Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 10th May 2013
Data point- with a couple of trillion under management your tweet moves bonds 10 basis points:
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 10th May 2013
Data point- with a couple of trillion under management your tweet moves bonds 10 basis points:
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 3rd May 2013
Yes, the Treasury is in fact selling notes that float off of its own bills.
The Treasury provided a preliminary term sheet for the floating rate note program that will launch sometime in Q4 or Q1. In addition, they said the first auction would have a 2yr maturity, and that the expected pace of issuance would be $10bn to $15bn per month.
- A 2yr maturity would be eligible to be purchases by money market funds, but the maturity is a bit long for them from a weighted average life (WALA) perspective. Fortunately, we think another investor base will pick up any slack left from the 2a-7 funds.
- Bills: Watch the seasonality. As expected, the initial FRNs will be linked to the results of 3m T-bill auctions. But in a modest surprise, the rate will only reset quarterly.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 2nd May 2013
Good to see Ken, who I’ve never met, and Carmen who I do know, no doubt assisted by her husband Vince, beginning to come clean with this response. While not complete, it’s the beginning of an encouraging, epic reversal and a first step in the right direction!
My comments added below:
By Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart
May 1 (FT) — The recent debate about the global economy has taken a distressingly simplistic turn. Some now argue that just because one cannot definitely prove very high debt is bad for growth (though the weight of the results still say it is),
They could add here ‘though likely via the reaction functions of govts and not the high debt per se.’
then high debt is not a problem. Looking beyond the recent public debate about the literature on debt we have already discussed our results on debt and growth in that context the debate needs to be reconnected to the facts.
Let us start with one: the ratios of debt to gross domestic product are at historically high levels in many countries, many rising above previous wartime peaks. This is before adding in concerns over contingent liabilities on private sector balance sheets and underfunded old-age security and pension programmes. In the case of Germany, there is also the likely need to further cushion the debt loads of eurozone partners.
Adding here ‘as they are ‘users’ of the euro the way US states are ‘users’ of the dollar, and not the actual issuer of the currency like the ECB, the Fed, the BOE, the BOJ, and the rest of the world’s central banks.’
Some say not to worry, pointing to bursts of growth after the world wars. But todays debts,
Add ‘while they pose no solvency risk for the issuer of the currency.’
will not be dealt with by boosts to supply from postwar demobilisation and to demand from the lifting of wartime controls.
To be clear, no one should be arguing to stabilise debt, much less bring it down, until growth is more solidly entrenched if there remains a choice, that is.
BRAVO!!!! And add ‘as is always the case for the issuer of the currency.’
Faced with, at best, haphazard access to international capital markets and high borrowing costs, periphery countries in Europe face more limited alternatives.
Add ‘as is the case for ‘users’ of a currency in general, including the US states, for example’.
Nevertheless, given current debt levels, enhanced stimulus should only be taken selectively and with due caution. A higher borrowing trajectory is warranted, given weak demand
and low interest rates,
Add ‘which are confirmation by the CB policy makers who set the rates low that they too believe demand is weak’.
where governments can identify high-return infrastructure projects. Borrowing to finance productive infrastructure raises long-run potential growth, ultimately pulling debt ratios lower. We have argued this consistently since the outset of the crisis.
BRAVO! And add ‘additionally, weak demand can be addressed by tax reductions, recognizing that counter cyclical fiscal policy of currency users, like the euro zone members, requires funding support from the issuer of the currency, which in this case is the ECB.’
Ultra-Keynesians would go further and abandon any pretense of concern about longer-term debt reduction.
Add ‘without a credible long term inflation concern, as for the issuer of the currency inflation is the only risk from excess demand.’
This position has been in the rhetorical ascendancy in recent months, with new signs of weaker growth. It throws caution to the wind on debt
Add ‘with regards to solvency, as is necessarily the case for the issuer of the currency.’
and, to quote Star Trek, pushes governments to go where no man has gone before
Add ‘apart from war time, when the importance of maximum output and employment takes center stage.’
The basic rationale
Add ‘of the mainstream deficit doves (not the ultra Keynesian MMT school of thought)’
is that low interest rates make borrowing a free lunch.
Add ‘the mainstream believes’
ultra-Keynesians are too dismissive of the risk of a rise in real interest rates. No one fully understands why rates have fallen so far so fast,
Add ‘apart from the Central Bankers who voted to lower them this far and this fast, and in some cases provide guarantees to other borrowers.’
and therefore no one can be sure for how long their current low level will be sustained.
Add ‘as it’s a matter of second guessing those central bankers.’
John Maynard Keynes himself wrote How to Pay for the War in 1940 precisely because he was not blas about large deficits even in support of a cause as noble as a war of survival. Debt is a slow-moving variable that cannot and in general should not be brought down too quickly. But interest rates can change rapidly.
Add ‘all it takes is a vote by central bankers.’
True, research has identified factors that might combine to explain the sharp decline in rates.
Add ‘in fact, all you have to do is research the votes at the central bank meetings.’
Add ‘by central bankers’
over potentially devastating future events such as fresh financial meltdowns may be depressing rates. Similarly, the negative correlation between returns on stocks and long-term bonds, while admittedly quite unstable, also makes bonds a better hedge. Emerging Asias central banks have been great customers for advanced economy debt, and now perhaps the Japanese will be once more. But can these same factors be relied on to keep yields low indefinitely?
Add ‘In the end, it’s all a matter of the central bank’s reaction function.’
Economists simply have little idea how long it will be until rates begin to rise. If one accepts that maybe, just maybe, a significant rise in interest rates in the next decade
Add ‘due to inflation concerns’
might be a possibility, then plans for an unlimited open-ended surge in debt should give one pause.
Add ‘if he does not see the merits of leaving risk free rates near 0 in any case, as there is no convincing central bank research that shows rate hikes reduce inflation rates, and even credible theory and evidence to be concerned that rate hikes instead exacerbate inflation.’
What, then, can be done? We must remember that the choice is not simply between tight-fisted austerity and freewheeling spending. Governments have used a wide range of options over the ages. It is time to return to the toolkit.
First and foremost,
Add ‘who fail to recognize that these are merely matters of accounting that don’t themselves alter output and employment’
must be prepared to write down debts rather than continuing to absorb them. This principle applies to the senior debt of insolvent financial institutions, to peripheral eurozone debt and to mortgage debt in the US.
For Europe, in particular, any reasonable endgame will require a large transfer
Add ‘of public goods production’
from Germany to the periphery.
Add ‘which in fact would be a real economic benefit for Germany.’
The sooner this implicit transfer becomes explicit, the sooner Europe will be able to find its way towards a stable growth path.
There are other tools. So-called financial repression, a non-transparent form of tax (primarily on savers), may be coming to an institution near you. In its simplest form, governments cram debt into domestic pension funds, insurance companies and banks
By removing governmental support of higher rates from their net issuance of debt instruments, particularly treasury securities.
Europe is there already and it has been there before, several times. How to Pay for the War was, in part, about creating captive audiences for government debt. Read the real Keynes, not rote Keynes, to understand our future.
