The much-awaited piece from Jon Hilsenrath about FED “tapering” appeared in the weekend WSJ, and, as promised by the abundant tweets, it delivered very little in providing any new insights into Fed halting of security purchases. The headline, “Fed Maps Exit From Stimulus,” wasn’t a map of any kind and merely seemed to provide the philosopher’s answer to question of what to do when confronted with the fork in the road … TAKE IT. The FED is caught on the horns of a dilemma for it wants to provide some clarity as to how it will end the large-scale asset purchases (LSAP) without sending the market into a downside tailspin. The massive increase in the FED‘s balance sheet has provided the rocket fuel to boost the demand for all types of risky assets but how do they know the economy has enough strength to sustain the rally on its own. It seems that the most important voice now will be Fed Governor Jeremy Stein–more important than Jon Hilsenrath–for he seemed to unnerve Chairman Bernanke with his April 19 speech in which he warned about the distorting impact the Fed was having on risk assets. It seems the Chairman has awoken to the idea that the FED has blown an asset bubble, especially now that the Japanese have added to global liquidity.
Posts Tagged ‘G-7’
There was a Reuters story yesterday by William Schomberg, “G7 Finance Chiefs to Discuss Bank Reform Push.” Very few people picked up on this but it seems strange that all the sudden a meeting is called to discuss what elements of bank reform. Are they going to try to persuade Germany to get behind the EU push for a banking union and if so why the hurry before the September German elections? The idea of a banking union with resolution authority is sure to be a lightening rod for all the German angst about the bailouts of the peripheral nations. The Reuters piece notes that some G-7 officials are upset that the U.K. called the meeting so soon after the recent IMF talks in Washington. One official said, “I am really annoyed I’ve got to give up my weekend for this.”
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.
As expected, the G-20 communique was more insipid blathering about global growth, BIS capital regulation and the enactment of some new macroprudential regulations to ensure global financial tranquility. To reflect on the lack of consistency in this communique, let me quote from point 20: “We welcome the OECD report on addressing base erosion and profit shifting and acknowledge that an important part of fiscal sustainability is securing our revenue bases.” This is pure nonsense for it reflects the great divide that exists between the old line powers of the G-7 and the more broad-based and emerging economies found within the structure of the G-20.The old line (developed) economies want to preserve their tax bases so as to have enough revenue to maintain previous promises of retirement and pension programs for their aging populations.
This week brings the Moscow circus to the world stage. The world’s major economies meet in Moscow as the Russians are presently in the leadership position of the G-20′s rotating presidency. It used to be the G-7 nations that crafted an economic blueprint for the World Bank and IMF to somewhat adhere, but as much of the global economic growth is now in the BRICS and the other emerging economies, the world’s former colonial powers have had to make room for the rising economic nations. Most of the time the G-7 and G-20 meetings have been photo-ops for world leaders, but every once in a great while something constructive actually makes its way into global policy. The immediate global consensus after the Lehman debacle helped stem the global credit markets from total collapse. This G-20 meeting will not be one of the constructive outcomes as the G-20 members are nowhere near any type of consensus.
Tonight will be all quick hitters as the big news is sparse, to say the least. The Fed released the minutes of the September FOMC meeting. Besides discussing the idea of QE3, the most interesting read was that Fisher was not as hawkish as his NO VOTE seemed. This makes sense as his speeches this week have been pretty DOVISH and I had thought that he was contradicting himself.
Many times NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND warned that Chancellor Merkel had made a grave error by failing to push for Axel Weber to assume the Presidency of the ECB after Jean-Claude Trichet. I argued that the German populace would be a more willing participant in an enhanced bailout facility if a strong anti-inflationist from Germany was at the helm of the mechanism of financial bailouts for the PIIGS. It seemed that President Sarkozy had “bested” Merkel and the German Chancellor was forced to abandon Weber and agree to a compromise, ECB President Mario Draghi. Friday’s announcement by Juergen Stark that he was resigning his position on the ECB Executive Board and Governing Council gave the markets a scare and led to a large selloff in the EURO and global equity markets.
… AS USUAL, YOU ARE 3 STANDARD DEVIATIONS OF TIME LATE
Readers of Notes From Underground are aware of my total disdain for the three major rating agencies as they have sold their souls to the Wall Street money machine years ago. In an effort to regain some lost innocence, they are attempting to downgrade the nation-states of the world prior to economic calamity. The people at S&P were determined to downgrade the U.S. even when the U.S. Treasury pointed out that their math was flawed and the deficit going forward was off by a mere $2 trillion. Why should I put any value in a rating group that cannot even do the maths correctly and admit they were off by $2 trillion. Do we rally need the whores at S&P to tell us that the U.S. is a problem? Hey, GOLD is trading $1665. Don’t you think the market has already done its ratings?
This weekend brought mixed news about the lessening of RISK in Japan, and possibly Bahrain, while increasing the sense of risk in Libya and other parts of the Middle East. It appears that the threat of nuclear catastrophe has been diminished as some power has been restored to the nuclear plants under stress and the needed cooling is proceeding. The Japanese equity market will be a good source to monitor investor sentiment as weekend news publications were filled with articles about the values abound in the Nikkei and other Japan-based indexes. The YEN will be a much more difficult barometer because of the impact of YEAR END and its ability to cause disruptive volatility in currency markets.
All eyes have been focused on the MIDDLE EAST for its huge impact on OIL prices. There is a debate between those who believe that the OIL supply disruption is inflationary as energy prices create a rising price environment and those who believe that high energy prices are a tremendous drag on economic growth. NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND is in the camp that OIL supply disruptions are a drag on growth, especially in an environment of high unemployment and a severely stretched consumer. It is this fear that has roiled the stock market in the U.S. and put stress upon the global financial system. Emerging markets that are already feeling the impact of higher food costs will now have to deal with higher energy prices, which many governments already subsidize for its citizens. Will the situation in Bahrain be as economic disastrous as some analysts and pundits are claiming?