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Gauging the financial crisis end game

Gauging the financial crisis end game

It is quite possible that more than one end game will unfold in the months and years to come. For example, we could see a Greek Eurozone exit. Simultaneously, we could have a crisis unfolding across emerging markets, as the strong U.S. dollar begins to do damage to borrowers in those countries, of which there are many. Quite how it will all pan out is very difficult to predict. If I were a betting man, my money would be on the ‘permanent condition’ becoming the generally accepted view of the future economic environment.

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Why quantitative easing and negative interest rates will fail

Why quantitative easing and negative interest rates will fail

This is going to be a short thought piece. But the takeaway should be that the convergence to zero will continue unabated as the threat of inflation is muted given the combination of excess capacity, high private debt and unfavourable demographics. The subject is monetary policy.

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Pie in the Sky

Pie in the Sky

We are still in a post-crisis environment, and enough people are still negative on equities, and interest rates are low enough, to provide plenty of purchasing power. We therefore expect it to be an ok period for equities over the next year or two – not outstanding given our modest growth expectations but ok. The trick is to be careful on emerging markets. If the U.S. dollar continues to be strong, it is an accident waiting to happen.

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Yanis Varoufakis on fiscal waterboarding and Ponzi austerity

Yanis Varoufakis had a long interview on RT’s Boom Bust yesterday going into detail behind his political candidacy and what he expects SYRIZA to do regarding the unsustainable debt burden that the Greek government now has. Overall, despite his problems with the eurozone’s institutional structure, Yanis believes Greece leaving the eurozone would be a catastrophe for the simple fact that it does not have a currency and any attempt to leave would be seen as a prelude to a massive devaluation, inviting capital flight on a grand scale. This would be a catastrophe for the Greek banking system and wider economy.

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The convergence of safe asset yields toward zero

The convergence of safe asset yields toward zero

As low nominal GDP growth takes hold, we should expect short-term interest rates to remain low and for the yield curve to flatten. There are three main reasons this is so. First, low nominal growth rates imply low inflation. Second, to the degree market volatility produces risk-off sentiment, the bid for safe assets will further suppress yields. And third and most importantly, the natural rate of interest on a zero-day fiat currency liability is zero. I expect that the safe asset class in lowflation currency areas will be dominated by these trends, causing yields to stay low or even shrink. This convergence to zero makes the highest yielding safe assets attractive and thus favours New Zealand and Australia, as well as the the US, UK and Canada to some degree. Comments below

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Interview on Chinese CPI and PPI data for December

Interview on Chinese CPI and PPI data for December

Deflationary pressures in China indicates that we probably need monetary tightening, not loosening. I know this sounds extremely counterintuitive, and so violates what we have learned about the world by assuming that the world looks a lot like the US, but there is both a logical argument behind it and what I think is overwhelming historical evidence. The convention that any economic variable that works one way in the US must work the same way in China is one of those assumptions that is implicit in so much that is written about the Chinese economy, and yet is made by foreign and Chinese economists who would indignantly reject the assumption were it ever made explicitly.

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Russia, Oil, China and the Dollar

Russia, Oil, China and the Dollar

By Marc Chandler As the year winds down, a Gordian knot tying Russia, oil prices and China together is receiving a great deal of attention.  Let’s see if we can unravel some of the confusing twists and turns. We turn first to China’s offer of assistance to Russia.  The idea that Russia could activate its CNY150 bln (~$24 bln) currency […]

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A Brave New World

A Brave New World

By Niels Jensen The Absolute Return Letter, December 2014 “The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence.” Aldous HuxleyIn the the last two Absolute Return Letters I have argued why one should expect global GDP growth to be below average over the next decade or so, why interest rates should, as a consequence, remain low […]

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My reading of the FT on China’s “turning away from the dollar”

My reading of the FT on China’s “turning away from the dollar”

By Michael Pettis The Financial Times ran a very interesting article last week called “China: Turning away from the dollar”. It got a lot of attention, at least among China analysts, and I was asked several times by friends and clients for my response. The authors, James Kynge and Josh Noble, begin their article by noting that we are going […]

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How might a China slowdown affect the world?

How might a China slowdown affect the world?

By Michael Pettis Two years ago it was hard to find analysts who expected average GDP growth over the rest of this decade to be less than 8%. The current consensus seems to have dropped to between 6% and 7% on average. I don’t think Beijing disagrees. After assuring us Tuesday that China’s economy – which is growing a little […]

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Consumption taxes, inflation and low wage growth in Japan lead to recession

Consumption taxes, inflation and low wage growth in Japan lead to recession

If wages in Japan are stagnant, how is increasing inflation going to help wage earners afford a better stream of good and services? It won’t. Ultimately, what we need to see are policies which maintain wages for median and lower-income wage earners with the greatest marginal propensity to spend. Without this, in a demographically challenged and indebted private sector, so-called secular stagnation is almost a certainty.

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Central banks, inflation, currency wars and the Japanese experiment

Central banks, inflation, currency wars and the Japanese experiment

This is going to be a relatively short note focused on what is going on in Japan because of the news that Japan has ramped up its program of quantitative easing to new heights. Coming on the heels of the US Federal Reserve’s announcement that it would stop expanding its balance sheet with large scale asset purchases, the Bank of Japan’s announcement was music to the ears of Japanese equities investors. And shares in Japan promptly rose 4.8% on the news. The larger question, however, is whether QE is effective either at shaping future inflation or inflation expectations or at increasing nominal and real GDP. The evidence is equivocal. And so Japan presents a unique opportunity to see the limits of monetary policy tested.

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