One of us attracted considerable fire for suggesting moderately elevated inflation (say, 4-6 per cent for a few years) at the outset of the crisis. However, a once-in-75-year crisis is precisely the time when central banks should expend some credibility to take the edge off public and private debts, and to accelerate the process bringing down the real price of housing and real estate.
It is therefore imperative for the central bankers to make it clear to the politicians that there is no solvency risk, and that central bankers, and not markets, are necessarily in control of the entire term structure of risk free rates, and that their research shows that rate hikes are not the appropriate way to bring down inflation, should the question arise’
Structural reform always has to be part of the mix. In the US, for example, the bipartisan blueprint of the Simpson-Bowles commission had some very promising ideas for simplifying the tax codes.
There is a scholarly debate about the risks of high debt. We remain confident in the prevailing view in this field that high debt is associated with lower growth
Add ‘but must add that the risk is that of misguided policy response, and not the level of debt per se.’
Certainly, lets not fall into the trap of concluding that todays high debts are a non-issue.
Add ‘as we must be ever mindful of the possibility of excess demand using up our productive capacity’
Keynes was not dismissive of debt. Why should we be?
The writers are professors at Harvard University. They have written further on carmenreinhart.com
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 29th April 2013
Seems like this ‘quasi’ govt type of thing is often later shown to be behind ‘difficult to explain’ ‘liquidity driven’ equity moves.
By Richard Milne in Oslo
April 29 (FT) — Norway’s oil fund has reduced its bond holdings to their lowest ever level as the worlds largest sovereign wealth fund signals its discomfort with the effects of western central banks money printing.
The fund held just 36.7 per cent of its $726bn assets in bonds at the end of the first quarter, the lowest proportion since it first received money in 1996. Its equity holdings were close to a record high, accounting for 62.4 per cent of the total.
Yngve Slyngstad, the funds chief executive, told the Financial Times there had been a significant change in rhetoric away from its previous comments that it was comfortable with a high level of equity holdings.
Now it is that we are not so comfortable with the low returns in the bond portfolio. It is not enthusiasm for the equity market but a lack of enthusiasm for the bond market, he said.
The worlds biggest sovereign wealth fund by some distance, Norways oil fund has for some time been concerned about the low level of government bond yields and what that will mean for fixed income return.
But Norges Bank Investment Management, as it is also known, is reluctant to comment about money printing, known as quantitative easing, by the US Federal Reserve, Bank of England or Bank of Japan as the fund is part of the Norwegian central bank.
Still, Mr Slyngstad said unconventional actions were riskier than normal measures, signalling his unease. Unconventional in this context means untried. Things that are untried have a different risk profile than things that have been tried, he added.
The fund has been shifting both its bond and equity holdings away from dollar, yen, euro and sterling assets to those of emerging markets . But the fund is noticeably more positive on US Treasuries than other western government bonds with Mr Slyngstad saying they serve [a] double purpose of being a haven and highly liquid.
Mr Slyngstad said the fund could take several courses of action to reduce the risk of a sharp fall in bond prices, including buying real assets such as property and diversifying into new currencies. It has also reduced the average duration of its bond holdings from about six to five years.
His comments came as the fund delivered its biggest ever quarterly increase in its market value of NKr366bn. It posted a 5.4 per cent overall return with equities gaining 8.3 per cent and fixed income just 1.1 per cent. Apple, Santander and BHP Billiton were its worst-performing investments while BlackRock, Nestl and Novartis were the best. The oil fund also formally unveiled its plans to become a more active investor , as first revealed by the Financial Times. Mr Slyngstad has joined the nomination committee of Swedish truckmaker Volvo , the first time the fund has formally participated in the selection of board directors.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 22nd April 2013
Very good to see this here!
However, so far the politics haven’t changed, so place your bets accordingly!
By Andrea Terzi
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 16th April 2013
If true, this is very bad:
By Mike Konczal
April 16 (Bloomberg) — In 2010, economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff released a paper, “Growth in a Time of Debt.” Their “main result is that…median growth rates for countries with public debt over 90 percent of GDP are roughly one percent lower than otherwise; average (mean) growth rates are several percent lower.” Countries with debt-to-GDP ratios above 90 percent have a slightly negative average growth rate, in fact.
This has been one of the most cited stats in the public debate during the Great Recession. Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity budget states their study “found conclusive empirical evidence that [debt] exceeding 90 percent of the economy has a significant negative effect on economic growth.” The Washington Post editorial board takes it as an economic consensus view, stating that “debt-to-GDP could keep rising and stick dangerously near the 90 percent mark that economists regard as a threat to sustainable economic growth.”
Is it conclusive? One response has been to argue that the causation is backwards, or that slower growth leads to higher debt-to-GDP ratios. Josh Bivens and John Irons made this case at the Economic Policy Institute. But this assumes that the data is correct. From the beginning there have been complaints that Reinhart and Rogoff weren’t releasing the data for their results (e.g. Dean Baker). I knew of several people trying to replicate the results who were bumping into walls left and right – it couldn’t be done.
In a new paper, “Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff,” Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash, and Robert Pollin of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst successfully replicate the results. After trying to replicate the Reinhart-Rogoff results and failing, they reached out to Reinhart and Rogoff and they were willing to share their data spreadsheet. This allowed Herndon et al. to see how how Reinhart and Rogoff’s data was constructed.
They find that three main issues stand out. First, Reinhart and Rogoff selectively exclude years of high debt and average growth. Second, they use a debatable method to weight the countries. Third, there also appears to be a coding error that excludes high-debt and average-growth countries. All three bias in favor of their result, and without them you don’t get their controversial result. Let’s investigate further:
Selective Exclusions. Reinhart-Rogoff use 1946-2009 as their period, with the main difference among countries being their starting year. In their data set, there are 110 years of data available for countries that have a debt/GDP over 90 percent, but they only use 96 of those years. The paper didn’t disclose which years they excluded or why.
Herndon-Ash-Pollin find that they exclude Australia (1946-1950), New Zealand (1946-1949), and Canada (1946-1950). This has consequences, as these countries have high-debt and solid growth. Canada had debt-to-GDP over 90 percent during this period and 3 percent growth. New Zealand had a debt/GDP over 90 percent from 1946-1951. If you use the average growth rate across all those years it is 2.58 percent. If you only use the last year, as Reinhart-Rogoff does, it has a growth rate of -7.6 percent. That’s a big difference, especially considering how they weigh the countries.
Unconventional Weighting. Reinhart-Rogoff divides country years into debt-to-GDP buckets. They then take the average real growth for each country within the buckets. So the growth rate of the 19 years that England is above 90 percent debt-to-GDP are averaged into one number. These country numbers are then averaged, equally by country, to calculate the average real GDP growth weight.
In case that didn’t make sense let’s look at an example. England has 19 years (1946-1964) above 90 percent debt-to-GDP with an average 2.4 percent growth rate. New Zealand has one year in their sample above 90 percent debt-to-GDP with a growth rate of -7.6. These two numbers, 2.4 and -7.6 percent, are given equal weight in the final calculation, as they average the countries equally. Even though there are 19 times as many data points for England.
