What’s driving stock market volatility?

Stock market volatility—big swings in the prices of stocks—had actually been relatively low in the period of recovery from the financial crisis through 2017. However, that trend has been changing of late, with several incidences of volatility marked by ‘short, sharp hurricanes,’ rather than the ‘longer storms’ of the past. I discuss some of the changes in technology and financial regulation that contribute to recent volatility alongside Michael Klein, Executive Editor, EconoFact in this video.

(If you aren’t familiar with EconoFact, you need to be! EconoFact’s mission is to provide even-handed analyses of timely economic policy issues drawing on data, historical experience and well-regarded economic frameworks. With an incredible network of academics writing fact-based memos, the goal is to help combat fake news. In full disclosure I’m on the advisory board, but they are doing really interesting stuff.)

This is a currency war the US can’t possibly win

President Donald Trump’s tweeted demands for a weaker dollar, and his subsequent designation of China as a “currency manipulator”, have sparked fears that his trade battles are morphing into a currency war. The last time we had a global competitive devaluation was in the 1930s, as the world descended into the Depression. But today, currency values are set in huge global markets rather than against gold. That leaves the US alone on the battlefield, armed with only the equivalent of a pea shooter.

The US will not succeed in unilaterally weakening the dollar and could spark a global recession, raise political tensions and upend financial markets in trying. Read about it in my latest column in the Financial Times.

State of the Eurozone (and the US)

“I think in the US if we look back and think ‘what a wasted recovery,’ the Europeans are going to do it doubly. And that’s partly because there’s just a whole bunch of institutional architecture that still needs to happen in the Eurozone in order for the Euro to really be a sustainable project.”

Here’s a clear-headed, non-sensationalist view of the state of the eurozone (and the US) in an Expert View I did with Real Vision (Click here for the full video, but that one is paywalled).

Outlook for the US Economy

The US equity and bond markets are telling completely different stories about the outlook for the country’s economy. In the first seven months of 2019, the S&P 500 index rose by 10.2 per cent, suggesting firms could continue producing strong corporate earnings off the back of decent economic growth. Over the same time period, borrowing costs on 10-year Treasuries fell from 2.68 per cent to 1.89 per cent, sign-posting lower rates and inflation, and the likelihood of recession ahead. This economic recovery in the United States is the longest on record, and analysts are on the lookout for signs it is ending. Who has it right—equity or bond investors?

Here’s my overview for the US economy in Prospect Magazine: https://bit.ly/2OJbSZJ

Trade tensions are strangling American manufacturing

The US manufacturing sector has now contracted for two consecutive quarters, according to the Federal Reserve, raising concerns a general recession is drawing near. But those fears remind me of a triathlon I recently completed. With burning lungs and a pounding heart, I’d really flagged during the swimming section. Then I recovered and finished fine. So does a limping manufacturing sector really mean the American expansion will end? https://www.ft.com/content/9382e6a8-b2b2-11e9-b2c2-1e116952691a