The Great Debate UK

from The Great Debate:

Real commodity prices and the U.S. rate cycle

-- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own. --

Commodity prices exhibit a strong cyclical component -- though it can be masked when producers are carrying a lot of excess capacity.

The attached chart shows the real price of various commodity baskets (Jan 1980=100) overlaid by U.S. interest rates (discount rate, later funds target), and the business cycle (NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee).

Prices began rising well ahead of interest rates after three of the last four recessions. Commodity markets anticipated future increases in demand even as policymakers prefered to hold back while recovery became more firmly established.

The current price rebound is unusual only for its strength.

Part of the explanation is the increasing weight of China and other emerging markets in global commodity consumption. As a result, the U.S. business and rate cycles and those of the other advanced economies now affect less than half the consumption of many commodities worldwide.

Little chance of a rate hike until at least Q3

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cr_mega_503_JaneFoley.JPG-Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own. -

Bank of England Governor Mervyn King’s speech this week was well timed insofar as it has nipped in the bud a growing fear that inflation in the UK could be lurching higher.

A tough spring in store for the pound

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foley- Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.-

The pound has started the year on a negative note.  Ongoing concerns over the budget deficit, an impending general election, the prospect that the Bank of England (BoE) may yet increase quantitative easing (QE) and a drop in consumer confidence are all clouding the outlook.

You never know when rates will rise

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David Kuo-David Kuo, Director at the financial website The Motley Fool. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Go on. Admit it. You didn’t see it coming, did you? You never thought a member of the G20 nations would dare to break ranks and raise interest rates this soon.

from Commentaries:

Bernanke: Back to Clark Kent

Having averted a disaster, cartoon superheroes typically revert to their bland civilian identities. With the recession loosening its grip, Ben Bernanke is trying a similar trick.

After a period of heroic boldness and creativity, the Fed is determined to be dull. Wednesday's statement from the Federal Open Market Committee may well be calculated to bore.

from The Great Debate:

BoE extends QE, fears 1930s re-run

John Kemp

-- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own --

The Bank of England's decision to continue with its asset purchase programme, or quantitative easing (QE), at the rate of 50 billion pounds per quarter in Oct-Dec, unchanged from Jul-Sep, shows bank officials are more worried about ending support for the recovery too soon than about risking inflation by leaving it too late.

The problem with QE is that you have to keep buying the same amount of assets each month to maintain the same monetary stance. With interest rates, the Bank can cut them and they stay cut. If asset prices drop with QE, it represents a tightening of monetary policy.

Savers must start becoming investors

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david-kuo_motley-foolthumbnail- David Kuo is director at The Motley Fool. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee decided to leave interest rates unchanged at 0.5 percent in May. This came as no great surprise given that the Central Bank has already slashed interest rates to a level where further cuts would have made no discernible difference to the cost of money.

Pensioners feel pinch from low rates

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rtrt8h- Sharon Bratley is chartered financial planner at Fair Investment. The opinions expressed are her own. -

What does the decision by the Bank of England to keep interest rates at a record low of 0.5 percent mean for the average Briton in retirement?

Bank of England faces dilemma on QE extension

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johnkemp– John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

LONDON, April 9 (Reuters) – The Bank of England’s terse press statement announcing it will maintain overnight rates at 0.5 percent and continue the existing 75 billion pound quantitative easing (QE) programme gives no clue about whether the Bank intends to extend the programme when the first tranche of asset purchases are completed in June.
But officials will have to make a decision soon: unless they signal a commitment to extend QE, gilt yields will rise even further in anticipation that the major buyer in the market will withdraw.
The QE programme is dogged by ambiguity about its objectives (which a cynical observer might conclude is deliberate).
Officially, the aim is to prevent inflation falling below target by accelerating money supply growth, not manipulate the yield curve for government and corporate debt.
In this, the Bank’s avowed strategy is more conventional than the Fed’s ambitious efforts to determine the cost of credit for borrowers throughout the economy. It is a straightforward quantitative easing patterned on the Bank of Japan, rather than a credit easing patterned on the Fed.
If true, the measure of success is how much the money supply has been boosted at the end of the three month period; the Bank should be indifferent about whether ending QE causes yields and borrowing costs to rise.
So long as money supply has risen consistent with the inflation target, and the Bank can discern some green shoots of stabilisation if not recovery, officials can declare victory, end the programme, and keep the other 75 billion pounds of asset purchases authorised by the chancellor in reserve. Yields can be left to find their natural level.
But many suspect the Bank’s real objective is yield control — in which case it will have to announce another round of buy backs of gilts and corporate bonds in good time, well before the current programme is completed, to shape market expectations.
The results of the existing round have been unimpressive.
After falling initially, gilt yields are almost back up to the level they were at before the Bank’s foray into unconventional monetary policy.
The snag is that if the Bank stops buying, other investors will struggle to absorb all the new government paper on offer without a major increase in yield — pushing up borrowing costs for everyone, precisely what the Bank has sought to avoid.
The Bank’s dilemma is whether to push on (heightening fears about inflation) or call a halt (risking a spike in yields all the same).
Either way, the Bank needs to give the market, as well as the Treasury and the Debt Management Office, plenty of warning about its intentions.
(Editing by Richard Hubbard)

Quantitative easing a last resort

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img_3391-alan-clarke-Alan Clarke is UK economist at BNP Paribas. The opinions expressed are his own-

As expected, the Bank of England left the Bank Rate unchanged at 0.5 percent at the April meeting, the first unchanged decision since September 2008.

The accompanying statement was short and sweet. The Bank has accumulated 26 billion pounds of asset purchases and will take a further two months to complete the planned 75 billion pounds of purchases – see you next month!

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