Banks. Credit Agricole SA Chief Financial Officer Jerome Grivet speaks on Bloomberg Television about the bank’s trading performance, earnings and M&A strategy in Italy. The Paris-based lender’s profits jumped 64% to 1.05 billion euros ($1.27 billion) in the first quarter, boosted by a 17% rise in capital markets and investment banking revenue to 708 million euros, beating the highest analyst estimate. Credit Agricole CFO Jerome Grivet on Trading Revenue, Italy M&A, Q1 Earnings: Video – Bloomberg
Banks. Long ago central banks secured a monopoly over the issuance of paper money. Now physical cash in the form of bank notes and coins is in terminal decline. But the monetary authorities don’t intend to allow cryptocurrencies to fill the void without a fight. Instead, they’re responding with their own version of a so-called “stablecoin”. These central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, could turn out to be the most revolutionary financial innovation since, well, the inception of paper money. Chancellor: Central bank coin will crush the banks | Nasdaq
FedWatch: Fed chair Jerome Powell delivers remarks on the Community Reinvestment Act and the importance of community development …
“We see our robust supervisory approach as critical to addressing racial discrimination, which can limit consumers’ ability to improve their economic circumstances, including through access to homeownership and education.” — Jerome Powell
“Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to be with you today.
Together, over the past year, we have been making our way through a very difficult time. We are not out of the woods yet, but I am glad to say that we are now making real progress. While some countries are still suffering terribly in the grip of COVID-19, the economic outlook here in the United States has clearly brightened. Vaccination levels are rising. Fiscal and monetary policy are providing strong support. The economy is reopening, bringing stronger economic activity and job creation.
That is the high-level perspective—let’s call it the 30,000 foot view—and from that vantage point, we see improvement. But we should also take a look at what is happening at street level. Lives and livelihoods have been affected in ways that vary from person to person, family to family, and community to community. The economic downturn has not fallen evenly on all Americans, and those least able to bear the burden have been the hardest hit.
The pain is all the greater in light of the gains we had seen in the years prior to the pandemic. COVID swept in as the United States was experiencing the longest expansion on record. Unemployment was at 50-year lows, and inflation remained under control. Wages were moving up, particularly for the lowest-paid workers. Long-standing racial disparities in unemployment were narrowing, and many who had struggled for years were finding jobs. It was not until the later years of that expansion that its benefits had started to reach those on the margins. During our Fed Listens events, we met with people around the country and heard repeatedly about the life-changing gains of the strong labor market, particularly at the lower end of the income spectrum. Just a few months later, those stories changed to ones of job losses, overextended support services, and businesses built over generations closing their doors for good.
While the recovery is gathering strength, it has been slower for those in lower-paid jobs: Almost 20 percent of workers who were in the lowest earnings quartile in February of 2020 were not employed a year later, compared to 6 percent for workers in the highest quartile.1
The Fed’s latest Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking—or SHED report—which will be published later this month, will show that, for prime-age adults without a bachelor’s degree, 20 percent saw layoffs in 2020 versus 12 percent for college-educated workers. And more than 20 percent of Black and Hispanic prime-age workers were laid off compared to 14 percent of white workers over the same period.
Small businesses have also faced immense difficulties. Fed research found that 80 percent of those surveyed reported a decline in revenue, with two-thirds of those businesses experiencing losses of at least 25 percent.2 A recent Federal Reserve special report looked specifically at the impact on businesses owned by people of color, who reported greater challenges. For example, 67 percent of both Asian- and Black-owned firms and 63 percent of Hispanic-owned firms had to reduce their operations compared to 54 percent for their white counterparts.3
Our upcoming SHED report notes that 22 percent of parents were either not working or working less because of disruptions to childcare or in-person schooling. Black and Hispanic mothers—36 percent and 30 percent, respectively—were disproportionately affected. In a similar vein, labor force participation declined around 4 percentage points for Black and Hispanic women compared to 1.6 percentage points for white women and about 2 percentage points for men overall.4 The Fed is focused on these long-standing disparities because they weigh on the productive capacity of our economy. We will only reach our full potential when everyone can contribute to, and share in, the benefits of prosperity.
Achieving broadly shared prosperity will take action from across society, from fiscal and other government policy to private-sector initiatives to the work everyone here does. The Fed can contribute as well. Using our monetary policy tools, the Fed promotes maximum employment and price stability—two foundations of a strong, stable economy that can improve economic outcomes for all Americans. We view maximum employment as a broad and inclusive goal. Those who have historically been left behind stand the best chance of prospering in a strong economy with plentiful job opportunities. Our recent history highlights both the benefits of a strong economy and the severe costs of a weak one.
