Sign up for Equitymaster's free daily newsletter, The 5 Minute WrapUp and get access to our latest Multibagger guide (2018 Edition) on picking money-making stocks.

This is an entirely free service. No payments are to be made.

Download Now Subscribe to our free daily e-letter, The 5 Minute WrapUp and get this complimentary report.
We hate spam as much as you do. Check out our Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.
Indian Stock Market News, Equity Market and Sensex Today in India | Equitymaster
  • MyStocks


Login Failure
(Please do not use this option on a public machine)
  Sign Up | Forgot Password?  

When bankers become speculators...
Thu, 17 Dec Pre-Open

There are few more things that could be in inertia in the US.

The labour market is yet to show any sign of recovery. The income growth remains in low single digits. House buyers still seem wary of further correction. Banks are unwilling to lend. Now you could also add interest rates to this list. Yesterday the US Fed confirmed its resolve to keep interest rates near zero for an 'extended period'. The same backed by hopes of recovery. Ignoring the fact that trillions of dollars of stimuli have had little impact so far.

But that has not stopped the Fed from speculating and fuelling speculation. Probably it has few options. The US Fed certainly has a tough job at hand. Comforting investors, taxpayers, unemployed citizens, other regulators and global financial community is not easy at one go.

In the Fed chief's own words, the US economy faces formidable headwinds including a weak labour market and tight credit. It thus cannot help but speculate about more jobs being created and exit from the loose policy stance. Besides supporting economic growth, it needs to show that it is concerned about potential inflation as well. But the least it can afford is to send out signals that monetary tightening will occur sooner or later. For this could complicate efforts by policy makers to reduce the 10% unemployment rate.

Meanwhile Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sees plenty of reason for US taxpayers to cheer. First the US banks that have started repaying TARP funds will be in a better position to resume lending. Second, banks are repaying taxpayers with interest. As per his calculations, TARP has earned more than US$ 15 bn in income from the sector. Thus he believes that the rising asset values have a strong fundamental backing.

For the rest of the world, the inertia in US interest rates puts a lot at stake. The strength of the dollar, the reserve currency, being the most important amongst them. Whether central banks would continue to purchase gold? Whether exports to the US would remain profitable? Whether foreign inflows would be speculative rather than strategic? The answers to these questions determine the future of world economic order.

Meanwhile global asset prices, be it gold, stocks or real estate may continue to be backed by US speculation. A weak dollar may continue to push gold prices upwards. Hot FII money may find solace in expensive emerging market stocks. In some markets like China, most of it may end up funding more buildings and factories than the citizens need.

We believe that speculation is best left to those who wish to make a quick buck from every sound byte or every character of a news item. Few can do so profitably for long. Having said that, bankers and more specifically central bankers have their roles as long term watch dogs clearly cut out. A basis point of change in interest rate may not hazard their jobs. But they certainly cannot risk the future of the economy by tweaking interest rates to suit their speculative interests. We hope the Fed will also realise this soon.

For information on how to pick stocks that have the potential to deliver big returns, download our special report now!

Read the latest Market Commentary

Equitymaster requests your view! Post a comment on "When bankers become speculators...". Click here!


Small Investments
BIG Returns

Zero To Millions Guide 2018
Get our special report, Zero To Millions
(2018 Edition) Now!
We will never sell or rent your email id.
Please read our Terms


Feb 23, 2018 (Close)