Thursday, 4 December 2008

Sweden , U.K. , ECB , Shock Interest Rates Cut


"Sweden's central bank slashed its key interest rate by a record 175 basis points to 2.00 percent on Thursday, a shock move to try to prevent the economy from sliding deeper into recession.

The cut, more than three times larger than any reduction the central bank has ever made, was a far bolder move than markets had expected. Most economists were calling for 100 basis points
"

So from 3.75% to 2%, what a move!, it looks like a panic or a shock therapy to resucitate a non-reacting credit market.

So economist models got it wrong - they thought that high debt was sustainable as Asian countries were willing to save and allow the other to consume - Unfortunately the adjustement was far faster than anyone would have predicted.

Bankers made the same mistakes as in the late 80's. They clearly learn the wrong lessons- they lent in the past 10 years or more, to consumers in a frenzic way amid stagnating real income.

I wouldn't be surprise to see the ECB following in the same foot step, slashing rate to 2% sooner than people think as the situation could even be worse than the one in the U.S. . The U.S. starting correcting while the global economy was still growing...Europe will correct during the worst time possible...

2% is the first step, I think we could go toward the 0.5% by 2010, and follow the same "quantitative easing" as Japan, in order to put a floor to the debt deflation process...

Now, not sure about the implication on the Finnish economy...since the Swed have their own central bank, therefore are more agile than the Finn. Is that a race to attract capital inflow?, a way to devaluate its own currency to boost its competitiveness? ... time will tell.


Some updates concerning the U.K. :

"The Bank of England cut the benchmark interest rate to 2 percent, the lowest level since 1951 as lenders rationed credit, pushing the U.K. economy deeper into a recession.

The Monetary Policy Committee, led by Governor Mervyn King, reduced the bank rate by 1 percentage point, the central bank said in London today. The move matched the median forecast of 61 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. Sweden’s central bank also cut its rate today by the most since 1992.

“Conditions in money and credit markets remain extremely difficult,” the bank said in a statement. “The committee noted that it was unlikely that a normal volume of lending would be restored without further measures.”"


Indeed, it's all in the "Shock and Awe" technique... it's just reflect how bad the situation is. Obviously, it's not going to take any effect in the very short term but all the hopes are about the medium term: 2-5 years, that the current stimulus will prevent Economical and Social "Armagedon".

How about Europe?:

"The European Central Bank delivered the biggest interest-rate cut in its 10-year history (0.75% from 3.25% to 2.5%) after the economic slump deepened and the inflation rate plunged."

First, It worth to note that they will deliver more in the future. So for the moment, it's just a warming exercise as they need to keep some ammunition to deliver in January further cuts when the situation will seem or is about to get out of control.

Second, they don't want to see the Euro plunging against other currency i.e they will try to keep interest higher than the rest (UK, US) .

So for the moment, tighten your belt, keep calm...at least until 2010, at best or 2015 at worse.

41 comments:

Andrew said...

Well my theory that rates were going up seems to be about to be totally destroyed.

Andrew said...

And i have to say it now. Even that bloody beer looks like it is up for grabs too and there is still around 14 months left to run!

HousingFinland said...

Hi Andrew,

I think your theory is still relevant but that will be the next step.

First they have to stabilyse ("the Mess") the financial system...they got to slash interest rates to support the system from collapsing as most firms (and household) have taken far too much leverage.

Now how long does it take? 1 year, 2 years? 20 years? nobody knows...Japan is still fighting the deflation threat since 1989.

In the 30's it took 5-8 years...thanks to the second world war that helped them get away from it pretty fast.

Today all the central bankers are slashing rates to put a floor on massive declines. Some will fight to keep social stability (here i think about China, no wonder they slash interest rates and front loaded a massive fiscal stimulus).

So what Next?

As all the economy will be fighting their way out th crisis..protetionism threat could rise : some will push their currency lower in order to boost their export..some will put tarifs in place in order to protect their internal market...

The result?

As some one put it an "inflation holocaust" at some point...
no sure if it will really happen, but one sure thing is that when it happens interest rates will have to be raised much higher than people have been acustomed during the past 20 years...a 1982 type event.

