Joe Biden and the Federal Reserve: The competing inflation fighting narratives …

John Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, today remarked on the state of inflation in the United States and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System’s (“Board” or “Federal Reserve”) efforts to address rising prices throughout American markets for food, energy, other goods and services. 

Mr Williams reminded listeners of the Board’s dual mandate of maintaining stable prices and attaining maximum employment and reiterated that the Board has the monetary tools to address inflation stemming from congestion in the supply chain, China’s recent attempts to combat the surge in new Covid cases, Russia’s invasion of its Eastern European neighbor, Ukraine.

With demand exceeding supply and a tightening labor market, Mr Williams expects monetary actions to cool the demand side of the equation.  The Board has already embarked on cooling down the demand side, first by announcing during its last Federal Open Market Committee meeting (a committee that Mr Williams is a member of) an interbank overnight lending rate range of .75% to 1.00%. 

In order to influence its member banks to borrow excess reserves from each other within this range, the Board will begin unwinding its holdings of US Treasury notes and agency-backed securities on 1 June.  In theory, as more securities hit the market for sale, the price of these securities fall while the interest rates paid on these securities increase.  As interest rates increase, the Board believes the increase will be accompanied by a slow-down in lending by commercial banks and borrowing by businesses and consumers which is expected to result in a less heated economy. 

But as the campaign season heats up in the United States, how well will the Biden-Harris administration manage the political economy during a downturn?  Today, Mr Biden, in remarks addressing inflation, spun a narrative that inflation is the result of Vladimir Putin’s antics in Ukraine and by a federal budget deficit caused by wealthy individual and large corporations’ unwillingness to pay their fair share of taxes. 

Admitting that monetary policy is the purview of the Board of Governors, Mr Biden offered up a fiscal solution contained in his Build Back Better agenda.  Components of the Build Back Better agenda offered in his remarks included investment in renewable energy infrastructure; passing clean energy and electric vehicle tax credits; promulgating fuel regulations that would increase miles per gallon for fossil fuel vehicles; and releasing one million barrels a day from America’s strategic petroleum reserves.

Throughout Mr Biden’s speech, Vladimir Putin’s name was cited repeatedly giving me the impression that remarks were intended to drum up electorate support for continued U.S. and NATO involvement in the Ukraine-Russia conflict versus resolving the inflation issue.  I also get the sense that by early summer, Mr Biden will tie Mr Putin to former president Donald Trump, thereby turning the inflation messaging into a strategic communication that garners more electoral support for the Democratic Party.

As an economic narrative, Mr Biden’s fiscal and legislative policy will depend on a defacto gridlocked Congress.  By keeping attention on Mr Putin and to a lesser extent Mr Trump, Mr Biden hopes Americans do not notice his inability to manage the political economy out of an inflationary mess.

All ears should stay open to what the Federal Reserve says and eyes open to what the consumer does.  While the Board lost credibility by continually repeating that inflation was transitory, it is in a position to take faster and more measurable action via monetary policy as opposed to Mr Biden’s fiscal and legislative agenda.

Alton Drew

10 May 2022

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Remarks by President Biden Before Meeting with Small-Business Owners

2:08 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everyone.  We’re joined today by five small-business owners who are helping power America’s economic recovery.

And I want — I want to welcome the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, Isabella Guzmán.  Nice to have you, kiddo. 

ADMINISTRATOR GUZMÁN:  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  And these enterprises and entrepreneurs know that an American economy is strong because America’s small businesses are strong.

Small businesses typically account for more than 40 percent — people don’t realize it — 40 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States.  They create two thirds of all new jobs.  And they employ nearly half — nearly half of all the private sector workers.

And today, thanks to the economic strategy, more — more small businesses are being created, and small businesses are creating more jobs faster than ever before.

Thanks in large part to the American Rescue Plan, last year, Americans applied to start 5.4 million — 5.4 million new businesses, 20 percent more than any other year on record. 

We saw businesses with fewer than 50 workers create 1,900,000 jobs for the first three quarters of 2021 alone.  That’s the highest rate of small-business creation ever — ever recorded in a single year.  And we have some of the folks right here who did it. 

We have every indication that this trend is going to continue.  The reason for that is because we’re giving people financial security to take a risk and pursue their small-business dreams.

This boom has been particularly strong for entrepreneurs of color.

