Posts tagged global imbalances
The Fiscal Bazooka

Markets remain undecided on whether to treat the signs of intensifying global economic weakness in Q4 and a looming slowdown in earnings growth as the kitchen sink—a signal that the worst is over—or evidence that conditions are worse than anticipated. As such, I thought that I’d discuss the other macro story du jour: The likelihood of a grand global experiment in coordinated fiscal stimulus to take over from our tapped-out monetary policymakers. Laughable you say; perhaps, in the short run, but the signs are clear enough if you care to look. Fiscal discipline has become unfashionable, even to the point that it is deemed outright irresponsible for individual economies to pursue such a strategy from the point of view of global economic growth. These days, economies who show fiscal restraint with large external surpluses—the savers who finance the borrowing of others—are “leaches” on global aggregate demand. If they do not change their ways on their own, they should be coerced. The flirt with the idea of a big fiscal push diverges in intensity across the major economic regions, but I identify three common denominators.

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A lot of noise, less signal

I promise that I will not do an explainer of the VIX this week. Instead, I will lead with some observations on markets and finish with a war-story from the world of retail investing. The return of equity volatility has engendered two responses. Firstly, it seemed as if investors breathed a sigh of relief on Monday when it became clear that we could peg the swoon to the blow-up of short-vol ETFs and related strategies. It is always scary when markest fall out of bed, and even more if so if we can’t explain why. Blaming excessive risk-taking in short-vol strategies assured that the sell-off, while painful, would be short.  Secondly, every strategist note that I have subsequently read—and comments from policymakers—have echoed this sentiment. A sell-off was long overdue and is perfectly normal. There is nothing to worry about, and underlying economic fundamentals for risk assets remain robust. Many have even welcomed the volatility as a sign of healthy markets. I have no particular reason to disagree, but my spider sense tingles when investors and strategists welcome a 10% puke in equities. I understand that macro traders are excited but real money and long-only? The logical response from markets would seem to be: “Oh, so you think you’re tough?”

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Manipulate This - What Really Drives Global Capital Flows

I am generally a tolerant guy, but when it comes to a debate on international capital flows I am a raving lunatic. I have no time for amateurs, and it is my clear impression that president Trump’s trade advisors, and those who agree with them, are just that. You need to understand where I am coming from, though. Specifically, you need to read my two essays about QE, population ageing and the global paradox of thrift. Here is a summary if you don’t want to read the whole thing; read it carefully.

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A Chinese Postcard from a grumpy economist

Another start to a new year another bout of anxiety over China, although I concede that the collateral damage on other markets have so far been far modest compared with the panic in Q1 last year. The bogey man is the same as in 2016. Capital outflows are acceleratingcurrency volatility has surged and the once bulging FX reserve coffers are leaking fast. These are ominous signs in a traditional emerging market macro-style framework, but I am not sure that this is the correct prism through which to look at China.

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