This article originally appeared on ZeroHedge.com.
It is an interesting thing.
Throughout the last four decades there is a direct link between the actions of the Federal Reserve and the eventual economic and market outcomes due to changes in monetary policy. In every case, that outcome has been negative.
The general consensus continues to be the markets have entered into a “permanently high plateau,” or an era in which asset price corrections have been effectively eliminated through fiscal and monetary policy. The lack of understanding of economic and market cycles was on full display Monday as Peter Navarro told investors to just “buy the dip.”
I urge you not to fall prey to the “This Time Is Different” thought process.
Despite the consensus belief that global growth is gathering steam, there is mounting evidence of financial strain rising throughout the financial ecosystem, which as I addressed previously, is a direct result of the Fed’s monetary policy actions. Economic growth remains weak, wages are not growing, and job growth remains below the rate of working age population growth.
While the talking points of the economy being as “strong as an ox” is certainly “media friendly,” The yield curve, as shown below, is telling a different story. While the spread between 2-year and 10-year Treasury rates has not fallen into negative territory as of yet, they are certainly headed in that direction.
This is an important distinction. The mistake that most analysts make in an attempt to support a current view is to look at a specific data point. However, when analyzing data, it is not necessarily the current data point that is important, but the trend of the data that tells the story. Currently, the trend of the yield curve is highly suggestive of economic growth not being nearly as robust as the mainstream consensus believes.
Furthermore, economic cycles are only sustainable for as long as excesses are being built. The natural law of reversions, while they can be suspended by artificial interventions, cannot be repealed. In a consumer based economy, where 70% of economic growth is driven by consumption, you have to question both what is driving consumer spending and how are they funding it. Both of those answers can be clearly seen in the data and particularly in those areas which are directly related to consumptive behaviors.
Stephanie Pomboy recently had an interview with Barron’s magazine in which she made several very salient points as it relates to current monetary policy and the next crisis. To wit:
” In January, the savings rate went from 2.5% to 3.2% in one month—a massive increase. People look at the headline for spending and acknowledge that it’s not fabulous, but they see it as a sustainable formula for growth that will generate the earnings necessary to validate asset price levels.”
Unfortunately, the headline spending numbers are actually far more disturbing once you dig into “where”consumers are spending their dollars. As Stephanie goes on to state:
“When you go through that kind of detail, you discover that they are buying more because they have to. They are spending more on food, energy, health care, housing, all the nondiscretionary stuff, and relying on credit and dis-saving [to pay for it]. Consumers have had to draw down whatever savings they amassed after the crisis and run up credit-card debt to keep up with the basic necessities of life.”