Interbank Market News Scan: The fallacy of free markets

1 September 2021

It is in the best interest of governments and their central bank underwriters that government maintains some control over the market price for currencies.  As a reflection of the underlying value of a political economy, currency prices signal a country’s capacity to entertain investment.  Stable currency prices transmit a message that the underlying economy operates in an environment of legal, social, and regulatory certainty.  Whereas financial markets enjoy the profits and arbitrage opportunities that volatility may bring, governments and their central bank underwriters prefer a law-and-order environment for trade.  Certainty of domestic and foreign investment along with tax and customs collection is the higher priority for government.

There is a lot of noise that, in my opinion, blocks out these basic tenets of political economy.  It is no wonder that chartists or technical analysts focus primarily on pip movements on their bar graphs.  Pontification on future government moves can cause hair to be pulled out and put a trader into a state of mental numbness.  The trader cannot, however, take her eyes off of the policy ball for it is the policy maker, in this case the Federal Reserve, that provides the nutrients for currency growth and circulation.  It is their narrative that drives prices.  It is their decisions on reserve requirements, asset purchases, and fed fund and discount window rates that signal to their currency vendors, the banks, the varying rates that currency is sold to the public.

And thus, this is part of the fallacy; that banks are somehow free market players charging a market-driven interest rate for loans.  On the contrary.  Banks are more like government chartered (commissioned) privateers who sell currency to the public either via loans or directly over the counter during foreign exchange transactions.  Banks are merely doing the bidding of a government that needs its currency to flow to activities that eventually generate taxable events.  Banks provide government with a low-cost information search alternative for seeking out and financing high-yielding taxable events.

The trader should maintain focus on policy narratives and decisions that will impact the price of the dollar, currently the world’s most prevalent reserve currency.  Central banks are consuming economic, political, and these days more social data and inputting this information into their narrative.  The narrative creates the marching orders for their chief currency vendors, the banks.  There is no free market when your marching orders come from the central bank.  The free market is a fallacy that serves only to create a lot of noise from amongst the chattering classes.

Alton Drew

For a consultation on any regulatory or legislative discussions or announcements, please reach out to us at altondrew@altondrew.com for information on consultation rates and to reserve an appointment.

Interbank Market News Scan: The increase in US currency in circulation is correlated with a decrease in US dollar value

29 August 2021

Data from the Federal Reserve shows that between July 2020 and July 2021 the amount of currency in circulation increased approximately 10% from $1,981.7 billion in July 2020 to $2,186.4 billion in July 2021.

Data from the MarketWatch dollar index showed that over the period July 2020 to July 2021, the value of the dollar decreased by 1.26%.

DateCurrency in circulation (in billions)MarketWatch Dollar Index
July 2020$1,981.793.35
August 2020$2,007.692.14
September 2020$2,027.593.89
October 2020$2,040.594.04
November 2020$2058.391.87
December 2020$2071.689.93
January 2021$2094.290.58
February 2021$2100.990.88
March 2021$2117.893.23
April 2021$2154.991.28
May 2021$2169.590.03
June 2021$2179.192.44
July 2021$2186.492.17

Sources: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, MarketWatch Dollar Index

In theory, American demand for imports, American investments in foreign countries, and speculation adds to the supply of American dollars.  Government intervention can also add to the supply of US dollars.  Expected tapering of US Treasury bills and agency mortgage-backed securities is expected to start later this year and this activity may result in a reduction of US dollars in circulation as the Fed sells off these securities.  The scarcity in dollars should see a future increase in dollar index value as well as an increase in interest rates.

The Federal Reserve tills the currency soil while the banks distribute the currency fruit.  If dollars are distributed by banks via loans at higher interest rates, tax generating activities via business and commerce may slow down.  The narrative behind the American currency, that American capitalism is the appropriate policy for generating and distributing wealth, will be tainted where capital becomes too expensive for businesses to access.

From the fiscal side, President Biden’s $3.5 trillion dollar infrastructure could suck more air out of the room putting upward pressure on rates and making more capital inaccessible by businesses.  Upward pressure on interest rates will only compound the fears that current inflationary trends will become more stationary than transitory.