Hispanic entrepreneurs started new businesses in 2021 at a faster rate in more than a decade, 23 percent faster than the pre-pandemic levels.

And, you know, the five folks that join me today exemplify what a difference it makes when — when everyone gets a fair shot.

Jennifer was — was able to start growing her engraving business last year because of the Child Care Tax Credit and the small-business support of the Small Business Administration.

Jeff and Nicolas are master coffeemakers — roasters — who were able to open their first brick-and-mortar café last year.

And Eddie and Daniel were able to turn their food truck into a brick-and-mortar company of their own.  (Laughs.)  That must feel pretty good, huh?

And they’re just some of the folks driving this economic recovery and reminding us that everything — that anything and everything is possible in America.

And my administration is working tirelessly to open doors for more outstanding entrepreneurs.  You know, unfortunately, Republicans have a different approach.

The Republican plan, led by Senator Rick Scott of Florida, Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, would tax half of our small-business owners an extra $1,200 a year on average.

Not only do they oppose making big corporations pay their fair share, they want middle-class families and small-business owners to pay more.

Our administration estimates that the Republican proposal would raise taxes on 6.1 million small-business owners, including 82 percent of small-business owners who earn less than $50,000 a year.

That just doesn’t — that’s — that’s just not right.

Our administration wants to make it easier to start a business, easier for a small business to succeed.  And our plan is to, one, expand access to capital for small businesses; make historic investments in technical assistance programs to help entrepreneurs thrive; and direct hundreds of billions of dollars in government contracts to small businesses in every community; and level the playing field — and I mean level the playing field for small business, making sure the largest corporations in America begin to pay their fair share.

And now I’m looking forward to discussing my plan and hearing from these remarkable entrepreneurs.  Thank you for being here.

2:12 P.M. EDT

Source: The White House

The Narrative: Joe Biden attempts to protect the US dollar

Yesterday, President Joe Biden issued an executive order regarding cryptocurrencies.  To summarize the order, Mr Biden has asked heads of politically independent agencies like the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Federal Deposit Insurance Commission, etc., and ordered heads of certain cabinet agencies, like the Secretary of the US Treasury, to take a closer look at the impact of cryptocurrency design and deployment on six areas:

1.Consumer and investor protection;

2. Financial stability;

3. Illicit finance;

4. U.S. leadership in the global financial system and the country’s economic competitiveness;

5.Financial inclusion of marginalized consumer groups; and

6. Responsible technology innovation.

This is at least the spoken narrative, what I refer to as the “Madison Avenue” narrative; one that is designed persuade the electorate to come onboard with the President’s agenda.  The electorate plays a crucial role as the political actor providing the primary source of votes every two years.  A president’s primary power is that of persuasion and his message has to either win additional votes or at least secure the votes he has going into a general election.

I was taken aback not only by the executive order’s length but also by how weak a platform it provides for future political, policy, and legal action.  From the political perspective, it fails to counter any arguments from the opposition.  For example, Mr Biden makes nary an attempt to clearly address the philosophy of crypto proponents. 

Proponents, especially bitcoin users, will tell you till blue in the face that using crypto is about wealth preservation.  They see the US dollar as declining in wealth protection and spending value because of ineffective monetary and fiscal policies that have done nothing but send the dollar on a decline for the last fifty years. With a significant amount of the dollars printed by the central bank over the last forty or so years being printed in the last 24 months, proponents of bitcoin use believe they have a base case for seeking an alternative method for medium of exchange, store of value, and account of wealth.

Currency is about trust and according to the President’s own statistics, 16% of the nation is exhibiting some degree of trust in crypto as a payment system and store of wealth versus the dollar.

Mr Biden could have scored more points in the direct and honest department with a concise narrative bluntly stating that cryptocurrency is a clear and present danger to the US monopoly on the payment system that is used to sustain commercial transactions and collect taxes.  This “Power Narrative” would better capture western philosophy: that the world is a place divided up in order to generate yield and the energy derived from dividing up and extracting from the environment is best captured and transferred in our current system of money and to maintain an orderly transfer of “monetary energy”, there can only be one issuer of the money: government.  Unfortunately, such a brazen power narrative would not go over well with the electorate, thus forcing Mr Biden to throw in the usual feel-good concepts like “consumer and investor” protection.

Traders who want to include bitcoin in their portfolios when collateralizing loans should expect Mr Biden’s executive order to act as a green light for regulators seeking to increase their scrutiny of digital assets.  Traders should also expect continued litigation over the use of digital assets.

