I start today’s show with a non-financial story: Paddling is coming back to schools. I share some wild facts around corporal punishment laws… and my own experience as a Catholic school student—including what the nuns were really like.
The markets are in turmoil after Powell’s speech last week at Jackson Hole. And the volatility has sent Genia’s risk-hedge strategy into “overdrive.” Be sure you’ve got the kind of protection she recommends in place before September 21—the next Fed meeting… It will be a make-or-break moment for markets.
I also highlight the statistic that shows a harsh recession ahead…
- Corporal punishment is back in schools [1:17]
- Why you shouldn’t trust Jerome Powell on inflation [4:10]
- A clear sign of a recession ahead [9:23]
- The root cause of the massive inflation we’re facing [21:00]
- Why you’ll want to go all in… or sell your stocks after September 21 [23:37]
Wall Street Unplugged | 939
This date will make—or break—the markets
Announcer: Wall Street Unplugged looks beyond the regular headlines heard on mainstream financial media to bring you unscripted interviews and breaking commentary direct from Wall Street right to you on main street.
Frank Curzio: How’s it going out there? It’s August 30th. I’m Frank Curzio, host of the Wall Street Unplugged podcast, where I break down the headlines and tell you what’s really moving these markets.
Frank Curzio: Yeah, I love when earning season ends, because it’s like nothing at all to talk about in the financial news networks. I mean, take today, for example. The number one story is Musk filing an amended 13D for Twitter, citing the whistleblower, who was the head of security at Twitter. I’m sure you guys saw the video by now. Basically, Twitter had no security at all on its accounts and just ranting and raving or whatever, but Musk is amending his 13D for Twitter, where it’s another reason that he wants to terminate the merger. And this is everywhere. Even though really, nobody cares and it gets hit, because Musk has what? Over 100 million followers on Twitter. Only a hundred million. So, I guess those hits mean higher ad dollars on the slow days for the network.
Frank Curzio: So I get it, but I would’ve talked about another story in the Wall Street Journal today, which is much more entertaining, about how Missouri school district is bringing back paddling. Ugh. I love this story. Have to thank Mr. Creech for this one, where teachers are basically allowed to beat the shit out of your kids with a paddle if they don’t listen. And by the way, the article cites that this legal in 18 states. I had no idea. And they even go into the policy, inside the policy, around to where it requires two people, where one beats the shit out of your kid while the other has to be there to serve as a witness, to make sure your kid doesn’t get smacked in the face with the paddle. That’s a no-no. Can’t smack him in the face with the paddle. You could beat the crap out of him, black and blues. Just don’t hit him in the face. It’s like the cops with the telephone book. They always punch you with the telephone book. I won’t tell you how I know that, I promise, but that doesn’t leave marks, at least on your face.
Frank Curzio: But I mean, you know what happens? The witness thing is kind of funny. What if you go to court? Hey, you call that witness. They’re going to say like, “Yes, your honor, the teacher beat the shit out of the kid. They were screaming, but they didn’t hit him in the face.” But they’re going over the back and forth of why this is good and why this shouldn’t happen. But kids today are probably like, “If you hit me, I’m going to tape it with my phone and go viral on social media.” They tape everything. But then again, you can’t have your phones when you’re in your classes. You do it before and after. But, I have kids and cousins, nieces, nephews, you can’t have your phone during class at all. They’ll take it from you, right? So, I don’t know how they’re going to do that.
Frank Curzio: But back in the day, when I went to school, it was Catholic school. Let me tell you something. The nuns beat the shit out of us. And if you went home and complained to your parents, your parents would then beat the shit out of you. So, you didn’t mess around. I mean, it was law and order back then, not like today. But those nuns, I mean, they hated everything. Hated everyone. I mean think about it. You’re serving God. You’re preaching. You’re supposed to love people. God, Jesus, this is great. I mean, nuns in the eighties, they hated you. They hated your parents. They hated everything. I mean, it was like illegal for them to smile. I mean, it was insane when I went to school.
