Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Stock Markets and the History Chart of the End of the World (With Presidential Cycles) - 28th Aug 20
2.Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook... AI Tech Stocks Buying Levels and Valuations Q3 2020 - 31st Aug 20
3.The Inflation Mega-trend is Going Hyper! - 11th Sep 20
4.Is this the End of Capitalism? - 13th Sep 20
5.What's Driving Gold, Silver and What's Next? - 3rd Sep 20
6.QE4EVER! - 9th Sep 20
7.Gold Price Trend Forecast Analysis - Part1 - 7th Sep 20
8.The Fed May “Cause” The Next Stock Market Crash - 3rd Sep 20
9.Bitcoin Price Crash - You Will be Suprised What Happens Next - 7th Sep 20
10.NVIDIA Stock Price Soars on RTX 3000 Cornering the GPU Market for next 2 years! - 3rd Sep 20
Last 7 days
Gold Watch Out as Price May Be Staging New Momentum Base In Preparation For A Big Move Upwards - 18th May 21
Why the Demand for US Real Estate Licenses May Soon Fall into a Sinkhole - 18th May 21
Semiconductor Equipment Maker ASML Is at the Center of the Global Chip Shortage - 18th May 21
Could This Be The Hottest Investment Sector For 2021? - 18th May 21
TESLA Tech Stock Bubble BURSTS! Stock Price Heading for CRASH to below $400 - 18th May 21
The Most Exciting Biotech Stock Of The Year? - 17th May 21
Gold Mining Stocks Fundamentals - 17th May 21
Junior Gold Miners Should be Rallying – What’s Holding Them Back? - 17th May 21
Stock Market - Should You Be In Cash Right Now? - 17th May 21
Learning the Financial Markets - 17th May 21
INVESTING IN HIGH RISK TECH STOCKS - ALL OR NOTHING - 16th May 21
Is Stock Market Selling Madness About Over? - 16th May 21
Crypto Bubble Bursts! Nicehash Suspends Coinbase Withdrawals, Bitcoin, Ethereum Bear Market Begins - 16th May 21
Budgies Birds of Paradise Indoor Grape Vine Singing, Chirping and Flying Parakeets Fun 3D VR180 UK - 16th May 21
Wall Street Roiled by Hot Inflation Data: Is This REALLY “Transitory”? - 16th May 21
Inflation Going Stag - 16th May 21
CHIA Coins After 1st Week of Plotting 140 Plot 14tb Farm. Crunching the Numbers How to Win - 15th May 21
Tips to Create the Best Cross-Functional Teams - 15th May 21
Gold: Lose a Battle to Win the War - 14th May 21
Are You Invested in America’s “Two-Hour Boom” Fast Shipping Stocks? - 14th May 21
Gold to Benefit from Mounting US Debt Pile - 14th May 21
6 Solid Signs You Should Have Your Smart Device Repaired Right Away - 14th May 21
Ways to Finance Your Business Growth - 14th May 21
Cathy Wood Ark Invest Funds Bubble BURSTS! ARKK, ARKG, Tesla Entering Severe Bear Market - 13th May 21
How Much CHIA Coins Profit from 100 Plot 10tb Farm? Hard Drive Space Mining - 13th May 21
Stock Market Bulls Getting Caught in the Whirlwind - 13th May 21
Legoland Windsor Mini land and Sky Train Virtual Tour in VR 360 - UK London Holidays 2021 - 13th May 21
Peak Growth and Inflation - 13th May 21
Where’s The Fed? Watch Precious Metals For Signs Of Inflation Panic - 13th May 21
Coronavius Covid-19 in Italy in August 2019! - 13th May 21
India Covid Apocalypse Heralds Catastrophe for Pakistan and Bangladesh - 13th May 21
TESLA! Cathy Wood ARK Funds Bubble BURSTS! - 12th May 21
Gold Price During Hyperinflation - 12th May 21
Stock Market Extending Phase Two? - 12th May 21
Crypto 101 for new traders – ETH or BTC? - 12th May 21
Stock Market Enters Early Summer Correction Trend Forecast Time Window - 11th May 21
GOLD GDX, HUI Stocks - Will Paradise Turn into a Dystopia? - 11th May 21
Cathy Wood Bubble Bursts as ARK Funds CRASH! Enter into a Severe Bear Market - 11th May 21
Apply This Technique to Stop Rushing into Trades - 10th May 21
Stock Market Entering Early Summer Correction Trend Forecast - 10th May 21
CHIA Getting Started SSD Crypto Mining by Plotting and Farming on Your Hard Drives Guide - 9th May 21
Yaheetech Mesh Best Cheap Computer /. Gaming Chairs on Amazon Review - 9th May 21
Breaking US Trade Embargo with Cuba - Build 7 Computers in 14 Hours Before Ship Sales Challenge - 9th May 21
Dripcoin Applies New Technology That Provides Faster Order Execution - 9th May 21
Capital Gains Tax Hike News: Was It REALLY to Blame for Sell-off? - 7th May 21
Stock Market Transportation Index Continues To Grind Higher - 7th May 21
SPX Stock Market Correction Arriving or Not? - 7th May 21
How to Invest in an Online Casino? - 7th May 21
Gold & Silver Begin New Advancing Cycle Phase - 6th May 21
Vaccine Economic Boom and Bust - 6th May 21
USDX, Gold Miners: The Lion and the Jackals - 6th May 21
What If You Turn Off Your PC During Windows Update? Stuck on Automatic Repair Nightmare! - 6th May 21
4 Insurance Policies You Should Consider Buying - 6th May 21

