investors are hoping Fed Chairman Jay Powell will soon signal a dramatic interest rate cut. And so they are positioning for a ‘Santa Claus’ rally. But most adults know that Santa Claus doesn’t really exist.
Home / interest rates
Last week, the Japanese yen fell through the US$ : ¥150 level for the first time since 1990. It has now fallen by nearly 50% against the US$ in the past two years. The currency is behaving as if Japan were a 3rd world country – whereas it is actually the 3rd largest economy in the world. Clearly, something is very wrong.
The Presidential Cycle is now over. Instead, worries about the recession and the US debt ceiling talks are moving centre-stage. But Asian currency markets are sending a warning signal. A rising US dollar and US interest rates, and a falling yen and yuan, could soon raise the risks of a major Asian debt crisis.
Japan has wasted trillions of yen with its failed stimulus programmes. Had it devoted even a tenth of this money to developing a proper Retraining programme for people in their 50s/60s, it wouldn’t now be facing a major debt and currency crisis. The rest of the Western world needs to rapidly learn from its mistake.
Social and political issues were always more important than economics before the SuperCycle. And now they are resurfacing again. Does an individual woman have the right to choose what to do with her body? Or can judges tell her what she can, and can’t do? It is early days, but many women may choose to vote Democrat because of this issue in November.
The history of the 1929 and 2000 downturns suggests the real pain is yet to come. Housing markets look terribly over-valued around the world, as I noted last month. And US consumer sentiment is at all-time lows. So most company earnings seem set to fall, with more than 60% of US CEOs now expecting to see a recession.
The Fed might change its mind and rush to support asset markets again. But that seems unlikely today. If it doesn’t, then debt, divorce and death will force an increasing number of people to sell their home. And if buyers continue to disappear, then sellers will have to continue cutting prices in order to try and achieve a sale, as the bubble finally bursts.
Problems in the housing market aren’t just confined to the US, UK, Germany and China. The average house price/income ratio is now back to the highest level since records began. And the problem for homeowners is that potential buyers are already starting to disappear as mortgage rates rise – and affordability reduces.
Energy and financial markets are exacerbating the risks ahead. Oil prices at current levels – as the chart confirms, they now account for more than 3% of global GDP – have historically led to recession as the chart shows. The reason is that consumers have to cut back on their discretionary spending, which drives economic growth, in order to heat their homes and travel to work and school. Today’s high levels of natural gas prices add to this risk.
One thing is certain about the 2017 – 2019 Budget period. ”Business as usual” is the least likely Scenario to occur. The IMF chart above highlights the key issue: for the past 5 years, all its forecasts of a return …