The trader should remember that democracy is a temporary portal. Political power is permanent …

Democracy is a tool that administrations and legislatures use to distract and amuse the mass citizenry.  The illusion of freedom generated by a right to choose political leaders has worked in keeping the barbarians from knocking down the gates over the past 246 years in America as demonstrated by political power passing peacefully from one administration to the next.  Stability in the transition of political power helps the United States stand out among most other nations.

But when democracy starts seeping into market discussions, we can end up with market disruptions.  Democracy means too many voices in the kitchen opining on how the cake batter should be mixed.  The paper wealth created over the last fifty years combined with progressive left politics has the mass electorate believing that they should take lead in managing the economy, at least via their rhetoric.  And they hope their rhetoric can influence elected officials and policy makers to craft policy that favors political spheres versus economic and financial spheres.

I say “political spheres” because democracy is a schizophrenic notion.  The supposed “big tent” means a variety of demands that tug administrations and legislatures in different directions on social and political issues. 

Whereas 250 years ago the English monarchy had the reins of the political economy concentrated in his hands, today “political” has been separated from “economic” and relative stability is found more in the economic and financial sphere.  No matter the goods and services traded, profit is the prevailing, bottom-line standard.

In their pursuit of votes, the schizophrenic political class attacks the low hanging fruit of economic and financial profit, describing profit as the problem that only legislation and regulation can address.  The factions within the schizophrenic political class then vie for the vote asserting that only their faction can best address the evils of profit.

Democracy is disruptive to trade in the above way. To counter the schizophrenia, the trading class has to execute political power.  The shenanigans of democracy have to be quelled by a faction within the political class who acknowledge the dangers of overactive democracy.

The trading class should finance the political action committees (note, political action committees not democracy action committees) that can identify and finance candidates that understand the dilemma democracy introduces into markets.

Democracy is a marketing campaign and marketing campaigns change.  Political power is permanent.

Alton Drew

27 April 2022

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Traders should keep in mind creating alternate systems

Is there a value play or logic in using regulated, fiat money? The arguments for the use and role of money, a physical or digital representation of the value of one’s wealth or work, are plausible. It would be disingenuous to say that society should go back to a bartering system for exchanging goods and services given the consequences of impaired logistics and issues surrounding the storage of the items kept in reserve for bartering. However, I believe a crucial question regarding the definition of money needs to be revisited in order to bring certainty into trade and the value of the items we trade for.

I see money as private. Money started out as private and should go back to that status. The only reason humans engage is to trade value and as a medium for trade between private individuals, money itself should be private. Money should reflect the energy, intellect, data, commercial value, and knowledge of the individual who generates it and issues it. Fiat currency relegates the common consumer to regulated markets that may or may not meet a consumer’s need for certain goods, services, or privacy. And poor monetary policy by the issuers of fiat currencies are only leading to a devalued currency that lays at the core of inflated consumer prices.

As much as we tout competition in American society, this is where American government, a mechanism employed by American society to ensure the smooth flow of commerce, should be forced to compete with alternative payment systems. Traders should promote the use and acceptance of alternative payment systems and currencies by multiple vendors. Traders should also advocate for the exchange of alternative and fiat currencies where such exchanges reflect the necessity to engage in trade on alternative platforms or purchase goods and services that are only offered on alternative platforms.

For example, a consumer may purchase food and clothing items from a digital Walmart or Amazon store, but can only afford the police protection services offered by state or federal governments. An end-user may, like today’s central banks, maintain her own portfolio of “reserve currencies” for use on numerous platforms.

Expanding the payment system scheme can also make government more efficient by requiring government to expend resources on the activities it is most expert at and leaving other activities to the private corporate sector.

The concept of “government” is not going away. The concept can be refined and one ideal way is to have it co-exist with alternative payment systems.

Alton Drew

19 April 2022

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Disclaimer: The above is provided for informational purposes and should not be construed as financial or legal advice or as creating an agreement to provide financial or legal advice.

Government administers the trading post: The underlying philosophy of the law of markets ….

Commentary

Government’s role is to administer the trading post by managing the masses with a law-and-order scheme; broadcasting the value of its money through a regulated banking system; and expanding into and protecting new markets with its military and diplomatic corps.  Government, specifically western government, operationalizes the tenets of western philosophy: that man is at war with himself and nature and to alleviate the uncertainty of extermination, man must divide up the world and seek the most yield from the resulting parts.

Humans have no other reason to engage each other but to extract value from one another.  To garner the most yield from this engagement, the exchange, the trade, needs to be unencumbered by conflict.  Where it is impossible to obtain the means for survival by staying in one’s lane and exchange is necessary, humans then put in place customs, practices, rules designed to reduce conflict. 

Government promulgates the statutes, codes, and policies that manage the day-to-day mitigation of conflict.  It stays “in the money” by optimally maintaining the physical and social infrastructure that facilitates and expands its tax base.  It’s ability to effectively manage infrastructure and expand its tax base makes its money more attractive to traders.

