Month: February 2018

Might higher interest rates spoil America’s economic boom?

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AMENDING a famous metaphor, Janet Yellen once said that the Federal Reserve would “keep refilling the punch bowl until the guests have all arrived”. This week investors began to wonder if Jerome Powell, who will shortly succeed Ms Yellen at the top of the Fed, might at last deem the party full. On January 29th the ten-year Treasury yield reached 2.7%, the highest since early 2014. The prospect of tighter money caused stockmarkets to sneeze. On January 30th the S&P 500 fell by 1.1%, its biggest decline since August, before recovering a tiny bit the next day. With unemployment low and tax cuts pending, investors are wondering whether inflation and interest rates might soon surge.The economy grew by 2.5% in the year to the fourth quarter of 2017. According to Okun’s law, a rule of thumb relat

The dollar keeps weakening. Is that good news for the world?

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AT THE start of 2017, just before Donald Trump was inaugurated as president, a survey of fund managers by Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) found they believed that being positive on the dollar was “the most crowded trade”. It turned out they were right to be cautious. On a trade-weighted basis, the currency has fallen by 9% against other major currencies in the past year.It is not clear what the Trump administration thinks about this. At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Steven Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, said: “Obviously a weak dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities.” Although the rest of his statement was more nuanced, it is unusual for anyone in his position to depart from a “strong dollar” line. The greenback duly fell in price.Mr Trump then fol