When???

That the question...2011? 2015? 2020?

At least it will happen once the deleveraging has ended...

Andrew said...

So Swedens cut was not three times what they had previously cut by?

Rui said...

Excellent, I will pay back my housing load much fast.
:-)

I am expecting 2% interest rates very soon.

HousingFinland said...

The protectionism or trade race seem to have started...look at this article:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/3546471/Chinese-economy-1930s-beggar-thy-neighbour-fears-as-China-devalues.html

The fear become reality as country devaluate their currency to maintain a false competitive hedge..that could clearly start a trade "war"...


Regarding Sweden, i think they cut 3 time more than what the market was thinking... never the less...i think the banking system (Nordea and co) will go through shaky waters next year due to their heavy involvement in the Baltics...

HousingFinland said...

Hi Rui,

I think you don't get it or you don't want to...

In 1992, rates were falling very fast in Finland, I think they were divided by 4...but so were the house price.

In 1989, in Japan, interest rates were 6%, today there are at 0.5% or lower...but house price have ,since 1989, kept on falling...20 years of straight fall.

I think, if the situation is not stabilized soon (within a year), price could fall by 40%- 50% within 2 years on average. i.e we enter a depression period (and this time it's not only the insulated nordic that are in depression, it's the globe.)

In 1992, the Nordic were lucky that the global economy was in a very good health as the emerging market were surging and allowed many company/country to boost their export and get out from the depression.

Today all, really all have had massive excesses...on top of that you have had huge amount of leverage from banks...

Conclusion, you are going to get something worse, not seen, in 2-3 generations...unless a miracle/drama happen.

It sounds very pessimistics...but just highlights the facts that are clearly stamped by "unseen" and "histrical" measures made by central banks in the past months.

Now you will hear from politicians or economist that the economy is "sound" and the fundamentals structure is strong...that's the type of communication that were proliferating during the 1930's US depressions by Politicians (President) and Economists (Fisher, Mellon and co...).

Rui said...

Yes, I know. But what can I do?

It really does not matter to me, if housing price fall 50%, I have already bought my apartment. As long as interest keep on falling, I am happy.

I have been very careful when buying apartment, my loan time has never exceed 15 years in any given moment.

If history can repeat, I will still make the same decision to buy my current apartment. What option you have? You have to find a place to live, aren't you? Rents has been so high for so many years, and still no sign of dropping.

Recession is coming, so now it is wise to think about plan B. One option will be move to Norway? I was in Norway by car this summer, really nice place ... Sea, mountain, fishing ... Maybe it is time to apply for a Finnish passport and move to Norway immediately :-)

HousingFinland said...

"You have to find a place to live, aren't you? Rents has been so high for so many years, and still no sign of dropping."

They will, and very fast... No doubt

Remember company will still build, they have no choice otherwise, in the most absurd way, they stop building and disappear...not a likely scenario.

Of course, the government can use the tax payer money to build roads that doesn't end, or Opera buidlings that tax payer didn't ask for... BUT i believe this government is smart...he wil wait until construction cost plummet to start using effectively tax payer money.

Coming to the contruction builders, they will build and you have clear evidence around you -no need to be misinform by some media- there is excess capacity about to come to the market, adding to that there are plenty of landlord that are still believeig they can rent at those high price, so they wait with empty flat...

So 2009-2010, you will see rent for the first time ever starting to deflate...

contrary to the late 80's, you had a wage spirale, were income were rising fast, so did rent...Today income are plummeting (i.e temporary layoff, bonus disapearing, benefits faling and rise in unemployement).

The other point is as long as you can create job, you can sell/rent flat...once you have a stagnant job market..the "deal" change. Competition between "tenants" will increase (as opposed to the previous period where renters were fighting)...same for buying house..now it's a buyer market not a seller one...

So rent price will fall...most probably by 10% to 25% in the worse case.

In the US and UK , rent have been already falling..this are markets that are more mature...
In the US even in markets that have never seen a decline...http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=ad7usUyCk3aQ&refer=home

HousingFinland said...

