Monetary Policy

Saudi Arabia Faces Another "Very Scary Moment" As Economy, FX Regime Face Crude Reality

Over the weeks, months, and years ahead we’ll begin to understand more about the fallout from the death of the petrodollar and nowhere is it likely to be more apparent than in Saudi Arabia where widening fiscal and current account deficits have forced the Saudis to tap the bond market to mitigate the FX drawdown that's fueling speculation about the viability of the dollar peg. As Bloomberg reports, the current situation mirrors a "very scary moment" in Saudi Arabia’s history.

Why It Really All Comes Down To The Death Of The Petrodollar

Last week, in the global currency war’s latest escalation, Kazakhstan instituted a free float for the tenge causing the currency to immediately plunge by some 25%. The rationale behind the move was clear enough. What might not be as clear is how recent events in developing economy FX markets stem from a seismic shift we began discussing late last year - namely, the death of the petrodollar system which has served to underwrite decades of dollar dominance and was, until recently, a fixture of the post-war global economic order.

Productivity In America Now On Par With Agrarian Slave Economy

Adjusting for the WWII anomaly (which tells us that GDP is not a good measure of a country’s prosperity) US productivity growth peaked in 1972 – incidentally the year after Nixon took the US off gold. The productivity decline witnessed ever since is unprecedented. Despite the short lived boom of the 1990s US productivity growth only average 1.2 per cent from 1975 up to today. If we isolate the last 15 years US productivity growth is on par with what an agrarian slave economy was able to achieve 200 years ago.

What Does The Fed Do Now? The FOMC Decision Tree

The $64,000,000,000,000 question: what does the Fed now do? One attempt at an explanation taking into account last week's market plunge comes from Nomura, which provides a "2015 Scenario Analysis" in which it "breaks down various monetary policy (rate hike options) and rates market implications ahead."

The Federal Reserve Is Not Your Friend

Imagine that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was a corporation, with its shares owned by the nation's major pharmaceutical companies. How would you feel about the regulation of medications?  Whose interests would this corporation be serving? Or suppose that major oil companies appointed a small committee to periodically announce the price of a barrel of crude in the United States. How would that impact you at the gasoline pump? Such hypotheticals would strike the majority of Americans as completely absurd, but it's exactly how our banking system operates.

Is The Oil Crash A Result Of Excess Supply Or Plunging Demand: The Unpleasant Answer In One Chart

Courtesy of the following chart by BofA, we have the answer: while for the most part of 2015, the move in the price of oil was a combination of both supply and demand, the most recent plunge has been entirely a function of what now appears to be a global economic recession, one which will get far worse if the Fed indeed hikes rates as it has repeatedly threatened as it begins to undo 7 years of ultra easy monetary policy.

Weekend Reading: Is This The Big One?

"The combined levels of bullish optimism, lack of concern about a possible market correction (don't worry the Fed has the markets back), and rising levels of leverage in markets provide the 'ingredients' for a more severe market correction. However, it is important to understand that these ingredients by themselves are inert. It is because they are inert that they are quickly dismissed under the guise that 'this time is different.' Like a thermite reaction, when these relatively inert ingredients are ignited by a catalyst, they will burn extremely hot. Unfortunately, there is no way to know exactly what that catalyst will be or when it will occur. The problem for individuals is that they are trapped by the combustion an unable to extract themselves in time."

Russell Napier Lays Out The Trigger For The Next Emerging Market Crisis

"I have learnt from history that it is very hard working out what the trigger is. In 2008, it was the collapse of Lehman Brothers that triggered a credit crunch. Now it could be a major event in Turkey or a default of the Brazilian oil company Petrobras or some event in Malaysia. But if I have to pick one I would say it is Turkey introducing capital controls. Such controls will mean that Turkey will not pay back principals amounting to 400 Bio. $ and the interests on it." - Russell Napier

10 Things Every Economist Should Know About The Gold Standard

At the risk of sounding like a broken record we'd like to say a bit more about economists' tendency to get their monetary history wrong; in particular, the common myths about the gold standard. If there's one monetary history topic that tends to get handled especially sloppily by monetary economists, not to mention other sorts, this is it. Sure, the gold standard was hardly perfect, and gold bugs themselves sometimes make silly claims about their favorite former monetary standard. But these things don't excuse the errors many economists commit in their eagerness to find fault with that "barbarous relic." The point, in other words, isn't to make a pitch for gold.  It's to make a pitch for something - anything - that's better than our present, lousy money.