• The oil price cliff dive will end the prospect of double-barrelled tightening






    A pause is being considered at the Fed, even by hawkish FOMC members. The oil price crash now gathering steam makes this pause more likely. Maybe Bullard’s infamous low dot on the Fed’s Summary of Economic Projections is the right way to look at Fed policy.

    The oil price cliff dive will end the prospect of double-barrelled tightening
  • How Brexit makes Britain poorer, forcing Carney to stay his hand






    The risk in the UK is an inflationary recession. For now, Mark Carney is resisting a rate hike. But how long will the Bank of England hold out? And how long can British consumers keep spending if real wages are falling? Two things would ease this pressure. One is some sort of fiscal support for real wages. The second is the fall in oil prices. As in the US, I see oil prices as key.






    How Brexit makes Britain poorer, forcing Carney to stay his hand
  • Could the UK be headed for an inflationary recession?






    The Bank of England kept its key policy rate unchanged at a record low 0.25% . Three dissents show how a weak currency and rising inflation are making it harder to keep rates low. The worst case scenario is an inflationary recession, which would topple Theresa May.






    Could the UK be headed for an inflationary recession?
  • What are credit markets signalling about the US economy?






    The US economy has been very resilient during this post-crisis business cycle, as we are now into our ninth year of economic expansion. Soon we could hit a record for the length of an expansion. Yet, with that backdrop, 10-year Treasury yields were at 2.13% this morning – even as the Fed signals more hikes to come in 2017 as well as reverse QE. I think the bond market is signalling continued low growth and low inflation. Some thoughts below






    What are credit markets signalling about the US economy?
  • On the Fed’s pause due to dual-barrelled monetary tightening






    Fed Governor Jerome Powell recommended a June hike and 2017 balance sheet reductions, in one of the last public speeches by a Fed official before the June FOMC meeting. When the Fed follows Powell’s game plan, we will be in the unchartered waters of dual-barrelled tightening, with the attendant risks that entails. Some comments below






    On the Fed’s pause due to dual-barrelled monetary tightening
  • All politics are local: understanding Trump’s threats and misunderstanding Merkel’s disappointment






    What Angela Merkel was doing this past weekend when she spoke of the need for Europe to “take our fate into our own hands” was using an international issue for domestic purposes.






    All politics are local: understanding Trump’s threats and misunderstanding Merkel’s disappointment
  • The threat of an overheated German economy






    The Eurozone economy is doing really well. Some data points to 3% growth. The German economy is doing even better – with some data pointing to 5% annualized growth. But there’s a downside – overheating. And with the ECB at negative rates and engaged in 60 billion Euros of QE to boot, overheating in Germany is a reasonable fear. Some thoughts below






    The threat of an overheated German economy
  • More Europe






    At the height of the European Sovereign Debt Crisis, German leader Angela Merkel was openly calling for ‘more Europe, not less’. With Emmanuel Macron elected to the Presidency of France on that platform, Merkel has perhaps her only chance to make good on that vision. First she needs to get re-elected though. But if she gets that far — and her party’s election win last night in Schleswig-Holstein suggests she will — she has to meet Macron with a reformer’s fervour or lose Europe to nationalism.






    More Europe
  • France: What Macron means when he says the EU must reform or face Frexit






    At the weekend, French Presidential election frontrunner Emmanuel Macron told the BBC that EU leaders “have to face the situation, to listen to our people, and to listen to the fact that they are extremely angry today, impatient and the dysfunction of the EU is no more sustainable”. He then warned that if EU leaders do not correct this dysfunction, either France would exit the eurozone or the National Front would take over or both. I think what he says is true and let me explain why.






    France: What Macron means when he says the EU must reform or face Frexit
  • Trump is just a conventional politician who uses over-the-top bluster, NAFTA edition






    This morning, the Trump Administration called the leaders of Canada and Mexico to tell them that he “agreed not to terminate NAFTA at this time,” showing, yet again, that Donald Trump is much less audacious a President than some expected. The question is why. About two months ago, I surmised that despite all his hot rhetoric, Trump’s bark was worse […]

    Trump is just a conventional politician who uses over-the-top bluster, NAFTA edition

All Content

Understanding what a neutral macro-economic policy looks like






This is going to be a quick follow-on to the last post on monetary policy as the only game in town. I feel like the obvious question that post doesn’t answer is this one: what other policy tools we should use? And I want to tee up that question with this post.