"If history can repeat, I will still make the same decision to buy my current apartment"

Mr "you still don't get it", I can make a song about it, maybe even sing it ;->... Of course if you know clearly that price are overvalued, you won't buy. It's common sense. Why buying something that is 20-40% overvalued?

Norway? humm...so you move there because of the fish?...I only though that the "birds" were attractive..is that the reason? ;->

NorWay- NoWay..that my personal answer..it's already pretty cold and dark outtahere...why not moving to a warming country? Carribean..i hear you can catch "Tuna" from the shore ;->

Rui said...

When the housing price is over valued, so does the rent.

So you either lost in interest, or lost in rent. Or be homeless.

If you study the housing price, interest, renting cost 3 thing at the same time, you will figure out buying apartment is a good choice in most of the time.

So does in future, interest rate will go down 50% for sure, but I do not believe rent will go down 50%.

JD said...

Rui - Housing Finland:

You both make interesting points and I believe both are right.

1) Rates are going down drastically.
2) Housing prices are going down moderately.
3) Rent prices are going up substantially.

It is a very odd market...I bought a house this summer - probably over valued. The lady I have bought it from is now living in rentals costing substantially more than my mortgage (which is decreasing). She is consuming a large chunk of her earnings from the sale and cannot find any decent housing for purchase in the market as nobody wants to sell.

So, both of you are correct. You can either put the rent towards equity or you can wait until housing prices go down further. But you will also probably be waiting for a long while until something suitable comes along...

HousingFinland said...

@JD

"1) Rates are going down drastically.
2) Housing prices are going down moderately.
3) Rent prices are going up substantially."

*Point 1: no doubt about it. There is even a risk that we will go toward or near 0. My guess is that we will get 1.5% or 1% by end of next year.
Last august, i was clearly highliting the fact that Euribor was going to go down, and made reference to previous housing downturn. Housing downturn is always synchronized with falling interest rates: http://housingfinland.blogspot.com/2008/08/euribor-will-go-down-tighten-your-belt.html

(With maybe the exception of 2003--in Finland we had a mild correction-, which in fact triggered, around the world a massive bubble that is now imploding)

Now Euribor, will fall very fast- That will put big pressures on banks pushing them to lend less. The deflationnary forces have been activated. You will see less lending, less investment. Almost all asset classes losing value (during any depression, asset loses from 50% to 80% of their value depending of the severity of the depression...which make sense as this is usually associated with double digit unemployement)

*Point 2: Housing is not like the stock market or interest rates. It moves slowly in the short term, as it's not a very liquid asset unless you have forced liquidation or fire sale... Now, in the longer view, the correction will be substantial, there is no doubt about it now (there are enough evidence, that the process has started and will not stop in the forseing horizon)

*point3: About rent. Sorry to disappoint here (again? ;->), but there will be a sharp decline in rent for many reasons highlighted already but can be raised again:
-unemployment will increase putting pressure on income so impacting rent and housing - Today there was a news (http://www.yle.fi/news/id109449.html) that said that 36 000 were lay off temporarly...that is about a 1.5% temporay increase in the unemployement level in only a month while the economy has still past momentum...so I suppose it's only the beginning as this is only reflecting a begnin recession (which won't be: it will either be a severe recession, with uemployment over 8-11%, or a depression where unemployement is 15-20%).

Now government will fight that and they are clearly right. No point in discussing if the budget deficit will be in the red...the stake are too big. Again not only on the economical front but on the social one. They have already acted and hopefully they can avert a depression from appearing.

-Coming back to rent. You need teachers, bus drivers, nurses, cleaners etc...to live in cities. There is no choice but for the government to ramp up social buidings (could be a part of stimulus to avoid mass unemployement in the construction sector) with low cost rents...that will put pressure on rents. If rent stay sticky, the government will build more, until the market align itself to the new reality.

-Very few jobs will be created in the year or two to come, thus limiting the flow of people in the capital area, thus limiting the supply therefore the offer will have to adapt, again, to the new reality.

