What the market's watching at central bank meetings
In the next eight days, Canada, Europe, Japan, America and England will host central banks meetings where further details of QE tapering and potential rate raises are expected. What are the market expectations?
Produced by Alessia Giustiniano. Filmed by Rod Fitzgerald.
Canada today, Europe tomorrow, then Japan, America, and England in quick succession, an eight-day parade of central bank meetings is about to signal the direction for monetary policy mere months after bond markets became convinced they are marching towards a more normal world. Another lap near zero seems a more likely outcome, however.
The Bank of Canada, after increasing interest rates twice in quick succession to 1%, has shifted tone. Governor Stephen Poloz recently said we will continue to feel our way cautiously as we get closer to home. Market expectations have slipped, with prices implying a less than 50-50 chance of another rise this year. Mario Draghi's European Central Bank has reached the point when the announcements of a reduction in its EU60 billion per month of bond purchases is inevitable.
Yet the noise has been about calibration, leading to some new market jargon. Instead of a US-style taper, expect a European scaling of purchases, leaving its options open, while announcing, say, nine months of buying at a reduced level, which suggests normality remains a distant prospect.
In Japan, no change is expected. Instead, attention is focused on policy board member, Goshi Kataoka. A reflationist who dissented at September's meeting, he could present a proposal for even more economic stimulus.
The ruling Liberal Democrat party was also just re-elected on a manifesto commitment to forceful monetary easing. And Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the 2% target for inflation will stay. More, not less extraordinary measures seems likely.
Only the Federal Reserve is well along the way to normal policy and could ignore soft inflation data to raise rates in December. The meeting is a sideshow, however, compared to the question of who is nominated to run the institution next year by the mercurial Donald Trump, which leaves a Bank of England more finely poised than market prices suggest.
A first rise in interest rates for a decade to 0.5% is a more than 80% possibility this year. Inflation of 3% in September is already well above target. Yet Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe said on Monday that "the economy has clearly slowed this year."
Central bankers continually show their desire for flexibility and more data. Whatever the hopes for higher interest rates, normal monetary policy requires the exercise of patience.