Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Fed Has Lost Control

The following chart compares the annual change in the consumer price index less food and energy (in blue) to the Fed Funds rate (in black).

Click to enlarge.

Yellen: What's wrong with this crazy car?
Plosser: Nothing is wrong. Just give it a bit more gas.
Yellen: Um, I tried. Why can't we speed up?
Plosser: I don't know. I've got the accelerator right in my hand.
Yellen: Why isn't it on the floor below my feet?
Plosser: Bernanke broke it clean off.
Yellen: Can't you just weld it back into place?
Plosser: Hey! You're the welder! Don't look at me!
Yellen: This is not good!
Plosser: OMG! Watch out for the pedestrian in the crosswalk!
Yellen: I'm swerving into the abandoned shopping mall! Hold on!
Plosser: For the love of all that's holy, hit the horn!

Source Data:
St. Louis Fed: Custom Chart


Stagflationary Mark said...

Pushing on a string

Pushing on a string is a figure of speech for influence that is more effective in moving things in one direction than another – you can pull, but not push.

If something is connected to you by a string, you can move it toward you by pulling on the string, but you can't move it away from you by pushing on the string. It is often used in the context of economic policy, specifically the view that "Monetary policy [is] asymmetric; it being easier to stop an expansion than to end a severe contraction."

Stagflationary Mark said...

We're in ZIRP, yet the CPI is behaving like the Fed has raised interest rates and we're nearing the end of the business cycle.

In a way, the Fed has raised rates. Bernanke said "taper" last year. Long-term interest rates rose. Yellen is now stuck.

If she stops tapering, the financial "experts" will realize that the economy must be in trouble.

If she keeps tapering, then the financial "experts" will keep thinking interest rates must rise (an opinion that I do not share).

If I'm right to think this way, then 2014 is going to be a very interesting year. In any event, I see no reason to alter my long-standing recession by October of 2014 prediction (made in 2012). For what it is worth (not much), that continues to be my best ballpark guess.

Troy said...


comparing full employment of age 16+ (green) 15-64 (red) vs. actual (blue)

zooming to 2000-2014 one can see that the 2007 peak gave us a 6M job gap between the full employment level we had in 1999 vs what the housing bubble got us.

And now the situation is cloudier due to the addition of the early baby boom in the age 65+ category, causing the green to diverge from the red.

There was a 12M gap between jobs and full employment in 12/2013.

This gap doesn't give us jobs, but it does put the heat on DC to do something, anything.

Or would if we had a functioning democracy, but we lost that a long time ago!

Troy said...


^ beautiful war-game hex map.

seeing this prompted 30+ years of shelved design ideas to flood back, merging themselves unbidden into my current project.

And that's what DSR needs - a big 3D hand to manipulate the units on the map!

[Running on] PS4 or bust is my motto this year.

SystemAlpha is so hapless with DSR, unwilling or unable to advance the state of the art at all.

Not that that is easy! I've been trying for, yeah. 30+ years . . .

Stagflationary Mark said...


I've got some serious pent-up demand for strategic/tactical PS# hex map games. I'd even settle for another PS2 game at this point, lol. Sigh.

Maria said...

the horn should be louder. Love your sense of humor.

Stagflationary Mark said...


You are absolutely right. The horn should be louder! More epic! Longer! One of the most powerful people in the world cannot be seen driving a clown car and using a silly clown horn like that. It does not inspire the necessary confidence!

She needs to be in a massive tripod with a horn to match!


P.S. Thanks. I appreciate the kind words. :)