A spot of turbulence

Global markets hit a rough patch in early February. Equity markets sold off, commodities softened, credit spreads widened and capital flowed out of emerging markets as volatility bounced back sharply. There have been a range of explanations offered for this dislocation, from jitters over rising inflation to concerns that rising term premia could snuff out … Continue reading “A spot of turbulence”

What does a normal interest rate look like?

Markets have been worried that interest rates in the west are heading back to normal in a hurry. If rates go too high too soon they could damage the recovery and do more harm to shares. As the West agonises over the pace of putting up interest rates and winding down special monetary measures, the … Continue reading “What does a normal interest rate look like?”

After the melt up

In January we saw shares rising rapidly, in what some called a melt up. In the last few days they have come back down again very quickly. The year’s gains were rapidly erased. Should we worry? Last week before the fall I wrote that “There will be bad times from time to time. Worrying about … Continue reading “After the melt up”

Can European politics damage the euro?

It is often fashionable to worry about European politics as newer parties of the right, left and centre emerge to challenge the economic orthodoxy of the Eurozone. We saw this at its most spectacular in Greece, where Syriza swept aside the old parties and gained a majority in a proportional system designed to make that … Continue reading “Can European politics damage the euro?”

Financial Crisis Ten Years On

Ten years ago, queues quietly began forming outside branches of Northern Rock. Unsettled by press reports that the bank was asking for help from the Bank of England, anxious customers wanted out. The first run on a UK bank for over a century was underway, and Northern Rock would be nationalised within a year. In … Continue reading “Financial Crisis Ten Years On”

Currency wars

It’s been a strange world for currencies as well as for bonds and interest rates since the western crash. Countries and central banks that used to worry about their currencies falling too much have all seemed to welcome weakness in their counters, hoping that will stimulate exports and allow a bit more inflation. Four of … Continue reading “Currency wars”

Draghi stalls for time on QE details

The European Central Bank’s (ECB) Governing Council decided to keep interest rates unchanged at their meeting on 7th September.  Importantly, it did not provide any details on the future of its quantitative easing (QE) programme, which is due to end in December. The ECB has typically announced changes in its QE programme three months ahead … Continue reading “Draghi stalls for time on QE details”

Progress of Europe’s banks may mark a turning point

We crave turning points.  As we mark five years since European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi’s “whatever it takes” speech — which crushed government and corporate bond spreads and contributed towards an 80% rally in eurozone stocks — are we on the cusp of another inflection? The eurozone has just enjoyed its best quarter … Continue reading “Progress of Europe’s banks may mark a turning point”

Central banks spark confusion

Investors were clearly rattled by the mixed messages emanating from central banks in June, which sparked a sell-off in government bonds. The Federal Reserve at least has been fairly clear about its direction of travel. It has struck a more hawkish rhetoric recently, as policy makers become increasingly confident on the outlook for the US … Continue reading “Central banks spark confusion”

The case for ending negative rates early

Few interventions in history of central banking have been as dramatic as the European Central Bank’s (ECB) expansion of its balance sheet to over €4tn to support the eurozone. The strengthening economic recovery in the eurozone and pickup in inflation mean the debate on how to make an elegant exit from its emergency measures is … Continue reading “The case for ending negative rates early”

Is populism good for markets?

Populist policies appear good for markets, given the performance of equities following the Brexit and Donald Trump votes. However, we would note that the conditions for a rally (dovish signals from the Federal Reserve (Fed) and signs of a global recovery) were already falling into place last summer, before either of these two events took … Continue reading “Is populism good for markets?”