as consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of GDP. Even with inflation up 5.4% YoY in September, retail sales spiked 0.7% despite analysts’ at the Dow predicting a -0.2% decline. Why?

Of course, people must spend to meet their basic living expenses, and those expenses have spiked in every area from food, energy, to real estate. However, there is additional spending occurring post-pandemic as optimism rises. People hoard when they fear the future. Without taking into account other factors, people are beginning to spend again because the easing restrictions and vaccinations has led them to believe that their future financial situations will brighten.

A study on the psychology of consumer spending points to interesting aspects of human nature (Carter T.J. (2014) The Psychological Science of Spending Money). “There is obviously the direct monetary cost, but also the opportunity cost: all of the other ways that one could have spent this money must now be foregone. Thus, a more psychological definition of the psychological act of spending money would be a simultaneous loss (of money and opportunity) and gain (of some good or service) for oneself and/or someone else that one chooses to undertake based on some beliefs about future hedonic states,” as noted by a 2014 study on consumer behavior (Bijleveld E., Aarts H. (eds) The Psychological Science of Money. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-0959-9_10). The study found that the act of spending itself is “hedonically neutral,” and they used the analogy that “dropping $20 down a storm sewer would feel worse than finding $20 on the street would feel good.”

However, anticipated v anticipatory emotions come into play before acquiring new physical possession, be it a stock in your portfolio or a new iPhone in your pocket. On anticipation, we may feel a natural high as “we decide whether and how to spend money based on how we anticipate the various courses of action will make us feel.” (Mellers et al., 1999 ; Shiv & Huber, 2000). Anticipatory emotions are what we experience when we actually acquire the purchase (e.g., we may feel happiness after purchasing equity that we expect to profit on or guilty after buying a candy bar).

The study dissects consumers into different categories, but for the sake of keeping the blog post a reasonable length, let’s go right to the source – hedonic adaptation (e.g., after positive (or negative) events (i.e., something good or bad happening to someone), and a subsequent increase in positive (or negative) feelings, people return to a relatively stable, baseline level of affect (Diener, Lucas, & Scollon, 2006). “Focusing only on the immediate spike in happiness and ignoring the subse-quent [sic] decline means that the anticipated experience—the one on which people base their expectations, and thus, their decisions—may be quite different from the actual experience, increasing the chances of disappointment.” So, we may experience a short spike in dopamine after a purchase, but that high may wear off. The pain of payment affects all consumers, but interestingly, paying with a credit card temporarily mitigates the negative feelings associated with a payment:

“Cash payments are immediate and visceral—the money literally leaves your hands and becomes some-one [sic] else’s possession. Credit cards, on the other hand, are abstract and distant; they allow you to put off the pain of paying until next month, often while enjoying the benefit immediately. Spending money this way may seem painless, and almost certainly does reduce the negative anticipatory emotions that might prevent one from making a purchase, but it only forestalls the inevitable. When the end of the month rolls around and the credit card bill comes due, that pain may actually be magnified because the pleasure you experienced is already in the past.”

Cash transactions are becoming an ancient relic, and if the government had its way, we likely wouldn’t pay in cash at all. As online buying rises in popularity and people opt to pull out their plastic cards rather than physical paper, the initial cost of the purchase may not resonate. Retail therapy is in itself a hedonic act that may provide short-term happiness but often leads to buyers’ remorse when the purchase cost outweighs the benefits. It is important to note the risks associated with this move into a cashless society. The immediate impact of a purchase may not be felt for some time, at which it may be too late. As they say, when you’re in a (debt) hole, stop digging.

Stagflation is Here


Armstrong Economics Blog/Economics Re-Posted Oct 18, 2021 by Martin Armstrong

QUESTION: When do we talk about stagflation?

F

ANSWER: We are already experiencing it. Normally, the standard definition of “stagflation” has been explained as slow economic growth with relatively high unemployment/or economic stagnation that takes place with rising prices. Some have also defined it as a period of inflation combined with a decline in the gross domestic product (GDP).

