How long will the party last?

Gábor Orbán
Macro-analyst, Head of Bond Desk

Now that we’re approaching mid-2011 the global economic upturn that’s lasted two full years appears to have reached maturity. The key signs of this are the robust growth figures, the upward trend in commodity prices and the attendant rise in inflation expectations, as well as the growing danger of a lifting of the strong economic-policy (specifically monetary) measures aimed at stimulating growth. This process of tightening has already begun in the emerging economies, where the emphasis is on quantitative methods (raising reserve ratios), while in the remainder of the year investors will be focusing their attention on decisions to be taken by central banks in major economies. The expected timing, extent and nature of measures to tighten today’s extremely loose European and American monetary conditions, therefore, are among the main drivers of capital market trends. The first, 25- basis-point ECB interest rate hike took place in April, marking the start of the process. Statements by the governors of the Fed suggest that the end of quantitative easing in the US is likely to begin in June, and within a matter of months from then mortgage-based (MBS and Freddie/Fannie) notes will no longer be renewed, but will start to be withdrawn from the Fed’s balance sheet as they expire, while the Fed funds rate could also begin to rise in 2012.

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