Reuters blog archive

from Breakingviews:

Don’t believe predictions of low interest rates

By Edward Hadas

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Will the new normal for interest rates be lower than the old? It is rapidly becoming conventional wisdom that years of near-zero overnight rates will be succeeded by an indefinite period in which borrowing costs remain low by the standards of the last few decades. The new consensus is reflected in financial markets: the yield on 30-year U.S. Treasury bonds has fallen from 4 percent to 3.4 percent this year. But it is built on unsound foundations.

Of course, predictions from central bankers should be discounted. When William Dudley, the president of the New York Federal Reserve and Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, state that they do not expect overnight rates to return to historical averages, they are partly engaging in very long-term forward guidance. They are trying to prevent the fear of higher rates in future from discouraging activity today.

But Dudley and Carney are not simply making things up. Like UBS economists, who predict that yields on 10-year government bonds in developed countries will peak at 3 percent to 4 percent, they are relying on a basic claim of financial theory: the equilibrium interest rate is the nominal growth rate.

from MacroScope:

Don’t stop fighting inflation, banks tell Brazil policymakers

Brazil's Central Bank President Tombini reacts during a ceremony to announce Measures of Consumer Protection at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia

A small piece of good news on Brazil's inflation rate last week probably gave the central bank its best pretext yet to finally stop raising interest rates after more than one year of non-stop increases. But economists still think it's too early to proclaim "mission accomplished".

Keeping interest rates at the current 11 percent will do little to reduce inflation in the months ahead, economists at Itau Unibanco, Santander and Bank of America Merrill Lynch said, despite a smaller-than-expected increase in consumer prices last month.

from Breakingviews:

Review: A crisis-like evaluation of “Stress Test”

By Breakingviews columnists
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

To judge the merits of Tim Geithner’s crises reflections in “Stress Test,” six Breakingviews columnists digested different pieces of the book in a short amount of time. Like the regulators who often lacked broader context, the assessments vary. Yet there’s also consensus it’s a useful tome for the financial library.

from Counterparties:

Renters get owned

Welcome to the Counterparties email. The sign-up page is here, it’s just a matter of checking a box if you’re already registered on the Reuters website. Send suggestions, story tips and complaints to

In 2012, the federal government spent $240 billion on housing aid, according to a new study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Despite the fact that 65% of American households are homeowners, 75% of housing aid, or $180 billion, is set aside for homeowners. Not only is federal housing aid disproportionately targeted to homeowners, it’s disproportionately targeted to the wealthiest homeowners. Here’s the CBPP:

from Breakingviews:

Lael Brainard isn’t the only Fed no-brainer

By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Lael Brainard isn’t the only Federal Reserve no-brainer. As Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, she has acquitted herself nobly helping the world understand Washington’s profligate and quixotic ways. The Senate would be as daft to block her potential nomination to the Fed board of governors as it would Janet Yellen’s to the chairmanship. Filling other central banking vacancies quickly is the president’s other obvious task.

from Breakingviews:

France won’t meet its deficit target. No problem

By Pierre Briançon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The French government will not meet its target of shrinking the budget deficit to 3 percent of GDP by 2015, according to the European Commission’s latest forecasts. Some voices will again call for the Commission to show some nerve, and dare to discipline one of the EU’s big powers for once. This won’t happen, for political reasons. But it shouldn’t - for economic ones. The only sensible response to the projected higher deficit should be: “so what?”

from Breakingviews:

Dear Mr President: Dodges for the U.S. debt ceiling

By Swaha Pattanaik

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

With almost no official data to analyse, economists who follow the United States have little to discuss nowadays. Many of them are keeping busy thinking about how the U.S. government could delay default if lawmakers refuse to raise the nation’s maximum borrowing limit. Breakingviews imagines a letter from one of them to President Barack Obama.  

from Breakingviews:

An Abenomics lesson on politics for Uncle Sam

By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Two years ago, there was no gloomier place than Japan. The country was recovering from the horrific devastation of the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami. Fearful of radiation poisoning, Tokyoites were purchasing Geiger counters and eschewing vegetables. The government was a thicket of finger-pointing, evasion and paralysis.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Why markets don’t fear a government shutdown

Now that the worldwide panic over U.S. monetary policy has subsided, Washington is brewing another storm in a teacup: the budget and Obamacare battle that reaches a climax next Monday, followed by the debt limit vote required to prevent a mid-October Treasury default. The ultimate outcome of these crises is a foregone conclusion. As Senator John McCain told the press this week: “We will end up not shutting down the government and not de-funding Obamacare.” He could surely have added that a Treasury default is also out of the question.

But how exactly will Washington manage to dodge these bullets? As McCain added, “I don’t know what all the scenes are, [although] I’ve seen how this movie ends.” Markets understandably fear that all the plot twists leading up to a seemingly satisfactory resolution could produce an economic horror film, crushing business and consumer confidence, damaging economic growth and triggering a major sell-off in global stock markets. That, after all, is exactly what happened when the U.S. Treasury almost defaulted in July 2011.

from Breakingviews:

Fed politics may just preserve Fed’s independence

By Daniel Indiviglio
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

America’s dysfunctional politics might just preserve the central bank’s independence - if inadvertently. President Barack Obama’s pick as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, Larry Summers, was torpedoed by congressional opposition. That suggests an unwelcome increase of political meddling in the Fed’s affairs. But if the Fed’s internal choice, Janet Yellen, gets the job, isn’t the central bank’s sovereignty maintained? It’s a messy way to the right outcome.