The Dollar Jumped and Stocks Rallied Last Week … What were The Triggers?

Concerns about the Ukraine and Islamic State remained high last week, but diminished at week-end on news of a cease-fire in Ukraine and NATO resolve to address the Islamic State. The European Central Bank (ECB) surprised markets (bullishly), and U.S. economic news was biased to the positive.

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As the Economy Improves, the Fed Recalibrates its Message

As the economy and labor market improve, quantitative easing (QE) is wound down and the first rate hike draws nearer, the language of the Fed evolves accordingly.  Both the minutes of the June FOMC meeting and the remarks of Fed Chair Janet Yellen at Jackson Hole were incrementally less dovish than earlier language.  The pace of these changes suggests that the Fed is comfortable “the ball is in the fairway”…the likelihood of a surprise policy shift is low. Continue reading

U.S. Forecast Update: Growth, Inflation and Central Bank Policy

Pioneer’s Head of Global Asset Allocation Research, Monica Defend, along with U.S. and Latin America Global Asset Allocation Research Economist, Annalisa Usardi, recently released an update on the U.S. economy. The update was based on the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ (BEA) release of the third and final estimates 1Q14 gross domestic product (GDP), which came in lower than expected. The forecast update focuses on three areas: growth, inflation and central bank policy. Below are some highlights from their report. To read the full report, click here. Continue reading

Fed’s Inflation Target Misguided? Good vs. Bad Disinflation

For more than a year the Federal Reserve Board has cited inflation below its targeted 2% level as one justification for maintaining its extraordinarily accommodative monetary stance. As of February, the core inflation rate was 1.1%, based on the Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE)  inflation series, the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation. But there is good reason to question whether the 2% target justifies current policy. Continue reading

Walking a Tightrope: The Credibility of Central Banks and the Risk of Crisis

As we begin 2014, economies in developed countries are gathering momentum and central banks are retaining accommodative monetary policies, which extend support for risky assets. U.S. corporate capital (CAPEX) expenditure is being revived, marking an improvement necessary for upgrading the overall economic growth. In this respect, recent disappointing figures on the job market seem more of a transient occurrence than a trend reversal. Nevertheless, key macro figures are still under close watch amid concerns that the economy is actually getting stronger and can withstand the gradual withdrawal of the exceptional monetary stimulus. Continue reading

Are Weak Emerging Markets Linked to Fed Tapering?

The current selloff in Emerging Markets (EM) may be peripherally related to Federal Reserve (Fed) tapering, but any linkage is more psychological than mechanical. In general, Fed tapering is expected to result in a renormalizing of bond yields (i.e. the 10-year Treasury working its way back to 3.5% or a little higher this year), but the Fed is still easing – just a little less aggressively – and they are not tightening. Continue reading

FOMC Minutes: Little Market Reaction. Hidden Message?

Observations on the Capital Markets – Week Ended January 10, 2014:

  • Friday’s labor market report was disappointing – and a little noisy
  • Bond markets rallied on weak job growth
  • U.S. economic news: More positives than negatives
  • Eurozone news: Not good, but getting better
  • China news: Is slower export growth really a sign of global weakness?

The FOMC Minutes Drew Little Market Reaction, but Contained Hidden Message
Harry Truman once famously asked for a one-armed economist, one who couldn’t say “but on the other hand…” On this score, while there were no real surprises or new insights in its minutes, the FOMC is an octopus with an extra arm: the minutes paint the picture of a committee with a range of views on every question – the antithesis of consensus. If decisions are, as the Fed continually reminds us, data-driven, and if there’s no consensus on the committee, how much weight should you put on the Fed’s forward guidance? I suspect the message is: not too much.

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