FRA is joined by Peter Boockvar and Yra Harris in discussing their predictions for Europe and the actions of the ECB, along with the Fed’s behavior and potential consequences.
Yra Harris is a recognized Trader with over 32 years of experience in all areas of commodity trading, with broad expertise in cash currency markets. He has a proven track record of successful trading through combination of technical work and fundamental analysis of global trends; historically based analysis on global hot money flows. He is recognized by peers as an authority on foreign currency. In addition to this he has Specific measurable achievements as a member of the Board of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). Yra Harris is a Registered Commodity Trading Advisor, Registered Floor Broker and a Registered Pool Operator. He is a regular guest analysis on Currency & Global Interest Markets on Bloomberg and CNBC. He has been interviewed for various articles in Der Spiegel, Japanese television and print media, and is a frequent commentator on Canadian Financial Network, ROB TV.
Yra highly recommends reading The Rotten Heart of Europe – send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to order
Prior to joining The Lindsey Group, Peter spent a brief time at Omega Advisors, a New York based hedge fund, as a macro analyst and portfolio manager. Before this, he was an employee and partner at Miller Tabak + Co for 18 years where he was recently the equity strategist and a portfolio manager with Miller Tabak Advisors. He joined Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette in 1992 in their corporate bond research department as a junior analyst. He is also president of OCLI, LLC and OCLI2, LLC, farmland real estate investment funds. He is a CNBC contributor and appears regularly on their network. Peter graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.B.A. in Finance from George Washington University. Check out Peter’s new newsletter service at www.boockreport.com.
What has been going on in Europe even with the ECB’s aggressive QE program is that the 2/10 has a far different character from other yield curves like the 5/30. The 2/10 is an investor curve and the 5/30 is much more speculative. Those curves have been steepening out fairly dramatically. Sophisticated investors and speculators are selling into the ECB buying the long end. Usually steepening curves are not good for currency in the short term, because they reflect that the economy is hotter than the central banks have prepared for.
The Greek curve has inverted again, significantly so. That’s sending a signal that the Greeks are having problems on the 2-year end. People are very nervous about Greek’s ability to make it through the next phase of the lending crisis.
There’s a rise in inflation expectation. We know that the markets are testing out the ECB, and that come April their monthly purchases will be reduced 20%. They’re extending the term of QE but on a flow basis they’re cutting it by 20%. Adding it all up, it helps to explain that steepness. You can pick apart that it’s good if it’s responding to growth, and it’s not good if it’s responding to inflation or the ECB backing off. Europe’s been buying less foreign bonds, which implies that they’re buying less of their own bonds. This is happening in the face of the ECB purchases. The Germans are furious that they’re seeing inflation to the extent that they are and the ECB is still going full steam ahead. That pressure is only going to grow.
The overnight deposits at the ECB are at an all-time high, and the repo rate isn’t moving in Europe. People in Europe are very nervous; they’re willing to give the ECB their reserves. This is a great signal that investors are getting nervous. The European equity markets are stalling out and US markets are carrying on like this doesn’t affect them, but any of these problems are systemic in nature at this point. The amount of sovereign debt purchased by all domestic banks in within the old established nations is so bad that if this seizes up, the repercussions will be felt globally.
EFFECTS OF INTERNATIONAL CAPITAL FLOWS
It’s possible that in times of nervousness that people repatriate money back home. Why else would you have record deposits when you’re being taxed 40 basis points? US money may leave Europe if there’s a problem and come to the US, but European money is not necessarily going to leave Europe if they have their own liquidity and balance sheet issues. Safe haven trades don’t play out the way people think they will, because they’re not one dimensional.
If the US puts on the border tax, the hit to the global financial system would bring on a wave of deflationary liquidation of assets that could really wreak havoc. The main thesis behind the border adjustment tax is that we’re going to tax goods that are imported, not exported, and importers don’t worry because the Dollar will rally 20% which offsets the 20% tax and everything will be fine. But overhauling the US tax code on the corporate side and placing all your chips on foreign currencies and the Dollar is incredibly stupid. Maybe the Dollar rallies, maybe it takes three years to adjust, and in the meantime the economy goes into recession because the price of goods rises to an extraordinary extent on an economy that’s dependent on consumer spending. And you throw in the $10T of Dollar related debt held by companies overseas that will get killed by the strengthening Dollar.
If the Dollar weakens from this border adjustment tax, then the US goes into recession.
CHANGES TO THE BANKING ACT
Banks will still have to hold a lot of capital, and hopefully we’ll have incentives for banks to lend. In terms of effect on the US economy, we still need a willing lender and a willing borrower, and hopefully this will facilitate that.
If you’re a commercial bank, you should have to adhere to the rules. The problem is that if you’re a bank and you want to leverage yourself off, you have to reveal daily what your risk profile is, and you can’t get FDIC insurance if you hit a certain risk level. Banks like everyone else should pay commissary value for the risks they’re taking.
The best part of Glass-Steagall was that it separated commercial banks from investment banks. It’s the small banks that had been most burdened by Dodd-Frank, but it’s the small banks that will hopefully get the most relief from the changes.
FED WOEFULLY BEHIND THE CURVE
The stock market is at an all-time high and the Fed Funds rate is at 0.65%. Historically the Fed Funds rate is 2 points above inflation. Even to get real interest rates back to zero, the Fed Fund’s rate should be at 1.5-2%. In the eighth year of an economic expansion, the Fed thinks negative interest rates is the right policy. That’s extraordinarily dangerous, and the Fed seems to be realizing that they’re caught and if Trump is successful in creating faster growth, it’s going to be hugely inflationary while they sit at 6.5%. They may raise in March, since they’ve shown that they like to raise on the day of a press conference meeting.
A lot of this year is going to be determined by central banks and interest rates, and less so Trumponomics. Germany is doing fairly well, with 1.7% inflation and a 2 year yield that’s negative 80 basis points. Germans should be borrowing money hand over fist to buy hard assets, since that’s where things are going to play out. Yes, the US is going to have tax and regulatory relief, but it’s a played out game. It’s a good value to buy things, in Germany, that have to be vastly undervalued.
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