In January 2022, the IMF predicted a year of low growth with high inflation. Since then, the IMF has twice lowered its projections giving a gloomy outlook for global growth. OBELA estimated that the FED and the European Central Bank were in a dilemma where they would either ride with high inflation and some recovery or use the conventional monetary instruments of raising the interest rate and knock down the fragile consumption and investment dynamics to bring down inflation. There was a difference between the Fed having a monetary problem and the ECB recognising the geopolitical inflation issues. The result has been that both decided to raise interest rates and reduce liquidity, with predictable consequences.
“If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”. Still haunted by the clever preaching of monetarist guru Milton Friedman’s ghost, all too many monetary authorities address every inflationary threat or sign they see by raising interest rates.
Friedman’s dictum that “inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon” still defines the orthodoxy. Despite changed circumstances in the world today, for Friedmanites, inflation must be curbed by monetary tightening, especially interest rate hikes.
As 2022 progresses, the economic growth/stock markets/inflation control trilemma that we have already discussed becomes more evident. Now we start to look at central banks' decisions and analyse how these will impact growth and financial markets.
The Chinese conglomerate Envergando, and two large Chinese real estate companies (Fantasia and Sinic Hildings) stopped paying interest on their debt. This situation was interpreted as the possible start of a chain of international default and the trigger for a new financial crisis, which was false.
The decision of the last FOMC meeting of the FED was not to raise the Federal Funds rate and to maintain it in the range of 0 to 0.25%, which in real terms is -5.05%, and a forthcoming reduction in the pace of financial asset purchases to raise the long-term interest rate.
The U.S. government's financial situation raises more alarms than the bankruptcy of any real estate conglomerate. In the second quarter of 2020, the public debt/GDP ratio reached a record high, hence the Executive seeks to increase the public debt limit in the U.S. Congress.