Stagflation became a term that defined the 1970s because economic growth was still positive, but the rate of inflation was far greater due to the price shock of the OPEC embargo. Because of the Democrats constantly pushing to raise taxes, they sent corporations fleeing offshore, and it was NOT merely because of the tax rate. I testified before the House Ways & Means Committee on taxation and they wanted to know why NO American company got a contract from China like constructing the Yellow River Dam. I explained that German companies were NOT taxed on worldwide income, and as such, they were already 40% less than an American company because Americans pay taxes on worldwide income, and the ONLY other country to that was Japan. Thus, American companies moved offshore, NOT because labor was cheaper, but so they could complete.

As a result, I provided our analysis that showed when we allocated trade according to the flag of the company instead of where something was manufactured, then the US had a trade surplus instead of a trade deficit. Trump understood that and offered a one-time tax deal to bring their profits home. The Democrats screamed because they wanted 40% in taxes. But they would not bring the money home and so they got 0%.

Currently, as we move into 2024, this entire COVID scam has seriously disrupted the supply chain. Companies shifted to Just-In-Time inventory systems to save on financing an inventory. But then COVID lockdowns came and this resulted in chronic shortages.

So your answer is we are already in a STAGFLATION mode because inflation will surpass economic growth. With the dramatic tax increases the Democrats want to shove down the economy’s throat, all we will see is a decline in economic growth with rising prices thanks to chronic shortages. So we get the worst of two worlds.

The Democrats are deliberately pushing the World Economic Forum agenda and are actively trying to confiscate wealth while simultaneously crushing the economy to Build Back Better. Just like George Bush Jr took the blame for the Iraq war, which was all Cheney, Biden will go down in history as the patsy for this foreign infiltration of the United States to change our economy into a Marxist wonderland.

Unstable White House Occupant Erupts Into Angry Outbursts While Delivering Remarks in Connecticut


Posted originally on the conservative tree house October 15, 2021 | Sundance | 316 Comments

The White House occupant visited Storrs, Connecticut, today for the dedication of the Dodd Center for Human Rights at the University of Connecticut.

However, during the rebranding/rededication ceremony a familiar angry and intemperate disposition erupted. A very inappropriate disposition familiar to anyone who has been around a dementia patient.  WATCH:

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Lies, Lies & More Lies from the Financial Press


Armstrong Economics Blog/Press Re-Posted Oct 15, 2021 by Martin Armstrong

COMMENT: Marty; the Fed quietly published the banks it was funding in the Repo Crisis. I just wanted to say, you are always right. The press claimed it was tax time, but you said it was the crisis in European banks. Your sources are always spot on. Thanks for the light of truth.

PG

REPLY: Yes, that story that the liquidity crisis occurred because US corporations withdrew large amounts from the banks in order to make quarterly tax payments was the most absurd propaganda I ever heard. Why then do we not see the same liquidity crisis event during tax season?

The bulk of the loans covered foreign banks, as well as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Securities. It was all driven by the simple fact that Merkel said there would be no bailout for Deutsche Bank, which was the major derivatives counterparty problem involving Wall Street. Deutsche Bank had a major derivatives book, and if it failed, it would have taken down US banks. Deutsche Bank was in crisis and then it was too big to merge with Commerzbank. They had to lay off nearly 20,000 staff and a major effort was undertake to try to isolate its toxic assets.

That is why the Fed had to step in as the market maker to bail out Europe for US banks all backed off. I really do not know who makes up these stories to try to hide the truth. But they always do in hopes of preventing panics. This time, the game is up.

Inflation to Rise into 2034?


Armstrong Economics Blog/Economics Re-Posted Oct 14, 2021 by Martin Armstrong

Inflation continued to surge, reaching 5.4% in September. Janet Yellen has never been right about anything and keeps calling this “transitory,” as if it will vanish in a few weeks. The Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index, which is supposed to measure a basket of goods and services as well as energy and food costs, came in at 5.4% in September from a year earlier, well beyond expectations. However, our model was projecting a rise in inflation into 2021 which is 13 years up from the November 2008 low. It is interesting how the COVID restrictions with lockdowns came in on target with our computer’s forecast. Curious how events seem to fulfill the forecast when it is done by a computer rather than human judgment.

