October, 28 2016 by lsr team

The PBoC’s trade-weighted RMB basket has weakened by a little over 8% since its launch last December. The drop has been orderly, in line with Beijing’s intentions. However, the low-hanging fruit from RMB depreciation has already been picked. Despite successively weaker CNY fixings against the dollar, the RMB basket has failed to decline since late August and this month it has been creeping higher. What is causing this divergence? Is it sustainable, and what does it mean for Beijing’s policy choices?

October, 14 2016 by lsr team

The euro area LI continues to put in an above consensus call. It is probably over predicting growth somewhat but its strength is fundamentally underpinned by the newly emerged German locomotive. While German demand often turns out to be derived from others, chiefly China, in this case it is genuine. In fact, this is highlighted by our below consensus Australia call. China’s stimulus has not fed through to a rebound in private demand, although easing PPI deflation is helping manufacturers.

September, 23 2016 by lsr team

The RBA’s shift to a neutral bias at its meeting in September, following 50bps of rate cuts in 2016, did not come as a surprise. Perhaps more interesting was the discussion of the most recent collateral damage in the global monetary policy race to the bottom. Officials took note of the distortive impact of the BoJ’s policies on Australia’s repo market, manifested in rising repo rate spreads relative to the RBA’s cash rate. In turn, persistently high repo rates put upward pressure on Australian banks’ funding cost base, further strengthening the...

September, 02 2016 by lsr team

It’s our concern that inflation in the US will eventually outpace market expectations in 2017, as sturdy demand plays out against a weakened supply side and wages and inflation spur each other along. However, for now, real wage growth may even moderate in the US, as wage negotiations typically reflect inflation 6 quarters previously. In this video, we outline what is holding down the long end of the curve in the US and highlight a tactical trade from our strategists before these deeper themes play out. Is it Draghi that holds the key?

June, 02 2016 by lsr team

China’s rebalancing started only in 2015, with recent numbers showing significant progress in rebalancing from excessive saving and capex towards more consumer spending. Capex in 2015 fell by 1.8% of GDP, while gross savings dropped by 1%. This is the first concrete evidence of genuine rebalancing, but still remains small in relation to what is needed. Our Chief Economist, Charles Dumas explains how further rebalancing can be achieved through explicit yuan devaluation against the dollar and other major currencies. Click above to watch the full video. &...

May, 12 2016 by lsr team

Following a surge in new loans earlier this year, investors are concerned again about the sustainability of China’s debt. Severe producer price deflation and decimated profits show just how unproductive investment has been. The good news is that China’s total non-financial debt is still low compared to most advanced countries. However, China’s refusal to tackle zombie companies has caused a massive slowdown in productivity, compromising China’s ability to grow its way out of the debt problem…

April, 21 2016 by lsr team

Charles Dumas, director of Lombard Street Research, discusses the EU referendum’s impact on the UK unemployment numbers, and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s latest comments on monetary easing. He says the Bank of Japan has no control over the currency market and that people have an exaggerated understanding of the power of central banks. Click here to download and listen to the Bloomberg podcast or below to read his la...

April, 20 2016 by lsr team

The EM asset rally has been underpinned by a dovish Fed, receding fears of US recession and tentative evidence of macro stabilisation in China following a shift to pro-growth policies in Beijing. What has received less attention is the role played by recent yen appreciation, from both fundamental and risk angles. The onset of Abenomics weakened JPY/USD by some 40% in the space of three years. The yen bottomed in June, received a boost in the wake of August’s CNY step devaluation and embarked on a relatively steep appreciation path in December 2015 as global risk av...

April, 20 2016 by lsr team

Freya Beamish, senior economist at Lombard Street Research talks about the risks on the horizon for Japan on FundForum Asia. Click above to watch the full video.  

April, 15 2016 by lsr team

Welcome to our LSR Weekly View. In this video, our senior economist, Freya Beamish discusses Japan's monetary policy following the recent yen strength .These key issues are also covered in our latest LSR View. Click above to watch the full video or below to read the full report.  

April, 13 2016 by lsr team

Back in January, economists were gloomily warning about currency wars. The Bank of Japan had just announced negative interest rates and seemed to be threatening even lower – possibly much lower – rates to come. The ECB was set to respond at its meeting in March. And, of course, everyone was concerned about the prospect of a major Chinese devaluation. A few months after much of this talk has disappeared. There seems to be a ceasefire in the global currency ‘war’ and many economists attribute this to February’s G20 meeting in Shanghai. Even...

