The interventions of central banks have been a major topic over the last year, aside from the surging stock markets and Covid-19. This is certainly justified, as the scale of the interventions are enormous. The common measure of lowering interest rates was not sufficient, and quantitative easing in form of money printing and purchases of treasuries went way further than the during the GFC. Figure 1 shows the liquidity injections of central banks across the world. These injections were certainly one of the core reasons why the stock markets surged to that extent. Figure 2 shows the extent of the liquidity provision of the FED during the outbreak of Covid-19 from March 1st to April 20th in 2020. Within almost a month, the FED bought bonds worth almost $2tn. These interventions caused the FED to now being the largest holder US Treasuries. As emphasized before, this development applies to many other countries, albeit to a lesser extent. In Figure 3, it shows the holders of UK gilts over the last 30 years. Starting in 2008, BoE started buying UK gilts and is now as well the largest holders of them.
Macro and Political Outlook December 2020 by Macro Eagle
THE YEAR AHEAD
After the sharpest global economic downturn since WW2 (-4%), next year the West will hope that the 2020-stimulus plus vaccine-rollout leads to an economic rebound without pushing yields higher (Debt Crisis? What debt crisis?). On the big themes, I think the “K-nature” of the Covid recovery has some serious political risks (more below). I do think the love for all digital will continue, but beware of BigTech valuations and regulatory Tech-lash. Climate change will continue to drive the agenda, but beware of the ESG bubble. And as for geopolitics with Biden – I expect him to be as tough with China as Trump, just more polite. Apart from the US transition (more below) and China’s next 5-Year-Plan (more below) the two countries to watch are: post-Brexit Britain (more below) and Merkel-Daemmerung Germany (more below).