Interbank Market News Scan: Waiting for Jackson Hole while Kamala Harris attempts to keep the US out of a global trading hole.

24 August 2021

The Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium, hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, is set to begin on 26 August 2021 with oral and written presentations focused on macroeconomic policy in an uneven economy.  Federal Reserve Board chairman Jerome Powell will make a presentation on 27 August.

Since the Federal Reserve released its minutes of the 27-28 July Federal Open Market Committee meeting, the biggest buzz has been speculation s to when the Federal Reserve would begin easing back on its $120 billion per month purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities and U.S. Treasury securities.  These purchases have been instrumental in keeping interest rates low during the Covid-19 pandemic with the intent of spurring business spending and investment, sustaining consumer demand, and maintaining certainty in the financial markets.

The minutes from the FOMC meeting has hinted at a possibility of Fed asset purchases tapering off as early as the end of this year and upward pressure on interest rates, especially in the longer-term range, is expected.

Meanwhile, U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris today heads to Vietnam as part of the second leg of a four-day tour of Asia.  Ms Harris’ primary mission appears to include not only the building of relationships with certain Asian countries, but to let Asian countries know that they have an economic partner alternative to China.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative throughout Asia as well as its claims on the South China Sea through which trillions in dollars of commercial trade passes through poses an economic threat to the United States.  Unless the US can pose itself as a reliable economic trading partner to Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, and Taiwan, amongst other nations, then the United States may be locked out of the Asian markets or forced to buy and sell goods and services in the region on onerous terms.

Ms Harris has been making the argument that China’s efforts in the South China Sea are illegal under international law.

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Foreign exchange rates of interest as of 9:00 am EST

Currency PairFederal ReserveReutersOANDA
AUS/USD0.71330.72430.7184
USD/BRL5.39905.37895.3793
USD/CAD1.28531.26181.2718
USD/CNY6.50126.47726.4833
USD/DKK6.36126.33596.3399
EUR/USD1.16901.17351.1728
USD/HKD7.78977.78787.7912
USD/INR74.190074.194074.0634
USD/JPY109.7700109.6700109.8400
NZD/USD0.68300.69490.6867
USD/MYR4.23854.21704.2265
Source: Federal Reserve, Reuters, OANDA

A quick thought: Quieted by a 50-50 Senate split …

“A 50-50 split in the Senate with a reduced Democratic majority in the House not only puts the GOP back into their familiar position as “obstructionist”, but gives Biden-Harris some cover to not present as progressive an agenda as the Far Left would like to see. Centrist and center-right senators like Angus King, Susan Collins, Rand Paul, and Joe Manchin will take more of the spotlight.

Mitch McConnell will still play the “parliamentarian” role, using Senate rules to delay floor debates, filibuster, or, if he is lucky, table certain items.

The last thing Kamala Harris will want, as president of the Senate, is the optics of having to do a yay or nay on any progressive legislation. She’d rather Collins, Paul, and Company head off any controversial bills before they hit the floor for a vote. She can’t afford to enter the 2024 presidential race inaccurately labeled a progressive.

Commodity, currency, and energy traders may get over their initial nervousness about the volatility a liberal Congress may introduce when they realize that the “adults” are finally in charge …