Daily Archives: March 31, 2010

Simone Baribeau

We won’t. And we shouldn’t try to.

At least, not according to Atlanta Fed president Dennis P. Lockhart. Read more

Simone Baribeau

Restructurings haven’t yet worked on a large scale with home mortgage loans, but that hasn’t stopped the Fed from being hopeful that commercial real estate might benefit.

In a speech today to community bankers, Fed governor Elizabeth A Duke, said: Read more

James Politi

Good Friday – April 2 – may not turn out to be so great for the US labour market after all.

The labour department’s monthly report on non-farm payrolls and unemployment always attracts a lot of attention – but the March figures, due out on Friday, have been even more hotly anticipated than usual. In particular, hopes have risen that the payrolls data could show a big jump in job creation, with as many as 200,000 new positions on the books. Part of that jump will be attributed to a boost in hiring for the 2010 census, but the rest will come from private-sector job creation - though some of it will simply be hiring delayed from February because of the snowstorms. From President Barack Obama to Democrats in Congress to private economists, many have noted that this could be the month when the US begins to reverse the 8.4m jobs lost during the recession. Read more

By Jude Webber, Argentina correspondent

After weeks of legal wrangling, Argentina’s government is free – at least for now – to start using a chunk of central bank reserves to pay debt after judges overturned the suspension of a controversial emergency decree issued by President Cristina Fernández earlier this month. Read more

Alan Beattie

This letter the other day from Barack Obama, Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy, Lee Myung-Bak and Stephen Harper looks at first sight like the usual bland exhortations for everyone to do better. (Why didn’t Angela Merkel sign, btw? Too busy with Greece?) But the semiotics are a bit more complex. The bit about “We all understand that ongoing trade, fiscal and structural imbalances cannot lead to strong and sustainable growth” looks pretty much like a pointed jab at China.

So does this mean the currency wars are going to break out in the G20? Since the grouping is supposed to work on consensus, it has generally shied away from arguments about exchange rates, which have the potential to blow up any meeting or institution in which they take place. Throwing them into the mix will make G20 meetings a lot livelier, at least. I’m not convinced it’s wise, though, for a joint letter apparently aimed at China to be signed exclusively by a gang of rich countries. If the US wants to use the G20 to put pressure on the Chinese, it will have to get on board emerging market countries also suffering from renminbi undervaluation, Brazil being the obvious example. The last thing the US wants is to replicate the unhelpfully rigid rich-country-vs.-poor-country divisions that have blocked progress in the WTO.

Few punters wanted today’s final unlimited three- and six- month debt offers from the ECB.

In the six-month auction, €17.9bn was allotted, against consensus expectations of about €70bn. Perhaps those expectations were just wrong: at the last six-month offering, the allotment was €1.7bn. The tenfold increase represented an increased number of bidders, and increased debt appetite from each bidder. The December auction had 21 banks bidding; this auction had 62. Read more

Inflation jumped to 1.5 per cent in the eurozone in March, even as figures just released show Feburary unemployment reached 10 per cent in February, the highest since 1998. Higher unemployment typically pushes prices downwards as people rein in spending.

Prices have risen far more than expected, if this flash estimate from Eurostat proves accurate (figures by member state will be released April 16). Inflation across the eurozone was 1.0 per cent in January and 0.9 per cent in February. The aggregation of figures across 16 member states has a dampening effect, so a move of this magnitude is surprising.

A bizarre and temporary equality now reigns in European unemployment. Male and female rates are both 10 per cent, up from Read more

Simone Baribeau

If Lord Adair Turner has received heat for his sometimes controversial comments, today he could take comfort in an “atta-boy.”

The chairman of the Financial Services authority, much maligned for his comments on “socially-useless” bank trading practices last year, received nothing but praise from Paul Volcker, former Federal Reserve chairman.

The architect of the so-called ‘Volcker rule’ called Lord Turner “extremely sophisticated” and “thoughtful” and urged participants at a Peterson Institute for International Economic to read his “very closely reasoned” speech on financial reform. He praised the analysis, which was highly skeptical of the benefits of financial services.

He later referred a question on potential downside to the Volcker rule – which would ban proprietary trading at commercial banks – to Lord Turner’s analysis. “He says some liquidity’s good, but at some point let’s stop its growth.” Mr Volcker then concluded that there would be no negative impacts from the ban.

Other highlights from Mr Volcker’s talk: Read more