In his first meeting as Chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell and company delivered what almost everyone had been expecting, a 25 basis point hike in the federal funds rate, and raised expectations for economic activity in the months and years ahead.
In the history of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, a 16th seed has never, ever, beaten a one seed...until this year. But, on Friday, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) beat the University of Virginia – not just a number one seed, but the top ranked team in the USA.
The current recovery started in June 2009, 105 months ago, making it the third longest recovery in U.S. history.
The US doesn't face "secular stagnation" caused by outside or uncontrollable forces, like foreigners (and bad trade deals), technology that steals jobs, or Unions that are too weak. Growth is slow because government has grown too big.
Forgive us our incredulity. The bond vigilantes were certain that as the Federal Reserve hiked short-term rates, long-term interest rates would barely budge, the yield curve would invert, and the economy would fall into recession.
On March 9, 2018, the bull market in U.S. stocks will celebrate its ninth anniversary. And, what we find most amazing is how few people truly understand it. To this day, in spite of massive increases in corporate earnings, many still think the market is one big "sugar high" – a bubble built on a sea of Quantitative Easing and government spending.
The U.S. economy continues to be lifted by an incredible wave of new technology. Fracking, 3-D printing, smartphones, apps, and the cloud have boosted productivity and profits. Yet taxes, regulation and spending all increased markedly in the past decade, raising the burden of government and dragging down the real GDP growth rate to a modest 2.2% from mid-2009 to early 2017.
Last year US stock markets experienced the least volatile year on record, hitting new highs seemingly every day. Then came the tax reform bill to end 2017, and a huge January with the S&P 500 rising 5.6%. Investors, especially individuals who finally became convinced that the rally would go on, piled in.
Back in the 1970s, supporters of the status quo said there was nothing to be done about stagflation (high inflation and slow growth). It was a "fact of life" that Americans had to accept after experiencing faster growth and lower inflation during the decades immediately following World War II.
In Janet Yellen's swan song as Chair of the Federal Reserve, she exited on a quiet note. The Federal Reserve did what just about everyone expected earlier today, keeping short-term interest rates unchanged while providing forward guidance that economic growth remains on track for further hikes in 2018.