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Protect your Wealth by Investing in AI Tech Stocks

U.S. Fed Embarrassment of Transparency

Interest-Rates / US Federal Reserve Bank May 07, 2015 - 10:39 AM GMT

By: Peter_Schiff

Interest-Rates

Over the past decade or so, "transparency" has become one of the buzzwords that has guided the Federal Reserve's culture. The word was meant to convey the belief that central banking was best done for all to see in the full light of day, not in the murky back rooms of Washington and New York. The Fed seems to be on a mission to prove that its operations are benevolent, fair, predictable, and equitable. Part of that transparency movement took shape in 2007 when the Fed began publicizing its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) forecasts, which previously (to the frustration of investors) had been kept under wraps. Most of the Fed's policy moves are tied to how strong, or how weak, it believes the economy will be in the coming year. As a result, its GDP forecast is perhaps the single most important estimate it make.


So the good news for investors is that the Fed now tells us where it thinks the economy is headed. The bad news is it has been consistently, and sometimes spectacularly, wrong. Talk about the blind leading the blind.

In the eight years that the Fed has issued GDP forecasts in the prior Fall, only once, in 2010, did the actual economic performance come in the range of its expectations (referred to as its "central tendency.") And even in that year, Fed forecasters did not manage to put the ball through the goal posts. Instead it just hit the upright (the low end of its range: 2.5% in actual growth vs. a central tendency of 2.5% to 3.5%). In all other years the Fed missed the mark completely on the downside. The tale of the tape tells the story:

  Central Tendency (The Fed) Actual Growth (BEA)
2007 2.4% - 2.5% 1.8%
2008 1.8% - 2.5 % -0.30%
2009 -0.2% - 1.1% -2.80%
2010 2.5 % - 3.5 % 2.50%
2011 3.0% - 3.6% 1.60%
2012 2.5% - 2.9% 2.30%
2013 2.3% - 3.0% 2.20%
2014 2.8% - 3.2% 2.40%

The biggest misses clearly came during the recession years of 2008 and 2009. The Fed clearly had no idea that trouble was brewing, or that the trouble would last once it started. In 2008 the actual growth came in 2.1% below the low end of its forecast range and 2.5% below the midpoint of its estimates. In 2009 it was 2.6% below the low end and 3.2% below the midpoint. 2011 wasn't much better, with the Fed missing by 1.4% and 1.7% for the same criteria. The rest of the years had more pedestrian misses of less than a percentage point. But it never really hit the mark, and it consistently overbid by a significant margin.

And while we are only a few months into 2015, it doesn't look like they will be on target this year either.

  Full Year Central Tendency First Quarter GDP
2015 (Q1) 2.6% - 3.0% 0.20% (annualized)

 

With first quarter growth at just a scant .2% annualized, the remaining three quarters of the year would have to average 3.4% annualized just to get to 2.6% for the full year (the low end of the Fed's range). Furthermore, the latest data, such as the spectacular increase of the trade deficit in March (to $51.4 billion, the largest month over month growth on record and the biggest monthly gap since the crisis month of October 2008), and today's report showing the largest consecutive quarterly decline in productivity in more than 20 years, will likely force a downward revision to Q1 GDP. With April data looking even weaker than what was seen in February and March, a strong second quarter rebound, like the one seen in 2014, seems increasingly unlikely. In other words, good luck getting to 2.6%. But even if we do get there, it is no cause for celebration. 2.6% growth would be indicative of a struggling economy (recall that for the 20th Century, annual growth averaged well north of 3%).

