John Maudlin looks at the economic situation and sees nothing but bad news piled upon bad news.
Unemployment is high and is in reality going higher if you count those who would take a job if they could get one. Incomes are weak. Plans to purchase discretionary items are falling. Housing is likely in for a further drop in prices. The stock market is not exactly booming. Treasury yields are falling, not from a credit crisis or a flight to quality, but because of economic conditions (deflation). Money supply is flat or falling. Prices are under pressure. The list goes on, and all factors are indicative of deflation.
As noted last week, the data suggests we could see weak growth in the last half of the year. Over two-thirds of the past quarter’s 2.7% growth was from inventory rebuilding, which surveys seem to show is abating as inventories begin to stabilize.
I was on Larry Kudlow’s show (links below) last Tuesday, and he gave me some time to air my views. My main concern, as readers know, is that we may have a weak economy in the latter half of the year and then introduce a large tax increase, which my reading of the economic studies on tax increases suggests will throw us into recession. Recessions are by definition deflationary. (Not to mention what another one would do to unemployment and the stock market!) With inflation at less than 1%, could we see the central banker’s nightmare of outright deflation? We very well could. I think that is what the bond market is saying.
Beyond the threat of economic destruction via deflation, we have additionally the reality of dishonest and irresponsible regulation.
“Why don’t you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough.”
– FrÃ©dÃ©ric Bastiat
I’ll finish with this thought. This financial reform bill should be thrown out and they should start over. So much has been tagged onto this bill that has nothing to do with reform but is all about political agendas. It is also far too vague. Essentially, they create all these new committees or empower the bureaucracies that missed it last time to come up with the actual details of regulation. For all intents and purposes, a small number of unelected individuals will be given almost total control to write new rules overseeing a huge part of our economy. No matter how well-intentioned, this is not something that should be done in closed rooms.
We need major reform, of course. And when are we going to get to Freddie and Fannie, which are totally ignored but will cost the taxpayer the most? Local Congressman Jeb Hensarling has it right. He estimates there are about 3 unintended consequences on every page of that 1,200-page bill.