Category Archives: monetary easing

10/12/19: Irish Banks: Part 2


Continuing with the coverage of the Irish banks, in the second article for The Currency, available here: https://www.thecurrency.news/articles/4810/a-catalyst-for-underperformance-how-systemic-risk-and-strategic-failures-are-eroding-the-performance-of-the-irish-banks, I cover the assets side of the banks' balancesheets.

The article argues that "The banks are failing to provide sufficient support for the demand for investment funding, and are effectively removed from financing corporate investment. In this case, what does not make sense to investors does not make sense to society at large." In other words, strategic errors that have been forced onto the banks by deleveraging post-crisis have resulted in the Irish banks becoming a de facto peripheral play within the Euro area financial system, making them unattractive - from growth potential - to international markets.


The key conclusions are: "From investors’ perspective, neither of these parts of the Irish lenders’ story makes much sense as a long term investment proposition. From the Irish economy’s point of view, the banks are failing to provide sufficient support for the demand for investment funding, and are effectively removed from financing corporate investment. In this case, what doesn’t make sense to investors doesn’t make sense to the society at large."

10/12/19: Irish Banks: Part 1


Returning back to the blog after a break, some updates on recent published work.

In the first article on Irish banking for The Currency, titled "Culture wars and poor financial performance: examining Ireland’s dysfunctional, beleaguered banking system", I argued that "The financial performance of the Irish banks has been abysmal. Not for the lack of profit margins, but due to strategic decisions to withdraw from lending in the potential growth segments of the domestic and European economies." The article shows the funding side of the Irish banks and the explicit subsidy they receive from the ECB through monetary easing policies - a subsidy not passed to the end credit users.

In simple terms, high profit margins are underpinned - in Irish banks case - by low cost of funding.

Conclusions: "The implications of the lower cost of banks equity, interbank loans, as well as deposits for the Irish banking sector are clear cut: since the start of the economic recovery, Irish banks have enjoyed an effectively free ride through the funding markets courtesy of the ECB and the blind eye of the Irish consumer protection regulators. Yet, despite sky-high profit margins extracted by the banks from the households and businesses, the Irish banking sector remains the weakest link in the entire Eurozone’s financial services sector, save for Greece and Cyprus. If the funding side of the equation is not the culprit for this woeful record of recovery, the other two sides of the banking business, namely assets and regulatory costs, must be."

Read the full article here: https://www.thecurrency.news/articles/3833/culture-wars-and-poor-financial-performance-just-what-is-going-on-within-irelands-beleaguered-banks

3/5/19: The Rich Get Richer when Central Banks Print Money



The Netherlands Central Bank has just published a fascinating new paper, titled "Monetary policy and the top one percent: Evidence from a century of modern economic history". Authored by Mehdi El Herradi and Aurélien Leroy, (Working Paper No. 632, De Nederlandsche Bank NV: https://www.dnb.nl/en/binaries/Working%20paper%20No.%20632_tcm47-383633.pdf), the paper "examines the distributional implications of monetary policy from a long-run perspective with data spanning a century of modern economic history in 12 advanced economies between 1920 and 2015, ...estimating the dynamic responses of the top 1% income share to a monetary policy shock." The authors "exploit the implications of the macroeconomic policy trilemma to identify exogenous variations in monetary conditions." Note: the macroeconomic policy trilemma "states that a country cannot simultaneously achieve free capital mobility, a fixed exchange rate and independent monetary policy".

Per authors, "The central idea that guided this paper’s argument is that the existing literature considers the distributional effects of monetary policy using data on inequality over a short period of time. However, inequalities tend to vary more in the medium-to-long run. We address this shortcoming by studying how changes in monetary policy stance over a century impacted the income distribution while controlling for the determinants of inequality."

They find that "loose monetary conditions strongly increase the top one percent’s income and vice versa. In fact, following an expansionary monetary policy shock, the share of national income held by the richest 1 percent increases by approximately 1 to 6 percentage points, according to estimates from the Panel VAR and Local Projections (LP). This effect is statistically significant in the medium run and economically considerable. We also demonstrate that the increase in top 1 percent’s share is arguably the result of higher asset prices. The baseline results hold under a battery of robustness checks, which (i) consider an alternative inequality measure, (ii) exclude the U.S. economy from the sample, (iii) specifically focus on the post-WWII period, (iv) remove control variables and (v) test different lag numbers. Furthermore, the regime-switching version of our model indicates that our conclusions are robust, regardless of the state of the economy."

