October 20th, 2010 03:06:20 GMT

Stark: Bond Purchases Must Not Become Quasi Fiscal Policy

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FRANKFURT (MNI) – The European Central Bank must ensure that its
program of buying government bonds does not become a quasi fiscal
policy, European Central Bank Executive Board member Juergen Stark said
Wednesday.

The central bank is currently in the process of “slowly”
withdrawing its supportive measures and is constantly checking to see if
conditions are still appropriate for a continuation of such policy,
Stark told German daily Die Welt.

“The situation on financial markets has calmed,” he said.

Nevertheless, “uncertainty still rules,” Stark observed. “We must
avoid intervening in functioning markets with our measures,” he added,
warning that otherwise the bond buying program could become a “quasi
fiscal policy.”

“Therefore, we must constantly examine how appropriate and
necessary [the bond purchasing] still is,” he said. “And that is
happening. Last week, we did not buy up any new bonds,” he noted.

Asked whether the central bank can really withdraw liquidity when a
few Eurozone states are still under duress, Stark responded that the
central bank “does not subsidize certain governments with our measures.”
Rather “the point is to guarantee the functioning of certain segments of
financial markets.”

Thus, “our program is a monetary policy decision that can be called
back at any time,” he said.

To reduce their vulnerability, Eurozone countries “should not rely
on supportive measures from the ECB,” but “rather credibly consolidate
their budgets,” Stark said.

While the situation in money markets has “clearly eased” versus
where it was one year ago, the ECB is still providing support to markets
that are not functioning sufficiently, Stark said. But, “there is no
special treatment for individual banks,” he insisted.

The central bank has a clear mandate: price stability, Stark
underscored, and worries about the bank’s ability to guarantee that are
not justified, he added.

“We see at present neither the risk of inflation nor deflation. We
also know, however, that too lax a monetary policy can lead to negative
by-products,” he said, reiterating remarks made at a speech in Stuttgart
last week.

“Therefore we are observing very precisely whether there are
distortions on markets,” he said. Low interest rates reduce the
incentive to consolidate public finances, he pointed out. “We have our
eye on all of that. That’s true also for the international arena,” he
said.

Stark said he “sees the potential danger of a devaluation race, but
I see no concrete evidence that it is coming to that.”

Addressing Eurozone peripheral countries, Stark said he was
“irritated” by the idea broached recently by the IMF that the deadline
for Greece to repay its E110 billion loan to EMU and the IMF be
extended.

“We have complete confidence in Greece,” Stark underscored, noting
that the country’s austerity program has been in place for half a year
and on the right path. “An additional discussion is thus superfluous.”

“That is also true by the way for the proposal of the IMF to extend
the payment deadline,” Stark elaborated, adding that his annoyance
stemmed from the Fund’s agreeing to the terms of the Greek recovery
program six months ago.

While some observers see Ireland developing as the next Greece —
indeed a newspaper report Tuesday said the country could needing an
additional E5 billion in budget savings next year — Stark said “the
situation in Ireland is not at all to be compared with that in Greece.”
He added that the situation in Ireland has stabilized and that this is
visible in financial markets.

“Also the Irish government has recognized that it needs to act to
cut its public deficit to below 3% [of GDP] by 2014,” Stark noted.

Stark dodged a question about whether he would take over as
president of the Bundesbank if current head Axel Weber became ECB
President next autumn, following the departure of current ECB president
Jean-Claude Trichet.

“I have nothing more to prove to myself or others,” he said.

–Frankfurt bureau; +49-69-720142, tbuell@marketnews.com

[TOPICS: M$$EC$,MT$$$$,M$X$$$,M$$CR$,MGX$$$]

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October 20th, 2010 02:54:15 GMT

AUD intraday shorts getting squeezed

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The AUD/USD has rebounded off this morning’s lows and is close to testing technical resistance around .9750. Reports from the interbank market suggest that offers are plentiful around this level so I think that the short-squeeze may soon run out of momentum.

2 Comments

October 20th, 2010 02:11:50 GMT

BOJ Nishimura: JPY rise major risk to economy

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  • Japan’s economic recovery slowing down
  • JPY rise could push prices down further
  • BOJ will take appropriate action which may include taking certain risks in buying assets
  • Risk of overheating in emerging economies remains
  • Chances have increased for prolonged slow growth for the US economy

-over the Reuters newswires

2 Comments

October 20th, 2010 01:51:27 GMT

China takes advantage of USD bounce to set higher USD/CNY mid-rate

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Well the USD is higher against most currencies but its not against the JPY and the Japanese must be getting ticked off as the CNY stays weak against the JPY despite fundamentals arguing for the opposite.

