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We all know that central banks around the world have taken a loose monetary policy stance, providing substantial quantitative easing measures to try and revive the global economy.
As I’ve written before, there are many long-term unintended consequences that could arise from such an aggressive monetary policy program. While quantitative easing has reduced the probability of a financial crisis occurring over the past couple of years, this does not eliminate such an event from happening at some point in the future.
One example of the impact of the current monetary policy initiatives is the global hunt for yield. Investors have been piling into all kinds of bonds regardless of the true long-term fundamental merit of the investment. France, as we all know, is suffering from a lack of growth, including downgrades by credit rating agencies. However, this has not stopped investors from piling into French bonds, which are up approximately 12% year-to-date.
Even though the economy is still weak, and there have been no real structural reforms within France to fix the economic potential of the nation for the future, investors have piled into bonds at such a rate that the 10-year French bonds are yielding approximately 1.7%.
I don’t know about you, but I would be more comfortable investing in a country or company that has the ability to grow revenue and run their economy or business efficiently. At this point, France is not that country.
This hunt for yield is one of the side effects of the current monetary policy program. Quantitative easing has pushed investors out of safe investments and into riskier assets. While this is creating … Read More
Don’t worry, folks, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is not going to take your money away anytime soon; the stock market is safe.
In his testimony to Congress on Wednesday, Bernanke made it clear that the central bank’s current aggressive $85.0 billion in monthly bond purchases will continue to move along.
The stock market surged upward on the news, which is exactly what I would have expected, given that the amazing run-up in stocks this year has largely been due to the flow of easy money into the U.S. economic system. So there’s no need to worry about the stock market and your assets—for now.
Bernanke emphasized the fragility of the jobs market and reinforced his view that it’s still too early to put an end to the stimulus. Allowing rates to creep higher would “carry a substantial risk of slowing or ending the economic recovery,” said Bernanke to Congress. (Source: Chairman Bernanke, B.S., “The Economic Outlook: Before the Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress, Washington, D.C.,” Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System web site, May 22, 2013.)
The end result will see the stock market continue to rally higher to new record highs.
The chart below shows the upward move in the S&P 500 since 1980, shown by the green line, as the effective federal funds rate declines over time. Note the massive gap between the S&P 500 and the effective federal funds rate, shown by the purple oval on the chart.
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
The reality is that not only is the easy monetary policy flowing in America, it is also flowing across the global economy … Read More
Japan is currently on cloud nine, with exports bursting out of the gate and Japanese stocks flying high. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index in Japan is up a whopping 48% this year.
Fueling the massive climb in the stock market has been the steady decline in the value of the Japanese yen triggered by the significant money printing by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strategy to inject $2.4 trillion into the Japanese economy over the next decade.
It’s the same everywhere you go around the world. Money printing triggered by record-low interest rates and major monetary and fiscal stimulus is driving the economy and spending.
Yet what about the impact on the inflation rate of the importing country?
The devaluation of the yen against the greenback and other major global currencies makes Japanese goods much cheaper for foreigners, but it also creates a higher inflation rate for Japan.
In the chart below, the gap (as indicated by the blue oval) that has developed between the yen (as shown by the red candlesticks) and the U.S. dollar (as reflected by the green line) is clearly shown. In my view, while Japan is currently seeing growth, the country’s strategy is risky.
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
The widening gap between the two currencies will present problems in the future for the Japanese consumer due to the rising inflation rate.
Let me explain: the weak yen translates into higher prices paid for imports as more yen are required to pay for the same goods now than in the past.
For now, import prices are starting to edge higher—slowly but surely.
Over time, if the yen … Read More
One of the most interesting debates regarding monetary policy is emanating from the Federal Reserve members themselves. The Federal Reserve’s current monetary policy program includes an $85.0-billion monthly asset-purchase program. Recent comments made by many of the Federal Reserve members indicate that they are as unsure about the current monetary policy program as the rest of us.
Increasingly, it appears that more Federal Reserve members are leaning toward reducing and even eliminating the current aggressive monetary policy program of bond buying, and doing so sooner rather than later.
Conversely, there are still several Federal Reserve members who currently vote on monetary policy and want to continue the asset-purchase program, as they don’t see an economic recovery coming anytime soon.
This divergence makes it extremely difficult to predict the future of monetary policy. This is important, because when the Federal Reserve indicates that it will begin reducing its bond-purchasing program, it will have large ramifications throughout various markets.
Personally, I have been of the opinion that the Federal Reserve will begin to reduce its aggressive monetary policy program, or at least indicate that it plans to do so, later this summer or early fall. This shift in monetary policy, I believe, will cause many assets to decrease in price, with bonds being sold off and stocks getting hit as well.
Economically, there are many mixed and conflicting data points. Both vehicle sales and housing are strong points in the economy; however, manufacturing still continues to lag. As well, the recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia indicated that current manufacturing conditions are weak, but that business owners are optimistic … Read More