March, 15 2016 by lsr team

The Bank of Japan left monetary policy unchanged today. The effect of negative interest rates on the currency in January was the opposite of that intended: the central bank’s aggressive adoption of negative deposit rates merely fuelled global angst at a critical juncture, driving repatriation flows into Japan and pushing up the currency. The ECB’s policy easing last week had a more beneficial effect on asset prices but has again left the currency unchanged, reinforcing the message for the BoJ. For Japan, where currency moves dominate the equity market, it’...

March, 04 2016 by lsr team

March is a busy month for central bank watchers. The fun starts next Thursday in Frankfurt with the ECB policy decision, before moving to the BoJ (15th), the Fed (16th) and the BoE (17th). With investors concerned about the state of the global economy and wondering whether monetary policy is reaching its limits, markets are looking for a central bank response. But outside the euro area, we don’t expect a great deal of action. Market rate expectations for the Fed and the BoE have already dropped sharply (down 75-90bps since December) and some comforting words should be...

February, 10 2016 by lsr team

It was almost exactly a year ago that various bond yields in Europe turned negative, unleashing a wave of questions from our readers. Clients wanted to know what this strange phenomenon meant and how long it would last. Twelve months on, far from proving to be a temporary aberration, central banks in Europe have taken their policy rates deeper into negative territory. Now the Bank of Japan has joined in and helped push the 10-year government bond yield to almost zero today. With risks to the global economy intensifying, there is even speculation that US and UK rates coul...

February, 09 2016 by lsr team

Ironically, financial market turbulence has hit just as the world economy’s chances of rebalancing successfully had increased. We published our year ahead piece in early December with the title “Don’t panic!”, but investors returned to work after the holidays worried about China’s slowdown, collapsing oil prices, global debt unwinding and the dearth of policy options left open to leading central banks. Widespread anxiety pulled the rug from under asset prices. As is our tradition, we asked our clients in mid- January for their top questions...

February, 02 2016 by lsr team

The BoJ followed through on recent threats to loosen policy by cutting its interest rate on new reserves to -0.1% last Friday. A comparison to Europe pushing into negative territory is misguided at best. Japan has a government deficit of 6% of GDP to finance and a huge pile of public debt to service so it needs to keep its investor audience captive. The increase in reserves each year is huge because of the BoJ’s asset purchase programme. If a central bank buys 80trn yen of JGBs then by definition, this eventually creates 80trn yen of reserves. Reserves at the BoJ incr...

January, 08 2016 by lsr team

While it is always dangerous to extrapolate from the recent past, the consensus expects 2016 to look remarkably like 2015. The issues that have dominated market commentary over the past 12 months – EM weakness, global deflation and central bank divergence – remain the sellside’s favourite 2016 themes. There is also a surprising amount of agreement about what will happen. Growth will move sideways, inflation will remain too low and the divergence trade has further to run. T...

January, 04 2016 by lsr team

Happy New Year! Having sifted through various sell-side reports, we conclude that our emerging market view is more on the bearish side. While we have a constructive stance on some EMs, India and Mexico in particular, our general tone is still one of caution. For more details, please request a copy of our year-ahead piece -2016: Don’t panic, yet! In today’s note, we address three key questions: 1) Why are we more bearish than consensus on EMs? 2) What would make us more optimistic? 3) What would make us more negative? Click below to find out more.

December, 09 2015 by lsr team

Twelve months ago we said 2015 would be a year of ‘deceptive calm’. With the S&P 500 up 5% and US 10-year yields around 5bps higher, you could say our forecast was accurate. Markets spent much of the year in an anxious state, fretting about Greece, then China, then the risk of a synchronised global recession. In 2006 and 2007, LSR had a high conviction that a financial meltdown was about to wreak havoc on the global economy. This time around we stick with our 2015 theme ‘Keep Dancing’ but with no great conviction. Looking ahead to 2016, China...

November, 30 2015 by lsr team

With economists across the City busy finalising their big what-will-happen in 2016 publications, LSR likes to revisit what we wrote 12 months ago and see how those views panned out. This is useful not only because it highlights our successes but also it provides a way to explain our clients what we got wrong. Of course, this breaks one of the golden rules of sell-side economics – never admit when you’re wrong - but we believe it is a way of providing intellectual consistency. Clients can usually forgive economists for changing their mind, as long as they can exp...

