The Great Debate UK

from The Great Debate:

Should there be limits on commodity investment?

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

The commodity boom and bust in the last 5 years suggests there is a natural limit on how much investment money these markets can absorb before price-setting mechanisms become distorted and prices unmoored from supply and demand fundamentals.

Exchange operators and dealers have a strong interest in increasing turnover and volume, since it boosts income from fees and commissions. But most also argue that increased turnover makes markets more efficient because it sharpens price discovery and makes them more liquid.

In this "more is better" view, increased participation by investors works in the interests of producers and consumers.

By bringing more participants to the market, prices incorporate a wider range of views, and the market is more likely to find the "correct" equilibrium price quickly, improving the price discovery function.

from The Great Debate:

U.S. cap-and-trade choice inferior to carbon tax

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

President Barack Obama's first budget puts climate change at the heart of the administration's long-term economic plan. But despite the clear theoretical advantages of a simple carbon tax, he seems set to follow the EU and California in opting for a cap-and-trade system.

The budget plan commits the administration to work with Congress on an economy-wide emissions reductions program, based around cap-and-trade.

from The Great Debate:

Commodities send coded clues on inflation

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

After an 8-year period of remarkable stability, the ratio between gold and oil prices has broken down spectacularly.

The relative rise in gold is consistent with other indications that the market is bracing for a delayed upturn in inflation between 2010 and 2012.

from The Great Debate:

Financial strains show first sign of easing

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

The volume of excess reserves commercial banks are holding with the Federal Reserve System has declined by $275 billion (31 percent) over the last five weeks, in what could be the first sign of stabilization within the core of the banking system (https://customers.reuters.com/d/graphics/RESBAL.pdf).

Reserve holdings are still at exceptionally high levels, but a clear downtrend has emerged since the start of the year.

from The Great Debate:

Credit control will be much more intrusive in future

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

The international system of bank regulation, epitomised by the Basle II process and the light-touch principles-based regulation of Britain's Financial Services Authority (FSA) has comprehensively failed.

In too many instances, light-touch principles-based regulation with an emphasis on banks' internal risk controls turned out to be no effective regulation at all.

from The Great Debate:

A new direction in global financial regulation

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

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown's call today for a new G20 charter of principles on financial regulation  reflects an emerging consensus among policymakers that, once the immediate crisis has passed, the regulatory framework must be fundamentally redesigned.

In particular, policymakers are concerned with how to correct the basic moral hazard problem in which bankers have an incentive to extend too much credit, while private firms and households have an incentive to take on too much debt.

from The Great Debate:

Do we need a credit policy?

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

The last eighteen months have witnessed a revolution in financial regulation -- if by that we mean a fundamental reconstruction, total change or turn round from the previous orthodoxy occurring in a relatively compressed time.

In particular, the sheer scale of recent policy interventions in the banking system is throwing up very uncomfortable questions about the government's role in the economy, centered on its function as the ultimate re-insurer of risk and its function via the central bank as "lender of last resort" (LOLR) to the banking system.

from The Great Debate:

U.S. and UK on brink of debt disaster

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John Kemp Great Debate-- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. --

The United States and the United Kingdom stand on the brink of the largest debt crisis in history.

While both governments experiment with quantitative easing, bad banks to absorb non-performing loans, and state guarantees to restart bank lending, the only real way out is some combination of widespread corporate default, debt write-downs and inflation to reduce the burden of debt to more manageable levels. Everything else is window-dressing.

from The Great Debate:

Global imbalances and the Triffin dilemma

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John Kemp Great Debate-- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

For the world monetary system, the financial crisis which erupted in the summer of 2007 is a cataclysmic shift that will prove every bit as significant as the outbreak of the First World War (which heralded sterling's demise as a reserve currency) and the suspension of gold convertibility in 1971 (which marked the end of bullion's monetary role).

The crisis marks the passing of an era in which the U.S. dollar has been the world's undisputed reserve currency for making international payments and storing wealth.

from The Great Debate:

Downturn hits China’s manufacturing heartland

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

The global slowdown is hitting China's modern manufacturing base in Guangdong province especially hard. Deputy governor Huang Longyun on Thursday warned a news conference "the situation is grim" and the manufacturing hub around Pearl River Delta is bearing the brunt of China's slowdown.

Guangdong's burgeoning factories have supplied most of the cheap manufactured items flooding world markets in the last five years. They have also been the source of most of the marginal demand for crude oil, refined products and other raw materials. The province's slowdown will therefore have profound effects on global markets and prices in 2009.

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