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
Or, how investors are trapped by rich assets. Charted by Credit Suisse, do click to enlarge:
About a year ago — a few days before Opec spooked the world with its decision to wage war on shale producers with an oil production race to the bottom, but following a few months of steady oil declines post the Fed’s decision to start signalling an upcoming tightening path — we speculated regarding a what if scenario based on the hypothetical eventuality of no petrodollars :
Here’s an easy game: spot the credit card provider who needs to try harder.
Most of the time, banks manage credit card limits in a fairly continuous and granular way. As credit scores go up, so do credit limits. Here is what it looks like: Read more
In the event of a new downturn please press the giant red button. To do so please break through the glass emblazoned with the words “political reality”.
What to do if the world turns sour is, of course, a fair question. And one that Andy Haldane recently tackled while discussing 5000 years of dread, the record low interest rates and stretched central bank balance sheets, we are currently seeing.
Citi are starting to point to a new global recession too, triggered by EM and a stumbling China. We’re not sure we buy that just yet but here’s Citi’s Englander with what he think is coming down the policy path in response, with our emphasis:
We now think that the move to central banks endorsing fiscal policy and essentially monetizing the added spending will be relatively quick and direct, in the event of a sudden slump in the global activity.
Someone had to, because the net supply of new bonds was minimal and the European Central Bank has been buying €60bn per month.
Foreigners? No, according to a chart from Citi’s Han’s Lorenzen, it was the locals:
If Jeremy Corbyn becomes leader of the UK Labour Party, one positive consequence will be the ensuing discussion of the monetary policy transmission mechanism.
It all started with his presentation on “The Economy in 2020” given on July 22:
The ‘rebalancing’ I have talked about here today means rebalancing away from finance towards the high-growth, sustainable sectors of the future. How do we do this? One option would be for the Bank of England to be given a new mandate to upgrade our economy to invest in new large scale housing, energy, transport and digital projects: Quantitative easing for people instead of banks. Richard Murphy has been one of many economists making that case.
That passage seems to have been mostly ignored until August 3, when Chris Leslie, Labour’s shadow chancellor, attacked the policy, which in turn led to a detailed response from the aforementioned Richard Murphy (see also here and here), at which point what seems like the bulk of the British economics commentariat erupted. Just search the internet for “Corbynomics” if you don’t believe us. Read more
What will save the Wunderbund* (and related QE trades)?
On the back of news “that several Chinese provincial governments have been forced to postpone bond auctions as banks balk at the low yields on offer” — really scuppering the plans of those local governments to restructure their massive debts — some rumours of “Chinese QE” began floating about over the past few days.
But that seems to have passed…. and now it’s chatter of an ECB style LTRO that’s being heard in the wind.
Either way though, we think it would be a better idea to forget the QE or LTRO comparisons this time around — it muddies the water — and instead concentrate on what China is trying to achieve. Read more
Deutsche Bank has long been an unloved stock.
Not only does it trade stubbornly below book-value, a bleak revenue outlook in January led to the promise of a major strategy rethink for the group, including the prospect of job cuts, asset sales and the streamlining of investment banking divisions.
Among options on the table is a sale of the group’s Postbank retail business — a division it acquired in 2008 in the hope of bringing deposit funding to the aid of its investment banking arm. Read more
Economics blogger Ben Bernanke wrote today on why interest rates are lower than they’ve been in the past. His argument is that changing estimates of future growth and inflation are to blame, rather than an overly activist Fed. While we have some sympathy for this view, we’re struck by the fact that it partly contradicts what Bernanke said when he was actually at the Fed.
In particular, compare this passage from Bernanke’s recent post (emphasis ours): Read more
We know there’s been a great deal of change on the asset-side of banks’ balance sheets since the crisis. But if you ever wanted it summed up in one table, look no further than the following:
These came out yesterday courtesy of BofAML’s 2015 look at looong term trends in financial markets by Harnett and Leung…
The obvious place to start:
And the obvious place to continue, asset prices: Read more
Eric Rosengren, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, gave a speech in Frankfurt on Thursday arguing that the Fed’s full employment mandate gave the central bank more flexibility to be aggressive earlier, and that open-ended programmes that are tied to economic targets are more effective than purchases of predetermined size and duration.
Nothing novel there. But his speech also contained, perhaps inadvertently, some interesting arguments that the rounds of bond-buying after the acute phase of the financial crisis did little for the real economy. (We covered the tenuous relationship between asset purchase programmes and inflation here.) Read more
You know how Bitcoin miners get a natural advantage in the cryptocurrency pyramid of inequality because of being early adopters that get first dibs on all new currency that’s created?
Turns out the ECB has a similar problem.
Here’s a nice write up of the distributive problems associated with QE-style helicopter drops in the current asset-purchasing framework from Pierre Monnin, a fellow at the Council on Economic Policies (our emphasis):
In practice, targeted money drops, like quantitative easing (QE), do not spread instantaneously throughout the economy. Like a vaccine, money is injected at one place and then disperses more or less quickly to other areas. Stephen Williamson and Olivier Ledoit have closely looked at how a money injection moves through the economy. They both use a model in which different economic groups trade randomly and repeatedly with each other.