Frank Curzio: But anyway, there was a much better story than Elon Musk reiterating that he’s not buying Twitter, $54 since it’s 39 now. Keep throwing stuff at that, more evidence. We’re not getting enough. What, you guys lied to us. It makes sense. I mean 54 to 39 might not sound like a big difference. But if 54 Twitter had a $44 billion market cap, if you buy it at 39 today, it’s going to save him $13 billion. It’s a big deal. It’s a very big deal. So yes, he’s doing everything possible to get out of it. But to the bigger point here, hate to tell you this, you ain’t going to believe it or not. Sometimes, there’s nothing important going on in the financial world.
Frank Curzio: So, what are we going to do? Digest earnings, and digest powers comments at Jackson Hole, which everyone feels relevant, even though two years ago, what did he say? The Fed is going to change its policy or the way it looks at raising rates. Meaning, if inflation moves higher, but employment is strong, then not going to raise rates. He said that two years ago. Think about that. August 2020, five months after the heart of COVID, the market was coming back, roaring back, right? Crashed in March. Just started to surge off the lows. And this was after he knew inflation was about to skyrocket, because the government was about to release trillions into the economy for free. Handing trillions to you. Trillions, put that in perspective. I say this a lot. 480 billion, that was used for TARP, to bail out the world. And think about the 500 billion used for our kids and tuition. I’ll get more to that in a minute.
Frank Curzio: It shows you how much money this is, even though people don’t really care. It’s just a number now. But getting back to Powell. When you’re looking at August 2021, so a year ago at Jackson Hole, inflation at 5%. He totally went, “Don’t worry about a thing. It’s transitory, you idiots. It’s transit. Don’t worry about it. There’s nothing to see here.” That’s what he said. But now he says, “We’re going to raise rates aggressively. We’re going to raise them like crazy to control inflation. That inflation that I didn’t see coming for two years, now I see it. And I’m going to raise rates incredibly higher.” Even after the fastest rate hike cycle in history, where rates, Fed funds rate by 2% in three months. Doesn’t sound like a lot, 2%. That’s considered eight rate hikes by normal standards, because they figure a rate hike on the normal circumstances is 25 basis points. That they consider.
Frank Curzio: So in February, every economist, this is February, not too long ago. This year, they’re predicting three to four, 25 basis point hikes max. We’re at eight already. And our Fed chair just said, “Hey, we ain’t even close to being done.” Now, this tone is spooking the markets, and you know what? It should. Because, if Powell is serious about aggressively raising rates through next year, forget about stocks, forget about everything. Every asset class is going to get destroyed. I know it’s a different tone for me being bullish. This contingent on the Fed, seeing what’s going on out there, which I’m going to explain in a minute, and saying, “Okay, it’s September. We got to relax a little bit.” Right now, pedal to the metal. I mean, just with the current rate hikes, which by the way, the last 75 basis point hike is not even factoring into the economy yet, but just from the recent hikes, this caused the housing market to crash in six months. In six months, you know how hard that is to do, to crash the housing market in six months? That fast?
Frank Curzio: You see the services PMI, how much it dropped last quarter? Unprecedented, which is a clear sign consumer spending is plunging. Major retailers, Best Buy, Walmart, Target, lowering prices to get massive inventory off their books. Half of the companies of the S&P 500, about to announce layoffs. This is from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Half of them. Those unemployment numbers that were positive on, the economy’s doing good. They’re going to go to shit very quickly. Very quickly. Non-residential construction spending at 50-year lows. What about household wealth plunging? Household wealth. That’s made, 70% of household wealth is made up of stocks and housing. Where’s the NASDAQ today? Not everybody owns the S&P down, whatever, 10, 12%. Most people have aggressive stocks in their portfolio or taking the biggest technology stocks in their portfolio. They’re down a lot more than that. They’re down 15, 20 and some who are aggressive, are down 30% plus.
Frank Curzio: Now, you’re seeing home prices start to roll over. I’ve seen sales roll over, knowing now mortgage rates are close to 6% again, 6%. That October, what I locked in was 3.2%. October, November. Man, did I get lucky? Holy cow. Look at household wealth plunging. Look at earnings. Everybody talking about, earnings up 6%. They up 6%, because energy was basically zero and it went to $130. Earnings are up 6%. If you strip out energy, one sector. I’m not stripping out and making it look nice and then strip out food and it, I’m stripping out energy. It’s big because it’s the one sector that unfortunately, as that rises is worse for the economy. It’s worse for consumers. If you strip that out, earnings fell 4% year-over-year. We’re not talking about that at all. It’s about this earnings growth, and these companies are meeting earnings. And we stripped out energy when it was shit for the S&P 500, but we’re not stripping it out now when it helps the S&P 500. Isn’t that amazing? But X energy, earnings are down 4% year-over-year. That’s significant. That’s significant.
