Resolving Shirakawa’s conundrum

April 24, 2012

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The governor of the Bank of Japan, Masaaki Shirakawa, says he is confounded by the still very low level of Japanese government bond yields given the country’s elevated debt to GDP ratio of over 200 percent. Speaking on an IMF panel over the weekend, he offered a rather unintuitive explanation for the phenomenon:

IMF crisis funds: Why nobody really cares

April 20, 2012

With reporting from Steven C. Johnson and Nick Olivari

A lot of time and money is spent on high-profile multilateral gatherings like this weekend’s International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington. The central story this time is the Fund’s effort to raise more funds (no pun intended), which appears to have been successful as G20 nations committed more than $430 billion in new funds.

Election fever hits the markets

April 18, 2012

We’re not talking about the U.S. presidential vote, though that does cast another layer of uncertainty over the outlook. Rather, investors are focused on even shorter-horizon events, as evidenced by this jam-packed electoral worry list from Marc Chandler, currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman:

Europe’s triple threat: bad banks, big debts, slow growth

March 22, 2012

The financial turmoil still dogging Europe is most often described as a debt crisis. But sovereign debt is only part of the problem, according to new research from Jay Shambaugh, economist at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. The other two prongs of what he describes as three coexisting crises are the region’s troubled banks and the prospect of an imminent recession.

Return of the currency wars

March 1, 2012

Maybe it never went away at all. But if the war was dormant, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff certainly launched what appeared to be an opening salvo for a new round of battles – rhetorical ones for now.

China renminbi as reserve currency: yuan a bet?

February 8, 2012

China’s importance to the global economy makes it difficult to believe the role of the yuan in foreign exchange will not continue to expand. Will that dominance advance sufficiently to make the Chinese renminbi one of the world’s reserve currencies? A new study from the Brookings Institution suggests that in the long run, the ascendance of the yuan to reserve-currency standing is likely. It notes that of the six largest economies in the world, China is the only one whose currency does not have reserve status. But the road to getting there will be long and tortuous, the study warns, and there will be plenty of potholes.

Will U.S. criticism affect Japan’s FX stance?

December 28, 2011

Currency analysts are divided over whether U.S. criticism of Japan’s forex policy will change Tokyo’s currency stance. While some say it could raise the hurdle for further Japanese intervention, others think it might not have much impact. Rob Ryan, FX strategist at BNP Paribas in Singapore says the effect will be limited given uncertainty about the Japanese economy’s outlook and current levels of dollar/yen and cross/yen pairs.

Without “bazooka,” Europe still vulnerable

December 12, 2011

This time it was going to be different. A make-or-break, comprehensive, grand, “bazooka” solution would draw a line under the euro zone debt crisis.

Drop in Fed custody holdings reflects FX interventions

October 14, 2011

A sharp recent drop in the Fed’s holdings of U.S. Treasuries for foreign central banks probably reflects the effort by many developing economies to stem rapid declines in their currencies, not some frightening move by the likes of China out of U.S. bonds. That’s the argument put forth by Marc Chandler at Brown Brothers Harriman, who notes the pullback of recent weeks appears to have been the most dramatic since the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s.

Carstens says Mexican peso undervalued

September 24, 2011

Mexico Central Bank Governor Agustin Carstens spoke to Reuters Insider on the sidelines of this year’s IMF/G20 meetings. He said the peso, which like many other emerging market currencies has taken a drubbing with the dollar’s recent rally, is undervalued. But unlike in Brazil, where an even more volatile exchange rate has prompted the monetary authorities to step in, Carstens said Mexico does not see the need to intervene.