Anything catching the eye as the countdown begins ? ref :- General

At the start of the last full trading week before the holiday season, it's easy to see what topic is getting the most attention this morning ..... the US tax plan, of course. Word has it that the difficulties in finding a suitable compromise between the Senate and House versions of the bill have been ironed out, enabling Republicans in Congress to present the new legislation to the president for his signature within days. As the first successful piece of legislation achieved by this administration, we can expect the White House to make a great deal out of its passing. *** NOTE : One of the "fudges" required to find a mutually acceptable draft to both houses of Congress was a measure that ben

Time's almost up for Janet Yellen ...... and the markets will miss her. ref :- "Rockier y

Janet Yellen's term of office as Chairman of the Federal Reserve doesn't end until early February, but since Wednesday was her final post-FOMC press conference some sense of an era coming to a close was inevitable. Not that she would have sought to make her appearance seem in any way valedictory ..... everything about her suggests that she's not the sort of person to seek attention, and not the sort of Fed chairman to let her personal profile get in the way of getting on with the job. That of course must be sensible for someone in her position, and something that can't necessarily be said about all her predecessors. Paul Volcker was appointed by Pres. Jimmy Carter in 1979 and inherited an in

The trade in fashion if you're feeling a bit hawkish ..... and just in case, one if you're n

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the Fed duly hiked rates by 25 basis points yesterday. In doing so they came through with what their forward guidance had long been suggesting ..... a total of three rate hikes in 2017. Well done them ..... if you take the market's expectations of what would transpire, as implied by prices in Fed Funds futures contracts, then plainly a good many investors spent long periods of 2017 doubting that the central bank would be able to fulfil their promises. For them, lacklustre inflation numbers would undermine the Fed's intention to get three hikes in during the calendar year. Well, low inflation numbers are still an issue but by taking a certain amount on tr

Another big week for central banks, and another big day for Bitcoin ..... well, aren't they all

It's not as though Wednesday's rate decision from the Federal Reserve (19.00hrs, NYT) is likely to take too many people by surprise -- a 25 basis point hike is as close to a "done deal" as makes no difference. It's what the Fed has to say about the future that will be more market-sensitive. Investors will be particularly keen to find out if there have been any adjustments to the Fed's "dot-plot", their method of mapping out what individual policy-makers believe to be the course of interest rates in the future. Some of the talking heads on the financial news channels this morning were speculating whether the robust US economic performance, even before the beneficial effects of any tax cuts

The year ahead : "This time, let's try selling the dollar ...." ref :- "It Looks

Since we seem to spend quite a lot of time pointing out how often the year-end forecasts of respected judges prove to be wide of the mark, one might wonder why we spend so much time looking at them. It's not because we've become so jaundiced that we automatically like to take the contrarian view (we don't, necessarily). It's partly because the arguments put forward are generally coherent and worth considering even if the conclusions turn out to be wrong. And it's partly because it's extremely healthy for any trader to be reminded how the markets can make fools of even the best and the brightest. Nobody really KNOWS anything, remember ? The consensus view -- by definition, a broad generalis

Like a horse wearing blinkers, the markets only have eyes for the good stuff ..... ref :- General,

One of the most extraordinary things about the inexorable rise of stock markets in recent times has been the ability of investors to block out anxieties over both geopolitical and domestic political storm clouds that in the past would have had them running for cover. A rogue nation lobbing missiles around the place whilst it threatens to attach nuclear warheads to them in the future would at least have caused a spike in volatility, as might the rise of any number of populist political movements in the so-called developed world. But volatility has remained at historically ultra-low levels, and market players seem more concerned with not missing out on the next upside leg than with paying much

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