Why this is more than a flash crash in sterling

This guest post is from Themos Fiotakis, Global Co-Head FX & Rates Strategy, UBS Investment Bank Read more

Guest post: Big oil should exercise capital discipline as prices rise

Traditionally, higher prices tend to be followed by increased investment: management tend to be very reactive in their planning. Given that many companies have cut back budgets by over a third in the past two years, management are likely to find it hard to resist the urge to make up for lost time and pour more money into the ground. Read more

Guest post: Productivity and shocks

This guest post is from Peter Doyle, an economist and former IMF staffer Read more

Guest post: Small-cap trading revamp is no more than a costly distraction

The US equity market is about to start a two-year programme testing changes for small-cap equity trading. This guest post from Richard Johnson, a market-structure and technology strategist with Greenwich Associates, argues that the costs of the programme may outweigh the benefits.

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Guest post: Why we must distribute the gains from technical change

This is a guest post by Prof. Dr. Luc Soete, a UNU-Merit board member, on the challenges posed to labour markets by growing automation and the need to distribute the gains from modern technical change with tools such as basic income or helicopter money. It is based on remarks made at a panel event marking the 50th Anniversary of the Science Policy Research Unit at Sussex University earlier this week. Read more

Guest post: The Panama Papers — what exactly is the problem?

It’s almost five months since 11m private documents leaked out of a Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca. This guest post from Howard Bilton, chairman of off-shore advisory specialist The Sovereign Group, looks at the broader state of play for those looking to minimise their tax bills. Read more

Guest post: Further questions about Chinese GDP data

According to official Chinese data, output in the second quarter in the industrial sector grew 6 per cent in real terms and 2.9 per cent in nominal terms. Given the officially reported 2.6 per cent producer price deflation that appears to basically reconcile. However, if we do dig beneath the surface Christopher Balding, professor at Peking University, HSBC Business School, argues large discrepancies appear. Read more

Guest post: What a UK macro-financial framework should look like as Brexit is negotiated

Peter Doyle, a former IMF staffer, advises the UK government not to delay rewriting the fiscal and macro-financial rules for the Brexit era… Read more

Koo: Why US Quantitative Easing “worked” better than other QEs

This is a guest post from Richard Koo, chief economist of the Nomura Research Institute and, amongst many other things, author of “The Holy Grail of Macroeconomics, Lessons from Japan’s Great Recession”, which lays out his balance sheet recession thesis in detail.

The post is an updated extract from his most recent note for Nomura and reproduced here, with his permission, for your arguing pleasure…

The US, the UK, Japan, and Europe all implemented quantitative easing (QE) policies, but the understanding of how those policies work apparently differs greatly from country to country, leading to very different outcomes. With the US economy doing better than the rest, there has been some debate in Europe as to why that is the case. Read more

China, money supply and John Maynard Keynes

By Jennifer Hughes in Hong Kong

Last time China’s companies held this much money to hand, it presaged an investment boom and better growth. But no-one is predicting that this time round.

China’s M1, or its narrow money supply, jumped 24.6 per cent in June while M2, the broader measure, rose 11.8 per cent. The gap between the two is now at its highest since January 2010 – and it is rising sharply. Read more

FT Confidential Research: For Li Keqiang, Brexit is both blessing and curse

FT Confidential Research will be hosting an intimate ‘up, close and personal’ China session at the FT’s Festival of Finance this coming Friday at 2pm. It will take place in the M&G Coffee House area and be hosted by FT Confidential Research’s principal for China David Wilder, their chief economist Xiao Qi and head of research Sun Yu. This will be a chance to put your questions directly to the experts and benefit from their unique on the ground, regional perspective. Here follows their analysis of whats’ been going on in China’s shadow banking sector whilst we’ve all been distracted by Brexit.

In some respects, Brexit has been a gift for Beijing. The chaos in world markets unleashed by the UK’s vote to leave the European Union means a Chinese hard landing has slipped down the list of potential threats to global stability.

