Why 'Chained CPI' Will Hurt Debt-Reduction In The Long Term

Category: Economy / Apr 10, 2013 5:37PM EDT
Joseph Greco, managing director with brokerage firm Meridian Equity Partners Inc., weighs in with IBTimes TV's Jessica Menton about whether or not "chained CPI" will reduce debt-reduction in the long term. The Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) March minutes were released Wednesday which revealed that several Federal Reserve officials said the central bank should begin reducing its quantitative easing program later this year and stop it by year end. The minutes were from the March 19-20 meeting, about two weeks prior to last weeks disappointing March jobs report. How will last week’s non-farm payrolls report alter the Fed’s decision of when to reduce asset purchases? "Well, the market's already spoken, and surprisingly it's spoken to the upside. No surprise that there are still some hawkish members of the Fed," Greco said. "I think at this point the market is actually what's leading us and interpreting the decision there," he added. Also on Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama sent the blueprint for his 2014 budget proposal to Congress and included “chained CPI” in the spending plan, which would slow the rate of growth for Social Security benefits. Will a change to the way inflation is measured actually help debt-reduction? "From a pure mathematical sense, it will definitely help debt reduction to meet the hurdles, the amount of funds or reserves that are going to need to be stored and ultimately paid out to recipients of social security," Greco said. "That will lower that number, so the demand on the assets will be decreased, which is good because as we know its becoming increasingly difficult to meet those demands. So lowering the requirement is helpful. But, like anything else, when you lower that, you are going to have unhappy recipients because the checks are not only going to be lighter, but they may actually at some point, in the near term, become fewer and farther between which means the minimum age for receipt is going to be pushed up. You're going to see people receiving checks later on in life. They're going to have to stay in the workforce longer, which means they're contributing more, but getting less. So that is not really a good long term strategy. I think what it is is a good one year budgetary strategy," he said. After seeing the Dow and S&P 500 rally early in 2013, when will the Fed’s stimulus measures also begin to help spur labor market growth? "That's the million dollar question. I wish my Chrystal ball could tell me exactly when that would happen, or maybe the week prior," Greco said. "That's a really good question, but if you dig in to the prior question regarding budget and where money is going to be spent and looking at the jobs program. Looking at the roadways and the bridge and tunnel infrastructure programs that budget allocates money towards. I think all of that speaks volumes towards getting people back to work on the lower band of job skill set and the lowest band of dollars and salaries, but that's also going to then lift up everything else in the middle band which is obviously, ultimately where everything needs to go because that's the largest sector that's going to hit the most and it going to be taxed the most. so we need to see that as a thriving component of our economy and the workforce" he said.