Frank Curzio: But most importantly, I need you guys to pay attention here. I’m hoping I don’t lose you, because there’s not a lot of people that talk about this. The massive contraction in M2, which by the way, was the biggest contributor to the Great Depression. So, if you’re going to M1 a total amount of cash. Current account balances, M2 is everything in M1, but with savings account, money market funds and other deposits included. So basically, the total money in circulation in our economy. Now, M2 is also known as the velocity of money. It’s a measurement of the rate at which money is exchanged in an economy. So, a high money velocity is usually associated with a healthy economy, expanding economy.
Frank Curzio: So, if you’re on our YouTube page, why don’t you to take a look at this chart, which is significant because you’re seeing, and let me blow this up. The absolute crash in M2, as you could see the last time it was at this level, which is 1.1, I’ll cover that in a second, was back in the 1930s during the Great Depression. Pretty crazy when you think about it, right? Why is nobody looking at this and paying attention? So, the velocity of money was above 1.5 every year, since the 1950s, meaning the turnover of a dollar into the economy is a $1.50, as it filters through the economy, right? So, the higher this number is over one, the better. It means there’s more transactions being made with goods and services, thus translates into a healthy and growing economy. Okay? This is the simple part of it. Okay. Don’t want to get too complicated. For example, the mid-1990s, the velocity of money was over two. That’s very, very good. We had the tech boom, everything going crazy.
Frank Curzio: For 2010, 2019, it averaged around 1.6, almost 1.7. So, a solid number. Today the velocity money is at 1.1. Again, the only time this figure is at this level was the Great Depression. It’s a clear sign, clear. As clear, like a car going a hundred miles an hour and it’s about to hit you, and you see it coming as clear as day that we’re heading for a recession. Probably a decent one. And maybe a lot of that is factored in with stocks down, companies about to lay off, something that is factored in. But now you have Powell, who wants to continue to raise rates and shrink its balance sheet in the face of M2 collapsing. Now, if he’s serious, which he may not be, Fed speak is powerful. Just by talking, the Fed can reduce inflation, reduce demand, can control the world. Just by talking, just saying what you’re going to do.
Frank Curzio: And that’s fine. That’s okay. I get it. I’m hoping that’s what it is. But if he’s serious, which a lot of people believe right now, and it continues to aggressively raise rates with housing already crashed, the NASDAQ down 20%. Again, 70% of household wealth is right there, stocks and housing. Look out, because I have news for you. If that crash comes and this happens, and he follows through, and it’s going to be 100% caused by the Fed, who missed inflation, missed everything over the past three years, you know what? Pay attention to Jackson Hole.
Frank Curzio: If he did the exact opposite, if he did the exact opposite of what he said, the past three years, we’d be on much better footing, a much better economy, GDP would be healthy. Unemployment would be okay. It wouldn’t be as bad. If you were raising rates right away in 2021, instead of continue to pour trillions into this market, just like what our government is doing right now, continuing to spend money like crazy. So if this crash comes, which would be 100% caused by the Fed, you’re not going to be able to hide, because every single asset class is going to get crushed. Now we talk about cryptos, bonds. I mean, the amount of debt on the balance sheet of companies and our government’s at all-time highs, and we’re aggressively raising rates still. Still, and we’re not seeing defaults as much. We’re not seeing bankruptcies. That’s what you’re going to see, if you keep going. You’re going to see… And you’re going to see it a lot.
Frank Curzio: Forget about owning collectibles, gold. Forget, I don’t even know what the hell drives gold anymore. I have no idea. I have no idea what drives gold. Talked to Marin Katusa yesterday, when we were talking about it. He’s like, maybe he was, I won’t say depressed, but he’s like, “I just can’t believe the assets that I own and how great they are, are not doing anything. Why isn’t gold going higher? It just doesn’t make sense.” I don’t even know, but forget about it, especially gold stocks. Maybe gold prices might hang in there. Maybe they go a little bit higher, but gold stocks, forget it. They’re all freaking diluted through the ass, right? A lot of these guys don’t make any money at all. Right? Looking at mid-tiers and the large ones. Yeah. They’re printing money. But nobody cares about those either. The Newmonts, Kinross, nobody cares about those.
