Lael Brainard’s testimony before the U.S. Senate: Emphasis on inflation …

Chairman Brown, Ranking Member Toomey, and other members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to appear before you. I am greatly honored to be nominated by President Biden to serve as Vice Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. If confirmed to this position, I look forward to continuing to work with members of this Committee.

We are seeing the strongest rebound in growth and decline in unemployment of any recovery in the past five decades. Over the past year, unemployment has fallen by 2.8 percentage points, and growth is estimated to be around 5 1/2 percent, according to a variety of private forecasts.

But inflation is too high, and working people around the country are concerned about how far their paychecks will go. Our monetary policy is focused on getting inflation back down to 2 percent while sustaining a recovery that includes everyone. This is our most important task.

When the pandemic struck in 2020, I worked closely alongside Chair Powell and Secretary Mnuchin and many others, with the support of Congress, to calm financial market turmoil and save American jobs and businesses. When markets stabilized, I worked to responsibly wind down the emergency facilities we established. Today the economy is making welcome progress, but the pandemic continues to pose challenges. Our priority is to protect the gains we have made and support a full recovery.

Since 2014, as a member of the Federal Open Market Committee, I have supported monetary policy that is responsive to evolving economic conditions. Our approach helped sustain the longest recovery on record with low inflation and millions of jobs.

More broadly, I have worked to safeguard and grow our economy during the Administrations of five Presidents from both parties. I have worked on the U.S. policy response to every major financial crisis over three decades. I served at the Department of the Treasury as part of the team responsible for supporting America’s recovery from the Global Financial Crisis and responding to the euro-area financial crisis. I served at the White House as part of the team helping to safeguard the American economy from the Asian financial crisis as well as financial crises in Mexico, Brazil, and Russia. In some foreign countries, I saw up close how high inflation hurts workers and families, especially the most vulnerable.

I am committed to pursuing the Federal Reserve’s congressionally mandated goals of price stability and maximum employment and to maintaining the strength and resilience of our financial system. I am committed to the independent and nonpartisan status of the Federal Reserve.

If confirmed, I look forward to supporting Chair Powell in carrying out the responsibilities assigned to the Federal Reserve and in fostering transparent communication and accountability to you and the American people. I will bring a considered and independent voice to our deliberations, drawing on insights from working people, businesses, financial institutions, and communities—large and small—across the country. I will support policies that are in the interests of the American people and based on the law and careful analysis of the evidence.

Before closing, I want to thank my husband and daughters for their steadfast support of my work. And I would like to commend the outstanding efforts of the individuals across the Federal Reserve System who work so hard every day to serve the American public.

Senators, I thank you for this opportunity to appear before you and for considering my nomination. I would be pleased to respond to any questions.

Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve Bank of New York sees no changes in short-term, long-term inflation …

Short- and Medium-Term Inflation Expectations Unchanged; Job and Income Expectations Strengthen Further

NEW YORK—The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data today released the December 2021 Survey of Consumer Expectations, which shows that both short- and medium-term inflation expectations were unchanged. Uncertainty and disagreement about future inflation decreased at both the short- and medium-term horizons. Home price expectations rose in December but remained below their May 2021 peak. Households reported increased optimism about their labor market prospects, with earnings growth, job loss, and job finding expectations all improving. Households’ income growth expectations also improved, rising to a new series high.

The main findings from the December 2021 Survey are:

Inflation

  • Median one-year and three-year-ahead inflation expectations both remained unchanged in December at 6.0% and 4.0%, respectively. The Survey’s measure of disagreement across respondents (the difference between the 75th and 25th percentile of inflation expectations) decreased at both the one- and three-year horizons.
  • Median inflation uncertainty—or the uncertainty expressed regarding future inflation outcomes—decreased at the short- and medium-term horizons, retreating from their series highs recorded in November.
  • Median home price expectations increased to 5.5% from 5.0% in November. The increase was driven by those below age 60 and those who live in the “South” and “West” Census regions.
  • Expectations about year-ahead price changes fell by 3.5 percentage points for the price of gas (to 5.7%), 1.4 percentage points for food prices (to 7.8%), and 1.0 percentage point for the cost of a college education (to 8.1%). The median expected change in the price of medical care and rent remained unchanged at 9.6% and 10.0%, respectively.

