Interbank Market News Scan: As Afghanistan transitions, currency traders should wait for dust to settle in light of China’s influence …

15 August 2021

Currency pairExchange rate10-year yield, government securities
AFN/CNY0.07982.88
AFN/USD0.012331.28
Source: OANDA

The transition of political power occurring in Afghanistan today should have traders and brokers asking about the currency trade opportunities under a Taliban-led Afghanistan.  The price of the Afghani has been falling in both US dollars and Chinese renminbi over the last 90 days.  I suspect as Afghanistan moves through its transition over the next 48 hours that western investors will wait for the dust to settle on where yields Afghani-denominated securities will fall out.

After two decades in Afghanistan, the lightening quick deterioration in the ability of the government to maintain control of its territory speaks negatively about the United States as a stabilizing force in the region.  That accolade right now may belong more in China’s court than the U.S.  China has stayed engaged with Afghanistan primarily due to three concerns.

First, the protection of small and medium sized Chinese enterprises in Afghanistan; second, to stop the training of Uygur supporting insurgents from an area of Afghanistan that lies along China’s western border; and third, to maintain a vital component of its Belt and Road Initiative, a policy of transportation and communications infrastructure that facilitates the transfer of resources to China.

China is Afghanistan’s largest investor, having provided Afghanistan with telecom equipment and other telecom infrastructure.  China extracts oil in the Amu Daya basin, and also mines lithium and copper, both essential to providing telecommunications equipment and facilities.

Geographically, Afghanistan provides China with the shortest route between China, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, and the Arabian Sea, important for cost effective movement of trade.

And because China has shown no interest in “rebuilding Afghanistan”, including altering its political, social, or ideological institutions, it has been able to maintain a dialogue with the Taliban, important now more than ever as Afghanistan sees a change in leadership.

The takeaway:  Traders should monitor the developing government relationships and take note of relative changes in income, prices, commodity availability, and interest rates.

Alton Drew

Sources:

OANDA

China to ‘capitalise’ on West’s Taliban failure as US geopolitical power diminished | World | News | Express.co.uk 

Why China and Russia might find common security ground in Afghanistan | South China Morning Post (scmp.com)

Slowly but surely, China is moving into Afghanistan (trtworld.com)

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 Fed speak not providing much to shift foreign exchange markets …

A Bloomberg interview with Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas president Robert Kaplan along with remarks by Federal Reserve Board vice-chair Richard Clarida and Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta president Raphael Bostick did not provide much information to attribute to any shifts in the foreign exchange markets. 

In a 9 August 2021 interview with Bloomberg, Mr Kaplan expressed confidence about where the fed funds rate, the overnight rate for loans between Fed member banks, stood.  The current target range of the fed funds rate is between 0 and .25%. 

Mr Kaplan expressed caution that the fed funds rate and the effects of asset purchases by the Federal Reserve be looked at separately.  Currently the Federal Reserve is purchasing $120 billion a month of US Treasury securities and agency-backed securities as part of a strategy to keep liquidity in the credit markets while keeping borrowing rates low.  The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy is designed to add fuel to U.S. economic growth by making lower cost credit available to businesses.    

In remarks made the following day, Federal Reserve vice-chair Clarida noted that the U.S. was out of the recession precipitated by government lock down of the economy in March 2020.  He expects the economy to continue its expansion through next year while cautioning that growth will be tempered by a variant of the coronavirus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic.  Vice-chairman Clarida does see unemployment continuing to fall through 2023 along with inflation which he forecasts to be around 2.2% in 2022 and 2023.

The Federal Reserve is today following a flexible rate policy that will allow the economy to run periodically over its inflation target of 2%.  Dallas Fed president Kaplan did note that businesses are expecting to raise prices, in line with Federal Reserve forecasts on inflation.  Mr Kaplan also noted that there was an active debate regarding when the Federal Reserve would start cutting back on its monthly $120 billion a month asset purchases. Mr Kaplan also believes that adjusting asset purchases now would put less pressure on the fed funds rate.

As Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta president Bostick shared today, the two percent inflation target number is thought by the Federal Reserve to be the appropriate numerical goal to mitigate the risks of deflation.  The rate, as a pre-condition to a healthy economy, is seen as appropriate in assisting households protect themselves from any changes in purchasing power.

The takeaway for traders is that sluggish growth in the US in 2022 and 2023 may result in tempered appreciation of the dollar’s value in those years.  So far, the Federal Reserve is seeing little change in relative income or price changes.  Nor does the Federal Reserve seem to signaling much in relative interest changes, at least in the short to intermediate term.  

