If you listen to some market observers, the record low yields in the Treasury bond market are warning us that the American economy is on the verge of falling into the same deflationary abyss of the euro zone and Japan. Like the Chicken Little story, if bond yields are falling, the sky must be falling, too.
With the yield on the 30-year T-bond hitting its lowest level ever last week, even lower than during the global financial crisis, they’re worried that if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates soon, we’ll shortly be back to the bad old days of 2008 and, even worse, 1929.
No less a figure than Paul Krugman, the New York Times’ economics commentator, wrote that the Swiss Central Bank’s move last week to decouple the franc from the free-falling euro is a portent of what could happen to us if we let our deflationary guard down. Continue reading "Chicken Little and the Bond Market"→
This week, investors believe that they may have finally gotten the green light for ECB easing. With Eurozone inflation officially turning to deflation, investors believe that Mario Draghi and the ECB have been backed up into a corner with no escape, thus they will be forced to initiate a Quantitative Easing program that will balloon its balance sheet. In fact, the buildup towards this move started a few months back with Mario Draghi sending ever clearer signals of the ECB’s intent toward a full blown QE that will probably involve purchases of government bonds in a Federal Reserve-like manner.
If you will recall, Mario Draghi had also outlined the ECB’s intent to balloon its balance sheet back to its 2012 record of roughly €3.1 trillion. With the ECB’s current balance sheet at €2.216 trillion that means an estimated €884 billion in additional liquidity coming to the markets. As would be expected, the Euro has been in utter meltdown over the past few months, sliding to a low not seen in more than 9 years; of course, all this comes on the back of the impending liquidity injection and especially now as deflationary fears were confirmed with the Eurozone’s CPI at -0.2%. So far, this is par for the course, yet for me, this dredges up old memories of 2012.
The Big Mistake
Just by stating the obvious, that the ECB has to increase its balance sheet by a jaw-dropping €884 billion in order to increase its balance to the size it was a little more than two years ago, shows just how big a mistake the ECB has made in its policy since then. Across the “pond,” the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has been growing since 2012 and its size has only now stabilized, as the US enjoys above-trend growth, a hair’s breadth of full employment and core inflation at a decent 1.7%. In the meanwhile, as the ECB was aggressively shrinking its own balance sheet, Eurozone growth came to a virtual standstill, unemployment remained stubbornly high, exports slowed, manufacturing weakened and, of course, the Eurozone moved into deflation. Continue reading "Can The ECB Learn From Its Own Mistakes?"→
Monetary policy, which is also known as interest rate policy, describes the actions or in-actions of a country’s central banks. Interest rate policy generally focuses on maximizing price stability and growth. The central bank of a country is considered the institution that controls a countries currency, money supply, and interest rates. Central banks also usually oversee the commercial banking system of their respective countries.
Each central bank has guidelines that are mandated by their legislature. For example, in the US, the central bank has a dual mandate which is to maximize price stability and employment. Other central banks, such as the European Central bank, have only one mandate which is price stability.
Central banks often spur growth and employment by reducing interest rates, making it easing for banks to lend money at reduced rates. Lower interest rates also increase liquidity, and make purchasing riskier assets a more attractive alternative than holding low interest baring government notes. Continue reading "Trading Using Monetary Policy Analysis"→