As I say below, this time Brazil’s resurgence is for real. So does Walter Russell Mead, with lots of qualifiers. His analysis is obviously much more in depth than mine–I based mine largely on a YouTube video, for heck’s sake. An interesting read.
Brazil’s Central Bank raises its interest rate 0.25% to 12% out of fear of losing control of inflation. And the usual suspects cry foul.
Standard & Poor’s just shot a big gun across the bow of our ship of state, warning of
a “material risk” the nation’s leaders will fail to deal with rising budget deficits and debt.
At least one player in the government bond market agrees:
“It’s truly a shot across the bow and a message to Washington, which has been clowning around on this and playing politics when they should toss ideology aside and focus on achievement,” said David Ader, head of government bond strategy at CRT Capital Group LLC in Stamford, Connecticut. “The bond market is still trying to find out what to make of it. People don’t know what to do. If you sell Treasuries, what do you go in to? No one knows.”
So what’s Treasury’s response?
Treasury Assistant Secretary Mary Miller said today that S&P’s outlook on the U.S. credit rating “underestimates” U.S. leadership.
“We believe S&P’s negative outlook underestimates the ability of America’s leaders to come together to address the difficult fiscal challenges facing the nation,” Miller [NKA Baghdad Bobbette] said in a statement. (emphasis supplied)
Our debt may becoming more expensive, but this response is priceless.
Gary Becker, George Schultz, and John Taylor have a plan to bust the budget. It’s worth reading. To me the most obvious gem in the plan, and the one most sorely missing in all the talk in Washington right now is this:
Assurance that the current tax system will remain in place—pending genuine reform in corporate and personal income taxes—will be an immediate stimulus.
Congress and the President (any Congress and any President) have used the tax code to implement policy choices. It’s time to leave the rules be, so that business can plan, something they are loathe to do when there’s no promise that the rules won’t change next week.
Due to malware problems, I didn’t post on the Fed’s most recent FOMC statement. Here it is. Nothing changed; that is, the federal funds target rate will remain in the 0 to 1/4 percent range, and the Fed will continue to purchase Treasuries pursuant to QEII. That said, there was this interesting snippet (emphasis mine):
Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. Currently, the unemployment rate remains elevated, and measures of underlying inflation continue to be somewhat low, relative to levels that the Committee judges to be consistent, over the longer run, with its dual mandate. The recent increases in the prices of energy and other commodities are currently putting upward pressure on inflation. The Committee expects these effects to be transitory, but it will pay close attention to the evolution of inflation and inflation expectations. The Committee continues to anticipate a gradual return to higher levels of resource utilization in a context of price stability.
What they’re talking about here is the Phillips Curve, which says that with low inflation comes high unemployment. Conversely, higher inflation brings lower unemployment.
In the present case, the FOMC doesn’t think the upward pressure on inflation will be lasting; thus, the committee anticipates that the employment picture will improve, but only gradually. And, it appears, that improvement will will not come because of an increase in the federal funds target rate–not anytime soon anyway.