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  • Will The Fed Raise Rates Tomorrow? Probably Not

    The Federal Reserve’s policy setting body, the Fed Open Market Committee (FOMC), is meeting today and tomorrow, and there is widespread speculation over whether or not the Committee will vote to raise the Fed Funds rate a second time since lift-off in December.

    Late last year the Fed signaled that it intended to raise the Fed Funds rate four times in 2016, most likely at the March, June, September and December FOMC meetings. Yet the Fed could not have anticipated the global stock market debacle that ensued at the beginning of this year and into February.

    Given the large and unexpected global equity sell-off we saw in January and early February, most Fed-watchers recently concluded that the FOMC would abandon its plans to hike rates four times this year. Many even speculated that the Fed might reverse course and lower the Fed Funds rate back to near zero. Some even suggested the Fed should implement another round of quantitative easing (QE).

    I have been among those who have suggested the Fed should delay any further interest rate hikes until the economy shows more signs of improvement. However, a recent economic report will make it much harder for the Fed to delay another rate hike tomorrow. That will be our main topic today.

    Following that discussion, I’ll have more to say about negative interest rates, the War On Cash and a summary of Stratfor.com’s latest analysis regarding this very concerning global trend. Let’s get started.

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  • Out of Control Federal Regulations Stifle Economy

    Today we focus on the costs to consumers of out-of-control federal regulations. While government regulations have increased for decades, the issuance of such new laws has exploded in recent years under the Obama administration. This regulatory maze is taking a serious toll on the economy, as I will discuss below.

    Most Americans are unaware that the government issued over 3,600 new regulations in fiscal year 2013 alone! Likewise, most of us have no idea that this rising regulatory burden costs the economy up to $2 trillion each year. This is regulatory overkill, and it’s no wonder then that this economic recovery is so weak. That’s our main topic today.

    The Fed Open Market Committee is meeting today and tomorrow, and the focus is on whether the Fed will hint at when it might implement the first interest rate hike in almost eight years. The latest FOMC policy statement will be released tomorrow afternoon, and I will report on it in my blog on Thursday. If you have not subscribed to my free weekly blog, go here (http://garydhalbert.com).

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  • US Savings Rate Falling Again – Here Comes "MyRA"

    Today we weave together several different topics that are all connected in one way or another. We begin with the US savings rate which is trending lower once again. From 1975 to 2007, the savings rate fell to an all-time low of 2.4%. While it jumped up briefly after the 2008 financial crisis, it is now moving lower yet again.

    In an effort to boost the US savings rate, especially for lower income groups, President Obama introduced a new type of starter retirement account for Americans of modest means that he called the MyRA, which stands for “My Retirement Account” and rhymes with IRA.

    While the new MyRA may be well intentioned, it is fraught with problems – most notably that it can only be invested in government securities that have yielded paltry returns over the last decade or longer. And when inflation rises, MyRAs are sure to be a big disappointment. I’ll tell you why as we go along today.

    Next, the recent Congressional Budget Office report, with its economic projections over the next 10 years, contained several troubling findings that the mainstream media and politicians in Washington deliberately didn’t tell you about. I’ll tell you why below.

    Finally, the president recently told a series of whoppers following the CBO’s latest report that claims Obamacare will cost 2.5 million jobs over the next decade. He lied, misrepresented and completely contradicted several key statements he has made in the past. Obama easily hit a new high in his presidency for deception.  You really need to read this!

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  • Will the Bond Bubble Burst This Year?

    Today, there are more people invested in US bonds (of all types) and bond mutual funds and ETFs than ever before. The degree to which this shift from stocks to bonds occurred in the last few years is simply stunning. For the period from 2007-2011, ICI reports that a net total of $408 billion was redeemed from US equity mutual funds – that’s huge!

    A record $792 billion in new money was invested in US bond funds in 2007-2011. While not all of the equity outflows immediately went into bond funds, this represents a shift of over $1 trillion in five years! A shift of this magnitude has never happened before. Is this a signal that the bull market in bonds is just about over? Could well be.

    Today, we look at reasons why long-term interest rates could rise this year. While the Fed has promised to keep short-term rates near zero well into 2014, this doesn't mean that bond rates can't move higher this year. The US economy is improving, albeit very slowly, and inflation hit 2.9% in the 12 months ended in January, and the European debt crisis is far from over. These are not good signs for bonds.

    Bonds have been a terrific investment for the last several years, but the bull market is now quite long in the tooth. If you are overweight in bonds, I would highly recommend that you take some profits and consider moving that money to an actively managed bond program such as Wellesley Investment Advisors with the potential to make money whether bonds go up or down (no guarantees of course).

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