Now maybe you don’t want to give equal weighting to years (technical aside: Herndon-Ash-Pollin bring up serial correlation as a possibility). Perhaps you want to take episodes. But this weighting significantly reduces the average; if you weight by the number of years you find a higher growth rate above 90 percent. Reinhart-Rogoff don’t discuss this methodology, either the fact that they are weighing this way or the justification for it, in their paper.
Coding Error. As Herndon-Ash-Pollin puts it: “A coding error in the RR working spreadsheet entirely excludes five countries, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, and Denmark, from the analysis. [Reinhart-Rogoff] averaged cells in lines 30 to 44 instead of lines 30 to 49…This spreadsheet error…is responsible for a -0.3 percentage-point error in RR’s published average real GDP growth in the highest public debt/GDP category.” Belgium, in particular, has 26 years with debt-to-GDP above 90 percent, with an average growth rate of 2.6 percent (though this is only counted as one total point due to the weighting above).
Being a bit of a doubting Thomas on this coding error, I wouldn’t believe unless I touched the digital Excel wound myself. One of the authors was able to show me that, and here it is. You can see the Excel blue-box for formulas missing some data:
This error is needed to get the results they published, and it would go a long way to explaining why it has been impossible for others to replicate these results. If this error turns out to be an actual mistake Reinhart-Rogoff made, well, all I can hope is that future historians note that one of the core empirical points providing the intellectual foundation for the global move to austerity in the early 2010s was based on someone accidentally not updating a row formula in Excel.
So what do Herndon-Ash-Pollin conclude? They find “the average real GDP growth rate for countries carrying a public debt-to-GDP ratio of over 90 percent is actually 2.2 percent, not -0.1 percent as [Reinhart-Rogoff claim].” Going further into the data, they are unable to find a breakpoint where growth falls quickly and significantly.
This is also good evidence for why you should release your data online, so it can be probably vetted. But beyond that, looking through the data and how much it can collapse because of this or that assumption, it becomes quite clear that there’s no magic number out there. The debt needs to be thought of as a response to the contigent circumstances we find ourselves in, with mass unemployment, a Federal Reserve desperately trying to gain traction at the zero lower bound, and a gap between what we could be producing and what we are. The past guides us, but so far it has failed to provide an emergency cliff. In fact, it tells us that a larger deficit right now would help us greatly.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 10th April 2013
Wall of shame:
April 9 — Countries that let their debt loads get high risk losing control of their own fiscal sustainability, through an adverse feedback loop in which doubts by lenders lead to higher government bond rates, which in turn make debt problems more severe.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 1st April 2013
By Banjo Paterson
So Clancy rode to wheel them — he was racing on the wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stock-horse past them, and he made the ranges ring
With the stockwhip, as he met them face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.
Unemployment is everywhere and always a monetary phenomenon, and necessarily a government imposed crime against humanity. The currency is a simple public monopoly.
The dollars to pay taxes, ultimately come from government spending or lending (or counterfeiting…)
Unemployment can only happen when a govt fails to spend enough to cover the tax liabilities it imposed, and any residual desire to save financial assets that are created by the tax and by other govt policy.
Said another way, for any given size government, unemployment is the evidence of over taxation.
Motivation not withstanding, David Stockman has long been aggressively promoting policy that creates and sustains unemployment.
By David Stockman
March 30 (NYT) — The Dow Jones and Standard & Poors 500 indexes reached record highs on Thursday, having completely erased the losses since the stock markets last peak, in 2007. But instead of cheering, we should be very afraid.
Over the last 13 years, the stock market has twice crashed and touched off a recession: American households lost $5 trillion in the 2000 dot-com bust and more than $7 trillion in the 2007 housing crash. Sooner or later within a few years, I predict this latest Wall Street bubble, inflated by an egregious flood of phony money from the Federal Reserve rather than real economic gains, will explode, too.
Phony money? What else are $US other than credit balances at the Fed or actual cash in circulation? Of course he fails to realize US treasury securities, also known as ‘securities accounts’ by Fed insiders, are likewise nothing more than dollar balances at the Fed, and that QE merely shifts dollar balances at the Fed from securities accounts to reserve accounts. It’s ‘money printing’ only under a narrow enough definition of ‘money’ to not include treasury securities as ‘money’. Additionally, of course, QE removes interest income from the economy, but that’s another story…
Since the S.&P. 500 first reached its current level, in March 2000, the mad money printers at the Federal Reserve have expanded their balance sheet sixfold (to $3.2 trillion from $500 billion).
And also debited/reduced/removed an equal amount of $US from Fed securities accounts. The net ‘dollar printing’ is 0.
Yet during that stretch, economic output has grown by an average of 1.7 percent a year (the slowest since the Civil War); real business investment has crawled forward at only 0.8 percent per year; and the payroll job count has crept up at a negligible 0.1 percent annually. Real median family income growth has dropped 8 percent, and the number of full-time middle class jobs, 6 percent. The real net worth of the bottom 90 percent has dropped by one-fourth. The number of food stamp and disability aid recipients has more than doubled, to 59 million, about one in five Americans.
Yes, and anyone who understood monetary operations knows exactly why QE did not add to sales/output/employment, as explained above.
So the Main Street economy is failing while Washington is piling a soaring debt burden on our descendants,
‘Paying off the debt’ is simply a matter of debiting securities accounts at the Fed and crediting reserve accounts at the Fed. There are no grandchildren or taxpayers involved, except maybe a few to program the computers and polish the floors and do the accounting, etc.
unable to rein in either the warfare state or the welfare state or raise the taxes needed to pay the nations bills.
The nations bills are paid via the Fed crediting member bank accounts on its books. Today’s excess capacity and unemployment means that for the size govt we have we are grossly over taxed, not under taxed.
By default, the Fed has resorted to a radical, uncharted spree of money printing.
As above, ‘money printing’ only under a narrow definition of ‘money’.
But the flood of liquidity, instead of spurring banks to lend and corporations to spend, has stayed trapped in the canyons of Wall Street, where it is inflating yet another unsustainable bubble.
With floating exchange rates, bank liquidity, for all practical purposes, is always unlimited. Banks are constrained by capital and asset regulation, not liquidity.
When it bursts, there will be no new round of bailouts like the ones the banks got in 2008.
There is nothing to ‘burst’ as for all practical purposes liquidity is never a constraint.
Instead, America will descend into an era of zero-sum austerity and virulent political conflict, extinguishing even todays feeble remnants of economic growth.
This dyspeptic prospect results from the fact that we are now state-wrecked. With only brief interruptions, weve had eight decades of increasingly frenetic fiscal and monetary policy activism intended to counter the cyclical bumps and grinds of the free market and its purported tendency to underproduce jobs and economic output. The toll has been heavy.
The currency itself is a simply public monopoly, and the restriction of supply by a monopolist as previously described, is, in this case the cause of unemployment and excess capacity in general.
As the federal government and its central-bank sidekick, the Fed, have groped for one goal after another smoothing out the business cycle, minimizing inflation and unemployment at the same time, rolling out a giant social insurance blanket, promoting homeownership, subsidizing medical care, propping up old industries (agriculture, automobiles) and fostering new ones (clean energy, biotechnology) and, above all, bailing out Wall Street they have now succumbed to overload, overreach and outside capture by powerful interests.
