Global Investing

Central banks and the next bubble (2)

In the previous bubble blog earlier in the week I wrote that G4 central bank balance sheets are expanding to a whopping 26% of GDP.

In what Nomura’s Bob Janjuah called “Monetary Anarchy”, some analysts worry that central bank liquidity expansion is a timebomb which if/when it explodes would have very negative consequences.

Swiss private bank Lombard Odier, weighing in on the debate, warns that not only has the quality of central bank balance sheets deteriorated, there has been no visible impact on the real economy.

Stephanie Kretz, member of the investment strategy team for private banking at Lombard Odier, points out that a sharp fall in the money multiplier, defined as the ratio of broad money (M3) to the monetary base, means the impact on the real economy has been almost non-existent.

What about the real economy? Ballooning and riskier central bank balance sheets will not generate sustainable growth or reduce unemployment and debt levels, but could well induce at a later stage unintended consequences that include bouts of hyper-inflation, loss of trust in fiat money and loss of central banks’ credibility as to their capacity to maintain strong currencies and stable prices.

Beneath the Greek bailout hopes…

Who’s tired of the ”Markets up on Greece, markets down on Greece” headlines of the past few weeks? (I am.)

Today it’s an up day, with world stocks hitting a six-month peak on hopes that Greece will secure a second bailout package next week (finally, really).

But beneath the optimism lies a dire Greek economic and fiscal situation.

The Greek economy slumped 7 percent in the last quarter of 2011, with the rate of contraction since Q4 2008 reaching a whopping 16 percent in cumulative, real GDP terms.