The Phaserl


Raise the Inflation Target and Put a Date on It!

by Michael Pento, Market Oracle:

Raise the Inflation Target and Put a Date on It! That’s the direction some high-profile economist and former members on the FOMC want to go. According to these academics, including Narayana Kocherlakota the former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 2009 to 2015, raising the inflation target just isn’t enough. They want to put a time horizon on it as well. In other words, they want to raise the inflation target higher than the current 2% level, and then place a firm date as to when that inflation goal must be achieved.

Their rational for doing both actions is to reduce the level of real interest rates, which they somehow believe is the progenitor for viable GDP growth. You see, once the Fed has taken the nominal Fed Funds Rate to zero, there isn’t much more room to the downside unless these money manipulators assent to negative nominal interest rates. But charging banks to hold excess reserves is fraught with danger, and so far this idea has been eschewed in this country and has been proven ineffectual in Europe.

The Fed wants the flexibility to make real interest rates more negative than the minus 2% that would be achieved at the zero-bound rate when using the current 2% inflation target.

The next recession could be just around the corner and the Fed is thinking about ways to stimulate the economy given the fact that the amount of ammunition–the number of rate cuts until the F.F.R. hits zero percent–is extremely limited. With very little leeway available to reduce borrowing costs, these mainstream academics want to facilitate more negative real interest rates by ensuring inflation is higher right from the start.

The math is simple: a three percent (or higher) inflation rate would equate to at least a minus three percent real F.F.R. once the nominal rate hit zero. But as to why these Keynesian academics are so convinced a lower real interest rate is better for economic growth is never clearly explained. Probably because it is a nonsensical tenet and the biggest fallacy in all of central bank group think. Their spurious logic dictates that a lower unemployment rate is the primary cause of rising rates of inflation and that a higher rate of inflation is supportive for lowering the unemployment rate. Exactly how this simple model arrives at that conclusion is never cogently explained; other than the mistaken belief that inflation and growth are synonymous terms.

But history and genuine economics clearly illustrate that inflation does not bring about growth, nor does it necessarily lower the unemployment rate. In fact, a rising rate of inflation often leads to higher rates of unemployment. This is the exact opposite of the Phillips Curve dogma held at the Fed, which dictates that a falling unemployment rate is the totality of inflation.

The reality is that the humongous amount of new credit pumped into the system by global central banks has primarily landed in financial assets, not consumer price inflation. Despite all this money printing, the Fed’s preferred inflation metric (Core PCE Price Index) is still below its 2% target. Therefore, the asset price collapse and CPI plunge resulting from this next recession/depression should result in a new form of QE called helicopter money. Central banks will purchase assets directly from the public or the Treasury instead of through the banking system. In other words, getting new money into the public’s hands causing an increase in broad-based money supply and inflation.

The next stock market plunge and concomitant GDP collapse is approaching quickly. The Fed is preparing investors for its ultimate response; which will be to guarantee a higher inflation rate and to put a timestamp on it as well. But those efforts will only vastly exacerbate the stagflation condition suffered by the middle class. Those that possess a keen insight to the direction of markets are aware of this phenomenon and are moving into precious metals now; while they are still able to afford them.

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1 comment to Raise the Inflation Target and Put a Date on It!

  • Ed_B

    Considering the idiotic way that the Fed “calculates” inflation rather than just measuring it, what hope is there of any change in their approach being at all meaningful. If any of us wanted to know what the inflation rate was, we would simply create a basket of goods and services and note their average annual price each year. This could be as few as about 2 dozen items and it would give us a reasonably accurate measurement (no calcs needed) of what the rate of inflation is for any particular year. Apparently, however, this lacks the “rigor” that some fancy formula for calculating inflation has for academics. Well, la de da and all that. Personally, I would rather know what IS than what looks impressive to other academics because I know full well that many academics live in a place that is FAR from the REAL world in which the rest of us live.

    We could also just do what John Williams does over at Shadow Stats dot com and use the US Gov’s formula ca 1980 for inflation. That was before they got all cute and added a lot of BS to their methodology that insists on giving them the wrong numbers. Their inflation number is typically about 1/5 to 1/4 of the real rate… call it 0.225 as an average. If the say that inflation is 1.5%, just divide 1.5 by .225 to get 6.67% as the actual rate of inflation. Yes, this is an estimate but it is also a reasonably accurate real world number that is far more accurate than the guesstimates produced by the Fed.

    But the Fed cannot allow real world measurements of inflation because hundreds of billions in government expenses depend on the official rate of inflation for their Cost of Living Adjustments or COLAs. The US Gov simply cannot afford to pay these COLAs when real numbers are used, so they dream up fake ones and treat them as real. This is understandable as it saves the US Gov HUGE amounts of money that they do not have. What is not understandable is that so many people who should know better apparently do not. These are the financial pros, the stock brokers, accountants, CPAs, economists, bankers, and others who simply swallow these fake Fed numbers as if they were The Word of God delivered down to us on stone tablets. They are not even remotely close to that and it is more than time that the curtain was pulled aside to reveal the old man pulling and pushing all the levers.

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