It is becoming increasingly difficult for central banks to surprise the markets with good news. No matter how dovish they are, investors expect them to be even more dovish still. This financial repression has facilitated the rise of populist politicians, who threaten to bring the end of central banks’ independence.
Central banks are trying to prolong the decade-old bull market, but it looks like instead of reassuring investors, this makes them nervous.
January was an extraordinarily positive month in the markets for virtually all assets, after a horrible 2018 — and it’s all due to the Fed. The US central bank executed a massive U-turn in its monetary policy and, while many observers like to point to low inflation as the reason for the Fed’s aborted effort to normalise monetary policy, something more sinister is behind it.
When the governor of the Swiss central bank sounds alarmed, it is time to take notice. Switzerland, famous for its cheese but also for its prosperity, has built its economy around trade, and Thomas Jordan is worried that protectionism will now ruin it.
We live in such strange times that most people don’t even notice how quickly certain principles that until not long ago appeared fundamental for Western societies are being eroded.
For those who are afraid of zombies, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has some bad news: they’re on the rise. What’s more, many people may be working for zombies.
But on the flip side, zombies may spook central banks enough that they don’t raise interest rates too high.
How afraid should investors be of the end of quantitative easing? Judging by recent comments, but also by the markets’ reaction until now, not too afraid.
While all eyes are still on Turkey, another emerging market is about to show the ugly side of quantitative tightening, and this time things could get really serious.
The world’s second largest economy has been a “success story” for so long that people have forgotten about China’s many vulnerabilities. Or rather, the Chinese communist party has been so good at keeping things under wraps, that few of the country’s weaknesses are known to the outside world.
The headline may be a bad pun, but the warning is serious. Many people believe that the trouble with Turkey’s currency is confined to that country, but that is far from the case. Turkey is just the first country that implemented populist policies when the going was good to now pay for these policies. The markets are about to teach populists a lesson, and Turkey is the first instalment.
Speeches and releases from various European Central Bank officials don’t make the best summer reading, that’s for sure. But it might be a good idea to go through a couple of recent ones, which give a hint of what the future might bring.