In other words, accommodative monetary policies accommodate primarily those with significant starting wealth, and they do so via asset price inflation. Behold the summary of the last 10 years.

19/10/18: There’s a Bubble for Everything


Pimco's monthly update for October 2018 published earlier this week contains a handy table, showing the markets changes in key asset classes since September 2008, mapping the recovery since the depths of the Global Financial Crisis.

The table is a revealing one:


As Pimco put it: "The combined balance sheets of the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, Bank of Japan, and People’s Bank of China expanded from $7 trillion to nearly $20 trillion over the subsequent decade. This liquidity injection, at least in part, underpinned a 10-year rally in equities and interest rates: The S&P 500 index rose 210%, while international equities increased 70%. Meanwhile, developed market yields and credit spreads fell to multidecade, and in some cases, all-time lows."

The table points to several interesting observations about the asset markets:

  1. Increases in valuations of corporate junk bonds have been leading all asset classes during the post-GFC recovery. This is consistent with the aggregate markets complacency view characterized by extreme risk and yield chasing over recent years. This, by far, is the most mispriced asset class amongst the major asset classes and is the likeliest candidate for the next global crisis.
  2. Government bonds, especially in the Euro area follow high yield corporate debt in terms of risk mis-pricing. This observation implies that the Euro area recovery (as anaemic as it has been) is more directly tied to the Central Banks QE policies than the recovery in the U.S. It also implies that the Euro area recovery is more susceptible to the Central Banks' efforts to unwind their excessively large asset holdings.
  3. U.S. equities have seen a massive valuations bubble developing in the years post-GFC that is unsupported by the real economy in the U.S. and worldwide. Even assuming the developed markets ex-U.S. are underpriced, the U.S. equities cumulative rise of 210 percent since September 2008 looks primed for a 20-25 percent correction. 
All of which suggests that the financial bubbles are (a) wide-spread and (b) massive in magnitude, while (c) being caused by the historically unprecedented and over-extended monetary easing. The next crisis is likely to be more painful and more pronounced than the previous one.


19/10/18: There’s a Bubble for Everything


Pimco's monthly update for October 2018 published earlier this week contains a handy table, showing the markets changes in key asset classes since September 2008, mapping the recovery since the depths of the Global Financial Crisis.

The table is a revealing one:


As Pimco put it: "The combined balance sheets of the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, Bank of Japan, and People’s Bank of China expanded from $7 trillion to nearly $20 trillion over the subsequent decade. This liquidity injection, at least in part, underpinned a 10-year rally in equities and interest rates: The S&P 500 index rose 210%, while international equities increased 70%. Meanwhile, developed market yields and credit spreads fell to multidecade, and in some cases, all-time lows."

The table points to several interesting observations about the asset markets:

  1. Increases in valuations of corporate junk bonds have been leading all asset classes during the post-GFC recovery. This is consistent with the aggregate markets complacency view characterized by extreme risk and yield chasing over recent years. This, by far, is the most mispriced asset class amongst the major asset classes and is the likeliest candidate for the next global crisis.
  2. Government bonds, especially in the Euro area follow high yield corporate debt in terms of risk mis-pricing. This observation implies that the Euro area recovery (as anaemic as it has been) is more directly tied to the Central Banks QE policies than the recovery in the U.S. It also implies that the Euro area recovery is more susceptible to the Central Banks' efforts to unwind their excessively large asset holdings.
  3. U.S. equities have seen a massive valuations bubble developing in the years post-GFC that is unsupported by the real economy in the U.S. and worldwide. Even assuming the developed markets ex-U.S. are underpriced, the U.S. equities cumulative rise of 210 percent since September 2008 looks primed for a 20-25 percent correction. 
All of which suggests that the financial bubbles are (a) wide-spread and (b) massive in magnitude, while (c) being caused by the historically unprecedented and over-extended monetary easing. The next crisis is likely to be more painful and more pronounced than the previous one.