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Unprecedented Global Coordinated Interest Rate Cut

Interest-Rates / Global Financial System Oct 08, 2008 - 08:34 AM GMT

By: Joseph_Brusuelas

Interest-Rates The US Federal Reserve along with the Bank of Canada, Bank of England, the European Central Bank, Sweden Riksbank and the Swiss National Bank acted in concert to reduce short term lending rates in pre-market hours this morning.


By a unanimous decision the Fed lowered its target rate for the federal funds rate by 50 basis points to 1.5% and reduced the discount rate by an equal measure to 1.75%. While it is certain that the FOMC did not respond to the overnight deterioration in interbank markets, the move comes at a crucial time and almost certainly was taken in support of the series of unprecedented moves taken in recent days by the Fed and its global partners.

We have made the case in recent days that a global central rate cut was in the offing and we do think that the steps taken by the Fed, the Treasury and the Congress should facilitate the movement in overnight and short term lending. Should this occur, holders of adjustable rate mortgages that reset based against the six month Libor rate, which has increased over 100 basis points over the past month, should see some relief. This small, but crucial point should prevent further deterioration in the value of the illiquid mortgage assets held throughout the global banking system.

In recent weeks we have observed a trend in the macroeconomic data, which indicated a clear decline in industrial production, wholesale-retail sales and expect a reduction in demand from the external sector. While, some measure of inflation is embedded in the economy, the deflation in the residential real estate sector and the clear decline in the cost of energy and commodities paved the way for the Fed to take what may be the next in a series of continuing steps to stem the crisis in financial markets. Moreover, when we plug in the likely fall in the core rate of inflation and the increase in the rate of unemployment into our Taylor Rule model, the Fed is getting out ahead of the curve and moving towards the point where rates are neutral.

Given the near meltdown of the domestic system of finance we think that the Fed needs to compel banks to come clean regarding the wreckage littering their balance sheets, provide a temporary guarantee of the payment clearing system and in the near term move to inject capital into the banks. The conditions have been created where by those steps can be taken.

By Joseph Brusuelas
Chief Economist, VP Global Strategy of the Merk Hard Currency Fund

Bridging academic rigor and communications, Joe Brusuelas provides the Merk team with significant experience in advanced research and analysis of macro-economic factors, as well as in identifying how economic trends impact investors.  As Chief Economist and Global Strategist, he is responsible for heading Merk research and analysis and communicating the Merk Perspective to the markets.

Mr. Brusuelas holds an M.A and a B.A. in Political Science from San Diego State and is a PhD candidate at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Before joining Merk, Mr. Brusuelas was the chief US Economist at IDEAglobal in New York.  Before that he spent 8 years in academia as a researcher and lecturer covering themes spanning macro- and microeconomics, money, banking and financial markets.  In addition, he has worked at Citibank/Salomon Smith Barney, First Fidelity Bank and Great Western Investment Management.

© 2008 Merk Investments® LLC
The Merk Hard Currency Fund is managed by Merk Investments, an investment advisory firm that invests with discipline and long-term focus while adapting to changing environments.
Axel Merk, president of Merk Investments, makes all investment decisions for the Merk Hard Currency Fund. Mr. Merk founded Merk Investments AG in Switzerland in 1994; in 2001, he relocated the business to the US where all investment advisory activities are conducted by Merk Investments LLC, a SEC-registered investment adviser.

Merk Investments has since pursued a macro-economic approach to investing, with substantial gold and hard currency exposure.

Merk Investments is making the Merk Hard Currency Fund available to retail investors to allow them to diversify their portfolios and, through the fund, invest in a basket of hard currencies.

Joseph Brusuelas Archive

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