Frank Curzio: There’s are a printed money, printed gold. Raising their dividends. The earnings are strong. Nobody cares, right? They’re producing $900 with gold at 16, 17, wherever, nobody cares. But the rest of the gold market, those stocks, forget about it. Holy cow. The only safe haven will be the dollar. Will be the dollar, which everyone says is going to crash, because our government’s a bunch of idiots and they spend money. You’re right. They are idiots. And they spend a ton of money. But last month, it was at a 14-year high. Yesterday, hit a 20-year high yesterday. What does that mean? People are nervous. Everybody goes at a dollar and they’re nervous. They truly believe that Powell is serious. I’m hoping that he’s not.
Frank Curzio: I’m hoping that he’s not. He’s going to keep raising rates based on lagging indicators. And by the way, the Fed has to stop looking at the CPI, as its main indicator to judge inflation. And this made sense for a long time, since you revised this model. I mean, I covered it numerous, numerous, numerous times over the past 30 years, to where this index rarely showed inflation, which allowed for easy monetary deposit, even though we felt, we all felt it. We all felt inflation from 2010 to 2019. So I shift, you should shout from the top of the roof. “So we got inflation, we got inflation,” but yet inflation, if you look at the CPI was under 2%. Why? Because they revised it to where, there’s almost impossible to show that inflation’s going to surge. That’s why they strip out food and energy.
Frank Curzio: But now, this method’s coming back to bite you in the ass, since 32% of the CPI counts for shelter, where most of this is rental income. Food accounts for 15%, energy accounts for 8%, which again, the Fed, government, whatever you want to call it, did a great job of spitting out the core of this. “Well, without food and energy, we’re fine.” They spin out for political purposes, obviously. Just like, suddenly, we change a textbook definition of a recession overnight, to a recession is no longer defined as two straight quarters of negative GDP. Look up the definition. Look up the definition, go into the dictionary, google it. And it’s going to say, recession two straight quarters, negative GDP. That’s what it is. But we just change it. Why? Because we have very important midterm elections coming, and there’s no way the current administration could admit that we’re in a recession, or it’s going to lose the House and the Senate, which is pretty much a foregone conclusion. Probably going to lose it anyway.
Frank Curzio: Even if you bribe college kids by forgiving $10,000 of their debt, three months ahead of elections. By the way, if you really wanted help these kids, why not just have the institutions or the schools lower tuition rates? We all know the answer to that. We all get it. We’re not idiots. It’s politics. It’s the way it is. 500 billion to do this. 480 billion was used to bail out the world and the banks, to save our financial system from collapse, ultimate collapse, and in a second, with a signature, with a few people making a big deal about it, not really, 500 billion. Man, I feel really bad for all the people who paid off their debt, and the college students that paid off their debt. Because it sucks for you, doesn’t it, for doing the right thing. Do the wrong thing with this administration, you’re fine. But to do this, taxpayers are paying for this. Just ahead of the election, no coincidence there, is crazy. You have to pay attention to politics.
Frank Curzio: Anyway, getting back to the rentals as a huge percentage of CPI. The rentals never saw massive increases. I went back and looked at data. Not even the pre-credit crisis… Yeah, they went higher. But not like this. Not like we’ve seen in the past few years. I mean, you go back to 2015, rentals have been rising of a 4% annual, that’s much higher than historical rate. 4% annual is a lot. It’s a lot, right? You’re talking about inflation, inflation’s supposed to be 2%. Rentals were rising 4%, but then 2021, year-over-year, they go up 15%. And this year already, up 8%. Now, you do the math. You’re up basically 50% in six years, close to 25% in just two years. Hey, you know how much money that is? Not too hard to figure it out.
Frank Curzio: I just look for a rental apartment in Jacksonville with my wife, since we’re building a house that’s 45 minutes away. Our kids go to school in Jacksonville now, and some really good schools. We’re driving back and forth, I should say, my wife’s doing most of the driving back and forth. She’s in the car four hours a day. Four hours a day. It’s insane. I’m not kidding. I have over 60,000 miles on my car, its less than a year old. It’s insane. Just the gas prices, everything. Even though they’re a little bit lower now, going back up, but it’s insane. So I said, “You know what? Let’s just rent, whatever. Let’s rent, whatever. This way you could be there for a couple days, I’ll come back and forth. This way, it’s not as crazy until we get the house,” but which is going to be November. They say November, I’m pushing out to December. So, I’m looking to rent for three months, September 15th to December 15th, because then we get the holidays.
