Tag Archive: Monetary Policy

What Causes Loss of Purchasing Power, Report 7 Apr

We have written much about the notion of inflation. We don’t want to rehash our many previous points, but to look at the idea of purchasing power from a new angle. Purchasing power is assumed to be intrinsic to the currency. We have said that the problem with the word inflation is that it treats two different phenomena as if they are the same.

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Living In The Present

It’s that time of year again, time to cast the runes, consult the iChing, shake the Magic Eight Ball and read the tea leaves. What will happen in 2019? Will it be as bad as 2018 when positive returns were hard to come by, as rare as affordable health care or Miami Dolphin playoff games? Will China’s economy succumb to the pressure of US tariffs and make a deal?

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Sometimes Bad News Is Just Right

There is some hope among those viewing bad news as good news. In China, where alarms are currently sounding the loudest, next week begins the plenary session for the State Council and its working groups. For several days, Communist authorities will weigh all the relevant factors, as they see them, and will then come up with the broad strokes for economic policy in the coming year (2019).

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Monetary Policy Assessment of 13 December 2018

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) is maintaining its expansio nary mo netary policy, thereby stabilising price developments and supporting economic activity. Interest on sight deposits at the SNB remains at –0.75% and the target range for the three-month Libor is unchanged at between –1.25% and –0.25%.

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Economics Is Easy When You Don’t Have To Try

The real question is why no one says anything. They can continue to make these grossly untrue, often contradictory statements without fear of having to explain themselves. Don’t even think about repercussions. Even in front of politicians ostensibly being there on behalf of the public, pedigree still matters more than results.

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Monthly Macro Monitor – November 2018

Is the Fed’s monetary tightening about over? Maybe, maybe not but there does seem to be some disagreement between Jerome Powell and his Vice Chair, Richard Clarida. Powell said just a little over a month ago that the Fed Funds rate was still “a long way from neutral” and that the Fed may ultimately need to go past neutral.

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Eurodollar Futures: Powell May Figure It Out Sooner, He Won’t Have Any Other Choice

For Janet Yellen, during her somewhat brief single term she never made the same kind of effort as Ben Bernanke had. Her immediate predecessor, Bernanke, wanted to make the Federal Reserve into what he saw as the 21st century central bank icon. Monetary policy wouldn’t operate on the basis of secrecy and ambiguity. Transparency became far more than a buzzword.

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The Toxic Stew, Report 7 Oct 2018

Last week, we shined a spotlight on a crack in the monetary system that few people outside of Switzerland (and not many inside either) were aware of. There is permanent gold backwardation measured in Swiss francs. Everyone knows that the Swiss franc has a negative interest rate, but so far as we know, Keith is the only one who predicted this would lead to its collapse (and he was quite early, having written that in January 2015).

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Why Are Wages So Low, Report 23 Sep 2018

Last week, we talked about the capital consumed by Netflix—$8 billion to produce 700 shows. They’re spending more than two thirds of their gross revenue generating content. And this content has so little value, that a quarter of their audience would stop watching if Netflix adds ads (sorry, we couldn’t resist a little fun with the English language).

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‘Mispriced’ Bonds Are Everywhere

The US yield curve isn’t the only one on the precipice. There are any number of them that are getting attention for all the wrong reasons. At least those rationalizations provided by mainstream Economists and the central bankers they parrot. As noted yesterday, the UST 2s10s is now the most requested data out of FRED. It’s not just that the UST curve is askew, it’s more important given how many of them are.

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Global Asset Allocation Update

The risk budget is unchanged this month. For the moderate risk investor the allocation to bonds and risk assets is evenly split. There are changes this month within the asset classes. How far are we from the end of this cycle? When will the next recession arrive and more importantly when will stocks and other markets start to anticipate a slowdown?

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And Now For Something Completely Different

Back in February, Japan’s Cabinet Office reported that Real GDP in Japan had grown in Q4 2017 for the eighth consecutive quarter. It was the longest streak of non-negative GDP since the 1980’s. Predictably, this was hailed as some significant achievement, a true masterstroke of courage and perseverance. It was taken as a sign that Abenomics and QQE was finally working (never mind the four years).

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Transitory’s Japanese Cousin

Thomas Hoenig was President of the Federal Reserve’s Kansas City branch for two decades. He left that post in 2011 to become Vice Chairman of the FDIC. Before that, Mr. Hoenig as a voting member of the FOMC in 2010 cast the lone dissenting vote in each of the eight policy meetings that year (meaning he was against QE2, too). This makes him, apparently, the hawk of all hawks.

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China Going Boom

For a very long time, they tried it “our” way. It isn’t working out so well for them any longer, so in one sense you can’t blame them for seeking answers elsewhere. It was a good run while it lasted. The big problem is that what “it” was wasn’t ever our way. Not really. The Chinese for decades followed not a free market paradigm but an orthodox Economics one. This is no trivial difference, as the latter is far more easily accomplished in a place...

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Global Asset Allocation Update:

There is no change to the risk budget this month. For the moderate risk investor the allocation to bonds is 50%, risk assets 45% and cash 5%. Despite the selloff of the last week I don’t believe any portfolio action is warranted. While the overbought condition has largely been corrected now, the S&P 500 is far from the opposite condition, oversold. At the lows this morning, the S&P 500 was officially in correction territory, down 10% from the...

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Globally Synchronized What?

In one of those rare turns, the term “globally synchronized growth” actually means what the words do. It is economic growth that for the first time in ten years has all the major economies of the world participating in it. It’s the kind of big idea that seems like a big thing we all should pay attention to. In The New York Times this weekend, we learn.

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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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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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If Bitcoin Is A Bubble…

Our earlier articles on bitcoin discuss the crypto asset as a currency and a commodity. Both papers focused on the consequences of bitcoin’s defining feature: the asymptotic supply limit of 21 million coins. This gives it an unusual juxtaposition of demand uncertainty and supply certainty (as well as inelasticity). As a currency, it gives rise to a tension between its use as a store of value and as medium of exchange.

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The Great Risk of So Many Dinosaurs

The Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee (TBAC) was established a long time ago in the maelstrom of World War II budgetary as well as wartime conflagration. That made sense. To fight all over the world, the government required creative help in figuring out how to sell an amount of bonds it hadn’t needed (in proportional terms) since the Civil War. A twenty-person committee made up of money dealer bank professionals and leaders was one of the few...

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