The US has falling prices again, but bulls need not fear: it is “good” deflation, as it is all about falling gas (petrol) prices making consumers better off.
Still, this chart should offer pause for thought: it shows US inflation on the same basis as the eurozone, which is worrying about “bad” deflation. The eurozone doesn’t include housing costs in its basket of consumer prices, so this compares the US excluding housing costs too. It doesn’t look pretty, with more deflation on this basis in the US than Europe. Read more
Strangely enough, even as the importance of the output gap measure has been increasing the last few years, informed estimates about it have remained few and far between.
As the IMF explains, that’s because potential output by definition is very difficult to measure because it’s something that can’t be observed directly. Statisticians can only make rough guesses about what it ought to be based on other observable inputs. All this generally makes sourcing unbiased estimates problematic even on a national level, let alone on a global one. It also adds to the controversy of the academic debate regarding the significance of such measures. Read more
A recent speech by Reserve Bank of Australia boss Glenn Stevens contained this striking chart:
SocGen’s cross-asset research team believes that when it comes to EM outflows they may have only just begun:
Here’s a rough sketch of the variables influencing US inflation, which has been remarkably low for two years running:
1) The remaining labour market slack, including a staggering and resilient long-term unemployment problem. The amount of slack remains tough to know given the difficulty of measuring the cyclical vs secular components of the fall in the labour force participation rate. Much more on this later.
2) The output gap. This isn’t a well-defined idea, we know, but few people would argue that the US economy is producing at potential. The US economic recovery does appear to have accelerated in the final two quarters of last year (the December jobs report notwithstanding), and the conditions for growth look better than they have in years. If the nascent acceleration proves sustainable, then the labour market may well tighten up and push wages higher. Obviously this is related to the first point about labour market slack, and plenty of caveats are needed given the head-fakes of the last four winters. Read more
As we’ve noted before it’s all feeling a little 1999 out there.
Lombard Street ‘s Dario Perkins agrees. He’s just released research entitled “Party like it’s 1999”, in he notes: Read more
Here’s a list of the 144 Nays on last night’s House debt ceiling vote (so implicitly, then, 144 votes to find out how long the US could have gone before defaulting). Click to enlarge.
The FT’s Tracy Alloway and Michael Mackenzie report on Thursday that banks are making contingency plans to deal with the potential impact on the $5tn “repo market” of the US government missing a payment on its debt.
Which basically means determining when we should start treating a US Treasury Bill as a potentially defaulted security. Currently, you could say, the T-bill’s status exists in a quantum state. It could be the best collateral in the world, but then again it might not be. Which one it is depends entirely on an externality, and to some degree how we choose to observe it.
This is probably welcome news given that the role played by distressed collateral and repo markets back in 2008 is still poorly understood. Read more
This is is a guest post from Philip Pilkington, a writer and research assistant at Kingston University.
After a few days of volatility the S&P 500 rebounded on the back of better than expected jobs data last Friday. Meanwhile the Nikkei, the decline of which the previous week seems to have precipitated the shakiness in the S&P 500, started to stabilize on Monday. And so the classic question rears its head once more: do stock markets drive the economy or vice versa? Read more
John Calverley and team at Standard Chartered have a big report out looking at how a selection of developed economies are doing post-2008. The short answer is that the US has largely recovered from the crisis, with growth there likely to be above trend in 2014. The UK and Japan, meanwhile, are still behind in terms of balance sheet adjustment and effective monetary policy, while poor Spain “still has a long way to go.” Read more
An interesting chart from the American Enterprise Institute showing to what degree oil shipments by rail have risen in the last two years: