The Great Debate UK

from Breakingviews:

Fed’s data dump holds important lessons for Europe

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

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday finally published details of the institutions that clamored for its funds during the financial crisis. It's hardly surprising that troubled banks like Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup topped the charts for banks that lined up for federal money. But the disclosure illustrates the scope of the U.S. central bank's measures to keep the financial system on life support. The scale of emergency lending -- $3.3 trillion at its peak -- could hold important lessons for Europe, too.

The Fed's efforts through 11 different initiatives went well beyond Wall Street. American Express and General Electric were among those that borrowed billions from the Fed's commercial paper facility, set up on the fly to make sure Corporate America didn't get swept up in the post-Lehman credit seizure. Currency swap lines also channeled $171 billion in a single day to the European Central Bank as a dollar shortage threatened stability across the Atlantic.

Now, euro zone efforts to stop hemorrhaging in peripheral economies are looking inadequate -- and that's without much sign of a feared spillover into the banking system. The region's $1 trillion bailout fund, anchored by the European Financial Stability Facility, impressed markets when there was only Greece to worry about. With Ireland already set to get a bailout, largely because of its banks' weakness, and concerns growing over Portugal and even Spain and Italy, the EFSF-led package doesn't look like the bazooka it once did.

from Breakingviews:

Fed misses a transparency trick with stress tests

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

The newly powerful Federal Reserve may have missed a trick. The U.S. central bank, charged under the Dodd-Frank reform bill with broad oversight of the banking system, is asking the 19 biggest American financial institutions to submit to a series of stress tests. That's a good thing. The trouble is the regulator plans to keep the results and the criteria used in the tests private.

from MacroScope:

Primary dealers driving the printing presses

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s hotly-contested $600 billion renewal of its quantitative easing programme is roughly the size of the Gross Domestic Product of Switzerland.

Expectations by forecasters in Reuters Polls on how much more bond purchases the Fed will conduct beyond the $1.7 trillion already conducted varied widely running up to the Fed's announcement that it would go ahead with QE2.

from The Great Debate:

Bernanke’s high stakes poker game at the G-20

By Peter Navarro
The opinions expressed are his own.

Ben Bernanke is about to play the biggest poker hand in global monetary policy history: The Federal Reserve chairman is trying to force China to fold on its fixed dollar-yuan currency peg. This is high-stakes poker.

Although Bernanke will not be sitting at the table to play his quantitative easing card when all the members of the G-20, including China, meet this week in South Korea. Every G-20 country is suffering from an already grossly under-valued yuan pegged to a dollar now falling rapidly under the weight of Bernanke’s QE2. In fact, breaking the highly corrosive dollar-yuan peg is the most important step the G-20 can take for both robust global economic recovery and financial market stability.

When is it the Fed’s cue to leave?

The Federal Reserve’s second round of quantitative easing to the tune of $600bn put a firework under a trend that started back in August when Fed Governor Ben Bernanke first touted the idea of providing more monetary policy support to the US economy. Risky assets are in demand and the market is happy to sell dollars.

After digesting the Fed’s statement released after its meeting, investors aren’t willing to stand in the Fed’s way as it keeps its hand on the monetary policy trigger: “The Committee will continue to monitor the economic outlook and financial developments and will employ its policy tools as necessary to support the economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with its mandate.”

Is the currency war over?

The communiqué from last week’s IMF G20 finance minister’s meeting was the first step in trying to resolve the so-called global currency war. The ministers released a joint statement on October 23 which pledged that all countries would “move towards more market determined exchange rate systems that reflect underlying economic fundamentals and refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies.”

Even fears that the U.S. and China could have a bust-up over the U.S.’s charge that the renminibi is undervalued relative to the U.S. dollar were put to bed when it was reported that Treasury Secretary Geithner popped in to China on his way back from the G20 in South Korea to meet Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan.

from MacroScope:

Did France cause The Great Depression?

Economist Douglas Irwin of Dartmouth College has stirred up a bit of a fuss by concluding in some academic research that it was France, not the United States, that was most to blame for The Great Depression.

Irwin's theory, in a paper posted here by the National Bureau of Economic Research, is that France created an artificial shortage of gold reserves when it increased its share from 7 percent to 27 percent between 1927 and 1932.  Because major currencies at the time were backed by gold under the Gold Standard, this put other countries under enormous deflationary pressure.

from The Great Debate:

Quantitative easing and the commodity markets

-The views expressed are the author's own-

A warning by an International Energy Agency (IEA) analyst this week that quantitative easing (QE) risked inflating nominal commodity prices and derailing the recovery drew a withering response from Nobel Economics Laureate Paul Krugman, who labelled the unfortunate analyst the "worst economist in the world".

According to New York Times columnist Krugman "Higher commodity prices will hurt the recovery only if they rise in real terms. And they'll only rise in terms if QE succeeds in raising real demand. And this will happen only if, yes, QE2 is successful in helping economic recovery".

from The Great Debate:

There is no such thing as inflation

In 1987, UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher whipped up a firestorm of criticism from her opponents on the left when she told a magazine reporter that "there is no such thing as society", only individual men and women, and families.

The interpretation of those comments remains fiercely controversial. From the context it is not certain the prime minister was clear what she was trying to say.

Does the world need more QE from the Fed?

- Kathleen Brooks is research director at The opinions expressed are her own -

The minutes from the Federal Reserve’s September meeting seems to suggest that more quantitative easing is a done deal for November. So far, the argument has centred on whether or not the U.S. economy needs another shot in the arm from the Fed to boost growth. The Fed certainly thinks it does. According to the minutes “many” members felt that the status quo – sluggish growth, inflation grinding lower  and no sign of a recovery  in the jobs market – was enough to justify more easing in policy.