In the seven full years since the Fed brought rates to zero, and at times showered the markets with trillions of dollars of QE cash, GDP growth has averaged just 1.1%. Even stripping out the recession years of 2008 and 2009, to focus only on the five "recovery" years of 2010-2014, gives us an average GDP of 2.2%, a rate that has been below the central tendency every year.

So what do we make of this? Are Fed economists just horrible forecasters? And if so, why not hire others who more competent? Or is something more troubling going on? The most benign explanation is that they simply failed to anticipate a string of unfortunate events that have supposedly prevented a real recovery from taking hold. First it was the European debt crisis, then it was the high energy prices, then it was Syria, then Ukraine, then the Polar Vortex, then it was the low energy prices, then it was the European recession, the strong dollar, and then another bad winter. Apparently, unbeknown to Fed forecasters, the world is a tricky place fraught with economic, political and meteorological crises. But hasn't that always been the case?

A more troubling possibility is that the Fed simply doesn't understand how its policy tools really impact the economy. It expects that zero percent interest rates and quantitative easing will stimulate aggregate demand, encourage consumers to spend and businesses to hire, thereby initiating a virtuous cycle that will propel the economy back to healthy growth. Since it believes its medicine will cure the patient, it builds a favorable outcome into its forecasts, which biases those forecasts in an upward direction. Based on that assumption, it's a bit of a headscratcher to the Fed as to why the economy has failed to deliver as expected. So cue the long litany of excuses.

But what if that's not the way it works? What if, as I have argued many times, that stimulus in the form of zero percent interest rates and QE bond purchases, act more like economic sedatives than stimulants? What if, as I have argued, that these crutches prevent an economy from finding the solid footing needed to build a real recovery? This would explain why we have failed to recover after seven years of policies expressly designed to spur recovery.

A more sinister possibility is that the Fed is not really forecasting at all but cheerleading. The fact that all its forecasts have missed on the high side reveals that its misses may not be random. If the Fed were just wrong, one would expect some of its forecasts to be too low. An obvious explanation is that the Fed may be using its "forecast" to talk up the economy. By forecasting strong growth, the Fed may be hoping to engender optimism, with more spending and hiring hopefully to follow. Kind of like a field of dreams recovery -- if the Fed forecasts it; it will come. Plus the Fed may be hesitant to issue a somber assessment of future growth even if it expects it, fearful that its forecasts become self-fulfilling as businesses and consumers cut back to reflect that forecast. If so, its economics "forecasts" would be in actuality just another policy arrow in its quiver, and should never be taken seriously.

Another inconvenient fact that needs to be ignored in the string of GDP reports is the consistently low inflation numbers that the Fed uses. Remember, to get a sense of real growth, the bean counters need to subtract inflation from the nominal figures. Now I have always argued that the CPI itself has consistently underreported inflation, but I have also explained how the Fed's preferred gauge of inflation used in the GDP report, called the GDP deflator, is consistently lower than the CPI (a trend that goes back to 1977). But the GDP report for First Quarter 2015 really kicks that trend into another dimension.

To arrive at the .2% annualized GDP estimate, the Fed assumed inflation was running at minus .1% annually (Bureau of Economic Analysis). With the exception of two quarters during the depths of the Great Recession (2nd and 3rd Quarters of 2009), we have to go all the way back to the First Quarter of 1952 to find a negative deflator (BEA). If positive inflation data had been used, growth in Q1 would have come in negative.

Based on what we have seen thus far in the year, fantasies about a 2015 recovery should be evaporating. But, as of March 18, the Fed continues to hold to 2.5%-3.0% GDP forecasts and tangential assumptions that rate hikes will begin the second half of this year and will continue throughout next year. (A February 12th survey of economists by the Wall Street Journal shows a consensus 2.2% Fed Funds rate by year end 2016). With these assumptions baked into portfolio dispositions investors risk being caught wrong footed when the ugly truth is finally accepted.

Best Selling author Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital. His podcasts are available on The Peter Schiff Channel on Youtube

Catch Peter's latest thoughts on the U.S. and International markets in the Euro Pacific Capital Spring 2014 Global Investor Newsletter!

Regards,
Peter Schiff

Euro Pacific Capital
http://www.europac.net/

Peter Schiff Archive

© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in