Guesswork from Deutsche (click to enlarge):
From JPM’s Flows & Liquidity team, this is what ECB QE incontinence looks like:
We know instinctively that the Bank of England doesn’t like to be seen to be inflating stock market bubbles. That money printed for the purposes of quantitative easing might be flowing into the hands of existing equity holders (such as corporate executive management) would reinforce the wholly disagreeable notion that Britain’s central bank was actually fuelling the growth in wealth inequality.
So we should not be surprised when two Bank economists, Michael Joyce and Zhuoshi Liu, together with a colleague from Bath University, Ian Tonks, publish a piece of research stating… Read more
On the potential death of that long awaited negative deposit rate, interesting thoughts from HSBC’s Steven Major below if sovereign quantitative easing does eventually raise its head in Europe.
But first, a necessary nod to QE skepticism from Peter Stella:
Rather amazingly, a crude quantitative measure of ECB stimulus—the sum of refinancing operations and securities held for monetary policy purposes—peaked the very month of Dr. Draghi’s [whatever it takes] speech. Those who are now seeking QE apparently believe that, despite the inverse correlation between quantitative stimulus and actual results, an increase in the size of the ECB balance sheet will lead to an outcome superior to that associated with the increase in policy “size” evident above during the 14 months prior to the Draghi speech. During that time, the sum of ECB monetary operations instruments expanded by 168 percent without any discernible palliative impact on markets. So if the definition of insanity is repeatedly trying the same behavior and expecting different results, the market would appear slightly insane. Or perhaps it is simply guilty of failing to fully comprehend the complexity of monetary operations, and more specifically, which monetary medicines work and which do not.
With the European Central Bank keeping everyone guessing on the prospect of Eurozone QE, uncertainties over exactly how Draghi will choose to act to curb the deflation risk building in the region are beginning to create a headache for non-Eurozone members such as Poland.
Whilst Poland’s economy has proved resilient to the downturn thus far, deflationary trends are creeping into the country putting central bankers under pressure to act decisively sooner rather than later. The key metric everyone is worried about is a dip in Poland’s annual rate of consumer price inflation to a negative 0.3 per cent. Read more
A farewell to QE (of sorts) from Michael Hartnett et al at BofAML:
A recent US Treasury paper calculated that between Jan’09 and Apr’13 the S&P500 index rose 570 points in the weeks the Fed bought $5bn or more securities, 141 points in the weeks it bought up to $5bn, and fell 51 points in the weeks the Fed sold securities.
The Fed’s balance sheet is no longer in expansion mode, which means it’s time for post-mortems of the most recent asset purchase programme. (Our colleague John Authers has a very good round-up of what did and didn’t happen since QE3 began.)
We want to focus on the fact that the most recent round of bond-buying seemed to have no inflationary impact. If anything, an observer of the data who had no preconceptions about monetary policy operations would conclude that QE3 was disinflationary. Alphaville writers have been exploring this possibility for years (though without firm conclusions).
Let’s start by looking at the changes in actual inflation since the start of 2010. Read more
Reuters is reporting that the European Central Bank might be willing to purchase corporate bonds as part of its €1 trillion effort to restore “the size of [its] balance sheet towards the dimensions it used to have at the beginning of 2012.” The story has also been picked up by the FT and WSJ.
We didn’t immediately get why the ECB would decide to do this, especially since spreads on even the junkiest of junk debt are still quite narrow. (Lufthansa’s recent 5-year note yielding just 1.1 per cent at issuance comes to mind.)
One explanation is that the size of the markets the ECB has already agreed to target — asset-backed securities and covered bonds — is too small for the central bank to achieve its objectives. Read more
Deutsche’s George Saravelos isn’t entirely convinced by the calls for QE4/QEmore rattling through our inbox from those on the receiving end of this correction.
Those looking to the Fed to save the day are looking at the wrong place. First, unlike the September 2013 non-taper, US rates have rallied and American data surprises are close to their highs. Second, this is not about the US but the rest of the world. Bunds and gilts have rallied 9-10% this year compared to a 6% rally in USTs. This is about global, not American fears. It is about how the world transitions away from Fed-driven liquidity (QE winds down this month) to the rest of the world.
Or QEinfinity continued we suppose.
From Deutsche’s Jim Reid the morning after the liquidity crisis before:
With all this going on one wonders what probabilities you’d get that the Fed actually does QE again before it raises rates. I’m sure if you’d have suggested this a month ago many would have thought that there was more chance of Elvis being found living a relaxing retirement on the moon.
Some pre-ECB musings from Lombard Street’s Dario Perkins (with our emphasis):
Market economists remain divided on the issue of whether the ECB will do QE, not because they disagree about whether it is needed – here there is near unanimity – but because they aren’t sure Mr Draghi can overcome philosophical and technical opposition from some of his colleagues…
Fortunately, those opposed to QE at the Bank seem to have softened their stance a little recently.
The final report from Smithers & Co has landed, as the septuagenarian scourge of “stockbroker economics” eases into retirement.
We are assured that he’ll still be blogging for the FT, but the regular research output will cease. The valedictory note is, as you might expect, on the bearish side of things:
The US equity market is overvalued to an extent only experienced five times before in the past 212 years. On two occasions, however, it has risen well above the current degree of overvaluation.
… and back on the “buy foreign bonds” option. Never mind the former might never happen, let alone happen when the ECB meets next week and does its best not to disappoint.
From Morgan Stanley’s FX team: Read more