James Saft

Don’t expect coordinated easing

Sep 22, 2011 21:31 UTC

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

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – That much-anticipated global coordinated easing won’t be global, won’t be coordinated and won’t even be much of an easing.

In 2008 the world got global coordinated monetary easing, with contributions from central banks from Tokyo to Washington.

In 2009 virtually every member of the Group of 20 nations contributed to global coordinated fiscal easing, committing to a total of almost $700 billion in additional spending, or more than 1 percent of global GDP.

In 2011 we will get half measures, conflicting policy and self-preservation. This should be no surprise; not only has the crisis spread from being one about banks and houses to one about governments, it has also hardened the divisions between constituencies and interests.

Short of a not inconceivable breakup of the euro it’s hard to see this changing soon. The U.S. and Europe are riven by political and fundamental divisions, China is hardly poised to carry the water and the rest of the world is weak, small and looking to its own diverse interests. It is easier to see currency wars and protectionism rising than the linking of arms of 2008 and 2009.

Bonds, risk and Bernanke’s intentions

Feb 10, 2011 20:49 UTC

Will bond investors keep faith with U.S. government debt amid signs of growing global inflation?

In the end, as with all banks, even central banks, it boils down to trust.

Asked on Wednesday at an appearance before the U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee if the Fed’s $600 billion programme of quantitative easing amounted to monetization — that Peter to Paul transfer when a government prints money to pay for a shortfall — Ben Bernanke said an interesting thing:

“Monetization involves a permanent increase in money supply though money creation. (QE) is a temporary measure that will be reversed. Money will be normalized and there will be no permanent increase in outstanding balance sheet or inflation.”

Good-bye credit crunch, Hello slog

Jan 25, 2011 14:04 UTC

If you have forgotten the credit crunch it appears you have company: U.S. banks are lending again.

Bank earnings reports and data from the Federal Reserve confirm that, at long last, banks are beginning to step up lending, a much-needed ingredient for a stronger and more sustainable recovery.

The good news is that lending is growing to commercial and industrial companies — exactly where you want to see growth if the U.S. is going to address its unsustainable dependence on domestic consumption. That’s good so far as it goes, but with a fragile euro and an undervalued yuan the upside is decidedly limited.

Waiting for Europe’s QE to sail

Dec 2, 2010 15:17 UTC

The good news is that the European Central Bank will probably start a massive additional round of quantitative easing to fight the break-up of the euro zone.

The bad news is that they will, as ever, only choose the right policy, as Winston Churchill said of the Americans, after exhausting all of the alternatives.

Global share markets rallied furiously on Wednesday, fed by hopes that the ECB would increase its bond-buying efforts, a possibility raised by its chief Jean-Claude Trichet in an appearance before the European Parliament. Trichet faces stern opposition inside the ECB from fellow central bankers, notably German Axel Weber, who believe that policy should be normalized rather than loosened.