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As Hong Kong Economy Sinks, Scant Liquidity Underpins Dollar – Yahoo Canada Finance

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As Hong Kong Economy Sinks, Scant Liquidity Underpins Dollar

(Bloomberg) — The economy is crashing like never before, yet Hong Kong’s interest rates are expected to stay relatively elevated. That’s bad news for pretty much everyone apart from those betting on prolonged strength in the city’s currency.

Liquidity tightness in Hong Kong, partly caused by central bank moves to drain cash from the interbank market several years ago, contrasts with U.S. moves to slash borrowing costs. The resulting gap in interest rates — near the widest since 1999 for the one-month tenor — makes selling the greenback to buy the Hong Kong dollar a profitable trade due to the city’s currency peg.

While the Hong Kong Monetary Authority is now adding funds when it intervenes to defend the peg at the strong end, the amounts are insufficient to do much to shift the gap. The spread widened last month even as the HKMA injected $2.7 billion.

“For the interest-rate gap to narrow significantly enough, Hong Kong needs to see strong capital inflows from overseas funds,” said Carie Li, an economist at OCBC Wing Hang Bank Ltd. in Hong Kong. “But investor confidence won’t return until the pandemic is over, and that won’t happen in the near term.”

The city’s economy shrank 8.9% in the first quarter from a year earlier, a government report showed Monday. That’s the worst drop in data going back to 1974, according to the Census and Statistics Department Hong Kong. It marks the third straight quarterly contraction for the city, which experienced widespread disruptions as anti-government protests broke out in the second half of 2019.

Elevated funding costs, which underpin things like mortgages and corporate lending, may make companies and households less willing to borrow, according to Eddie Cheung, an emerging-market strategist at Credit Agricole SA. The HKMA last lowered its benchmark rate in March by 64 basis points, less than the 1 percentage-point cut deployed by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The distortions are a side effect of maintaining the currency peg. While the city has benefited from the stability the peg provides, the trade off is a loss of control over monetary policy. In the years after the global financial crisis, while Hong Kong’s economy was booming, ultra-low borrowing costs helped fuel a property bubble. Now, it faces the reverse, despite falling U.S. rates.

The one-month borrowing cost in the first quarter of 2011 — when the economy grew at a blistering 7.6% — never rose above 0.2%. It currently stands at 1.1%, versus about 0.3% for the U.S. equivalent.

Hong Kong dollar bears like Crescat Capital’s Kevin Smith say the currency peg is unsustainable due to the city’s diminishing role as an international banking haven. He’s holding on to his short-Hong Kong dollar positions despite the recent strength, betting it will depreciate all the way to the weak end of the band.

Questions have been raised about the durability of the peg since it was created in 1983 to stabilize confidence and outflows during uncertainty over the then-British colony’s future. The U.K. and Chinese governments agreed on the city’s return to mainland control the following year.

George Soros tried and failed to bet against the peg in 1998, while Bill Ackman’s wager on a dramatic strengthening in 2011 also proved fruitless.

The HKMA’s shrinking aggregate balance is partly responsible for the city’s tight liquidity conditions. The gauge of interbank cash supply is down 70% over the past two years, near the lowest since the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Most of that money was drained by the de-facto central bank to defend the currency peg as the Hong Kong dollar was repeatedly pushed to 7.85 per greenback, the weakest it can technically trade.

The HKMA may have to boost the aggregate balance to as high as HK$150 billion ($19 billion) in the second quarter for rates to shift lower, analysts have said. The balance is currently at HK$84.7 billion, and will increase to HK$94.7 billion after May 6.

The city will ensure its money and foreign-exchange markets operate smoothly, HKMA chief Eddie Yue said a statement last month.

Another sign of tight liquidity can be found in lenders’ balance sheets. The city’s banks have far less idle cash on hand after the amount of funds on loan soared to the highest since 2002 relative to deposits. The latest data shows their loan-to-deposit ratio was at 90% in February, compared to just under 70% in 2009. Local currency savings increased just 2.5% last year, the least in more than a decade.

To be sure, borrowing costs have fallen, just not as fast as those in the U.S. The one-month interbank rate fell to 0.86% Tuesday, compared with as high as 2.7% at the end of last year. The strength in the Hong Kong dollar has also eased, with the currency trading at the weakest in almost four weeks at 7.7558 per greenback Tuesday morning.

But for now, it looks like those betting on currency strength have time on their side, something that can’t be said for the city’s businesses facing a ravaged economy.

(Updates the penultimate paragraph with the Hong Kong dollar’s latest price and Tuesday’s Hibor.)

