China currency devaluation signals endgame leaving equity markets free to collapse under the weight of impossible expectations
When the banking crisis crippled global markets seven years ago, central bankers stepped in as lenders of last resort. Profligate private-sector loans were moved on to the public-sector balance sheet and vast money-printing gave the global economy room to heal.
Time is now rapidly running out. From China to Brazil, the central banks have lost control and at the same time the global economy is grinding to a halt. It is only a matter of time before stock markets collapse under the weight of their lofty expectations and record valuations.
The FTSE 100 has now erased its gains for the year, but there are signs things could get a whole lot worse.
Many share markets may be riding higher on hopes of European stimulus this week and overlooking plunging oil prices, and even lower global growth targets, but experts say its time that investors woke up to the fact that central bankers aren’t doing a great job.
The Australian share market rose 0.7 per cent in early trade on Wednesday joining a global rally on expectations that the European Central Bank will announce a 1 trillion bond buying program to help revive economic growth. Continue reading
TOKYO — By forcing Russia to conduct more business in the yuan and other Asian currencies, the U.S. may be speeding up the end of the petrodollar and giving China more prominence on the world stage.
As the West tightens financial sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, Russian businesses are reducing their exposure to the dollar to minimize the damage from still tougher punishments. Many of these businesses have turned to the Hong Kong dollar as an alternative to the greenback.
Hong Kong harbor
The Hong Kong dollar is an ideal safe haven for Russian companies looking to park their cash. Because the currency is pegged to the greenback, the foreign-exchange risk of holding Hong Kong dollars is no different from owning the U.S. currency. But because Hong Kong is part of China, funds held in the Hong Kong dollar are unlikely to be affected, even if the U.S. and Europe introduce tougher sanctions against Russia, such as asset freeze.
LONDON — While the 70th anniversary of D-Day last month received a lot of attention, another event, in July 1944 — the Bretton Woods conference, named for the mountain resort in New Hampshire where it was held — was perhaps even more significant in shaping the modern world. It not only led to the creation of what are now the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, but it also confirmed the central position of the United States dollar in the international monetary system.
Why does this matter for us now? Just as America displaced Britain as the world’s pre-eminent economic power in the interwar period, so, too, the large debts and fiscal pressures confronting the West, and the rise of China and other economic powers, challenge us to think about the future of finance.
For most of the 19th century the British pound had been the world’s “reserve currency,” the currency in which trade and finance were denominated. “As sound as a pound” became a widely used expression. The pound was pegged to gold at a fixed rate of just under £4 per ounce. Continue reading