He may have something there!
The modern Keynesian state is broke,
Not applicable. Congress spends simply by having its agent, the tsy, instruct the Fed to credit a member bank’s reserve account.
paralyzed and mired in empty ritual incantations about stimulating demand, even as it fosters a mutant crony capitalism that periodically lavishes the top 1 percent with speculative windfalls.
Some truth there as well!
The culprits are bipartisan, though youd never guess that from the blather that passes for political discourse these days. The state-wreck originated in 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt opted for fiat money (currency not fundamentally backed by gold), economic nationalism and capitalist cartels in agriculture and industry.
Under the exigencies of World War II (which did far more to end the Depression than the New Deal did), the state got hugely bloated, but remarkably, the bloat was put into brief remission during a midcentury golden era of sound money and fiscal rectitude with Dwight D. Eisenhower in the White House and William McChesney Martin Jr. at the Fed.
Actually it was the Texas railroad commission pretty much fixing the price of oil at about $3 that did the trick, until the early 1970′s when domestic capacity fell short, and pricing power shifted to the saudis who had other ideas about ‘public purpose’ as they jacked the price up to $40 by 1980.
Then came Lyndon B. Johnsons guns and butter excesses, which were intensified over one perfidious weekend at Camp David, Md., in 1971, when Richard M. Nixon essentially defaulted on the nations debt obligations by finally ending the convertibility of gold to the dollar. That one act arguably a sin graver than Watergate meant the end of national financial discipline and the start of a four-decade spree during which we have lived high on the hog, running a cumulative $8 trillion current-account deficit. In effect, America underwent an internal leveraged buyout, raising our ratio of total debt (public and private) to economic output to about 3.6 from its historic level of about 1.6. Hence the $30 trillion in excess debt (more than half the total debt, $56 trillion) that hangs over the American economy today.
It also happens to equal the ‘savings’ of financial assets of the global economy, with the approximately $16 trillion of treasury securities- $US in ‘savings accounts’ at the Fed- constituting the net savings of $US financial assets of the global economy. And the current low levels of output and high unemployment tell us the ‘debt’ is far below our actual desire to save these financial assets. In other words, for the size government we have, we are grossly over taxed. The deficit needs to be larger, not smaller. We need to either increase spending and/or cut taxes, depending on one’s politics.
This explosion of borrowing was the stepchild of the floating-money contraption deposited in the Nixon White House by Milton Friedman, the supposed hero of free-market economics who in fact sowed the seed for a never-ending expansion of the money supply.
And the never ending expansion of $US global savings desires, including trillions of accumulations in pension funds, IRA’s, etc. Where there are tax advantages to save, as well as trillions in corporate reserves, foreign central bank reserves, etc. etc.
As everyone at the CBO knows, the US govt deficit = global $US net savings of financial assets, to the penny.
The Fed, which celebrates its centenary this year, fueled a roaring inflation in goods and commodities during the 1970s that was brought under control only by the iron resolve of Paul A. Volcker, its chairman from 1979 to 1987.
It was the Saudis hiking price, not the Fed. Note that similar ‘inflation’ hit every nation in the world, regardless of ‘monetary policy’. And it ended a few years after president Carter deregulated natural gas in 1978, which resulted in electric utilities switching out of oil to natural gas, and even OPEC’s cutting of 15 million barrels per day of production failing to stop the collapse of oil prices.
Under his successor, the lapsed hero Alan Greenspan, the Fed dropped Friedmans penurious rules for monetary expansion, keeping interest rates too low for too long and flooding Wall Street with freshly minted cash. What became known as the Greenspan put the implicit assumption that the Fed would step in if asset prices dropped, as they did after the 1987 stock-market crash was reinforced by the Feds unforgivable 1998 bailout of the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management.
The Fed didn’t bail out LTCM. They hosted a meeting of creditors who took over the positions at prices that generated 25% types of annual returns for themselves.
That Mr. Greenspans loose monetary policies didnt set off inflation was only because domestic prices for goods and labor were crushed by the huge flow of imports from the factories of Asia.
No, because oil prices didn’t go up due to the glut from the deregulation of natural gas .
By offshoring Americas tradable-goods sector, the Fed kept the Consumer Price Index contained, but also permitted the excess liquidity to foster a roaring inflation in financial assets. Mr. Greenspans pandering incited the greatest equity boom in history, with the stock market rising fivefold between the 1987 crash and the 2000 dot-com bust.
No, it wasn’t about Greenspan, it was about the private sector and banking necessarily being pro cyclical. And the severity of the bust was a consequence of the Clinton budget surpluses ‘draining’ net financial assets from the economy, thereby removing the equity that supports the macro credit structure.
Soon Americans stopped saving and consumed everything they earned and all they could borrow. The Asians, burned by their own 1997 financial crisis, were happy to oblige us. They China and Japan above all accumulated huge dollar reserves, transforming their central banks into a string of monetary roach motels where sovereign debt goes in but never comes out. Weve been living on borrowed time and spending Asians borrowed dimes.
Yes, the trade deficit is a benefit that allows us to consume more than we produce for as long as the rest of the world continues to desire to net export to us.
This dynamic reinforced the Reaganite shibboleth that deficits dont matter and the fact that nearly $5 trillion of the nations $12 trillion in publicly held debt is actually sequestered in the vaults of central banks. The destruction of fiscal rectitude under Ronald Reagan one reason I resigned as his budget chief in 1985
I wonder if he’ll ever discover how wrong he’s been, and for a very long time.
was the greatest of his many dramatic acts. It created a template for the Republicans utter abandonment of the balanced-budget policies of Calvin Coolidge and allowed George W. Bush to dive into the deep end, bankrupting the nation
Hadn’t heard about an US bankruptcy filing? Am I missing something?
through two misbegotten and unfinanced wars, a giant expansion of Medicare and a tax-cutting spree for the wealthy that turned K Street lobbyists into the de facto office of national tax policy. In effect, the G.O.P. embraced Keynesianism for the wealthy.
He’s almost convinced me deep down he’s a populist…
The explosion of the housing market, abetted by phony credit ratings, securitization shenanigans and willful malpractice by mortgage lenders, originators and brokers, has been well documented. Less known is the balance-sheet explosion among the top 10 Wall Street banks during the eight years ending in 2008. Though their tiny sliver of equity capital hardly grew, their dependence on unstable hot money soared as the regulatory harness the Glass-Steagall Act had wisely imposed during the Depression was totally dismantled.
Can’t argue with that!
Within weeks of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in September 2008, Washington, with Wall Streets gun to its head, propped up the remnants of this financial mess in a panic-stricken melee of bailouts and money-printing that is the single most shameful chapter in American financial history.
The shameful part was not making a fiscal adjustment when it all started falling apart. I was calling for a full ‘payroll tax holiday’ back then, for example.
