Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. US Housing Market Real Estate Crash The Next Shoe To Drop – Part II - Chris_Vermeulen
2.The Coronavirus Greatest Economic Depression in History? - Nadeem_Walayat
3.US Real Estate Housing Market Crash Is The Next Shoe To Drop - Chris_Vermeulen
4.Coronavirus Stock Market Trend Implications and AI Mega-trend Stocks Buying Levels - Nadeem_Walayat
5. Are Coronavirus Death Statistics Exaggerated? Worse than Seasonal Flu or Not?- Nadeem_Walayat
6.Coronavirus Stock Market Trend Implications, Global Recession and AI Stocks Buying Levels - Nadeem_Walayat
7.US Fourth Turning Accelerating Towards Debt Climax - James_Quinn
8.Dow Stock Market Trend Analysis and Forecast - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Britain's FAKE Coronavirus Death Statistics Exposed - Nadeem_Walayat
10.Commodity Markets Crash Catastrophe Charts - Rambus_Chartology
Last 7 days
Could Gold Price Reach $7,000 by 2030? - 6th Aug 20
Bananas for All! Keep Dancing… FOMC - 6th Aug 20
How to Do Bets During This Time - 6th Aug 20
How to develop your stock trading strategy - 6th Aug 20
Stock Investors What to do if Trump Bans TikTok - 5th Aug 20
Gold Trifecta of Key Signals for Gold Mining Stocks - 5th Aug 20
ARE YOU LOVING YOUR SERVITUDE? - 5th Aug 20
Stock Market Uptrend Continues? - 4th Aug 20
The Dimensions of Covid-19: The Hong Kong Flu Redux - 4th Aug 20
High Yield Junk Bonds Are Hot Again -- Despite Warning Signs - 4th Aug 20
Gold Stocks Autumn Rally - 4th Aug 20
“Government Sachs” Is Worried About the Federal Reserve Note - 4th Aug 20
Gold Miners Still Pushing That Cart of Rocks Up Hill - 4th Aug 20
UK Government to Cancel Christmas - Crazy Covid Eid 2020! - 4th Aug 20
Covid-19 Exposes NHS Institutional Racism Against Black and Asian Staff and Patients - 4th Aug 20
How Sony Is Fueling the Computer Vision Boom - 3rd Aug 20
Computer Gaming System Rig Top Tips For 6 Years Future Proofing Build Spec - 3rd Aug 20
Cornwwall Bude Caravan Park Holidays 2020 - Look Inside Holiday Resort Caravan - 3rd Aug 20
UK Caravan Park Holidays 2020 Review - Hoseasons Cayton Bay North East England - 3rd Aug 20
Best Travel Bags for 2020 Summer Holidays , Back Sling packs, water proof, money belt and tactical - 3rd Aug 20
Precious Metals Warn Of Increased Volatility Ahead - 2nd Aug 20
The Key USDX Sign for Gold and Silver - 2nd Aug 20
Corona Crisis Will Have Lasting Impact on Gold Market - 2nd Aug 20
Gold & Silver: Two Pictures - 1st Aug 20
The Bullish Case for Stocks Isn't Over Yet - 1st Aug 20
Is Gold Price Action Warning Of Imminent Monetary Collapse - Part 2? - 1st Aug 20
Will America Accept the World's Worst Pandemic Response Government - 1st Aug 20
Stock Market Technical Patterns, Future Expectations and More – Part II - 1st Aug 20
Trump White House Accelerating Toward a US Dollar Crisis - 31st Jul 20
Why US Commercial Real Estate is Set to Get Slammed - 31st Jul 20
Gold Price Blows Through Upside Resistance - The Chase Is On - 31st Jul 20
Is Crude Oil Price Setting Up for a Waterfall Decline? - 31st Jul 20
Stock Market Technical Patterns, Future Expectations and More - 30th Jul 20
Why Big Money Is Already Pouring Into Edge Computing Tech Stocks - 30th Jul 20
Economic and Geopolitical Worries Fuel Gold’s Rally - 30th Jul 20
How to Finance an Investment Property - 30th Jul 20
I Hate Banks - Including Goldman Sachs - 29th Jul 20
NASDAQ Stock Market Double Top & Price Channels Suggest Pending Price Correction - 29th Jul 20
Silver Price Surge Leaves Naysayers in the Dust - 29th Jul 20
UK Supermarket Covid-19 Shop - Few Masks, Lack of Social Distancing (Tesco) - 29th Jul 20
Budgie Clipped Wings, How Long Before it Can Fly Again? - 29th Jul 20
How To Take Advantage Of Tesla's 400% Stock Surge - 29th Jul 20
Gold Makes Record High and Targets $6,000 in New Bull Cycle - 28th Jul 20
Gold Strong Signal For A Secular Bull Market - 28th Jul 20
Anatomy of a Gold and Silver Precious Metals Bull Market - 28th Jul 20
Shopify Is Seizing an $80 Billion Pot of Gold - 28th Jul 20
Stock Market Minor Correction Underway - 28th Jul 20
Why College Is Never Coming Back - 27th Jul 20
Stocks Disconnect from Economy, Gold Responds - 27th Jul 20
Silver Begins Big Upside Rally Attempt - 27th Jul 20
The Gold and Silver Markets Have Changed… What About You? - 27th Jul 20
Google, Apple And Amazon Are Leading A $30 Trillion Assault On Wall Street - 27th Jul 20
This Stock Market Indicator Reaches "Lowest Level in Nearly 20 Years" - 26th Jul 20
New Wave of Economic Stimulus Lifts Gold Price - 26th Jul 20
Stock Market Slow Grind Higher Above the Early June Stock Highs - 26th Jul 20
How High Will Silver Go? - 25th Jul 20
If You Own Gold, Look Out Below - 25th Jul 20
Crude Oil and Energy Sets Up Near Major Resistance – Breakdown Pending - 25th Jul 20
FREE Access to Premium Market Forecasts by Elliott Wave International - 25th Jul 20
The Promise of Silver as August Approaches: Accumulation and Conversation - 25th Jul 20
The Silver Bull Gateway is at Hand - 24th Jul 20
The Prospects of S&P 500 Above the Early June Highs - 24th Jul 20
How Silver Could Surpass Its All-Time High - 24th Jul 20

