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The resilience of the British economy in the post-referendum period has taken many by surprise. Some made rapid conclusions that ‘Brexit has had no effect on the economy'. To state this, however, is to voluntarily omit that Brexit has not yet occurred. We are still at the very beginning of the negotiation process, which started officially on 29 March. The main effects of the referendum result so far have been through foreign exchange.
Whether we're talking about Brexit or, above all, the election of Donald Trump, recent political changes have undoubtedly been shocks. It is no longer simply a question of shifting the cursor of economic policy towards a little less state, less taxation and less social protection. Instead, the aim is to cure the ills of an ailing society by designating scapegoats and demonising the ‘rest of the world' in particular.
The objectives are ambitious. Without its even being necessary to judge the effectiveness of the solutions proposed, suffice it to say that they are above all radical. So radical, paradoxically, that they are not materialising as rapidly as might be hoped by those betting on their effectiveness or as might be feared by those who consider them inappropriate and dangerous.
In the short term, the direct impact on the real economy and on agents' behaviour is minor, because institutional obstacles must first be overcome and/or the assent of national parliaments obtained.
As widely expected, the FOMC raised the Fed funds (FF) target by 25 bps to a range of 0.75% to 1.00%. The Fed's median projection for the FF rate at the end of 2017 was 1.4%, implying two additional 25 bps rate hikes this year. This is unchanged from the December projection as was the projection for yearend 2018 at 2.1%, implying 3 additional hikes next year. The longer-run fed funds rate projection remained at 3.0%.
Sometimes the ECB feels it has to run away, it has to get away from the dovish stance it drove into the heart of the Eurozone. The dovish stance seems to be close to an end. It is losing its usefulness… The constructive ambiguity widely used by the ECB at today's press conference confirms our view that the ECB is almost at the peak of its accommodative stance: from now on, it will slow the expectations on monetary policy before actually – very gradually – removing the monetary support.
Rudyard Kipling's cat is the wildest animal of the Wet Wild Woods, not because he refuses to respect the bargain negotiated – on the contrary, he respects it whatever happens – but because he respects only the bargain and refuses to submit to any other kind of pressure: man's boot-throwing or the dog's bite. He is the cat that walks by himself. Mario Draghi is ready to do "whatever it takes", "whatever the ECB must", "without any limit" to respect the bargain negotiated in the European Treaty: price stability.
The Republican's key legislative focus this year is on repealing the ACA and passing a tax reform package. That is a very ambitious agenda that is unlikely to be implemented before next year, in our view. ACA Repeal/Replace: Easier said than done. The current proposals have yet to convince a majority in Congress given concerns for millions who may lose their health insurance coverage in the years ahead and tax hikes for those with generous health care plans. The House leadership plans to move forward with its proposals nonetheless.
US economic performance is likely to warrant further gradual increases in the federal funds rate. Chair Yellen reiterated her view that "waiting too long to remove accommodation would be unwise, potentially requiring the FOMC to eventually raise rates rapidly, which could risk disrupting financial markets and pushing the economy into recession."
As widely expected, the FOMC left its monetary policy unchanged with the Fed funds rate target range maintained at 0.5% to 0.75% at its February meeting. The Fed's balance sheet reinvestment policies were also unchanged.
As expected the ECB maintained a dovish stance, downplaying the relatively high inflation numbers of December, and focussed the speech instead on the low and stalling core inflation rate, and on the downside risks. It restated its asymmetrical forward guidance: on rates – they can go lower but not higher over the medium term; on QE – it can be increased in size and in duration but not reduced.
The ECB has been in full Barbadian-pop-star mode between September and December 2016: "work, work, work, work, work, Draghi said they have to work…". Now, after the announcement, the explanation and the publication of the legal acts, the relevant committees, the ECB and NCB staff and the Governing Council members can take a break.
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