The key message from our leading indicators is that US inflation and wages continue to turn up. This was one of our core themes for 2014 we discussed in December last year and is bearing out. Core inflation and headline inflation are positive, while wages are turning up sharply. This has implications for profit margins. Wage increases inversely lead US corporate profits by two years. We have with very high likelihood seen the peak in profit margins, and we would expect them to fall.
In October we wrote a report highlighting the bubble in Canadian housing and told clients that the currency in particular was under threat. A large current account deficit and the creeping expectations that the BoC might actually be forced into lowering rates have been key factors for a weaker currency.
A nice series of articles from Bloomberg news alerts us to the fact that the Fed is anything but united when it comes to QE. There is consequently ongoing confusion, disagreement and general apprehension surrounding whether and how the Fed is supposed to end QE . Quite simply; the powers that be do not see eye to eye on this one and this is slightly worrying (if completely understandable).
Yesterday’s FOMC saw the first tapering of bond purchases by the Fed, by $10 billion per month. To soothe markets, the Fed also reinforced its forward guidance, making it “stronger and longer”, by a promise to leave the Federal Funds rate close to the zero bound “well past the time that the unemployment rate declines below 6.5%”.
One of the points we have emphasized to clients in the past two months is that many of our indicators suggest that long rates in the US may not rise as aggressively as the consensus expects. In other words, the Fed might stay more dovish than the market expects and tapering, should it occur, is already priced in.
Since early September the ECB’s balance sheet has expanded by 589 billion euros (about 750 billion USD) and the Fed USD swap lines are currently sitting at around 100 billion USD. The second LTRO to be conducted towards the end of February is then very likely to take this number well past 1 trillion USD of liquidity to the European banking system.