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Thu, 30th March 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “Central bank” Tag

Ghana central bank suprises with interest rate cut to 23.5%

Ghana’s central bank has cut its main policy rate by 200 basis points this month after the west African economy saw a drop in inflation at the start of the year.

The move to lower rates to 23.5 per cent marks only the second rate cut since 2011 after interest rates were trimmed back in November. Analysts polled by Bloomberg had forecast no change this month.

David Stockman Offers “More Proof Of Janet Yellen’s Idiocy”

During the last 129 months, the Fed has held 86 meetings. On 83 of those occasions it either cut rates or left them unchanged.

So you can perhaps understand why Wednesday’s completely expected (for the last three weeks!) 25 bips left the day traders nonplussed. The Dow rallied over 100 points that day.

Traders understandably believe that this monetary farce can continue indefinitely, and that our Keynesian school marm’s post-meeting presser was evidence that the Fed is still their friend.

No it isn’t!

Our monetary politburo has expanded its balance sheet by a lunatic 22X during the last three decades and in the process has systematically falsified financial asset prices and birthed a mutant debt-fueled of simulacrum of prosperity.

But once it begins to withdraw substantial amounts of cash from the canyons of Wall Street as per its newly reaffirmed “normalization” policy, the whole house of cards is destined to collapse.

There will be a stock market implosion soon, and that will in turn generate panic in the C-suites as the value of stock options vanish. Like in the fall of 2008 — except on an even more sweeping and long-lasting scale — corporate America will desperately unload inventories, workers and assets to appease the robo-machines of Wall Street.

But there is nothing left to brake the casino’s fall.

Upcoming Week :Fed speakers, Russia probe, Isis fight

With a rate rise in the books investors get to hear from a handful of Federal Reserve speakers next week. On the geo-political front a hearing on Russia’s interference in the US presidential election and a meeting on combatting Isis take the spotlight.

Here’s what to watch in the coming days.

Fed speakers

“Moreover, we’d also look for clarification on the addition of ‘symmetric’ in the press statement when it came to defining the inflation reaction function,” strategists at RBC Capital Markets said. “Our sense is that this was in an effort to put an end to inflation level targeting—also not a dovish development.”

Ms Yellen will deliver the opening keynote at the Federal Reserve System Community Development Research Conference in Washington on Thursday. Through the week, investors also get to hear from voting members of the monetary policy setting Federal Open Market Committee, including Chicago Fed president Charles Evans, Dallas Fed president Robert Kaplan and Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari — the only voting FOMC member to dissent at the March meeting and who has explained his rationale for the move on Friday.

On the economic data front, the calendar is fairly light but investors will keep an eye on fourth quarter current account deficit figures due Tuesday and durable goods orders slated for Friday.

Russia probe

Why China Unexpectedly Hiked Rates 10 Hours After The Fed

As we reported on Wednesday evening, something interesting took place on Thursday morning in Beijing: in a case of eerie coordination, China tightened monetary conditions across many of the PBOC’s liquidity-providing conduits just 10 hours after the Fed raised its own interest rate by 0.25% for only the third time in a decade.

The oddly matched rate hikes, prompted Bloomberg to think back to the mysterious “Shanghai Accord” of February 2016, which took place during the peak days of last year’s global capital markets crisis, and whose closed-door decisions – to this day kept away from the public – prompted the market rally that continues to this day. As Bloomberg wrote, the coordinated “response suggests that pledges by the Group of 20 economies a little over a year ago in Shanghai to “carefully calibrate and clearly communicate” policies may not have been hollow after all.”

That said, it was not the first time the People’s Bank of China has acted on the heels of a Fed move. At the peak of the financial crisis, the PBOC cut lending rates after six of its counterparts, including the Fed, had announced a simultaneous rate cut. That October 2008 move enhanced China’s emerging reputation as a global player on the international economic-policy circuit. “Growth divergence is morphing into growth synchronization,” said Chua Hak Bin, a Singapore-based senior economist with Maybank. “Policy divergence was also a narrative for those expecting a strong dollar, but that is moving now to policy synchronization.”

Coordinated or not, as of last night financial conditions in China, like in the US, have become incrementally tighter even if both the Chinese and US stock markets failed to respond accordingly.

SNB leaves rates unchanged at March 2017 meeting

Swiss National Bank leaves rates unchanged at March 2017 monetary policy meeting

  • 3 month LIBOR lower target range -1.25%
  • 3 month LIBOR upper target range -0.25%
  • Sight deposit rate -0.75%

All as expected.

  • Will remain active in FX market as necessary
  • Swiss Franc significantly overvalued
  • Swiss forecasts is marked by considerable uncertainty from international risks
  • Raises 2017 CPI forecast to 0.3% vs 0.1% in Dec
  • 2018 CPI 0.4% vs 0.5% prior
  • 2019 CPI 1.1%
  • Maintains 2017 GDP at “roughly” 1.5%

The US Is About To Hit $20 Trillion In Debt

As the vulture pundits in the mainstream media pick apart hollow political scandals, the essential bankruptcy of the federal government looms just ahead. The national debt is creeping toward 20 trillion dollars, and the United State’s largest problem is once again staring the world in the face.

