The last two days has seen two of the world’s key central banks deliver fresh interest rate decisions and there was very little in way of surprises. In a salute to the philosopher Isiah Berlin, I have noted that Chairman Bernanke is a HEDGEHOG and President Draghi a FOX. A hedgehog is one who “views the world through a single defining idea.” The economy is slowing, unemployment is high, inflation is low, so it is appropriate for the FED to buy and continue buying Treasury debt. You say it is not having the desired effect? Buy more. In yesterday’s FOMC statement, the FED noted that ”… FISCAL POLICY IS RESTRAINING ECONOMIC GROWTH.” The meaning of this is that Washington is acting irresponsibly, thus the FED needs to possibly INCREASE its bond and mortgage-backed securities purchases. Whatever it is, QE IS THE ANSWER.
Posts Tagged ‘ECB’
The international distress call is going out from Europe as the overall eurozone unemployment rate reached 12.1%. Germany had a low rate of 5.4% while Spain was more than 27%. So how is the ECB to do deal with the huge discrepancy between the economic performance of its 17 members? If the austerians are being relegated to economic purgatory then the pressure on the ECB to act will be diminished. Cutting rates for the sake of a show of action will be a detraction from the bigger political issue. Why irritate the Bundesbank and Chancellor Merkel by moving the ECB lending rate by a measly 25 basis points?
It seems that the European debt markets are rallying in response to the end of ADVERSE FEEDBACK LOOPS. In a mind-numbing thought, it appears that the implementation of austerity budgets actually had the effect of increasing deficits as economies slowed as austerity began to bite. (The outcome of the adverse feedback.) The more austerity, the larger the deficit, which is compounding the debt problems of peripheral nations. Greece is the poster child of austerity gone awry. So as the threat of AUSTERITY diminishes, the more a nation’s bonds rally. The ITALIAN BTPs (10 years) saw its yields drop precipitously as a new government was formed over the weekend. But the rally in the BTP futures had begun well before the new government was actually crafted, as I noted last week. The BTP FUTURES had closed over the February 25 high–that was made before the failed election was a reality.
Click on image to watch CNBC’s Rick Santelli and Yra discuss the BOJ (and if you’d like Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” stuck in your head.
Yes, the U.S. and Canadian unemployment data were well below market expectations. Nonfarm payrolls in the U.S. were half of the consensus number and under the 110,000 NFP that we wanted to see so as to test the resolve of the recent equity market rally. Not only were the jobs created numbers weak–manufacturing actually lost jobs–but the important average hourly earnings were flat (0.2% increase expected) so there is no growth in consumer spending potential. As poor as the data release was, by day’s end the SPOO and DOW rallied well off the lows made early in the day. The impact from poor economic fundamentals was not strong enough to overcome the continued release of central bank liquidity into the global economy.
The central banks were in play today and while the Bank of England held to its present course, the Bank of Japan declared that they were now in full battle gear and announced a very aggressive monetary policy agenda. I was surprised by the tenacity of the announced program and certainly by its timing. The recent movements in the YEN, and,especially the EUR/YEN crossrate meant that the BOJ and the Japanese Finance Ministry had some breathing space to allow some of the ill effects of the Cypriot crisis to calm. No such by the BOJ as they “damned the torpedoes and announced full speed ahead.” If other central banks wish to muddle about that is their business but the Japanese are determined to end the deflation that has plagued their economy. The steps that the BOJ announced, which had the greatest impact on the YEN and the Nikkei were:
The initial check with no move on interest rates was offered by the Reserve Bank of Australia as it held its overnight lending rate steady at Tuesday’s meeting. The Aussie 2/10 curve flattened a bit after the meeting and the Aussie two-year note continues to trade at a lower interest rate than the official overnight rate of 3%, yielding just 2.88%. Many readers have asked about the impact of yield curves on equity prices and I will deal with this on an ongoing basis. For an immediate example, if the Aussie curve continues to stay flat I will venture to say that over the course of the year the Australian stock market will underperform. That doesn’t mean that it won’t have synchronized rallies with other developed markets, just by year’s end it will underperform other equity markets. If the RBA acts to cut rates and reset the curve on a more positive slope, the outcome, of course, should be of a better equity performance. To paraphrase Max Planck: Good trading and analysis advances one funeral at a time.
I make a distinct reference to the CASH HIGH S&Ps versus the S&P FUTURES has made an all-time high. According to the CQG charts, the all-time high in the S&P futures front month is 1586.75 and the high daily close is 1576.25. The CASH high is 1576.09 and the previous high CASH daily close was 1565.15, which was surpassed on Friday’s close. Here is a significant chart that shows the important difference between Friday’s close and the last record high close of October 9, 2007.
For the last three years, this blog has made the point that a moral drama playing out on the global financial stage. The U.S. Tea Party was based on a concept of liquidating the assets of large debtors and letting the pain be absorbed by the financial system and those who have saved and played by the rules of capitalism will be rewarded. The moral precepts of the “original” Tea Party supporters may have been correct but the timing of favoring system-wide asset liquidation had long passed and the fallout would have led to economic collapse and possible political upheaval. The U.S. could not handle the massive unemployment from a forced deleveraging. While I am opposed to moral hazard in principle, the enforcement of punishing debtors at the expense of the entire system is absurd.