Unfortunately, government has taken on a life of its own, going beyond its mandate to manage infrastructure and ensure law and order to regulating society on an increasingly micro level.  More of its policy and legislative initiatives appear intended to replace private market judgment with its own government judgment.  This imposition of government judgment on market judgment was not part of the original deal between traders, market makers, and government.  The imposition has seeped into the act of establishing price, an act that is best left to markets. 

Government now wants more than its cut in the form of taxes.  It now wants to weaponize price discovery and price setting for the purpose of expanding its cut by garnering more votes from the electorate.

The merchant trader, to protect her lane, should inform herself daily on the political process and support efforts that push back on government efforts to intervene in her ability to set price and other terms and conditions within and via the markets.

Alton Drew

27.03.2022

For consultation on how this political or legal event impacts your foreign exchange trade, request an appointment at altondrew@altondrew.com.

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Disclaimer: The above is provided for informational purposes and should not be construed as financial or legal advice or as creating an agreement to provide financial or legal advice.

The Federal Reserve System’s message to American society: Start investing in more productive economic activity

The implicit agreement between the United States government and American society is that the United States government will maintain a financial and resource management infrastructure that facilitates a taxpayer’s ability to find opportunities to create income.  As the underwriter for the United States government, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System has a mandate to pursue stable prices for goods, services, and assets and full employment of labor.  The Board of Governors via its Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) employs a number of monetary policy tools to achieve this mandate with a federal funds target rate serving as indicia for how well its tools are working.

Yesterday, the Board of Governors raised this target rate to a range of .25% to .50%; in other words, an overnight rate that the Board of Governors would like to see its member commercial depository institutions lend to reach other the excess reserves they hold at their district federal reserve banks. The problem here is that at this printing, the Board of Governors has reduced to zero the amount of reserves a depository institution is required to keep at its respective federal reserve district bank.  Traders would have to look at other indicia to determine how well Board of Governors policy is doing in pursuing the federal funds target rate.

For example, traders should be looking at changes in the discount window rates that the federal reserve district banks are charging to lend money to their commercial member banks.  Traders should also look at changes in central bank liquidity swaps or changes in rates for federal reserve district bank lending facilities such as the term deposit facility or overnight reverse repurchase agreement facilities.  These are some of the monetary policy tools that the Board of Governors and its 12 federal reserve banks use to move rates toward their federal funds target and thus control the money supply.

As rates increase, American society will be put on notice.  I expect an increase in market discipline as banks and other investors seek out opportunities to increase returns on capital.  Lots of capital has gone into non-productive endeavors such as the tools and platforms riding the internet.  Amazon may have made purchasing goods and services more efficient, but can we say that Twitter and Instagram have raised American productivity and provided any societal solutions that lead to greater employment?  As the Board of Governors tackles inflation with its monetary tools, interest rates will start ticking up and entrepreneurial gimmicks that provide nothing in terms of increased yield, employment, or solutions will be and should be shunned or abandoned. 

Alton Drew

17.03.2022  

For consultation on how this political or legal event impacts your foreign exchange trade, request an appointment at altondrew@altondrew.com.

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Disclaimer: The above is provided for informational purposes and should not be construed as financial or legal advice or as creating an agreement to provide financial or legal advice.

The Executive Office of the President appears more about narrative development than policy development …

I did a review of the Executive Office of the President to identify any pertinent messaging on the currency markets. Almost 14 months into Joe Biden’s first term and I could not find any major policy proposals regarding the currency, at least from within the EOP. The EOP appears to amplify the President’s most important political tool: the power to persuade. Created in 1939 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the EOP is the day-day extension of the “bully pulpit”, from whence data-supported arguments are supposed to be made and woven into the President’s narrative.

Two of the most important units within the EOP are the Council of Economic Advisers, which is chaired by Dr. Cecilia Rouse, and the National Economic Council, which is headed by Brian Deese. The CEA was established by the Congress in 1946 to advise the president on economic policy. Along with Dr. Rouse are two other council members who together are expected to analyze economic events and provide the President with policy recommendations. Almost 50 years later, President William J. Clinton established the NEC to coordinate domestic and foreign economic policies and implement policy according to the Administration’s economic agenda. In American football parlance, Mr Deese is supposed to be President Biden’s offensive coordinator.

For the purpose of the trader who is trying to parse pertinent political information out of the noise coming out of Washington, she should be mindful that Washington is about narrative building, maintenance, and transmission. The EOP’s explicit mission is to support the messaging and policy agenda of the President and this support helps the President win votes. The implicit mission of the EOP is to convince the electorate, and more specifically those who trade in the American political economy, that this jurisdiction is superior to the other 200 countries on the globe. America is supposed to be the better business model.

At this point in the electoral cycle, the EOP is still trying to keep the electorate supportive of President Biden’s Build Back Better legislation, which is currently still in the Senate. While the pandemic has been a constant cloud over Washington politics, the issues of inflation and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia have sucked the policy oxygen out of the room. The infrastructure legislation passed last year goes into effect today and while touted as a way to expand productive capacity leading to reduction in inflation, effects from that plan, having just gone into effect this year, will take a while to germinate.