There was never a remote threat of a Great Depression 2.0 or of a financial nuclear winter, contrary to the dire warnings of Ben S. Bernanke, the Fed chairman since 2006. The Great Fear manifested by the stock market plunge when the House voted down the TARP bailout before caving and passing it was purely another Wall Street concoction. Had President Bush and his Goldman Sachs adviser (a k a Treasury Secretary) Henry M. Paulson Jr. stood firm, the crisis would have burned out on its own and meted out to speculators the losses they so richly deserved. The Main Street banking system was never in serious jeopardy, ATMs were not going dark and the money market industry was not imploding.
While the actual policies implemented were far from my first choice, they did keep it from getting a lot worse. Yes, it would have ‘burned out’ as it always has, but via the automatic fiscal stabilizers working to get the deficit high enough to catch the fall. I would argue it would have gotten a lot worse by doing nothing. And, of course, a full payroll tax holiday early on would likely have sustained sales/output/employment as the near ‘normal’ levels of the year before. In other words, Wall Street didn’t have to spill over to Main Street. Wall Street Investors could have taken their lumps without causing main street unemployment to rise.
Instead, the White House, Congress and the Fed, under Mr. Bush and then President Obama, made a series of desperate, reckless maneuvers that were not only unnecessary but ruinous. The auto bailouts, for example, simply shifted jobs around particularly to the aging, electorally vital Rust Belt rather than saving them. The green energy component of Mr. Obamas stimulus was mainly a nearly $1 billion giveaway to crony capitalists, like the venture capitalist John Doerr and the self-proclaimed outer-space visionary Elon Musk, to make new toys for the affluent.
Some good points there. But misses the point that capitalism is about business competing for consumer dollars, with consumer choice deciding who wins and who loses. ‘Creative destruction’ is not about a collapse in aggregate demand that causes sales in general to collapse, with survival going to those with enough capital to survive, as happened in 2008 when even Toyota, who had the most desired cars, losing billions when 8 million people lost their jobs all at once and sales in general collapsed.
Less than 5 percent of the $800 billion Obama stimulus went to the truly needy for food stamps, earned-income tax credits and other forms of poverty relief. The preponderant share ended up in money dumps to state and local governments, pork-barrel infrastructure projects, business tax loopholes and indiscriminate middle-class tax cuts. The Democratic Keynesians, as intellectually bankrupt as their Republican counterparts (though less hypocritical), had no solution beyond handing out borrowed money to consumers, hoping they would buy a lawn mower, a flat-screen TV or, at least, dinner at Red Lobster.
Ok, apart from the ‘borrowed money’ part. Congressional spending is via the Fed crediting a member bank reserve account. They call it borrowing when they shift those funds from reserve accounts at the Fed to security accounts at the Fed. The word ‘borrowed’ is highly misleading, at best.
But even Mr. Obamas hopelessly glib policies could not match the audacity of the Fed, which dropped interest rates to zero and then digitally printed new money at the astounding rate of $600 million per hour.
And ‘unprinted’ securities accounts/treasury securities at exactly the same pace, to the penny.
Fast-money speculators have been purchasing giant piles of Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities, almost entirely by using short-term overnight money borrowed at essentially zero cost, thanks to the Fed. Uncle Ben has lined their pockets.
Probably true, though quite a few ‘headline’ fund managers and speculators have apparently been going short…
If and when the Fed which now promises to get unemployment below 6.5 percent as long as inflation doesnt exceed 2.5 percent even hints at shrinking its balance sheet, it will elicit a tidal wave of sell orders, because even a modest drop in bond prices would destroy the arbitrageurs profits. Notwithstanding Mr. Bernankes assurances about eventually, gradually making a smooth exit, the Fed is domiciled in a monetary prison of its own making.
It’s about setting a policy rate. The notion of prison isn’t applicable.
While the Fed fiddles, Congress burns. Self-titled fiscal hawks like Paul D. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, are terrified of telling the truth: that the 10-year deficit is actually $15 trillion to $20 trillion, far larger than the Congressional Budget Offices estimate of $7 trillion. Its latest forecast, which imagines 16.4 million new jobs in the next decade, compared with only 2.5 million in the last 10 years, is only one of the more extreme examples of Washingtons delusions.
And with no long term inflation problem forecast by anyone, the savings desires over that time period are at least that high.
Even a supposedly bold measure linking the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security payments to a different kind of inflation index would save just $200 billion over a decade, amounting to hardly 1 percent of the problem.
Thank goodness, as the problem is the deficit is too low, as evidenced by unemployment.
Mr. Ryans latest budget shamelessly gives Social Security and Medicare a 10-year pass, notwithstanding that a fair portion of their nearly $19 trillion cost over that decade would go to the affluent elderly. At the same time, his proposal for draconian 30 percent cuts over a decade on the $7 trillion safety net Medicaid, food stamps and the earned-income tax credit is another front in the G.O.P.s war against the 99 percent.
Never seen him play the class warfare card like this?
Without any changes, over the next decade or so, the gross federal debt, now nearly $17 trillion, will hurtle toward $30 trillion and soar to 150 percent of gross domestic product from around 105 percent today.
Not that it will, but if it does and inflation remains low it just means savings desires are that high.
Since our constitutional stasis rules out any prospect of a grand bargain, the nations fiscal collapse will play out incrementally, like a Greek/Cypriot tragedy, in carefully choreographed crises over debt ceilings, continuing resolutions and temporary budgetary patches.
No description of what ‘fiscal collapse’ might look like. Because there is no such thing.
The future is bleak. The greatest construction boom in recorded history Chinas money dump on infrastructure over the last 15 years is slowing. Brazil, India, Russia, Turkey, South Africa and all the other growing middle-income nations cannot make up for the shortfall in demand.
The American machinery of monetary and fiscal stimulus has reached its limits.
Do not agree. In fact, there are no numerical limits.
Japan is sinking into old-age bankruptcy and Europe into welfare-state senescence. The new rulers enthroned in Beijing last year know that after two decades of wild lending, speculation and building, even they will face a day of reckoning, too.
The state-wreck ahead is a far cry from the Great Moderation proclaimed in 2004 by Mr. Bernanke, who predicted that prosperity would be everlasting because the Fed had tamed the business cycle and, as late as March 2007, testified that the impact of the subprime meltdown seems likely to be contained. Instead of moderation, whats at hand is a Great Deformation, arising from a rogue central bank that has abetted the Wall Street casino, crucified savers on a cross of zero interest rates and fueled a global commodity bubble that erodes Main Street living standards through rising food and energy prices a form of inflation that the Fed fecklessly disregards in calculating inflation.
It’s not at all disregarded. And the Fed has only done ‘pretend money printing’ since they ‘unprint’ treasury securities as they ‘print’ reserve balances.
These policies have brought America to an end-stage metastasis. The way out would be so radical it cant happen.
How about a full payroll tax holiday? Too radical to happen???
It would necessitate a sweeping divorce of the state and the market economy. It would require a renunciation of crony capitalism and its first cousin: Keynesian economics in all its forms. The state would need to get out of the business of imperial hubris, economic uplift and social insurance and shift its focus to managing and financing an effective, affordable, means-tested safety net.
These are the conclusions of his way out of paradigm conceptualizing.
