The coming debt and population problem

Death and taxes

Debt levels are set to rise to unprecedented levels. According to the International Monetary Fund in June the public debt, as a share of GDP in advanced economies, is set to come in at over 130% for this year and next. To put that into perspective that surpasses the debt levels from the second world war.If you look at the chart below you can see that the double whammy of the Global Financial Crisis, followed by the present pandemic is pushing debt to record levels.

Death and taxes


The population problem

The general thinking now is that the present crisis is a one in a hundred years kind of event (what if it isn’t) and that future generations will be able to claw back the debt levels over time. However, a publication from the Lancet in the UK suggests that there is a falling population that could fall by 9% at the end of the century. So, this means that there will be a large decline in numbers of working age adults. There are some countries which are projected to be particularly badly hit. Japan, Spain, Portugal, and Thailand are expected to see their populations halve by the end of the century. The countries which are projected to see 25% population declines are also projected to see a higher ration of older to younger people. So, more of this debt is going to be shouldered by fewer as an ageing population raises further spending considerations.

What will happen next?

There will be moves by governments to start to cap this debt problem. It will not be allowed to continue unless we get into worst disasters than we presently are in. The main concern is that of default. As long as willingness to repay remains, then the debt pile can be reduced. The main risk is if the debt becomes too great and the easiest solution is to just walk away…

Full statement of the BOE August monetary policy meeting decision

The full statement by the BOE on its August policy decision

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) sets monetary policy to meet the 2% inflation target, and in a way that helps to sustain growth and employment. In that context, its challenge at present is to respond to the economic and financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. At its meeting ending on 4 August 2020, the MPC voted unanimously to maintain Bank Rate at 0.1%. The Committee voted unanimously for the Bank of England to continue with its existing programmes of UK government bond and sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bond purchases, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, maintaining the target for the total stock of these purchases at £745 billion.

The Committee’s projections for activity and inflation are set out in the accompanying August Monetary Policy Report. Although recent developments suggest a less weak starting point for the Committee’s latest projections, it is unclear how informative they are about how the economy will perform further out. The outlook for the UK and global economies remains unusually uncertain. It will depend critically on the evolution of the pandemic, measures taken to protect public health, and how governments, households and businesses respond to these factors. The MPC’s projections assume that the direct impact of Covid-19 on the economy dissipates gradually over the forecast period. Given the inherent uncertainties regarding the evolution of the pandemic, the MPC’s medium-term projections are a less informative guide than usual.

Global activity has strengthened over recent months, although it generally remains below its level in 2019 Q4. Covid-19 has continued to spread rapidly within a number of emerging market economies, however, and there has been a renewed rise in cases in many advanced economies. Continue reading »

Japan PM Abe: Current situation does not call for state of emergency declaration

Comments by Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe

  • Coronavirus cases are rising, government is watching closely
It is clear that the virus situation across the country is not getting any better as the curve is steepening as the days go by. Japan reported a single day record of 980 new virus cases yesterday, with infections also picking up outside of Tokyo.
Osaka is reported to find 149 new cases today and that would be the daily record for the prefecture, with Tokyo having found another 260 new cases as reported earlier.
As much as the government insists that things are “under control”, you have to wonder where will they draw the line and say that they have made a mess of the situation.
Eventually, the fear of the virus spread in itself will take a toll on the economy – as much as the government wants to keep business activity running for as long as they can afford to. Unfortunately, that comes at the costs of people’s health and well being, and at worst lives.

John Kenneth Galbraith, an economist, says the financial markets are characterized by…

“…extreme brevity of the financial memory.  In consequence, financial disaster is quickly forgotten.  In further consequence, when the same or closely similar circumstances occur again, SOMETIMES IN A FEW YEARS, they are hailed by a new, often youthful, and always extremely self-confident generation as a brilliantly innovative discovery in the financial and larger economic world.  There can be few fields of human endeavor in which history counts for so little as in the world of finance.” [emphasis mine].

Moody’s affirms USA credit rating at Aaa, outlook stable

Moody’s not interested in a lawsuit

Print all you like, spend all you like. No one is downgrading the USA after S&P did and the government sued them for $1.5B for mortgages. Even the company knew what it was all about.
At the same time, a country that prints its own money can’t default. But they can devalue.