Supervisory tools also have a role to play. As part of our policy responsibilities, the Board of Governors enforces both the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the federal fair lending laws that prohibit discrimination in lending. Violations of the fair lending laws, along with other illegal credit practices, are taken into account during bank evaluations under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). We see our robust supervisory approach as critical to addressing racial discrimination, which can limit consumers’ ability to improve their economic circumstances, including through access to homeownership and education.
The Fed’s community development function plays a role as well, studying what works, convening stakeholders on both the national and District level, and helping financial institutions find opportunities to invest and expand credit opportunities in low- and moderate-income communities.
The economic landscape has changed, and efforts to provide access and credit to communities must change with it. Last year, the Fed issued a proposal for a strengthened, modernized CRA framework, with the objective of building broad support among both external stakeholders and participating agencies. Our goal is to strengthen the core purpose of meeting the credit needs of low- and moderate-income communities. We especially appreciated NCRC’s feedback on the proposal.
We will continue to do our part, and we appreciate the ways our work and that of NCRC members have intersected. Last April, for instance, the Fed expanded the Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility in order to broaden its reach to include some nondepository lenders. That included CDFI (community development financial institution) loan funds, which many of the people here represent. Your work provided small businesses with invaluable technical assistance to help them weather the downturn, and you have helped them get the funds they need to support their businesses.
NCRC member groups have contributed in so many ways. You helped workers who lost their jobs get retrained. You supported working parents. You helped homeowners struggling with payments and connected renters to federal assistance programs. You brought more people into the banking system, helped strengthen financial literacy and capabilities, and worked to address digital divides in areas of need—particularly in rural communities—at a time when connectivity is essential.
I would like to close by saying thank you. You have been working hard through this crisis, and an enormous amount of work still lies ahead. But what you do is essential. You provide an invaluable service: You make people’s lives better. There is no higher calling.
Payment systems. The Bank of Thailand (BoT) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) today launched the linkage of Thailand’s PromptPay and Singapore’s PayNow real-time retail payment systems. In a joint statement, the BoT and MAS said the linkage, the first of its kind globally, will enable customers of participating banks in Thailand and Singapore to transfer funds of up to S$1,000 or 25,000 baht daily across the two countries, using just a mobile number. Thailand, Singapore launch world’s first linkage of real-time payment systems | The Edge Markets
Payment systems. Embracing new payment rails, and enhancing the value of existing ones, remains a key part of promoting overall payment innovation. But as real-time payment networks proliferate, a new challenge is on the rise: enabling interoperability between these rails on both a domestic and international scale. Real-Time Payments Seek Interoperability | PYMNTS.com
Payment systems. Amazon is expanding its palm-scanning payment system to a Whole Foods store in Seattle, the company announced Wednesday, the first of many planned rollouts at other locations. Amazon will initially roll out Amazon One at the Whole Foods in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, not far from the company’s headquarters, before launching the system at seven Seattle-area Whole Foods in coming months. Amazon is bringing palm-scanning payment system to Whole Foods stores (msn.com)
Payment systems. Business technology company Deluxe (DLX) has agreed to acquire First American Payment Systems for $960 million in cash, the company said in a statement. Deluxe believes that this deal will accelerate the company’s transformation into a leading payments technology company as part of its “One Deluxe” strategy. Deluxe To Buy First American Payment Systems For $960 Mln Cash | Nasdaq
The market opening. The rates to start your day ….
As of 9:40 am EST, Bloomberg reports that the yield on the three-month Treasury note is at 0.03% while the two-year note comes in at 0.15%. The ten-year and thirty-year Treasurys are trading at 1.56% and 2.25%, respectively.
The Federal Funds rate, the rate at which banks lend to each other overnight in support of their reserve requirements, is at .07%, while the Fed Funds target rate is still at .25%. The prime lending rate is 3.25%.
Exchange rates of interest as of 9:55 am EST….
Rates as of 9:55 am EST 21 April 2021
The Opening Takeaway: Could banks become mere currency agents?
