Why the Fed Will Crash the Economy If It Hikes Rates: In Three Charts

by Pam Martens and Russ Martens, Wall Street on Parade Consumer Confidence Chart Versus Labor Force Participation Rate If you’ve been scratching your head since the middle of last year as consumer confidence surveys depicted an optimistic, eager to spend consumer while other hard economic data was showing a sputtering economy, we’re here to put your mind to rest. You’re not crazy. The U.S. economy is dramatically diverging from where most consumers think it is and we have three charts to prove it. Most Americans have never heard of the Labor Force Participation Rate. Consumers judge the availability of jobs, or lack of them, by the Unemployment Rate that is fed to them in newspaper headlines and TV sound bites monthly. The Unemployment Rate has been coming down nicely and fueling positive vibes among consumers. Unfortunately, the Labor Force Participation Rate, which measures the number of people who are either employed or actively looking for a job has been hitting historic low numbers, suggesting far more slack in the labor market than captured by the official Unemployment Rate. On February 4, Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup, told a stunned interviewer at CNBC that he was concerned he might “suddenly disappear” and not make it home that evening if he disputed the reliability of what the U.S. government is reporting as unemployed workers. Clifton’s concerns are essentially based on the fact that consumer confidence and Fed jawboning on when it’s going to hike interest rates to slow down this “strong” U.S. economy before it overheats is about all the U.S. has left in its monetary arsenal. Continue Reading>>>

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