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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Nobody would ever dispute that the U.S. economy has managed to see its government spend its way into some sort of statistical recovery — though it is more evident in the output and sales data than in the income data. Look at the largesse — a 0% policy rate, a $2.3 trillion Fed balance sheet loaded up with mortgages, a $1.4 trillion fiscal deficit loaded with bailouts and freebies and accounting changes that have allowed the banks to mark-to-model their way back towards earnings heaven. If the economy was not recovering without Uncle Sam’s generosity, then that would truly be a big story.
But Mr. Market at some point will have to confront the future. The time gap between recessions is shortening now — we went 10 years from 1990 to 2000, then 5 years from 2002 to 2007 and the next recession, following this pattern, is likely going to occur within the next 2-3 years. And, unlike the start of the last recession when the government had so many arrows in its quiver, there are none today to help lift the economy again.
Going into the 2007 downturn, the budget deficit was $160 billion. There was ample room for fiscal stimulus. The funds rate was 5.5% and could be cut 550bps — now it is at 0%. The Fed’s balance sheet could be allowed to triple without reviving inflation expectations — good luck the next time around.
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