The beginning of the new school year heightens the anxiety over the rising cost of higher education. The cost of a college education is increasingly beyond the means of average American family. Tuition has risen faster than inflation, student debt has soared and jobs are difficult to secure.
All the chatter from the Fed about interest rate levels, forward guidance, tapering, etc. is largely noise. In a consumption driven economy, wage growth is the accelerant of consumption growth, not rising equity and real estate prices through the illusory "wealth effect".
I subscribe to the tenet espoused by the late Professor Milton Friedman that inflation is a monetary phenomenon. When I speak of inflation, I include not only the behavior of prices of goods and services but also the behavior of the prices of assets.
A handful of readers wrote yesterday: “Corporate profits are rolling over!”, “Cris, it’s time to get the word out.” It appears the source of all the alarm was an article that recently appeared at Business Insider, “Wall Street Declares the Great Profit Margin Boom Is Finally Over.”
Given the prior inflationary move seen earlier in the year, it is likely we should expect a moderation in economic momentum that has been building since Q1 of this year. Should growth moderate we are likely to see more economic releases surprise to the downside.
Financial stress rose significantly as the market peaked during the tech and housing bubbles. One popular measure of financial stress, the TED spread, however may no longer "work" at identifying market tops. For that, we must look at others. What are they saying?
Shadow banking is back in the news. First there are ongoing problems in China where bad loans outside of the traditional banking system are causing increasing financial strain. Then, here in the U.S., regulators are also becoming more concerned about the rising use of leveraged loans by non-bank intermediaries or things like peer-to-peer lending, where the largest such company in this space, Lending Club, just filed for an IPO.