-The supply of housing is not rare, in fact it's increasing as we speak. There are a lot of unsold houses on the market, for the simple reason that they don't meet the demand (inflated prices) and the new reality (a world that has changed, moving from a debt society fuelled by cheap and available credit to a world where credit has simply vanished and where "money" or "cash" is gaining more power day by day (deflation scenario) )

-The risk attached to taking debt is far greater than staying on the sideline i.e renting. Renting is effectively a way to push risks to the tenant-obviously yoy pay a premium. In todays situation, it's wiser to rent, without any doubt. -Only a fool will advise to buy today, unless he wants to harm or feel that other need to share the same self inflicted pain-

It's a bit like any asset price, there is a good to buy and hold for a long term and sometime it can be disastrous. So Timing is crucial. Today is a bad time for housing, as it was most probably since 2006 at least (I think it all started from 2001).

Now if you don't think so , I'll be happy to hear your arguments.

At the end of the day, this blog is not about trying to influence prices, as it cannot ;->, but instead tryes to analyse and forecast, with concrete evidence, where prices could go. I think people reading the blog would like to hear hard evidence, not just saying that "renting is throwing money", "prices will always rise in the longer term", "housing is a good investment" etc... as it is the main argument advance by so many buyers, that don't really understand this market...and most of them are just repeating what other people/media says (we could call that a gregarious phenomenon )

Lot of ideas thrown here...maybe it would have been better to split that into few articles...maybe another time.

Rui said...

One more thing, under current market situation. The stock price is definitely dropping fast than housing price.

I think in the near future, EU and USA is going to print so much more money to stimulate economy.

1) Print lots of money -> Inflation -> dilute my loan capital

2) Low interest rate. I lose less to interest payment. With 2% of interest, 300K loan only create 500 Euro interest/month, that is nothing ...

Seems I am going to pay off my loan much faster. :-)

HousingFinland said...

@Rui

You don't get it.

You are thinking that a period like the 70's is going to happen where: wage were spiraling higher and higher making loan/debt cheaper as time was going.

Do you really think that wage will spiral higher?

The answer is trivial : NO

The period you should look at is the 1990's in Finland or 1930's in the US when you had a deflation period (although very short lived in Finland).

The U.S. is now fighting deflation as Japan has been doing in the past 20 years (I repeat again what i said many times, in Japan interest rates are virtually at 0% and house price have been falling in the past 20 years)

The burden of debt is greater when deflation is happenning.

It is less when you have hyperiflation...as I said, what you might have is deflation. Hyperinflation is a non sense here in Europe and US... In China, India that's another question.

So still you come with no valid argument, what makes you think we will have hyperinflation?

Rui said...

Hyperinflation will come in US next year. EU will soon flow.

In order to help the bank, US fed will print as much money as needed. They will keep on printing until inflation starts.

Printing money is the magic, it bayout all the banks, car company, at the same time kill the deflation. Stimulate the consumption.

Apart from printing money what else can US govenment do? Once dollar is cheap, EU has to keep on print Euro to de-valuate Euro to keep it export competitive, so does China.

So the way to out of current recession and hugh amount bad housing essets is simple,

print as much money as = The amount of bad banking essets.

HousingFinland said...

Policy and economical mistakes made during the 70's are still visible today: a very uncompetitive forest industry. That was the result of wage spirale that ended in the late 80's.

After that the forest had never recovered and the decline of the giants started...

It's true that Giant China could sign its decline if it makes the same type of policies errors...maybe after all it will be pushed to do it?

Coming back to the US...If investors were afraid of hyperinflation, they won't buy 30 years bond yielding at 3% and worse 3 month treasury bond yielding 0.01% (almost 0!) and do you think investors will buy a 2 year treasury bond yielding 0.8% if they were seeing inflation ahead...That's hard evidence... At least future market are pricing deflation with a big D as well as depression with a big D for the US and Europe (see the CDS spread, betting that lots of company will become insolvent or go bankrupt)...

I had a discussion on the same subject, on hyperinflation and debt swallowed by it one year and half ago...In fact inflation has swalowed quite much of his saving and capital, not the reverse.

I was betting that deflation will be the right bet (simply by observing the massive debt leverage and consumer debt being build as well as the incapacity of Union and people to bargain higher and higher salaries)...

