Global Investing

Turkish central bank reaps what it sows

Turkey’s inflation spike is here. And it is looking worse than expected.

Data today shows October inflation jumping 3.27 percent,  well above forecast and the highest in nine years. Compare that to 1.8 percent at this time last year. Annual inflation is now running at 7.7 percent and makes the central bank’s end-year forecast of 8.3 percent look optimistic –most analysts reckon it will be closer to 10 percent. Inflation has in fact been rising steadily in recent months — a consequence of the runaway credit boom of the past year and a policy experiment which saw the central bank cutting interest rates in the face of an overheating economy and raising banks’ reserve ratios instead.  Add in the pass-through from the lira’s big depreciation since August and a jump in  inflation is hardly surprising. The central bank has of late expressed some concern about inflation and used this to justify its actions to prop up the lira.

“Critics though might still argue that it is more a case of ‘as you sow, so you will reap’ and inflation being felt now is a reflection of the inappropriate policy mix earlier in the year,” RBS analyst Tim Ash writes.

Turkey was lucky today though. Shenanigans in Greece held investors attention and a rate cut by the European Central Bank boosted risk appetite, allowing markets to shrug off the Turkish numbers. Bond yields have risen only 5-6 basis points and stocks have rallied.  The central bank meanwhile is expected to stick to its guns and not raise interest rates, relying instead on its liquidity tightening exercise to do the trick.

But that has the potential to pose problems in coming months. The Turkish Treasury aims to sell 12.2 billion lira worth of  bonds this month — three times October’s level. BNP Paribas analysts note the jump in banks’ funding costs engineered by the central bank and the absence of liquidity on bond markets.  All this “combined with an inflation rate close to double digits is bad news for the upcoming Treasury auctions in mid-November,” they say in a note.

Turkey’s central bank: still a slippery customer

The Turkish central bank has done it again, wrong-footing monetary policy predictions with its latest interest rate moves.

On Thursday, the central bank hiked its overnight lending rate by widening the interest rate corridor. While most analysts correctly predicted the central bank would leave its policy rate unchanged, few foresaw the overnight lending rate hike to 12.5 percent from 9 percent.

As Societe Generale’s emerging markets strategist Gaelle Blanchard put it: ”They managed to find another trick. This one we were not expecting.”

from Davos Notebook:

Tigger bounces back in the boardroom

PWC_chart for blogCEOs are, of course, ebullient by nature.

So it's no surprise that confidence about growth prospects is bouncing back as emerging markets continue to barrel along and even sluggish developed economies show signs of recovery.

What is, perhaps, remarkable is just how far confidence has returned. The latest survey of 1,201 company bosses by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows it is back almost to pre-crisis levels.

But how much should we trust the bouncing boardroom Tiggers? There are also plenty of Eeyores in Davos, warning about fiscal deficits, growing economic imbalances and the rising threat from inflation.

Never mind the output gap

The inflation vs. deflation debate has livened up again following the jump in December’s UK consumer price inflation (CPI) to 2.9 percent. Last year you couldn’t move for economists harping on about the output gap and blithely dismissing arguments about imported inflation, rising commodity prices, and oh yes, the little matter of the money supply.

Indian inflation

Simon Ward, chief economist at Henderson Global Investors, takes the threat of inflation more seriously. He points out that the big swings in inflation in recent years have been driven by food and energy prices, and the latter are beginning to rebound sharply.

“Many economists believe inflation will stay low due to the industrial output gap, but even that has been picking up,” he adds. The seven leading emerging markets, which together account for 71 percent of combined world GDP growth, are back at normal levels of capacity usage, and will soon move above these.

Cheers to double digit real returns

It’s good to drink it, but it seems good to sit on it too.

Fine wine, yielding double-digit returns, is low risk and good diversifier given its weak correlation to the return of asset classes — according to a fund which invests in fine wine.

The Wine Investment Fund says investors are receiving returns (after all fees and expenses) equivalent to 13.01% per annum over the last 5 years.

“This year’s payout represents a real return in excess of 70% or 10% per annum when allowing for inflation.  By comparison, over the same period the FTSE’s real return is -3.5% and a typical savings account would have generated a real return of less than 10%.  Fine wine has produced positive and consistent returns for decades now.  It really is proving its worth and we see more professional investors using it as a valuable diversification tool within a properly managed investment portfolio,” says Andrew della Casa, director of the fund.

Start building the bunker

They keep telling us that the recession is over so maybe now’s the time to start worrying about inflation. That’s the view many wealthy investors are already taking, reasoning that a little bit of the yellow shiny stuff will provide some comfort as we start piling our cash into wheelbarrows to do the weekly groceries shop.

It is gold exchange traded commodities (ETCs) that have seen the biggest investor inflows this year so perhaps it’s not surprising that the gold price broke through $1,000 an ounce this week.