Alton Drew

  For a consultation on any regulatory or legislative discussions or announcements, please reach out to us at altondrew@altondrew.com for information on consultation rates and to reserve an appointment.

Interstate Market News Scan: Moving to digital currencies benefit you if it reduces your tax on living …

Suppose your monthly cost for accessing the infrastructure of a political economy came up to $20?  Suppose you looked at nation-states more like trading posts versus some object of irrational affection to which you pledge love and devotion?  Shouldn’t a practical approach to living in a political economy involve a resident generating a higher return on their physical and intellectual efforts to make a living where that tax for living is severely reduced?

In some ways, nations compete in this manner.  While they may not want to dilute their populations and cultures with outsiders, they want to attract investment into their jurisdictions.  Lower taxes, a reliable legal framework, a stable political environment, and minimal roadblocks to getting capital out of a country help bolster the demand for a nation’s currency.  Given the US dollar’s world reserve status, you can argue that the US scores the highest, on average, on these factors.

There are cracks in the demand for the US dollar that currency merchants should remain mindful of.  America has been experiencing real wage stagnation for over four decades.  Masking that long term trend is the immediate concern that inflation may be getting out of control as the U.S. and the rest of the globe claw out of the pandemic.  But Covid-19 may have sped up the long-expected elimination of certain jobs and has raised the discussion about how the American political economy will adjust to this major shift.

Currency merchants should incorporate these shifts into the valuation of currencies as they continue to make markets.  Currency merchants should not take their eyes off of the growing importance of digital currencies going forward into a Covid-endemic world.  This Covid environment will spawn more value creation from residences and other remote locations.  I will not be surprised to see in the next twenty years a world where more material and goods production happens overseas and payments for that production is made via digital currencies.  A processing plant in Ghana, for example, can be seen accepting Amazon, Google, or Delta Air digital tokens in exchange for product.  Given the networks these commercial entities represent or manage, their tokens could be re-exchanged as payment by the processing plants for other goods and services or exchanged with their local banks for cedi.

Not too far-fetched is the idea that an individual or a business could move their entire commercial enterprise into an Amazon network; an Amazon political economy.  If you can rent a residence using Amazon coin; purchase energy using an Amazon coin; buy food using Amazon coin; and pay a monthly “tax” at a fraction of what you would pay a legacy nation-state, wouldn’t you?

Alton Drew

For a consultation on any regulatory or legislative discussions or announcements, please reach out to us at altondrew@altondrew.com for information on consultation rates and to reserve an appointment.

Prices

Exchange rates of interest as of 6:44 pm EST

Currency pairExchange rate
AUD/USD*0.7334
EUR/USD*1.1866
GBP/USD*1.3895
USD/CAD*1.2473
USD/CHF*0.9054
USD/JPY*109.6700
USD/MXN*19.8540
USD/BTC+0.0000
USD/ETH+0.0004
Sources: *Reuters +OANDA

Rates reported by the Federal Reserve (Release Date 29 July 2021)

Effective Fed Funds Rate: 0.10%

Discount Window:  0.25%

Prime Bank Rate: 3.25%

3-month Treasury bill: 0.05%

6-month Treasury bill: 0.05%

1-year Treasury bill: 0.07%

Banks as currency agents …

Banks should think of themselves as the private sector currency agents of the State.  The currency encapsulates the economic, commercial, and social value of a political economy.  A State-issued currency ties the State’s citizens to a particular value system while providing a mechanism that accounts for a citizen’s wealth and serves the citizen as a medium of exchange for goods and services, including the payment of taxes to the State.

Banks help distribute State-issued currency primarily through the creation of credit.  Banks are a “port of call” for currency; receiving deposits from its customers, capital from its investors, and placing State-issued Treasurys, underwritten by the central bank, into its investment portfolio.  Banks issue loans to their customers creating money in the process.  This money can be deposited at other banks or used by consumers or businesses for purchases.  The fees for financial services provided to consumers and the interest earned from lending to end users and producers provide the banks with income that, along with the income generated by businesses financed by banks, can be taxed by the State.

