On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve recognized the fundamental improvements in the U.S. economy and announced that, in January, it would begin paring back its bond-buying program by US$10 billion per month. This is the “taper” that everyone’s been talking about. The Fed had their first window at tapering back in September, when just the suggestion that tapering was a possibility was enough to send markets shuddering. The Fed’s communication machinery seems to have been more “well-oiled” this time around because both the Dow and the S&P 500 ended Wednesday at record highs. This means that markets are seeing the taper for what it is, a sign that the U.S. economy is on a path of stable growth.
The possible cause of concern is that the market panics if economic data in early 2014 isn’t as rosy as it has been in recent months. With the taper now official, it’s important to understand that tapering isn’t an inevitable one-way street. The Fed has reserved the right to slow, halt, or reverse the taper if economic conditions warrant. Read more
When the sun rises on December 19th, I believe there’s an even chance that the Federal Reserve will have announced that they’ll begin tapering their bond-buying program that began in September 2012. I’d put 50/50 odds on an announcement of tapering their US$85 billion per month program of quantitative easing, and there are several fundamental reasons that back up my beliefs.
The potential federal budget deal that arose late in the day on Tuesday, December 10 between House and Senate negotiators is the most recent, albeit least important, piece of evidence paving the way for a December taper. Read more
Tapering is coming. And markets know it. The mere thought that tapering of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing (QE) program was due in September was enough to push many markets and currencies (especially emerging markets) significantly lower. So the question arises for the occasion of the actual tapering that’s likely to begin in 2014: have markets already reacted to tapering or is there more to come? Read more
At their September meeting, the Federal Reserve surprised markets by maintaining their program of monthly Treasury and agency MBS purchases. So the taper is again “on hold.” Our economist Robin Anderson looks at the Fed’s decision and examines what it means for the markets.
169,000 new jobs in August. Sounds pretty good…unless you were expecting 180,000. Combine that with June and July gains getting revised down by 16,000 and 58,000, respectively…and you get something that falls somewhere between ‘super tepid’ and ‘lackluster.’ So, when the Federal Reserve meets next week, what will they think about jobs numbers and how will that affect their tendency toward tapering?
Year-to-date average monthly payroll gains sit at 180,250. That’s lower than the average in 2012, and more importantly, it’s lower than the rate of 200,000 that some FOMC members would prefer to see before cutting the pace of bond purchases. Of the combined June-July revisions (-74,000), an unusually high amount (over half) came from local government – mostly education. Read more
Imagine you’re aboard a flight that’s on its final approach into the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, India. For most of the flight, the plane, a 787, has been traveling at about 903 km/hour (that’s around 560 miles/hour). As the flight attendants collect that last few plastic cups, the plane starts to slow and banks gently to line up with the runway. The man next to you, oddly distraught over the change in airspeed, yelps as the pitch of the engines audibly lowers. Panicking, he unbuckles his seatbelt, stands up and yells, “It’s slowing down!! Why is it slowing down?!? I’m bailing out!!”
While you’d never expect this sort of thing to actually happen on a real flight to India, something similar is happening with emerging market investors. Read more
For those involved in trading the fixed income markets, August is usually one of the more mundane months. Issuance of new corporate debt slows down significantly since many global investment professionals are on vacation, forced two-week leaves, or holidays, which results in liquidity that is much more challenging. But unlike past years, we’re entering into a September time frame that is poised to be anything but boring, thus causing a likely increase in volatility. So just like the coming attractions at your local movie theater, this is what we have to look forward to in the month of September:
Specific events and their release date:
“The Last Picture Show” (September 6) – On this Friday, the final major piece of the employment puzzle, the August non-farm payrolls, will be released to the market. This will either confirm the prevailing wisdom regarding the underlying strength of the U.S. economy and the likelihood of tapering of the Fed’s quantitative easing program, or it will provide a difficult conflicting perspective only days before the FOMC meeting. Read more
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