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: Reserve Bank of Australia expects upward path on interest rates …

9 August 2021, 9:25 pm EST

AUD/USD

No reports today hinting at any changes in the Reserve Bank of Australia’s decision to reduce weekly bond purchases from AUD5 billion to AUD4 billion.  This contraction in economic stimulus comes as Sydney, Australia’s largest city, and Melbourne have entered lockdowns. The delta variant outbreak is viewed by some as so serious that calls for steel fabricated rings be placed around the city of Melbourne, for example.

The RBA notes that Australia’s move toward economic recovery has been stymied by the delta outbreak.  In its August 2021 Statement on Monetary Policy, the RBA found that, “The near-term outlook is highly uncertain and dependent on health outcomes. Further large outbreaks are possible, but the need for extended lockdowns should diminish as vaccination coverage increases.  The longer the lockdowns continue, however, the more likely it is that jobs are lost.”

The RBA expects recent lockdowns to be less onerous on the economy when compared to lockdowns in the first half of last year.  This is because businesses have adjusted their models to compensate for changes in consumption.

Consumer price index (CPI) inflation was measured at 3.8% last June due in part to reversals in declining prices as the economy started an upward climb.  When volatile items such as petrol, fruits and vegetables are removed from the estimate, inflation was around 1.75%.

The RBA reported strengthening exports with increases in prices for its commodities.  The RBA noted that the AUD continues to depreciate in spite of high prices.  The RBA describes yields and spreads on corporate bonds and interest rates as low.

The RBA expects interest rates to continue on an upward path for advanced economies given bottlenecks in supply chains and rapid re-openings.  Interestingly, the RBA did not specify that such increases would happen in the Australian economy.

On the other hand, Australia may see increases in interest rates as it tapers its bond purchases.

As of 5 August, the yield on the Australian government 2-year bond was .03%.  Bloomberg reports two-year yields on U.S. Treasuries at 0.21%. As of 9:21 pm EST, Reuters reports the AUD/USD exchange rate at 0.7330 USD.

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 crypto-digital world finds the fiat currency worthless …

30 July 2021

The Takeaway: The crypto-digital world finds the fiat currency worthless …

The past couple posts I have been harping on whether Amazon or Facebook can create a viable digital nation-state.  Right now, I am putting Amazon in lead, but if Facebook can create a more viable transactions-based economy rather than relying on being a pure private data aggregator and reseller, then Facebook may have the potential in the longer run to rival Amazon.

For now, occupants of the digital world are not placing any crypto-monetary value on fiat currencies.  I don’t see this no-value perspective changing any time soon on the part of digital world residents.  For example, according to OANDA data from twelve months ago, USD/ETH was priced at .0031.  Today, the price of USD/ETH is at .0004.  I believe the more closed-loop the digital world can remain, the less the digital world’s demand for fiat currency. 

Holders of cryptocurrency are still interested in holding crypto as an asset versus a medium of exchange for trade even though the rhetoric is quick to describe crypto as a payment system as well. Examples of commercial entities accepting crypto as payment should be discounted by the preference for holding crypto as an asset versus medium of exchange.

On the other hand, I am mindful that on a global basis crypto as a medium of exchange is creeping into consumer mindset with El Salvador’s decision to accept crypto as legal tender.  It is way too early to tell what degree of success crypto will see in the Central American nation.  In the meantime, public policy in the United States is to treat cryptocurrency as a digital asset and until the time comes where legacy nation-states view the digital world as a trade partner, USD/ETH and USD/BTC will be priced at zero for a while.

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.

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%

Prices

Exchange rates of interest as of 9:49 am EST

Currency pairExchange rate
AUD/USD*0.7371
EUR/USD*1.1884
GBP/USD*1.3965
USD/CAD*1.2434
USD/CHF*0.9061
USD/JPY*109.6500
USD/MXN*19.8480
USD/BTC+0.0000
USD/ETH+0.0004
Sources: *Reuters +OANDA

Interbank Market News Scan: How close is Facebook to becoming a digital nation-state?

The Takeaway: Brokers and traders should pay close attention to how Facebook addresses regulation of Diem

Yesterday I shared some insights about Amazon’s potential for building a digital nation based on the creation of its own digital token.  The company signaled efforts in this area by announcing a search for staff with experience in creating digital currency.  Writing about their efforts naturally led me to thinking about the efforts of another large platform manager, Facebook.

