There are a lot of people cheering for a Fed rate cut. Wall Street, still sporting a bloody nose after walking into a brick wall last week, would love one. The housing bubble cheerleaders -- who began to meet their doom months ago -- are all but begging for one, no matter that the plea doesn't make a ton of sense since mortgage rates have hardly responded to recent rate increases.
But given the news out of the Department of Labor today, I think the rate-cut pep squad will be waiting a lot longer than it might like for a return to cheaper dough. In fact, I think we might see (horror!) another rate increase. Put me down for a quarter-point uptick within the next half year.
That's because the DOL's adjusted Q4 2006 productivity figures show a much slimmer gain in productivity than previously estimated. Meanwhile, wages have gone way up. (Whole DOL pdf is here. There's a good summary from AP here.)
Hmm. Flattish productivity. Higher costs. Sounds like inflation to me. And despite his nickname, I think Fed Chief "Helicopter" Ben Bernanke is more likely to wrestle the economy into the dirt than allow inflation to chew up the economy.
That's bad news for anyone who depends on cheap money to make ends meet. Certain low-end lenders would come to mind, but the party has already ended for the likes of Novastar Financial
Manufacturers who can't make ends meet without borrowing will also be feeling the pinch. I think GM
Finally, now that the housing ATM is running dry and doom and gloom on market drops is spooking everyone, will consumers button up the wallets altogether? Will people take a look at their debt levels and finally realize, "Hey, I'm not rich at all!"
I'm pretty sure the first signs will come from the "affordable" (because it's on the plastic) luxury brands. Once consumers stop blowing their grocery money on $240 True Religion
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