Thursday, March 22, 2018

Fed Has Ventured Into Dangerous Territory With Most Recent Rate Hike

Whether Wednesday's 25 basis point hike in the federal funds rate will eventually become a seminal moment in economic history, only time will tell. On the surface, there are a good number of indications that the Fed, by increasing the overnight lending rate to 1.50-1.75%, may have finally blundered into a crucial policy error.

The hike being the sixth such rate increase of 0.25% in the past 27 months, the Federal Reserve has ventured into an area which has the potential to do more harm than good, as evidenced by the sudden turnabout in stocks after the rate decision was announced, and, more to the point, during Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's first press conference.

Stocks initially rose on the release, but gave back all of the gains, finally ending with complete capitulation as the trading day drew to a close, turning what was a brief 250-point gain into a lasting 45-point loss at the close.

What has equity investors puzzled and anguished is the Fed's insistence on their continued insistence on higher interest rates, despite economic data that shows quite clearly that inflation is nascent and growth largely a chimera, a construct of rose-colored projections of the general economy added to massive increases in government spending, which is, in the end, fully lacking in productive qualities.

Governors of the Federal Reserve, ensconced, as they are, within their cocoons of smug condescension, are either uninformed to the realities of life in the real world or purposely interpreting their trumped-up economic data as reflective of a booming economy.

The other possibility is that the Fed officials know that the economy - both domestic and global - is headed for recession, and they are preparing for the worst, employing the only tool they believe effective, the varying of interest rates with the intent to either slow lending and economic activity by raising them, or increase the same by lowering them.

Sadly, the Fed has the cart well out in front of the horse. Their rate increases will slow the economy, precisely at a time in which they should be doing nothing. Eventually, the Fed will have to reverse the direction of their myopic monetary monopoly, as the economy - which has been limping along at two percent growth or less for the past ten years - and lower rates, ushering in another era of mad money machinations, sending valuations of stocks out into the cosmos, while the public watches the explosion of wealth inequality soar to unimagined heights.

Besides the folly of raising rates in a weak economic environment, the Fed continues to preach that they are decreasing their massive balance sheet, rolling off their horde of somewhat dubious mortgage-backed securities and treasury bills, notes and bonds.

Having taken a path toward a rather rapid depletion of liquidity, Mr. Powell and his cohorts will soon find that themselves vilified and, with any hope, bankrupt.

Their continuing charade of being the "best and brightest" know-it-alls in the financial universe must come to an end soon, lest the entire global economic structure be collapsed into one giant heap of unplayable debt, impoverishing the world's billions of citizens while laying bare their own conceit, deceit, and utter depravity.

Dow Jones Industrial Average March Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
3/1/18 24,608.98 -420.22 -420.22
3/2/18 24,538.06 -70.92 -491.14
3/5/18 24,874.76 +336.70 -154.44
3/6/18 24,884.12 +9.36 -145.08
3/7/18 24,801.36 -82.76 -227.84
3/8/18 24,895.21 +93.85 -133.99
3/9/18 25,335.74 +440.53 +306.54
3/12/18 25,178.61 -157.13 +149.41
3/13/18 25,007.03, -171.58 -22.17
3/14/18 24,758.12 -248.91 -271.08
3/15/18 24,873.66 +115.54 -155.54
3/16/18 24,946.51 +72.85 -82.69
3/19/18 24,610.91 -335.60 -418.29
3/20/18 24,727.27 +116.36 -301.93
3/21/18 24,682.31 -44.96 -346.89

At the Close, Wednesday, March 21, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,682.31, -44.96 (-0.18%)
NASDAQ: 7,345.29, -19.02 (-0.26%)
S&P 500: 2,711.93, -5.01 (-0.18%)
NYSE Composite: 12,683.76, +20.12 (+0.16%)

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