A Relentless Surge – by Justin Vaughn

(Justin Vaughn, Editor, Options Trading Report)

Inflation Speeds To A 40-Year High… Price rise of 7.5% tops December’s reading as housing and used cars lead the surge. A relentless surge in U.S. inflation reached another four-decade high last month accelerating to a 7.5% annual rate as strong consumer demand collided with the pandemic-related supply-chain disruptions. The Labor Department said Thursday that the consumer price index which measures what consumers pay for goods and services-reached in January its highest level since February 1982, when compared with the same month a year ago. That put inflation above December’s 7% annual rate and well above the 1.8% annual rate for inflation in 2019 ahead of the pandemic. Prices were up sharply for a number of items, including food, vehicles, shelter, and utilities. High inflation is the dark side of the unusually strong economy that has been ‘powered’ in part by government stimulus to counter the pandemic. January’s continued acceleration increased the likelihood that Federal Reserve officials could speed up a series of interest-rate increases this spring to combat the surging prices and ‘cool’ the economy. Kathy Bostjancic chief U.S. financial economist at Oxford-Economics’ said what started as pandemic-specific inflation has now “broadened out across many, many categories both on the goods side of the economy and on the services side,” she adds, “It reflects supply constraints both in the goods market and the labor market, but it also is a function of still strong demand, particularly from U.S. consumers,” she added. On a monthl\y basis, the CPI increased a seasonally adjusted 0.6% last month, for the same pace as in December.

The average U.S. household is spending an additional $276.00 a month because of inflation that is rising at its fastest rate in 40 years, a new economic analysis showed. “A lot of people are hurting because of high inflation. $276 a month…..that’s a big burden,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics who conducted the analysis. “It really hammers home the point of ‘what is the cost of inflation?’ ” he adds. Allison Reyes and her boyfriend, Patrick Oldt, had been in a new apartment close to the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia’s Center City for several months when the basement flooded from high water. That sent the couple looking for a new place to live and gave them sticker shock. “We were looking at the exact same apartments we had looked at just a few months earlier whose prices had gone from $2,400 a month to $3,000 a month,” said Ms. Reyes, 34 years old, a brand manager. “We ended up having to downgrade in size and location.”

Sting Sells Songwriting Catalog to Universal Music…Sting sold his entire song catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group, the company said, in one of the largest publishing transactions for an individual artist’s work. The deal for the 17-time Grammy Award winner’s solo works, as well as his hits with the rock band ‘Police’, fetched a price of around $300 million, according to people familiar with the transaction. Sting’s deal is in league with other major catalog-and music-rights sales from the past couple of years. Universal Music Group NV, bought Bob Dylan’s publishing catalog at the end of 2020 for $300 million to $400 million, according to people familiar with the deal. It encompassed more than 600 copyrights spanning 60 years. Bruce Springsteen sold his music rights, both his song catalog and his recorded- music to Sony Group Corp.’s Sony Music Group for between $500 million and $600 million in the largest transaction for the life’s work by an individual artist, according to people familiar with the matter. The deal highlights how hot the market for music rights remains as a steady stream of artists has sold their catalogs in recent years. Sting’s worldwide agreement includes global hits “Roxanne,” “Every Breath You Take,” “Field of Gold,” “Message in a Bottle,” “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” as well as the 70-year-old’s 2021 solo album “The Bridge.” Having both Sting’s recordings and publishing rights will allow the World’s largest music company to place the work of his in a variety of media including biopics and other films, television shows, and commercials. Interestingly music older than 18 months makes up some 70% of listeners’ consumption on music streaming services, according to MRC Data, formerly Neilsen Music. A prolific performer, Sting is slated to resume his world tour next month, followed by a Las Vegas residency at Caesars Palace in June. And the beat goes on; who’s next?


Peter Anderson, founder of Massachusetts-based firm Anderson Capital Management, WSJ “The fact that everything is sold off wholesale is really, in my opinion , a buying opportunity,’ Mr. Anderson said. “Every investor is so spooked now, and nobody really has a compass to figure out where exactly we are in the cycle,” he said.

Aditya Bhave, a senior global economist at Bank of America, Barron’s “How much of the disruption to activity that we’re still seeing…is because of government restrictions, versus voluntary behavior?,” asks Ms. Bhave. “Ultimately, the biggest driver is the state of the pandemic,” she adds.

James Knightley, chief international economist at ING, WSJ “Inflation is at a new 40-year high and it isn’t just the rate we should be worrying the Federal Reserve, but also the breadth of corporate pricing power,” said Mr. Knightley. “With wages , commodity prices and supply-chain strains all contributing, the Fed will need to respond aggressively.”

James Bullard, St. Louis Federal Reserve President, calling for a 1% jump in rates to quell inflation, Barron’s “I’d like to see 100 basis points in the bag by July 1.”


6.6% – Performance of dividend-paying stocks in January over non-paying stocks, highest in 17 years.

411K – The rise in the number of homes that aren’t affordable on incomes between $75,000 and $100,000 at the end of 2021 from before the pandemic.

$1T – The amount of debt Americans took on last year, mostly for homes and cars, the highest since 2008-09.

$3,472 – Average Manhattan rent in January, up 23% from a year earlier.