Not that Li Keqiang appeared particularly gleeful at this newfound loss of status when he gave his annual address this week to the World Economic Forum in Tianjin. Instead, the premier rolled out his government’s now-familiar tropes about the resilience of Chinese growth and the relative health of the labour market, again dismissing talk of an economic hard landing. Read more

Iceland responds to Arturo Porzecanski

This guest post is by Gudmundur Arnason, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs of Iceland, in response to “Iceland’s selective default?”, another guest post, by Arturo Porzecanski.

Allow me to offer a brief comment on Arturo Porzecanski’s Guest Post of June 14 (“Iceland’s selective default?”). Read more

Guest post: Iceland’s selective default?

This guest post is by Arturo Porzecanski, a professor of international economic relations at American University (Washington DC), whose research and writings focus on creditor rights. He does not professionally represent in any way the creditors mentioned in the article. His opinions are his own and not those of the Alphaville team.

Iceland’s latest attempt to phase out its capital controls will soon entail what deserves to be characterized as a punitive, selective default on its obligations to the country’s foreign creditors. Read more

Is tax avoidance like hardcore pornography?

This guest post is by Jolyon Maugham QC, a tax lawyer at Devereux Chambers who writes on tax policy and advises the Labour Party.


In Les Amants, Jeanne Moreau is married to a newspaper magnate with little time for his younger wife. One day her car breaks down and she accepts a lift from a younger man…

The 1958 film won for its director the Special Jury Prize in Cannes. To the rest of us it gave a splendid tagline: “This was her moment! And nothing else mattered” and a rather less glorious definition of “hardcore pornography” as a result of its risqué scenes.

Here’s Supreme Court Judge Potter Stewart in Jacobellis v Ohio, a case that arose when the state of Ohio tried (and ultimately failed) to ban Les Amants on the grounds that it was obscene:

“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description. And perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it.”

Tax avoidance is a bit like hardcore pornography. To ban it you first have to overcome a tough definitional problem: what is it? Read more

Guest post: Toby Nangle on the end of the “Goldilocks slump”

In this guest post, Toby Nangle, the Global Co-Head of Multi Asset & Head of Asset Allocation, EMEA at Columbia Threadneedle, wonders whether rising wages caused by changes in demography could ultimately end the productivity slump.

Weak productivity growth has puzzled economists and policymakers but it doesn’t seem to have hurt investors: the period 2009-2016 might even be called “the Goldilocks Slump”. Ample slack in job markets ensured little bargaining power for workers, whilst central banks battled deflationary impulses with a combination of low (or negative) rates and asset purchases. The net effect has been falling real yields and tight risk premiums.

But productivity growth does matter. And we are nearing the point where its absence will be of overwhelming importance to financial market investors. Read more

Financial plumbing and the choice of balance sheet(s)

This guest post from Manmohan Singh warns that while QE created excess reserves, removing those reserves from the system will have an important impact on the markets’ financial plumbing – and that will need to be incorporated in monetary policy decision making. Singh is the author of Collateral and Financial Plumbing and a senior economist at the IMF. Views expressed are his own and not of the IMF.


Expanded central bank balance sheets that silo sizeable holdings of US Treasuries, UK Gilts, Japanese Government Bonds (JGBs), German Bunds and other AAA eurozone collateral have placed central bankers in the midst of market plumbing. It’s now going to be very difficult for them to walk away from that role. Read more

On HM Treasury’s Brexit analysis…

A guest post by Peter Doyle, economist and former IMF staffer


I very much hope—and expect—that Brexit will be rejected.

But the 200-odd pages of HMT density on trade theory are intended to intimidate, not illuminate. They distract from the key issue; the impact of Brexit on the Euro. Read more

Guest post: Helicopter drop? Just drop the idea

This post is from Gerard MacDonell, an economist at Point72 Asset Management, formerly SAC, from 2004 through 2015…


With the risk of recession and a return to the zero bound now prominent, there is renewed discussion of the Fed and Treasury coordinating to deliver a helicopter drop of money.