All this would require drastic deflation of the realm of politics and the abolition of incumbency itself, because the machinery of the state and the machinery of re-election have become conterminous. Prying them apart would entail sweeping constitutional surgery: amendments to give the president and members of Congress a single six-year term, with no re-election; providing 100 percent public financing for candidates; strictly limiting the duration of campaigns (say, to eight weeks); and prohibiting, for life, lobbying by anyone who has been on a legislative or executive payroll. It would also require overturning Citizens United and mandating that Congress pass a balanced budget, or face an automatic sequester of spending.
It would also require purging the corrosive financialization that has turned the economy into a giant casino since the 1970s. This would mean putting the great Wall Street banks out in the cold to compete as at-risk free enterprises, without access to cheap Fed loans or deposit insurance. Banks would be able to take deposits and make commercial loans, but be banned from trading, underwriting and money management in all its forms.
I happen to fully agree with narrow banking, as per my proposals.
It would require, finally, benching the Feds central planners, and restoring the central banks original mission: to provide liquidity in times of crisis but never to buy government debt or try to micromanage the economy. Getting the Fed out of the financial markets is the only way to put free markets and genuine wealth creation back into capitalism.
Rhetoric that shows his total lack of understanding of monetary operations.
That, of course, will never happen because there are trillions of dollars of assets, from Shanghai skyscrapers to Fortune 1000 stocks to the latest housing market recovery, artificially propped up by the Feds interest-rate repression.
No govt policy necessarily supports rates. Without the issuance of treasury securities, paying interest on reserves, and other ‘interest rate support’ policy rates fall to 0%. He’s got the repression thing backwards.
The United States is broke fiscally, morally, intellectually and the Fed has incited a global currency war (Japan just signed up, the Brazilians and Chinese are angry, and the German-dominated euro zone is crumbling) that will soon overwhelm it. When the latest bubble pops, there will be nothing to stop the collapse.
How about a full payroll tax holiday???
If this sounds like advice to get out of the markets and hide out in cash, it is.
I tend to agree but for the opposite reason.
The deficit may have gotten too small with the latest tax hikes and spending cuts.
(feel free to distribute)
Posted in Banking, Bonds, CBs, China, Comodities, Currencies, Deficit, Employment, Exports, Fed, Government Spending, Greece, Inflation, Interest Rates, Oil, Political, Recession, trade | No Comments »
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 30th March 2013
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 21st March 2013
Debt to GDP over 200%
0 rates for decades
Alarmingly low term structure of rates
Recent yen weakness looking ‘fundamental’ as trade goes negative maybe until nukes are restarted and ‘replacement’ gas and oil imports go back to where they were.
Trade going negative after initial yen weakening due to ‘j curve’ effect where initially actual quantities of imports stay pretty much the same but prices are higher. Only some time later do quantities respond to the higher price.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 5th March 2013
Cooler Heads: The Rebuttal to Kyle Bass’s Japan Market Meltdown Scenario from JPMorgan’s Jesper Koll and Masaaki Kanno
By Stephen Harner
At 24 times central government tax revenues, cumulative Japanese government debt has reached a level which ensures financial collapse.
Not, just a reserve drain.
With the Abe/Aso government setting a 2% inflation target, the collapse will occur sooner—probably within the next 18 to 24 months.
Not, inflation targets are meaningless. Inflation expectations theory is a myth.
The revelation will be that interest on the debt—currently 25% of national tax revenue—will double under higher interest rates.
Could be. But deficits generally come down as well during an expansion, of course posing a risk to that expansion, etc.
The result will be massive JGB selling, a collapsing yen, and systematic financial crisis resulting from a collapse in yen asset prices.
Yes, when rates go up bond prices go down. There are both winners and losers when/if prices change.
Rising interest rates would of course raise debt service costs for all borrowers, and especially the hugely indebted government. But they would enable lenders–including household depositors–to charge higher rates on new debt and raise returns on non-fixed rate debt. Since net stock of private savings is larger than the net stock of public sector liabilities, Koll reckons that the overall effect on the economy would be positive.
Agreed! Rate hikes are expansionary, cuts contractionary due to interest income channels.
Rising interest rates would not spell large losses for Japanese financial institutions because these institutions’ bond–and especially JGB–portfolios are largely held to maturity, avoiding the requirement to be marked to market. The institutions would have no incentive to sell, and ample incentive to hold the JGBs [the weighted average duration of which they have in any event been shortening to well under five years--Harner].
They represent at least lost income, and if implied costs of funds rise implied losses. Etc. Again, winners and losers with change.
As to who is or would buy JGBs, the answer for the present and foreseeable near term future is: the Bank of Japan. BOJ is already committed to buying the entire debt out to a maturity of three years and a new governing board to be installed in April may extend the range to three to five years. Interest rates will rise only as much as BOJ will allow. This is why foreigners and domestic institutions are still buying the bonds.
Note that functionally the BOJ buying is the same as the MOF not issuing.
Whether or not significant inflation develops in Japan depends on productivity. Significant increases in productivity could fully mitigate inflationary pressures.
I’d guess most ‘inflation’ comes through the ‘cost channels’ as low aggregate demand tends to keep ‘monetary inflation’ in check.
There is plenty of room in Japan’s economy for raising productivity. Agriculture, in particular, has abysmal productivity that could easily be raised through deregulation. Land policy that affects housing is another. Health care is another. Indeed, deregulation is needed throughout the economy. “The Abe administration must implement real deregulation, so that private investors put their savings and capital to work, by building new factories, new hospitals, and so forth.” [This is a point I emphasized in my post a week ago on Abe’s “Three Arrows” program.--Harner]
Deregulation could be deflationary as suggested.
The proposed BOJ policies won’t do anything, the fiscal could move the needle some. And relighting the nukes will firm the yen.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 30th January 2013
As previously discussed, the euro looks to keep going up until the trade surplus reverses. Problem is the strong euro doesn’t necessarily cause the trade surplus to reverse, at least not in the short term. But it does tend to work against earnings and growth. And there’s nothing the ECB can do about it, short of buying dollars via direct intervention, which would be counter to their core ideology, as building dollar reserves would give the appearance of the dollar backing the euro. The solvency issue has now been behind them for quite a while, and still no sign of any ‘official’ recognition that deficits need to be higher to restore output and employment.
And, also as previously discussed, while the future was looking up for the US a few months ago, the caveat of ‘austerity’ has come into play with the year end FICA and other tax hikes, and now the odds are the sequesters are allowed to come into play March 1 as well. Note this has been Japan’s policy as well- fiscal tightening at the first sign of any hope for expansion. Fed policy also looks to remain restrictive as blatantly evidenced by the recent turn over of some $90 billion of ‘profits’ to the Treasury that otherwise would have been earned by the economy.
The headline ‘deficit doves’ pushing for larger deficits with their ‘out of paradigm’ arguments are also serving to continue to support austerity. They have been arguing that the low interest rates are a signal from the markets (as if they know anything about markets) indicating the economy wants the govt to sell more bonds. This is in response to the hawk’s equally out of paradigm argument that financing deficits will eventually drive up interest rates. So now that interest rates have started going higher, the dove’s case is for higher deficits is pretty much gone, removing the resistance to ‘getting our fiscal house in order’ just as the sequester date is approaching. Whether it’s gross ignorance or intellectual dishonesty doesn’t matter all that much at this point- it’s happening. At the same time oil and gasoline prices have been creeping up, taking a few more shekels away from consumers. January and it’s strong equity inflows/allocations and releases of December’s stats ends tomorrow. February’s releases of Jan stats will bring more post FICA hike clarity.
