The market's response to Wednesday's economic data was somewhat perplexing at first blush.
U.S. financial markets have been highly volatile but with little to show for investors, as opposed to traders, who make their best livings from pointless volatility, for all the swaying back and forth since the start of 2015.
We can argue whether it's a good thing or a bad thing that a small, unelected group of bankers is in complete control of all meaningful economic outcomes. But let's at least face the reality that they are. That said, can't we at least get a full audit of what they're doing?
If America is to shed the title of "Land of Inequality," this is how it is going to happen: by more people becoming aware of how the Fed's monetary policy affects them and demanding that it change.
A market in transition can mean only one thing in our current environment. A potential top and the beginning of a bear market or longer-term correction.
We should have until September before the Debt Ceiling debate starts making headlines again. If there is a backdoor deal, there will be an uneasy calm, and relief, on Wall Street. If the debate heats up, then volatility is likely to roil the markets.
Surging liquidity, more risk on the balance sheets of banks and insurers, sky-high valuations in individual asset classes -- these are some of the already visible consequences of the ECB's policy, and the trend is set to continue.
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For most of its history, the Federal Reserve has been dominated by bankers and orthodox economists, who kill the recovery at the first sign of inflationary risks. Happily, the Fed today is led by Janet Yellen, a very uncharacteristic Fed chair who spent most of her career as a labor economist, of all things. Yellen is aware of the changes in the structure of labor markets and is unlikely to jump the gun on raising rates, though it's always possible that she could be outvoted. The risk today is not that an improving jobs picture will set off inflation. It's that even tight labor markets, by themselves, will not generate enough pressure for wage increases, because workers have lost so much bargaining power.
There is popular support for the idea that the Fed should be audited. More than three-quarters of registered voters would give the general idea of auditing the Fed a green light. It's no surprise, then, that there has been bipartisan support for similar proposals in the past.
The popular Netflix series, House of Cards, perpetuated the myth of a finite money supply with this weekend's release of Season 3. But if President Underwood really wanted to stimulate the economy, he'd have a plan in mind.
I'm sympathetic to the notion that since we already have lower tariffs than our trading partners, there are gains to be made on this front. But if the negotiators are truly saying we simply cannot have a trade deal that blocks currency managers, then maybe we shouldn't have a trade deal.
To get back to that level and maybe even surpass it, we need someone in charge at the Federal Reserve who understands that creating conditions that increase the purchasing power of American workers' paychecks is a part of her mandate. From what she's said and done so far, it appears Janet Yellen is exactly that kind of Fed chair.
The Federal Reserve Board is openly mapping out an actual job-killing strategy and drawing almost no attention at all for it. The Fed's job-killing strategy centers on its plan to start raising interest rates, which is generally expected to begin at some point this year.
Last December I wrote about a bank merger deal that could create yet another "too big to fail" bank from the smoking embers of two of the very banks that helped blow up our economy in 2008: OneWest Bank (formerly IndyMac) and CIT Bank. While I'm baffled that this merger is still pending, I'm happy to report a bit of good news.
In the summer of 2013, a sharp spike higher in interest rates caused by the "taper tantrum" (fear that the Fed will soon end monetary easing) reduced both housing affordability and the opportunities to lower mortgage rates through refinancing.