The Bank of England, People’s Bank of China and the European Central Bank all cut lending rates or added quantitative easing today, a near-global spurt of monetary stimulus designed to increase economic growth. Because the Federal Reserve hasn’t joined in, the dollar is growing stronger, which is bad news for US exports.
China and the European Central Bank cut interest rates Thursday in an attempt to bolster their flagging economies amid worries the eurozone debt crisis will sap growth further in the coming months.
At the same time, the U.K. launched another round of stimulus to try to drag its ecnomy out of recession.
The Chinese central bank also took another step in liberalising interest rates by lowering the floor for lending rates to 70 percent of benchmark rates from 80 percent previously [...]
In addition to cutting the main refinancing rate, the ECB also reduced its deposit rate, which acts as a floor for the money market, to zero from 0.25 percent.
This move could encourage banks to lend to each other rather than simply parking funds of up to 800 billion euros back at the ECB every night.
The ECB rate cut was expected, but the moves by England and especially China were not. So this is causing a spike in global markets. It’s pretty amazing that the ECB was lending at 1% to begin with, given the desperate situation in the Eurozone. And they didn’t manage to lower it more than 25 basis points.
This, along with some half-decent employment reports, has caused a surge in the dollar this morning. That stands to reason, with the monetary steps globally creating a new balance of supply. But it’s a paradoxical bit of news for the US. While any steps to get other countries to address their economic problems and generate stimulus and growth is probably good for the US overall, steps like these that strengthen the dollar can rebound negatively. We’re already starting to see a weakening in manufacturing, and a stronger dollar means more expensive exports. That could lead to an even more negative balance of trade. Keep in mind that the IMF’s recent assessment of the US economy stated that the dollar is already mildly over-appreciated, compared to the fundamentals.
The Obama Administration today will file an unfair trade complaint with the WTO against China, because of new duties put on by the Chinese on US-made cars and SUVs. But the increased strength of the dollar is a duty in and of itself. The Fed could react with easing of its own. But they have been reluctant to do so.