Sunday, August 2, 2009

interesting veiw from the PIMCO bond desk- keep learning about interest rate trends

take a look at this article

interesting to see what an insider, who performed very well this past year, what they expect from central banks moving forward.

As a Canadian bond market investor, we are possibly in for the same situation- mark carney will leave the benchmark rates largely unchanged, and there will be little economic forces acting to persuade him to change that.

what would it mean for our economy? well, previous economic history has shown that when the trend of interest rates to remain at rock bottom levels, for the yield curve to look very steep (meaning it's extremely easy to borrow short term money, and more expensive for long-term money)
In this sort of situation, banks will earn a great deal of profit. Why? because they are capable of borrowing capital from the government overnight, for about 0% interest and lending it to households and businesses for anywhere from 3-6%. This means by doing nothing they can earn a 5% return on a loaned asset. This has been called liquidity injections, monetary easing, whatever.

What it really is is allowing banks to borrow money for free. In this situation, the little guy who puts his money in his savings account will earn next to no interest. GICs will generate next to nothing. people will be more incentivized to either invest their money in physical assets which they feel will return higher than a bank account (buy a house, start a business, etc.) or they will want to put it in the stock market.

This situation is what people in the media these days are calling "the first signs of recovery", "is the recession over?"

and by all practical measures, it looks like we did avoid a total disaster... for the time being. Economies are just like ecosystems, they are resilient and yet exist in an extremely delicate balance. The stock market is booming, the housing market is bottoming and unemployment is slowing it's rise- not as many business are seeing unsustainable losses. In essense, the actions of the central banks of the world are working as they should.

In the Great Depression, the actions taken by the central banks of the world, including the raising of interest rates, had the exact opposite effect that they were originally intending their actions to have. When catastrophe was amplified by poor decision making, the public was further panicked and a negative, self-reinforcing spiral downward was continued for years on end.

In the current era, our leaders seem to have learned from the errors of the predessors and we are seeing the positive consequence of stabilizing initiative and aid.

So... coast is clear, right? recovery is on it's way? DOW 14000 by 2010? celebrate good times, c'mon?

If that were true, that we have restored a clear path to growth and that the stock market is on it's way back to the old highs, the central banks of the world would already have increased the benchmark interest rates.

The central bankers would see that the banks were making billions of dollars of of imaginary money that the government lent them, and they would see that business were making money from consumers who were willing to spend. This would have the consequence of triggering inflation- money would be moving around at a faster and faster pace- more and more deals means more and more profits, means more and more loans means higher and higher valuations for the underlying assets which are acting as collateral for loans
it seems like it's a positive, and self-reinforcing trend that makes everyone richer- which it is.
but the problem is the speed at which it happens. Some inflation means growth is occuring somewhere in the economy. But when money flies around for free, like it is now, and people spend it like it's free, which it is, all those seemingly positive things happen too fast and regular, little people can't earn enough money to keep up with the rising costs. Bingo, inflation is a big, big problem

So, if the current authorities have proven themselves capable of handling serious problems with the ability to learn from the mistakes of the past, why are they continuing this policy of free money?

look at what the guy from PIMCO is saying. If they raise interest rates now, it could recripple the financial institutions of the world, and we were just in that situtaion. The underlying economy is still fragile, it needs all the help it can get.

in this situation, inflation is still a possibility, but it's a possibility we still have to work to achieve.