Opinion

The Great Debate

A rally that is both rational and crazy

(Jjamessaft1ames Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

Stocks and other risky assets are rallying around the world this week because the Group of 20 nations said on the weekend they would keep the economic stimulus flowing, a state of events which illustrates where we are and what a very strange place it is.

The G20, the only group of big hitters that matters because it is the only group which includes the Chinese, met in Scotland over the weekend and, as is the way of these things, did very little with immediate consequences for anybody.

In the communique they issued, the Group of 20 finance ministers, after congratulating themselves on the recovery, more or less admitted that the measures we once thought of as heroic are in the process of becoming commonplace.

“However, the recovery is uneven and remains dependent on policy support, and high unemployment is a major concern,” the statement said. “To restore the global economy and financial system to health, we agreed to maintain support for the recovery until it is assured.”

Let me put that in human terms for you:

“We’ve spent untold trillions saving the economy, but, er, we’ve really only saved the financial system and that only to the extent that we keep on saving it. Jobs, well, not so much. We therefore pledge to continue doing this thing that may or may not be working until we are sure that it is.”

from The Great Debate UK:

Is a bubble burbling in financial markets?

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

The discrediting of the efficient markets theory in the aftermath of the financial crisis appears to have been accompanied with growing support for the view that rather than efficient in nature, financial markets are predisposed towards the formation of bubbles.

A bubble can simply be defined as an occurrence that begins when the price of an asset has been driven significantly above it "fair" value. According to the efficient markets theory this would not happen.

Position fatigue prompting short-term dollar rethink

– Neal Kimberley is an FX market analyst for Reuters. The opinions expressed are his own –

Dollar bears have been disappointed by the G20.

Talk of re-balancing remained just talk; the bears can discern nothing substantial. Some risk is being taken off and dollars bought back selectively. While the dollar’s general downtrend is intact, there are risks of a temporary reversal, with some seeing the euro temporarily back to $1.4500/50.

Traders can contrast G20 with the Plaza Accord in 1985 which was driven by U.S. Treasury Secretary James Baker’s persistence. But he only had to convince four peers. G20 is and will be a different story. Dealing with the G20 must be like herding cats.

Getting ready for the dollar’s fall

Agnes Crane It just won’t go away, this needling worry about the U.S. dollar losing its coveted top-dog status.

No matter that there are plenty of reasonable arguments to support the dollar as the world reserve currency — namely there’s just no alternative — for perhaps decades to come.

Yet, in a world where once-rock-solid assumptions quickly turn to dust, investors should keep an eye on the dollar since changing perceptions are chipping away at its cherished status as currency to the world.

Get ready for the “Great Immoderation”

James Saft Great Debate – James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

The recession will soon be dead, laid to rest alongside the idea of the “Great Moderation”, a set of hopeful assumptions that underpins expectations about economic growth and asset valuations.

This, when investors, bankers and executives ultimately realise it will cause them to pull in their horns, take less risks and be less willing to pay high prices for assets.

Uncertain Fed support sinks bonds

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

The bond market’s adverse reaction after the Fed announced no new asset purchase facilities or bond buyback programs highlights the fundamental difference between interest rates and quantitative easing (QE).

Rate cuts provide ongoing support for an indefinite period until the Federal Open Market Committee chooses to reverse them. In contrast, QE programs provide a one-off, time-limited boost that has to be continually reapplied to have the same effect.

G20: Vows to act but few specifics

g20– Kenichi Kawasaki is managing director and senior analyst at Nomura Securities’ Financial and Economic Research Center. The views expressed are his own –

The G20 leaders failed to come up with any concrete policy steps to pull the global economy out of recession at the London summit. The leaders vowed to restore growth and jobs, but lacked specifics about fiscal measures by each country and there were no binding promises.

There were expectations that the summit would tackle the issue of rising protectionism, but the summit is not an appropriate place to discuss international trade and investment. We saw a measure of results in expanding assistance to emerging economies, but it made the summit look as if it were a mere international conference on aid to emerging economies.

World stuck with the dollar, more’s the pity

jimsaftcolumn5– James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

The dollar is, and will remain, the U.S.’s currency and its own and everyone else’s problem.

The idea of creating a global currency, as espoused by China earlier this week, is interesting, has a certain amount of merit and is simply not going to happen any time soon.

The state-sponsored shadow banking system

James Saft Great Debate – James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

The shadow banking system in Europe isn’t so much dead as being kept on life support by banks and central banks in what amounts to a desperate but risky attempt to avoid the reckoning.

You might be forgiven for thinking that the biggest single month ever for securitization in Europe and Britain was sometime before we all realized that we were in a credit bubble, sometime like the sunny days of 2006.

Time to rethink inflation targeting

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

It is time to add another victim to the ever-growing list of institutions (Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers) and theories (value at risk, fair value accounting and originate to distribute) which have been tested by the financial crisis and found wanting. The central bank practice of inflation targeting — the jewel in the crown of modern monetary economics — has palpably failed.

Over the last two decades, inflation targeting has emerged as the most popular strategy for monetary policy among the world’s major central banks, and become something of a state-of-the-art choice among theorists and central bankers.

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