What Will People Do?

Put my dusty morals on the dusty moral shelf
Try to do for others but I care more for myself
My life is like a desert just a lot of sand and rocks
Try and buy some peace of mind and find the store is locked

You can’t get water from a bone dry wishing well

Bone Dry, by the Cadillac Tramps

Letters of Doom

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is a woman of letters.  We like this about her.  Because, like us, in a world of text snippets, tweets, and animated gifs, she finds the traditional exchange of letters to be most civilized.

Her academically trained brain – ensconced beneath a white hair shelmet – guides her thinking.  With purpose and intent, Yellen puts fingers to keyboard and taps out letters to Congress warning of imminent doom.

Her most recent letter, published on Department of the Treasury letterhead, and addressed to The Honorable Kevin McCarthy, rolled off the printing press on Monday the 1st of May.  The objective of the letter was to correct grave misinformation she supplied in a prior letter to Congress.

Specifically, on Friday the 13th of January, Yellen, sent a letter to Congress informing legislators that the statutory debt limit of approximately $31.381 trillion would be eclipsed on January 19.  And that the Treasury must resort to extraordinary measures – accounting maneuvers – to delay a U.S. government default. Continue reading

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What the End of Fed Rate Hikes Means for Stocks

According to this week’s Commerce Department report, U.S. GDP increased at an annualized rate of 1.1 percent during Q1 2023.  The experts thought GDP would grow by 2 percent.  They were wrong.

By now, it’s very well possible GDP has already slipped into reverse.  We won’t know until the Commerce Department’s Q2 report is released in late July.  In the interim, there’s an important question to be asked:

Is a recession bullish or bearish for stocks?

Next week, following the federal open market committee (FOMC) meeting on May 2 and 3, it’s widely anticipated that the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates by 25 basis points.  This will take the federal funds rate to a range of 5.00 to 5.25 percent.

It is also anticipated that this will be the last rate hike of this rate hiking cycle.  That the Fed will then hold interest rates, before cutting them later this year to offset the recession.

Interest rate cuts are commonly recognized as being bullish for stocks and stimulative for the economy.  Here at the Economic Prism, we have some reservations. Continue reading

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What Brookfield’s Default Has to Do with You

Over more than two decades we worked off and on in Downtown Los Angeles.  We had a client for several years at 555 West 5th Street, in the tower at the base of Bunker Hill.  We’d meet several times a week.  Always in the morning.

Sometimes he would boast about his property in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and how he’d one day leave LA.  Other times he’d deliver us a wire brushing for events beyond our control.  One time he accused us of ‘smash and grab’ tactics for merely requesting payment of a past due invoice for contracted work that had already been delivered.

After these inspiring encounters we’d hike by the collection of derelicts and dope smokers sprawled out on the wall in front of the Central Library.  This was as we made our way back to our office at the Wedbush Center on Wilshire Boulevard near Figueroa Street.

On the corner in front of the 7-Eleven a clown appeared one day.  He had oversized shoes, a rainbow wig, face paint – the whole costume.  All day every day, rain or shine, he was there, jumping around, waving at cars and buses, and fist bumping people walking by.  Then, after about nine months, he was gone.  We never saw or heard of him again. Continue reading

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The Creative Process of Government Destruction

“History is a record of ‘effects’ the vast majority of which nobody intended to produce.”

– Joseph Schumpeter

Unintended Consequences

It was about a year ago when IMF Director Kristalina Georgieva took part in a panel discussion hosted by CNBC.  This may have been a fairly common occasion.  The conversation, however, was entirely uncommon.

Typically, central bankers are illusive in their remarks.  They speak in code.  They avoid potentially inflammatory words like recession.  Most certainly, they never use the D-word – as in depression.

They also generally avoid taking any responsibility for their mistakes.  What’s more, they position their failures as successes.

Ben Bernanke’s ‘courage to act,’ for instance.  What a bunch of baloney.

Deep inside central bankers must know the folly of planning an economy by stretching the money supply.  Still, they want to maintain the perception that they’re masters of the universe – and so, so much smarter than you. Continue reading

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