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China research trip – A look at the Chinese property market and shadow banking sector

There is a lot of debate surrounding the future of China’s economy. There are the pessimists, who will cite the inevitable collapse of a debt-powered housing bubble.  There are others that say these concerns are overblown and that despite slowing, China is still the world’s second largest economy and its growth rate is far superior than anything seen in the developed world.

From time to time we…

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“A grip on the public finances”. Redeeming war loans as UK borrowing rises.

As you know, we’ve always been fascinated by the UK’s War Loans and have written about them repeatedly on this blog (here’s what we wrote in 2011 when we suggested that they should be redeemed). Bonds and war go together hand in hand, and for most of history rising government debt levels have been directly caused by the cost of financing conflicts, or the reparations afterwards. The several out…

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Two devils in the US inflation detail

US inflation has been surprisingly low for a few months after a peak in May 2014. According to the latest data released in September, core CPI (i.e. excluding food & energy) stands at just 1.7% with much of this weakness caused by declining goods prices. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the average price of imports, excluding fuel, has not increased in six months. A stronger…

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€1tn increase required in ECB balance sheet to return to mid-2012 levels

Who’s the biggest winner if ECB buys corporates? The French

With the European Central Bank (ECB) purchasing €1.7bn of covered bonds last week, the Eurozone’s “QE-lite” programme has well and truly begun. Although the focus to date has been on covered and asset backed bonds, an article from Reuters last week spurred the market, due to a rumour that the ECB would soon be considering an extension to include secondary market corporate bond purchases. Althou…

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Ten reasons to like US high yield today

Global growth concerns, fears of a less accommodative Fed, and limited high yield market liquidity coupled with complacent and crowded investor positioning has served to reprice the US high yield market over the past few months. Following on from the worst quarterly performance in Q3 2014 for some three years, the US high yield market arguably now offers a significantly more attractive entry po…

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US Jobless claims as a percentage of the labour force is now at multi-decade lows

I blogged last year about the state of the US labour market and given the recent release of September’s initial jobless claims data, this seems like a good time to revisit these ideas.

US Initial Jobless Claims is an unemployment indicator which tracks the number of people who have filed jobless claims for the first time, representing the flow of people receiving unemployment benefits.  The Sep…

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Drifting apart: The decoupling of USD and EUR credit spreads

The decoupling of European and U.S. yields has been one of the key bond market themes in 2014 and therefore a much-discussed topic in our blog and elsewhere. Over the past two and a half months, however, a second type of transatlantic decoupling has emerged, this time with regards to credit spreads.

Let’s first have a look at the relative year-to-date (YTD) performance of USD and EUR investment…

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Emerging market debt: notes from my recent trip to the IMF Annual Meetings

Last week I attended the IMF’s Annual Meetings in Washington D.C, where I had a series of very interesting meetings with government officials and other world financial leaders. The underlying theme behind most of the discussions was that emerging market countries continue their adjustment into a new phase characterized by less abundant liquidity and lower commodity prices. This adjustment proce…

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It’s the taking part that counts: why Europe’s labour market might be stronger than we’d thought

We saw further evidence of the strengthening US labour market on Friday. In September, 248,000 new jobs were added and the unemployment rate fell below 6% for the first time in six years. Headline unemployment rates in Europe, by contrast, have been more dismal, with the latest numbers coming in at 11.5% across the Eurozone for August.

Less encouraging for the US was the participation rate fall…

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The lesson the Japanese economy has for the developed world

One of the most commonly reported themes in financial markets today is the fear of disinflation/deflation, and how monetary authorities need to take economic action to avoid becoming the “next Japan”. In February I commented on the fact that the fear of disinflation and deflation is not as logically straight forward as you may think. I think the common assumption that developed economies do not…

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