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Jul 22, 2013
via MacroScope

Fed on guard over low U.S. savings rate

As Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke delivered what may have been his last testimony on monetary policy before Congress, most of the world’s attention was focused on what hints he might give about the timing of an eventual reduction in the pace of asset purchases.

Tucked in the actual semi-annual monetary policy report Bernanke delivered to lawmakers on Capitol Hill was a little-noticed reference to growing worries about the potential for an extended period of low savings, associated in part with long-stagnant wages, to thwart long-run economic progress.

Jul 11, 2013

Argentine soyoil price plummets due to EU biodiesel duties

BUENOS AIRES, July 11 (Reuters) – The export price of
Argentine soyoil has plummeted 21 percent so far this year, due
to new European biodiesel tariffs, putting one of the country’s
key industries at risk at a time of uncertainty in Latin
America’s third biggest economy.

With annual inflation running at 25 percent and investment
flows reduced by confidence-sucking foreign exchange and import
controls, the government needs all the farm-related tax revenue
it can get.

Jul 10, 2013
via MacroScope

Raskin’s warning: ‘Shouldn’t pretend’ Fed capital rules are a panacea

Post corrected to show Brooksley Born is a former head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) not a former Fed board governor.

Underlying the Federal Reserve recent announcement on new capital rules was a general sense of “mission accomplished.” The U.S. central bank, also a key financial regulator, has finally implemented requirements that it says could help prevent a repeat of the 2008 banking meltdown by forcing Wall Street firms to rely less heavily on debt, thereby making them less vulnerable during times of stress.

Jul 5, 2013
via MacroScope

Fear the Septaper

Credit to Barclays economists for coining the term ‘Septaper’

A solid U.S. employment report for June appears to have cemented market expectations that the Fed will begin to reduce the pace of its bond-buying stimulus in September.  Average employment growth for the last six months is now officially above 200,000 per month.

Never mind that, even at this rate, it would take another 11 months for the job market to reach its pre-recession levels – and that’s not counting the population growth since then.

Jul 3, 2013
via MacroScope

U.S. minimum wage hike would offer short-term economic stimulus: Chicago Fed

President Barack Obama proposed a hike in the U.S. minimum wage during his State of the Union Address in February. Since then, we haven’t really heard very much about the proposal. That’s too bad for a U.S. economy that could still use a bit of a boost, according to new research.

A paper from the Chicago Fed finds that, while there might be little impact on long-term growth prospects from a higher minimum wage, the measure could add as much as 0.3 percentage point to gross domestic product in the short-run. That’s not insignificant for an economy that expanded at a soft annualized rate of just 1.1 percent over the last two quarters.

Jul 2, 2013
via MacroScope

Broken (record) jobless data: Euro zone unemployment stuck at all-time high

Surprise! Euro zone unemployment was stuck at record high of 12.2 percent in May, with the number of jobless quickly climbing towards 20 million. Still, as accustomed to grim job market headlines from Europe as the world has become, it is worth perusing through the Eurostat release for some of the nuances in the figures.

For one thing, as Matthew Phillips notes, Spain’s unemployment crisis is now officially more dire than Greece’s – and that’s saying something.

Jun 27, 2013

Fed’s Lockhart says stimulus pullback on track despite markets

MARIETTA, Georgia (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve can likely begin reducing the pace of its bond-buying stimulus this year, though market turbulence and low inflation bear watching, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said on Thursday.

Global financial markets have been turbulent since Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke announced last week the central bank would likely start to dial down the pace of its asset-buying in coming months.

Jun 20, 2013

Bernanke’s stand-off with markets: Who will blink first?

WASHINGTON, June 20 (Reuters) – U.S. Federal Reserve
Chairman Ben Bernanke is playing a potentially dangerous game of
chicken with global financial markets sent reeling by his threat
to scale back the central bank’s huge stimulus program.

The Fed chief stood his ground at a news conference on
Wednesday, laying out in detail a plan to begin winding down the
central bank’s $85 billion a month in bond purchases later this
year. At the same time, he emphasized the Fed does not see such
a move as an outright end to its supportive policy nor would it
mark an imminent start to interest rate increases.

Jun 19, 2013
via MacroScope

Why low inflation may not prevent the Fed from reducing QE

Everybody knows U.S. unemployment, currently at 7.6%, is still too high – especially the millions of Americans struggling to find work. Less widely acknowledged is a recent dip in inflation that puts it well below the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target. Indeed, at 0.7 percent in April, the Fed’s preferred inflation measure was less than half of the central bank’s explicitly stated goal. So why are Fed officials, gathered in Washington for their latest policy decision today, discussing a pullback in stimulus rather than an increase in it?

According to some economists, it’s because policymakers believe the recent decline in inflation will be transitory and that the rate will gradually move back up toward target as growth picks up during the rest of this year and in 2014. Yesterday’s report on consumer prices corroborated that prospect for some analysts.

Jun 18, 2013
via MacroScope

U.S. job market still in need of a jolt

The monthly payrolls report from the U.S. Labor Department will always be the big kahuna of economic releases.  Other, less prominent indicators of the American job market nonetheless can offer additional insight into the employment backdrop.

Take the clumsily-acronymed JOLTS report, which stands for Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. It shows the ratio between job openings and job seekers, as well as the rate of new hires. The latter, unfortunately, is not particularly comforting.

    • About Pedro

      "Pedro da Costa has been covering economics and financial markets since 2001. He is currently based in Washington and focuses on the Federal Reserve and macroeconomic policy. Da Costa earned a Master's in international relations at the University of California San Diego and studied sociology and political science as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago and the London School of Economics. He grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil."
      Joined Reuters:
      English, Portuguese, Spanish, French
      2011 Deadline Club Award from the Society of Professional Journalists' New York Chapter
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