Look, We Have A US Taper!

1 Comment » Written on December 19th, 2013 by
Categories: Commentary
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The US Fed decided on a $10 billion taper today. From buying $85 billion worth securities per month, they will buy only $75 billion worth, including $35 billion of Mortgage Based Securities (MBS) and $40 billion of government bonds. (The deal is to take off $5 bn from each, from January)

This is accompanied with a strong statement that interest rates will remain at zero until inflation crosses 2%. The unemployment target is 6.5% or lesser, but rates could stay low even if that is achieved if inflation targets are not reached. The visibility into this says: not till 2016 will we raise rates.

They also said they’ll continue to pay interest on reserves. So financial institutions can continue to borrow at near-zero, and put it back into the Fed at 0.25%; the free money game is still on.

But the Markets Went UP on the Taper!

The US markets went up 2%. No one knows why. It’s probably that someone said goodbye to the taper and this happened:

I thought in the morning that Indian markets would go up. They didn’t. They are down 1% or so today. Banks were down 2%, while IT was up 2%.

The rupee is at Rs. 62.3 to the dollar. This is a near term high for the USDINR.

The US Bond yield was down - when a taper should have made it go up. It ended at 2.88%.

Gold has fallen 2.5% in US dollar terms, but not so much in rupee terms.

How does the US Taper Impact India?

There’s much more in Capital Mind Premium’s letter today, but here’s the gist. A US taper reduces the amount of money foreigners will invest in India. We know that our current account deficit is large and is bridged by financing, through:

  • rupee depreciation (undesirable)
  • foreign debt or equity inflows (desirable)
  • NRI deposits (desirable)

The desirable options depend largely on how much India remains attractive, Without them we end up with rupee depreciation.

We’ve done the do on NRI deposits and it may not be great to do it any further. For Foreign inflows, we’ve done well in the last month or so. Yet, the taper may change that. In that it may increase market yields of bonds in the US, so our “spread” comes down, and therefore people can get dollar denominated assets at a higher yield, which they may choose to invest.

Second, consider $10 billion a month now is $120 billion a year, and perhaps even more because the US is going to reduce this buying. We have seen only $10 billion come to India as portfolio flows in 2013. What if that goes away because the US isn’t really flooding the market with money anymore?

Markets in India aren’t rejoicing yet. Let’s see how it all pans out, while Europe sings and dances.

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About the Author:
http://www.capitalmind.in
The man behind Capital Mind. Deepak is a co-founder at MarketVision, a financial knowledge company. Deepak also provides data research and consulting services, and now lives in Bangalore. Connect with him at deepakshenoy@gmail.com.

One Response to “Look, We Have A US Taper!”

$10 billion is not really an overall reduction of $10 billion per month. If you consider the fractional reserve system, the money supply increases by 8 to 10 times the base. The $10 billion per month is only a reduction in the Federal reserve balance sheet, the impact is quite outstanding even if the taper is a teeny tiny bit.

Change in the Money supply = (Change in the Monetary base) x (Money multiplier)

My guess is that the following things may be in play:
1) The picture that Fed is a BDFL is now gone, Fed is also under pressure to reduce (and maybe stop completely) the money printing and has to give in. So the notion of ‘inflate your debt away’ now seems distant.
2) This will not bode well for the quadrillions of dollars that are in derivatives, a small real interest rate hike and the Financial weapons of mass destruction will be unleashed
3) Now the only way to get the Fed back into speeding up the printing presses is to have a financial meltdown and that risk is spooking the markets
4) Even though the Fed says interest rates will only start increases after some years – I donno how they are going to do that without QE unlimited. Tapering will panic the bond holders which will cause the yields to increase
5) All the developed and developing countries are saturated with debt. Any real increase in interest rates will cause massive defaults everywhere. Stockmarkets are not a concern here – there is a real threat of currency collapse and an entire generation losing trust on paper issued by their governments.
6) Even if there is a tiny increase in the yields of US Treasuries – Japan is over!

Why would someone invest in EMs which has so many risks (weak currency, immature markets, spendthrift governments, the indexes are all time highs and currency is artificially pegged to an unrealistic exchange rate) when commodities are so tempting

-Vamsy