USD/CNY has been set at 6.6754 after a close yesterday at 6.6447.

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October 20th, 2010 01:46:05 GMT

Fed’s Duke: Most of Fed’s Impact Comes From Expectations

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By Sheila Mullan

NEW YORK (MNI) – Federal Reserve Gov. Elizabeth Duke Tuesday night
indicated she is not ready to take sides in the public debate over
whether to expand quantitative easing yet said that most of the Fed’s
impact is from expectations, not execution, of policy.

In her appearance before New York University’s Money Marketeers,
Duke also said Fed speeches by themselves may not provide that much of a
hint at what’s going to happen.

Duke spoke on a day where several of her Fed colleagues did offer
opinions.

Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher earlier left
no doubt about his opposition to QE2 while Chicago Fed President
Charles Evans vigorously endorsed it, even going beyond the conventional
definition to say it should include raising the inflation rate
temporarily to make it more likely businesses would invest and hire.
Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, reiterating his views in a cable
TV interview, said the Fed’s QE securities purchases need to be larger
than $100 billion to have an impact.

Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota more paralleled
Duke in being noncommittal on the issue.

Duke withheld her own opinion of what the Federal Open Market
Committee should decide at the beginning of next month and said “I would
caution you” about reading too much into “any individual speech” by a
Fed policymaker.

FOMC policy directions can “change between meetings,” she
said, and cited the turn toward quantitative easing in the first place.
The “tools and what action” the Fed takes is not determined before the
meetings, she said.

In her earlier prepared remarks, Duke stressed that the
communication about policy is itself a tool and has consequences.

“The actions we take are intended to have specific effects on the
structure of interest rates and the economy,” she said. “Some of the
impact comes from the transactions themselves, but most of the impact
comes from expectations of what we are going to do.”

A shift in those expectations can be as important as a shift in
monetary policy, she said, and “a shift in the expectations for monetary
policy can have a huge impact on financial markets and the economy. And
it is our communications that most directly shape expectations.”

“It is critically important that we use our official
communication to be as clear as we can possibly be about our assessments
of economic conditions, our policy decisions and intentions, our
targets, and our implementation strategies for nonstandard monetary
policy tools,” she said.

Some communications are more important than others, and she seemed
to suggest that all the Fedspeak from anyone other than the Chairman may
not be the most informative.

Chairman Ben Bernanke, she said, “has the best sense of the current
consensus” of FOMC members.

She also suggested that quantitative easing as a concept was
getting in the way of communications. “Using new tools to manage policy
as we have in the last two years does create particular challenges in
communicating our actions, intentions, and reasoning to the
public,” she said.

Although her prepared remarks were bereft of monetary policy
insights or observations about the state of the economy, concentrating
instead on the mechanisms the Fed uses to inform itself and reach
decisions, she did say in answering questions there is “not enough
demand from creditworthy borrowers.” She also added “there is a
reasonably sized group of businesses which don’t qualify for loans”
under current loan standards.

Duke, nominated by President Bush and sworn in as Fed governor in
August of 2008, joined a Fed at a time when it was plunging into
uncharted territory, forced there by the financial crisis. Now, with the
addition of Janet Yellen as Vice Chair and Gov. Susan Bloom Raskin, “I
am proud to say, “Duke said, “that at our next meeting there will be
four women on the Committee,” including Cleveland Fed President Sandra
Pianalto.

In the FOMC meeting, she said, the Bank presidents’ presidents’
“usually include comments about conditions in their districts, while the
contributions of the Board members tend to reflect their individual
backgrounds.”

“Chairman Bernanke concludes the economic go-round with a summary
of what all the other policymakers said about the economy, then makes
his own comments,” she said. “I always marvel at his ability to quickly
and coherently summarize a diverse set of observations into a cohesive
narrative and use it to transition the discussion to appropriate
policy.”

Bernanke, she said, “usually waits until everyone else has stated
their views before he shares his own opinion and suggests a path
forward.” Then, “after a bit more discussion, the Committee votes,
confirms the date of its next scheduled meeting, and then the meeting
adjourns.”