Labor Market

  • Median one-year-ahead expected earnings growth increased by 0.2 percentage point in December to 3.0%. The increase was most pronounced for respondents with an annual household income below $50,000.
  • Mean unemployment expectations—or the mean probability that the U.S. unemployment rate will be higher one year from now—decreased by 0.9 percentage point to 35.2%.
  • The mean perceived probability of losing one’s job in the next 12 months decreased by 1.3 percentage points to 11.6%. Similarly, the mean probability of leaving one’s job voluntarily in the next 12 months decreased by 0.3 percentage point to 19.9%.
  • The mean perceived probability of finding a job (if one’s current job was lost) increased to 57.5% from 55.9% in November, its highest level since its pre-COVID reading of 58.7% in February 2020. The increase was driven by respondents at least 40 years old and those without a college degree.

Household Finance

  • The median expected growth in household income increased by 0.2 percentage point to 3.4% in December, a new series high. The increase was most pronounced for respondents with no more than a high school diploma.
  • Median household spending growth expectations declined to 5.5% from a series high of 5.7% in November. The decrease was driven by respondents with household income under $50,000 a year and those with no more than a high school diploma.
  • Perceptions of credit access compared to a year ago slightly improved, with more respondents saying it is easier to obtain credit than one year ago on average. Expectations for future credit availability also improved, with more respondents expecting it will be easier to obtain credit in the year ahead compared to in November.
  • The average perceived probability of missing a minimum debt payment over the next three months increased by 0.3 percentage point to 10.3%. The increase was driven by those with some college education.
  • The median expectation regarding a year-ahead change in taxes (at current income level) decreased by 0.3 percentage point to 4.4%.
  • Median year-ahead expected growth in government debt decreased by 1.6 percentage points to 10.8%, its fifth consecutive monthly decrease.
  • The mean perceived probability that the average interest rate on saving accounts will be higher 12 months from now decreased by 0.5 percentage point to 28.2% in December.
  • Perceptions about households’ current financial situations compared to a year ago improved slightly. However, more households still reported a worse situation compared to a year ago than reporting an improved situation. Year-ahead expectations about households’ financial situations also improved, with fewer households expecting to be worse off a year from now.
  • The mean perceived probability that U.S. stock prices will be higher 12 months from now decreased slightly by 0.2 percentage point to 38.9%.


About the Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE)

The SCE contains information about how consumers expect overall inflation and prices for food, gas, housing, and education to behave. It also provides insight into Americans’ views about job prospects and earnings growth and their expectations about future spending and access to credit. The SCE also provides measures of uncertainty regarding consumers’ outlooks. Expectations are also available by age, geography, income, education, and numeracy.

The SCE is a nationally representative, internet-based survey of a rotating panel of approximately 1,300 household heads. Respondents participate in the panel for up to 12 months, with a roughly equal number rotating in and out of the panel each month. Unlike comparable surveys based on repeated cross-sections with a different set of respondents in each wave, this panel allows us to observe the changes in expectations and behavior of the same individuals over time. For further information on the SCE, please refer to an overview of the survey methodology here, the interactive chart guide, and the survey questionnaire.

Contact
Mariah Measey
(347) 978 3071
Mariah.Measey@ny.frb.org

Interbank Market News Scan: Eastern Caribbean

16 June 2021

Links to follow ….

Interbank. China’s benchmark prices for spot interbank gold transactions were lower on Wednesday, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System.  http://www.china.org.cn/china/Off_the_Wire/2021-06/16/content_77571092.htm

Interbank. Many of the issues thrown up in the transition away from sterling Libor appear to have been addressed, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said Monday, delivering a confident assessment of the U.K.’s exit from the discredited benchmark.  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-14/boe-s-bailey-says-sterling-libor-switch-is-pretty-much-there?sref=oriheOus

Interbank. Cuba, the island country located where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean meet, said this week U.S. dollars will be suspended in the country. The mandate comes from the country’s central bank and foreign tourists have been told to leave U.S. dollars at home when visiting. https://news.bitcoin.com/cubas-central-bank-suspends-us-dollar-deposits-nationwide-officials-cite-embargo/

Interbank. The Cayman Islands, U.S. and Gibraltar are the top locations where crypto hedge funds are domiciled, according to a report by PwC and Elwood Asset Management. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/cayman-islands-u-gibraltar-top-123005084.html

Interbank. St Kitts and Nevis formalises diplomatic relations with Cameroon, deepening relations with the African continent.  https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/st-kitts-and-nevis-formalises-diplomatic-relations-with-cameroon-deepening-relations-with-african-continent-301313009.html

Foreign Exchange rates of interest ….

