Posts Tagged ‘Janet Yellen’

Notes From Underground: The ECB, FOMC Minutes and Dudley’s Speech

August 17, 2017

On Wednesday, I joined Rick Santelli for a chat, which was centered on the ECB and other central banks’ impact on global equity and debt markets. Just before the appearance, there appeared a Reuters story that said President Draghi would not speak about the ECB’s potential Quantitative Tightening, which my readers know supported what I have been steadfast in my conjecturing about possible ECB actions. IN A NOD TO A READER (hello, AGH), while it appears that all central banks pursue a common policy, THERE’S NO MONETARY EQUIVALENCE. Yes, they all purport to raise inflation the political variables each push for different outcomes.

(Click on the image to watch me and Rick discuss the central banks.)

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Notes From Underground: Shelter From the Storm

August 9, 2017

Not a word was spoke between us,there was little risk involved
Everything up to that point ,had been left unresolved
Try imagining a place where it’s always safe and warm
Come in, she said, I’ll give you shelter from the storm

When Bob Dylan released this song 42 years ago it was on the album Blood on the Tracks. When the FED embarked on its QE1, QE2 and QE3 it was to respond to the blood coursing through the streets of the U.S. financial system. The U.S. banking system was threatened with insolvency and the FED‘s monetary injections sheltered the banking system from a storm of forced systemic liquidation of assets. QE1 coupled with a questionable TARP program did prevent a systemic liquidation but QE2 and QE3 I always believed were superfluous but in the land of counterfactuals it is an impossible point to prove.

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Notes From Underground: Brainard’s Speech Was So Significant She Delivered It Again

July 13, 2017

Yes, Fed Governor Lael Brainard actually delivered Tuesday’s speech, “Cross-Border Spillovers of Balance Sheet Normalization,” AGAIN. This time it was to the National Bureau of Economic Research Summer Institute in New York City. Of course I jest as to why she redelivered it. Brainard was overshadowed by Chair Yellen’s testimony to the Senate Banking Committee, even though the Fed Chair deviated very little from Wednesday’s House testimony. The interesting thing was that Yellen backtracked on her hubristic statement she made last week about not experiencing another systemic financial crisis in her lifetime. A brazen statement like that is Greenspanish but certainly out of character for the demure Janet Yellen.

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Notes From Underground: Brainard Delivers a Very Significant Speech

July 11, 2017

Tuesday, FOMC Governor Lael Brainard delivered what I deem to be a very important speech, which spoke to the necessity starting to shrink the balance sheet while halting further interest rate increases. The speech, titled, “Cross-Border Spillovers of Balance Sheet Normalization,” is packed with insight into FOMC thinking reminiscent of the powerful speeches of former Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn. I have noted that Brainard is Yellen’s confidant (mere conjecture on my part) similar to how Kohn served as Greenspan’s consigliere, providing great insight into FED policy. Governor Brainard puts forth the reasons for HOLDING fed funds steady while beginning the task of balance sheet shrinkage. Important points to consider:

1. Raising policy rates and reducing central bank balance sheets–appear to affect domestic output and inflation in a qualitatively similar way. This means that central banks can substitute between raising the policy rate and shrinking the balance sheet to remove accommodation;

2. Is there a difference between conventional policy hikes or shrinking the balance sheet on cross-border spillover effects? “Most prominently, the exchange rate may be more sensitive to the path of short-term rates than to balance sheet adjustments, as some research suggests,” (Stavrakeva and Tang, 2016). This issue is what I have discussed for eight years in NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND. Foreign exchange rates are more sensitive to the short-end of the curve than the long-end. A flattening curve has historically been positive for a currency as the interest rate market is signalling that the central bank is too tight for economic conditions. (Brainard cites the example of the FED‘s Operation Twist in the early 1960s.)

If a similar amount of tightening is achieved through the balance sheet reduction “… while keeping the POLICY RATE unchanged, the exchange rate would appreciate to a SMALLER degree, reflecting the lower assumed sensitivity of the exchange rate to the term premium than to policy rates.” Governor Brainard further supports this view by noting that other countries would not have to act as swiftly to raise rates in response and therefore allow other nations to pick up the slack if the U.S. economy was to slow down. Also, in the case of a managed exchange rate, she cites China in 2015-16 as China responded to the incipient rise in U.S. fed funds rate by squeezing liquidity and depreciating the YUAN.

3. If different monetary regimes are pursuing different policies in trying to contain demand shocks, the cross-border impact on the nation using interest rate policy versus balance sheet shrinkage in the other will probably result in greater foreign exchange rate movements. Brainard notes that the “… downward pressure on term premiums around the globe, especially in those foreign economies whose bonds were perceived as close substitutes.” Certainly this speaks to the BUND/U.S. 10-YEAR NOTE correlation. In this regard the Brainard suggests that the BOJ and ECB present programs provides an opportunity for the FED to reduce the balance sheet without as much disruption as the fungibility of global markets will provide some support to U.S. term premiums.

