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Friday February 16, 2007 - 10:25:43 GMT
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A little growth surprise up their sleeve

Key News
• China ordered banks to set aside more money as reserves for the fifth time in eight months to cool inflation and investment in the world's fastest-growing major economy. (Bloomberg)
• Shanghai's benchmark stock index surged past the psychological benchmark of 3,000 to a new record Friday. (Reuters)
• Yield curve—in case it still matters to anyone...

“Most folks seem content to accept the Fed's explanation and this-time-is-different rationale for the inverted curve, which strikes FTN Financial chief economist Chris Low as curious.

“'The yield curve's link to recessions isn't spurious,' Low writes in his latest weekly. `This isn't the hemline recession indicator or the Super Bowl stock market indicator, where historical coincidence is used to predict future events.'

“The inverted curve suggests that the Fed has raised short- term rates above the natural level, or where they would be `if supply and demand for credit were allowed to reach a market equilibrium,' Low says. `The curve is inverted for the same reason recessions happen: The cost of borrowing for banks is higher than the risk-adjusted rate at which people are willing to borrow.'

“Econometricians use formulas and regressions to demonstrate the yield curve's predictive powers. The less sophisticated among us can look to its historical track record and appreciate the simple intuition behind it.

“Maybe it's too simple, escaping the grasp of many Ph.D. economists.”

Caroline Baum

• Home prices fell in about half of all metropolitan areas in the fourth quarter, the National Association of Realtors said. (WSJ)

• Key Reports Due (WSJ):
8:30a.m. Jan Producer Price Index. Expected: -0.6%. Previous: +0.9%.
8:30a.m. Jan Producer Price Index, Ex-Food & Energy. Expected: +0.2%. Previous: +0.2%.
8:30a.m. Jan Housing Starts. Expected: -2.6%. Previous: +4.5%.
10:00a.m. Mid-Feb U Of Mich Consumer Sentiment Index. Expected: 96.0. Previous: 96.9.


“It is not so much the quantity of current investment but the direction it takes — the type of capital goods being produced — which determines the amount of future investment required if the current investments are to be successfully incorporated in the structure of production. But it is the amount of investment made possible by the current supply of funds which determines expectations about the future rate of investment and thereby the form that the current investment will be given. We can now see the justification for the somewhat paradoxical form in which the main thesis of this article was originally stated. An increase in the rate of investment, or the quantity of capital goods, may have the effect of raising rather than lowering the rate of interest, if this increase has given rise to the expectation of a greater future supply of investable funds than is actually forthcoming.”

F.A. Hayek

FX Trading – A little growth surprise up their sleeve

“GDP headline growth surpassed our reading and returned to a growth track, led by domestic private demand. A turnaround in consumer spending, along with stronger-than-expected capex and housing investment, boosted growth in the economy during the quarter, with domestic demand posting more than a V-shaped recovery. Although overseas demand growth slowed, it continued to make a positive contribution. Domestic demand rose 1.0% QoQ (versus -0.3% in Jul-Sep), while domestic final demand rose 1.1% (versus -0.5% in Jul-Sep). The economic slowdown that followed the peaking of the economy in October-December 2005 and ran through the July-September quarter leveled off and ended in the October-December quarter,” writes Takahiro Sato, of Morgan Stanley.

Reports on the death of the Japanese consumer appear to be greatly exaggerated.

Key words were “led by domestic private demand.” Maybe Treasury Secretary Paulson-san had reason not to bash an increasingly important political ally at the G-7, which seem to be few and far between these days—why hammer Japan about the yen when the market will take care of that itself…

CHART: USDJPY Daily with Fibs

Enjoy your weekend!

Jack Crooks


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