This would not work in the US because the inflationary implications of it would be too dire and because the Fed would predictably renege on its side of the bargain. Here’s why, as I see it. Read more

Guest post: Buffett’s climate certainty

From Kate Mackenzie, former Alphavillain and current climate-finance think-tanker


Warren Buffett’s annual letter last week badly lets down any reader hoping to understand the implications of climate change for the general insurance and reinsurance sector.

If Buffett had said climate change impacts are not a problem for ‘his’ insurance companies, because his managers are managing the risks thusly, that would be fine. It’d also be a fascinating read, if it went into some detail — unlikely though, because that would reveal competitive information.

Unfortunately he chose to apply it to all of the insurance sector: Read more

Guest post: (Episode VII) The Mob Awakens

This is a guest post by Timothy R. Ferguson founder and president of The Institute for Anacyclosis, a non-profit advancing the study of Polybius’s cyclical theory of political evolution.

According to the original version of Polybius’s theory of Anacyclosis, society begins as tribal monarchy, develops into royal monarchy, then degenerates into tyranny. This in turn is overthrown by aristocracy, gets corrupted by oligarchy, and is later succeeded by democracy, which itself is perverted into ochlocracy (mob-rule) — finally opening the door (once again) to the chaos that makes autocratic rule palatable, thereby restarting the cycle.

The base cycle being referenced over and over again is thus one-few-many.

While political evolution does not rigidly conform to any fixed sequence, a sufficient duration of time seems to average out the occurrences of chance. For example, England in the beginning was ruled by kings, then by an aristocracy, which quickly became oligarchic. Now it fancies itself democratic, even if in truth it has become rather more plutocratic.

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Guest post: The emotional pari passu rollercoaster

By Rodrigo Olivares-Caminal, Professor in Banking and Finance Law at Queen Mary University of London and an expert and consultant in sovereign debt restructuring.

The Fed is not ready for the next recession

By David Beckworth

An increasing number of observers believe that the United State is inching closer to a recession. They see the stock market rout, plummeting oil prices, and falling inflation expectations as an ominous sign for the economy. Some also worry that the Fed’s raising of interest rates in December may have gotten ahead of the recovery. They fear this tightening of monetary policy could intensify these other dire developments and be the tipping point that pushes the economy into recession. Read more

Guest post: Re-electing Madame Lagarde

A guest post by Peter Doyle, economist and former IMF staffer

An election with only one candidate? Doesn’t sound competitive. But with nominations just closed for Managing Director of the IMF, the one candidate, Madame Lagarde, will be reelected regardless. Read more

Guest post: How to think about the Capital of China

By George Magnus, an associate at Oxford University’s China Centre and senior economic adviser to UBS

Ok you guessed: we are not talking about Beijing. Read more

Guest post: Argentina’s debt offer — don’t pop the champagne just yet

Charles Blitzer, an economist, former senior IMF staffer, and expert on sovereign debt management and restructuring, analyses Argentina’s recent offer to its debt holdouts — and advises a course correction for the government.

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Guest post: Best practices to resolve Argentina’s debt dispute

Charles Blitzer, an economist, former senior IMF staffer, and expert on sovereign debt management and restructuring, says that talks between Argentina and its holdouts should start with signing a non-disclosure agreement.

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Guest post: The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the dollar dilemma

This guest post is from Lutfey Siddiqi, managing director at UBS Investment Bank, and Simon Smiles, chief investment officer for ultra high net worth at UBS Wealth Management. It’s on the back of a UBS white paper for Davos, which you can read here.

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Guest post: Puerto Rico — debtor, heal thyself

Mitu Gulati and Bob Rasmussen — members of the law faculties of Duke University and the University of Southern California, respectively — argue that Puerto Rico has another route to restructuring its debts…

The federal courts have declared that Puerto Rico does not have the authority to enact an insolvency regime applicable to its public sector borrowers. Read more

Guest post: Peter Doyle on China

By Peter Doyle, former IMF official and economist.

The line of China Bulls is that “things really aren’t that bad or surprising, and there’s considerable willpower and ammunition left in Beijing should it be necessary”. Read more

How petrostates may solve their fiscal woes

by Evan Soltas