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Bank of Canada line up to taper emergency stimulus

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Bank of Canada expecting strong growth

LONDON (Reuters) – The Bank of Canada set the taper ball rolling last week, becoming the first major central bank to cut back on pandemic-era money-printing stimulus programmes. So who’s next?

The big guns of central banking – the U.S. Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan – won’t officially pare stimulus for a while, a message the BOJ reinforced on Tuesday and one the Fed is expected to reiterate on Wednesday.

Yet the Bank of Canada‘s C$1 billion ($806 million) cut to its weekly bond-buying programme may remind investors that the next phase in 2021 will be the taper phase, John Briggs, global head of strategy at NatWest Markets, told clients.

With economic data confirming a brighter outlook, Bank of America estimates central bank asset purchases in the United States, Japan, the euro zone and Britain will slide to about $3.4 trillion this year from almost $9 trillion in 2020.

For 2022, the U.S. bank predicts purchases of just $400 billion.

Here’s a look at who is tapering, who may raise interest rates and who might be the last to call time on pandemic-era monetary stimulus.

 

For a graphic on major cbanks:

https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/gjnvwdormpw/major%20cbanks.JPG

 

1/ NORWAY

Norges Bank is at the vanguard in terms of signalling a retreat, having flagged last month that a rate rise may be coming in the second half of 2021. That has made the crown this year’s best performing G10 currency.

The central bank doesn’t intervene in bond markets, so the taper debate is not applicable.

2/ CANADA

Having announced tapering, Canada has signalled that its key interest rate could rise from 0.25% late in 2022.

 

For a graphic on Canada‘s bond market takes tapering in its stride:

https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/dgkvlyzyrpb/canada2604.png

 

3/ UNITED STATES

The Fed plans to keep borrowing costs near 0% and maintain monthly asset purchases worth $120 billion until it sees “substantial further progress” towards full employment and its 2% flexible inflation target.

But with the economy expected to grow by more than 6% this year and inflation to be a “little higher” – according to Fed boss Jerome Powell – markets are pricing in a rate rise in 2023 and many analysts expect tapering to start this year.

The Fed faces a delicate balancing act, ensuring that tapering at a time of massive U.S. government borrowing does not push up Treasury yields too much.

Pictet Wealth senior economist Thomas Costerg expects tapering to start by early next year and proceed at a monthly pace of $10 billion. He said that means the process would last about a year – “enough to keep expectations for the first rate hike well in the distance”.

 

For a graphic on Central bank holdings of government bonds:

https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/yxmvjdwyevr/CBANKS2704.PNG

 

4/ BRITAIN

The departure of Andy Haldane, the Bank of England’s hawkish chief economist, has raised expectations that the central bank’s 895 billion pound ($1.2 trillion) bond-buying scheme won’t be reduced any time soon. The BoE expects inflation will be running at 1.9% by the end of this year but says the rise is likely to be capped over the medium term by labour market weakness.

Still, NatWest analysts believe the BoE could announce a 4 billion pound reduction in its so-called quantitative easing (QE) in May, trimming it to 14 billion pounds a month.

Money markets see a 56% chance of a quarter-point interest rate rise by the end of 2022.

5/ EURO ZONE

Anemic long-term inflationary pressures mean euro area rates are unlikely to rise for years. But tapering may come sooner, especially within the European Central Bank’s 1.85 trillion euro ($2.2 trillion) pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP).

Technically, this runs until March 2022 but some officials are already advocating reducing bond purchases as the economy strengthens.

Danske Bank analysts reckon the ECB will end up using only 1.65 trillion euros of the total PEPP stimulus package.

“For all we know at this stage, PEPP is coming to an end in March next year, so if you think about the slowdown from the current pace, that could come as soon as June,” said Andreas Billmeier, European economist at Western Asset.

 

For a graphic on When will the ECB slow the pace of its emergency bond buys?

https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/xklpyyrjmpg/ECB2704.PNG

 

6/ AUSTRALIA

Australia’s economic rebound has surpassed expectations and is set for an “above trend” expansion, the Reserve Bank of Australia said in April. But the bank, which has underscored its dovish credentials by adopting yield curve control, could be among the last to tighten policy.

It wants unemployment slashed and inflation within its 2% to 3% target before shifting tack, but doesn’t see either happening until 2024. Economists expect rates to stay on hold until then and reckon the RBA could even extend asset purchases by another A$75 billion to A$100 billion ($58 bln to $77 bln).

7/ NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand’s strong recovery and red-hot property markets have raised speculation that a rate rise may come sooner than expected.

