FX Update: Reflation narrative struggling for air FX Update: Reflation narrative struggling for air FX Update: Reflation narrative struggling for air

FX Update: Reflation narrative struggling for air

Forex 4 minutes to read
John Hardy

Head of FX Strategy

Summary:  Late yesterday, US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announced he was pulling the plug on a number of emergency Fed facilities. The market met the news with a collective shrug, but it could prove pivotal down the road. Meanwhile, the long end of the US yield curve is generally failing to support the reflationary narrative as FX generally fails to confirm anything, mostly bottles up in tight range.

Today’s FX Trading focus:

A couple of roadblocks in the reflation narrative

Yesterday, I took a look at Hungary and Poland nixing the 2021-27 EU budget and recovery packages due to the “rule of law” provisions that these countries see as violations of their sovereignty. Yesterday’s video-conference of EU leaders saw no progress on the matter, with German chancellor Merkel set to lead further negotiations with the two countries. (To be fair, other pressing issues on the Covid-19 resurgence, Brexit contingency plans and more were also on the agenda). But the longer this drags, out, the bigger the risks to the euro recovery and the more it could hold back the euro’s fortunes. Peripheral EU countries are already slipping into deflation again – Greece at -1.8% YoY, Italy: -0.6% Spain: -0.8% Portugal: -0.1%.  But as indicated, the market is registering zero fear on this, even PLN and HUF on this matter. And consider this story from Bloomberg discussing the Hungarian central bank purchasing bonds in a company it owns shares in.

Late yesterday, another story has grabbed our attention, even if the market hardly seemed to register it: US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s announcement that he is ending a number of the emergency facilities at the end of this year, importantly including the facility set up to rescue the corporate bond market when credit spreads panicked back in the spring. (The main street lending and local government lending facilities also set for a halt). The move may merely be a petty move by Trump and inspired by Republican sympathizers in Congress to limit the incoming Biden administration’s access to significant funds (specifically, $455 billion in unused funds will have to revert to the Treasury for Congress to spend as it sees fit). Regardless, the development in credit spreads will be worth watching in coming days and weeks on this. The Fed hardly deployed any of the funds at its disposal to buy up corporate debt – rather, the market took the mere creation of the Fed’s facility as a declaration of an implicit backstop of the market and snapped up debt – sending yields to record lows for lower rated debt. Corporations took advantage by issuing a torrent of new debt in recent months. How confident are credit markets without the backstop explicitly in place after the end of the year?

Finally, on the “frustrated reflation narrative” front, we have the awkward fact that the longest end of the US treasury yield curve continues to come down from the spike inspired by the vaccine success news last Monday. This just does not square with the narrative that we are set for a reflationary rebound. Yes, risky assets can flourish if the market assumes that central banks will bring endless QE provision, which they will, but a flattening yield curve without the central bank forcing it that way (yield curve control) is not the strongest tailwind for USD bears, who assume that the Fed will be the primary driver in driving negative real interest rates by possibly capping yields while allowing inflation to run hot (in turn more likely in an economy that runs external deficits).

What does all this mean for FX? A bit of a head-scratcher. As long as sentiment is maintained, we can see the USD weaker, if less so than in a reflationary scenario, and lower long yields means the JPY can rise more than it would otherwise, even as risk currencies do well, too. But it is weak environment for pronounced moves and trends compared to the more full-scale fiscal stimulus arriving on the scene, and the move against the Fed’s corporate bond purchases beyond the end of this year at the margin at least suggests a strong risk that financial conditions will have a hard time getting looser, and might get considerably tighter – raising the risk that sentiment will have to rely on quick progress on the Covid-19 vaccine front in the months ahead.