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Guardians of the World Economy Stagger From Rescue to Recovery – Yahoo Canada Finance

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Guardians of the World Economy Stagger From Rescue to Recovery

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(Bloomberg) — The world’s governments and central banks are shifting from rescue to recovery mode as the deepest slump since the Great Depression shows signs of bottoming out.

After rolling out trillions of dollars worth of measures to prevent their economies and markets from collapsing, they are now doubling down with even more spending to backstop a recovery as coronavirus lockdowns ease. In what counts for good news these days, Bloomberg Economics’ global GDP growth tracker showed economies contracted at an annualized rate of 2.3% in May, less than the 4.8% slump in April.

“Policy makers are moving from triage to recovery,” said Deutsche Bank Securities Chief Economist Torsten Slok. “They are realizing that more fiscal support will be needed to households and small businesses to prevent this liquidity crisis from turning into a solvency crisis.”

The new wave of stimulus has both governments and central banks moving in sync to continue flooding lenders, markets and companies with cheap credit at an unprecedented pace.

The European Central Bank last week expanded its asset purchases by 600 billion euros ($677 billion) to 1.35 trillion euros, and extended them until at least the end of June 2021. And Germany’s government agreed another 130 billion-euro fiscal stimulus push and said it will back a proposed new 750 billion-euro European Union recovery fund.

“Action had to be taken,” ECB President Christine Lagarde said in a press conference.

It’s a similar story in Asia.

Japan is planning another $1.1 trillion worth of spending in its biggest splurge yet and the central bank in May called an emergency meeting to roll out 30 trillion yen ($274 billion) of loan support for small businesses.

China last week unveiled another 3.6 trillion yuan ($508 billion) in spending and South Korea’s 76 trillion won ($63 billion) ‘New Deal’ fiscal package is its largest to date.

In the U.S., lawmakers continue to debate extra fiscal stimulus and the Federal Reserve, which meets on June 10, has just launched a new Main Street Lending Program, the latest in trillions of support it has already poured into the economy and markets.

While the Fed is unlikely to signal any moves when its officials gather this week, many economists expect it to harden its commitment to easy monetary policy later in the year and perhaps even start pursing a Japan-style campaign to control long-term borrowing rates.

The latest U.S. jobs numbers give some hope that the stimulus unleashed so far is beginning to kick in. A record 2.5 million workers were added by employers during May while unemployment declined to 13.3%, wrong footing economists who had forecast widespread job losses.

Read more: Economists Have Biggest Miss Ever in U.S. Jobs-Report Shocker

To be sure, there’s far from consensus that the latest wave of support will be enough to get growth back to where it was at the start of the year. Some of the steps being taken are merely to replace existing policies as they start to expire.

“It seems clear already approved packages are perceived to be not enough,” said Alicia Garcia Herrero, chief Asia-Pacific economist at Natixis SA.

There are other concerns that monetary policy can only do so much to revive growth before it loses its potency.

“How does the Fed actually get money to millions and millions of households and small businesses, that is difficult to do operationally,” former New York Federal Reserve Bank President William Dudley told Bloomberg Television.

“It’s much easier to intervene in the capital markets where the Fed can rely on counterparties, primary dealers and others,” Dudley said. “It is much more difficult to lend one by one to millions of different entities.”

Another risk is a return to austerity, even if it seems unlikely now. JPMorgan recently predicted a fiscal thrust of 3.3% of GDP this year and 1.5% drag next year.

U.S. senators have put the brakes on a $3 trillion fiscal package that was approved by lower house lawmakers. China’s government has ruled out a return to the kind of large scale stimulus it rolled out after the global financial crisis, preferring to keep a lid on rising debt.

Still, because the crisis meant economies were forced into shutdown, much of the emergency response so far has been less about driving growth and more about avoiding total collapse. It’s that dynamic which is leaving governments with little option but to borrow harder.

“We shouldn’t look at the positive immediate growth impact of the opening up process as being the rate of growth that may last,” said David Mann, chief economist for Standard Chartered Plc.

Creating jobs will be mission critical to cementing any upswing. That will need support for firms to retrain employees, incentives to hire older workers and for governments to continue with wage subsidies. More than one in six people have stopped working since the onset of the crisis, according to the International Labour Organization, which in April estimated more than 1 billion workers were at high risk of a pay cut or losing their job.

“A faster job market recovery will speed up the economic healing and reduce the risk from widening income inequality and social stress,” said Chua Hak Bin, senior economist at Maybank Kim Eng Research Pte.

