First, bravo to the Bernanke Fed for staying the course and learning from its September mistake: Don’t mislead the markets with a sudden change of direction. It appears that the Fed will provide investors with enough “forward guidance” if they wish to alter the market’s perceptions. FOMC members had plenty of time to dissuade traders if the recent slew of tepid data was going to steer Bernanke and Company away from another cut in QE purchases. The FED erred on the side of consistency rather than swerving to avoid the skidding emerging markets. Again, a FED pause would have further roiled a very nervous global financial market.
Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’
Yes, the pendulum of market prices is a cruel mistress. Two years ago, Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega was voicing concerns about the developed economies declaring a currency war on the emerging markets through the use of its quantitative easing programs. The Brazilians reacted by imposing various forms of exchange controls to slow the inflow of “hot money,” as well as cutting Brazilian interest rates. Now that the Brazilian Real has depreciated by 50% since August 2011, the Brazilians believe that they have had enough and want to stem the depreciation because of the inflationary effects of a rapid depreciation. The Brazilian Central Bank (BCB) raised interest rates again last night by 0.5% to 9% in an act to help end the REAL‘s recent downward move. Last week, the BCB announced a large currency intervention package of $60 billion involving swaps and loans to the markets. This program ensures that the Brazilian financial markets will have a steady stream of dollars and will prevent a fear among investors that Brazil will not be able to meet investor demands for currency redemptions.
The new buzz word from the realm of the “talking heads” is BIG DATA. When we mention FACEBOOK and the other social media companies, the discussion leads to big data. The issue of Snowden and the NSA is the U.S. Government’s collection of vast amounts of personal data on U.S. citizens in the name of national security and preventing possible acts of terror. Ultimately, the discussion is about the ability of computers to search through ginormous amounts of data and find patterns that will reveal threatening behavior. In the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs, Kenneth Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger wrote an article, “The Rise of Big Data.” It is an essay adapted from a book they wrote. Three key points are outlined:
1.Collect a lot of data rather than rely on small samples;
2. Not be concerned about how pristine the data may be and through algorithms sort through vast amounts of data regardless how messy it may be because quantity is more important than quality;
3. (THIS IS KEY FOR THE REALM OF GLOBAL MACRO FINANCIAL WORLD) “IN MANY INSTANCES,WE WILL NEED TO GIVE UP OUR QUEST TO DISCOVER THE CAUSE OF THINGS,IN RETURN FOR ACCEPTING CORRELATIONS.”
Today was a very slow news day and thus little news to slow the steady rise of equities and the sell off in other asset classes. There was a story in the Financial Times about the Brazilian government cutting the tax on ethanol producers. The government is going to cut the tax on sugar-based ethanol producers by 80%–from 120 REALS per cubic meter to 25 REALS. It is an effort “… to support ethanol producers, many of whom are facing bankruptcy because of heavy debts and DIFFICULTIES COMPETING WITH SUBSIDISED PETROL PRICES IN BRAZIL.” There has been a global sugar surplus, which has kept pressure on sugar prices, but this move may help lift sugar prices and allow Brazilian growers to grab some of the agricultural profits that have supported the Brazilian economy. The U.S. economy is a corn-based ethanol producer and this has helped put upward pressure on global grain prices which has benefited Brazil’s farmers.
Thursday brings the announcements from two of the major rate setters in Europe: the Bank of England and the European Central Bank. First the BOE will announce at 6:00 a.m. CST and consensus says the bank will keep rates steady at 0.50% and the QE program at 375 billion pounds. Though the U.K. economy is soft, Governor Mervyn King will maintain a steady path so to keep his options available in case the global economy begins a new downturn. The present BOE head is retiring July 1 so it would be prudent to let his successor have as many tools to work with in a new regime.
Notes From Underground: Mario Draghi Reveals He’s A Fleetwood Mac Fan; Says GOLD IS A “Mystery to Me”November 8, 2012
As today was central bank day in Europe, both the ECB and the BOE had rate decision meetings and left their current policies in place. The BOE did announce that it was “halting” the expansion of the QE program at 375 billion pounds as it deems the recent increases in its bond buying program to be less effective. Recently, BOE Deputy Governors Paul Tucker and Charles Bean have stated that “asset purchases may no longer have the same impact on the economy as when first introduced.” (Bloomberg) The market had different interpretations as to the reason that why the BOE was curtailing the QE bond purchases. 1. The recent rise in inflation was causing the halt; or 2. the lessened impact of recent QE was going to mean that the bank was going to increase the funding for lending scheme in which the BOE provides incentives for commercial banks to lend more money to small and medium businesses. This is of interest for FED watchers because BOE Governor Mervyn King has been a trail blazer for creative central bank actions and the FOMC may mimic some of the BOE actions to get a boost to a low velocity of money situation.
Following up last night’s post, Arthur left a note on the blog linking an article from Bloomberg Businessweek, written by Brendan Greeley. The language of the article is crystal clear and provides another example of a Euro policy maker claiming far more insight than the collective wisdom of Mr. Market. “Investors ,he told the Bundestag, are ‘charging interest rates to countries they perceived to be the most vulnerable that [go] beyond levels warranted by economic fundamentals and justified risk premia. This fear is “unfounded. The market is wrong.'”
It seems that we have covered the major themes ad nauseam–European debt, U.S. fiscal cliff, Japanese lethargy in confronting an overvalued currency, Chinese slowdown–and the list goes on and on. Today, the IMF let loose a report that detailed the need for Europe to deleverage its banks to the tune of a possible 4.5 TRILLION EUROS. This is not the aid and comfort that a financially stressed European economy needed. The pains of austerity will be minimal compared to the massive selloff of what ever assets will be dumped on the market. Government retrenchment coupled with private sector rebalancing will undoubtedly lead to a new thrust downward in the adverse feedback loop. The significance of the yield curves will be a critical indicator as the quarter begins to reveal all of the potential hazards with which the global financial system has to contend.
The interest rate variable is alive, well and affecting global markets. Mario Draghi has played the “WIZARD OF FRANKFURT” as he has sought to forestall a financial implosion of Europe. Draghi’s comments in London on July 26, in that the ECB would stem the crisis at end with the tools at its disposal, markets had to believe that ECB policy would be “SUFFICIENT.” As we all know by now, President Draghi has been successful as the Spanish and Italian yield curves have steepened and the 2-YEAR NOTES have seen its yields dramatically drop–the Spanish went from 7% to 3.73%.
It is startling to think that the S&P downgrades could have any sort of effect on the markets. The sovereign debt markets have been telling those who are attentive that not all countries in the European Union are equal. Several of the GIIPS have had interest rate yields far above those of the German benchmark for almost two years. Even the French 10-year note has widened to 150 BASIS POINTS over the German 10-year BUND during the last six months. DO WE REALLY NEED S&P OR OTHER RATING AGENCIES TO CERTIFY WHAT THE MARKETS HAVE BEEN SAYING?