Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Transparency But Not Truth!

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By Mike Conlon | April 26, 2011

Tomorrow will the be the first of the new, transparent Fed where Bernanke will attempt to get out in front of the population and attempt to get people to suspend their disbelief. While the Fed Chairman is clearly on the wrong side of public opinion with QE2 and the inflation it has caused, trying to convince people that what they are feeling in the economy is wrong just won’t work.

The reason is because there will be no truth to go along with the transparency. It will be very difficult to sway public opinion that there is no inflation when people see it in their daily lives. The debate over which metric of CPI to use to see the true effects of policy have left people with a lack of confidence in those in power. How this speech tomorrow will change this sentiment is anyone’s guess.

So in my opinion this will all amount to much ado about nothing, with the markets hanging on every word spoken, though I don’t think we will learn anything new.

Europe is open again after yesterday’s holiday and European stocks are higher as are US equity futures to start the day. Asian stocks were lower as are commodities, though today can’t be classified as either a risk-taking or risk-averting day.

In the forex market:

Aussie (AUD): The Aussie is higher as interest rate differentials and carry trades are driving market sentiment despite mild risk taking in the marketplace. An index of leading indicators came in higher than expected.

Kiwi (NZD): The Kiwi is the biggest gainer this morning ahead of tomorrow’s rate policy decision as maybe the market is sensing that the RBNZ could turn hawkish again. While the current expectation is the rates will be left unchanged, the added benefit of Dollar weakness has been driving price action.

Loonie (CAD): The Loonie is also mostly higher despite oil prices pulling back to just above $112. Friday’s GDP report will give more clarity into the Canadian economic situation.

Euro (EUR): The Euro is mixed this morning as both Dollar and Yen are weaker, though reports about a possible Greek debt restructuring have left the market un-phased. CPI data due out tomorrow is expected to show higher inflation.

Pound (GBP): The Pound is lower across the board ahead of tomorrow’s GDP report. CBI business optimism figures came in slightly lower than expected, and perhaps the distraction of the Royal wedding later this week has left the markets unimpressed with the Pound. (Click chart to enlarge)


Dollar (USD): The Dollar is weaker across the board ahead of tomorrow’s Fed meetings. There is increased speculation that the Fed will somehow try to continue to support the economy even though QE2 is expected to end in June. Consumer confidence figures are due out later this morning.

Yen (JPY): The Yen is also lower as the expectation of continued weak monetary policy has pushed traders toward higher yielding currencies. Retail sales figures are expected to show big declines later this evening, ahead of Thursday’s rate decision.

While I expect little in the way of learning something new tomorrow from the Fed, there is always the possibility of a surprise. However, the Fed has been pretty clear about its stance and its denials of inflation so I highly doubt that will change anytime soon.

But the market may be more concerned with how the Fed plans to exit QE2 and what that will do to the economy. What is clear is that the Fed needs to pick up the slack for the inaction occurring on the fiscal side of the equation, with politicians in Washington unable to work together.

Don’t expect to walk away from this new Fed format tomorrow with a warm and fuzzy feeling about the direction the US is going, and continue to be cautious. While there is always major volatility surrounding the FOMC meetings, I could see tomorrow turning out to be one big dud.

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