One of the most important indicators for financial markets is yield curves. They are predictive as they have historically shown coming economic turmoil, or, more importantly, the end of a business cycle. The severity of any recession depends on the amount of debt that has preceded the onset of an economic slowdown. I will remind readers that before the 2007-08 financial crisis, the U.S. 2/10 curve actually INVERTED to NEGATIVE SIX BASIS POINTS. Some financial pundits like to cynically advise consumers that the STOCK markets have predicted 10 of the last 5 recessions, but that is not so with yield curves. The difficulty with the signalling mechanism of yield curves is predicting the time for even during the GREAT RECESSION equity markets continued to rally even as the curve flattened.
Posts Tagged ‘IMF’
It’s tough to enjoy the final days of summer when the FED can’t just relax their wind pipes. The continued contradictions emanating from those who sit in the same meetings is jeopardizing the Fed’s credibility … AGAIN. Last Monday, San Francisco Fed President John Williams published an economic letter in which he posed the concept of either raising the inflation targets, or the Fed ought to target a NOMINAL GDP level. This was perceived to be an extremely DOVISH view as it would keep the FED on HOLD far longer than the market currently predicts. The problem was that Williams had voiced a HAWKISH view just two weeks earlier. The quick about-face makes me wonder if the Fed’s logo should be the Roman god Janus.
There were two articles today that exist in direct contradiction to each other in substance, but when taken together reveal how ECB President Draghi and IMF Director Lagarde HOPE to punish and repress the German saving class in an effort to salvage the EU via the alleviation of debt owed by the so-called peripheral nations. The first article of significance is an op-ed piece by the FT’s Wolfgang Munchau titled, “Draghi, Schauble and the high cost of Germany’s savings culture.” The article lays it on the line that the Germans bear a great deal of responsibility for the ECB’s negative interest rate policy because of Chancellor Merkel’s push for austerity budgets to correct the massive deficits of the heavily indebted “peripheral” nations of the EU. The Germans were pushing themselves into AUSTERITY simultaneously by pushing forward a law on its own BALANCED BUDGET RULE. The battle cry from Germany was growth through austerity. In July 2012, when the debt plagued EU was on the verge of financial collapse, the profligate peripherals were willing to accept any demands put forward by the Germans in an effort to gain access to the Berlin credit card. As Munchau notes: “If German fiscal policy had been neutral during that period, the ECB’s job would have been easier. It would have been able to achieve its inflation target and would not have had to cut rates by as much.”
The Japanese leave Washington with no support for alleviating one-sided currency moves. For China it is all about respect for growth, wherever it may be. The Chinese GDP was released on Thursday and it came out exactly as forecast at 6.7% (shocking, I know). There was virtually no criticism of the Chinese as the nations are watching closely while China commences its transition from an export-dominated economy to a more balanced growth model, where domestic consumption takes on increased importance. In contrast to the G-20 view on Japanese currency intervention, SNB President Thomas Jordan announced that the Swiss would increase its balance sheet through currency intervention “… to prevent an already ‘significantly overvalued’ franc from strengthening.”
First, why was Janet Yellen summoned to the White House to meet with President Obama and Vice President Biden? The most ostensible reason is PROBABLY to get the Fed’s view on the economic impact of Trump and Bernie Sanders. Is the anger in the land a result of stagnant wages and is there any policy impact the White House could pursue without distorting the economy? Is fiscal stimulus a possible positive response and would the Fed be receptive without immediately raising rates? There are no certain answers to why Yellen went only conjecture. But one thing that caught my attention was the headline in today’s Financial Times: “Lew Urges IMF to Get Tough on Exchange Rate Manipulators.”
It was a very big weekend for information leaks that many in the world of policy making did not wish to have spread across the globe. The noted economist Arthur Okun posited that there was a trade-off between equality and inefficiency when it came to providing a social safety net for those suffering from the capriciousness of a capitalist system. In an effort to minimize the economic dislocations of a market economy, the redistribution of wealth through transfers was compared to a leaky bucket in which not all the money would make it to the intended recipients. Okun also posited that in an effort for some amelioration of the pain of economic dislocation taxes on the most successful actors would result in an effort to avoid any wealth confiscation through progressive taxation: “High tax rates are followed by attempts of ingenious men to beat them as surely as snow is followed by little boys on sleds.” (Library of Economics and Liberty)
(Larry Summers had to run to his medicine cabinet to take Prozac (not Diazepam as in the Rolling Stones song) after he read the G-20 communique. The finance ministers and central bank heads meeting in Shanghai failed to come to terms with any of the issues concerning the global economy. There was no PLAZA ACCORD and no deep discussions about the need for massive fiscal stimulus. The tone of the Communique was TEPID at best and views the present state of the global economy as slow but steady. There was certainly NO URGENCY about a rise in the prospects of a global recession. The finance ministers downplayed the recent volatility and slide in global equity markets, suggesting by those domiciled in ivory towers and model-based rat holes that the MARKETS ARE MISTAKEN AND THE MODELS ARE CORRECT. The arguments among the participants was such that there were some issues that seem in direct contradiction of any policy response.
(Will the Collapse In Energy Prices Grease a Cut In Rates Or the Introduction of QE?)
Just some tidying up and refocus on things besides China, Iran and the debt of ingratitude to the fracking revolution. Tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. CST the Bank of Canada announces its overnight interest rate. The bank rate in Canada is currently 0.5% and consensus is calling for a rate cut of 25 basis points to 0.25%. Other market participants are suggesting that BOC Governor Poloz will announce a large-scale asset purchase program (better known as QE). I doubt the BOC will change policy at this time even as the Canadian economy suffers from the severe drop in fossil fuel prices and other commodities.
As Poloz articulated in a speech in Ottawa at a BIS BREAKFAST SERIES January 7 (regarding monetary policy divergence): “It is very important that we understand the reasons for these policy divergences. On one level, they simply reflect actions taken by central banks tailored to their own economies. But the underlying forces acting on the global economy are powerful, slow-moving and affect various economies differently. This means that the theme of divergence – both financial and economic – is likely to remain with us for some time to come.”
The Canadian real-estate market has run hot for too long and even though Canadian banks are not of the sub-prime model lenders, Mr. Poloz will not wish to just continue to inflate property values. It would behoove the BOC Governor to wait to see what the newly elected Prime Minister Trudeau puts on offer from a fiscal stimulus perspective before racing down the monetary stimulus track that many other central banks have followed with no proven success (except for counter-factual arguments).
As the markets are settling into the holiday mood of eggnog and the decorating of Tannenbaums, Germany’s EU partners were castigating Berlin for its continued emphasis on fiscal austerity. The ECB’s chief-economist and executive board member Peter Praet was maintaining that ECB policy would be accommodative for a very long time. This was a shot fired at Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann. Make no mistake about it, Mr. Praet was speaking on behalf of President Draghi who didn’t enjoy being “bested” by Weidmann at the December 3 meeting. The German “block” had raised its concern about more QE and prevented Draghi from delivering what he had previously promised.