European Central Bank

Monetary policy reaches sell-by date for managing the economy

Monetary policy used to be the main focus for running the economy.  If demand and inflation rose too quickly, then interest rates would be raised to cool things down.  When demand and inflation slowed, interest rates would be reduced to encourage “pent-up demand” to return. After the start of the Financial Crisis, central banks promised […]

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Central banks defy slowing global economy by destroying markets’ power of price discovery

Markets have one main function in life – price discovery.  If I want to buy, and you want to sell, the existence of a market allows us to discover the price at which the market will balance in terms of supply and demand. History, however, provides many examples of times when rulers decided they knew […]

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Bank of England’s new stimulus policy creates bankruptcy risk for corporate pension funds

The Western BabyBoomers (born between 1946-70), have been one of the luckiest generations in history.  By and large, they have escaped the major wars that have plagued society down the ages.  They have also lived in a world where living standards and material wealth have made astonishing gains.  Equally priceless has been the rise in […]

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Oil market speculators profit as central banks hand out free cash

Oil markets are entering a very dangerous phase.  Already, many US energy companies have gone bankrupt, having believed that $100/bbl prices would justify their drilling costs.  Now the pain is moving downstream. The problem is the central banks.  Hedge funds have piled into the oil futures markets since January, betting that there would be lots […]

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“Debt-financed growth model has reached its limits”, admits German finance minister

Central bank policy-making is becoming more and more dysfunctional, as German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble‘s comments highlighted on Friday: “The debt financed growth model has reached its limits.  It is even causing new problems, raising debt, causing bubbles and excessive risk taking, zombifying the economy….and may have laid the foundation for the next crisis.” One clear sign […]

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Brexit poll creates UK, euro interest rate rise risk

Financial markets are very bad at evaluating political risk.  They assume people will always be rational, and expect a ‘business as usual’ scenario to continue.  But as we all know, people are not always rational.  And emotion, as today over immigration may cloud their judgement. This week has seen the first signs of this complacency […]

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If only the central banks could print babies

The Financial Times has kindly printed my letter below, arguing that central bank stimulus can’t restore growth to previous Super Cycle levels. Sir, John Plender’s excellent analysis “Central banks’ waning credibility is the real threat to confidence” (Insight, February 17) highlights the need for a new narrative to explain the economic slowdown of recent years. […]

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Great Unwinding sees oil fall 65%; US$ rise 22%; US 10-year rates rise 25%

The Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus was the major issue in financial markets in 2015.  And it is set to have even greater impact in 2016 once Phase 3 begins.  The chart above highlights the astonishing changes that have taken place since the Unwinding began in mid-August 2014; Phase 1 has so far seen Brent […]

Great Unwinding sees oil fall 65%; US$ rise 22%; US 10-year rates rise 25% Read More

EU warns euro may disappear as political, economic risks rise

The excellent new Spielberg movie, Bridge of Spies, vividly captures the building of the Berlin Wall in 1952.  It also reminds us of the excitement when the Wall fell, and European borders reopened after 47 years. Now, Europe’s borders are closing again, pressured by vast Syrian refugee movements and terrorist massacres. France, Germany, Austria and Sweden have […]

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US watchdog warns on today’s “quicksilver markets”

What could go wrong in today’s financial world?  Many stock markets in the West are hitting new highs, and central banks are promising they will do nothing to spoil the party.  But as Gillian Tett of the Financial Times warned on Friday: “Before anyone gets too thrilled about equities, they should read a sobering research document from […]

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China exports deflation to the West

Unfortunately, the European Central Bank (ECB) does not read the blog, or yet subscribe to ‘The pH Report’.  If it did, it would have been forewarned back in August that a collapse in oil prices was potentially about to provide the catalyst for the arrival of deflation. Instead, as the Minutes of its critical January […]

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Eurozone joins Japan’s ‘currency war’ versus the US dollar

The last 10 days have seen turmoil in major currency markets: The Swiss National Bank gave up trying to devalue versus the euro, and the franc jumped 30% in minutes The European Central Bank (ECB) launched its €1tn Quantitative Easing (QE) programme, causing an immediate 3% fall in the euro’s value versus the dollar These are major moves by any historical […]

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Rocky road ahead for global economy as chemical industry remains downbeat

The chemical industry continues to be the best leading indicator that we have for the global economy.  This is because it is not only the 3rd largest industry (after agriculture and energy), but also because it is truly global and impacts virtually all areas of modern-day life. The chart above therefore presents a very downbeat […]