Japan’s weak yen, pro inflation policy seems to have been all talk with only a modest fiscal expansion to do the heavy lifting. Changing targets does nothing, nor does the BOJ have any tools that do the trick as evidenced now by two decades of using all those tools to the max. And while I’ve been saying all the while that 0 rates, QE, and all that are deflationary biases that make the yen stronger, there is no sign of that understanding even being considered by policy makers, so expect more of same. What has been happening to weaken the yen is a quasi govt policy of the large pension funds and insurance companies buying euro and dollar denominated bonds, which shifts their portfolio compositions from yen to euros and dollars, thereby acting to weaken the yen. I have no idea now long this will continue, but if history is any guide, it could go on for a considerable period of time. Yes, it adds substantial fx risk to those institutions, but that kind of thing has never gotten in the way before. And should it all blow up some day, look for the govt to simply write the check and move on.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 29th January 2013
Debt approaching 1 quadrillion, and the highest as a % of GDP anywhere I know of, and still no bond vigilantes in sight!
Who would have thought???
Not to mention decades of 0 rates, massive QE, and in general the BOJ trying as hard as it can to inflate.
Maybe it’s not all that easy for a CB to cause inflation???
Anyway, net fiscal will add a bit to GDP, but nothing serious, and the hawkish rhetoric doesn’t seem to have changed any.
And note the cuts in welfare ‘paying for’ the increases in defense and infrastructure.
Of the Y92.6 trillion yen in spending, Y43.1 trillion will be financed with tax revenues and Y42.9 trillion with issuance of new bonds, adding to Japan’s massive public sector debt that already totals nearly Y1 quadrillion.
The FY2013 budget does show clear differences from those of the previous DPJ administration, with a clear shift away from social welfare toward defense and infrastructure programs.
It calls for a reduction of Y67 billion in welfare benefits over the next three years, an increase of Y712 billion, or 15.6% in public works programs and a Y35 billion, or 0.8% increase in spending for the Self-Defense Forces.
“Adequate amounts have been provided to ensure the safety of public infrastructure and to address public concerns about national defense,” Mr. Aso said.
The LDP’s call for aggressive public works spending got better reception after the collapse of an expressway tunnel in December that killed nine people. Simmering tensions with China have also increased support for spending programs to improve security of Japanese territory.
In a policy address Monday, Mr. Abe vowed to erase fiscal deficits in the medium-to-long term, but stopped short of saying when, leaving the task to his economic advisory panel.
Sayuri Kawamura, a Japan Research Institute economist, is worried that not enough attention has been given to the risk of fiscal implosion.
“As debt piles up, the cost of servicing that debt also goes up, eating deeper into tax revenue, and leaving less and less for policy programs. The government hasn’t explained how they are going to deal with this challenge,” Ms. Kawamura said.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 24th January 2013
No ‘Massive Mark to Market’ Event for Bonds This Year: Friesen
By Madeleine Lim
Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) — While “shortage of yield” will provide support for stocks, unlikely to see “great rotation” out of USTs and investment-grade bonds this year, III Associates principal and Co-CIO Garth Friesen said in interview yesterday.
Growth set to be sluggish in major economies, earnings growth expected to slow down, driven by contractionary fiscal policies, particularly in Europe; tight fiscal policies likely in place for foreseeable future; supportive of fixed income
Central bank policy in major developed economies to remain highly accommodative,
With real yields negative across all maturities and central banks taking yield out of market, demand rising for carry-oriented investments; favors higher-rated HY, structured credit
While 10Y yields could rise another 25bps-50bps, sharp rise in UST yields unlikely as Fed purchases to support long end, while front end anchored by low-rate commitment; with thresholds unlikely to be breached this year or next, Fed to remain on hold
Bear markets in fixed income typically prompted by Fed policy tightening
Still some debate whether halt or curtailment of Fed asset purchases presents tightening; flow of purchases important to markets
Fed balance sheet not a near-term risk; balance sheet is a tool for Fed, which would only shrink balance sheet for policy purposes; given outlook for muted inflation, Fed not operating under time constraints
III has $2.3b in AUM, three lines: fixed income arbitrage, long-short credit, tail hedging business; mostly in G3/G7 currencies
Euro investments in swaps, funding markets, less exposure to sovereigns; credit exposure mainly U.S., some euro exposure
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 6th December 2012
Jobless Claims Fell More Than Expected, Down by 25,000 to 370,000
I haven’t written much this week because I haven’t seen much to write about.
Still looks like both the economy and the markets are discounting the cliff. And still looks to me like ex cliff GDP would be growing at about 4% this quarter, with the Sandy-cliff related cutbacks keeping that down to maybe 2.5%. And going over the full cliff is taking off maybe 2% more, leaving GDP modestly positive.
Which is what stocks and bonds seem to be fully discounting.
As previously discussed, the housing cycle seems to have turned up, which looks to be an extended, multi year upturn with a massive ‘housing output gap’ to be filled. And employment is modestly improving as well, also with a large output gap to fill. Car sales are back over 15 million, and also with a large output gap to fill.
The way I see the politics unfolding, the full cliff will be avoided, if not in advance shortly afterwards, as fully discussed to a fault by the media. That means GDP growth head back towards 4% (and maybe more)
Nor do I see anything catastrophic happening in the euro zone. They continue to ‘do what it takes’ to keep everyone funded and away from default. And conditionality means continued weakness. Q3 GDP was down .1%, a modest improvement from down .2% in Q2, and a flat Q4 wouldn’t surprise me. The rising deficits from ‘automatic fiscal stabilizers’ (rising transfer payments and falling revenues) have increased deficits to the point where they can sustain what’s left of demand. And the recent report of German exports to the euro zone rising at 3.5% maybe indicating that the overall support for GDP will continue to come disproportionately from Germany. And rising net exports from the euro zone will continue to cause the euro to firm to the point of ‘rebalance’ which should mean a much firmer euro. And as part of that story, Japan may be buying euro to support it’s exports to the euro zone, as per the prior ‘Trojan Horse’ discussions, and as evidenced by the yen weakening vs the euro, also as previously discussed.
And you’d think with every forecaster telling the politicians that tax hikes and spending cuts- deficit reduction- causing GDP to be revised down and unemployment up, and the reverse- tax cuts and spending hikes causing upward GDP revisions and lower unemployment- they’d finally figure this thing out and act accordingly?
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 27th November 2012
This was my suspicion back in maybe May, 2011 when Bernanke made his strong dollar speech after China had let their T bill portfolio run off after the Fed had begun QE1.
Either China doesn’t understand QE or they are taking this position anyway, for further political purpose.
And in any case, in general they all remain blind to the fact that imports are real benefits and exports real costs.
By Tom Miles
Nov 26 (Reuters) — China blamed quantitative easing for damaging emerging economies and rejected Brazil’s proposal of using world trade rules to compensate for currency misalignments, during a debate at the WTO on Monday.
