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The New Mercantilism Rates Race to the Bottom Currencies Depreciate

During the recent period of world growth, where nearly every country’s exports were rising, there was little incentive for governments to manipulate economic policies to foster even more economic growth. Getting back to “normal” seemed to be the universally adopted mantra, and that implied rising rates and tighter monetary policies. However, today, when world trade is contracting (some of which may be due to “trade wars,” but much of which is due …Read More

Fallout From Fed Dovishness

The rate setting committee of the Fed met on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 19 and 20. What the Market Saw and Heard From their formal statement and press conference, the equity market saw and heard only what it wanted, at least at first, and equity markets rose on Thursday, March 21st (Dow Jones +217): No rate hikes in 2019, and possibly only one in 2020 (and that one would occur because …Read More

The Rocky Road to “Normal”

The terms “normal,” “normalize,” and “neutral” are common in today’s economic discussions.  But, does anybody really know what “normal” is?  When the Federal Reserve (Fed) says that it  wants to “normalize” interest rates, do they have a rate scheme in mind?  Does it mean that rates will be similar to what they were 10-20 years ago?  That’s what most people believe “normal” is.  The truth is “normal” is significantly lower.  The current …Read More

December’s Petulant Children: Trump, the Fed, Markets

Surely, this was a December to remember, but due to financial pain, not joy. Prior to December, markets were uneasy, and this showed up in a downward pricing bias and significantly increased volatility. As measured by the intraday swings on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) between high and low [(high-low)/prior close], volatility more than doubled between September (0.67% per day) and October (1.55% per day), as markets became concerned …Read More

Markets: Time to Reflect on Risk, not Return

The week ended September 7th saw a pull-back from the record highs set in late August. Perhaps we witnessed the infamous “double top” (January 26th and August 29th). It is clear that financial markets have become riskier, and, perhaps, it is time for investors to assess the risks inherent in their portfolios versus the prospects of future returns. There is a short-term and a long-term view, neither of which augurs …Read More