The United States election campaign is focused primarily on how much will the next president spend and the measures to combat coronavirus. Both issues should point to one conclusion: Unlike what candidate Biden wants to do, the next United States president should not copy the European Union.
As we face a second wave of coronavirus outbreak in Europe, we know that the March measures and aggressive lockdowns were a grave mistake.
The European economy is on the verge of a double-dip recession, the unemployment rate is at 8.1% compared to 7.8% in the United States but the European Union still has around 10 million furloughed jobs. Real unemployment, if we use the same calculation as in the United States, is closer to 11%.
The main central banks have been discussing the idea of implementing a digital currency. The rationale behind it escapes many citizens. Most transactions in the main global currencies are conducted digitally and one could say that the largest and most traded currencies, the US Dollar, Euro, Yen, British Pound, Swiss Franc, and the Yuan are already functioning as mostly digital money.
So, what are central banks saying when they talk about a new and different digital currency? It is basically another step in the effort to gradually get rid of physical currencies, with an idea of strengthening control of the payments and make it simpler to trace the use of a particular means of payment. It is also aimed at competing with global cryptocurrencies. Most will state that the reasons behind the idea of a central bank digital currency are efficiency and improving the transmission mechanism of monetary policy.
The United States jobs recovery slowed down slightly in September, but the employment recovery is still faster than in most comparable economies. The jobs report showed a healthy 661,000 gain in non-farm payrolls last month. Much of the difference with consensus came from shifts in government payrolls, which fell 216,000 in September. However, private payrolls rose by a healthy 877,000. This means that unemployment may have fallen below the 8.1% level in September.
One of the most repeated sentences in the financial media is: “do not fight central banks”, making the argument that you have to be invested in equities and especially in the most cyclical part because central banks increase money supply and support risky assets.
Reality shows us otherwise. Following the central bank only works in the United States and particularly in technology companies. In Europe, following the central bank is not only a bad idea. It is counterproductive.
The balance sheet of the European Central Bank has expanded more than 147% since 2014 and the Stoxx 600 index, which includes the 600 most important companies in Europe, has appreciated just over a paltry 4%. There is a similar story in emerging markets. Global money supply has soared to all-time highs and the Emerging Market MSCI Index has barely appreciated by 5%. In fact, investors are taking significantly more risk only to follow monetary policy for weaker results.