After a year long phasing down period, last night the US Federal Reserve finally ended its quantitative easing (QE) program, introduced at the height of the Global Financial Crisis back in 2008.
Since the worst days of the GFC, unemployment has fallen, consumers are spending again, businesses are investing and banks are lending. So after all is said and done, QE seems to have actually worked – the US economy is now well and truly into expansion mode and looking a lot stronger than Europe and Japan that have taken longer to adopt QE.
It would be fair to say that, while the US economy isn’t exactly booming, the Fed Reserve’s decision to take the economy off life-support was, at least for now, an important sign that the US may now be able to finally stand on its own two feet.
While the punch-bowl may have been removed from the table, the music continues to play. Consistent with the Fed Reserve’s softly, softly approach, they’ve also indicated that interest rates won’t be going up in a hurry, even as the US economy continues to recover – an encouraging signal to the US (and the rest of the world) that concrete evidence of a sustainable recovery will be needed before interest rates are finally raised in earnest.
The ending of US QE is also a positive for Australia and removes a source of upwards pressure on the Australian dollar (great for exporters).
Westmount I Financial Solutions
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he saw no immediate need to invade Ukraine while leaving open the possibility of using force, as the U.S. weighed sanctions on Russia and offered aid to the Ukrainian government.
In his first public remarks since Ukraine said its Crimean peninsula was seized by Russian forces, Putin said yesterday he has a duty to defend ethnic Russians in the region and reserved the right to military action. U.S. President Barack Obama challenged Putin’s rationale for intervening, as Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine’s cash-strapped government during a visit to Kiev.
As a result stocks rebounded worldwide yesterday after Putin’s remarks stirred optimism that the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War is cooling. Putin said troops stationed in Crimea, where Russia keeps its Black Sea fleet, have only been securing their bases. Gunmen who’ve seized crucial infrastructure and surrounded military installations are acting independently, he said. At the time of writing, the US Dow Jones Index had rallied 227 points to 16,395 overnight while Australia’s All Ordinaries Index is up 0.60% to 5,444.
Perhaps more importantly, today, Australia’s quarterly GDP surprised on the upside posting an annualised rate of 2.8% – higher than the 2.5% GDP rate economists were expecting. When coupled with the announcement today, from Chinese authorities, that their growth rate ‘goal’ for 2014 will remain at 7.5%, this should add more fuel to the overall optimism currently taking hold of financial markets – great news for Westmount clients. (Rick Maggi. Westmount. Financial Solutions.)