Given over 2 billion subscribers to Facebook’s platform and millions of daily users, The Menlo Park, California-based company seems like another likely candidate for “digital nation” status.  Arguably it is ahead of Amazon in the creation of its own digital currency, the Diem.  But is it ahead of Amazon when it comes to putting in place the transactional environment necessary for a “digital country?”

Facebook’s purported mission, according to its annual report, is to “give people the power to build community and to bring the world closer together.”  Facebook generates almost all of its revenues from advertisement and while it considers Amazon a competitor in the advertisement space, Facebook has not invested in transportation, storage, or distribution systems for goods and services or subscriber content production.  In my opinion, these channels have boosted Amazon’s value as an issuer of digital coins because they represent the underpinnings of a transactional environment.  Transactions are the underpinnings of growth in output and income and while there are notices of items for sale in numerous Facebook groups and advertisement appearing on users’ profiles, Facebook is more of a personal data aggregator than it is a market for trade.

Lastly, what also works against Facebook is its history of data privacy breaches.  Both aisles of Congress have come down on Facebook for its lack of transparency in notifying its subscribers as to how the company uses consumer data.  These privacy concerns have also leaked into Congress’ assessment of how the company’s proposed digital currency would be incorporated into any potential data grabbing strategies.

I believe what is more important to Congress than its rhetoric about consumer protection and privacy is how a digital currency provided by a behemoth digital platform could challenge the United States’ ability as a tax and customs jurisdiction.  Should a significant number of miners, farmers, merchants, and other business entities start using Facebook’s digital currency to exchange among themselves and with Facebook’s end user subscribers, Facebook becomes a new nation-state.

Facebook hopes to have Diem launched by the end of 2021.  What impact the current variation in the corona virus and the ensuing Covid disease will have on deployment is unknown.  Right now, speculators and broker/dealers may not have Diem on their radar, but they should, like Amazon, prepare for a large platform issuing its currency and also determine how Diem should be valued.

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.

Rates reported by the Federal Reserve (Release Date 27 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: 0.06%

1-year Treasury bill: 0.08%

Prices

Exchange rates of interest as of 9:02 am EST

Currency pairExchange rate
AUD/USD*0.7381
EUR/USD*1.1802
GBP/USD*1.3826
USD/CAD*1.2543
USD/CHF*0.9162
USD/JPY*110.1800
USD/MXN*20.0290
USD/BTC+0.0000
USD/ETH+0.0005

Sources: *Reuters +OANDA

Interbank Market News Scan: Is Jeff Bezos on the way to building a digital country?

27 July 2021

Links to follow

However, what fewer people are aware of is the way that the app world has transformed the forex industry. Forex trading apps have proliferated in recent years, and it’s easy to see why: these apps offer a chance to keep up to date with the latest events in the market, and make the taking of real-time trading decisions possible. https://techbullion.com/how-foreign-exchange-apps-are-changing-the-trading-industry/

Speculations about Amazon set to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment by the end of the year have been growing, following a job posting for a “Digital Currency and Blockchain Product Lead.” Bitcoin Prices Surge Thanks to Amazon Rumors (yahoo.com)

El Salvador is the first country to declare bitcoin legal tender. But the experiment raises big questions about what will happen next — for bitcoin and the country itself. El Salvador made bitcoin a legal currency. Now it gets interesting (cnbc.com)

Six things that happened in crypto this past week. Crypto news: bitcoin rally, Amazon digital currency expert, tether probe (cnbc.com)

The Takeaway: Is Jeff Bezos on the way to building a digital country?

There is some buzz about possible acceptance by Amazon of bitcoin as digital payment for its goods and services.  The speculation is in part a result of Amazon’s recruitment of a digital currency and blockchain product lead.  However, Amazon’s global delivery platform combined with its own digital token could take Amazon to heights higher than its New Shepard rocket.  Futures commission merchants and retail foreign exchange dealers (brokerages and brokers) should envision such a digital token as a significant future foreign exchange trade.

How soon this trade comes about depends on how quickly Amazon can design, test, and deploy a token.  I believe enough of a platform necessary for supporting a digital token is already in place.  Let us start with an important consumer item: food. 

A digital country will need a food distribution system to sustain it.  Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods in 2017 gave the company at the time of the acquisition a retail footprint and distribution network valued at $14 billion.  With its goal of being “the Earth’s most customer-centric company”, encouraging farmers and other food processing vendors to use its digital tender creates currency agents that can trade that valuable token with other commercial entities. 

