COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | GEORGE CHAMBERLIN

George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

The markets continue their volatile, trendless march through 2015. After falling for six sessions in a row, the Dow industrials recently changed course and rallied for three consecutive sessions. Today the Dow has opened with a triple-digit loss for no apparent reason. Quite simply, August and September are tough times for investors as trading is thin and markets can change direction on a whim. Hang in there.

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The CPI report this morning certainly lacks any market-moving information. The report showed the cost of living rose just 0.1 percent in July and has been up just 0.2 percent in the past 12 months, thanks mostly to a sharp decline nationwide in energy costs. Also showing a complete lack of inflationary pressure were wages, up just 0.1 percent last month. The only reason the CPI was not a negative number is the steady march higher in housing costs, especially soaring rental rates.

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The CPI is the latest report showing a lack of upward price pressure. Logic would say the Fed should stay put with interest rates when they meet in a month. For sure, the Fed has often been criticized for either acting too fast or not fast enough when it comes with its mandated obligation of full employment and controlled inflation. True, the job side of the equation is showing strength but even the specter of inflation is very faint. Of course, the Fed does not use the same type of logic as we folks do.

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We will learn more about a possible Fed action later today when the minutes of the July meeting are released.

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Many are suggesting the consequences of the Great Recession have already been forgotten by most consumers. The truth, of course, is just the opposite. A couple of reports from Transunion show we collectively are doing a great job paying our bills on time. For instance, the mortgage delinquency rate (borrowers who are 60 days or more overdue on their payments) has dropped to 2.72 percent in Q2 2015, down from 5.39 percent in the same period three years ago. And here in California it is even better. Only 1.8 percent of mortgage loans here are delinquent compared with 4.54 percent in Florida. Another Transunion report shows the delinquency rate for people with auto loans is just 0.95 percent, the lowest level since Q2 2013. These numbers show households have, indeed, learned important lessons following the recession. Yet the media continues to say most families are still one paycheck away from bankruptcy and one mortgage payment short of foreclosure.

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Two of the best golfers in the world were out of their element yesterday but it was worth it. Jordan Spieth, the winner of the 2015 U.S. Open and Masters golf tournaments, took the mound yesterday in Arlington, Texas, before the game between the Rangers and Mariners to toss out the ceremonial first pitch. Spieth, throwing as a lefty, threw a pitch that broke from the left to the right and appeared to be a strike. However, Zach Johnson, winner of the Open Championship at St. Andrews, did the honors at Wrigley Field before the Cubs and Tigers game. However, the pitch never crossed the plate but at least he didn't bounce it. The two guys had a friendly bet on who would throw the best pitch and as a result, Johnson will donate $5,000 to Spieth's charitable foundation. Cool.

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