Barring a big negative shock to the financial markets or the economy in the next 2 ½ months, the Fed will raise interest rates by 25 bps in its December meeting.
The economy is in decent shape as the third quarter ends. To wit, we are nearing full employment; family incomes are rising again after a long pause; and our trade gap is starting to narrow.
Yesterday’s data was on the cool side, with both retail sales and the PPI a bit below expectations. Those data virtually confirmed the Fed will be on hold next week. But today’s Consumer Price Index was hot enough to persuade the Fed to raise in December.
It was bound to happen sometime. Finally a 1%+ move in stocks, and it is to the downside. The main cause is a sharp upward movement in long-term yields, both in the US and abroad. The sell-off began yesterday when Mario Draghi did not commit to further stimulus, raising the specter that the ECB’s QE program will end next March.
The figures out last year show that the average amount of student loan debt a student graduates with is a little more than $35,000. Most graduates are carrying multiple student loans from multiple sources, and the cost and complexity of managing them can become overwhelming, especially if they are unable to secure steady employment with sufficient cash flow to make the payments.
The consumer got back into the game in April, after having sat on the sidelines in the first quarter. In all, shoppers were sufficiently aggressive to lift retail sales 1.3% last month, as buyers flocked to auto showrooms, furniture shops, appliance stores, and clothing retailers. They also spent heavily on the Internet.
The labor market continues to improve, only not at the pace likely needed to accelerate the economic upturn. This point was driven home recently by the report of a lackluster 160,000 increase in jobs in April—a rather disappointing result that was 20% below the consensus forecast and nearly 30% less than the average gain per month over the past year.
This year is starting to look a lot like its two predecessors, with a succession of roadblocks thrown in the economy’s path early in the year followed by some irregular gains as the spring progresses. To wit, we now are seeing some selective recovery in manufacturing, additional gains in nonmanufacturing, and a shrinkage in our still-massive global trade deficit.