Yesterday I shared my expectations on the possibility of the Federal Reserve, the US Treasury, and other central banks and finance ministries prohibiting cryptocurrency as a medium of exchange. Using the policy rationale of the government being the sole issuer of currency, cryptocurrency issuers may find themselves limited to generating digital assets for sale as investments or safe havens. But what about the banks? What would their role be?
Wall Street appears to be hedging its bets on digital currencies (see second link above) as they prepare for the disruption a central bank issued digital currency could cause. Cryptocurrency exchanges such as Coinbase (Nasdaq: COIN) were receiving big boosts from what appears to be growing acceptance of cryptocurrency as at least a digital asset. Uncertainty in the markets drove capital toward bitcoin and other crypto-assets, making crypto the equivalent of gold in some minds. But with the vaccine rollouts and increases in the number of people, at least in western European countries and the United States on the increase, “risk on” seems to be the quiet rally cry accompanying a pullback in crypto prices. Acompanying the pull back are an increasing number of central banks exploring issuing a digital currency.
One arguable benefit from a central bank issued digital currency is the likelihood of turning more consumers into bank deposit holders. Rather than holding a deposit at a commercial bank, the “unbanked” along with those already holding commercial bank accounts, would have a default account at one of the Federal Reserve’s 12 central banks. yes, more account holders but not necessarily account holders at commercial banks. If the efficiencies promised by a central bank issued digital bank come to fruition, then why bother with holding another account? As part of the payment system, the check I write to and deposit into my son’s account goes through the Federal Reserve’s payment system anyway so why include another middle man? Commercial banks will have to consider these scenarios spawned by digital coin efficiencies when contemplating their new roles.
I see the larger banks easily leveraging their scale to ramp up already existing roles. They could focus more on lending, hopefully in a higher yield environment. They could also lobby for relaxation of Dodd-Frank restrictions on proprietary trading, opening up additional income making opportunities to offset income (if any) made currently from depositors. Large banks will not want to waste investments in their infrastructure by being relegated to mere currency issuer status, competing with check cashing facilities located at Walmart or around the corner at a pawnshop.
For the smaller banks, they will want to leverage their community relationships to counter any new found competition from larger banks as they face the irony of central bank issued digital coin taking away their customers.
Foreign exchange, India. Currency exchange rates can turn out to be a real dealbreaker and can cause a dent in an individual’s pocket who is traveling overseas. Even a difference of a few paise while doing currency conversion can make a huge difference in the budget for the trip. It becomes crucial to be aware of the various options while doing currency exchange. Currency Exchange and the related details (msn.com)
The Takeaway: Soon after issuing a statement on the fed funds rate and how warranted attention paid to rising yields should be, Federal Reserve Board chairman Jerome Powell remarked today about the need to further strengthen the global payments system with emphasis on its cross border nature. Mr Powell also provided an update on the testing of central bank digital currencies. Stakeholders in the payments system may want to pay attention to how intermediaries are treated in a central bank digital currency regime.
Central Banks: Both of the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England vowed to keep liquidity plentiful and not to taper support in the face of rising inflation until they see prolonged signs of an economic recovery. The FOMC served up a surprise with the majority of the dots flat through 2023. Both USD and GBP fell sharply after their respective central banks’ decisions before later stabilizing. Fed, BoE step back, yields push up (fxstreet.com)
Currency pairs that include top countries with foreign direct investment in the US …
The majority of foreign direct investment in the United States is held by Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Luxembourg. Since the Biden administration has taken office, the dollar-yen and dollar-euro have seen appreciation (4.9% and 1.5%, respectively), while the dollar-pound and the dollar-loonie have fallen, 2.4% and 2.3%, respectively.
20 January 2021
19 March 2021
Source: OANDA (1) The euro is the currency of France, German, and Luxembourg
With expectations for inflation and growth taking flight, traders are signaling that they anticipate the Fed may have to respond more quickly than it’s indicated. Eurodollar futures now reflect a quarter-point hike in the first quarter of 2023, but they’re starting to suggest that it could come in late 2022. Fed officials have projected they’d keep rates near zero until at least the end of 2023. Bond Traders Go All-In on U.S. Treasury Market’s Big Short Bet – Bloomberg
Earlier, there was an impression that it was due to pent-up and festival demand. But now, it is genuine demand that is visible. The vaccination drive is giving greater confidence to consumers, so the demand is expected to sustain. The only downside risk is the recent spike in the number of Covid cases in certain parts of the country. Central banks in no rush to raise rates, will back growth: Shaktikanta Das (msn.com)