4. Inflation for Brainard will remain very important. She said, “I will want to monitor inflation developments carefully, and to move cautiously on further increases in the FEDERAL FUNDS RATE, so as to help guide inflation back up around symmetric target.”

I fully expect Chair Yellen to speak to this in her testimony this week. If I am right, the yield curve OUGHT to steepen further. The 2/10 curve closed at 98 basis points Tuesday after holding support levels. The SPOOS and NASDAQ should fine near-term strength as markets believe that FED FUNDS INCREASES ARE ON HOLD. Commodities should return to supply/demand fundamentals and the precious metals OUGHT to repel fears of rising short-term rates. Also, emerging markets should breathe a sigh of relief.

There is much to contemplate in Brainard’s speech, but if she plays Jiminy Cricket to Janet Yellen expect the Fed chair to support this outlook. The FED seems to have been shaken by the recent severe flattening in the yield curves. Other political factors such as the White House tweets and buffoonery cannot be accounted for in an algo-driven world. But I believe that Brainard did more to impact markets than the e-mails of Donald Trump, Jr.

Notes From Underground: She Does It Backwards and In Heels

June 14, 2017

Commentators on dance technique always maintain the Ginger Rogers was a better dancer than Fred Astaire for she performed everything he did but “backwards and in heels.” At today’s press conference the financial markets were left with the sense that Chair Yellen wants to rollback the massive balance sheet promulgated by Ben Bernanke. The most “hawkish” piece from the day was when Yellen said it’s not unhealthy to have a gap between the FED and MARKET EXPECTATIONS.

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Notes From Underground: Some Perspective on Wednesday’s FOMC Meeting

June 13, 2017

The FED has painted itself into the proverbial corner by pre-announcing a rate hike. The market will be listening to Chair Janet Yellen’s press conference, which takes place at 1:30 CDT, a half hour after the Fed releases its statement and summary of economic projections. The market is expecting some discussion Fed’s balance sheet unwind, but Yellen will be cautious as she won’t want to cause a large selloff in the Treasuries led by the algo-driven headline readers. Tomorrow morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the CPI data, alongside the Census Bureau’s retail sales data. Market consensus is for tepid numbers on both releases.

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Notes From Underground: A Review of Nehru Versus Nairu

May 11, 2017

Yesterday, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren filled the airwaves with talk about the FED to be more aggressive in raising rates in order to prevent wage inflation from curtailing the current expansion. The continued concern from Wall Street about the POSSIBILITY of wage inflation because of FULL EMPLOYMENT reflects on the flaws in central bank’s models. Nairu (non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment) is so 1970s, when globalization was just beginning and private sector unions had genuine bargaining power. The end of the Cold War unleashed hundreds of millions of workers to compete with workers in the highly developed and advanced economies. The fall of the Berlin Wall pressured even the strong German unions as the fear of jobs moving to Eastern Europe resulted in Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder initiating the Hartz IV labor reforms which resulted in stagnant wages in return for some job security.

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Notes From Underground: What Was Learned From Draghi and Yellen

March 20, 2017

In reviewing the March 9 ECB and March 15 FOMC meetings, the press conferences emceed by President Mario Draghi and Chair Yellen revealed little but raised questions about serious issues confronting the world’s two key central banks. The ECB maintained its current policy and will scale pack monthly QE activity to 60 billion euros starting April 1 while keeping its deposit rate at NEGATIVE 40 basis points. Draghi bowed deep and heaped praise upon himself and his fellow board members by proclaiming that they saved the EU and the euro. Draghi said “without a single currency there could not be a single market.” It was Draghi’s July 2012 speech of “we will do whatever it takes” to preserve the euro, which saved the currency and logically means the ECB saved the EU.

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Notes From Underground: Just a Song Before I Go

February 14, 2017

We had to get back home

And when we opened up the door

 I had to be alone
Notes From Underground will be taking a short break. I will be relaxing unless something major breaks, in which I will chime in with commentary. I will also be reissuing previous blogs related to Greece and the IMF from these dates:
July 20, 2011
November 9, 2011
November 26, 2012
May 26, 2015
Every now and then I like to revisit the 1,200 or so blogs I have written since December 2009 and take a measure of their relevance in today’s world. WordPress has a high quality archive so my readers can scroll back and look to see where we have traveled since the inception of Notes From Underground.
Now, let’s look at Tuesday’s testimony from Fed Chair Janet Yellen before the Senate Banking Committee, as well as other news tidbits.

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Notes From Underground: A Financial Repression Authority (FRA) Podcast With Peter Boockvar

February 12, 2017

It is a great honor to feature another podcast with Peter Boockvar for The Financial Repression Authority. Peter is certainly one of the regular commentators that I watch with great interest whenever he is on Bloomberg, Fox Business or CNBC. I think we cover much of the global financial landscape. While it may run long, it is a lot easier than reading a 20,000-word blog post. Pour the scotch and give it a listen.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST EPISODE!

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