Flood of Japanese money rushing to USD assets

Bloomberg report on Japanese investors, facing ongoing negative rates domestically, are buying dollars and risk assets

  • “The presence of the Japanese as the main carry trade driver seems to be growing as they must turn to overseas investments”
Demand for higher-yielding American assets growing
  • In April, Japan’s money managers bought the most U.S. corporate debt in eight years and the second-highest amount of equities in five years
  • “Japanese investors use yen to fund purchases of Treasuries or U.S. corporate bonds, for instance, to seek credit spreads and these flows are continuing,” said Koichi Sugisaki, a strategist at Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities Co. in Tokyo.
Check out USD/JPY … its net more or less unchanged, even a little lower, since November last year …. Without all the Japanese money leaving yen into USD it’d have to be lower I guess?
Bloomberg report on Japanese investors, facing ongoing negative rates domestically, are buying dollars and risk assets 

Fitch Revises India’s Outlook to Negative, Affirms IDR at ‘BBB-‘ Full Text

Fitch Ratings has revised the Outlook on India’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to Negative from Stable and affirmed the rating at ‘BBB-‘.



The revision of the Outlook to Negative on India’s Long-Term IDRs reflects the following key rating drivers:

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly weakened India’s growth outlook for this year and exposed the challenges associated with a high public-debt burden. Fitch expects economic activity to contract by 5% in the fiscal year ending March 2021 (FY21) from the strict lockdown measures imposed since 25 March 2020, before rebounding by 9.5% in FY22. The rebound will mainly be driven by a low-base effect. Our forecasts are subject to considerable risks due to the continued acceleration in the number of new COVID-19 cases as the lockdown is eased gradually. It remains to be seen whether India can return to sustained growth rates of 6% to 7% as we previously estimated, depending on the lasting impact of the pandemic, particularly in the financial sector.

The humanitarian and health needs have been pressing, but the government has shown expenditure restraint so far, due to the already high public-debt burden going into the crisis, with additional relief spending representing only about 1% of GDP by our estimates. Most elements of an announced package totalling 10% of GDP are non-fiscal in nature. Some further fiscal spending of up to 1 percentage point of GDP may still be announced in the next few months, which was indicated by a recent announcement of additional borrowing for FY21 of 2% of GDP, although we do not expect a steep rise in spending. Continue reading »

Fed says it’ll expand its “main street” lending program even further – to provide credit access for non profits

Improved credit access for non-profits – are they referring the vast majority of hedge funds?

That is a joke folks, K?
Here we go, headlines via Reuters:

Fed proposal to expand its main street lending program to provide access to credit for nonprofit organizations

  • says it is seeking public comment on its proposal for nonprofits by Monday, June 22
  • proposed expansion would offer loans to small and medium-sized nonprofits in sound financial condition before coronavirus pandemic hit
  • interest rate, deferral of principal and interest payments, and five-year term are the same as for main street business loans

There are further T&Cs but I won’t go into them here.

Stocks rally into the close but still off highest levels

Stocks have worst week in 3 months

The major stock indices rallied into the close but are still selling off the highest levels.

  • The stocks have the worst week in 3 months
  • Dow and S&P have their 1st positive day after 4 days down
  • stocks rebounded after the plunge on Thursday
a snapshot of the major indices at the close shows:
  • S&P index +39.21 points or 1.31% at 3041.31
  • NASDAQ index rose 96.02 points or 1.01% at 9588.80
  • Dow rose 477.37 points or 1.9% at 25605.54.
Although higher, the gains were well off the highs but also well off the lows (closing around mid range).
  • S&P index was up as much as 2.88% but was as low as -0.59%
  • Nasdaq index was up as much as 2.91% but was as low as -0.83%
  • Dow was up as much as 3.33% but was as low as -0.20%.
Below are the % high, low and closes for the major NA and European indices for today.
Stocks have worst week in 3 months For the week, the major indices all fell with the Dow the weakest.
  • S&P, -4.78%
  • Nasdaq, -2.3%
  • Dow, -5.55%

FOMC central tendencies and dot plot for projected rates. Fed projects rates to remain at current levels through 2022.

Central tendencies and dot plot for June 2020

The last time the central tendencies and dot plot was released was way back in December 2019.  At that time, the world was different place.

At the time in December, the Central tendencies saw 2020 numbers at:
  • GDP 2.2%
  • unemployment rate 3.5%
  • PCE inflation 1.9%
The 2021 projections saw:
  • GDP 1.9%
  • unemployment 3.6%
  • PCE inflation 2.0%
The projection for the Fed funds rate at the end of 2020 was 1.6%.  For 2021 the rate rose to at 1.9% with the 2022 rate at 2.1%.
The current median estimate for central tendencies shows 2020 numbers at:
  • GDP -6.5%
  • unemployment 9.3%
  • PCE inflation 0.8%
The projections for the Fed funds rate at the end of 2020 comes in at 0.1%. For 2021 the rate targets 0.1% with the 2022 rate targeted also at 0.1%.
Below is the chart of central tendencies from the Federal Reserve
Central tendencies
Below is the dot plot with all participants keeping the rate at 0.1%.  In 2022, there are two voting members to forecast day higher rate.  The market was looking for the Fed to keep rates low through 2022
Dot plot