Currency PairsRates as of 10:32 am AST 16 June 2021
XCD/EUR0.3055
XCD/GBP0.2628
XCD/USD0.3704
XCD/CAD0.4507
XCD/NGN152.4750
XCD/CNY2.3707
XCD/PLN1.3822
XCD/PEN1.4302
Source: OANDA

Interbank Market News Scan: Kenya wants to export labor to increase remittances; Mexico sees remittances growth

Links you should follow …

Interbank. The overnight Shanghai Interbank Offered Rate (Shibor), which measures the borrowing cost of China’s interbank market, decreased 18.8 basis points to 1.852 percent Thursday. http://www.china.org.cn/china/Off_the_Wire/2021-06/03/content_77545826.htm

RemittancesBnext, the first Spanish neobank, that challenges the traditional banking system has joined forces with Algorand, to revolutionize the remittances market in Europe and Latam.  https://ibsintelligence.com/bnext-and-algorand-partner-to-launch-international-remittance-service-across-spain-and-latin-america/

Remittances. Kenya plans to boost labor exports in order to enhance remittances from the diaspora, a senior government official said on Wednesday. http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/africa/2021-06/03/c_139985689.htm

Remittances. Remittances to Mexico jumped almost 40% in April, posting the sharpest increase in nearly two decades after taking a hit at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic last year, Mexican central bank data showed on Tuesday. https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexicos-remittances-rise-nearly-40-405-bln-april-2021-06-01/

Banks. Ally Bank, a division of Ally Financial Inc., announced Wednesday that it will no longer charge overdraft fees on any accounts. There are no requirements or restrictions, the announcement said. https://www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/ally-bank-ends-overdraft-fees

Banks. Florida Bankers Association CEO Alex Sanchez claimed Biden and climate envoy John Kerry are giving small banks the “kiss of death” by requiring them to produce expensive reports of their clients’ climate impact. https://www.foxbusiness.com/energy/biden-climate-policy-will-be-kiss-of-death-for-small-banks-ceo-says

Foreign exchange rates of interest, 30-day trading range; 3 May 2021 to 3 June 2021

Currency PairsRates as of 10:45 am AST 3 June 2021Rates as of 3 May 2021Percentage Change
XCD/EUR0.30340.3081-1.5%
XCD/GBP0.26160.2679-2.4%
XCD/USD0.37040.3704flat
XCD/CAD0.44660.4551-1.9%
TTD/EUR0.11890.1203-1.2%
TTD/GBP0.10250.1046-2.0%
TTD/USD0.14510.1446+.34%
TTD/CAD0.17500.1777-1.5%
GYD/EUR0.00380.0038flat
GYD/GBP0.00330.0033flat
GYD/USD0.00460.0046flat
GYD/CAD0.00560.0056flat
Source: OANDA

For the period 3 May 2021 to 3 June 2021, the Eastern Caribbean saw a continued fall in exchange rates between the European Union (-1.5%); Great Britain (-2.4%); and Canada (-1.9%).  The XCD is pegged to the U.S. dollar and for that reason remained flat.

With the exception of a .34% increase in the US dollar price for the Trinidad and Tobago dollar, the TTD price also fell in terms of the euro (-1.2%); the pound (-2.0%); and the Canadian dollar (-1.5%).

The euro, dollar, pound, and loonie rate of the Guyanese dollar remained flat during the 3 May 2021-3 June 2021 period.

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

Interbank market news scan: Central banks, foreign exchange, cryptocurrencies …

Currency pairsExchange Rate as of 8 February 2021; Source: Federal ReserveAs of 11:42 am EST Exchange Rate as of 9 February 2021; Source: Reuters
AUD/USD0.7656 0.7708
USD/CAD1.2781 1.2721
USD/CNY6.4664 6.4348
EUR/USD1.2035 1.2093
USD/INR72.8500 72.8420
GBP/USD1.3714 1.3795
USD/JPY105.4400 104.6500
USD/MXN20.1300 20.0765
USD/DKK6.1785 6.1502
USD/NOK8.5428 8.4728
Sources: Federal Reserve, Reuters

In the news ….