In the short run as political narrative, Mr Biden’s executive order is a major fail.  Sure, 16% of Americans may take an interest in the government’s approach to bitcoin, but as political narrative that should be designed to win votes, this executive order does not cut it.  Most Americans are concerned about inflation and how their wages are being eaten into by increasing prices.   

Alton Drew

10.03.2022

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The Executive Office of the President appears more about narrative development than policy development …

I did a review of the Executive Office of the President to identify any pertinent messaging on the currency markets. Almost 14 months into Joe Biden’s first term and I could not find any major policy proposals regarding the currency, at least from within the EOP. The EOP appears to amplify the President’s most important political tool: the power to persuade. Created in 1939 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the EOP is the day-day extension of the “bully pulpit”, from whence data-supported arguments are supposed to be made and woven into the President’s narrative.

Two of the most important units within the EOP are the Council of Economic Advisers, which is chaired by Dr. Cecilia Rouse, and the National Economic Council, which is headed by Brian Deese. The CEA was established by the Congress in 1946 to advise the president on economic policy. Along with Dr. Rouse are two other council members who together are expected to analyze economic events and provide the President with policy recommendations. Almost 50 years later, President William J. Clinton established the NEC to coordinate domestic and foreign economic policies and implement policy according to the Administration’s economic agenda. In American football parlance, Mr Deese is supposed to be President Biden’s offensive coordinator.

For the purpose of the trader who is trying to parse pertinent political information out of the noise coming out of Washington, she should be mindful that Washington is about narrative building, maintenance, and transmission. The EOP’s explicit mission is to support the messaging and policy agenda of the President and this support helps the President win votes. The implicit mission of the EOP is to convince the electorate, and more specifically those who trade in the American political economy, that this jurisdiction is superior to the other 200 countries on the globe. America is supposed to be the better business model.

At this point in the electoral cycle, the EOP is still trying to keep the electorate supportive of President Biden’s Build Back Better legislation, which is currently still in the Senate. While the pandemic has been a constant cloud over Washington politics, the issues of inflation and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia have sucked the policy oxygen out of the room. The infrastructure legislation passed last year goes into effect today and while touted as a way to expand productive capacity leading to reduction in inflation, effects from that plan, having just gone into effect this year, will take a while to germinate.

One final note is how to avoid the narrative cross fire. Take inflation for example. There are two competing narratives regarding the cause of inflation. The Democratic Party are selling the narrative that supply chain issues are the major cause of inflation and if the United States is to reduce inflation head on, the infrastructure deal and broader social net agenda contained in Build Back Better are necessary in order to expand the economic and social infrastructure thus reducing physical and social supply congestion and constraints.

The Republican Party, on the other hand, are making the argument that inflation is more closely related to the supply of money, where there is too much money chasing too few goods, and that increased fiscal spending will only make inflation worse.

The trader, again, should keep in mind that she should separate out the “vote buying” aspect of the narrative from the “market making” aspect of the narrative. The focus should be on how whether fiscal or monetary policy provides better insights on where inflation and interest rates are going.

Right now, nothing out of Executive Office of the President is helping to quell the noise.

Alton Drew

07.03.2022

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Biden’s strategy on Ukraine can push Russia to find an alternative to SWIFT and price oil in yuan …

Elected officials and financial analysts have been expressing concerns that China’s currency, the yuan, could become the world’s reserve currency, replacing the American dollar as the go-to currency when seeking out a safer haven of assets like U.S. Treasurys or American real estate. In response to Russia’s invasion into Ukraine last weekend, the United States and a number of its European allies announced an initiative to remove certain banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, a financial communications network used by 11,000 financial institutions in 200 countries for the movement of financial transactions. The United States, as a leader of the effort, hopes to hasten Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine by making it very expensive for Russia to maintain a military presence in the country.

It’s not like Russia has been opting for staying in reactive mode to such a move. Russia and the rest of the world watched as the United States was able to persuade other SWIFT members to give Iran the boot.

Russia has a number of alternatives, albeit slower in today’s world of digital communications including telex, phone, and email. Russia also has the Structured Financial Messaging Solution, a communications system similar to SWIFT but used inside the country.

