Today the Fed delivered as expected, leaving rates unchanged and the market conjecturing about the sincerity of the FED’s data dependency (again). Some analysts and algo readers initially thought the FOMC statement was “hawkish” because the FED removed most of the rhetoric about the headwinds of international global and financial developments. I say most because the Fed left in “net exports have been soft.” This is either a concern about the lack of global growth and/or an overly strong U.S. dollar. It is MY OPINION that the Fed removed the language about international financial risks as an offering to the HAWKS as a way to get consensus.
Posts Tagged ‘Kiwi’
Tonight is a brief set of bullet points as I have been sidelined with a sinus infection from the high pollen counts. But the world continues to spin (as does my pillow). The Greek situation continues on with the same cast of characters shouting at each other about prior promises made and the need to adhere to the previous economic and political efforts for Greek solvency. We are getting close to the end because Prime Minister Tsipras launched his final salvo with the Brussels Brigade. It is what NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND offered up as the third rail of European politics: SYRIZA WILL CALL A REFERENDUM ON ANY DEAL STRUCK WITH THE TROIKA.
Why do I say this? As expected, the FOMC ended QE3 and left in the forward guidance of “considerable time.” Some analysts believe that the balance of the statement was HAWKISH because the phrase of “significant underutilization of labor resources” to “underutilization of labor resources is gradually diminishing.” The problem is that Chair Yellen has adopted the Labor Market Conditions Index (LMCI) and its 19 variables so without a press conference or until we read the FOMC minutes we have no basis for the change in “significant underutilization” language. The lack of a press conference left investors dazed and confused because there was no explanation for the Fed’s decision. In September we heard about the headwinds of global slowdowns and a strong dollar, but there is no a word about GLOBAL HEADWINDS in the Fed’s statement.
The financial press is filled with articles about the recent EURO weakness. During the last week the EU currency has fallen about 1.5 percent. Many pundits have opined that it is the Ukraine situation and Gaza that have made investors uneasy, thus the move into U.S. dollars. In a July 22 Bloomberg article, “Draghi Cedes Euro Control to Yellen on Fed Bets,” it is suggested that the DOLLAR is rising in anticipation of moves by the FED, especially now that the ECB has gone to negative yields on reserves. The problem for the Fed argument is that yields in the U.S. have actually softened during the last week and Fed communication has been muddled over when interest rates might possibly rise. When the ECB announced a negative interest rate June 5 the EURO/DOLLAR made a low of 1.3503. Today we are trading at 1.3465, a little below the 1.35 low but well below that day’s close of 1.3650.
The tinder of the financial world has dried under the roaring blaze of asset appreciation. Global bond and equity prices reflect that all is well and the world’s major central banks have control of the world’s finances. But in the parlance of Mao, a single unexpected spark can initiate a huge fire. (Also, it is important to note that Mao never missed a PMI number either.) Financial history is replete with events of which investors and bankers were never aware of the depth. It was only in 2007 that Chairman Bernanke called the housing situation and its financial repercussions, “well contained.” Today, the news brought two events that can have far greater impacts than the markets’ calmness revealed.
The equity markets were gaga over the news from Apple and Facebook and trying to push through March’s highs when Twitter was busy raising the issue about a possible Russian incursion into Eastern Ukraine. The “breaking news” failed to gather strength and the markets were soon back into positive territory. Just as the equity markets were absorbing the Russian rumors, the precious metals were making recent lows on the back of stock market strength and better economic news from the U.S. For all you technical-oriented market watchers, the gold and silver both put in outside reversal higher days so we will watch to see if there is any follow through in the metals market tomorrow.
If my radar is right, the coming European Central Bank QE program will be a concoction of asset-backed securities in an effort to remove non-performing loans from bank balance sheets. There have been a multitude of “conjectures” about how the ECB is going to pump liquidity into a very low growth economy. Previously it seemed that some at the ECB wished to install negative yields on bank reserves. This would be an experiment fraught with danger as it could cause great problems for the money funds that have recently returned to Europe. The problem for money market funds was epitomized in a statement from Bank of New York Mellon’s CFO Todd Gibbons after today’s earnings release and reported in tomorrow’s Financial Times:”If the eurozone were to go to negative rates that would actually present the opportunity for us to charge for deposits and we are giving that very serious consideration.” The idea of “negative interest rates on reserves” has been bandied about as some members of the ECB board have tried to stem the euro currency’s recent strength. It has been surmised that charging banks for parking excess reserves at the ECB would force European banks to reverse course and put the funds out to lending rather than having to pay a fee for the safety of the ECB.
This afternoon the little bank from down under announced it was raising its overnight cash rate (OCR) by 25 basis points to 2.75%. There is no question that the New Zealand economy has been growing (as has private credit for housing) but the KIWI has been elevated by the strength of the economy and the huge global demand for New Zealand commodities–dairy and other agricultural products. Previously, the RBNZ has refrained from raising the OCR because of the strength of the KIWI versus the Aussie dollar and other commodity-based currencies. But the improvement in global financial conditions gave Governor Graeme Wheeler reassurance for increasing the interest rate. Wheeler noted that “the high exchange rate remains a headwind to the tradables sector. The bank doesn’t believe the current level of the exchange rate is unsustainable in the long run.” The market had been expecting the Bank to raise rates so the initial market reaction was a short selloff but within two minutes the KIWI was trading higher and actually closed on its high of the day in the spot market. If the RBNZ doesn’t intervene, which it shouldn’t, the NZ currency should hold up on the crosses, especially with the high yield on its 10-year note. Finally, one bank breaks out of the pack, even in the face of a potential slowdown in China.
ECB President Mario Draghi has been able to convince the world that the Euro’s problems have been contained and it is safe to re-enter the financial pool of credit assets throughout Europe. The July 2012 speech that proclaimed the ECB had no taboos and would “do whatever it takes” to preserve the euro has been a masterpiece of doing nothing while generating the desired outcome. The master plumber of all things credit (JA) alerted me to the ECB’s balance sheet (as seen on the Bloomberg terminal). After Mario Draghi pledged to offer the Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) to any European country that contracted with the ESM or EFSF for help, the sovereign debt markets in Europe have quieted and yield spreads returned to a sense of normalcy. Many people believed that the euro currency would suffer from Draghi’s promise of massive liquidity to meet funding needs. The EURO shorts were wrong and the proof lies in the three charts I am providing.
In the biggest news story of the day, Jon Hilsenrath reported that New Zealand bank Governor Wheeler led his board to hold the line on interest rates. (NOTE: Hilsenrath didn’t report the New Zealand news as he was too busy trying to impact U.S. markets with a tweet here and a tweet there.) The RBNZ did note that the global economic recovery remains “patchy.” The KIWI bank seems content to allow rates to remain on hold for two major reasons: 1. The macroprudential regulations instituted to slow house price inflation need more time to work–New Zealand instituted regulations on loan-to-value mortgages; and 2. “The exchange rate remains high and is a headwind to the traded goods sector. Sustained strength in the exchange rate that leads to lower inflationary pressure would provide the bank with greater flexibility as to the timing and magnitude of future increases in the OCR. Fiscal consolidation is also expected to continue weighing on demand over the next few years.”