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Wed, 24th May 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “central banks” Tag

A Problem Emerges: Central Banks Injected A Record $1 Trillion In 2017… It’s Not Enough

Two weeks ago Bank of America caused a stir when it calculated that central banks (mostly the ECB & BoJ) have bought $1 trillion of financial assets just in the first four months of 2017, which amounts to $3.6 trillion annualized, “the largest CB buying on record.” 

 

WSJ on Yellen:”indicates era of extremely stimulative monetary policy is coming to an end”

The Wall Street Journal recap of Yellen’s speech and remarks earlier today

  • Ms. Yellen said the Fed was moving away from its efforts to revive a recession-scarred economy and focusing instead on maintaining the gains of the past few years
  • That will change the central bank’s policy-making stance, she said
  • Noting that Fed officials plan to continue gradually raising interest rates unless the economy begins to deteriorate
  • The Fed’s benchmark short-term interest rate will continue to move up to its long-term average, she said.
None of which comes a surprise, Fed communication efforts in past days have been on this message.

Confusion In Bond World, As Eurodollar Shorts Hit New Record High Over $3 Trillion

One week after we observed the biggest monthly short squeeze in 10Y TSYs in history, it was a relatively calm week in the longer-end of the Treasury curve.

According to the latest CFTC data, spec net shorts in aggregate Treasury futures was little changed from the previous week at 612K contracts in TY equivalents. While, they continued to pare net shorts in TU and TY by 18K and 14K contracts, respectively, they increased their  net shorts in FV and TN by 35K contracts and 6K contracts, respectively. Spec net shorts as share of open interest was unchanged at -5.8% over the week and was at about -2.0 standard deviations away from neutral.

While net Treasury futures shorts are now back to the lowest levels since early December 2016, traders continued to pile into the short-end betting massively on further rate hikes as Eurodollar shorts push on beyond $3 trillion: in the last week specs sold another 73K contracts in Eurodollar futures, taking their net shorts to the seventh successive week of record high of -3,129K contracts.

Citi: Central Banks “Took Over” Markets In 2009; In December The “Unwind” Begins

Citigroup’s crack trio of credit analysts, Matt King, Stephen Antczak, and Hans Lorenzen, best known for their relentless, Austrian, at times “Zero Hedge-esque” attacks on the Fed, and persistent accusations central banks distort markets, all summarized best in the following Citi chart…

… have come out of hibernation, to dicuss what comes next for various asset classes in the context of the upcoming paradigm shift in central bank posture.

In a note released by the group’s credit team on March 27, Lorenzen writes that credit’s “infatuation with equities is coming to an end.”

 What do credit traders look at when they mark their books? Well, these days it is fair to say that they have more than one eye on the equity market.

Understandable: after all, as the FOMC Minutes revealed last week, even the Fed now openly admits its policy is directly in response to stock prices.

As the credit economist points out, “statistically, over the last couple of years both markets have been influencing (“Granger causing”) each other. But considering the relative size, depth and liquidity of (not to mention the resources dedicated to) the equity market, we’d argue that more often than not, the asset class taking the passenger seat is credit. Yet the relationship was not always so cosy.  Over the long run, the correlation in recent years is actually unusual. In the two decades before the Great Financial Crisis, three-month correlations between US credit returns and the S&P 500 returns tended to oscillate sharply and only barely managed to stay positive over the long run (Figure 3).”

Japan achieves rare feat: Zero listed bankruptcies in 2016

The number of listed Japanese companies declaring bankruptcy in the 2016 financial year fell to zero for the first time since the collapse of the bubble. The zero-bankruptcy feat, which has been achieved just six times since 1964 was last achieved in 1990.

Bankruptcies among listed companies have been consistently low since the Abenomics economic revival campaign got going in 2013 – the year the Bank of Japan began its qualitative and quantitative easing programme. In February last year, the central bank introduced its negative interest rate policy, underscoring the historically low debt servicing burden on Japanese companies.

Just two bankruptcies of listed companies were logged in fiscal 2015, according to Teikoku Databank. The all-time peak of 45 was reached in 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis.

But analysts point out that those figures do not tell the full story as they track only companies that have undergone court-led liquidation.

Tokyo Shoko Research survey in August last year showed that in a year where around 8,500 companies went through court led bankruptcy, a total of about 27,000 either suspended or dissolved their businesses.

Emerging Market :An Update

EM FX was mixed last week.  The rebound in oil helped some, such as COP, RUB, and MXN.  On the other hand, idiosyncratic political risks weighed on South Africa.   This week could pose a challenge to EM, with lots of Fed speakers, FOMC minutes, and US jobs data.

Thailand reports March CPI Monday, which is expected to rise 1.30% y/y vs. 1.44% in February.  If so, this would be moving closer to the bottom of the 1-4% target range.  BOT just left rates steady at 1.5% last week.  We expect inflation to pick up again, and so BOT should tilt more hawkish as the year progresses.  Next policy meeting is May 24, and we expect steady rates again.  