The fallout from the 2007-2008 financial meltdown has created a narrative that banks are entities separate from the State; private sector “bad boys” whose reckless behavior from creating financial instruments doomed to perform poorly caused people to lose jobs and credit to freeze.  The narrative had citizens questioning why these misbehaving banks received bailouts from the U.S. government while ordinary citizens had to bear the brunt of the rippling effects throughout the economy. 

The answer is simple.  Selling debt instruments and earning fees for placing these instruments into the hands of investors part of the implicit agreement between the State and the banks as currency agents.  Even as elected officials such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts and Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, argue for increased regulation of America’s larger banks, the truth of the matter is that dismantling the mechanisms of banking would be too costly to the State’s currency distribution system.  The State would have to re-write its laws to support an alternative system and for all the noise against the current system, seems to be in no rush to replace it.     

Interbank Market News Scan : A thought on creating an Afro-American currency …

My morning takeaway …

I think a currency should reflect the reality of the relationship between two distinct political economies that reside under a single flag.  I am specifically concerned with two groups under the American flag: Afro-America and the Virgin Islands of the United States.  Neither group have been fully incorporated into the American political economy.  There is only a 47-year difference between their starting attempts at incorporation into the United States with Afro Americans, at least on the surface, holding a lead in political-economic corporation due primarily to their physical presence in the contiguous United States, their 43 million population, and thus greater access to political channels.

Both Virgin Islanders and the Afro-American community have disproportionately higher poverty rates, lower incomes, and higher unemployment rates than their white American counterparts.  Both communities suffer from a dearth of capital and lack productive capacity, for now, through which they could independently sustain themselves.  Their banking markets are, like the rest of the United States, subject to the Federal Reserve, and the lip service of the Fed’s community development initiatives and the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977.

A priori, neither community draws the attention of family offices, hedge funds, investment banks, or individual trading desks in search of margin that supports any trade, including foreign exchange.  This is due primarily to both communities not having sufficient pooled natural and human resources upon which a currency (value or “energy”) can be calculated and leveraged.

Then again, under a credit creation theory of banking, this may not matter where credit, money, margin, are created out of thin air … but more on that at some other time.

In the mean-time I thought it would be interesting to add two proxy foreign exchange rates reflecting the currency of the Virgin Island (USVI) and Afro-American (AfAM) communities.  It is my endeavor, amongst too many others, to develop them in the near future …

20 May 2021

Currency PairsRates as of 2:00 pm GMT 20 May 2021Rates as of 12:44 pm GMT 19 May 2021
GHS/EUR0.14180.1419
GMD/EUR0.01610.0159
NGN/EUR0.00200.0020
SLL/EUR0.00010.0001
KES/EUR0.00750.0076
RWF/EUR0.00080.0008
ZAR/EUR0.05830.0584
MZN/EUR0.01370.0137
XCD/EUR0.30330.3033
USVI/USD0.00010.0001
AfAM/USD0.10000.1000
Source: OANDA, Alton Drew

Links you should follow …

Banks.  Three of the biggest US banking groups want the US Department of Agriculture to reconsider the terms of billions of dollars in planned debt relief for minority farmers, claiming it will cut into banks’ profits — and warn they may have to cut those same farmers off from future loans.  Banks say USDA’s debt forgiveness for minority farmers will cost them money and could affect future loans. Black farmers call that a threat. (msn.com)

Banks. Australian stocks closed higher on Thursday, marking their steepest rise in nearly two weeks, due to gains in tech and banking stocks and upbeat employment data.  Australian shares see best day in nearly 2 weeks on jobless data, banks boost | Nasdaq

Banks. In an effort stemming from the murder of George Floyd and at the behest of a Connecticut state official, a who’s who of financial institutions on Tuesday promised to address the effects of racial disparities in financial services by investing billions of dollars to support Black and Latinx communities. A state treasurer convinced big banks to commit billions of dollars to tackle racial inequities. This is the result. (msn.com)