In addition to food distribution, lying at the heart of the Amazon economy are the transactions conducted on its network.  Merchants of all stripes trade on Amazon’s network.  Amazon’s attempts at facilitating trade by creating an online space for vendors who would otherwise be frozen out of a traditional brick and mortar business due to costs are generating revenues for the company and enhancing its brand as merchant centric.  Like farmers and food processors, merchants who choose to use an Amazon token become currency merchants for the company by turning around and trading the tokens into consumer, other retailer, and wholesale markets.

Lastly, pushing up Amazon’s value further will be its data and information services game.  Amazon’s cloud services and its electronic devices such as Kindle and Alexa collect data and make that data available for sale.  Allowing consumers, governments, and commercial enterprises to purchase Amazon data products and output with its tender will only help increase a digital token’s value.

It is tempting to say that there is a way to go before Amazon comes up with a digital token of their own to rival bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, but with technology, “long way off” is around the corner.

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.

— Alton Drew

Rates reported by the Federal Reserve (Release Date 26 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%

Prices

Exchange rates of interest as of 1:39 am EST

Currency pairExchange rate
AUD/USD*0.7381
EUR/USD*1.1802
GBP/USD*1.3826
USD/CAD*1.2543
USD/CHF*0.9162
USD/JPY*110.1800
USD/MXN*20.0290
Source: *Reuters

Interbank Market News Scan: Forex market dealers prepare for Fed monetary policy announcement ….

24 July 2021

Monetary Policy News

Markets prepare for Federal Reserve policy decision

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System meet on 27 & 28 July 2021 for their policy meeting, with a press conference scheduled on 28 July after the 2:00pm release of its decision on the Federal Funds and Discount Window rates.  While the Federal Reserve does not directly regulate rates set in the interbank market, the fed funds and discount window rates set the environment for rate determination in the interbank markets.

While the Federal Reserve maintained its policy of board members not releasing any statements during the week leading up to its policy announcement, the equity markets have been signaling an expectation that the central bank will continue its policy of purchasing $120 billion a month in U.S. Treasurys and agency backed debt.  The past several weeks has seen increased discussions in Congress and the media about increasing prices for food, energy, automobiles, and other goods and services.  Traders and dealers will be paying close attention to any language that signals an increase in the costs for money and/or changes in the supply of money.

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.

Rates reported by the Federal Reserve (Release Date 23 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%

Prices

Exchange rates of interest as of 1:15 pm AST

Currency pairExchange rate
AUD/USD*0.7364
EUR/USD*1.1771
GBP/USD*1.3746
USD/CAD*1.2556
USD/CHF*0.9190
USD/JPY*110.5400
USD/XCD+2.7000
USD/NGN+411.1590
USD/MXN*20.0430
Sources: *Reuters +OANDA

Interbank Market News Scan: Assessing the Legal and Political “Meteorology” of Foreign Exchange

The Morning Takeaway: Assessing the Legal and Political “Meteorology” of Foreign Exchange

Humans have no need to come in contact with each other but for the exchange of value.  How the value deemed from interaction is determined will be based on an individual assessment of how much benefit is to be gleaned from what another has to exchange.

Determining the benefit of what another party has to exchange means incurring costs for gathering information.  The more cogent and clear the better.  Efforts are optimized and the information gathering becomes efficient.  Understanding the environment producing the information is important.  The environment places parameters on any information obtained.  The environment within which the information is produced may lack characteristics necessary for producing the clearest information possible.

The value that is being exchanged also contains information about the environment it is coming out of.  Take corn or any other agricultural commodity.  For optimal growth, the environment that produces corn should provide a certain quality of soil, nutrients, water, and weather to create a quality yield.  What is yielded should be able to provide you with information on the quality of soil, nutrients, water, and weather from whence the yield came. 

This same approach should be taken to another commodity, currency.  The “soil’ for this commodity is a nation’s central bank and to a lesser extent the commercial banks that act as distribution channels for the currency.  The “soil” is impacted by the “weather” and “climate” generated by the level of transactions occurring within multiple markets in the political economy.  These transactions deliver “rain” onto the soil and impact the yield in currency released into the political economy’s blood flow.  And just like a corn crop can provide the farmer or the end user information about the environment that spawned the yield, so to can currency, or specifically, currency price movements, provide the trader with information about the central bank environment.

For the trader, it is important to assess the legal and political “meteorology” of the central bank environment.  Without these assessments, the trader, whether purchasing currency tails for speculation or as part of an international business transaction, risks not capitalizing on the yields that foreign exchange can bring about.

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.