Frank Curzio: Well, so hopefully, our house will be done January, can move in and it’s not going to be too crazy, because the drive’s absolutely killing my wife. It’s killing us. It’s consuming our lives. It’s a lot. I know, we have a nice light at the end of the tunnel with a house being built, but it’s a lot right now. So, I started looking for apartments. I couldn’t find anything under $3,500 for two bedrooms, in a decent area where my wife won’t get carjacked when she’s taking the kids to school. 3,500, and not even for things that are nice. Everything was like 4,000, 4,500, two bedroom, Jacksonville. Jacksonville. I’m not talking about New York City. I mean, it’s insane.
Frank Curzio: My point is, with the Fed, looking at the CPI as their main gauge for inflation, we’re not going to see a steep decline, because you changed the method of how it’s calculated by putting rental incomes in there, or rentals in there, because rentals usually don’t skyrocket like that. You don’t see prices move significantly lower or higher, right? Not over a couple year period. Not like this, 25% in two years, you don’t see that in rentals. We’ve never seen that in history, by this amount. That’s why cancel such a high again. It’s on purpose that they did this. It’s on purpose. You want to have an index that doesn’t really show. We can have monetary policy. It’s good for politics. Easy monetary policy to keep rates low since 2010. I mean, this was the plan. Even before, this was the plan. Now, it’s blowing up in your face. All the shit’s blowing up in your face.
Frank Curzio: That’s why any textbook or anything that you read on economics, throw it in the garbage. It’s useless. It’s absolutely useless. This is the stuff they’re going by. All these academics, that they go, this is what the economists are going by. “Oh, well this is going to be transitory. Inflation takes care of itself. Higher prices. People are going to stop paying, then inflation goes down.” Not when you keep injecting trillions into the fucking system it doesn’t. It doesn’t work that way. Because I could tell you, an eighth grader understood the fact that throwing trillions into the system was going to result in high inflation, no matter what. And as smartest people in the room got it really, really wrong, which is okay, we all get it wrong from time to time, but they are consistently getting it wrong.
Frank Curzio: And now, it’s very scary to see where Powell is, because you are going to overshoot by a mile. You’re already going down as one of the worst in history, when it comes to Fed chairs with the inflation debacle. I mean, to say that inflation’s going under 2% and it hits eight, 9%. It is a joke, right? We’re talking about that in a year. You were saying that in January, still. In November, he finally was like, “Oh whoa, okay. We got to switch a little bit.” He still didn’t think he was going to continue to go this high.
Frank Curzio: So, we’re not going to see a steep decline in the CPI for some time, even though what? Most commodities are significantly lower. You can say, “Well, not natural gas and oil.” Eh, came down from 130 to 90, 95, whatever. If you go lumber, you look at copper and man, corn, you look at a lot of commodities down significantly. The power prices are crashing. Companies reduce inventory. Can M2, lowest levels almost in history. The only other time is during the Great Depression. You need to be cautious here because there’s one group, one organization, one institution, that’s the Fed, that can destroy the world. We’re seeing it right now. They were wrong. You needed to raise rates. You did it, by the fastest pace we’ve almost ever seen history. Where the recent rate’s hike, 75 basis points, we haven’t seen that before the previous one since 1994, is not even being factored in, and you’re still going balls to the wall here.
Frank Curzio: So for me, I am, well, it was am, still bullish on many sectors in stock, if the Fed stops raising rates soon. So, a 50 basis point hike September, maybe one more, 25 basis point hike taking us to 3.25%, I’m okay with that. And going to next year, if you need to lower, whatever, I’m okay with that. That’s okay. There’s a lot of stocks that are trading at great valuations. Still doing well. Seeing earnings and sales grow, insiders are buying. They’re buying back stock, healthy balance sheets. I’m still seeing that. But if you go anything more than that, we’ll continue to have this rhetoric of, “Hey, we’re going to do whatever it takes. We don’t care who it destroys.” Look out, look out. And we should get a good indication of if Powell is serious about raising rates continuously, or just talking shit to scare the markets. We’ll get a good indication on September 21st. That’s the next Fed policy meeting, where they’ll raise by 50 basis points, which is clear.