November, 24 2015 by lsr team

Beginning in the early 1970s, Japan embarked on a long quest to reform its financial sector. Liberalisation in one area brought unintended consequences in others. Excessive leverage and regulations that failed to keep up with changes inevitably led to a crisis. Today, China has come to a point where financial reform is critical. While China does not have Japan’s luxury to pursue financial reform gradually, Japan’s experience however could shed some light. We visit Japan’s story and look at its implications and what China could do to avoid Japan’s...

October, 29 2015 by lsr team

Japan’s central bankers are locked in the same vicious cycle as the rest of the world. The US in isolation could easily have raised rates by now, but the rest of the world is not ready and is now big enough to give the Fed cause to pause. However, unwilling to relinquish their grip on America’s coat tails, central banks outside the US have responded to Fed hesitation by lowering the bar, pushing interest rates below zero and devaluing currencies. The result is a race to the bottom. Japan’s QE is already huge and expanding the programme would hasten the...

October, 22 2015 by lsr team

The Trans Pacific Partnership is publicly touted in Japan as a boon for exporters, but a well-designed FTA should be geared towards households. The chief gains from free trade typically arise from tougher import competition. The aim of an FTA in Japan should be to increase the efficiency of goods and services provision so that consumers benefit from a more competitively priced product while workers earn more thanks to improved productivity. That’s a heady ideal, and in practice it doesn’t always work like this. The report below examines two key issues: 1) to...

October, 09 2015 by lsr team

Abenomics is a response to frustration with Japan’s poor economic performance since its bubble burst in 1990. But Abenomics treats the symptoms, especially deflation, rather than the disease, which it makes worse. Disastrous consequences of Abenomics have only been avoided so far, because it has failed to generate inflation – courtesy of the oil price slump and Japan’s enfeebled domestic demand. But can QE ever be stopped and more importantly, is Japan about to face a financial crisis? Click below to find out our latest View on Japan.

September, 04 2015 by lsr team

Recent falls in equity markets have reignited the debate about the appropriateness of monetary tightening in the US and elsewhere. Those economists committed to a ‘secular stagnation’ view of the global economy perceive recent market falls as a vindication; how could the Fed, or indeed the Bank of England, be considering raising rates from emergency levels when there is still clearly an emergency? Yesterday was the turn of Mario Draghi and the ECB to make their contribution to this debate. While recent euro strength will be a concern, the ECB’s QE progr...

August, 17 2015 by lsr team

Japan’s Q2 real GDP declined at a 1.6% annual rate, led by consumer spending and exports. While Q1 was buoyant, underlying growth since the start of Abenomics –QE in late 2012 has been no better than on trend. The Q2 contraction would have been a lot worse if the government had not resumed boosting public investment, and government spending in general, to complement continued massive QE. The basic problem in Japan remains that only exports seem capable of generating growth in the economy. Japan has two alternatives: implement structural measures to slash corp...

August, 11 2015 by lsr team

The People’s Bank of China fixed the yuan rate at the top of yesterday’s trading range, pushing the currency down by 1.9% against the dollar. In their statement today, the authorities said the change would help drive the currency towards more market-driven movements. As we have previously argued, growth has weakened sharply under the burden of the overvalued yuan and capacity excesses while monetary conditions remain tight. Although the economy desperately needs a weaker currency, joining the other saver economies -Japan and the euro area- in the global currency...

June, 24 2015 by lsr team

As the start of the rate hiking cycle in the US draws closer, concerns are intensifying about the tightening of liquidity conditions in emerging markets (EMs). Some investors cite the aggressive QE policies of the BOJ and more recently the ECB as forces that will keep official liquidity provision abundant. But our analysis continues to show that the evidence so far, at least from Japanese QE, does not offer much room for hope. Annual outflows from Japan have increased since the start of BOJ’s latest QE programme and are now the highest since the global financial crisi...

June, 22 2015 by lsr team

China’s economy is losing steam fast under the burden of local government and corporate debt. According to our estimates, non-financial debt including shadow banking reached 240% of GDP in 2014, while real GDP growth averaged just under 5%. Beijing’s local government debt bailout plan buys time, but we estimate that a proper clean-up could mean government debt rising to as high as 105% of GDP. Click below for our exclusive report on ‘’Defusing China’s debt bomb” to find out if Beijing can afford to clean up past excesses, whether its d...