Starlight Policy

By |2019-08-08T06:00:18-04:00August 8th, 2019|Global Market Update|

Is it getting dark? Photo: Jason Jenkins. Source: Flikr. CC-BY-SA 2.0 It’s been said that you only see the starlight when the sun goes down. And the sun has been going down on interest rates for a long, long time. Japan is perhaps the poster-child for low rates. Their economy went through a serious contraction in the late ‘90s, and interest rates there fell to almost zero in 2001. They went negative in 2015. In Europe, some countries began to see negative interest rates [...]

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An Economy with a View?

By |2018-03-23T10:57:11-04:00March 23rd, 2018|Global Market Update|

It’s not working. Italian Riviera at Moneglia. Photo: Fiore dod. Source: Wikimedia For the past 10 years incomes have diverged dramatically within the Euro-zone. Germany has done pretty well, most other countries have muddled along, and incomes in Italy have fallen. Per capita GDP in Italy is now 5% lower than it was in 2000. By contrast, the entire Euro-zone is 12% higher and Germany is 20% higher. This isn’t what Italians thought they were signing up for when they joined Europe’s common currency. [...]

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Lipstick on What?

By |2017-11-28T08:05:05-04:00November 28th, 2017|Global Market Update|

Remember the PIIGS? Photo: Doug Tengdin Six years ago, the problems with Europe’s common currency were in full flower. Greece had defaulted on its Euro-denominated sovereign debt, and the economic challenges facing Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain (the PIIGS) were headline news. The Greek economy was facing hard times. Their textile exports to the rest of the EU had been displaced by China, and they found it hard to compete. During their austerity measures, IMF bailouts, and debt renegotiations, focus shifted to other [...]

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By |2017-10-18T07:35:39-04:00October 18th, 2017|Global Market Update|

What have we learned from the last 10 years? S&P 500, log scale. Source: Bloomberg In October 2007 the stock market was reaching new highs – levels it did not reach again for another six years. We had begun to hear troubling news about foreign hedge funds and sub-prime mortgages, but those noises seemed like distant thunder on a summer day: of concern to those caught in the downpour, but local, isolated problems. Little did we know that the rumbling was actually the heavy [...]

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In Europe We Trust?

By |2017-09-22T07:20:40-04:00September 22nd, 2017|Global Market Update|

Why didn’t Europe fall apart? Horace Vernet, “The Battle of the Barricades.” Public Domain. Source: Wikipedia In 1848, revolution swept across Europe. Governments fell in Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, and elsewhere. In all, over 50 countries were affected. The uprisings were led by shaky ad hoc coalitions of reformers, intellectuals, and workers, which didn’t hold together for very long. They were often violently put down, but resulted in lasting social changes, even if the political order was only temporarily overturned. This history [...]

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Ode on a Grecian Turn

By |2017-07-17T12:22:43-04:00June 30th, 2015|Global Market Update|

“What men or gods are these? What maidens loth? What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? What wild ecstasy?” The Townly Vase. Source: British Museum That’s what John Keats wrote almost 200 years ago while contemplating the bas-relief on a Greek vase. But the words could almost be applied to the political and financial situation in modern Greece. Not much has changed since the last time we discussed Greece, except that the deadline for Greece to make its debt payments has gotten closer. Last [...]

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Greece is the Word

By |2017-07-17T12:22:58-04:00April 22nd, 2015|Global Market Update|

Is Greece on the road to default? Photo: © Martina Misar-tummeltshammer Source: Dreamstime Stock Photos When I consider Greece I think of classical literature and ancient ruins. Others picture sparkling beaches and whitewashed architecture. We usually don’t imagine a bustling commercial center. And it’s unlikely that we look at Greece as the key to the Euro-zone’s financial stability. But that’s what’s in the news. […]

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Draghi’d Forward

By |2017-07-17T12:23:07-04:00January 23rd, 2015|Global Market Update|

Exceeds expectations. Photo: Frankfurt Skyline; Source: Wiki Commons/Thomas Wolf That’s what I thought when I read about the European Central Bank’s program to expand the Eurozone’s money supply by buying government bonds, commonly known as quantitative easing (QE). A week ago, rumors were circulating that they would buy about €700 billion worth of bonds. But yesterday Mario Draghi announced that the program would be more than €1.1 trillion. Markets around the world rallied on the news. […]

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The Indispensable Country

By |2017-07-17T12:23:07-04:00January 13th, 2015|Global Market Update|

“The graveyards are filled with indispensable men.” – Charles De Gaulle Source: Le Monde Among the ironies of Sunday’s march in Paris were leaders from Saudi Arabia and Russia demonstrating on behalf of free speech, while US leaders avoided the procession. But irony aside, the direction France now takes matters immensely to the rest of the world. Initial reports indicate that over 5% of France’s population attended Sunday’s rally. […]

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Yielding Nothing

By |2017-07-17T12:34:13-04:00October 3rd, 2014|Global Market Update|

What’s up with negative interest rates? Source: Bloomberg The last auction Germany held for their 2-year bunds produced an obligation sold are par with no coupon. The bonds promptly went to a premium, resulting in a negative yield. Around the world, yields for 2-year Government bonds are negative in Germany, Holland, France, and Switzerland. In Switzerland it’s especially bad: you have to pay a 4 ¼% premium to get a 2-year note with a 2% coupon. […]

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