With the Fed contemplating whether to hike again next month and start “normalizing ” its balance sheet before the end of 2017, the two other major central banks are facing far bigger problems.
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Two months after the BOJ quietly started tapering its QE program, when it also hinted it may purchase 18% less bonds than planned…
… Governor Haruhiko Kuroda admitted last week that the Bank of Japan’s bond holdings are currently growing at an annualized pace of only ¥60 trillion ($527 billion), 25% below the bottom-end of its policy range, and confirming that without making any formal announcement, the BOJ has quietly followed the ECB in aggressively tapering its bond buying program.
In previewing today’s newsflows, Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid this morning said that “perhaps the most interesting stat today will be the ECB CSPP number which will include 3 days worth (out of 5) of settled secondary purchases under the new tapering regime. A big debate has been as to whether they taper CSPP in line with the PSPP or leave it running at a similar pace. Obviously the latter would be very good for credit technicals.”
Reid said that “for choice I think they do taper CSPP” and added that “we won’t know for sure today but we’ll perhaps get some clues in the size of the purchases. The last two weeks have seen daily numbers of EU335m and 308m respectively down from the average of 365m since the program started so there’s a little clue here that they have been scaling back a touch. We also have to adjust for the slightly below 20% of primary in the number which due to longer settlement periods won’t be under the new regime in today’s number. So an interesting release to follow this afternoon.”
Moments ago the ECB disclosed its “anticipated” first stub week of bond purchases under the tapered regime, when it disclosed that it as of April 7 it held €77.87BN in corporate bonds.
As the US equity market embraces the suck of taper, the Chinese interest rate market seems a little upset. 1-Year rate swap just spiked their most in 5 months (16bps) to an all-time high 5.065% (above the June Taper Tantrum levels). Following its enforcement actions on Bitcoin last night (and coincident DDoS attack on its website), the PBOC has decided not to inject liquidity into Chinese banks today
Remember when minutes before the September FOMC announcement everyone was absolutely certain the Fed would announce tapering, only to leave a lot of very angry traders fuming? Fast forward one month when everyone is absolutely certain, again, that there is no way the Fed can announce anything even remotely suggesting a taper. One wonders though: since the Fed has by now burned all credibility bridges, and since the capital market bubble is now far greater than it was when both Stein and Bernanke, implicitly, warned about a building asset bubble (a chorus which has now been joined by JPM, Pimco and BlackRock) in early 2013, would today not be the best opportunity for the Fed to once again stun the market with a dramatic policy U-Turn, just to teach those momentum wave-riding vacuum tubes who is in charge? Probably not. However, as Lloyd Christamas noted, there is a chance. Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid explains why.
So will today’s FOMC be as surprising to the market as the September meeting? Almost certainly not but you can’t completely rule out a small taper for the following reasons: 1) In the September meeting a large majority of FOMC participants expected the taper to start before December; 2) the fiscal situation has been kicked down the road for a while; 3) financial conditions have arguably eased since the last meeting with rates lower and equities higher and 4) many of the members won’t be on the committee into next year and may want to make a statement before leaving; and 5) they may feel a little bruised by the market’s verbal reaction last time. Read More