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Central Banks Have Lost Control Of The World

With the world's oldest central bank - Sweden's Riksbank - taking the plunge into negative rates, there have been 19 'eases' by central banks this year, Morgan Stanley warns of "ghosts of the 1930s." With competitive 'easing' stoking fears of international currency wars, The Telegraph notes however that looser monetary policy is not the order of the day everywhere in the world, and herein lies potential danger for the world economy.

 

The world's interest-rate policies...

Click image for interactive version

As The Telegraph reports,

Looser monetary policy is not the order of the day everywhere in the world (see map above), and herein lies potential danger for the world economy.

 

The expectation of a normalisation of monetary policy by the Federal Reserve has resulted a sustained rally in the US dollar. Such strength in the world's reserve currency has simultaneously applied pressure on economies pegged to the greenback.

 

Meanwhile rate hikes from the Fed - which are expected to begin later this year - will naturally leader to tighter monetary conditions in economies everywhere from Mexico to Hong Kong.

 

It is this divergence in the actions of the world's major central banks which could lead to a new global liquidity crisis, according to the governor of the Bank of England.

 

Despite robust job creation and economic output in the domestic economy of the US, the trend towards lower global interest rates will probably slow the extent of the Fed's rate hikes once it finally gets off zero, according to Kit Juckes at Société Générale.

 

"The best we can hope now is that the dollar’s advance is orderly and the impact on global capital flows is limited" said Mr Juckes.

The 19 Policy 'eases' so far... (or 24 if Romania's 2 and Denmark's 4 are counted)

Jan. 1 UZBEKISTAN
Uzbekistan's central bank cuts its refinancing rate to 9 percent from 10 percent.

Jan. 7/Feb. 4 ROMANIA
Romania's central bank cuts its key interest rate by a total of 50 basis points, taking it to a new record low of 2.25 percent. Most analysts polled by Reuters had expected the latest cut.

Jan. 15 SWITZERLAND
The Swiss National Bank stuns markets by scrapping the franc's three-year-old exchange rate cap to the euro, leading to an unprecedented surge in the currency. This de facto tightening, however, is in part offset by a cut in the interest rate on certain sight deposit account balances by 0.5 percentage points to -0.75 percent.

Jan. 15 INDIA
The Reserve Bank of India surprises markets with a 25 basis point cut in rates to 7.75 percent and signals it could lower them further, amid signs of cooling inflation and growth struggling to recover from its weakest levels since the 1980s.

Jan. 15 EGYPT
Egypt's central bank makes a surprise 50 basis point cut in its main interest rates, reducing the overnight deposit and lending rates to 8.75 and 9.75 percent, respectively.

Jan. 16 PERU
Peru's central bank surprises the market with a cut in its benchmark interest rate to 3.25 percent from 3.5 percent after the country posts its worst monthly economic expansion since 2009.

Jan. 20 TURKEY
Turkey's central bank lowers its main interest rate, but draws heavy criticism from government ministers who say the 50 basis point cut, five months before a parliamentary election, is not enough to support growth.

Jan. 21 CANADA
The Bank of Canada shocks markets by cutting interest rates to 0.75 percent from 1 percent, where it had been since September 2010, ending the longest period of unchanged rates in Canada since 1950.

Jan. 22 EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK
The ECB launches a government bond-buying programme which will pump over a trillion euros into a sagging economy starting in March and running through to September next year, and perhaps beyond.

Jan. 24 PAKISTAN
Pakistan's central bank cuts its key discount rate to 8.5 percent from 9.5 percent, citing lower inflationary pressure due to falling global oil prices. Central Bank Governor Ashraf Wathra says the new rate will be in place for two months, until the next central bank meeting to discuss further policy.

Jan. 28 SINGAPORE
The Monetary Authority of Singapore unexpectedly eases policy, saying in an unscheduled policy statement that it will reduce the slope of its policy band for the Singapore dollar because the inflation outlook has "shifted significantly" since its last review in October 2014.

Jan. 28 ALBANIA
Albania's central bank cuts its benchmark interest rate to a record low 2 percent. This follows three rate cuts last year, the most recent in November.

Jan. 30 RUSSIA
Russia's central bank unexpectedly cuts its one-week minimum auction repo rate by two percentage points to 15 percent, a little over a month after raising it by 6.5 points to 17 percent, as fears of recession mount following the fall in global oil prices and Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.

Feb. 3 AUSTRALIA
The Reserve Bank of Australia cuts its cash rate to an all-time low of 2.25 percent, seeking to spur a sluggish economy while keeping downward pressure on the local dollar.

Feb. 4 CHINA
China's central bank makes a system-wide cut to bank reserve requirements -- its first in more than two years -- to unleash a flood of liquidity to fight off economic slowdown and looming deflation.

Jan. 19/22/29/Feb. 5 DENMARK
The Danish central bank cuts interest rates a remarkable four times in less than three weeks, and intervenes regularly in the currency market to keep the crown within the narrow range of its peg to the euro.

Feb. 13 SWEDEN
Sweden's central bank cut its key repo rate to -0.1 percent from zero where it had been since October, and said it would buy 10 billion Swedish crowns worth of bonds

February 17, INDONESIA
Indonesia’s central bank unexpectedly cut its main interest rate for the first time in three years

February 18, BOTSWANA
The Bank of Botswana reduced its benchmark interest rate for the first time in more than a year to help support the economy as inflation pressures ease.
The rate was cut by 1 percentage point to 6.5 percent, the first adjustment since Oct. 2013, the central bank said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday.

*  *  *

Not exactly the actions of a world on the verge of escape velocity growth...

 

It doesn't seem to be working... have central banks lost control?