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 ‘Troika’
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)
As Notes From Underground has been publishing for five-and-a-half years, a recurring theme has been the ineptness of the IMF. While there are many fine economists and researchers working for the IMF, its history is laden with policies that were devastating for the nations that used its facilities as an act of financial desperation. As the global lender of last resort, the FUND demanded onerous policies of raising interest rates, devaluing currency and undergoing fiscal austerity as a prerequisite for an IMF bail out. The recipients of most IMF loans were “third world” nations that had run out of alternative creditors. The IMF was the “only game in town.” During the height of the Asian crisis of 1997-1998, many of the Asian Tigers shunned IMF advice and money and operated outside the bounds of the Bretton Woods-IMF system.
The newswires over the weekend were quiet except for the continued mounting tensions in Egypt. At this juncture It is too difficult to measure the impact of the political crisis on global financial markets as the situation is “fluid” and rumors run rampant. There is talk that the U.S. is cancelling scheduled military manuevers with the Egyptian army over displeasure with the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Soon after that rumor, news from Russia was that President Putin was putting the Russian military resources to the backing of the Egyptian army, reflecting the “fluidity” of the situation and Russia again reminding the world that the U.S. is not the only game in town. Even the Saudi foreign ministry has come out in its support of the Egyptian military in its efforts to combat the “forces of global terrorism.” I return to Yra’s first rule of global finance: “Money is FASCIST and craves stability.” While all this uncertainty clouds the political scene in the Middle East, the only constant is that the Europeans are meeting to decide what actions to take against the Egyptian military, so any sense of certainty about Egypt is probably a false algo-driven headline or TWEET.
For the last three years, this blog has made the point that a moral drama playing out on the global financial stage. The U.S. Tea Party was based on a concept of liquidating the assets of large debtors and letting the pain be absorbed by the financial system and those who have saved and played by the rules of capitalism will be rewarded. The moral precepts of the “original” Tea Party supporters may have been correct but the timing of favoring system-wide asset liquidation had long passed and the fallout would have led to economic collapse and possible political upheaval. The U.S. could not handle the massive unemployment from a forced deleveraging. While I am opposed to moral hazard in principle, the enforcement of punishing debtors at the expense of the entire system is absurd.
Yes, another day and the markets had to try to understand the significance of Cyprus. The newswires were filled with analysts claiming this was a “tempest in a teapot” and that the doomsayers were blowing the Cypriot problem into a pseudo crisis. Again, a world that is highly leveraged is subject to a “single spark starting a prairie fire” and the fear of contagion and an electronic bank run are very real if the major policy makers don’t invoke the trust of the electorate and investors. The perceived actions by IMF Director Lagarde (the joker) and the liquidationist mentality being thrust from Berlin and Chancellor Merkel (the thief) have created a situation where European bank depositors are nervous, especially so in the peripheral banks. THE MAIN COMPONENT OF THIS UNCERTAINTY WAS THE MOVE IN THE FRONT MONTH EURIBOR CONTRACTS,AS THE JUNE 2013 FELL 10 TICKS ON A DAY WHEN OTHER INTEREST RATES WERE LOWER. NOTHING SAYS BANK FEARS THEN A COUNTER MOVE IN THE EURIBOR AND LIBOR MARKETS. An increase in bank yields with equity markets falling is a sign about the fear in the bank deposits market. It seems that the policy makers that are leading the previously “revered” TROIKA (IMF,European Commission and ECB) have initiated fear for a mere pittance.
As the sun sets on the Greek drama, the most predicted outcome has indeed taken place as the IMF/EU and ECB/EFSF/ESM have come to an agreement about bringing the Greek debt load to a robust level of 124% debt-to-GDP ratio by 2020. There was no way the TROIKA was going to risk the entire EURO project on a mere 44 BILLION EURO payout to the Greek government. The game was played out to the 11th hour–oh those drama queens in Brussels–and although the OFFICIAL SECTOR did not take an official haircut, the core nations of the European financial system do stand to take a bath. IMF Director Lagarde was able to save face as the Greek debt levels will reach the previously promised levels of 120%. Madame Lagarde can now go to the IMF Board and report that all previously agreed to conditions have been ratified by the EU and await the signing of the memorandum of understanding with the Greek leadership. The IMF needed to get Greece out of the way so it can figure out the role it will play in the Spanish bailout and/or Italy.
First and foremost, a happy Thanksgiving to all the readers of NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND. The growth in readership and the high level of discourse is something I am very grateful and certainly thankful for in full measure. As much energy as I expend in formulating the blog, it is worth the effort because it helps anchor my thoughts about the impact of the global political economy. It is certainly the definition of a give-get. So again, thanks to all my readers.
First and foremost: To all of my readers, friends and their families in the path of the hurricane that has wreaked havoc on so many lives, my thoughts and prayers are with you as you strive to put your lives back together. For you I am “Waitin’ On A Sunny Day.” The markets will do their job of assessing the damage to property and the economic impact that follows such devastation. Hopefully lost lives were kept to a minimum. For those trying to measure the economic impact I warn to be careful with all the flotsam and jetsam that will be filling the airwaves about how the repairs of the storm battered region is certain to be a form of economic stimulus.
The IMF took center stage during the last four days as its meeting in Tokyo became the central focus of the global macro world. As usual, the IMF communique promised much via the usual platitudes but as investors and traders we are left in the lurch as much is promised but no real substance is revealed. Probably the most important element in the communique is the line, “WE NEED TO ACT DECISIVELY TO BREAK NEGATIVE FEEDBACK LOOPS AND RESTORE THE GLOBAL ECONOMY TO A PATH OF STRONG,SUSTAINABLE AND BALANCED GROWTH.” Why is this simple statement so critical? In last week’s IMF-produced “World Economic Outlook,” it revealed that the IMF‘s model is probably flawed when measuring the impact of fiscal policy on economic growth.