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US dollar rises as investors worry low-cost money may disappear

Nobody knows how the Great Unwinding of central bank stimulus policies will develop.  The world has simply never been in this position before.  Thus the senior economics and business correspondent of the Financial Times, John Plender, began an article this week: “In a market where asset prices are comprehensively rigged by central bankers, rational investment […]

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Bond investors embrace the 3 Normals

Sometimes the blog gets lucky with its timing.  That was certainly the case when it spoke to the world’s leading bond investors last week.  Just an hour before, they had been shocked by news that US GDP had fallen by 2.9% in Q1, far worse than earlier estimates.  And nobody believed the official excuse that […]

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ECB gives a figleaf for politicians to hide behind

It is impossible to overstate the seriousness of today’s threat from deflation.  Policymakers refuse to accept that demographic change can create an economic impact.  Instead, they want to believe that increasing debt can somehow stimulate growth. The Financial Times has kindly headlined the blog’s letter on this subject as its lead letter. June 10, 2014 […]

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European policymakers no longer able to ignore deflation

A year ago, European policymakers and central bankers were dismissive when the blog suggested deflation was a far bigger threat than inflation – when it was speaking at the world’s major conference for bond investors.  Later this month, the blog expects a different response when returning to speak at the same conference. Last week, the European Central Bank (ECB) was forced to […]

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Network effect leaves central banks fighting the real world

The blog first learnt about the network effect in the late 1990s, during the successful launch of the eBusiness platforms CheMatch and then ChemConnect.   Its Silicon Valley colleagues patiently explained that markets tended to move in predictable stages, once a new concept or product was launched: Everyone would initially jump on the bandwagon, not wanting […]

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Financial market melt-up takes S&P 500 to new record

A year ago, the blog suggested that financial markets were reaching their most dangerous ‘melt-up’ stage, driven by investor complacency about the ability of central banks to protect them from any downturn.  This analysis was confirmed in November, when absurdly high prices were paid for works of modern art, smashing previous records. Gillian Tett of the Financial Times (another of […]

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Euro elections likely to see strong vote for anti-EU parties

Its now nearly 2 years since the head of the European Central Bank (ECB) said he “was ready to do whatever it takes” to save the euro, and brought down interest rates in the weakest PIIGS economies (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain).  As the chart shows, this statement had a remarkable effect in financial markets: Interest rates today […]

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Ageing populations create repayment risk for government bonds

Government bonds in the larger, wealthy countries of the West have traditionally been regarded as being “risk-free”.  Most countries have failed to pay their debts at some time in the past, but it hasn’t happened in the post-War period for the major economies, and so investors have forgotten this can happen. This situation may well change […]

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Demographics drive demand and fertility rates have fallen

A major debate is underway in Eurozone financial markets about the imminent approach of deflation.  As the chart above shows, Eurozone inflation has ben falling steadily for the past 2 years.  Yet most still fail to recognise that today’s demographics make this development more or less inevitable.  The Financial Times has kindly printed  the blog’s […]

Demographics drive demand and fertility rates have fallen Read More

“Reservations are no longer necessary at many high-end restaurants”

Think back a moment to September 16 2008.  Newly released transcripts analysed by the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times reveal for the first time what was really going on that day at the world’s most important central bank. Lehman Bros, one of Wall Street’s largest investment banks, had just gone bust.  Merrill Lynch, another giant, had […]

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“Bad news barrage sinks New Year consensus”

Markets stopped operating in their true role of providing price discovery sometime ago.  Instead, they became dominated by the central banks, determined to prove their theory that increased asset values can stimulate sustained economic recovery. They, of course, have the firepower to bend markets to their will.  Nobody else could have spent $16tn in this manner […]

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You can’t print babies to create new demand

What would you have done 5 years ago, in 2009, if you had been given $16tn to restore global economic growth? Would you have boosted spending in areas such as education, health and infrastructure in the belief this would create a sustained boost to economic capability?  Would you have cut taxes in order to encourage entrepreneurs to develop new businesses and promote […]

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“Disaster is still some way off” for Cyprus, as Germany prepares to vote

Back in April, the blog suggested that capital controls might remain for rather longer in Cyprus than the “few days or weeks” suggested by the central bank.  And a month later, the bank was still unrealistically claiming they would be lifted “as soon as possible”. Today, the blog’s own view that they could be in place “for […]

“Disaster is still some way off” for Cyprus, as Germany prepares to vote Read More