Banks. Mike Mayo, Wells Fargo Securities senior banking analyst, joins ‘Power Lunch’ to discuss the competition banks could be facing from fintech, the future of bank branches and more. Banks are headed toward record efficiency, says Wells Fargo’s Mike Mayo (msn.com) Banks, central banks, digital currency. Can crypto benefit central banks? 3 ways digital currencies backed by central banks could benefit the global economy, according to Fitch (msn.com)

Central banks. The Bahamas became a global leader in e-money last year when it launched one of the world’s first central bank digital ­currencies—the “sand dollar”—beating China’s “digital renminbi” to the market by six months. How the Tiny Bahamas Beat Global Giants in the E-Currency Race (msn.com)

Interbank market news scan: Major G-10 currencies split on growth with Swiss, Norwegian, and Swedish currencies depreciating…

The Swiss franc, Norwegian krone, and Swedish kroner ended this week depreciating the most against the US dollar. More later today as to the political, economic, central bank, and commodity price information that not only impacted the market but that brokers should be sharing to help maintain fairness and integrity in the foreign exchange market.

Currency pair22 March 202125 March 2021Percentage change
EUR/USD1.19131.1798-.96
AUD/USD0.77340.7592-1.84
GBP/USD1.38511.3712-1.00
USD/JPY108.765109.0580.27
NZD/USD0.71610.6966-2.7
USD/CHF0.92620.93721.19
USD/NOK8.52218.61381.08
USD/SEK8.53018.62931.16
USD/CAD1.25091.25880.63
Source: OANDA

For US major trade partners, a mixed bag on their costs for the dollar …

The top twelve destinations for U.S. exports are Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, Great Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, South Korea, Norway, Brazil, and Taiwan. There has been a mixed bag in terms of increases or decreases in each country’s cost of the US dollar since the beginning of 2021. Using currency data from OANDA, we identified the rate changes between 1 January 2021 and 18 March 2021.

Currency pair1 January 202118 March 2021Percentage change
USD/CAD1.27411.2450-2.3
USD/MXN19.883320.59713.6
USD/CNY6.52776.5006-0.4
USD/JPY103.1600109.07005.7
USD/GBP0.73250.7189-1.9
USD/EUR(1)0.81530.83882.9
USD/KRW1,086.10001,128.13003.9
USD/NOK8.54548.4699-0.9
USD/BRL5.19165.62088.2
USD/TWD28.077228.27240.7
Source: OANDA

(1) France, Germany, and Belgium use the euro as their currency. We refer to them collectively as the Eurozone.

Since January, countries seeing their currencies significantly strengthen against the dollar are Canada and Great Britain. On the other hand, Mexico, Japan, the Eurozone, South Korea, and Brazil have seen their currencies significantly weaken, making their cost to import U.S. product more expensive.

The primary mover of currency rates is supply and demand. The increased price of the dollar could be a result of this basic economic principal. Changes in bond yields may also have an impact on currency pricing as well as changes in policy rates imposed on banks due to their central banks’ policy initiatives.

During the same period in 2020, with the exception of Japan, all other top US trading partners saw their costs for US exports increase as shown in the following table:

Currency pair1 January 202018 March 2020Percentage change
USD/CAD1.30161.41008.3
USD/MXN18.906422.826620.7
USD/CNY6.96687.00480.4
USD/JPY108.6300106.9900-1.5
USD/GBP0.75830.82318.5
USD/EUR0.89150.90351.3
USD/KRW1,154.56001,240.10007.4
USD/NOK8.790610.357317.8
USD/BRL4.01635.006924.7
USD/TWD29.953130.21870.9
Source: OANDA

The shut downs around the globe due to the pandemic we believe may be the significant factor behind the changes in direction of these currency pairs.

18 March 2021 11:58 am EST

A very quick thought: Thought as base for currency value?

I believe that contained in all currency, whether digital or analog, is some notion of value. What is the next value play that drives up the value of a currency other than trust? Can intellectual property or thought be a currency driver? Crypto is mined when a problem is resolved. Can problem solvers be the next currency issuers?

I think in the next twenty years, the US dollar will be the default currency within the United States. As Amazon and other platforms replace the US public delivery structure, they will issue more of their own “currency” and compete with the US. They will become exclusive to their own members and keep low income people off of their platforms, especially as the affluent move out of large cities and into the suburbs, exburbs, and rural areas where they can find more space and be around fewer people.

