Posts Tagged ‘European Central Bank’
Many central banks within the global economy are involved in printing more of their paper money (often referred to as “fiat” currencies). There’s a race to devalue currencies in hopes to revive economies and maintain a competitive stance. Countries believe that by printing more of their fiat currency, they can improve their exports to the global economy, because the goods will be cheaper for those countries that have a stronger currency.
Recently, we heard from the central bank of Brazil that it will commence a program “with the aim of providing FX ‘hedge’ (protection) to the economic agents and liquidity to the FX market…” (Source: Banco Central Do Brasil, August 22, 2013.) In simple words: Brazil’s central bank is going to make sure the country’s currency stays low compared to the currencies of its trading partners.
Through this program, the central bank plans to sell US$500 million on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays of every week. This intervention is expected to last until the end of this year, but the central bank also made it very clear that it will continue with its plan as long as necessary.
Similarly, Columbia’s central bank is taking steps to lower the value of its currency. It has bought significant amounts of U.S. dollars and printed pesos. The finance minister of the country, who also represents the government on the central bank’s board, stated that the government wants to keep the country’s currency value between 1,900 and 1,950 pesos per U.S. dollar. (Source: Reuters, August 20, 2013.)
Our own central bank, the Federal Reserve, has been putting pressures on the U.S. dollar. Though we … Read More
Export-oriented provinces in the Chinese economy have turned pessimistic and anticipate exports will only grow at the rate of five percent this year. In 2012, they targeted an export growth rate of eight percent to 10%.
What’s troublesome about this is that exports from the Chinese economy account for 20% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). This means that, if exports from China to other countries decline, the Chinese economy will suffer an economic slowdown. (Source: Epoch Times, February 7, 2013.)
The Chinese economy has become fragile due to the economic slowdown in the global economy. Its biggest trading partner, the eurozone, is still suffering, while other areas have anemic demand.
As export volume falls in China, it is creating trouble for China’s manufacturing sector. The Chinese Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) declined to 50.4 in January from 50.6 in December of 2012. (Source: National Bureau of Statistics of China, February 1, 2013.) A reading above 50 means expansion in manufacturing, while a reading below 50 means contraction. January’s reading is not far from the pivot point into manufacturing contraction.
Getting a read on the Chinese economy is not that easy. Some say statistics out of China are not that reliable. But here is the official word from the Chinese government: in the third quarter of 2012, GDP in the Chinese economy rose 7.4% from a year earlier—the slowest growth rate in three years. (Source: China Daily, December 30, 2012.)
While time and more data will make the picture clearer, with Chinese exports stumbling, a contraction in manufacturing activity could be next for the Chinese economy.
And it’s … Read More
The eurozone credit crisis is taking center stage once again. As I have been saying in these pages, it is far from over, even though the European Central Bank (ECB) has announced that it will do “whatever it takes” to save the eurozone. Economic conditions in the region are still deteriorating.
The debt-infested countries in the eurozone are reaching their lows with widespread economic slowdown, but I am more concerned that the stronger nations are starting to show signs of struggle as well.
France, the second biggest economic hub in the region, is in a period of next to no growth. The country’s unemployment is higher than 10% and increasing. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects growth between 0.3% and 0.4% for the French economy this year. (Source: Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2013.)
In the fourth quarter of 2012, the eurozone countries saw the steepest quarterly decline in industrial production in more than three years. Industrial production in the eurozone declined 2.4% in the fourth quarter, compared to a meager increase of 0.2% in the third quarter—the sharpest decline since the first quarter of 2009. (Source: Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2013.)
Looking ahead, it seems the credit crisis in the region is there to stay. According to a study conducted by Ernst & Young, banks in the eurozone have a massive amount of bad loans sitting on their books. The auditing firm estimated that these bad loans make up a grand total of $1.23 trillion, or 7.6% of all the loans issued in the region. (Source: Deutsche Welle, February 11, 2013.)
Dear … Read More
Before I get into my rant today about the troubled municipal bond market, first I have to say that I just couldn’t believe it when I saw this cross the newswire yesterday:
On Wednesday, January 23, 2013, Congress voted to “temporarily” do away with the U.S. government’s debt ceiling. Once the Senate passes the measure and the President signs it, there will be no limit on the amount of money the government can borrow.
At this point, I’m thinking everyone in Washington has gone mad. How can you give the government unlimited borrowing power? The race to a $20.0-trillion national debt and a debt-to-GDP multiple of 125%—we’ll get there a lot quicker now!
Back to today’s story…
Municipal bonds investors beware!
Gone are the days when municipal bonds were the “best investment.” Some may still argue that they provide tax breaks, but today the risks of holding them are piling up.
Cities across the U.S. are experiencing budget deficit problems. As budget deficits increase, the ability of cities and municipalities to pay their creditors decreases. A number of municipalities filed for bankruptcy last year, because they accumulated too much debt under their budget deficits—and defaulted on the payment of the municipal bonds they issued.
As we enter 2013, the epidemic of increasing budget deficits could make 2012 look like the tip of the iceberg!
Syracuse, New York, is estimated to have a budget deficit of $25.0 million this year. The city’s pension costs have increased 40% in one year and healthcare costs are rising at nine percent on a per-year basis. (Source: The Post-Standard, January 17, 2013.)
Cities and … Read More
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