The great and good are in Davos facing a rather uncertain landscape yet again (‘twas ever thus for the last seven years).
While few people have had serious hopes for a prolonged Japanese economic boom for a long time, the range of forecasts provided for Japan's recent economic performance gives you an idea of just how wildly unexpected the news was today that it is back in recession.
The Bank of England will produce its quarterly inflation report today. With wage growth still notable by its absence and inflation dropping to just 1.2 percent in September, noises from within the BoE suggest the timing of a first interest rate rise is heading further over the horizon.
Is gridlocked government a betrayal of democracy? Or does it allow citizens to get on with their lives and businesses, unencumbered by meddlesome politicians?
Days like Wednesday are the ones that remind investors why the Federal Reserve is what it is, and how some believe the other world central banks cannot compete, even as some expect the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan (to an extent) to take up the slack the Fed will leave behind when it ends quantitative easing in the next weeks and prepares for its first interest-rate hike some time in the third quarter.
To most people, the idea of falling prices sounds like a good thing. But it poses serious economic and financial risks - just ask the Japanese, who only now finally have the upper hand in a 20-year battle to drag their economy out of deflation.
The last seven days has been a glaring example of fallout from the cross-border carry trade. That's the sort of trade, well known in currency markets, where investors borrow funds in low-rate countries and invest them in higher-rate ones. Some $4 trillion is estimated to have flooded into emerging markets since the 2008 financial crisis to profit off the ultra accommodate policies of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan, European Central Bank and the Bank of England. Now that central banks in developed economies are looking to reverse course and eventually raise rates, that carry trade is unraveling fast, resulting in the brutal sell-off in emerging markets such as Turkey and Argentina over the last week.