Ultimately, the rescue of economies will go well beyond quantitative solutions and into the realm of story telling too, as policy makers will need to inject confidence back into wary consumers and executives, said Stephen Jen, who runs hedge fund and advisory firm Eurizon SLJ Capital in London.

“Human psychology is the same and is now as important as the mechanics of delivering the fiscal stimuli themselves,” he said.

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Guardians of the world economy stagger from rescue to recovery – BNNBloomberg.ca

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The world’s governments and central banks are shifting from rescue to recovery mode as the deepest slump since the Great Depression shows signs of bottoming out.

After rolling out trillions of dollars worth of measures to prevent their economies and markets from collapsing, they are now doubling down with even more spending to backstop a recovery as coronavirus lockdowns ease. In what counts for good news these days, Bloomberg Economics’ global GDP growth tracker showed economies contracted at an annualized rate of 2.3 per cent in May, less than the 4.8-per-cent slump in April.

“Policy-makers are moving from triage to recovery,” said Deutsche Bank Securities Chief Economist Torsten Slok. “They are realizing that more fiscal support will be needed to households and small businesses to prevent this liquidity crisis from turning into a solvency crisis.”

The new wave of stimulus has both governments and central banks moving in sync to continue flooding lenders, markets and companies with cheap credit at an unprecedented pace.

The European Central Bank last week expanded its asset purchases by 600 billion euros (US$677 billion) to 1.35 trillion euros, and extended them until at least the end of June 2021. And Germany’s government agreed another 130 billion-euro fiscal stimulus push and said it will back a proposed new 750 billion-euro European Union recovery fund.

“Action had to be taken,” ECB President Christine Lagarde said in a press conference.

It’s a similar story in Asia.

Japan is planning another US$1.1 trillion worth of spending in its biggest splurge yet and the central bank in May called an emergency meeting to roll out 30 trillion yen (US$274 billion) of loan support for small businesses.

China last week unveiled another 3.6 trillion yuan (US$508 billion) in spending and South Korea’s 76 trillion won (US$63 billion) ‘New Deal’ fiscal package is its largest to date.

In the U.S., lawmakers continue to debate extra fiscal stimulus and the Federal Reserve, which meets on June 10, has just launched a new Main Street Lending Program, the latest in trillions of support it has already poured into the economy and markets.

While the Fed is unlikely to signal any moves when its officials gather this week, many economists expect it to harden its commitment to easy monetary policy later in the year and perhaps even start pursing a Japan-style campaign to control long-term borrowing rates.

The latest U.S. jobs numbers give some hope that the stimulus unleashed so far is beginning to kick in. A record 2.5 million workers were added by employers during May while unemployment declined to 13.3 per cent, wrong footing economists who had forecast widespread job losses.

To be sure, there’s far from consensus that the latest wave of support will be enough to get growth back to where it was at the start of the year. Some of the steps being taken are merely to replace existing policies as they start to expire.

“It seems clear already approved packages are perceived to be not enough,” said Alicia Garcia Herrero, chief Asia-Pacific economist at Natixis SA.

There are other concerns that monetary policy can only do so much to revive growth before it loses its potency.

“How does the Fed actually get money to millions and millions of households and small businesses, that is difficult to do operationally,” former New York Federal Reserve Bank President William Dudley told Bloomberg Television.

“It’s much easier to intervene in the capital markets where the Fed can rely on counterparties, primary dealers and others,” Dudley said. “It is much more difficult to lend one by one to millions of different entities.”

Another risk is a return to austerity, even if it seems unlikely now. JPMorgan recently predicted a fiscal thrust of 3.3 per cent of GDP this year and 1.5 per cent drag next year.

U.S. senators have put the brakes on a US$3-trillion fiscal package that was approved by lower house lawmakers. China’s government has ruled out a return to the kind of large scale stimulus it rolled out after the global financial crisis, preferring to keep a lid on rising debt.

Still, because the crisis meant economies were forced into shutdown, much of the emergency response so far has been less about driving growth and more about avoiding total collapse. It’s that dynamic which is leaving governments with little option but to borrow harder.

“We shouldn’t look at the positive immediate growth impact of the opening up process as being the rate of growth that may last,” said David Mann, chief economist for Standard Chartered Plc.

Creating jobs will be mission critical to cementing any upswing. That will need support for firms to retrain employees, incentives to hire older workers and for governments to continue with wage subsidies. More than one in six people have stopped working since the onset of the crisis, according to the International Labour Organization, which in April estimated more than 1 billion workers were at high risk of a pay cut or losing their job.

“A faster job market recovery will speed up the economic healing and reduce the risk from widening income inequality and social stress,” said Chua Hak Bin, senior economist at Maybank Kim Eng Research Pte.

