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  • IMF Urges Fed Not To Raise Interest Rates Until 2016

    On Thursday of last week, the International Monetary Fund downgraded its forecast for US economic growth this year from 3.1% earlier in the year to only 2.5% now. That is not surprising in light of the mainly disappointing economic reports we’ve seen recently, and other forecasters have been revising their estimates lower as well.

    Yet in addition to the downwardly revised growth forecast, the new IMF report openly called on the Federal Reserve to delay any interest rate hike until sometime next year. In all of my years of Fed-watching, I don’t remember the IMF ever trying to influence Fed monetary policy. This is an unusual development, and it will be very interesting to see how it plays out.

    The question is whether Fed Chair Janet Yellen and her fellow members of the policy setting Committee pay much, if any, attention to what the IMF has to say. We all know that the Fed really wants to raise short-term rates to give it some ammunition for the next recession.

    This apparent disagreement is between two of the most powerful women in the world – Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, and Fed Chair Janet Yellen. This issue will be our main topic today.

    But as we often do, let’s first take a look at Friday’s stronger than expected unemployment report for May and the latest disappointing report on consumer spending.

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  • 6.7 Million “Missing Workers” – Where Did They Go?

    Today we will touch several bases. We begin with last Friday’s unemployment report which was hailed by the mainstream media, but had a lot of bad news to go with the good. From there we look at the estimated 6.7 million “missing workers” in this economy and ponder if they’re permanently gone from the employment rolls.

    Next we look at the latest Gallup poll showing how many Americans rate the economy as excellent, good, only fair or poor. You may be surprised at the results, which aren’t immediately clear in the chart. Following that, we look at some interesting data on mutual fund money flows which show that the love affair with bonds continues, and investor demand for stocks is waning.

    Finally, the International Monetary Fund downgraded its global economic forecast recently, including its forecast for the US and most of Europe. I have included the IMF’s graphic that lets you look at each country’s forecast for 2013 and 2014.

    By the way, we have a lot of charts and graphs today, so the letter will print longer than usual.

  • America's National Debt Tops $13 Trillion

    With relatively little fanfare in the media, the US national debt cruised above $13 trillion last month. The federal budget deficit for fiscal 2010 is projected to reach a record $1.5 trillion by September 30, and will be above $1 trillion in fiscal 2011 as well. President Obama's own budget projections show that our national debt will swell by almost $10 trillion more over the next 10 years.

    This out-of-control spending has caused both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) to formally call for the Obama administration to curb its budget deficits. In response, President Obama has created a 'Debt Commission' to study ways to reduce the deficits. Don't be surprised if this commission concludes that the only way to fix the problem is a 'Value-Added Tax' (VAT).

  • Europe's Trillion-Dollar Bailout - Can It Work

    On April 12, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased the capacity of its emergency lending fund from $50 billion to $550 billion, a ten-fold increase. Less than a month later, the European Union announced a near $1 trillion bailout fund to aid Greece and any other countries in Europe that may get into trouble. At the same time, the EU announced that the IMF will be chipping in apprx. one-third ($321 billion) of the near $1 trillion bailout. Since the US is the IMF's largest contributor, this means that US taxpayers will be footing part of the bill to bailout Greece and possibly other European countries. Isn't that just dandy! And it gets even worse, so be sure to read on.