The final communiqué
of the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Shanghai says:
“… [Global growth] downside risks and vulnerabilities have risen, against the backdrop of volatile capital flows, a large drop of commodity prices, escalated geopolitical tensions, the shock of a potential U.K. exit from the European Union and a large and increasing number of refugees in some regions … Monetary policies will continue to support economic activity and ensure price stability ... but monetary policy alone cannot lead to balanced growth … excess volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates can have adverse implications for economic and financial stability … we will refrain from competitive devaluations.”
Interestingly, the G-20 took no firm actions whatsoever. Instead, what became crystal clear is that we face well-anchored deep global divides.
One of the interesting comments came from German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who dismissed completely the notion that the world could solve its problems with more debt saying: “The debt-financed growth model has reached its limits. If we continue on this path we will no longer need to watch television. The living dead will overwhelm us.”
In context of what Schaeuble said and talking about China, a recent Bloomberg News survey
indicates the Chinese debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio to increase at least to 283 percent through 2019, which bodes not well for the future, unless the country decides speeding up its structural reforms, which remains to be seen.
Anyway, the Chinese Central Bank (PBoC)
cut the Reserve Requirement Ratio (RRR) for banks by 0.5 percentage points as of March 1, hoping to stimulate the Chinese economy.
Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England,
gave interesting remarks saying: “… For monetary easing to work at a global level it cannot rely on simply moving scarce demand from one country to another ... For the world as a whole, this export of excess saving and transfer of demand weakness elsewhere is ultimately a zero sum game … It is critical that stimulus measures are structured to boost domestic demand, particularly from sectors of the economy with healthy balance sheets ... There are limits to the extent to which negative rates can achieve this.”
I don’t know if Carney aimed at Japan, but anyway he added: “… From an individual country’s perspective [negative interest rates] might be an attractive route to boost activity ... But for the world as a whole, this export of excess saving and transfer of demand weakness elsewhere is ultimately a zero-sum game.”
All this is important for long-term investors as all this points to too much “uncertainty” and lack of coordination everywhere.
I’d like to add here, at least in my opinion, the U.S. still remains by far the best location in a “bad” global neighborhood.
Finally, as the G-20 communique also mentions “the shock of a potential U.K. exit from the European Union,” as in the impact the whole issue of Brexit could have on investments could be encapsulated in “a situation of complete uncertainty under all imaginable angles for 4 months to come.”
After the experiences we have had with polls on the Scottish U.K. referendum and then last year’s on the U.K. General Election, we have learned it will be very difficult to trust U.K. polls.
Anyway, political risk is always very difficult to calculate and you will only know until “it” happens.
What investors should keep in mind is the British pound is able to make huge swings against the dollar, as it has done since 1975, when the country experiences a crisis.
Since 1975, we have seen various really “strong” downward moves of the British pound
(GBP) against the dollar of which the move from October 1980 to April 1985 was the biggest one that resulted in a stunning 57 percent down.
Please don’t misread me. I’m not saying something similar “will” happen with the British pound over the near term, but it can’t be discarded either.
It’s also a fact the British pound is at present at the bottom end of its 30-year trading range, which opens the possibility of a near term rebound from current levels.
The most important aspect of the whole thing is never to forget how quickly currencies can become untethered from their underlying economic fundamentals.
says the British pound could fall to parity with the euro if Britain votes to leave the European Union.
Etienne "Hans" Parisis
is a bank economist who has advised global billionaires and governments on the financial markets and international investments. To read more of his articles, GO HERE NOW.
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