While its key interest rate is expected to stay at 0.25% this year, some analysts predict a rise in the second half of 2022. The central bank meanwhile appears to be in no hurry to taper its NZ$100 billion ($72 billion) QE programme.

8/ SWEDEN

Swedish inflation is approaching the Riksbank’s 2% target but it has said interest rates would stay at 0% for years. However, its 700 billion crowns ($84 billion) asset purchase programme will wind down this year as planned.

9/ JAPAN

The BOJ pledged this week to maintain stimulus using a yield target and purchases of government bonds and equities.

It has been accused of “stealth tapering” because its bond-buying has slowed since yield curve control (YCC) was adopted in 2016, though purchases have picked up slightly in the past year.

In March, they were about 22.2 trillion yen ($204 billion)above levels a year ago. But that’s still a quarter of the 81.96 trillion yen year-on-year increase in August 2016, just before YCC came in.

 

For a graphic on BOJ steadily ‘stealth’ tapering its JGB buying:

https://graphics.reuters.com/GLOBAL-CENTRALBANKS/TAPER/bdwpkbmllvm/chart.png

 

10/ SWITZERLAND

The Swiss National Bank does not intervene in domestic bond markets, instead capping the Swiss franc through interventions which came to nearly 110 billion francs ($120 billion) in 2020. The proceeds are used to purchase foreign bonds and equities.

The franc is less over-valued than before but the SNB shows no signs of departing from its interventionist policy and its minus 0.75% interest rate won’t rise any time soon.

 

(Reporting by Sujata Rao, Tommy Wilkes, Saikat Chatterjee and Dhara Ranasinghe in London and Leika Kihara and Daniel Leussink in Tokyo; Editing by David Clarke)

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China Vows Better Policy Support to Economy as Headwinds Mount – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Chinese policy makers reiterated the need to fine-tune economic policies as the world’s second-largest economy faces increasing headwinds from virus outbreaks and high commodity prices. 

Policy should be preemptive and coordinated across cycles, the State Council, the equivalent of China’s cabinet, said in a statement after a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang Wednesday. Governments at all levels should maintain the continuity and stability of macroeconomic policies and enhance their effectiveness, while also do a good job in preventing and controlling virus cases, it said.

Efforts are needed to better coordinate fiscal, financial and employment policies in order to “stabilize reasonable expectations by the market,” it said. 

China again vowed to make sure the economy is operating within a reasonable range, with further measures to boost consumption, guiding private capital to play a better role in expanding investment, and ensuring stable growth in foreign trade and foreign capital, according to the statement. While the employment situation is stable this year, efforts are still needed to maintain employment and help companies, it said. 

The economy took a knock in August from stringent virus controls and tight curbs on property. While China’s Covid zero approach helped to quickly quash the infections, retail sales growth suffered, slowing to 2.5% in August. 

Facing the continued commodity boom, the State Council also pledged to use more market-based measures to stabilize commodity prices and ensure supplies of power and natural gas during the winter. 

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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UAE Says It's Unwinding Pandemic Stimulus as Economy Recovers – Bloomberg

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The United Arab Emirates has begun winding down an economic support program launched in response to the coronavirus pandemic as the economy shows signs of gradual recovery, the central bank said in a statement.

The reduced reserve requirements for banks won’t change for now and neither will the lower loan-to-value ratio required for first-time home buyers seeking mortgage loans, the bank said. The loan deferral component of the Targeted Economic Support Scheme will expire by the end of 2021 with financial institutions able to carry on tapping a collateralized 50-billion-dirham ($13.6 billion) liquidity facility until the middle of 2022, in line with earlier guidance.

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The Caregiving Economy – The Atlantic

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Care work has long been indispensable and invaluable. Indispensable: It is the work that makes all other work possible. Invaluable, quite literally: Our society is incapable of valuing it properly.

The sector of the American economy devoted to care—of children and the elderly and people with disabilities—is valued at $648 billion. That’s larger than the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. And yet most individual caregivers are criminally underpaid. That’s because caregiving is viewed either as a “labor of love,” in which case it can never be priced without destroying its essence, or as a service so basic that anyone can do it, in which case it is priced lower than dog walking or waitressing.

Recognizing the true value and potential of care, socially as well as economically, depends on a different understanding of what care actually is: not a service but a relationship that depends on human connection. It is the essence of what Jamie Merisotis, the president of the nonprofit Lumina Foundation, calls “human work”: the “work only people can do.” This makes it all the more essential in an age when workers face the threat of being replaced by machines.