Exchange rates of interest as of 11:45 am AST

Currency pairExchange rate
AUD/USD*0.7352
EUR/USD*1.1794
GBP/USD*1.3714
USD/CAD*1.2739
USD/CHF*0.9192
USD/JPY*109.3100
USD/XCD+2.7000
USD/NGN+410.9850
USD/MXN*20.0353
Sources: *Reuters +OANDA

Rates reported by the Federal Reserve (Release Date 16 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%

Interbank Market News Scan: What traders need to know about politics …

What Traders Need to Know About Politics: Capital Hates Labor

Regurgitating textbook definitions of economic growth i.e., growth in employment or gross domestic product, etc., only throws you off the mark leaving you frustrated as you ask yourself, “Why are more people being left behind while others see growth in their stock portfolios?”

Economics has never been about growth in employment. Economics is about managing capital with the appropriate amount of labor and technology such that asset values grow. It means pushing the envelope on returns to capital by raising prices so that when discounted by some rate, the present value of the asset can increase thus increasing the value of an individual’s portfolio so that they can leverage the portfolio as collateral for borrowing money at low rates and buying bonds and stocks generating a yield greater than the interest they borrowed at.

In short, today’s economics is about optimizing the carry trade.

This approach to economics was exposed in 2007 and 2008. If this growth in income and asset value (the only inflation that matters) can be achieved without hiring another soul, the wealthy would be happy.

The politician’s job is to distract the low and middle-income populace with narratives of “attacks on democracy” “diversity and inclusion” and “climate change.” Throw in “gun violence” policy and attacks on the big banks ala Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and the masses really keep their eyes off the ball.

The politicians that are shedding crocodile tears over today’s inflation figures are either ignorant as to true economics or are putting on a show scripted by their supporting political action committees in order to throw the electorate off of the scent. Needless to say, I think it is the latter.

So, when your favorite politicians are telling you that they are looking out for your economic well-being by offering you $300 tax credits and promising you that they will beat up on the banks that are raising your interest rates on the adjustable-rate mortgage you foolhardily took out or dragging supermarkets into a hearing for raising the price on your T-bone steaks, ignore them. Their job is to ensure the distraction by cheerleading the greatness of their fiscal policies that eventually result in higher taxes or their social programs purposefully designed to be effective no more than eighteen months, assuming they are effective at all….

Meanwhile, replace fluffy concepts such as “economy” and “fiscal policy.” Accept that “socialism” and “capitalism” are policy terms designed more to divide, conquer, and garner votes versus helping put food on your table. Learn to accept that “capital” despises “labor” and her goal is to exterminate you or relegate you to an Andrew Yang universal basic income scheme. Stop repeating what you’ve read in a textbook. All lies. Either you have something of high value to trade for low value currency or you don’t. That is as “economy” as you need to get.

Exchange rates of interest as of 9:52 am AST

Currency pairExchange rate
AUD/USD*0.7422
EUR/USD*1.1793
GBP/USD*1.3804
USD/CAD*1.2593
USD/CHF*0.9182
USD/JPY*110.1900
USD/XCD+2.7000
USD/NGN+409.8540
USD/MXN*19.8603
Sources: *Reuters +OANDA

Rates reported by the Federal Reserve (Release Date 15 July 2021)

Effective Fed Funds Rate: 0.10%

Discount Window:  0.25%

Prime Bank Rate: 3.25%

3-month Treasury bill: 0.06%

6-month Treasury bill: 0.05%

1-year Treasury bill: 0.08%

Interbank Market News Scan as of 3:01 pm AST; foreign exchange, interbank

11 July 2021

Links to follow ….

Interbank. Biden issues executive order addressing bank mergers, competition. Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy | The White House

Foreign exchange. The first country to get hit by the pandemic has become the first global economy to stumble as the world begins to heal, pushing investors to reconsider where China fits on the old-fashioned continuum of emerging and developed markets. China’s Easing Forces Traders to Rethink How They Label Markets – Bloomberg

Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York today announced that the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility (SMCCF) will begin gradual sales of its corporate bond holdings on July 12, 2021. The New York Fed also released an updated set of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the sales of these assets. New York Fed Announces the Start of Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility Corporate Bond Sales on July 12 – FEDERAL RESERVE BANK of NEW YORK

Exchange rates of interest as of 3:00 pm AST

Currency pairExchange rate
USD/XCDXCD 2.70
USD/MXNMXN 19.8440
USD/JMDJMD 149.3260
USD/DOPDOP 56.7350
USD/HTGHTG 92.2640
USD/NGNNGN 409.5000
USD/GHSGHS 5.8993
USD/INRINR 74.3350
Source: OANDA