But what about cross-border payments? SWIFT connected Russian banks to 11,000 other financial institutions in 200 countries. SFMS is not comparable. But suppose Russia was amenable to pricing and selling its oil in yuan versus rubles? That would facilitate the use of a neighbors cross-border payments system–CIPS.

CIPS, the Cross Border Interbank Payments System, facilitates international payments for the People’s Republic of China. Twenty three Russian banks are already connected to the network, connecting these banks with between 1,189 and 1,253 financial institutions in over 100 countries.

And I should mention that the world’s second largest country, India, is also exploring a cross border financial communications network where Russia could be incentivized to circumvent SWIFT by importing more India goods.

Politically, an aggressive move to implement these alternatives to SWIFT could serve to weaken President Biden’s weaponized finance option. If Russia is able to sell oil priced in yuan and China is able to persuade more countries to use yuan for payment of exports, Mr Biden may have to convince his “coalition of the willing” to put boots on the ground to end Mr Putin’s “war of choice.” Mr Biden would also be the president who governed during the dollar’s fall from reserve currency grace.

Alton Drew

01.03.2022

Interbank Market News Scan: U.S. to release 30 million barrels of oil from its strategic petroleum reserves.

Interbank, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, credit. “The Federal Reserve Bank of New York today released the second installment of The State of Low-Income America: Credit Access and Debt Payment. The report finds that payment rates and median credit scores rose for all income groups through September 30, 2021.” See press release and report here. Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

International Energy Agency, European Commission, White House. President Joe Biden announces release of 30 million barrels of oil from the United States’ strategic petroleum reserves. See press release here, Source: Executive Office of the President.

Interbank, Treasury, South Korea. “The United States and Korea pledged to continue to work closely with the international community to respond to Russia’s aggressive actions that violate Ukraine’s sovereignty.” See press release here. Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Foreign exchange rates of interest at 3:15 pm AST

EUR/USD=1.11917

GBP/USD=1.33881

USD/CAD=1.27352

USD/MXN=20.5102

USD/JPY=115.336

USD/NGN=415.632

USD/INR=75.3584

USD/CNY=6.3095

Source: OANDA

Dollar Index=97.39

Source: MarketWatch

When analyzing fiscal impact on exchange rates, traders should focus on government expenditure data not narrative …

Political analysis should follow this chain of events. First, there is the world view or philosophy of state leadership. The party or strong man in charge imposes his or her world view on his society. She takes the next step and creates a narrative, writes a story that is consumed by parts of society. There will be conflicting narratives promoted by factions, and via the political system, a winner will be determined. With political power in hand, the victorious faction will draft the policy or action plan that activates the narrative. And finally, to make sure that there is no confusion as to what is the prevailing narrative, it is codified in law for all to read or hear.

The Democratic and Republican parties have been vocal about their world views on inflation. The Republicans argue that Mr Biden’s spending under his American Rescue Plan is leading to high rates of inflation. The Republicans energize their argument by citing the last Consumer Price Index print which came in at 7% year-over-year for December 2021. This was up from the November 2021 print of 6.8%.

The Democrats rebut by arguing that spending under the American Rescue Plan will provide income supports that eventually lead to normal employment levels. Rather than increase consumer prices, the American Rescue Plan, along with the Build Back Better legislation sitting in the Senate, will ease long term prices. Americans have been facing high consumer prices in part due to clogged supply chains and Democrats have been arguing since last spring that this government investment will expand capacity and produce lower prices.

Traders should cut through the political banter and look at the data. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that as a percentage of gross domestic product, federal government spending has held around 7% between 31 March 2021 and 31 December 2021. Actual dollar spending has declined during this period. First quarter 2021 spending was approximately $1,375.2 billion. Federal spending declined in the second quarter 2021 to $1,356.7 billion and fell further in the third quarter 2021 to $1,339.1 billion. During this period, the MarketWatch dollar index signaled dollar strength with the dollar going from 93.23 on 31March 2021 to 95.97 on 31 December 2021.

Along with the dollar strengthening over this period came inflation. Data for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the Consumer Price Index went from 2.6% in March 2021 to 7.0% in December. Mr Biden could deflect Republican attacks by implying that inflationary pressures are a reflection of the growing money supply spurred on by asset purchases made by the central bank since March 2020. That would leave a few in Washington scratching their heads since the man who led the $120 billion a month purchase of Treasury and agency mortgage-backed securities, Jerome Powell, was nominated by Mr Biden for a second four-year term. In addition, Democratic leadership in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate have been singing Mr Powell’s praises for his interventionist policies.