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Get Rich Investing in Stocks by Riding the Electron Wave

Deflation Threat? What Deflation Threat?

Economics / Deflation Oct 05, 2009 - 01:27 PM GMT

By: Mike_Shedlock

Economics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleThe deflation "recognition phase" has finally arrived. Kroger foods, Costco, and Walmart are blaming deflation for a drop in earnings. Moreover, many high profile names are discussing deflation, something most thought could never happen.


Please consider Stiglitz Says Deflation Threat Pushes Fed to Stay at Zero.

The U.S. faces the possibility of deflation for the first time since the Eisenhower administration, a threat that may prompt the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates near zero through next year.

Executives at Kroger Co., the largest U.S. supermarket chain, blamed deflation for a 7 percent drop in earnings in the second quarter, while falling prices for food, gasoline, and electronics left August sales unchanged at Costco Wholesale Corp. A sustained price drop might set off a chain reaction in which lower profits force employers to pare wages and payrolls. That would erode consumer demand, exacerbating wage cuts and firings.

“Deflation is definitely a threat right now,” Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, 66, a professor at Columbia University in New York, said in a Sept. 22 interview. “The combination of the deflation threat and the sluggish recovery should keep the Fed on hold for quite a while.”

Mish: Deflation is not a threat because deflation is here by any practical measurement. Deflation is also here by impractical measurements such as falling prices. See Humpty Dumpty On Inflation and Daniel Amerman vs. Mish: Reflections on the Great Inflation/Deflation Debate for a further discussion of a practical definition of deflation, a contraction of money supply and credit marked to market, not falling prices.

