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May 16, 2013
via MacroScope

SF Fed’s Williams in the driver’s seat

In the barrage of Federal Reserve speakers making the rounds on Thursday, it is notable that San Francisco Fed President John Williams was the one that managed to move markets, allowing the dollar to recover losses. Why did his voice rise above the din? For one thing, he’s seen as a dovish-leaning centrist whose views closely resemble the Bernanke-Yellen core of the central bank.

Plus, he took the oft-abused economy-car analogy in a, er, new direction:

If we were in a car, you might say we’re motoring along, but well under the speed limit. The fact that we’re cruising at a moderate speed instead of still stuck in the ditch is due in part to the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented efforts to keep interest rates low. We may not be getting there as fast as we’d like, but we’re definitely moving in the right direction.

May 16, 2013
via MacroScope

Pigeonholing Fed hawks

Richard Fisher, the Dallas Fed’s outspoken president, is happy to be labeled a monetary policy hawk. After all, he sometimes quips, “doves are part of the pigeon family.” That may be so. But thus far, the doves have had the upper hand in the policy debate – and the economic data appear to bear them out.

Fed hawks like Fisher have warned that the U.S. central bank’s prolonged policy of low interest rates and asset purchases risks a future spike in inflation. Yet despite the Fed’s aggressive efforts, inflation is actually drifting lower, not higher, suggesting there is something to the dovish notion that there is still ample slack in the U.S. economy following a lackluster recovery from the historic slump of 2007-2009.

May 16, 2013

Lacker says Fed should get out of mortgage market

BALTIMORE (Reuters) – An improving U.S. housing market suggests it is time for the Federal Reserve to stop aiming its stimulus at the real estate sector, Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker said on Wednesday.

“When you look at housing market conditions, I think you could make the case that we should be getting out of mortgage-backed securities,” Lacker told reporters after a speech.

May 15, 2013
via MacroScope

Best days over for emerging market local currency bonds?

Local currency bonds in emerging markets, like most financial assets, have enjoyed a solid rally on the back of ample global central bank liquidity. But the good times may be coming to an end, according to a report from Capital Economics. That’s because there’s only so much boost the securities can get out of the monetary easing efforts of the Federal Reserve and other major central banks, the firm says.

Emerging market (EM) local currency government bond yields have fallen sharply in the past few years. Our GDP-weighted overall 10-year yield of a sample of 18 EM sovereign borrowers has dropped by 125 basis points since the start of 2011, to around 4.4% at the end of April.

May 15, 2013
via MacroScope

There is no sovereign debt crisis in Europe

Evidence that Europe’s austerity policies are not working was in ample supply this morning. The euro zone as a whole is now in its longest recession since the start of monetary union. France has succumbed to the region’s retrenchment. Italy’s GDP slump is now the lengthiest on record. And Greece, still in depression, shrank another 5.3 percent in the first quarter.

To understand why this is happening, Brown University professor Mark Blyth says it is necessary to forget everything you think you know about the euro zone crisis. The monetary union’s troubles are not, as often depicted, the result of runaway spending by bloated, profligate states that are finally being forced to pay the piper. Instead, argues Blyth, it is merely a sequel to the U.S. financial meltdown that started, like its American counterpart, with dangerously-indebted risk-taking on the part of a super-sized banking sector.

May 8, 2013

Fed’s credibility tested as inflation drifts below target

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With the U.S. inflation rate about half of the Federal Reserve’s 2.0 percent target, the central bank is facing a major test and some experts wonder whether it will eventually need to ramp up its already aggressive bond buying program.

The Fed cut official interest rates effectively to zero in late 2008 during the financial crisis. Since then, it has bought more than $2.5 trillion in bonds to bolster an anemic economic recovery and speed up the decline in unemployment.

May 1, 2013

No end in sight for Fed stimulus as inflation sags

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve’s debate over U.S. monetary policy could begin to shift away from the prospect of reducing stimulus toward a discussion about doing more, given the signs of economic weakness and slowing inflation.

But policymakers are not there yet.

At a two-day meeting that wraps up on Wednesday, the Fed is widely expected to maintain its monthly purchases of $85 billion in bonds to support an economic recovery that is nearly four years old but still too weak for the job market to truly heal.

Apr 24, 2013

Argentine farmers hoard soy as protection against falling peso

CHACABUCO, Argentina, April 24 (Reuters) – Sales of
Argentine soybeans are lagging this season due to expectations
for higher world prices later and to domestic financial
uncertainty that has prompted farmers to save in beans rather
than pesos.

With world food demand on the rise, growers in the Pampas
grains belt are filling their silos with soy rather than
converting their crops into pesos, a currency that hit a new
all-time low in informal trade this week.

Apr 22, 2013
via MacroScope

Currency peace: G20 gives BOJ a pass for deflation fight

All the talk of currency wars is mostly just that – talk. This week’s meeting of the Group of 20 nations at the International Monetary Fund was living proof. Despite speculation that emerging nations would redouble their criticism of extraordinarily low rates in advanced economies, the G20 ended up largely supporting the Bank of Japan’s new and bold stimulus efforts aimed at combating years of deflation.

Mr. currency wars himself, Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega, told reporters Japan’s monetary drive was understandable given its struggle with falling prices and stagnant wages, even if he called for close monitoring of its potential spillover effects.

Apr 19, 2013
via MacroScope

Baby it’s cold outside: monetary policy as outer wear

Discussions about central banking are often belabored by analogies to moving vehicles, which make some sense given that interest rate policy can act both as accelerator and brake on economic activity. Perhaps tired of being in the driver’s seat, Minnesota Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota decide to switch gears and talk about clothing instead.

In an attempt to illustrate that interest rates are low because of economic conditions, not the whim of policymakers, Kocherlakota compares monetary policy to a protective jacket that needs to be worn when the weather gets rough but can slowly be removed as the summer approaches.

    • 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:
      2001
      Languages:
      English, Portuguese, Spanish, French
      Awards:
      2011 Deadline Club Award from the Society of Professional Journalists' New York Chapter
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