Granted, the increase in M1 money supply has gone from $18,669.2 billion in March 2021 to $19,874.8 billion in November 2021 (latest figure available) making Mr Powell’s actions an easy target for the “too much money chasing too few goods” argument, but Mr Biden and in particular the progressives in the Congress will need Mr Powell’s cooperation to fund their Build Back Better agenda. The Fed is the Treasury’s underwriter and Progressives can ill afford politics that upset its banker.

The irony is that Mr Biden has showed no penchant to artfully deflect criticism from Republicans to the Fed for his handling of inflation. However, for the trader that is neither here or there. The question should be whether proposed fiscal policy will have an impact on the direction of foreign exchange rates and if so, in what direction.

Alton Drew

20.01.2022

For consultation on how this political or legal event impacts your foreign exchange trade, request an appointment at altondrew@gmail.com.

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Biden announces three nominations to the Federal Reserve

Today, President Biden announced the nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin to serve as Vice Chair for Supervision of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the nomination of Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson to serve on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Our economy has made enormous progress over the past year, with 6.4 million jobs created and unemployment falling to 3.9% –– four years faster than projected. At the same time, our economy is facing the challenge of price increases that are squeezing families’ budgets.

The Federal Reserve plays a vital role in our economy. The President is confident that the Federal Reserve will act to achieve their dual goals of maximum sustainable employment and price stability and make sure that price increases do not become entrenched over a long term with the independence that they need.

Along with Jerome Powell – who the President has nominated for a second term as Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System – and Dr. Lael Brainard – who was nominated to serve as Vice Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System – President Biden has now nominated a group of five people to serve on the Board of Governors who have the experience, judgment and talent necessary to lead the Federal Reserve at this important moment in our economic recovery.

The Senate has confirmed three of these nominees who have previously served on the Board of Governors – Powell, Brainard, and Raskin. Jefferson started his career as an economist for the Federal Reserve, and both he and Cook have consulted frequently with a number of Federal Reserve Regional Banks. They will bring long overdue diversity to the leadership of the Federal Reserve, including the first Black woman in history to serve on the Board and the fourth Black man to serve on the Board. If all five are confirmed, the Board will be majority women. When we have leaders in the Federal government that reflect the diversity of our country, it results in better outcomes for all Americans. That is especially true in our economy where too many groups historically have been left behind, or left out altogether.

Statement from President Biden

“We are at a moment of historic economic progress alongside unique economic challenges as we work to drive our recovery forward. This is a moment that calls for sound, independent leadership from the Board of Governors at the Federal Reserve. That is why I am proud to nominate Sarah Bloom Raskin, Lisa Cook, and Philip Jefferson, who will bring a breadth of knowledge, experience and expertise to the Board of Governors. Raskin is among the most qualified nominees ever for the position of Vice Chair for Supervision, while Jefferson and Cook are talented economists with decades of experience working on a broad range of economic issues. Together with Chair Powell and Dr. Brainard, who I renominated last month, this group will bring much needed expertise, judgement and leadership to the Federal Reserve while at the same time bringing a diversity of thought and perspective never seen before on the Board of Governors. They will continue the important work of steering us on a path to a strong, sustainable recovery, while making sure that price increases do not become entrenched over the long term. I have full confidence in the strong leadership of this group of nominees, and that they have the experience, judgement, and integrity to lead the Federal Reserve and to help build our economy back better for working families.”