The latest crackdown by Nigeria’s central bank on cryptocurrency has elicited outrage and confusion in a country where virtual currency has boomed in the last five years. It’s also emblematic of the struggle by financial regulators the world over to regulate the supercharged space of digital currencies. https://qz.com/africa/1970446/nigerias-central-bank-takes-aim-at-cryptocurrency-again/

China’s central bank has downplayed its decision in January to reduce liquidity in the banking system that caused the country’s worst cash crunch in nearly six years, while fueling worries about a gradual tightening of monetary policy to curb speculation and asset bubbles. https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3121179/chinas-central-bank-downplays-draining-funds-banking-system

Chinese New Year is days away and for many investors, it is the most exciting event this week, especially with a light economic calendar. It is not as big a holiday as Christmas or New Year’s, but with more than 1.5 billion celebrants, there will be less participation and possibly consolidation. Most of the major currencies traded higher on Monday as stocks hit fresh record highs. The improvement in risk appetite drove the U.S. dollar lower across the board. https://www.investing.com/analysis/central-banks-and-stimulus-bets-will-drive-fx-this-week-200559371

Government strategy: Strong dollar versus weak dollar policy …

Earlier today, Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, gave a shout out to Janet Yellen, the U.S. Treasury-elect. President Lagarde wished Ms Yellen well on her confirmation which is expected to go favorably sometime this week. Both women have commented on the state of the foreign exchange markets this week with Dr Yellen expressing her preference for market determined foreign exchange rates and President Lagarde telling reporters during today’s European Central Bank policy rate announcement that the ECB would be monitoring foreign exchange rates “very closely.”

In its early days, the Trump administration expressed a preference for a “strong” dollar. A strong dollar scenario is one where the U.S. dollar has risen to a historically high exchange rate relative to another currency. Strength could be attributable to another nation devaluing its currency relative to the dollar in an effort to make the foreign country’s exports more competitive.

Deleveraging is another method of dollar strengthening where debts are paid off which reduces the amount of dollars in the system thus increasing the value of the dollar.

Although a strong dollar protects foreign investor holdings of U.S. assets , the higher prices for imports faced by Americans could create a political scene where consumers start asking their government to reverse the course. The prior administration’s use of tariffs in its trade spat with China raised such concerns.

While Ms Yellen has again expressed her preference for market-determined rates, her future Treasury Department could buy and sell foreign currency for the purpose of narrowing exchange rate movements should a market-determination scheme not meet the Biden administration’s policy objectives. If the dollar is viewed as depreciating too quickly, Treasury could boost demand and value by using foreign currency to buy the greenback. If the dollar is viewed as appreciating too quickly, the Treasury could resort to using the dollar to buy foreign currency. If Dr. Yellen stays the course on a market policy, then the tactic will be to allow the foreign exchange rate to move to equilibrium.

Across the Atlantic, President Lagarde will likely not just look at exchange rates but try to determine the impact rates is having on yields. The European Union has been signaling its desire to boost the status of its currency, hoping to attract more investment to the Eurozone. President Lagarde would likely want to see appreciation in the euro and an accompanying increase in yields.

Traders and brokers should pay close attention to policy moves designed to make the euro and the dollar more attractive to investors and also how the European Union positions itself between the United States and China. Depending on how competitive the United States and the European Union become, shout outs between Dr yellen and President Lagarde will become more interesting.

Government strategy: Strong dollar versus weak dollar policy …

Earlier today, Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, gave a shout out to Janet Yellen, the U.S. Treasury-elect. President Lagarde wished Ms Yellen well on her confirmation which is expected to go favorably sometime this week. Both women have commented on the state of the foreign exchange markets this week with Dr Yellen expressing her preference for market determined foreign exchange rates and President Lagarde telling reporters during today’s European Central Bank policy rate announcement that the ECB would be monitoring foreign exchange rates “very closely.”

In its early days, the Trump administration expressed a preference for a “strong” dollar. A strong dollar scenario is one where the U.S. dollar has risen to a historically high exchange rate relative to another currency. Strength could be attributable to another nation devaluing its currency relative to the dollar in an effort to make the foreign country’s exports more competitive.

Deleveraging is another method of dollar strengthening where debts are paid off which reduces the amount of dollars in the system thus increasing the value of the dollar.

Although a strong dollar protects foreign investor holdings of U.S. assets , the higher prices for imports faced by Americans could create a political scene where consumers start asking their government to reverse the course. The prior administration’s use of tariffs in its trade spat with China raised such concerns.

While Ms Yellen has again expressed her preference for market-determined rates, her future Treasury Department could buy and sell foreign currency for the purpose of narrowing exchange rate movements should a market-determination scheme not meet the Biden administration’s policy objectives. If the dollar is viewed as depreciating too quickly, Treasury could boost demand and value by using foreign currency to buy the greenback. If the dollar is viewed as appreciating too quickly, the Treasury could resort to using the dollar to buy foreign currency. If Dr. Yellen stays the course on a market policy, then the tactic will be to allow the foreign exchange rate to move to equilibrium.

