Understand why the US yield curve may be about to invert and you've understood a lot IMHO.
Brad Setser picks up on the FTs Steve Johnson, and earlier here.
Johnson makes one extremely revealing point:
"The chief problem for the yen is that the flattening of the US yield curve has made it uneconomical for Japanese investors to hedge their ongoing purchases of US Treasuries, but a falling yen encourages overseas investors to hedge their purchases of Japanese equities - negating the value of these latter flows in currency terms."
Obviously what we have is asymmetric hedging. This begins to solve what had long been a mystery for me: who was really buying into the sustained Japanese recovery argument. Obviously many of the Japanese themselves aren't (sensible them). But OPEC members are. Really they should sack all their financial consultants :). The big issue, of course, is the US yield curve. The chain normally cracks at its weakest point, so this is a must to watch. Also, I wonder how much asymmetric hedging is taking place in Germany?
Basically the growth imbalance between the US, Germany and Japan, and the inability of these latter two economies to 'normalise' interest rates is producing a significant distortion in the global financial system. The US can have interest rates in the 4 to 5% range and still grow faster than either of the other two.
Co-indidentally cross this with a petro-dollar surplus arising from the changing terms of trade, and you have all the ingredients for some kind of problem. Now let's wait and see what happens next. I'm fascinated.
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