2019 Global Outlook: Another year near zero
It has been a decade since global interest rates reached the zero lower bound, where monetary policymakers lose their ability to stimulate the economy using conventional policy tools. Among the largest global central banks, only the United States Federal Reserve has set its benchmark above 2 percent. Will this anomaly end in 2019?
U.S. interest rates: Where will they take us?
U.S. President Donald Trump worries that the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates too quickly. In fact, the Fed has engaged in only moderate tightening so far. By mid-2019, it is likely to end the cycle and hold rates steady, since the U.S. central bank is probably focusing on restricting the money supply rather than reaching an interest rate target. At that point, Mr. Trump will no longer be able to blame the Fed for any fiscal trouble and will have to implement reforms if he wants to spur growth.
Opinion: Cryptocurrencies – fears and opportunities
After a few years of hype, experts are now tamping down expectations for cryptocurrencies. Indeed, several concerns about security and regulation need to be addressed. But cryptocurrencies – and the blockchain technology they are based on – also offer tremendous room for innovation and efficiency. By competing with traditional fiat currency, they could help profligate governments and central banks become more disciplined
Dark clouds gathering over the global economy
We are probably coming to the end of a global economic recovery. But with interest rates still hovering around zero, central banks will have no ammunition to fight a recession. Meanwhile, debt is high and more trade barriers are going up. The underlying causes of global economic imbalances, and not just the symptoms, must be addressed.
Trump’s trade war is poised for a Pyrrhic victory
The flip side of the Trump administration’s drive to reduce the U.S. foreign trade deficit is that it will leave the rest of the world with fewer dollars to finance its budget deficit. President Trump could cut spending drastically or persuade the Federal Reserve to buy more bonds, but neither seems likely. More probably, he will do nothing as domestic rates rise and the dollar strengthens – widening the trade deficit again.
Global Outlook 2018: Dangerous waters ahead for the world economy
All around, the wind seems to have filled the sails of the world economy. From consumer spending to investment to stock market indices, the sailing seems smooth. But some dangerous currents, including debt-fueled liquidity and low productivity, are converging below the surface. Without an effort by the captains of the world economy to right the ship, it could be pulled under.
Jerome Powell: what kind of Fed leader will he be?
By choosing to elevate the uncontroversial Jerome Powell to chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, President Donald Trump has scored a rare bipartisan success. Mr. Powell lacks formal training in economics, though, and while he can be expected to sail smoothly on his predecessor’s course, it is hard to foresee if he can make an effective Fed leader in more challenging circumstances.
Janet Yellen considers her last act
Janet Yellen has done what was needed to leave behind fond memories of her term as Fed chief. She waited until the U.S. economy showed vigorous signs of recovery before announcing a soft-landing solution from the excessive liquidity inherited from Ben Bernanke. In part, this was a conscious choice to do what markets expected. But it may have been governed more by a long-term pessimism about the outlook for the economy.
The Swiss franc 2.0
The Swiss economy is doing remarkably well. Though it is growing only slowly, its companies are competitive, unemployment is virtually absent, inflation is close to zero and public debt is under control. One would therefore expect the Swiss National Bank to abstain from taking an active role in monetary policy or manipulating interest rates and exchange rates. Yet, last June the SNB announced that it intends to play an active role, and that it will expand its money supply to enhance growth and avoid deflation. These explanations are not convincing – the key is somewhere else: bruised Swiss manufacturers.