Government, Not Amazon Putting Cashiers Out of Work – Ep. 259
Amazon Buys Whole Foods
The Dow was up today; mainly on the surprise announcement that Amazon, the king of on-line retailing, is buying Whole Foods. In a labor market significantly altered by ObamaCare-style government intervention, this news could signal further changes to the labor market. Retail has experienced a steady decline, and this move could usher in a new wave of Amazon Go-style services.
Economic Surprise Index Headed For 2009 Territory
According to an article in Zero Hedge: For the 13th straight week, US economic data disappointed (already downgraded) expectations, sending Citi’s US Macro Surprise Index to its weakest since August 2011 (crashing at a pace only beaten by the periods surrounding Lehman and the US ratings downgrade). The last time, Us economic data disappointed this much, Ben Bernanke immediately unleashed Operation Twist… but this time Janet Yellen is hiking rates and unwinding the balance sheet.
“Unexpected” Bad News in Housing Starts and Building Permits
Another “unexpected” big drop in housing starts; the third month in a row is accompanied by a drop in building permits, so that means that this trend is likely to continue. The last time we had 3 consecutive monthly declines it was 2009.
We got some more bad economic news coming out today, and it capped a week of generally worse than expected news
I was looking at a chart of the Economic Surprise Index on an article on Zero Hedge and it was a new low for this cycle
They went back to find the last time the Economic Surprise Index was this low
It was right about the time the Federal Reserve launched “Operation Twist”
Remember that? I was calling it “Operation Screw”
When the Fed was lengthening the maturity of its balance sheet
It was selling some of its short term bonds and buying longer term bonds
To have a better impact on pushing down long-term interest rates
Yet today, when the market is being surprised by the same amount of negative economic data
“Unexpected negative news”
Again, every time you read a negative news story it is always prefaced with “Unexpected”
I always put that in quotes because, why don’t they expect it by now?
You get enough bad news, you should expect it
At some point, they will, and that’s when the index starts to go the other way
When things are bad long enough, people start expecting bad things to happen
And then the next thing you know, good things happen
So the Economic Surprise Index goes the other way
People are still optimistic, yet they keep being disappointed
Despite this, the Fed is not only not doing “Operation Twist”, it is tightening
It’s putting the screws on big time in that it has just announced quantitative tightening
Not only did they just raise interest rates on Wednesday but they indicated they are getting ready to do quantitative tightening for the first time ever
This has never been tried before by the Federal Reserve
It’s amazing, too that the Federal Reserve is always out there talking about quantitative easing helped the economy
It pushed up asset prices, it pushed up the stock market, pushed up the real estate market
O.K., if that is what they think, how can they believe they can reverse the process, do quantitative tightening, and not have a negative impact on asset prices?
Not have a negative impact on the economy?
It’s amazing that they have the hubris that they actually believe that this can be accomplished
Again, it doesn’t have a positive impact: you inflate an asset bubble and the asset bubble can distort the economy and lead to phony economic growth, the appearance of economic growth
Yes, if you try to suck the air out of the bubble that phony wealth is going to disappear and you’re going to be left with all the problems created by artificial stimulus
So to the extent that the Fed actually follows through with quantitative tightening,
And again, they are “data dependent”
Source: Peter Schiff