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from Breakingviews:

Kiwi rate rise shows cows beating central bankers

By Andy Mukherjee

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

New Zealand’s decision to exit record-low interest rates makes the cows of the South Pacific the envy of the world’s central bankers.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand raised the country’s official cash rate by a quarter percentage point to 2.75 percent on March 13, and signalled further increases through early 2017. The central bank now expects inflation to rise to the midpoint of its 1 to 3 percent target by the middle of this year, 18 months sooner than previously estimated.

The unsurprising decision is a victory for the bovine world. From Frankfurt to Tokyo to Washington DC, the masters of the financial universe have no option but to go on milking cheap money for rare droplets of inflation. Meanwhile, the dairy herds of New Zealand are producing higher economy-wide prices with effortless ease.

from Global Investing:

Watanabes shop for Brazilian real, Mexican peso

Are Mr and Mrs Watanabe preparing to return to emerging markets in a big way?

Mom and pop Japanese investors, collectively been dubbed the Watanabes, last month snapped up a large volume of uridashi bonds (bonds in foreign currencies marketed to small-time Japanese investors),  and sales of Brazilian real uridashi rose last month to the highest since July 2010, Barclays analysts say, citing official data.

Just to remind ourselves, the Watanabes have made a name for themselves as canny players of the interest rate arbitrage between the yen and various high-yield currencies. The real was a red-hot favourite and their frantic uridashi purchases in 2007 and 2009-2011 was partly behind Brazil's decision to slap curbs on incoming capital. Their ardour has cooled in the past two years but the trade is far from dead.

from The Great Debate:

New Zealand’s bold experiment with regulating recreational drugs

It’s been nearly a century since the United States began its experiment in prohibiting recreational drugs besides alcohol, caffeine and tobacco -- and virtually no one sees the trillion dollar policy as a success. A recent study [PDF] shows that drug prices have dropped more than 80 percent in the last two decades alone; purity and availability has risen; and overall addiction and death rates haven’t been cut, despite an exponential increase in incarceration since the 1980s.

Even the hardline U.N. drug czar admitted in the annual World Narcotics Report [PDF] that “the international drug control system is floundering,” citing specifically its inability to match the speed and creativity of Internet-enabled chemists who create and distribute new legal highs like “bath salts” and “fake marijuana” faster than governments can ban them.

from Breakingviews:

Milk scare exposes New Zealand’s dairy dependency

By Peter Thal Larsen 

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

New Zealand’s dairy scare has exposed its dependence on milk. A warning about contaminated products at Fonterra, the country’s largest producer, has triggered recalls and temporary import bans around the world. The immediate fallout may be limited. But it’s a reminder that, with milk generating a quarter of its exports, New Zealand remains vulnerable to food scares.

from MacroScope:

Curse of the front-runner a bad omen for Fed contender Yellen?

The buzz on who will replace Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman has grown this year and amplified recently with talk of Lawrence Summers as a real possibility. There is also lingering speculation over Timothy Geithner, another previous U.S. Treasury Secretary, and former Fed Vice Chair Roger Ferguson among others as possible successors. Bernanke has provided no hint he wants to stay for a third term.

But above the din the central bank's current vice chair, Janet Yellen, has remained the front-runner. Her deep experience and implicit policy continuity has crowned her the heir apparent until proven otherwise. A Reuters poll of economists showed Yellen was seen as far and away the most likely candidate.

from Breakingviews:

Soaring kiwi dollar tests faith in inflation goal

By Andy Mukherjee

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

New Zealand’s overvalued kiwi dollar is testing its central bank’s single-minded devotion to price stability. The country, the first in the world to formally adopt inflation targeting as a monetary policy tool in 1990, is struggling to defend the regime following the four-year, 65 percent rise in the local dollar against the US currency.

from MediaFile:

All hail the Kim (Dotcom)

Piracy means never having to say you're sorry.

That might as well be the mantra of Kim Schmitz, better known as Kim Dotcom, the most flamboyant internet character this side of John McAfee.

For those who've missed this story so far, until about a year ago Kim Dotcom ran a wildly popular site called Megaupload from his New Zealand mansion. Megaupload allowed people to upload massive files – you know, like movies and TV shows the uploaders don't own and don't have the right to share. Which probably explains both the site's wild popularity, and the Justice Department’s prosecutorial zeal.

from Global Investing:

Ireland descends from risky debt heights

Good news for Europe as the cost for insuring sovereign debt against default fell in the third quarter of 2012, according to the CMA Global Sovereign Credit Risk report.

Ireland slipped out of the 10 most risky sovereigns for the first time since the first quarter of 2010 according to CMA, making space for Lebanon to enter the club of the world's ten most risky sovereign debt issuers.

from Global Investing:

Aussie: reserve managers’ new favourite

Lucky Australia. In a world of slowing economic growth its central bank today raised forecasts for 2012 GDP growth by a half point to 3.5 percent. That's down to a mining boom, driven of course by China. But there's a downside. Australia's currency, the dollar (or affectionately, the Aussie), has steadily risen in recent years, and is up 3 percent versus the U.S. dollar this year. Unsurprisingly, the Reserve Bank of Australia tempered its good news on growth with a warning over the Aussie's gains.

Analysts at Credit Agricole note that the Aussie's gains this year have come in tandem with a rise in Japan's yen. That in itself would have been highly unusual in the past: the yen is a so-called safe haven, the currency investors run to when all else is selling off, while the Aussie is a commodity currency, one that does well when world growth is looking good and risk appetite is high. CA analysts explain thus:

from Global Investing:

Mrs Watanabe in Istanbul

Japanese mom-and-pop investors' penchant for seeking high-yield investments overseas is well known. Mrs Watanabe (as the canny player of currency and exchange rate arbitrage has come to be known) invests billions of yen overseas every year via  so-called uridashi bonds, debt denominated in currencies with high yields.  Data shows the lira has suddenly become the red-hot favourite with uridashi investors this year.

In a note entitled Welcome Mrs Watanabe, Barclays analysts estimate $2 billion in lira-based uridashi issuance this year, ahead of old favourite, the  Australian dollar.

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