Everything’s Up! Rates, Jobs, the Markets, and the National Debt
Market Commentary


Recently, the continued strength and resilience of the labor market was a revelation. The Federal Reserve has raised rates 10 times over the last 14 months, trying to slow economic growth and drive inflation lower. In theory, higher rates should have cooled the labor market and led to higher unemployment rates. So far, that hasn’t happened.

Last week, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey showed the number of job openings in the United States increased from March to April, while the number of people separating from employers fell. Then, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment report showed that more jobs were created in May than anyone anticipated.

It was also surprising that investors took the news about labor markets in stride. Economic data suggesting the economy remains strong could cause the Fed to raise rates again in June rather than take a pause, as many hope. Investors don’t expect the Federal Reserve to increase rates in June, despite strength in the labor market.

The Markets

The Markets had a positive response to the government apparently resolving the debt crisis. This was expected and we have currently increased stock market exposure in portfolios that have a growth orientation.

If you are still nervous about the economy, keep in mind that I have government bonds with a one-year maturity that are yielding 4% plus that I can use in your portfolio or for your short-term cash. Please keep this in mind if you are looking for some alternatives.

The National Debt

Americans are more concerned about reducing the budget deficit than they have been in the past, according to a Pew Research survey.

When the United States spends more than it receives, there is a budget shortfall (aka, a deficit). Each annual deficit adds to previous annual deficits. The total of all deficits (offset by any surpluses) plus interest owed is the national debt. So far this year, the U.S. Treasury reports the government has:

  • received $2.7 trillion (less than last year).
  • spent $3.6 trillion (more than last year).
  • a year-to-date shortfall is $925 billion.

When that shortfall is added to the total already owed, the national debt is about $31.5 trillion. Our national debt includes two types of borrowing:

  • 78 percent is publicly held debt ($24.6 billion). This includes Treasury securities sold to investors at home and abroad. The amount has grown by 106% since 2013. One of the biggest owners of public debt is the Federal Reserve system, which holds almost 20 percent of the publicly held national debt, according to Pew Research.
  • 22 percent is intragovernmental debt ($6.9 trillion). The U.S. government owes this money to federal trust funds and accounts. The amount has grown by 40 percent since 2013. One of the government’s biggest creditors is the Social Security system. “…the program’s retirement and disability trust funds together held more than $2.8 trillion in special non-traded Treasury securities or 9% of the total debt.”

With Congress having voted, recently, to raise the debt ceiling, they have reached the limit on the national debt.

Focus – Think About It

“Remember- for every minute you are angry with someone, you lose 60 seconds of happiness that you can never get back”

Ralph Waldo Emerson


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