At least today deflation is the threat...
The US has already signaled this week that they will start the same policy as the japanese ("Quantitative easing"), a sign that they are fighting deflation (inflation is a reflection of the past event, the past image in the mirror...looking in front you have massive deflationnary forces: income plummeting, housing plummeting, stock plummeting, bankrupties soaring, unemployed surging etc..etc..)

Andrew said...

Seems like the Fed has finally got the message.

fed-buys-5-billion-in-agency-debt

Eventually they will arrive at something that makes a difference and some kind of floor will be put under housing and people will know it is safe to buy - even if not much happens for years to really change the overall situation.

We then enter the Rui hypothesis rather than the HousingFinland nightmare and things nobody should want to believe will be allowed to happen as a worldwide event. Deflation and protectionism creates an ugly future.

HousingFinland said...

I'm not telling where the market (inflation/deflation/recession/depression) should be going, what i'm pointing is the evidence of what is currently happenning.

It's clear that some people with debt want to see hyperinflation to occur - this is a self interest.

I think I highlighted earlier that if hyperinflation were to happen it will plunge us into a knightmare scenario (see 1933 Germany)...but in today world, think about the retiree that have fixed low pension. Should price rise following an hyperinflation style, then it's disaster for them.

The ECB has clearly raised that issue (the retiree), once in his meeting, and it will not tolerate that. So that's one of the reason I have discounted this hyperinflation scenario in Europe and US.

Now one want to see recession or depression to happen. On the other scale no one want to see irrational behaviour that creates bubble after bubble or see prices that rise faster than income.

I think Europe, and the US have mature economy and have a good understanding on how to navigate even under heavy storm. History is a reminder that you cannot allow either hyperinflation or deflation to happen.

At best, you will see a disenflation (inflation decelerating, even downshooting (deflation) for few months).

Now the emerging market, in the short run could/might take the full force of the storm and get hyperinflation at some point. But in reality it could just deteriorate their competitivity in term of price and maybe rebalance slowly the trade game.

So I don't believe hyperinflation will ever be on the agenda as you have clear tools to fight it, Volker's 1982 actions had clearly demonstrated it and it worked.

Deflation is another beast that is harder to fight, since monetary policy with interest rates policy near zero become a useless tool.

The US can print money, no problem as it manages to find buyers for the debt it is creating : China and the Middle East keep on buying. They have no choice. Their financial market is not yet developped, they cannot absorb the surplus they have and they won't let the US sink or they will sink too...and not only the economy but the government in place too.

At the end, Deflation, hyperinflation, disenflation, who cares? as long as you have a good job and are not stress by the financial decision you have made in the past. The problem will be to get the wise decision and being distracted by self interest comment either coming from banker's economist of highly paid investment economist.

Some are suggesting that it's fine to buy a house, or will buy again, today, if it has to be done again...what kind of advise is that? that is crazy. I have created this blog simply because i started to see very misleading comment from those economist and understood that quite many people didn't realise what was really happening since the only media they had access was clearly distorting or filtering the information. I found it outrageous so I created the blog.

If lesson has to be learn from this crisis, is the fact that people should plan carefully their finance adn risks.

So again, hyperinflation - deflation- inflation, that's not the problem, what you should look at instead, is planning ahead on what you want and the risks associated with it and mitigate them. Take a loan but have saving -cushion an most important the timing. Buying today s clearly crazy. Buying in few years is the safest bet as you will be saving in the meantime... (no rush to buy as in the crazy time since housing won't rise but instead swiftly and slowly correct downward, which is good for everybody, sellers, buyers and the economy) -

Andrew said...

Well if you are only considering deflation occuring for a few months then you are essentially an inflationist and we more or less agree.

And i am sorry I had not realised that Rui is seeing US hyperinflation - which gets less and less unlikely i think.

However you seem to think some kind of Japanese type lost decade or two is possible?

So i am still not sure what you mean.

I do think there is a possibility the bubble will be reinflated to allow time to resolve the mess.

They managed to do that 6/7 years ago and no doubt will try again.

I suppose i am saying that *is* the right thing to do, because otherwise the results are only ugly. If they succeed some adjustments in policy are required related to regulation of excesses and even our population relative to our resources. But that is utopian. Humans are just not like that.

