The Great Debate UK
Two days before Thursday's strong inflation figures, the People's Bank of China surprised with a rate hike. Global markets sold off, but quickly recovered. The effect of conducting monetary policy through short sharp shocks is waning. It looks time for a well-explained, concerted plan to fight rising prices.
Chinese policymakers favor a keep-'em-guessing approach. The first rate hike in three years came out of the blue, and the central bank remains mute on its reasons. Only annual inflation of 3.6 percent, above the official target, gives a retrospective clue. Similarly, the People's Bank has not explained why it ditched its bewildering practice of moving rates by 27 basis points at a time.
Surprise and silence can be beneficial. One fear is that if investors see monetary policy as a one-way bet, they will pile on hot money. Pronouncements are often made at odd times of day or night, and sometimes before the data that justifies them is released. In comparison, the U.S. Federal Reserve rarely makes rate decisions outside regular meetings, and tends to hint strongly beforehand.
China's tactics are risky. Investors can misinterpret: this week's rate hike was seen by some as a one-off, and by others as the first of many. Policy uncertainty increases companies' cost of capital. And sometimes surprises are not followed up by action. After the central bank vowed in June to make the exchange rate more flexible, the yuan barely budged for two months, causing anger among some trade partners.
from Chrystia Freeland:
"There is no other policy tool available [besides quantitative easing],"' Laura Tyson, a former chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisors, said at this morning's Reuters/YouTube live debate on how to fix the economy. Tyson argues that additional Fed purchases of long-term bonds is the most viable way to energize the U.S. economy since a new fiscal stimulus bill is unlikely to pass Congress:
She appears alongside Glenn Hubbard, another former CEA chairman, who maintains the Fed will spend another $1 trillion to lower rates by 20 basis points. "We can't inflate our way to prosperity," he said.
Kathleen Brooks is research director at forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.
Ever since the last Federal Reserve meeting when the prospect of further policy stimulus for the US gripped the market, dollar weakness has been the dominant theme in FX. The Fed action is considered in some quarters as a backdoor form of currency devaluation, and there has been talk of a global “currency war” as a result.
Joschka Fischer was never one to mince words when he was Germany's foreign minister in the late '90s and early noughts. So it is not overly surprising that he has painted a picture in a new post of a world with only two powers -- the United States and China -- and an ineffective and divided Europe on the sidelines.
More controversial, however, is his view that China will not only grow into the world's most important market over the coming years, but will determine what the world produces and consumes -- and that that will be green.
The retaliatory China currency bill passed in the U.S. House helps brand this Congress as one of the more protectionist in years. The next one might switch gears and embrace trade by passing several stalled pacts. But Beijing shouldn't expect that to translate into a friendlier Washington.
A companion bill in the Senate also meant to pressure China to allow a faster rise in the yuan is unlikely to succeed. And it would probably be vetoed by President Barack Obama if it did.
from Chrystia Freeland:
Get ready for the next wave of globalization. The emergence of the emerging markets is old news, of course: after all, Tom Friedman discovered that the world was flat back in 2005. But even as much of the developed world is struggling with weak consumer demand and stubbornly high levels of unemployment, the emerging market countries are writing a new chapter in the story of the global economy.
We are accustomed to thinking of our economic relationship with the countries Fareed Zakaria describes as “the rest” as a two-way exchange between west and east or north and south: western companies setting up call centers in India or manufacturing their goods in China, for instance; and, more recently, savings-rich emerging market economies, especially China, investing in US treasuries, or Russian oligarchs buying London mansions.
from The Great Debate:
What does $4 trillion a day in business, never sleeps and sees Japan's Ministry of Finance as just one more patsy?
The foreign exchange market, of course, which is licking its collective lips as Japan embarks on another round of unilateral intervention to sell the yen in an effort to drive down its value and protect its export-oriented economy.
By John Foley and Wei Gu
China's plans to make its currency global could change the world -- if they get off the ground. More international use of the yuan might increase China's trade clout, unseat the mighty U.S. dollar and make a lot of financiers very rich in the process. But it can be hard to separate the facts from the fable. Here are some questions answered.
Why are people talking about an international yuan?
China is the world's second-biggest economy. But its currency doesn't nearly match its size. For most international dealings, China relies on the dollar, which leaves it beholden to the United States. Beijing wants more influence on the global stage, so it has been taking baby-steps to turn the yuan into an internationally used currency.
Mike Dicks, chief economist and blogger at Barclays Wealth, has identified what he sees as the three biggest problems facing the global economy, and conveniently found that they are linked with three separate regions.
First, there is the risk that U.S., t consumers won't increase spending. Dicks notes that the increase in U.S. consumption has been "extremely moderate" and far less than after previous recessions. His firm has lowered is U.S. GDP forecast for 2011 to 2.7 percent from a bit over 3 percent.
from Global Investing:
Bank of America-Merrill Lynch's monthly poll of around 200 fund managers had a few nuggets in the June version, aside from the usual mood-taking.
Gold is too expensive. A net 27 percent of respondent thought it overvalued, up from 13 percent in May. Then again, the respondents to this poll have reckoned gold is too pricey since September 2009.