Across the Atlantic, President Lagarde will likely not just look at exchange rates but try to determine the impact rates is having on yields. The European Union has been signaling its desire to boost the status of its currency, hoping to attract more investment to the Eurozone. President Lagarde would likely want to see appreciation in the euro and an accompanying increase in yields.

Traders and brokers should pay close attention to policy moves designed to make the euro and the dollar more attractive to investors and also how the European Union positions itself between the United States and China. Depending on how competitive the United States and the European Union become, shout outs between Dr yellen and President Lagarde will become more interesting.

Government strategy: Why bitcoin will not be the world’s reserve currency

I read an interesting article appearing originally on the website Aikon on the prospect of bitcoin becoming the globe’s reserve currency. The author makes the following points in support of his argument.

Bitcoin is transparent. All transactions involving a bitcoin are reflected on a public ledger. Bitcoin transactions are decentralized. There is no central authority controlling bitcoin issuance, valuation, or settlement. Bitcoin is garnering more participants including individuals, institutional investors, and governments willing to invest in the technology and its tokens.

The world, according to the article, is at the threshold of a financial revolution with changes in the financial system being brought about by the strains on the economic system caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The article argues that although the United States has engaged less with the global economy over the last twenty years, China, forecasted to provide the world with the next reserve currency, is avoiding completing the tasks necessary for taking the number one spot. Compounding what Aikon has determined as an unwillingness to do what it takes to get the spot is a collapsing U.S.-Chinese relationship.

Given the above negatives against a continued use of the U.S. dollar as the globe’s reserve currency, and the unlikeliness of the Chinese yuan taking this position, Aikon asserts that bitcoin is positioned to be the global reserve currency because, again, of decentralization and the cryptocurrencies underlying financial system. But if we applied the definition of a reserve currency to bitcoin, we should find that bitcoin is not ready to be a reserve currency.

First, bitcoin is not a currency. A currency is a unit of account, a store of value, and a medium for the exchange of goods and services. That a dollar price has been placed on a bitcoin may satisfy the unit of account assertion. The existence of digital wallets that can store bitcoin may further compound the assertion of bitcoin as a unit of account since a wallet provides a place to go and determine the amount of the digital asset that you have.

A store of value, on the other hand, I have my doubts. A currency should reflect an underlying economy and where that economy is functional ie executes rules for trade and commerce in various markets, the currency provides a store of value. Bitcoin has no attachment to an underlying, viable economy as evidenced by the third element of the definition of currency: bitcoin is not used as a medium of exchange in a volume so sufficient that, like the US dollar of the euro, no other currency is necessary for making a transaction in a particular political economy. Bitcoin is not a currency.

The proof that bitcoin is not a currency should be sufficient to negate bitcoin as a reserve currency as well. The website Investopedia provides the following definition of a reserve currency:

“A reserve currency is a large quantity of currency maintained by central banks and other major financial institutions to prepare for investments, transactions, and international debt obligations, or to influence their domestic exchange rate.”

Bitcoin’s current market capitalization is approximately $668 billion with approximately 18.6 million digital tokens in circulation. This pales in significance to U.S. dollar reserves of approximately $6.7 trillion. Bitcoin is allegedly capped at 21 million tokens. If all 21 million tokens were available today, to equal total US global reserves, bitcoin will have to be valued at approximately $319,000 a token. While some analysts have called a rise in bitcoin valuation up $400,000 a token, I have seen no estimates as to the likelihood anytime in the near future.

Based on current valuation and uncertainty given the token’s volatility of bitcoin market cap equaling global US reserves, I don’t see the US government implementing any immediate strategy to counter bitcoin as a new reserve currency.

My takeaway of Brainard speech: Fed maintaining steady course. No impact on the interbank markets.

Lael Brainard, a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, recently delivered a speech discussing the Federal Reserve’s policy for achieving a two percent inflation goal. She reiterated the Federal Reserve’s FAIT policy, a strategy that uses a flexible average inflation targeting strategy for achieving two percent inflation. The aim, according to Governor Brainard, is to keep inflation moderately above two percent for some time, allowing the economy to make up for any short falls along the way due to running below the two percent goal.

Governor Brainard would like to see the Federal Reserve focus on achieving full employment particularly for low and moderate income U.S. households. Price inflation has not been as responsive to labor market tightness as it has in the past, The Federal Reserve aims to eliminate shortfalls to maximum employment of human capital.

I didn’t hear anything in Governor Brainard’s comments that would have a direct impact on the interbank markets, whether for foreign exchange or for overnight loans.