Nevertheless, as you can see from the chart, inflation has bounced on a month/month basis, but it has not yet reached the Downtrend Line. The long-term forecast beyond a mere decade projects the historical high will be due in 2034, which should exceed all previous highs. A month/month number above 1.05% will signal that inflation is breaking out, and we will indeed make all-time record highs going into 2034.

4.3 Million Quit Jobs in August – Vaccines?


Armstrong Economics Blog/Vaccine Re-Posted Oct 14, 2021 by Martin Armstrong

The numbers are out — 4.3 million people in the US quit their jobs in August. This is the largest number since 2000. The leading sector is hotels and restaurants. I have a friend who has a daughter who had two jobs. She worked as a waitress/bartender at night and at a health food store during the day. She was very industrious, to say the least, and quite impressive. However, she quit the health food job because they demanded a vaccine. She said the bar owner was going to impose a vaccine rule and more than 50% of the staff said they would quit.

Meanwhile, New York’s bars and restaurants are hurting for business because of the vaccine mandates. Our most honorable leaders, who are most likely taking money from Pfizer lobbyists worldwide, are realizing that resistance is not futile. You can mandate vaccines and pretend they are 100% safe, but the truth always surfaces. The people can bring down the entire system if they simply refuse to participate.

Many journalists are too busy selling Biden’s propaganda about the vaccines. The FDA admits there are risks, but they, in their sole discretion, announced they “believe” the benefits outweigh the risk without any explanation of the analysis or a single word of caution (e.g., if you have certain conditions, you should not take the vaccine) despite doing so for other vaccines. So while the press and the Biden Administration are ignoring the facts and the trend, this only raises the question: How much has Pfizer and Moderna paid you?

Jen Psaki Tells Stunning and Dangerous Lies About Transitory Inflation, Claims Price Increases Will Stop – They Won’t


Posted originally on the conservative tree house on October 13, 2021 | Sundance | 249 Comments

I do not expect White House Spokesperson Jennifer Psaki to understand how her bosses policies are driving massive price increases; nor do I expect Psaki to understand economics and inflationary impacts.  However, the scale of her false statements surrounding inflation are not just false, they are now dangerous.

Following the release of the consumer price index [SEE table 2], in her press briefing today, Jen Psaki outlined the White House perspective on inflation, and specifically the Fed claims surrounding “transitory inflation.”

In her statements today, Psaki referenced people comparing the prices of 2021 consumable goods to 2020 and 2019.  [Video prompted below] Within the statements, the scale of falsity is off the charts.  WATCH [Video at 19:00 to 22:42, prompted]

There is not one single thing about that three minute verbal exchange that is accurate.  Fast turn consumable goods, groceries etc., did not drop in 2020 during the first year of the pandemic.  Factually, all goods but especially consumable goods increased in price throughout the pandemic, because demand actually increased and the supply chains were unable to keep up.

Example.  A loaf of bread at $2.50 in 2019, climbed to $3.00 in 2020.  That price jumped again to $3.75 this year (2021) and will likely continue rising as monetary policy driven inflation continues devaluing our currency.

Even if, as Psaki claims, inflation slows down  (not likely) – “decelerating inflation” does not mean declining prices; it means a slower rate of price increase.   Stuff still costs more, it just costs more at a slower rate.  Consumable goods will cost more in 2022 than they do this year.  The 2022 loaf of bread likely to climb to $4.00; it will never return to the 2019 price of $2.50 because the dollar is worth less.

♦ Ask the White House: Why did Joe Biden increase food assistance benefits by 25% if inflation was transitory?

