Interbank Market News Scan: Dipping my toes into the USD-JPY market

For the past week or so I have been trading the binary options in the GBP-USD market.  I focused on this market primarily because the US and UK sessions intersect during the first few hours of the American session allowing me some time to do some reading and research before making a trade.  Time spent on another project, however, meant missing the opportunity to trade during those sessions, so I decided to dip my toes into the Asian session.

I admit to having had some hesitancy toward trading during the Asian session.  I am less familiar with Japanese monetary policy and the yen.  Their central bankers get a lot less play in the business media than central bankers at the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, or the Bank of England which means reduced insights into Japanese monetary policy.  But I find that there is upside that can result from fear: the ever-present opportunity to learn.

The first stop in taking an opportunity to learn included a visit to the Bank of Japan’s website where I identified data on the BOJ’s overnight bank rates.  I then compared these rates with the overnight bank rates of the Federal Reserve.   Banks with accounts at the Federal Reserve are getting much better rates than those with accounts at the BOJ.

The business media has been reporting on Japan’s sub-zero rate policy for years, heck decades, so there was no surprise on my part when Bloomberg data showed the wide difference in rates between the U.S. and Japan.  The 150-point spread between U.S. 10-year government bonds and Japanese 10-year government bonds supported in my mind opportunities for those holding yen to move to the dollar thus increasing dollar demand and driving up the exchange rate between the two currencies.

Business media, in my opinion, paints the USD-JPY pair as volatile which I guess can cause some trepidation for traders trying to guess where the exchange rate is going to go.  I am growing increasingly suspect of most business media.  I see them more as purveyor of narrative instead of distributor of fact.  They are as noisy as their political media cousins and contribute to the noise and trepidation I mentioned earlier.

Fortunately, there are outlets such as Daily FX and FX Street that provide analysis that cuts through the noise. Using analysis from these outlets I was able to establish a probable floor of USD-JPY=112.00 and a probable ceiling of USD-JPY=113.50, betting that during a four-hour contract the exchange rate would exceed 113.20 prior to the contract’s expiration.

My biggest takeaway from last night’s trade was one should not allow fear and lack of knowledge to limit the opportunity to profit.  Seek out good information sources and pursue a path of knowledge.  Knowledge helps to process out the fear.

Alton Drew

12.10.2021  

The impact of Build Back Better on the interbank market will be reduced by increasing likelihood Democrats failing to come together on its passage… And Jerome Powell may benefit

According to the Tax Foundation, a public policy think tank, President Biden’s proposed “Build Back Better” plan will generate government revenues of $2.1 trillion over the next ten years.  After accounting for approximately $1 trillion in tax credits for individuals and businesses, the Tax Foundation estimates the US government will net just over $1 trillion in revenues over the ten-year period.  This amount can be whittled down further by accounting for tax revenues recovered from increased compliance activity bringing the estimated bottom-line amount generated to $862 billion.

The economic price for the proposal, according to the Tax Foundation, would be a decrease in long-run gross domestic product by .98%; a reduction in capital stock of 1.84%; a wage rate reduction of .68%; and net loss of 303,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a public policy think tank, estimates that after accounting for offsets and expiration of a number of programs, Mr Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan will require financing of another $2.9 trillion of debt.  The Committee estimates that interest on new debt may be $1.1 trillion by 2031.

Today, the yield on the ten-year Treasury note closed at 1.48%, according to data by Bloomberg, after getting as high as 1.50%.  It is unclear whether the increase in rates accounts for passage tax increases and social welfare spending contained in the “Build Back Better” plan.

The future economic impact from this plan appears to be flat over the next ten years.  A .98 percent reduction in economic growth over ten years is negligible.  So is a loss of 303,000 jobs.  In addition, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is signaling to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party that they may have to settle for a plan that falls short of $3.5 trillion.  If the bill fails in the House, not only is impact a moot concern, but the Democrats and Mr Biden will see a further drop in their political capital where their constituents see them as incapable of delivering on big ideas.

If the package fails, I can see some upside for Jerome Powell, current chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.  Mr Powell’s tenure as chair ends in February 2022.  A failed Biden economic passage brought on by a fractured party may mean that Mr Biden will have to take any opportunity to infuse confidence in the American economy.  So far, the Federal Reserve has been that one constant.  Mr Biden may have no choice, especially going into the mid-term election campaign season, but to re-appoint Mr Powell to another term as head of the Fed.

Alton Drew

27 September 2021  

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.

Toward Public Policy Support for High-value Trade

21 August 2021

I prefer a society that is biased toward trader/merchants; where one lives on the spread and retains the majority of her earnings.  Wage earning is a fancy term for slavery where many in the labor market are subjugated to selling a precious commodity over which they have illusionary control: time.

The irony is that what one earns for their time is inversely related to the wealth of knowledge they have amassed over time.  Unfortunately for the wage earner, the valuation of their labor is made not by the ultimate end user of their product but by the middle man corporation that employs them.  Rather than selling time to the corporation, time should be another input that labor uses to create and sell their product.

Today’s technology makes such a self-ownership approach increasingly feasible depending on the wage earner’s vocation.  Some of us can transition from wage earner to merchant due to digitalization and that sector of the information/knowledge/problem solving industry that we sit in.  So used are we to selling time that we must now start to think of the utilities, database subscriptions, and equipment costs incurred in producing an information product and sell that product at a sufficient margin; to live via the “carry trade.”

The trader wants a profitable balance sheet, one where she has a healthy surplus.  Bankers that provide liquidity to traders also want traders to enjoy a profitable balance sheet because it assures repayment of leverage.

But bankers also want to fund activities generating high returns and I think to ensure that traders are disciplined enough to seek out information on high return activity, banks will want to assess higher interest rates and other margin requirements in order to weed out low-return low value activity.  The Federal Reserve could encourage high-value search behavior by increasing the fed funds and discount window rates.  The Federal Reserve could also start driving up rates by unwinding its monthly purchases of $120 billion in US Treasury and agency-backed mortgage securities.

Higher rates will encourage living on the spread and the seeking of higher returns.

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: 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%