Indonesia reports March CPI Monday, which is expected to rise 3.80% y/y vs. 3.83% in February.   The target range is 3-5%, but Bank Indonesia has signaled that the easing cycle is over, and should lean more hawkish this year if inflation continues to rise.  Next policy meeting is April 20, we expect rates to be kept steady at 4.75%.
Turkey reports March CPI Monday, which is expected to rise 10.70% y/y vs. 10.13% in February.  Inflation is moving further above the 3-7% target range, and the central bank hiked the Late Liquidity Window lending rate 75 bp to 11.75% at its last policy meeting.  If price pressures continue to rise, the central bank may have to tighten again at its next policy meeting April 26.
Korea reports March CPI Tuesday, which is expected to rise 2.1% y/y vs. 1.9% in February.  The inflation target is 2%, and so BOK should tilt more hawkish if inflation continues to rise.  Next BOK meeting is April 13, and we expect rates to be kept steady at 1.25%.  Korea reports February current account data Wednesday.
Hungary reports February retail sales Tuesday, which are expected to rise 3.5% y/y vs. 3.8% in January.  It reports February IP Wednesday, which is expected to rise 3.0% y/y vs. 1.6% in January.  February trade will be reported Friday.  The economy remains robust, and yet the central bank just eased policy more than expected last week.  The cap on 3-month deposits was cut to HUF500 bln for end-Q2 from HUF750 bln for end-Q1.  

Greenback Consolidates Losses as Yields Stabilize

The US dollar remained under pressure in Asia following the disappointment that the FOMC did not signal a more aggressive stance, even though its delivered the nearly universally expected 25 bp rate hike.  News that the populist-nationalist Freedom Party did worse than expected in the Dutch elections also helped underpin the euro, which rose to nearly $1.0750 from a low close to $1.06 yesterday.  European activity has seen the dollar recover a little, but the tone still seems fragile, even though US interest rates have stabilized and the 10-year Treasury yield is back above the 2.50% level. 
The US premium over Germany on two-year money peaked a week ago near 2.23.  After the US yield fell in response to the Fed’s move, the spread finished near 2.12%, from which it has not moved far.  Initial euro support has been found a little above $1.07.  The first retracement target of the run-up is a little below there at $1.0690.  The other retracement targets are seen near $1.0675 and $1.0655. 
Few expected the Wilders in the Netherlands to have a say in the next Dutch government.  He drew about 13% of the vote and will hold about 20 seats, which is five more than currently.  Prime Minister Rutte’s party appears to have received the most votes and 33 seats, down from 41.  The other coalition partners did worse.  In particular, the disastrous showing of Labor means that Dijsselbloem, the current finance minister and head of the Eurogroup of finance ministers is unlikely to hold his post.  Labor may have less than 10 seats in the new parliament, down from 38.  The other coalition partner, Liberals, lost eight seats.  

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.

Quick-take ECB previews from 6 banks

The European Central Bank meet Thursday, some really quick preview action from a few banks

Announcement due 1245GMT, along with President Draghi’s press conference
  • Main financing rate currently at 0%, expected to be left unchanged
  • Marginal lending facility rate currently at 0.25%, expected unchanged
  • Deposit facility rate currently at -0.4% and expected 9go on, have a guess) to be left unchanged
 
Bank of America / Merrill Lynch:
  • The truce between hawks & doves will be reflected in a dovish Draghi
  • Draghi will use extended QE as intended
Barclays
  • Expect that policy likely to be unchanged
  • Watching for any sign forward guidance on rates could be dampened
Citi
  • Despite likely much higher 2017 HICP they see no change to rates, nor to the size of QE, nor to forward guidance
  • Perhaps the balance of risks changes to neutral
Commerzbank
  • European Central Bank is in a holding mode, assessing incoming data
  • Will be no change to policy or statement
  • September will bring tapering announcement

Draghi’s inflationary headache: analysts react to eurozone’s 2% inflation

A novel dilemma for the European Central Bank to contend with: above target inflation.

Prices in the single currency area have climbed by 2 per cent on the year for the first time in over four years, posing a fresh headache for the ECB’s dovish policymakers who will mark their two-year quantitative easing anniversary next week.

At the ECB’s latest meeting next Thursday, president Mario Draghi will face the task of convincing his more hawkish colleagues that the current leap in annual prices – from 1.8 per cent in January – is unlikely to be sustained having been driven by volatile energy costs. The central bank, which has been battling with more than three years of low prices, targets inflation of just under 2 per cent.

Despite the recent upsurge in inflation driven by higher oil prices Pete Vanden Houte at ING thinks inflation will begin to stabilise over the coming months. If anything, he says the ECB will opt to let inflation run above target to compensate for years of weak prices:

There is little doubt that the ECB will continue to be criticized for its loose monetary policy, especially in the core countries. But the bank will no doubt recall that the inflation target has to be reached over the medium term and for the whole of the Eurozone. If anything the ECB is more likely to err on the side of inflation, to compensate for the fact that consumer price increases have significantly undershot the ECB’s target for now 4 years in a row.

We therefore don’t see any change in monetary policy this year. However, in the third quarter, the ECB might announce its exit strategy, which in our view will probably entail a new extension of the QE program until mid-2018, but with some tapering included.