Shock now clearly trumps transparency in central bank policymaking

January 29, 2014

The days of guided monetary policy, telegraphed by central banks and priced in by markets in advance, are probably coming to an end if recent decisions around the world are any guide.

Auto-pilot QE and the Federal Reserve’s taper dilemma

November 26, 2013

 It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

When the U.S. Federal Reserve launched its third round of quantitative easing, or QE3, it was hailed as an “open-ended” policy that would last as long as needed. Most important for investors, the pace of the bond buying – which started at a somewhat arbitrary $85 billion per month – would be “data dependent.” Especially throughout the spring, officials stressed they were serious about adjusting the dial on QE3 depending on changes in the labor market and broader economy. But as the unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent last month from 8.1 percent when the program was launched in September, 2012, the bond-buying has effectively been on auto-pilot for 14 straight months.

ECB rate cut takes markets by surprise – time to crack Draghi’s code

By Eva Taylor
November 7, 2013


After today’s surprise ECB move it is safe to forget the code words former ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet never grew tired of using – monitoring closely, monitoring very closely, strong vigilance, rate hike. (No real code language ever emerged for rate cuts, probably because there were only a few and that was towards the end of Trichet’s term.)

Time to taper the taper talk?

August 20, 2013

It’s been three months since the Federal Reserve first hinted that it’s going to have to ease off on its extraordinary monetary stimulus, but financial markets are still not settled on the matter.

Brazil’s capital controls and the law of unintended consequences

June 5, 2013

Brazilian economic policy is fast becoming a shining example of the law of unintended consequences. As activity fades and inflation picks up, the government has tried several different measures to fix the economy – and almost every time, it ended up creating surprise side-effects that made matters worse. Controls on gasoline prices tamed inflation, but opened a hole in the trade balance. Efforts to reduce electricity fares ended up curbing, not boosting, investment plans.

Bullard weighs in on his colleague’s challenge to the ‘Bernanke doctrine’

February 26, 2013

Earlier this month, Fed Governor Jeremy Stein made waves that are still rippling with a speech on the risks of credit bubbles. The policymaker said that the U.S. central bank could use interest rates, as opposed to the more conventional tool of regulation, to cool overheating in junk bonds and other markets.

Does the European crisis need to get worse to get better?

August 3, 2012

Europe will do what it takes to save the euro, after it tries everything else. That seems to be the conventional wisdom about the continent’s muddled handling of a financial crisis now well into its third year.

Germany’s zero bound

May 4, 2012

The ultra-low rates offered by two-year German bonds reflect just how worried investors have become about the euro zone debt crisis and the continent’s sluggish economy.

Selective transparency at the Fed

April 18, 2012

It’s something of a dissonant communications strategy: Fed officials are willing to tell us what they think will happen three years from now, but not what they discussed three years ago.

from Jeremy Gaunt:

Twisted Sister and the Federal Reserve

September 21, 2011

The Federal Reserve's "Operation Twist" has set the literary- and musical-allusion juices flowing.  It is all about the Fed selling or not rolling over short-term debt and buying long-term bonds instead in order to keep borrowing costs low.