Moreover, deflation is not a threat in a second sense. Deflation is needed to purge the excesses of the last credit cycle. Attempts to defeat deflation by force will only prolong the agony while accumulating government debt, just as happened in Japan's two lost decades.

Finally, deflation is not a threat in a third sense. Falling prices are a natural state of affairs because of rising productivity over time. Inflation is a direct (and unnatural) state of affairs caused by the Fed and fractional reserve lending.

Bloomberg: Consumer prices are experiencing deflation, with the consumer price index sliding for six straight months from year-earlier levels, the longest stretch of declines since a 12-month drop from September 1954 to August 1955, according to the Labor Department.

Regional Federal Reserve Bank Presidents Janet Yellen, of San Francisco, James Bullard, of St. Louis, Richard Fisher, of Dallas, and Charles Evans, of Chicago, have expressed concern in past weeks about the possibility of declining prices.

“Disinflationary winds are blowing with gale-force effect,” Evans, 51, said in a Sept. 9 speech in New York.

Mish: Prices are falling in as sustained period for only the second time since the great depression as shown in the following chart.

CPI-U Percent Change From A Year Ago

Bloomberg: While the economy contracted 2.7 percent during the 1953 recession, it shrank 3.8 percent in the current recession, the most since the 1930s. Economists at New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the second- and fifth- biggest U.S. banks by assets, say there’s so much deflationary excess labor and plant capacity in the economy that the Fed won’t raise interest rates until at least 2011.

Mish: Although deeper than the 1953 recession, the GDP pullback is not as deep as the recession ending in 1949. Thus "the most since the 1930s" is factually incorrect. Nonetheless, this is a historically hard pullback as shown in the following chart.

GDP Percent Change From A Year Ago

Bloomberg: “The potential for a deflationary downdraft continues for several years” if economic growth doesn’t accelerate, Bill Gross, who runs the world’s biggest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management Co. in Newport Beach, California, said in a Sept. 29 interview with Bloomberg Radio.

“There’s been a significant flattening on the long end of the curve,” reflecting concern about deflation, said Pacific Investment’s Gross, 65, who is buying longer-maturity Treasuries in response.

Mish: Here is a weekly chart of $TYX (30-year treasury), $TNX (10-year treasury), $FVX (5 year treasury), and $IRX (3 month treasury) that shows the flattening.

Yield Curve Flattening


The above chart is one I run constantly, in real time, on my computer. The curve represents weekly closes. The flattening from the actual peak is even greater. The intraday high in the 10-Year Treasury Note is just over 4%.

By the way, that chart is a few days old. The 30-year long bond is now sitting right on 4.0% and the 10-year note is at 3.22%, 78 basis points of flattening since May.

For further discussion on Bill Gross' deflation views please see Bill Gross Bets On Deflation.

Bloomberg: The slowing in core prices is more of a concern, said Michael Feroli, an economist at JPMorgan. The core rate fell following three prior recessions in which unemployment rose above 7 percent. That “suggests that core inflation could well be below zero within two years,” Feroli said in an interview.

Mish: The "Core CPI" strips out food and energy from the CPI. As a practical matter, this makes little sense. Nonetheless, with falling rents and pressure on autos and nonessential goods, I expect to see the core CPI below zero sooner rather than later.

Bloomberg: “My personal belief is that the more significant threat to price stability over the next several years stems from the disinflationary forces unleashed by the enormous slack in the economy,” Yellen, 63, said Sept. 14 in San Francisco.

Wages for U.S. workers fell for eight months in a row, dropping 5.6 percent from October 2008 to June 2009, according to Commerce Department figures. In contrast, wages continued to grow in the 1954-1955 deflation period.

“A weak labor market in a competitive environment puts downward pressure on wages,” said Stiglitz, who won the Nobel prize for economics in 2001. “So, the possibility of another actual decline in wages cannot be ruled out.”