When we use the word in an economic sense, care is a bundle of services: feeding, dressing, bathing, toileting, and assisting. Robots could perform all of those functions; in countries such as Japan, sometimes they already do. But that work is best described as caretaking, comparable to what the caretaker of a property provides by watering a garden or fixing a gate.

What transforms those services into caregiving, the support we want for ourselves and for those we love, is the existence of a relationship between the person providing care and the person being cared for. Not just any relationship, but one that is affectionate, or at least considerate and respectful. Most human beings cannot thrive without connection to others, a point underlined by the depression and declining mental capacities of many seniors who have been isolated during the pandemic.

The best care goes further. The goal is not simply to provide comfort or sustenance, but to enable and empower, to develop or maintain the capabilities of another human being. All parents or other caregivers of young children, for instance, know that bath time, mealtime, or even time on the changing table is scaffolding for talking, playing, or teaching: igniting young minds and shaping young brains. At the other end of life, good care consists of enabling an older person to have what the doctor and writer Atul Gawande calls his or her “best possible day”—the best day possible under the circumstances of a particular illness or condition.

Extend the idea of developing or maintaining human abilities beyond childhood and old age, and an entire vista of care jobs opens up. Call it the “care-plus economy.” It is generating all sorts of new jobs. Coaching, for instance, is a rapidly expanding career category, and not just on sports fields. There are life coaches, career coaches, and health and education coaches who guide people through social services. These are all jobs that enable others to perform at their best.

Education is a care-plus job. Lelac Almagor, a fourth-grade teacher, wrote in an essay for The New York Times, “I’m not ashamed to say that child care is at the heart of the work I do. I teach children reading and writing, yes, but I also watch over them, remind them to be kind and stay safe, plan games and activities to help them grow.”

The number of community health workers, a job category pioneered in poorer countries, is increasing in the United States. The jobs have different titles, but their core function is to connect people to the health system. The Baltimore Health Corps, for example, tackled both the health and economic crises created by the pandemic by hiring nearly 300 unemployed or furloughed community members as contact tracers, care coordinators, or administrative staff.

Academic advisers once confined their role to signing off on students’ course selections, but today they have become crucial to keeping students in college and helping them make the most of their experience. Technology has made a big difference, as it will in other care-plus jobs. In explaining Georgia State University’s successful retention of  first-generation college students, Vice Provost Timothy Renick points to advising powered by predictive analytics. By monitoring students closely, the advising office gains information about when they are most likely to be discouraged and think about dropping out, and hence when personal interventions can be most effective.

The next frontier of the care-plus economy will be an explosion of mental-health jobs. Traditional therapy with a high price tag cannot meet Americans’ needs. But peer counselors, behavioral-health coaches, and technology-enabled support systems are filling the gap. Crisis Text Line, for instance, analyzes data to learn when depressed people are most likely to act on suicidal thoughts and how best to stop them.

One of us, Hilary, has worked in Britain to expand caregiving networks. In 2007 she co-designed a program called Circle, which is part social club, part concierge service. Members pay a small monthly fee, and in return get access to fun activities and practical support from members and helpers in the community. More than 10,000 people have participated, and evaluations show that members feel less lonely and more capable. The program has also reduced the money spent on formal services; Circle members are less likely, for example, to be readmitted to the hospital.

The mutual-aid societies that mushroomed into existence across the United States during the pandemic reflect the same philosophy. The core of a mutual-aid network is the principle of “solidarity not charity”: a group of community members coming together on an equal basis for the common good. These societies draw on a long tradition of “collective care” developed by African American, Indigenous, and immigrant groups as far back as the 18th century.

President Joe Biden has proposed spending $400 billion on home- and community-based care. Such support is crucial not only for the people being cared for, but for the professionals who provide that care—overwhelmingly Black and brown women, many of whom work for below minimum wage and receive few if any benefits. Suppose, however, that these workers were part of a new social sector based on community care, in which government and nonprofit organizations partnered to feed, house, treat, educate, or employ community members in part by embedding them in networks that would meet their needs in the round. Creating this sector will require not only a mix of government, private, and philanthropic funding, but also a new social contract about what we owe one another and what we should expect from the government.

Care jobs help humans flourish, and, properly understood and compensated, they can power a growing sector of the economy, strengthen our society, and increase our well-being. Goods are things that people buy and own; services are functions that people pay for. Relationships require two people and a connection between them. We don’t really have an economic category for that, but we should.

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