Just before the government was slated to shut down in 2015 (as it did in 2013), Congress was able to pass a delay on the debt ceiling decision until March 15th of this year — Wednesday of this week. Recurring uncertainty caused by events like this has implications that extend far beyond our own borders. The amount of leverage in the current system has already forced foreign holders of U.S. debt to question the real value of America’s full faith and credit.

2016 was a record-setting year for the liquidation of foreign-held U.S. bonds, topping out at nearly $405 billion. The selling was led by China, America’s second-biggest creditor, which currently holds over $1 trillion of U.S. debt, almost 28% of the total held by foreign central banks. They weren’t alone, though, and even the U.S.’ number one lender, Japan, has rolled back their positions to protect themselves as the reality of U.S. insolvency comes into focus. A gradual change has been set in motion, and the global superpower status of the United States may be systematically eroded — not militarily, but economically.

If the government does shut down again, the Treasury Department reportedly has as little as $66 billion in reserves and just enough income from taxes to meet its essential obligations.

Post-FOMC Reuters poll of primary dealers: Most see 2 more hikes this year

Reuters poll of banks that do business directly with the Federal Reserve, these are the US ‘Primary Dealers” banks:

  • Most US primary dealers see 2 more Fed rate hikes in 2017 and at least 3 in 2018
  • 16 of 17 primary dealers expect federal funds target rate to rise to 1.25-1.50% by year end (vs. 0.75-1.00% now)
  • 11 of 17 dealers see next Fed rate hike by end of Q2; 6 see next move by end of Q3
  • 12 of 15 dealers see at least 3 hikes in 2018; 7 see 3 increases while 5 forecast 4 hikes
  • -8 of 15 dealers see the Fed announcing its balance sheet reduction plan later this year; 7 see it happening in 2018 or later
  • On near-term risks to the economy, 6 cite trade policy as greatest threat, 5 cite fiscal policy, 2 cite us dollar strength

Here’s one chart that could see the Fed pause on a hike today

It’s all about the wages

The fed hike case is built on a strong consumer led recovery. That’s good when people have money to spend, and when wages give them that money to spend. The wages (average hourly earnings) in the jobs reports report showed pay running at a decent 2.8% y/y. Today we get the inflation adjusted wage numbers in the CPI report and they don’t look as hot.

Last month, year on year real average weekly wages dropped for the first time since the start of 2014.

US real average weekly wages y/y

That’s not good news for the supposedly strong consumer and rate hikes won’t make the situation any better.

I’m quite surprised that the Fed will be raising so quickly after the Dec hike instead of letting that hike filter through, and monitoring the effects. To me that suggests that behind the scenes there’s something they are worried about. If they’re willing to hike in a moment when their whole basis for hikes (the consumer) might start finding things tougher, there’s something amiss.

It’s a straw clutch to try and find anything that could derail the hike tonight but there’s plenty of evidence in why they might throw in some additional caution about future hikes, and the wages numbers today may aid that sentiment.

Japan Begins QE Tapering: BOJ Hints It May Purchase 18% Less Bonds Than Planned

With the Fed expected to further tighten financial conditions following its now guaranteed March 15 rate hike, and the ECB recently announcing the tapering of its QE program from €80 to €60 billion monthly having run into a substantial scarcity of eligible collateral, the third big central bank – the BOJ – appears to have also quietly commenced its own monteary tightening because, as Bloomberg calculates looking at the BOJ’s latest bond-purchase plan, the central bank is on track to miss an annual target, by a substantial margin, prompting investor concerns that the BOJ has commenced its own “stealth tapering.”

While in recent weeks cross-asset traders had been focusing on the details and breakdown of the BOJ’s “rinban” operation, or outright buying of Japan’s debt equivalent to the NY Fed’s POMO, for hints about tighter monetary conditions and how the BOJ plans to maintain “yield curve control”, a far less subtle tightening hint from the BOJ emerged in the central bank’s plan released Feb. 28, which suggests a net 66 trillion yen ($572 billion) of purchases if the March pace were to be sustained over the following 11 months. As Bloomberg notes, that’s 18 percent less than the official target of expanding holdings by 80 trillion yen a year.

Some more details: the central bank forecast purchases of 8.9 trillion yen in bonds in March, based on the midpoint of ranges supplied in the operation plan. Maintaining that pace for 12 months will see it accumulate about 107 trillion yen of debt. At the same time, 41 trillion yen of existing holdings will mature, leaving it with a net increase of 66 trillion yen, well below the stated goal of 80 trillion yen.

Upcoming Events for this week

The European Central Bank was just a teaser! Plenty more central banker action this week, amongst other things:

TUESDAY 14 March 2017:
China 
  • February industrial production, fixed-asset investment growth & retail sales
WEDNESDAY 15 March:
U.S.:
  • Inflation and retail sales data for February
  • Oh yeah … and its Federal Reserve FOMC decision day! :-D. A hike is very widely expected. And don’t miss the statement & press conference
THURSDAY 16 March:
Japan:
  • BOJ announcement, likely no change (Kuroda presser to follow later)