Category Archive: Global Macro

Central Bank Transparency, Or Doing Deliberate Dollar Deals With The Devil

The advent of open and transparent central banks is a relatively new one. For most of their history, these quasi-government institutions operated in secret and they liked it that way. As late as October 1993, for example, Alan Greenspan was testifying before Congress intentionally trying to cloud the issue as to whether verbatim transcripts of FOMC meetings actually existed.

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Central Banks: From Coordination to Competition

This is one reason why I anticipate "unexpected" disruptions in the global economy in 2018. The mere mention of "central banks" will likely turn off many readers who understandably have little interest in convoluted policies and arcane mumbo-jumbo, but bear with me for a few paragraphs while I make the case for something to happen in 2018 that will impact us all to some degree.

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Emerging Markets: Week Ahead Preview

EM FX ended last week on a soft note, but still enjoyed a relatively positive tone for the week as a whole. Best performers last week were MXN, ZAR, and CNY while the worst were ARS, TRY, and CLP. With little on the horizon to give the dollar some traction, we think EM FX will likely continue to firm this week. However, we again urge caution and look for divergences within EM.

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What About 2.62 percent?

There’s nothing especially special about 2.62%. It’s a level pretty much like any other, given significance by only one phrase: the highest since 2014. It sounds impressive, which is the point. But that only lasts until you remember the same thing was said not all that long ago.

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It’s Time to Retire “Capitalism”

Our current socio-economic system is nothing but the application of force on the many to enforce the skims, scams and privileges of the self-serving few. I've placed the word capitalism in quotation marks to reflect the reality that this word now covers a wide spectrum of economic activities, very little of which is actually capitalism as classically defined.

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The Blatant Dishonesty of the ‘Boom’

Why do humans tend to behave in herds? It’s a fundamental question that only recently have researchers been able to better understand. On the one hand, it doesn’t take an advanced degree in some neurological science to see the basis behind it; survival for our ancestors often meant getting along with the crowd. There are times when that very trait applies still.

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U.S. Unemployment: The Dissonance Book

I’ve found the word “dissonance” has become more common in regular usage beyond just my own. Whether that’s a function of my limited observational capacities or something more meaningful than personal bias isn’t at all clear. Still, the word does seem to fit in economic terms more and more as we carry on uncorrected by meaningful context.

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Good or Bad, But Surely Not Transitory

When Federal Reserve officials first started last year to mention wireless network data plans as a possible explanation for a fifth year of “transitory” factors holding back consumer price inflation, it seemed a bit transparent. One of the reasons for immediately doubting their sincerity was the history of that particular piece of the CPI (or PCE Deflator).

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Is Un-Humming A Word? It Might Need To Become One

Industrial Production in the US was up 3.6% year-over-year in December 2017. That’s the best for American industry since November 2014 when annual IP growth was 3.7%. That’s ultimately the problem, though, given all that has happened this year. In other words, despite a clear boost the past few months from storm effects, as well as huge contributions from the mining (crude oil) sector, American production at its best can only manage to reflect...

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China: FX reserves rise again

According to the Chinese State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), China’s FX reserves amounted to USD3.14 trillion at end - December 2017, up USD20.7 billion from the previous month. This marks the 11th consecutive monthly increase in Chinese FX reserves since February 2017.

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Nous sommes colonisés par le numérique des multinationales américaines

La révolution numérique est une réalité qui envahit tous les jours plus les sphères publiques et privées…. Qu’en est-il du commerce de détails? Les visuels ci-dessous nous montrent d’abord que certaines habitudes d’achats dans les commerces traditionnels sont maintenues.

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Retail Sales, Consumer Sentiment, And The Aftermath Of Hurricanes

Consumer confidence has been sky-high for some time now, with the major indices tracking various definitions of it at or just near highs not seen since the dot-com era. Economists place a lot of emphasis on confidence in all its forms, including that of consumers, and there is good reason for them to do so; or there was in the past.

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The Dea(r)th of Economic Momentum

For the fourth quarter as a whole, Chinese exports rose by just less than 10% year-over-year. That’s the highest quarterly rate in more than three years, up from 6.3% and 6.0% in Q2 2017 and Q3, respectively. That acceleration is, predictably, being celebrated as a meaningful leap in global economic fortunes. Instead, it highlights China’s grand predicament, one that country just cannot seem to escape.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: A Weak Dollar Stirs A Toxic Stew

We received several employment related reports in the first two weeks of the year. The rate of growth in employment has been slowing for some time – slowly – and these reports continue that trend. The JOLTS report showed a drop in job openings, hires and quits.

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Emerging Markets: Preview of the Week Ahead

EM FX continues to rally as the dollar remains on its back foot. With no obvious drivers this week that might help the dollar, we believe EM FX can extend the recent gains. Still, we continue to advise caution when investing in EM, as differentiation should again become evident as idiosyncratic risks remain in play.

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The Fascinating Psychology of Blowoff Tops

The psychology of blowoff tops in asset bubbles is fascinating: let's start with the first requirement of a move qualifying as a blowoff top, which is the vast majority of participants deny the move is a blowoff top.

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Inflation Correlations and China’s Brief, Disappointing Porcine Nightmare

Two years ago, China was gripped by what was described as an epic pig problem. For most Chinese people, pork is a main staple so rapidly rising pig prices could have presented a serious challenge to an economy already at that time besieged by massive negative forces. It was another headache officials in that country really didn’t need.

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Emerging Markets: What Changed

China State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) disputed press reports that it was slowing or halting purchases of US Treasury bonds. Korean officials warned that it will take stern steps to prevent one-sided currency moves. Bulgaria is talking “intensively” with the ECB and other EU representatives about entering the Exchange Rate Mechanism by mid-year.

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The Conspicuous Rush To Import

According to the Census Bureau, US companies have been importing foreign goods at a relentless pace. In estimates released last week, seasonally-adjusted US imports jumped to $204 billion in November 2017. That’s a record high finally surpassing the $200 billion mark for the first time, as well as the peaks for both 2014 and 2007.

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Yes, But at What Cost?

This is how our entire status quo maintains the illusion of normalcy: by avoiding a full accounting of the costs. The economy's going great--but at what cost? "Normalcy" has been restored, but at what cost? Profits are soaring, but at what cost? Our pain is being reduced--but at what cost? The status quo delights in celebrating gains, but the costs required to generate those gains are ignored for one simple reason: the costs exceed the gains by a...

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