Sarah Bloom Raskin for Vice Chair for Supervision
Sarah Bloom Raskin has served both as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and as a Governor of the Federal Reserve Board. At Treasury, she oversaw the Treasury Department and its various agencies and departments, pursuing innovative solutions to enhance American’s shared prosperity, the resilience of our country’s critical financial infrastructure, particularly as it related to climate risk and cybersecurity, and the defense of consumer safeguards in the financial marketplace. As a Governor of the Federal Reserve Board, she helped conduct the nation’s monetary policy and promote financial stability. She also served as the Commissioner of Financial Regulation for the State of Maryland, where she and her agency were responsible for regulating Maryland’s financial institutions, including all state-chartered depository institutions, banks, credit unions, mortgage lenders, mortgage servicers, and trust companies, among others. She currently is the Colin W. Brown Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Law at the Duke University School of Law as well as the board of trustees of Amherst College. She received her B.A. in economics from Amherst College (Phi Beta Kappa; magna cum laude), and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Lisa Cook for Governor
Lisa D. Cook is a Professor of Economics and International Relations at Michigan State University. She was the first Marshall Scholar from Spelman College and received a second B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford University. She earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley with fields in macroeconomics and international economics. She was an adjunct professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Deputy Director for Africa Research at the Center for International Development at Harvard University, and a National Fellow at Stanford University. Among her current research interests are economic growth and development, innovation, financial institutions and markets, and economic history. Dr. Cook is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and is the author of a number of published articles, book chapters, and working papers. She is also on the Board of Editors of the Journal of Economic Literature. She also served at the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama and also had visiting appointments at the National Bureau of Economic Research, the University of Michigan, and the Federal Reserve Banks of New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia. She serves on the Advisory Boards of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (Academic Advisory Council).

Philip Jefferson for Governor
Philip N. Jefferson is Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty and the Paul B. Freeland Professor of Economics at Davidson College. He serves on the Vassar College Board of Trustees, the Board of Advisors of the Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and is a past president of the National Economic Association. He is a Faculty Affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research has appeared in several journals and has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation. Dr. Jefferson previously served as chair of the Economics department at Swarthmore College, where he was the Centennial Professor of Economics. He was an economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. He held visiting appointments at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. He served as a director of the Eastern Economic Association and as a member of the governing council of the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan. Philip served on the Swarthmore Borough Council, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. He holds a BA in economics from Vassar College and a PhD and a MA in economics from the University of Virginia.

Source: The White House

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Biden’s tepid response to inflation numbers should tell traders he has no answer on rising prices …

Political analysis and commentary

This morning’s consumer price index number came in at an unsurprising 7% increase in all prices between December 2020 and December 2021. In a tepid written statement, President Biden expressed contentment with a fall in the energy, natural gas, and gasoline indices. While food prices did increase, their rate of increase was lower in December 2021 than in November 2021. Mr Biden touted his American Rescue Plan, signed in March 2021, as the mechanism containing price increases and a source of the strong economic growth being seen in the United States.

The lack of enthusiasm behind the statement may be due in part to the economy’s growth. Yes, growth in the United States is positive, coming in at 2.3% annualized in the 3rd quarter of 2021. But this rate is approximately one-third of the 2nd quarter 2021 growth rate of 6.7%. When we remove energy and food price increases from CPI, done because of the volatility in those prices, we still get an annualized increase in prices faced by consumers of 5.5%.

Compounding the mixed growth results is the rise in the dollar index. Since Mr Biden’s inauguration, the dollar has increased in strength, rising approximately 4.9% in value between 20 January 2021 and 12 January 2022. Typically this means that foreign nations find it more expensive to purchase dollar-denominated goods and services. Exporters may have to reduce prices which benefits domestic consumers. The increased demand for goods and services domestically, on the other hand, could lead to an increase in prices here at home.

When evaluating the political environment surrounding inflation, traders should be wary of the narrative coming out of the Executive branch as it pertains to policies. Controlling inflation is done by controlling money supply and that feat is the responsibility of the Federal Reserve. The American Rescue Plan is budget legislation. It is fiscal policy that lays out the spending priorities of the federal government. On the flip side, you could make the argument that government, by injecting $1.9 trillion into the economy, is increasing aggregate demand for goods and services. Inflation, however, is not a consumption demand problem. It is a money supply problem, and traders should bear in mind that any narrative surrounding inflation should come from that premise.

In short, traders should take Mr Biden’s assessment of his actions pertaining to inflation with a grain of salt.

Alton Drew

12.01.2022

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CPI: Biden, citing American Rescue Plan, sees headway in reducing inflation.

“Today’s report—which shows a meaningful reduction in headline inflation over last month, with gas prices and food prices falling—demonstrates that we are making progress in slowing the rate of price increases. At the same time, this report underscores that we still have more work to do, with price increases still too high and squeezing family budgets.

Inflation is a global challenge, appearing in virtually every developed nation as it emerges from the pandemic economic slump. America is fortunate that we have one of the fastest growing economies—thanks in part to the American Rescue Plan—which enables us to address price increases and maintain strong, sustainable economic growth. That is my goal and I am focused on reaching it every day.” — President Joseph R. Biden