A fix is needed and one will be attempted and then we will have the resulting system and have to live with that with all its imperfections.

However if the banks survived and we had a massive ongoing deflation that would not turn out too bad for me or whoever inherits from me. But i am hoping to live now rather than in 20 years time so i have to balance desire to harvest later with desire to live now.

Rui said...


However you seem to think some kind of Japanese type lost decade or two is possible?


That is not possible. Japan was forced into this situation, by US and EU.

I think the way to get out of current recession is, and I believe it will happen next year,

1) Government take over all the bad banking essets. With printed money.

2) Step 1 will give liquid back to the market, so real economy can recover.

3) The way to deal with hugh bad banking essets, is dilute it with high inflation, and just bankrupt the none-essential investment bank, like Lieman Brothers. So whoever has invested in Stock market will be big loser. We will see stock market keep on falling.

4) About housing price in Finland, I would say in next two years, it will have moderate drop. But not too much, since the demand is there, in the great Helsinki area.

5) About rent. It will not drop at all, I can bet with you, show me your rent payment receipts. If it drop a penny until 2009 end??? :-)

HousingFinland said...

"1) Government take over all the bad banking essets. With printed money."

So the government will take the risk of collapsing itself by buying the bad debt or assets...If it were to do so, it will open the doors for systematic self destruction.

So Governments won't do that. Or the smart one won't do that. Maybe the smart one will give the impression they will do it so the weak one will do it and commit a mistake...

They will let the weak institutions fail, and the stronger that are being weaken by the "uncompetent" will have to be rescued. No doubt.


But First they need to identify which is the one to rescue. The process need time..and that's what we have clearly observed in the U.S.

Some "weak" cannot be allowed to fail overnight, but its assets sold out to the "stronger" one...this, in order to avoid contagion.

I would like to highlight that the ECB, The European central bank has been injected billions of Euro in the system, last year... but as short term loan. Meaning that money lent to some banks are fully repaid within 15, 30 or 90 days. So it was to overcome extreme situation when the credit market completely froze and didn't allow some "sound" institutions to refinance.

But on the other hand, I'm very and will be very attentive on what they will do after they stave off deflation. I'm not worried about policy makers, i'm confident they understand what they are doing.
What will worry me is politicians, as their competence is sometime questionable. It's true, they could be a cause of hyperinflation...but I'm more refering to emerging market politicans... India being an example, China as well. India cut interest rates amid very high inflation and massive mortgage growth...there could be serious case to be made regarding hyperinflation. I will put China in the same pot. As I think the government will be obsessed to keep the same growth as in the past...obviously impossible in todays environment. Maybe China should hire Tom Cruise, in order to resolve the Economical "Mission Impossible" Conumdrum...

All in all ,I see deflation at least until 2010-2011, then we will see. The world would have changed in the meantime.

Rui said...

China does not need Tom Cruise, but wall street does need formal Chinese priminister Zhu RongJi.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhu_Rongji

HousingFinland said...

One thing to add to close this discussion.

Everyone is more or less affected by the stock market fall, either by:

-Through the pension fund -every one is -forced- to put money on a monthly basis for paying current pension. This money os being managed by pension fund. I have already highlighted the issue : http://housingfinland.blogspot.com/2008/11/making-finnish-pension-fund-flexible.html

-The capital value of a company that lower its capacity to borrow

-Investors do not want to invest as during deflation all asset price are falling.

Now If you believe that hyperinflation is on the agenda then I will advise to pill up, Car, Wheat, Sugar, Any commodity that is worth more "Tomorrow" than "Today" during Hyperinflation...of course with the hope that your income followthe rate of hyperinflation (your employer has the incentive to rise your salary accordingly and not pushed to delocalize due to "nonsense" hyperinflation.)

Another point: hyper inflation is due to "money inflation", while Deflation is preceded by "credit inflation", currently what we witnessed...

Rui said...

Every thing is possible.

If in summer, I told you oil price will drop to 40$, you must think I am crazy.

I think, price will keep on dropping until next summer, after that inflation starts to kick in.

I will either buy a new car next March, or buy some stock. Right now I am just watching.

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