Noted For Your Thursday Morning Ruminations: Around The Net February 5, 2015 Edition

Noted for you Thursday morning ruminations or procrastinations – take your pick.

  1. Fed optimism could cost the economy dearly – If the Fed is overly optimistic yet again — as it has been throughout the Great Recession and subsequent recovery — and if it fails to recognize its tendency to wear rose-colored glasses, it could raise interest rates too soon. That would slow the recovery and perhaps even create a stall as the economy gets caught in a deflationary spiral.
  2. Blaming a $15 minimum wage, a bookstore closes its doors – “Although all of us at Borderlands support the concept of a living wage in principal and we believe that it’s possible that the new law will be good for San Francisco, Borderlands Books as it exists is not a financially viable business if subject to that minimum wage,”
  3. Here’s why the oil glut may continue – There is so much oil available that it will take a while for those measures to make a dent in production. In addition, most of the rigs mothballed so far were in low-yield wells—low-hanging fruit that won’t make much of an impact.
  4. Volatility in currencies nears highest level in two decades – Only after the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the days following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, have currencies been more volatile, said Bank of America Merrill Lynch strategist David Woo.
  5. For the consumer, the dollar actually hasn’t been that strong – A better measure, what the Fed calls its “other important trading partners” index, has climbed just 7% over the same seven months. That’s a solid gain, but historically an unremarkable one, Sharif says.
  6. ECB Shuts Off Direct Funds to Greece as Reform Progress in Doubt – The decision will force Greek lenders, who since 2010 had been able to access funds from the ECB against junk-rated collateral, to apply for funding from their national central bank at less-advantageous rates. The decision comes hours after Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis met ECB President Mario Draghi in Frankfurt to gain support for his government’s push to renegotiate the terms of its international bailout.
  7. Yanis Varoufakis: ‘I’m the finance minister of a bankrupt country’ – Ahead of a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on Thursday, Germany is expected to demand that Syriza drop its anti-austerity promises and continues to stick by its existing bailout arrangements.
  8. European Central Bank Steps Up Financial Pressure On Greece To Reach Deal – The new Greek leaders have had a cool reception even in left-leaning countries such as France and Italy which Athens had hoped would support its case for debt relief.
  9. Are Emerging Markets Ready for the Housing Earthquake? – According to the Global Housing Watch of the IMF (Figure 1), for instance, house prices (and credit) in Brazil, China, and Turkey are still running well ahead of inflation, even though income growth has long slowed in these economies. Particularly worrisome in Brazil and Turkey, inflation is high and the current account deficit is quite large; these economies are still overheating and relaying on foreign borrowing to spend beyond their means. In contrast, prices in India and Russia are falling as domestic problems have already poked the housing bubble.
  10. Croatia’s debt relief: not all it’s cracked up to be – After an agreement with Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, the debts will be written off by major local banks, telecom operators, big municipal authorities and several public utility companies. The central government is not covering the costs: the creditors will have to absorb losses themselves.
  11. Basics in place, must target double-digit growth: RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan – He pointed to the example of the Federal Reserve which engaged in aggressive QE only to see the dollar strengthen after the measure was withdrawn.Rajan did not directly respond to a question on whether he supported a relaxation in the fiscal deficit target, a suggestion contained in the government’s mid-year economic review, saying that the quality of fiscal consolidation was important.
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