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Some thoughts on full employment and this asset-based economic recovery

Some thoughts on full employment and this asset-based economic recovery






I see that Dartmouth economics professor Danny Blanchflower is talking about slack in the US labour market because he believes the Fed is premature in assessing its full employment mandate as fulfilled. I have a few thoughts on this issue I want to flesh out below and the crux of my narrative revolves around the over-dependence on monetary policy as a policy lever.






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An anecdote on the German housing bubble

An anecdote on the German housing bubble






I don’t know if there is a German housing bubble or even whether there will be one. I do know that we hear a lot about it in the press – the result of zero, even negative, interest rates. So let me give you a little anecdote from my trip to Germany last week.






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How the Fed handles financial stability is key to avoiding a crisis

How the Fed handles financial stability is key to avoiding a crisis






I’ve got two objectives here. One is to talk about the Fed and the other is to discuss the evolution of the US economy. Most of what I want to say is upbeat, both on the Fed and the economy. And I’ll lead with that. I do have some doubts about the long-term though – and I want to give […]

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US economic growth still in the 2ish% channel

US economic growth still in the 2ish% channel






In the aftermath of the shale oil bust that sent the US economy to stall speed in 2015, growth has rebounded, but only to a sort of 2%ish level. Continued low inflation insures further low nominal GDP growth aka secular stagnation. But so far, this stagnation has not made the economy more susceptible to recession. Some brief thoughts below Here’s […]

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Baumol’s cost disease, aging societies and inflation expectations






Quick hit here. I have been banging on about lowflation, repeatedly suggesting it is here to stay. The Fed, on the other hand begs to differ and is pre-emptively normalizing rates, as a result. No matter how you look at this, there’s a rub though: We all consume different products, so we each experience a different individual inflation rate. Even […]

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The wisdom of crowds and government bond markets

The wisdom of crowds and government bond markets






When you look at how markets are positioned, it’s clear that a lot of people see continued low growth for years to come – a veritable Japanification of the US economy. I hope this is one of those times that markets are wrong. But I am not willing to bet on the hope, just the opposite.






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The oil price cliff dive will end the prospect of double-barrelled tightening

The oil price cliff dive will end the prospect of double-barrelled tightening






A pause is being considered at the Fed, even by hawkish FOMC members. The oil price crash now gathering steam makes this pause more likely. Maybe Bullard’s infamous low dot on the Fed’s Summary of Economic Projections is the right way to look at Fed policy.






Read more ›

How monetary policy entrenches secular stagnation






Recent statements by monetary authorities in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom tells us rate hikes are possible in all three this year. This trio of English-speaking G7 nations is at a different phase of the monetary policy cycle than Europe or Japan. The implications are unclear though.






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Abenomics and Japanese growth

Abenomics and Japanese growth






Only during the Great Recession did nominal GDP break out of a tight range – and then, it did so to the downside. We are nowhere near the top of the range now, nor should we expect to be anytime soon.






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How Brexit makes Britain poorer, forcing Carney to stay his hand

How Brexit makes Britain poorer, forcing Carney to stay his hand






The risk in the UK is an inflationary recession. For now, Mark Carney is resisting a rate hike. But how long will the Bank of England hold out? And how long can British consumers keep spending if real wages are falling? Two things would ease this pressure. One is some sort of fiscal support for real wages. The second is the fall in oil prices. As in the US, I see oil prices as key.






Read more ›
Is the new rout in oil getting worrying?

Is the new rout in oil getting worrying?






Earlier this morning, the New York Mercantile Exchange was quoting delivery for light sweet crude in July at $43.30. That’s a far cry from the $55 average that analysts had expected for 2017 as recently as last month. And all indications are that this price deflation is not transitory, but lasting. The selloff in oil brings year-to-date losses to some […]

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