Interbank market news scan: Central banks shouldn’t try to fight climate change …

Follow the links …

Central banks shouldn’t try to fight climate change, as doing so could endanger financial stability and undermine their independence, a top Czech monetary official said. Central Banks Can’t Fix Climate Change, Czech Policy Maker Says (msn.com)

The European Central Bank will pay the currency bloc’s 19 central banks 1.6 billion euros in dividends this year, down from the 2.4 billion euros it paid a year ago as its profit declined, it said in a statement on Thursday. ECB cuts dividend payment to euro zone central banks | Nasdaq

Deutsche Bank AG scaled back plans for its bonus pool after the European Central Bank objected to proposed payout levels, highlighting the challenges of rewarding top performers while heeding demands for restraint during the global pandemic. Deutsche Bank Cut Bonus Pool Plans After Criticism From ECB (msn.com)

Currency pairsExchange Rate as of 4:15 pm 16 February 2021(1) As of 12:54 pm EST Exchange Rate as of 18 February 2021(2)(3)
AUD/USD0.7762 0.7779
USD/CAD1.2694 1.2701
USD/CNY6.4567 6.4869
EUR/USD1.2126 1.2079
USD/INR72.6000 72.6500
GBP/USD1.3855 1.3948
USD/JPY104.9400 105.7300
USD/MXN19.9300 20.4150
USD/DKK6.1325 6.1593
USD/NOK8.4558 8.4637
BTC/USD  48,358.6000
ETH/USD  1,700.6400
Sources: Federal Reserve (1), Reuters-FX rates (2), OANDA-crypto rates

18 February 2021

Interbank market news scan: Central banks and Foreign exchange …

Follow the links …

Central banks in emerging economies are set to move in different directions this year: Some remain in an easing mode and are expected to lower borrowing costs further, with Bloomberg Economics predicting cuts in China, Indonesia, India and Mexico. Emerging-Market Central Banks Are Set for a Hawkish Turn (msn.com)

Climate activists are warning that central banks are taking a “risky gamble” with their strategies for addressing the financial risks from global warming. Central Banks Criticized for Risky Gamble on Climate Fight (msn.com)

The truth about capital flows is worth revisiting and remembering as economists, media members and politicians continue to waste so much brain space and emotion on the doings of central banks. They’re mistaken. Central banks quite simply do not matter. Jack Ma’s Ant Group Further Exposes The Fed And Central Banks As Afterthoughts (forbes.com)

India’s foreign exchange reserves declined by $6.240 billion during the week ended February 5. According to the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) weekly statistical supplement, the reserves decreased to $583.945 billion from $590.185 billion reported for the week ended January 29. India’s foreign exchange reserves plunges by over $6 bn (sify.com)

The amount of money repatriated by Filipinos abroad fell last year for the first time since 2001 as the pandemic upended the global job market. Philippine Remittances See First Drop Since 2001 (msn.com)

The safe-haven dollar started the week near two-week lows on Monday, as optimism about COVID-19 vaccine rollouts and a planned $1.9 trillion U.S. stimulus package drove up riskier currencies and stock markets across Europe and Asia. Dollar weakens as market optimism lifts riskier currencies | Reuters

Currency pairsExchange Rate as of 4:15 pm 8 February 2021(1) As of 9:30 am EST Exchange Rate as of 15 February 2021(2)(3)
AUD/USD0.7656 0.7782
USD/CAD1.2781 1.2658
USD/CNY6.4664 6.4542
EUR/USD1.2035 1.2123
USD/INR72.8500 72.6140
GBP/USD1.3714 1.3895
USD/JPY105.4400 105.3900
USD/MXN20.1300 19.9260
USD/DKK6.1785 6.1259
USD/NOK8.5428 8.4119
BTC/USD  45,583.4000
ETH/USD  1,743.7500
Sources: (1) Federal Reserve ; (2) Reuters-currency rates; (3) OANDA-crypto rates

15 February 2021