Should the Bank of England raise rates?

The Governor has warned us that a rate rise could happen soon. Markets have duly priced in an increase. The pound rallied strongly against the dollar, partly on that interest rate expectation. UK ten year rates and other longer term bond yields have adjusted upwards. The problem is that the economy is slowing. Treasury policy … Continue reading “Should the Bank of England raise rates?”

When economic pessimism means more hikes, not fewer

There has been a striking shift in recent Bank of England (BoE) communication. In the minutes of its September meeting, policy makers noted that “some withdrawal of monetary stimulus is likely to be appropriate over the coming months.” This message was then reiterated in speeches by noted ‘dove’ Gertjan Vlieghe and Bank Governor Mark Carney. … Continue reading “When economic pessimism means more hikes, not fewer”

Back to Basics: Investing is a long term game

Believing that ‘now’ is the most difficult point in history to make sense of markets is one of the biases which investment professionals can pick up from their extreme proximity to the volatility, uncertainty and surprise that go with investing money. The cure to these jitters is just to step back and review some of … Continue reading “Back to Basics: Investing is a long term game”

The US Fed must learn from mistakes of the crisis

A decade is a long time in central banking. Ten years ago Ben Bernanke used his speech at the Jackson Hole symposium for central bankers to explain the tumult that was rippling through financial markets at the time. He explained that while there were problems in the US housing market, the global financial system was … Continue reading “The US Fed must learn from mistakes of the crisis”

Broken-hearted again …

Having raised interest rates by 0.25 percentage points in June, the Federal Open Market Committee has indicated that it expected to hike rates once more this year and that it plans to begin its balance-sheet normalisation program (its plan to sell off the assets that it purchased under quantitative easing) “relatively soon”. In the UK, … Continue reading “Broken-hearted again …”

What’s wrong with low interest rates?

Interest rates are low, but is this a problem?  After all, in times gone by the worry was that rising interest rates killed off economic expansions. You know the story: inflation picks up as economic slack diminishes; central banks slam on the brakes; and recession follows. Since the global financial crisis, however, interest rates (and … Continue reading “What’s wrong with low interest rates?”

UK GDP growth remains sluggish

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show the UK economy saw a small pick-up in GDP growth, but the overall environment remains sluggish. The preliminary estimate shows second quarter GDP growth at 0.3% compared to 0.2% in the first quarter, and matching consensus expectations. To put the recent growth figures into context, the … Continue reading “UK GDP growth remains sluggish”

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”

Curve ball

Governments aren’t the only things proving to be less than strong and stable these days. Take the Phillips Curve, which describes the relationship between unemployment and wage growth. As unemployment falls, using up spare capacity in the labour market, it makes intuitive sense that wage growth starts to pick up. Given the key role played … Continue reading “Curve ball”

What is normal for the Fed?

As expected, the US Central Bank has raised interest rates to 1.25% and talked about normalising its policy. The statement included detailed guidance on what the Federal Reserve intends to do next. During the financial crash and its aftermath the Fed bought up large quantities of Treasury bonds and mortgage backed securities, forcing interest rates … Continue reading “What is normal for the Fed?”

Has unconventional monetary policy had its day?

“People will always try to stop you doing the right thing if it’s unconventional,” so said Warren Buffett in an interview for Time magazine in 2008.  Buffett wasn’t referring to monetary policy specifically, but there’s some truth in his adage if we apply it to the more controversial tools that central banks have used since … Continue reading “Has unconventional monetary policy had its day?”

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”

Fed policy: it’s conditional

Remarkably few economic decisions depend directly on the interest rate set by the US Federal Reserve (the Fed). Yet with this tool, the central bank is able to exert vast power over the US economy and to steer it towards the Fed’s dual mandate of full employment and 2% inflation. The key to understanding how … Continue reading “Fed policy: it’s conditional”

What happens when rates go up?

A look at the implications of rising interest rates in the US. The US Federal Reserve has begun the painstaking process of raising interest rates, up to 0.5% to 0.75% in December, and has signalled 2017 will contain more of the same. We believe that strong fundamentals support the idea that the US stands to … Continue reading “What happens when rates go up?”

Trump in the White House – all expectations out the window

The election of Donald Trump as the next US president has been a game-changer thus far for fixed income markets, upending all expectations of what will happen next. One thing is for sure, though: Trump’s policies will have a major, far-reaching impact on bond markets. Trump has promised two broad changes – greater fiscal stimulus … Continue reading “Trump in the White House – all expectations out the window”