James Pethokoukis

Gold is nowhere near its old highs

September 3, 2009

A great factoid from the Calafia Beach Pundit, Scott Grannis:

Gold prices peaked in January 1980 at $850. In today’s dollars, that would be equivalent to $2,300. (The chart shows a peak of $1,800 because it uses month-end data.) So in rough terms, let’s say that gold today is worth about half of what it was at the peak of the inflation fears in early 1980.

The worrisome relationship between a strong stock market and a weak dollar

August 26, 2009

The dollar drops and stock rise. If the dollar is supposed to be a reflection of economic strength, this should tend not to happen.  David Goldman find this weird, too — and then explains it:

Looks like the Fed is taking its foot off the gas pedal

July 6, 2009

From Gluskin Sheff economist David Rosenberg:

At the same time, it looks as though the Fed is now in the process of snugging monetary policy. We don’t hear from the inflation-ists that the central bank has actually been allowing its bloated balance sheet to lose some weight in recent weeks and that the growth rate in the once-red-hot monetary aggregates is shrinking and the monetary base is also shrinking. Over the last 13-weeks, the monetary base has contracted at a 23% annual rate (!), M2 growth has softened to a 1.4% annual rate and MZM has slowed to a mere 4.6% annual rate.

Deflation nation

July 4, 2009

From David Goldman at Inner Workings:

An aging population increases its purchases of securities and decreases its purchases of goods as it saves for retirement. Americans have saved nothing for the past ten years, and the capital gains that they considered savings-substitutes have vanished. That means that an enormous savings deficit accumulated over more than a decade has been exposed, and that Americans must attempt to correct it quickly and under the worst of circumstances. That creates a deflationary shock that a few trillion dollars’ worth of stimulus cannot begin to mitigate. America may have the worst of both worlds: currency devaluation AND price deflation, as in the 1930s.

The Fed’s next move …

June 22, 2009

I think Mike Darda of MKM Partners nicely encapsualtes the Fed’s thinking:

With the unemployment rate 3-4 percentage points above what is widely deemed to be neutral, the Fed probably believes the economy is running more than $1 trillionbelow potential. In other words, don’t expect the Fed to start laying the groundwork for tighter monetary policy until a sustained turn in both output and employment is underway. Of course, this will risk an eventual inflation problem, but as long as inflation doesn’t escape the mid-single-digit range, it’s a risk the Fed is probably willing to take (as opposed to a relapse in the credit markets, and a third leg down in the economy, if they tighten too soon).

Inflation vs. Deflation

June 18, 2009

The always great Ed Yardeni has a smart take on the inflation-deflation debate, comparing US quantitative easing efforts to those of Japan in the 1990s: