The Fed Is “Doing Its Job” – at Running the Economy into the Ground!
The Federal Reserve’s function is to protect the U.S. economy and the best interests of American consumers, savers, retirees, and investors – or at least, that’s what the elite Fed officials would certainly like you to believe. As always, however, career politicians and central bankers are continuing the long-standing tradition of blurring the lines between myth and reality.
There’s an “end the Fed” argument which states that the Federal Reserve really serves no meaningful function at all and ought to be abolished. This argument certainly resonates and has merit, though the nation’s central bank isn’t just useless; it’s deliberately destructive and doesn’t even try to hide its intentions.
After pumping unprecedented amounts of liquidity into the banking system in 2020 and 2021 – far beyond what was required to keep the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic – it was self-evident that an oversupply of fiat money would lead to hyperinflation. Yet, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell tried to reassure the public that inflation would only be “transitory.”
Half a year later, the Fed abandoned the whole “transitory” narrative and finally acknowledged what everyone already knew: high consumer prices are here to stay. Now, Powell and his globalist associates have to fix what they’ve broken. Unfortunately, they can’t fix one thing without breaking other things in the economy.
With an election year coming up, doing nothing is not an option. So, the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to their highest levels in over a decade. In 2022, this created a rare and bizarre scenario in which both stock prices and bond prices dropped; in other words, bonds didn’t serve their traditionally assumed purpose of holding steady when stocks crashed (though, as I’ve been emphasizing again and again, gold and silver held their value beautifully).
Tragically, the American consumers that can afford hyperinflation the least, are affected by it the most. The chart shown above should be shown to anyone who actually believes that central bankers are making any real headway in keeping inflation under control.
Powell’s well-heeled friends might not be negatively impacted by this, but families in the American middle class often have mortgages to pay. That’s much easier said than done, as U.S. mortgage rates have risen across the board and 30-year mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) have increased to its highest level since 2002.
That’s right – the era of 3% and even 5% annual mortgage interest rates are a relic of the past now as 7% is the new normal in the 2020s. The culprit is the Fed, of course, since all interest rates rise when the central bank chooses to hike the federal funds rate.
So much for the American Dream of homeownership – and so much for the integrity and credibility of the U.S. government, now that Fitch and Moody’s have issued downgrades/warnings about America’s creditworthiness.
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Speaking of creditworthiness, another impact of jacked-up interest rates is that the U.S. has to pay higher annual rates to service its massive federal debt load. It’s an issue that might not cause a calamity today or tomorrow, but will have ripple effects sooner or later.
And just as the nation has to pay high interest rates on its debt, so do America’s citizens. Data from the New York Fed’s latest Household Debt and Credit Report indicates that credit card balances increased by 4.6% during the most recently reported quarter; alarmingly, the total of all U.S. personal credit card balances just exceeded $1 trillion for the first time in history.
The shock waves of this vast personal debt burden will be persistent and far-reaching. Currently, around 69% of Americans have a credit card; the number was 65% in December 2019 and only 59% in December 2013. Out of convenience or out of necessity, Americans are increasingly using plastic to pay, as there are 700 million more credit card accounts than there were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Then there are the required repayments of U.S. federal student loans, which are set to resume as soon as October. If Powell is hellbent on keeping the federal funds rate higher for longer, legions of student loan borrowers will have to repay with high interest rates. The broader economy will be affected because those students’ spending power will be inhibited – and it’s the consumer that has held up the fragile economy since the onset of the pandemic.
Everywhere you look, there are signs of inflation and high-interest-rate fallout. Thinking about buying a new car in 2023? Good luck with that, as the average monthly payment for a new car in the U.S. reached a record high of $736 in July. The increase in new car interest payment rates over the past three years, believe it or not, has been 28%.
Of course, there are glass-half-full ways of looking at the situation. In particular, assuming you believe the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data, the U.S. unemployment rate is supposedly 3.6%.
Thus, giant money manager Blackrock forecasts that the country could be headed for a “full employment recession” – i.e., the economy contracting but there are plenty of jobs to be had.
Lending and borrowing conditions are getting tighter and the middle class is getting squeezed every day, but it’s hard to this in the headline numbers if you only look at the government’s published data. Interest rates are up, and so are the cost of essential goods and services – and the Fed is indeed doing its job, if that job is to keep people are struggling and dependent on handouts in perpetuity.
Chief Editor, CrushTheStreet.com
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