Ultimately, the rescue of economies will go well beyond quantitative solutions and into the realm of story telling too, as policy makers will need to inject confidence back into wary consumers and executives, said Stephen Jen, who runs hedge fund and advisory firm Eurizon SLJ Capital in London.

“Human psychology is the same and is now as important as the mechanics of delivering the fiscal stimuli themselves,” he said.

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El-Erian: Here's a 'nightmare scenario' for the U.S. economy – Yahoo Canada Finance

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The big risk with the latest U.S. jobs report is if it turns out to be a “head fake” says Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic advisor at Allianz.” data-reactid=”16″>The big risk with the latest U.S. jobs report is if it turns out to be a “head fake” says Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic advisor at Allianz.

“That’s the nightmare scenario,” El-Erian told Yahoo Finance after the US unexpectedly added 2.5 million jobs in May as states started re-opening and easing COVID-19 shelter in place measures.

“The big risk … is that this is a head fake, a major head fake that we are picking up the impact of both data distortions, and policy distortions,” said El-Erian.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="May’s employment report has economists scratching their heads. They were expecting the US to lose 7.5 million jobs. Instead it gained jobs, and the unemployment rate, ticked lower to 13.3%.” data-reactid=”19″>May’s employment report has economists scratching their heads. They were expecting the US to lose 7.5 million jobs. Instead it gained jobs, and the unemployment rate, ticked lower to 13.3%.

“No one was looking for an uptake in jobs.” said El-Erian. “It may be that the economy has picked up in a major way. That’s the hope. And that’s certainly what the market has embraced.”

“Or it may be two other things: that government policies were very effective in reducing those who were officially unemployed. Or it may be that the data is very, very noisy,” he added.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 29: Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Economic Adviser of Allianz appears on a segment of "Mornings With Maria" with Maria Bartiromo on the FOX Business Network at FOX Studios on April 29, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 29: Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Economic Adviser of Allianz appears on a segment of “Mornings With Maria” with Maria Bartiromo on the FOX Business Network at FOX Studios on April 29, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)

“What is really striking is if you look at continuing claims, they went up, not down. So every other indicator you look at suggest that the labor market is not as healthy as these numbers,” said El-Erian.

If indeed the report is a “head fake,” El-Erian warns “the political process may have moved away from relief and repair.”

“We’ve got to understand these numbers better, and we’ve got to continue with the message to Congress that there is still a big hole we find ourselves in, even if you believe these numbers,” he added.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="President Trump on Friday signed legislation lengthening the PPP loan program, aimed at helping small businesses keep workers on their payroll.” data-reactid=”36″>President Trump on Friday signed legislation lengthening the PPP loan program, aimed at helping small businesses keep workers on their payroll.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The jobs report sent stocks soaring on Friday, with the Dow (^DJI) gaining more than 3%, and the Nasdaq (^IXIC) rallied to a record high.” data-reactid=”37″>The jobs report sent stocks soaring on Friday, with the Dow (^DJI) gaining more than 3%, and the Nasdaq (^IXIC) rallied to a record high.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Federal Reserve’s actions to combat the economic fallout of COVID-19, including backing corporate debt markets, have helped the markets rally reminiscent of the 2009 rebound.” data-reactid=”38″>The Federal Reserve’s actions to combat the economic fallout of COVID-19, including backing corporate debt markets, have helped the markets rally reminiscent of the 2009 rebound.

“In the equity market, there’s nothing more comforting than the notion that someone with a printing press in the basement and an unlimited ability and willingness to buy is your backstop,” said El-Erian.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="
"What we want is fundamentals to improve and validate asset prices. That’s how this is an orderly outcome. If that doesn’t happen at some point, fundamentals will assert themselves,” he added.” data-reactid=”40″>
“What we want is fundamentals to improve and validate asset prices. That’s how this is an orderly outcome. If that doesn’t happen at some point, fundamentals will assert themselves,” he added.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Read more:” data-reactid=”41″>Read more:

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Find live stock market quotes and the latest business and finance news” data-reactid=”48″>Find live stock market quotes and the latest business and finance news

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="For tutorials and information on investing and trading stocks, check out&nbsp;Cashay” data-reactid=”49″>For tutorials and information on investing and trading stocks, check out Cashay

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Follow Yahoo Finance on&nbsp;Twitter,&nbsp;Facebook,&nbsp;Instagram,&nbsp;Flipboard,&nbsp;LinkedIn, and&nbsp;reddit.” data-reactid=”50″>Follow Yahoo Finance on TwitterFacebookInstagramFlipboardLinkedIn, and reddit.

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