MacroScope

BoEasing

The Bank of England is finally catching a break. With Britain’s economy officially in recession, the BoE had been constrained from further monetary easing by a stubbornly high inflation rate. But as the global economy stumbles and Europe’s crisis rages unabated, UK price pressures may be giving way.

Barclays economist Chris Crowe argues:

We expect the MPC to announce an additional £50bn in QE at the July policy meeting.

CPI inflation fell to 2.8% y/y in May (Barclays 3.1%, consensus 3.0%) from 3.0% in April. Meanwhile, RPI inflation declined to 3.1% y/y (Barclays and consensus 3.3%), from 3.5%. With near-term inflationary pressures easing, the case for additional QE in response to faltering confidence is stronger.

The sense that further stimulus is forthcoming follows a decision last week to offer 100 billion pounds in cheap long-term funding to banks and minutes from the BoE’s last policy meeting showing a very close 5-4 vote against more quantitative easing. Significantly, Governor Mervyn King voted in favor.

The pullback in inflation may just be enough to tilt the balance.

Get ready for QE3 if things don’t get better soon

Ben Bernanke appears to be reluctantly gearing up for a third round of large-scale Federal Reserve bond buying, so-called QE3. Millan Mulraine of TD Securities captures just how likely further monetary easing is becoming following the Fed’s decision on Wednesday to expand Operation Twist.

The burden of proof may now be on the incoming data to prove that a third round of large-scale asset purchases may not be necessary.

Just under two months before the central bank’s yearly gathering at Jackson Hole – where Bernanke announced QE2 – the Chairman emphasized the path of the job market will be a key driver of any decision to further expand the central bank’s $2.8 trillion balance sheet. He told reporters at a press conference:

JP Morgan Houston janitor wants Jamie Dimon to walk in her shoes

Just as the proverbial shoemaker’s children can go without shoes so, apparently, can a cleaner of corporate office bathrooms not have time for a bathroom break. And with the lack of time to use one of the 24 bathrooms Adriana Vasquez must clean in a five-hour shift at the JP Morgan Chase Tower in Houston, Texas – 22 of them with multiple stalls – comes the absence of a living wage.

So on Tuesday, Vasquez had a question for JP Morgan Chief Jamie Dimon, whose bank is the prime tenant in the 60-story building where she cleans bathrooms five evenings a week.

“Why do you deny the people cleaning your buildings a living wage?” she asked Dimon after he testified about the bank’s multi-billion dollar trading loss in front of Congressional committees on financial institutions and consumer credit. Dimon said to call his office to arrange a meeting, according to the Service Employees International Union.

Hints of internal Fed divisions on Twitter?

Additional reporting by Ann Saphir. Updated with New York Fed and other details.

For a central bank that prides itself on transparency, the Federal Reserve remains cautious about adopting new ways of communicating its message. The Fed’s Washington-based board was a latecomer to Twitter. Its first tweet was dated March 14, well after its regional Fed counterparts.

Perhaps more tellingly, the @FederalReserve account follows most – but not all – regional Fed accounts. Of the 12 district banks, only the two most hawkish (and therefore likely to oppose the Fed’s unconventional monetary policy) are missing: Richmond and Kansas City. The third is New York, whose heavy influence on financial markets sometimes puts it at odds with the board. In fairness, the board does follow the Dallas and Philadelphia Feds. Its presidents, Richard Fisher and Charles Plosser, have also criticized Fed purchases of government and mortgage bonds, known as quantitative easing or QE.

Immigrant small business owners: bringing big bucks to Main Street

What would Main Street America look like without immigrants?

Picture vastly fewer restaurants (37% of the industry’s ownership is foreign-born), hotels and accommodation (43% foreign-born ownership), dry cleaning and laundry facilities (54% foreign-born), and nail salons (37%). It would be that much harder to go out for a treat (bakeries, 32% immigrant-owned), fill up the tank (gas stations, 53%), or grab a bottle of wine on the way to a dinner party (beer, wine and liquor stores, 42%).

