Capital Account -- 1/13/12
Eurozone nations face another round of credit downgrades as Standard and Poor's is expected to cut the rating of several nations in Europe. France will lose its triple-A (AAA) according to it's finance minister, perhaps the most important of the downgrades. Meanwhile, although the european central bank is pumping out cheap cash to try and prop up the countries that need it, it's ending up right back at the central bank, as deposits there hit a record high. What does this mean for the Global Economy's future? We speak to PIMCO's CEO Mohamed El-Erian to see what the biggest bond fund in the world is thinking. And speaking of central banks, does a rotation of voting members at the Federal Reserve mean we may be headed for more quantitative easing? Fed officials meet later this month and are reportedly expected to talk about making such a move. But would this really matter and has the Fed become ineffective at this point? Mohamed El-Erian thinks so; he think QE3 is coming, but that the Fed will only act for the sake of acting, worried more about appearances than its ability to actually influence the economy at this point. And speaking of all this, it is Friday the 13th, which means paranormal activity abounds. We are not talking about the movie, but rather the world that Mohamed El-Erian and Bill Gross of PIMCO believe we now inhabit: a world of bimodal, fat tail distributions. Of competing tail risks that and sandwiching our investment options and our economy between a rock and a hard place. At the very least, if you are living in the eurozone, you can feel this pressure coming to bear. The ECB's solutions certainly are not going as planned, and the downgrade of France and Austria are the least among its problems. Money from the central bank's most recent LTRO is coming right back to the ECB's deposit facility, as banks hoard the cash. Again, we ask, what are they really afraid of? Is the risk a reflation of the global economy? Maybe, but to get that inflation, you need that money to enter the system's pipes, flooding liquidity throughout the economy. If banks are hoarding the cash, then deflation risk becomes a factor. Which tail will be activated? Will we see higher prices, or renewed asset price delevering. Mohamed El-Erian will be with us for a full 20 minutes to give us his take.