Taking the petro out of the dollar

Saudi Arabia has been in the news recently for several interconnected reasons. Underlying it all is a spendthrift country that is rapidly becoming insolvent.

While the House of Saud remains strongly resistant to change, a mixture of reality and power-play is likely to dominate domestic politics in the coming years, following the ascendency of King Salman to the Saudi throne. This has important implications for the dollar, given its historic role in the region. Continue reading Taking the petro out of the dollar

The ECB and shadow banking

Markets have fully adjusted to a financial world which reflects the leadership and management of money by central banks, and are increasingly frightened of any prospect of their control failing.

Every time the system stumbles, the response has been for central banks to force greater control and regulation upon the monetary system to the detriment of free markets. It is the financial version of the Road to Serfdom. Central banks have become ill-equipped to allow markets to price risk, and in the case of the ECB, it is downright hostile to market-determined prices. Continue reading The ECB and shadow banking

A tale of two currencies

There is a widespread and growing feeling that financial markets are slipping towards another crisis of some sort.

In this article I argue that we are in the eye of a financial storm, that it will blow again from the direction of the advanced economies, and that this time it will uproot the purchasing power of major currencies.

The problems we face have been created by the major central banks. I shall assume, for the purpose of this article, that a second financial and monetary crisis will not have its origin in the collapse of China’s credit bubble, nor that Japan’s situation destabilises. These are additional risks, the first of which in particular is widely expected, but are subject to the control of a command economy. They obscure problems closer to home. Instead I shall concentrate on two old-school economies, that of the US and the Eurozone, where I believe the real dangers lie. Continue reading A tale of two currencies

Guessing the future without Say’s law

Or some reflections to read over the Easter holidays

With Japanese and Eurozone interest rates becoming increasingly negative, and the Fed backing off from at least some of the planned increases in the Fed funds rate this year, economists are reassessing the interest rate outlook.

Economists lack consensus, with some expecting yet more easing, based on the apparent collapse in cross-border trade last year. The fact that the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank see fit to pursue increasingly aggressive monetary reflation is taken as evidence of underlying difficulties faced in these key economies. And lingering doubts about the sustainability of China’s credit bubble point to a high risk of a credit-induced slump in the world’s growth engine. Continue reading Guessing the future without Say’s law