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”

Weak data prompts aggressive Brazilian central bank cut

Preceded by lower-than-expected inflation earlier in the day, the decision by the Brazilian central bank to cut interest rates by 75 basis points (bps) instead of the 50 bps forecast was a surprise that had been a while in the making. Weak data Activity has been consistently weaker than both the market and central bank … Continue reading “Weak data prompts aggressive Brazilian central bank cut”

Volatile bonds: What is happening to interest rates?

This year the US, UK and German bond markets have moved together. Whatever the news, rates have followed similar trends and patterns. It is true US rates have stayed the highest of the three, and German rates by far the lowest. In each market rates fell from their highs on 1 January to reach new … Continue reading “Volatile bonds: What is happening to interest rates?”

The 3 Rs of India: reforms, RBI and (US) rate hikes

It’s been a really busy quarter for reform hasn’t it? Reforms in India are like buses: none appears for ages and then several arrive at the same time! Well that’s not quite true because change was taking place but it was of the incremental, under-the-radar sort. That’s one reason why India jumped 16 places in … Continue reading “The 3 Rs of India: reforms, RBI and (US) rate hikes”

Where do you find a good yield?

Part of the big idea of Central Banks creating money and buying bonds is to drive other investors to buy riskier assets. They want to stimulate more activity. They hope that by taking interest rates down to very low levels some people will spend more instead of saving, and others will be more adventurous with … Continue reading “Where do you find a good yield?”

The US Federal Reserve – Birds of a Feather

What do you get when you cross a hawk with a dove? A fair amount of confusion, if the US Federal Reserve (the Fed) is anything to go by. At this year’s Jackson Hole gathering of the world’s central bankers, Fed Chair Janet Yellen declared that ‘the case for an increase in the federal funds … Continue reading “The US Federal Reserve – Birds of a Feather”

The case for a UK fiscal reset

With monetary policy measures catching all the headlines this week we thought it worth reflecting on the other side of the equation: fiscal policy. Chancellor Philip Hammond has said that the UK may have to “reset” fiscal policy in the wake of the referendum vote. This sentiment appears to chime with the mood music at … Continue reading “The case for a UK fiscal reset”