Frank Curzio: So, funny how people have 75 and 1% basis points. 75 and 1%, just run into cash as you can, if they go anywhere near that. If they go 75 and say, “We’re still going to get aggressive,” and there’s no need for that 50 proves your point. But hopefully, what I’m hoping for is Powell will look at the indicators, the right indicators, not the lagging indicators, not focus so much on CPI, which is rental income, which is going to take a while to come down. And it will, but it takes a while. It’s taken a while. I mean, even me, I don’t want to pay those prices. Maybe I might pay those prices, but a lot of people aren’t, and when they don’t, those prices have to come down in order to get those rentals. They’re going to have to come down.
Frank Curzio: So, people just don’t have the money. They had a lot of money when the stock market was roaring, where home prices or whatever. And let me get a rental property and the second part, whatever. You don’t have that. You look at M2, the amount of money coming out of the system is insane. It’s insane, the amount of money coming out of the system right now. It’s working. They don’t even have to do anything going forward. And it’s working. You’re going to see inflation moderate. It could take a little bit longer than expected, but you’re going to continue to see it moderate from here. People have less money in their pockets than they did.
Frank Curzio: We got to see September 21st. It’s a very, very big date, probably one of the most important dates in the past 10 years. I’m hoping that Powell will have more of an easing tone when he talks about policy, for the rest of the year, into next year. We’ll see. If not, look out, because if he has the same exact rhetoric that he mentioned at Jackson Hole, when he raises by 50 basis points. And says, “It’s still pedal to the metal,” we’re going to see stocks collapse, and they’re going to fall very, very hard from here. And I’m hoping that doesn’t happen. They’ll create a great buying opportunity probably six months from now, but we could see a 25% decline in stocks if he does that. For one man and his policies, who has been more wrong than almost any other Fed chairman, and I’m even throwing Greenspan in there during a credit crisis. So, I had no clue what was going on either.
Frank Curzio: But it’s hard to know what’s going on with all the banks lying to you, and all the shit going on in the hood. This is clear as day, okay? Clear as day. 11 and a half trillion dollars injected into the freaking system, and you’re saying that inflation is transitory. Okay. It’s something that an eighth grader knows, that we’re going to see massive inflation. Everybody listening to this who pays their bills, knew that we were going to see inflation, except for this guy, except for this organization, which is insane. Hopefully, you don’t follow through on this. Hopefully, it’s just Fed speak. Let’s see. But September 21st could be a very, very big date. It’s going to determine whether you’re going to cash, and I’m going to cash, or it’s time to start getting aggressive. Because there are a lot of great names out there, but they’re going to get hit as well as almost every single asset class, if we continue to raise rates past September.
Frank Curzio: Man, I hope I’m wrong on this. I really do. I want you to make money on your stocks. I want you to make money on your homes. I want you to make money on your assets, but the market’s headed for a lot of trouble, if Powell continues this rhetoric past September. Again, we’ll see. Don’t want to end on a horrible note, but I have to, because I tell it how it is. It’s why you listen to this podcast. No bullshit. Okay. I’d be bullish if I knew that they were going to slow down. There’s evidence that they should be slowing down, but he doesn’t want to slow down. He’s not saying he’s going to slow down.
Frank Curzio: So, let’s see what happens over the next 30 days. It’s going to definitely determine the asset allocation, and where we’re putting on money in our newsletters, in our portfolios. And again, I’ll be reporting to you guys every single day, almost for this podcast, and letting you know exactly what I’m doing and trying to help you, but just be careful. It’s time to be very, very cautious right now, based on what Powell is saying.
Frank Curzio: So questions and comments, I have a feeling I’m going to get a lot after this podcast, feel free to email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s email@example.com. I always really appreciate all the support. I’ll see you guys tomorrow. Take care.
Announcer: Wall Street Unplugged is produced by Curzio Research, one of the most respected financial media companies in the industry. The information presented on Wall Street Unplugged is the opinion of its hosts and guests. You should not base your investment decisions solely on this broadcast. Remember, it’s your money and your responsibility.