Mish: Disposable Personal Income is negative for the first time since the late 1940's.

Disposable Personal Income Percent Change From A Year Ago


Bloomberg: The deflation danger is compounded by household debt, said Paul Ashworth, senior U.S. economist at the consulting firm Capital Economics in Toronto. U.S. homeowners owed $13.9 trillion in the third quarter of 2008, compared with an average of $8.5 trillion in the 57 years the Fed has kept records.

“As incomes start to fall, that debt gets bigger in real terms: You have a smaller income to pay off that debt,” Ashworth said. “Deflation combined with high indebtedness can be very problematic.”

Mish: Indeed “Deflation combined with high indebtedness is problematic.” The solution is to not blow debt bubbles rather than attempting to keep them inflated as Geithner and Bernanke are doing. The way to not blow debt bubbles is to get rid of the Fed and fractional reserve lending.

Bloomberg: Rodney McMullen, president of Cincinnati-based Kroger, blamed price reductions for second-quarter earnings that fell 10.5 percent short of analysts’ estimates.

“We certainly sold more units. But lower retail prices and profit per unit pressured” results, McMullen told analysts in a Sept. 15 conference call. “We began to see deflation.”

At Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, “headwinds” from deflation were in part responsible for a 1.4 percent drop in second-quarter revenue to $100.9 billion, chief financial officer Thomas Schoewe told analysts Aug. 13.

Mish: Kroger, Costco, and Walmart are all blaming deflation for decreased earnings. Gee, who could have possibly predicted that? Certainly not your average inflationista.

Furthermore, Treasury yields (although up from December) are still at previously unprecedented lows.

Rosenberg and Tavakoli on Deflation

Inquiring minds are interested in what economist Dave Rosenberg has to say. Please consider Rosenberg: “We are certainly in a deflationary state”.

If you have not yet done so listen to an excellent On The Edge interview with Max Keiser regarding derivatives and debt levels, Janet Tavakoli: Risk of deflationary collapse greater now than in 2007

Twilight Zone Owners' Equivalent Rent

Finally, those who think inflation is best measured by the CPI should consider BLS Owner's Equivalent Rent Numbers From Twilight Zone.

The CPI is massively overstated here, not by my preferred measure (Case-Shiller CPI), but rather by the BLS's preferred measurement.

Deflation Denial Phase Is Over


In light of all of the above, the deflation "denial phase" should now be over for all but the most stubborn inflationistas. The "recognition phase" has finally arrived. The Bernanke "panic phase" is waiting on deck.

Please note that Bernanke's Deflation Preventing Scorecard is a perfect zero. Lord knows what Bernanke will try next.

The Real Threat


We are already in uncharted territory, and the risk is what the Fed, Congress, the Treasury department, the Administration, and central bankers globally do to prevent something that needs to happen: the liquidation of malinvestments and debt.

Thus the "real threat" (and risk) is not deflation, but rather the foolish attempts by Keynesian clowns to circumvent what needs happen.

Japan is proof that such efforts are futile. Note that Japan is once again back in deflation, and all the government has to show for its efforts is debt equaling 150% of GDP. Falling prices, lower wages, lower asset prices, and especially debt liquidation are not to be feared, they are a necessary part of the healing process, lest the country stagnate for years.

By Mike "Mish" Shedlock

http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

Mike Shedlock / Mish is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management . Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction.

Visit Sitka Pacific's Account Management Page to learn more about wealth management and capital preservation strategies of Sitka Pacific.

I do weekly podcasts every Thursday on HoweStreet and a brief 7 minute segment on Saturday on CKNW AM 980 in Vancouver.

When not writing about stocks or the economy I spends a great deal of time on photography and in the garden. I have over 80 magazine and book cover credits. Some of my Wisconsin and gardening images can be seen at MichaelShedlock.com .

© 2009 Mike Shedlock, All Rights Reserved

Mike Shedlock 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

6 Critical Money Making Rules