As President Barack Obama announces a big shift in immigration policy that will offer greater leniency to individuals under 30 who came into the United States as undocumented children, a new report from the New York-based Fiscal Policy Institute highlights just how broad a role immigrants play in the world’s largest economy.

In his speech this week, President Barack Obama hinted at the new policy:

If we truly want to make this country a destination for talent and ingenuity from all over the world, we won’t deport hardworking, responsible young immigrants who have grown up here or received advanced degrees here. We’ll let them earn the chance to become American citizens so they can grow our economy and start new businesses right here instead of someplace else.

Euro zone survival is in the eye of the beholder

Despite all their years of experience and complex mathematical models, for economists the question of the euro zone’s survival really has them at the mercy of national bias… at least in terms of where their employer is based.

One of the key points from the latest Reuters poll was that a majority of economists from banks and research houses around the world – 37 out of 59 – expect the euro zone to survive in its current form for the next 12 months.

But behind that headline figure, the answers were skewed heavily by region.

Only 5 out of 24 economists from organisations based inside the euro zone thought it would fail to survive in its present 17-nation form over the next 12 months.

Central bankers vs. politicians: High-stakes chicken?

Are politicians playing chicken with central bankers? More to the point, if the U.S. Federal Reserve or the European Central Bank step up, yet again, to protect their economies from the global slowdown, will it take U.S., German, Spanish, Italian, Greek and other governments off the hook?

Such questions are swirling as Europe’s financial crisis boils and starts to bubble over into Asia and the Americas. Expectations are growing that the Fed will take more monetary policy action when it meets June 19-20. The messy possibility that Greece could exit the euro zone was not enough to prompt the ECB to cut interest rates last week – and that was before a deal over the weekend to bail out Spanish banks was dismissed by markets as just another kick of the can. Underlining the standoff between monetary and fiscal policymakers, ECB President Mario Draghi told European Parliament this on May 31:

Can the ECB fill the vacuum of lack of action by national governments on fiscal growth? The answer is no.

Channels of contagion: How the European crisis is hurting Latin America

If anything positive can be said to have come out of the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, it may be that the theory arguing major economies could “decouple” from one another in times of stress was roundly disproved. Now that Europe is the world’s troublesome epicenter, economists are already on the lookout for how ructions there will reverberate elsewhere.

Luis Oganes and his team of Latin America economists at JP Morgan say Europe’s slowdown is already affecting the region – and may continue to do so for some time. The bank this week downgraded its forecasts for Brazilian economic growth this year to 2.1 percent from 2.9 percent, and it sees Colombia’s expansion softening as well. More broadly, it outlined some key ways in which Latin American economies stand to lose from a prolonged crisis in Europe.

Latin America has exhibited an above-unit beta to growth shocks in the U.S. and the euro area over the past decade; resilient U.S. growth until now had offset some of the pressure coming from lower Euro area growth, but U.S. activity is now weakening too.

Fed policy: So many risks, so few tools

Chris Reese contributed to this post.

A barrage of rotten economic news around the world has suddenly and vigorously reawakened the prospect of additional monetary easing by the Federal Reserve – most notably a report on Friday showing job growth slowed sharply in recent months.

William Larkin, portfolio manager at Cabot Money Management in Salem, Mass., said:

The chance of another recession is on the table, no question about it. It might force the Fed to develop another growth strategy like a QE3.

U.S. jobs data marks gloomy hat-trick for economists

By Sarmista Sen and Sumanta Dey

 

Economists predicting jobs growth in the United States, or rather the lack of it, scored an unfortunate hat-trick on Friday – vastly overestimating the rise in payrolls for three consecutive months.

The U.S. economy added 69,000 jobs last month, less than half the Reuters median for a gain of 150,000 jobs and missing even the lowest forecast of 75,000 from nearly 80 economists .

Forecasters last achieved that feat between April and November 2008, when the actual NFP number consistently missed the lowest forecast in the survey, for eight consecutive months.