AUDUSD will likely prove an excellent barometer for the success or failure of the reflation narrative in 2021 (and AUDJPY, although it has an r2 of 0.88 with AUDUSD (very highly correlated) for the last 300 trading days – so likely the same trade directionally) and on that note, we tactically await a move either above 0.7414 or below perhaps 0.7150 to begin to indicate direction, sitting as we are with the middle of the recent trading range precisely half-way between those trigger zones after going nowhere for two weeks. The upside impulsivity if risk sentiment stays strong while long rates remain low would likely be far weaker or nonexistent relative to the potential higher if a proper reflation trade develops, with commodities and hard assets running higher, while long yields do likewise (until they are possibly capped by the US Fed – turbocharging the reflationary narrative even further if rates remain capped while inflation indicators run higher still). The uh-oh- moment here for the reflation narrative and AUDUSD comes if we see aggressive safe haven seeking in long sovereign bonds and risk-off on fears that the path to more generous fiscal remains obstructed.

Source: Saxo Group


The Saxo Bank Group entities each provide execution-only service and access to Analysis permitting a person to view and/or use content available on or via the website. This content is not intended to and does not change or expand on the execution-only service. Such access and use are at all times subject to (i) The Terms of Use; (ii) Full Disclaimer; (iii) The Risk Warning; (iv) the Rules of Engagement and (v) Notices applying to Saxo News & Research and/or its content in addition (where relevant) to the terms governing the use of hyperlinks on the website of a member of the Saxo Bank Group by which access to Saxo News & Research is gained. Such content is therefore provided as no more than information. In particular no advice is intended to be provided or to be relied on as provided nor endorsed by any Saxo Bank Group entity; nor is it to be construed as solicitation or an incentive provided to subscribe for or sell or purchase any financial instrument. All trading or investments you make must be pursuant to your own unprompted and informed self-directed decision. As such no Saxo Bank Group entity will have or be liable for any losses that you may sustain as a result of any investment decision made in reliance on information which is available on Saxo News & Research or as a result of the use of the Saxo News & Research. Orders given and trades effected are deemed intended to be given or effected for the account of the customer with the Saxo Bank Group entity operating in the jurisdiction in which the customer resides and/or with whom the customer opened and maintains his/her trading account. Saxo News & Research does not contain (and should not be construed as containing) financial, investment, tax or trading advice or advice of any sort offered, recommended or endorsed by Saxo Bank Group and should not be construed as a record of our trading prices, or as an offer, incentive or solicitation for the subscription, sale or purchase in any financial instrument. To the extent that any content is construed as investment research, you must note and accept that the content was not intended to and has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such, would be considered as a marketing communication under relevant laws.

Please read our disclaimers:
- Notification on Non-Independent Investment Research (https://www.home.saxo/legal/niird/notification)
- Full disclaimer (https://www.home.saxo/en-gb/legal/disclaimer/saxo-disclaimer)

Saxo Markets
40 Bank Street, 26th floor
E14 5DA
United Kingdom

Contact Saxo

Select region

United Kingdom
United Kingdom

Trade Responsibly
All trading carries risk. To help you understand the risks involved we have put together a series of Key Information Documents (KIDs) highlighting the risks and rewards related to each product. Read more
Additional Key Information Documents are available in our trading platform.

Saxo Markets is a registered Trading Name of Saxo Capital Markets UK Ltd (‘SCML’). SCML is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Firm Reference Number 551422. Registered address: 26th Floor, 40 Bank Street, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DA. Company number 7413871. Registered in England & Wales.

This website, including the information and materials contained in it, are not directed at, or intended for distribution to or use by, any person or entity who is a citizen or resident of or located in the United States, Belgium or any other jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, availability or use would be contrary to applicable law or regulation.

It is important that you understand that with investments, your capital is at risk. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. It is your responsibility to ensure that you make an informed decision about whether or not to invest with us. If you are still unsure if investing is right for you, please seek independent advice. Saxo Markets assumes no liability for any loss sustained from trading in accordance with a recommendation.

Apple, iPad and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Android is a trademark of Google Inc.

©   since 1992