One final note is how to avoid the narrative cross fire. Take inflation for example. There are two competing narratives regarding the cause of inflation. The Democratic Party are selling the narrative that supply chain issues are the major cause of inflation and if the United States is to reduce inflation head on, the infrastructure deal and broader social net agenda contained in Build Back Better are necessary in order to expand the economic and social infrastructure thus reducing physical and social supply congestion and constraints.

The Republican Party, on the other hand, are making the argument that inflation is more closely related to the supply of money, where there is too much money chasing too few goods, and that increased fiscal spending will only make inflation worse.

The trader, again, should keep in mind that she should separate out the “vote buying” aspect of the narrative from the “market making” aspect of the narrative. The focus should be on how whether fiscal or monetary policy provides better insights on where inflation and interest rates are going.

Right now, nothing out of Executive Office of the President is helping to quell the noise.

Alton Drew

07.03.2022

For consultation on how this political or legal event impacts your foreign exchange trade, request an appointment at altondrew@altondrew.com.

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Disclaimer: The above is provided for informational purposes and should not be construed as financial or legal advice or as creating an agreement to provide financial or legal advice.

European Central Bank sees growth moderating in 2022

The Interbank

The European Central Bank today released its update on economic, financial, and monetary developments. The ECB sees growth moderating into 2022 primarily due to supply bottlenecks.  Global supplier delivery times remain high as food and energy upward price pressure remains in place.  These pressures reflect a rebound from the low-price environment spawned by the pandemic.

While the ECB credits higher vaccination rates for the support of increased consumer spending, higher energy prices may be offsetting the increase in spending.  Shortages of materials, equipment, and labor is holding back manufacturing.  And on the labor front, the number of people in the workforce and hours worked still remain under pre-pandemic levels.

EUR/USD is currently trading at $1.1468.

Traders interested in the full report should go to https://www.ecb.europa.eu/pub/economic-bulletin/html/eb202107.en.html.

The Bank of Mexico maintained its overnight target rate at 4.75%.  No written statements by the Bank have been released at the time of this writing.

MXN/USD is currently trading at $20.5698.

Regulatory News

No major regulatory events impacting traders or broker-dealers this morning.

Traders should contact their brokers for more information on how foreign exchange rates may react to events described in the above blog post.

Alton Drew

11.11.2021

Disclaimer: The above is provided for informational purposes and should not be construed as financial or legal advice or as creating an agreement to provide financial or legal advice.

Interbank Market News Scan: All’s quiet on the central bank front …

Interbank, Bank of EnglandBen Broadbent, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England for Monetary Policy, will provide testimony before Parliament’s Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Committee on 9 November 2021 at 3:30 pm, London time.  Dr Broadband has specific responsibility for the BOE’s monetary policy, including monetary analysis, banknotes, and data and analytics transformation.

Interbank, European Central Bank. Philip Lane, a member of the executive committee of the European Central Bank reiterates expectation of inflation slowing in the middle of 2022 and that patience is needed during this temporary inflationary period. Signals no rush in tightening financing costs, tapering asset purchases, or raising interest rates. https://www.ecb.europa.eu/press/inter/date/2021/html/ecb.in211108~c270ad5bc6.en.html

Interbank, Reserve Bank of New Zealand.  In its latest news release (3 November 2021), the Reserve bank of New Zealand provides insights into monetary policy during a pandemic and impact of inflation on asset prices.

Interbank, Federal Reserve.  Richard Clarida, vice-chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, today will participate in a panel discussion on the Fed’s flexible average inflation targeting policy at 9:00 am EDT. Under FAIT, the Federal Reserve seeks inflation that averages 2% over a time frame that is not formally defined.  FAIT aims at avoiding dampening economic growth via a premature increase in the federal funds rate, the rate banks charge each other for overnight loans.    

Traders should contact their brokers for more information on how foreign exchange rates may react to events described in the above blog post.

Disclaimer: The above is provided for informational purposes and should not be construed as financial or legal advice or as creating an agreement to provide financial or legal advice.

Alton Drew

8.11.2021

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: 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%

National Futures Association announcements of interest …

For Immediate Release
April 28, 2021

For more information contact:

Christie Hillsman, 312-781-1490, chillsman@nfa.futures.org
Karen Wuertz, 312-781-1335, kwuertz@nfa.futures.org

NFA orders former associated person Jeremy Ruth never to reapply for NFA membership

April 28, Chicago—NFA has ordered Jeremy Ruth, a former associated person of Postrock Brokerage LLC (Postrock), never to reapply for NFA membership status in any capacity or act as a principal of an NFA Member. Postrock is a former NFA Member introducing broker located in Chicago, Illinois.

The Decision, issued by an NFA Hearing Panel, is based on a Complaint issued by NFA’s Business Conduct Committee and a settlement offer submitted by Ruth, in which he neither admitted nor denied the allegations. The Complaint alleges that he failed to disclose the impact of commissions on customers’ profit potential and placed trades for customers which offered no economic benefit to them and only generated additional commissions. The Complaint also alleges that Ruth made misleading statements to customers and failed to disclose that all of Ruth’s other customers had lost money. Finally, the Complaint alleges that Ruth made unauthorized trades for customers or exercised discretion over customer accounts without obtaining written authority.

For more information, read the Complaint and Decision.

Source: National Futures Association