[The Consumer Price Index was released today.  The producer price index for Sept will be released tomorrow]

This massive inflation is a direct result of the multinational agenda of the Biden administration in combination with the spending spree.  Inflation is a feature not a flaw, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with COVID. The first group to admit what was obvious were banks, specifically Bank of America, because the monetary policy is the primary cause.

You might remember, when President Trump initiated tariffs against China (steel, aluminum and more), Southeast Asia (product specific), Europe (steel, aluminum and direct products), Canada (steel, aluminum, lumber and dairy specifics), the financial pundits screamed at the top of their lungs that consumer prices were going to skyrocket. They didn’t. CTH knew they wouldn’t because essentially those trading partners responded in the exact same way the U.S. did decades ago when the import/export dynamic was reversed.

Trump’s massive, and in some instances targeted, import tariffs against China, SE Asia, Canada and the EU not only did not increase prices, the prices of the goods in the U.S. actually dropped. Trump’s policies led the largest deflation in consumer prices in decades. At the same time, Trump’s domestic economic policies drove employment and wages higher than any time in the past forty years.

With Donald Trump’s policies, we were in an era where job growth was strong, wages were rising and consumer prices were falling.  The net result was more disposable income for the middle class, more demand for stuff, and ultimately that’s why the U.S. economy was so strong.

Going Deep – To retain their position, China and the EU responded to U.S. tariffs by devaluing their currency as an offset to higher prices. It started with China, because their economy is so dependent on exports to the U.S.

China first started subsidizing the targeted sectors hit by tariffs. However, as the Chinese economy was under pressure, they stopped purchasing industrial products from the EU, that slowed the EU economy and made the impact of U.S. tariffs, later targeted in the EU direction, more impactful.

When China (total communist control over their banking system) devalued their currency to avoid Tariff price increase, it had an unusual effect. The cost of all Chinese imports dropped, not just on the tariff goods.

Imported stuff from China dropped in price at the same time the U.S. dollar was strong. This meant it took less dollars to import the same amount of Chinese goods; and those goods were at a lower price. As a result, we were importing deflation…. the exact opposite of what the financial pundits claimed would happen.

In response to a lessening of overall economic activity, the EU then followed the same approach as China. The EU was already facing pressure from the exit of the U.K. from the EU system; so, when the EU central banks started pumping money into their economy and offsetting with subsidies, they essentially devalued the euro. The outcome for U.S.-EU importers was the same as the outcome for U.S.-China importers. We began importing deflation from the EU side.

In the middle of this, there was a downside for U.S. exporters. With China and the EU devaluing their currency, the value of the dollar increased. This made purchases from the U.S. more expensive. U.S. companies who relied on exports (lots of agricultural industries and raw materials) took a hit from higher export prices. However, and this part is really interesting, it only made those companies more dependent on domestic sales for income. With less being exported, there was more product available in the U.S for domestic purchase…. this dynamic led to another predictable outcome, even lower prices for U.S. consumers.

From 2017 through early 2020, U.S. consumer prices were dropping. We were in a rare place where actual deflation was happening. Combine lower prices with higher wages, and you can easily see the strength within the U.S. economy.

For the rest of the world this seemed unfair, and indeed they cried foul – especially Canada.  However, this was America First in action. Middle-class Americans were benefiting from a Trump reversal of 40 years of economic policies like those that created the rust belt.

Industries were investing in the U.S., and that provided leverage for Trump’s trade policies to have stronger influence. If you wanted access to this expanding market, those foreign companies needed to put their investment money into the U.S. and create even more U.S. jobs. This was an expanding economic spiral where Trump was creating more and more economic pies. Every sector of the U.S. economy was benefiting more, but the blue-collar working class was gaining the most benefit of all.

♦ REVERSE THIS… and you now understand where we are with inflation.

The JoeBama economic policies are exactly the reverse. The monetary policy that pumps money into into the U.S. economy, via COVID bailouts and ever-increasing federal spending, drops the value of the dollar and makes the dependency state worse.