Yet, she said, the FOMC meeting itself is “just the tip of the
iceberg, the culmination of thousands of hours of work and thought
leading to a single policy statement.”

“Even after two years on the Committee, I still leave feeling
impressed by the level of preparation for, and the focus and intensity
at, these meetings,” she said.

Duke said she tried to formulate her own position in the FOMC
meeting by asking three questions, “how is the economy likely to evolve
in the near and medium term” and then given that outlook, what policy
response is appropriate. Finally she asks, “How should we communicate
our actions so that the public can understand them?”

“Given my background in banking and the important role lending
has played in both the crisis and the recovery, I try to provide the
Committee with insight into current lending conditions, including loan
quality and credit availability,” she said. She prepares beginning about
two weeks before each FOMC meeting by meeting with a staff group who
share their own research. And, she said, she contacts a “number of
bankers from banks of different sizes, geographic market coverage and
business models.”

The Board staff distributes its analysis of the economy to FOMC
members about a week before the meeting as well as a range of usually
three options for the FOMC statement. As the meeting draws closer, “the
staff circulates a discussion of economic developments since the last
meeting and a forecast of economic performance, including hundreds of
charts, tables, and graphs.”

“I find it impossible to form a preference for a policy to improve
the path of economic performance without forming some opinion about what
the performance would be absent any policy action,” she said, “so I
suppose you could say that I formulate an implicit economic forecast for
every meeting.”

Four times a year, her forecast becomes explicit, “to be used
along with the forecasts of other participants in the Summary of
Economic Projections that is later published with the minutes for
that meeting.”

The Thursday before the FOMC meeting, “the staff provides a
policy-focused book designed to help with this question. It contains a
number of estimates of the “Equilibrium Real Federal Funds Rate” — the
interest rate that if maintained would return the economy over time to
its so-called potential, the highest level of output that does not lead
to undue inflationary pressures.”

That book “also includes calculations of policy solutions using
policy rules as well as model-based estimates of optimal policy,” she
said. “And it contains an analysis of each of the policy alternatives
that were circulated in draft form on Tuesday.”

There are often memos on special topics, “such as the use of
large-scale asset purchases” and ways the Fed might exit from
“nonstandard programs when the time comes,” she said.

“It’s hard to believe, but it was only 16 years ago that the FOMC
began releasing any information immediately after its meeting,” she
noted. “Instead, market participants would closely watch the actions of
the New York Fed’s trading desk and would then infer when policy changes
were made.”

“Not until the middle of 1995 did the statements directly state the
target for the federal funds rate, she said. Since then, “the Committee
began to see the statement as more integral to its mission and to pay
more attention to the statement wording.”

“Initially, the Committee discussed the statement wording only
after the policy vote was taken. But by March 2001, the full statement
was actually discussed before voting on the policy itself,” she said.
“Then in October 2007, the FOMC formally recognized the value of the
post-meeting statement by changing procedures to reflect that the policy
vote officially encompassed the full statement, not just the policy
action.”

This, she said, “spelled out what was already understood: What was
said about a policy action was almost as important as the action itself
because it helped explain what the Committee was doing and set up
expectations for what it might do down the road.”

** Market News International New York Newsroom: 212-669-6430 **

[TOPICS: M$U$$$,MMUFE$,MGU$$$,MFU$$$]

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October 20th, 2010 01:20:49 GMT

Famous last words: Looks like we’re done for the day

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I may once again be very wrong but it feels as though the nervousness and volatility has gone out of the FX market at least and I think we have probably seen the range extremes for the day.

The Nikkei is still 2% lower but Gold is slightly higher on the session and the big Japanese buyer who came into the EUR/USD market around 1.3700 has calmed nerves and reduced the liklihood of a major run on the JPY crosses or of more USD short covering.

3 Comments

October 20th, 2010 00:44:41 GMT

Quick look at the order board

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  • USD/JPY: Bids reported 81.25/30, stops below 81.10, heavy stops below 80.70; sell orders starting 81.65, heavy sell orders 82.00 and above from Japanese corportaes and US real money funds
  • EUR/USD: Solid bids around 1.3700
  • USD/CAD: Offers reported 1.0375/85
  • Cable: Large bids reported 1.5610 through 1.5550
  • AUD/USD: Plentiful sell orders .9740/55

3 Comments

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