It’s a familiar narrative: companies will finally start investing the trillions of dollars of cash they’re sitting on, unleashing a capital expenditure boom that will drive the global economy and lift stock markets this year.
To most people, the idea of falling prices sounds like a good thing. But it poses serious economic and financial risks – just ask the Japanese, who only now finally have the upper hand in a 20-year battle to drag their economy out of deflation.
The last seven days has been a glaring example of fallout from the cross-border carry trade. That’s the sort of trade, well known in currency markets, where investors borrow funds in low-rate countries and invest them in higher-rate ones. Some $4 trillion is estimated to have flooded into emerging markets since the 2008 financial crisis to profit off the ultra accommodate policies of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan, European Central Bank and the Bank of England. Now that central banks in developed economies are looking to reverse course and eventually raise rates, that carry trade is unraveling fast, resulting in the brutal sell-off in emerging markets such as Turkey and Argentina over the last week.
U.S. businesses have never had it so good.
Corporate cash piles have never been bigger, either in dollar terms or as a share of the economy.
Amid the euphoria surrounding Ireland’s removal from junk credit rating status, it’s easy to get swept along by the consensus tide of opinion that the Emerald Isle is the “poster child” for euro zone austerity.
Corporate profits and cash piles have never been higher. But it’s not just an economic imperative that firms get spending and investing, it’s their social and moral responsibility to do so.
When nobody’s listening, sometimes it pays to shout from the rooftops.
Based on the rupee’s daily pasting, the Reserve Bank of India might do well to look to the European Central Bank’s strong verbal defense of the euro just over a year ago.