“We, together with many other countries, have been critics of this irresponsible and beggar-thy-neighbor policy,” China’s deputy permanent representative to the World Trade Organization, Zhu Hong, said, referring to the monetary stimulus policy often shortened to QE.
“It has a lingering negative impact on developing, emerging economies in particular,” Zhu said during a debate on currency fluctuations at the WTO in Geneva, according to a transcript provided by a Chinese official.
The meeting was called to discuss Brazil’s proposal that WTO rules should include a system for dealing with currency misalignments.
Brazil’s Ambassador Roberto Azevedo, who some trade diplomats say is a contender to replace WTO chief Pascal Lamy when he steps down next year, has gradually hardened up his demands on the issue.
After getting WTO members to agree to examine the available literature on the subject last year,Brazil circulated a proposal on November 5, explaining that WTO rules contained language about dealing with currency-related trade distortions but no adequate instruments to act directly.
“The WTO seems to be systemically ill-equipped to cope with the challenges posed by the macro and microeconomic effects of exchange rates on trade,” Brazil said in its proposal, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.
“Members may wish, against this background, to consider the need for exchange-rate trade remedies and to start some analytical work to that effect.”
The proposal did not mention quantitative easing and explicitly called for analysis “from a systemic perspective” rather than from any one country’s experience.
But it was accompanied by a graph showing the estimated misalignment of Brazil’s own currency, the real, with an over-valuation of nearly 40 percent in 2011.
Brazil has previously called quantitative easing, a form of monetary stimulus, “selfish” and blamed it for stealing exports from emerging markets.
But China’s Zhu said the issue was one for the International Monetary Fund, not the WTO.
“Currency issue in nature is a monetary policy issue. The right path to resolve this issue is by enhancing the responsibility of and promoting coordination among the international reserve currency issuers,” Zhu said.
Brazil’s push for the WTO to take up the currency proposal has rolled onward despite struggling to gain vocal support, partly because it is unclear if such an idea would be workable in practice.
Donald Kohn, a former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve and a member of the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee, said that although he was not familiar with the proposal, such ideas did not make sense from an economic point of view in general.
“Emerging market economies should adapt, and they should change regulation to allow their exchange rates to be more flexible where that’s appropriate,” he told Reuters after giving a speech in Geneva earlier this month.
“But I think it’s not going to work and I think it’s unproductive to ask the industrial economies to do things that are not in their self-interest, within the rules of the game. Secondly, if what they’re talking about is tightening up on trade and restricting trade, that’s a very bad precedent.”
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 21st September 2012
It’s been about a week, and the initial reactions are already wearing off and markets settling in.
The lasting effects are those of the income lost to the economy as the Fed earns the interest on the securities it buys instead of the economy. This reduces the federal deficit and is a ‘contractionary’ force. At the same time the Fed removes securities/duration/convexity/vol from the economy which tends to lower the term structure of risk free rates some and further reduce volatility as well.
Initially the long end sold off on the presumption that QE works to lower the output gap/restore growth and employment, which means the Fed would, down the road, be hiking rates in response to the improving economy.
However, as the reality that QE doesn’t work to support aggregate demand sinks in, long end yields can come down on the anticipation that future growth prospects are not good, increasing the odds that the Fed will be keeping rates low that much longer.
Likewise, it’s a mixed bag for stocks, though overall modestly supportive. QE doesn’t improve earnings prospects, and serves to keep growth down, but the lower interest rates help valuations, and high unemployment along with productivity increases work to keep unit labor costs down.
Europe has solved the solvency issue, but it’s all conditional on bringing deficits down, and so far it looks like they are all working to keep doing exactly that, and with no prospects for material private sector credit expansion or export growth,
GDP can continue to be negative.
Then there’s the US fiscal cliff. Everyone agrees deficit reduction slows things down, which is why they say we shouldn’t do it now. But they also therefore know it will slow down things whenever they do it in the future. So how hard should it be to come to recognize that slowing things down is actually the point of deficit reduction, and is appropriate only for that reason? Apparently it’s impossible. And the fiscal cliff is already taking its toll as anticipated contracts for next year along with purchases are being delayed.
So without some kind of fiscal paradigm shift I don’t see much good happening, and even the muddle through scenario is now at risk.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 5th September 2012
> (email exchange)
> ”To sterilize the bond purchases, the ECB will remove from the system elsewhere the same
> amount of money it spends, ensuring the program has a neutral impact on the money
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 22nd August 2012
> (email exchange)
> On Wed, Aug 22, 2012 at 3:02 AM, wrote:
> You are totally right about him, I sent you a word doc with his exact words
> (emphasis mine)
Repeat: Asmussen: ECB Wants To Eliminate Doubts About Euro
2012-08-20 05:36:05.371 GMT
–First Ran On Mainwire At 2257 GMT/1857 ET Sunday
FRANKFURT (MNI) – The European Central Bank wants to remove any doubt about the permanence of the common currency, ECB Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen said in a newspaper interview published in Monday’s edition of the German daily Frankfurter Rundschau.
The German board member told the paper that financial market certainty regarding the continued existence of the euro was a necessary condition for the currency’s stability.
The ECB’s planned new bond-buying program is superior to its predecessor, the Securities Market Program, and the Governing Council will work on details at its next meeting, Asmussen said.
Noting the high risk premia for some sovereign bonds in the euro area, which he said were in part due to concerns about the reversibility of the euro, Asmussen said that such an exchange rate risk was theoretically not admissible in a currency union and was leading to the incomplete transmission of ECB monetary policy to some euro area economies.
“Our measures attempt to repair this defect in the monetary policy transmission mechanism,” he said. The worries about the euro’s permanence are no wonder, he added, given “how carelessly” the currency is talked about in Europe.
“It is precisely these concerns about the continued existence of the euro that we want to rid market participants of,” he said.
Asmussen asserted that the ECB is acting within its mandate, adding that “a currency can only be stable if there is no doubt about its existence.”
The new bond-buying program meant to address this issue “will be better conceived” than the SMP, he said, repeating that the ECB will only act in tandem with the EFSF or ESM and that interested countries must submit a request and satisfy “comprehensive economic policy conditions.”
The ECB’s Governing Council “will decide in complete independence whether, when and how bonds are purchased on the secondary market,” he added.
What happened last summer with Italy, which failed to use the time bought by ECB bond purchases to make necessary adjustments, cannot be allowed to happen again, he said.
Moreover, in the new program the ECB will deal with the problem of senior status, which interferes with affected countries’ return to capital markets because private investors fear being disadvantaged vis-a-vis the ECB, he said.
Asked if the new program could be successful because it will be unlimited in time and scope, Asmussen confirmed that ECB President Mario Draghi had said as much.
“But wait and see,” he said. “We are working on the design of the new program and will occupy ourselves with these questions in our next meeting.”
Credit and money growth in the euro area are “moderate,” and “inflation expectations in the entire Eurozone are firmly anchored to our target,” he said. “We are monitoring price developments very closely and have all the necessary instruments to fight possible inflationary dangers effectively and in a timely manner.”