With the FED pumping money into the U.S. system, the dollar value plummets.  Now the value of the Chinese and EU currency increases. This means it costs more to import products, and that is the primary driver of price increases in consumer goods.

Simultaneously, a lower dollar value means cheaper exports for the massive multinational conglomerates who now control our farms and farming resources (Big AG and raw materials). China, SE Asia and even the EU purchase U.S. food and raw material at a lower price. That means less food and raw material in the U.S. which drives up prices for U.S. consumers.

It is a perfect storm.  Higher costs for imported goods (durable goods) and higher costs for domestic consumable goods (food). Combine this dynamic with massive increases in energy costs from ideological Green New Deal policy, and that’s fuel on a fire of inflation.

Annualized inflation is now around 8 percent, and it will likely keep increasing in the short term. This is terrible for wage earners in the U.S. who are now seeing no wage growth and higher prices. Real wages are decreasing by the fastest rate in decades. We are now in a downward spiral where your paycheck buys less. As a result, consumer middle-class spending contracts. Eventually, this means household purchasing of durable goods drop because people have less disposable income.

Gasoline costs more (+50%), food costs more (+10% at a minimum) and as a result, real wages drop; disposable income is lost. Ultimately this is the cause of Stagflation. A stagnant economy and inflation. None of this is caused by COVID-19. All of this is caused by economic policy and monetary policy sold under the guise of COVID-19.

This inflationary period will not stall out until the U.S. economy can recover from the massive amount of federal spending.

If the spending continues, the Fed keeps printing money.  The dollar continues to be weakened.  As a result the inflationary period continues. It is a spiral that can only be stopped if the policies are reversed…. and the only way to stop these insane policies is to get rid of the Wall Street democrats and republicans who are constructing them.

Tucker Carlson hit this point very well last night:

Inflation is Hitting Every Sector – Not Transitory


Armstrong Economics Blog/Hyperinflation Re-Posted Oct 13, 2021 by Martin Armstrong

COMMENT: All these increased demands for my product is great, but it comes with quite a wholesale flower prices have also increased significantly making the cost of the arrangements much higher. Wholesale rose prices have jumped 56%. Last year I could buy a pack of 25 roses for $18, where today they cost $28. I have to pass these costs onto my customers, but even with the increased cost people are still buying more flowers this year than the same time last year.

SH

REPLY: Thank you for this info. It is hard to find any industry that is not suffering from a shortage of supply.

BLS Report – 4.3 Million US Workers Voluntarily Quit Their Jobs in August


Posted originally on the conservative tree house on October 12, 2021 | Sundance | 260 Comments

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the job openings and labor report for August today [DATA HERE].  The data shows that 4.3 million U.S. workers voluntarily quit their jobs in the month of August.  This is a significant jump from prior.

The “Quits” section [Table 4 breakdown] shows quits increased in August to 4.3 million (+242,000). The quits rate increased to a series high of 2.9 percent. Quits increased in accommodation and food services (+157,000); wholesale trade (+26,000); and state and local government education (+25,000). Quits decreased in real estate and rental and leasing (-23,000). The number of quits increased in the South and Midwest regions:

While this data is interesting and significant, it is only one data point within the larger U.S. main street economy.  Rather than me extrapolating on this data, I would like to hear your perspective based on your own local feeling about what is going on in your area.

Key points of reference would include:

  • While this is potentially related to vaccine mandates, the time frame in August is before the Biden mandatory vaccination requirement made on September 9th.
  • Housing prices overall (macro level) were/are high.  There is a lot more home equity amid working class families who own homes.  This could translate to a greater ability to change jobs or cash out for  a longer financial plan.
  • Workers in the real estate and leasing segment did not quit.
  • The highest quit rates were in the regions with the lowest cost of living.
  • Inflation is massive

I am interested to read your opinions on what could potentially be the largest contributing factor based on your town, city or neighborhood.

Ignore the financial pundits.  The question is: what do you make of this?

Jennifer Psaki was asked about this quit jump and she was poorly briefed in order to answer the question.  She is clueless.