New Fed chair Powell raises rates, growth and inflation forecasts

As expected the Federal Reserve (Fed) raised interest rates by 25 basis points at the March Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. The move increases the target range for the federal funds rate from 1.25%-1.5% to 1.5-1.75%. At his first FOMC meeting, new Fed chair Jerome Powell also announced that the committee is pushing up … Continue reading “New Fed chair Powell raises rates, growth and inflation forecasts”

The US Congress holds the purse strings and wishes to loosen them

In theory the President sets out a budget in February and the Congress responds with a Budget resolution in May. In practice the Congress runs the budget, and has just passed a two year budget deal regardless of the White House proposals that crossed in the post with their decisions. President Trump’s wish to cut … Continue reading “The US Congress holds the purse strings and wishes to loosen them”

A healthy correction?

The phrase “healthy correction” is one of the most frequently used in the investment lexicon. It has been ubiquitous over the past few days as a descriptor of the significant falls in global markets. It is also a phrase that has puzzled me over the years. As to “healthy”? Falls of over 4% in a … Continue reading “A healthy correction?”

What has driven stockmarket returns and what will drive them in future?

While the equity markets of various countries and regions have performed very similarly over the past three years, the components of returns have been very different. When we look back over the past three years, investors have earned remarkably similar returns in local currency terms in very different parts of the world. UK, eurozone, Japanese … Continue reading “What has driven stockmarket returns and what will drive them in future?”

Farewell to 2017

Is it better to travel than to arrive?  The US share market has done well this year.  It has been in fitful anticipation of tax cuts to come.  As the old year draws to a close the tax cuts have as we expected taken legislative form. The US growth rate has risen, exceeding 3% as … Continue reading “Farewell to 2017”

US tax cuts: do the sums add up?

The US Senate recently passed its tax bill supporting the Trump administration’s tax reform measures, which call for a $1.5 trillion net tax stimulus. Supporters of these tax cuts have argued they will result in stronger economic growth, as did the tax cuts of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and George W Bush in the … Continue reading “US tax cuts: do the sums add up?”

Fed raises US rates once again

The US Federal Reserve (Fed) raised its key interest rate by 0.25 percentage points at its December meeting. It is one of Janet Yellen’s final major acts as head of the US central bank.  The Fed left its rate outlook for the coming years unchanged from its projections in September.  This is the fifth increase … Continue reading “Fed raises US rates once again”

Trump – one year on

A year on from Donald Trump’s election as US president, political and economic pundits are grappling with a big question: what is the significance of Trump? Is his presidency a boorish blip or a symptom of deeper malaise? Before Trump’s election, markets were fearful about the ‘bad things’ that he promised – American isolationism and … Continue reading “Trump – one year on”

Jay Powell nominated as next Fed Chair

President Trump has nominated Jay Powell as the next Chair of the US Federal Reserve. This was largely expected, despite Trump’s hosting of a somewhat convoluted selection process (involving a promotional video), which saw numerous candidates briefly take the role of favourite. The official changing of the guard occurs at the start of February next … Continue reading “Jay Powell nominated as next Fed Chair”

North Korea is a problem for China – if only the US would realise

North Korea now has nuclear warheads that it can attach to missiles, that can travel great distances – to Guam, almost certainly, the nearest offshore US territory, and, with a bit of practice perhaps heavily populated parts of the US mainland. It sounds scary, but then Russia, China and others have had this capability for … Continue reading “North Korea is a problem for China – if only the US would realise”

Economic effects of Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey was a tragedy. It also has the potential to have a considerable economic impact on both the economy of Texas and on the broader US economy. There are also material implications for both commodities and insurance markets. Economic Impact Early estimates put property damage at between $30bn and $100bn (0.2%-0.5% of GDP). For … Continue reading “Economic effects of Hurricane Harvey”

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?”

Fed leaves rates on hold and balance sheet reduction is coming soon

No surprises from the US Federal Reserve (Fed) with interest rates being left unchanged at the meeting last Wednesday. The statement contained some tweaks in wording with job gains now upgraded to “solid” and inflation is noted as “running below 2%”. Meanwhile, balance sheet reduction (the unwinding of quantitative easing) is now expected to take … Continue reading “Fed leaves rates on hold and balance sheet reduction is coming soon”