“Investors are concerned about sovereign risk, quantitative easing, government deficits and the outlook for the US dollar,” said Nicholas Brooks, head of research and investment strategy at ETF Securities, at a Dow Jones Indexes commodities briefing on Tuesday. “They are using gold as an insurance policy.”

The Big Five: themes for the week ahead

Five things to think about this week:

APPETITE TO CHASE? 
- Equity bulls have managed to retain the upper hand so far and the MSCI world index is up almost 50 percent from its March lows. However, earnings may need to show signs of rebounding for the rally’s momentum to be sustained. Even those looking for further equity gains think the rise in stock prices will lag that in earnings once the earnings recovery gets underway, as was the case in past cycles. The symmetry/asymmetry of market reaction to data this week — as much from China as from the major developed economies — will show how much appetite there is to keep chasing the rally higher. 

TAKING CONSUMERS’ PULSE 
- A better picture of the health of the consumer will emerge this week as U.S. retailers’ earnings coincides with the release of U.S. July retail sales data and the UK BRC retail survey comes out on the other side of the Atlantic. With joblessness still rising, the reports will show how willing households are to spend and whether deep discounts, which eat into retailers’ profit margins, are the only thing that will tempt them to shop — both key issues for the macroeconomic and corporate outlook. 

CENTRAL BANK WATCH 
- After last week’s Bank of England surprise, all eyes turn to what sort of signals the U.S. Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan will send on the outlook for their respective economies and QE programmes. After the BOE’s expansion of its QE programme the short sterling strip repriced how soon UK rates would rise. But the broader trend recently in the U.S., euro zone and the UK has been to discount rate rises in 2010 — and possibly as soon as this year in Australia. Benchmark interbank euro rates have risen for the first time in two months, and central bankers everywhere, including China, face the delicate balancing act of managing monetary tightening expectations in the months ahead. 

from MacroScope:

The Big Five: themes for the week ahead

Five things to think about this week:

BOND YIELDS 
- Nominal bond yields have risen across the curve, while term premiums and fixed income volatility are higher in an environment of uncertainty about how central banks will exit from quantitative easing policies once recovery takes hold. Bonds have turned into the worst-performing asset class this year according to Citi and none of the factors which markets have blamed for this are about to disappear. Curve steepening seen in April/May has started to reverse and whether it continues is being viewed as a more open question than whether yields head higher still.

RATTLING EQUITIES? 
- World stocks' are struggling to extend the near-50 percent gains seen since March 9 but they have yet to succumb to gravity despite a back up in government bond yields. Citigroup analysts reckon global equity markets can rally as long as Treasury yields stay below 5-6 percent but it might be the speed of yield moves that determines whether equities get rattled or keep looking past higher borrowing costs to the recovery story. 

INFLATION EXPECTATIONS 
-  Increases in the prices of oil and other commodities have seen the CRB index rise about 30 percent in less than four months and sustained gains will risk filtering through to prices and price expectations. Inflation reports are due out on both sides of the Atlantic next week but markets are looking further out and starting to price in the risks of a pick up in price pressures. Breakevens have turned positive all along the U.S. yield curve for the first time since autumn and euro zone breakevens have risen. Also, a Bank of England survey indicates public price expectations are up. Bid/cover ratios and tails at inflation-linked bond auctions will tell their own story on extent of demand for inflation hedges.

from Global News Journal:

Oil’s run-up outpaces most price targets… more upside?

    The recent run-up in oil prices could have further to go as most analysts are likely to begin raising their year-end oil price targets, according to market research firm Birinyi Associates in Stamford, Connecticut.    "Given several considerably lower expectations, we think it is reasonable to expect upgrades," they said in a research commentary, noting that crude oil prices were already above most firms' year-end targets.    U.S. front-month crude hit an intraday high of $73.23 on Thursday, the highest intraday level since prices hit $75.69 on Oct. 21.    A year-end oil price target of note recently came from Goldman Sachs, which raised its end-of-2009 oil price forecast on June 4 to $85 a barrel from $65.    Oil's climb partly reflects weakness of the U.S. dollar and expectations that demand may be picking up as the global recession abates.--- Graphic courtesy of Birinyi Associates, Inc.

Deflation to jump the shark?

The recent spate of shark attacks on Australian beaches could mark a turning point in global deflation and signal a change in fortunes for some beleaguered emerging economies, if Nomura strategist Sean Darby is to be believed.

Speaking at a Nomura investors forum, Darby said a chance sighting of a shark on Sydney’s famed Bondi Beach three weeks ago made him realise that prices of grain and other soft commodities — punished of late by global recession fears — could be due for a rebound.

“I actually saw a shark on Bondi Beach and that made me wonder about the impact of La Nina and how there’s a severe drought around the world at a time when many farmers are finding it hard to access credit,” said the Hong Kong-based analyst.